Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

Waking up to a warm cup of coffee is my favorite thing in the world. Since I workout every morning, my motivator is starting my day semi-slowly as I sip on my warm beverage. I have three different coffee makers, but my go to weekday method is with my Keurig. I love that I can make just one cup of coffee with the press of a button. However, these lovely little machines can be detrimental to the environment if used the common way.

The typical K-Cups are not recyclable or biodegradable. This is because the K-Cup has several integrated components (plastic with a filter, grounds, and plastic foil top). I love my Keurig, but I don’t like environmental waste. Therefore, here are two solutions for those of us who love quick coffee, but do not want to harm the environment in the process.

  1. Compostable OneCups! San Francisco Bay Coffee has OneCups which are compatible with the Keurig machine. The coffee is delicious and smooth, and the cup is completely biodegradable! This is a great option but may be expensive for those of us on a budget.
  2. Reusable Filter and your own beans. This is my go to choice as I love using my reusable filter and filling it with my La Colombe grounds everyday. There is no plastic waste with this, and I can just wash out the filter and reuse it each day. This method is also much cheaper than buying expensive K-Cups or even the one cup.
It is easy to enjoy things like the Keurig machine and still be environmentally friendly. Helping our environment is not as challenging as it may seem, and I am here to help you with hacks that not only save money but also help our earth.


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Saving Energy At Home

Over the last few years from graduate school and other events, I have learned that money talks. Therefore the best way to encourage people to live a more sustainable lifestyle is to educate through the viewpoint of saving money. Energy Efficiency saves energy and money. Here are some tips on how you can save energy at home and thus also save money.

  1. Check Energy Star for rebates near you! Many utilities offer cash rebates for installing pieces of energy efficient equipment such as highly efficient furnaces and boilers. These highly efficient furnaces and boilers save energy, and they will also save you money as your gas bill will be much lower. Some electric utilities even offer lighting rebates for LED bulbs.
  2. Insulate your home. Insulation lowers gas bills by retaining heat in the winter and keeping heat out in the summer. Staying warm, lower bills, and not wasting energy? This is my kind of measure.
  3.  Reduce your hot water use. Using a large amount of hot water effects gas consumption. Ways to reduce hot water consumption include only using the “cold water” setting on your washing machine and also installing low flow aerators and shower heads.
Helping the environment, saving energy, and saving money all come hand in hand. Lower bills are always a plus and if that means we are also reducing energy consumption, I say go for it!
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Food Waste & Energy

It has been a long time since I have written a blog post! I will continue to update this blog regularly, and all opinions here are my own and not any organization that I belong to or have belonged to in the past.

As many know, I am passionate about not wasting food in our daily lives and also on a larger scale. I came across an article from Greenbiz about how food waste also wastes energy. According to the article, if we stop wasting food in the USA, America would save 2% of its annual energy budget. In a previous article, I wrote about intersecting policy and technology, but here I would like to talk about what we can do as residents of the United States.
  1. Plan your meals ahead of time before going to the grocery store. This may prevent you from buying foods you do not want or need.
  2. At a restaurant, split your entree with a friend or take part of your entree home.
  3. Use vegetable scraps to make vegetable broth.
  4. At the grocery store, buy the vegetables that look ‘different’ since most people are scared of imperfect looking fruits and veggies and will avoid them. Alternatively, subscribe to a service such as Imperfect Produce in which you can get the ugly produce delivered just to your door!


It only takes a few actions to make a difference. What is your next step?
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Food Waste: Brief Thoughts

It is no secret that people waste food. This problem is common amongst households and industry. However, how much of our food is actually wasted? According to the NRDC, 40% of the food produced in the United States is wasted. This creates environmental problems because when food  is deposited into landfills, it decomposes by anaerobic bacteria and releases methane gas. Landfills already have their problems as can be seen in the case of the exploding landfills in Mexico. Although food is not the sole waste in landfills, it is a large part of it, for everyday Americans waste enough food to fill the rose bowl. Besides the environmental harm and harm to food security, wasting food also wastes resources such as the water used in food production.

Though the USDA and EPA, have food waste recovery programs, the United States does not have any strict anti-food waste policies. However, in the private sector, companies are taking initiative to mitigate the problem. A start up, Fruitcycle, makes apple chips out of the rejected apples at orchards. This company has taken measures to stop food waste at the initial farm step. Leanpath is a food service technology company that created a food waste monitoring system for restaurants and the industry to use.

Through the companies, it is evident that technology and business are working together. The government should work with the private industry in order to create policies that will help prevent such a high percentage (40%) of waste in our country. In order to mitigate this crisis, the intersection of technology, business, and policy must be explored in the coming years.

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Rebuilding Coastal Communities after super storms?

Climate change means rising temperatures and more frequent storms. According to the EPA, heavy precipitation has increased in the last ten years, and global average sea level has risen 7 inches over the last century. The seas are becoming warmer, and this may cause more powerful storms. Looking at the destruction from past super storms such as Hurricane Sandy, it is evident that future storms will negatively impact coastal communities. The question is, should coastal communities be allowed to rebuild after destruction?

When answering this question, the distinction between commercial businesses like Atlantic City and coastal residential neighborhoods should be kept in mind. Furthermore, the interest of the tax-payers has to be considered when answering this question.

sns-rt-us-storm-sandy-gamblingbre89t1vj-201210-001In Atlantic City, rooftops were torn from multiple casinos and hotels. Should money really be invested to try to save these already failing businesses? These businesses are already facing unemployment and decreases in revenue. Two of the four boardwalk hotels have already closed for financial reasons. In 2009, this industry suffered financial losses of about $938 million. For example, The Revel Casino Hotel, cost $2.4 billion to open but closed this past September due to bankruptcy. Super storms will only make this failing community worse. If the state mandates that these businesses get more than adequate insurance coverage from solidly solvent insurance companies, then tax payers will not be affected. Therefore, these businesses should only be allowed to rebuild if they have adequate insurance coverage and if they are exempt from financial assistance from federal and state emergency management agencies.

10_31_12_andrew_mantaloking_bridge_NJNG-Scott_Anema_475_317_s_c1_c_cIn New Jersey coastal residential neighborhoods, $759 million was spent to help the residents rebuild after Hurricane Sandy. Clearly, these houses were not flood adapted since they faced such immense destruction. Should residential coastal communities be allowed to rebuild? Residential communities have a sentimental and cultural value to many people living there for generations. Therefore, YES, they should but only if proper flood adapted infrastructure is a priority. Building codes need to be re-written and homes should be raised. Other adaptations for transportation in the community should be made as well. Without these adaptations such as the stricter building codes, the communities should not be allowed to rebuild due to millions of federal aid, which could be used for other projects.

As evident, this is a complicated issue with economical and social factors involved. As shown, the rebuilding of coastal communities involves not only the residents and businesses of the communities, but also the wallets of tax payers who do not live in these areas. Therefore, the adaptations of insurance coverage, changes in building codes, and infrastructural adaptations must take place in order for the rebuilding of coastal communities.

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Is there a safe way to transport oil?

Alberta, CanadaUntitled2Alberta, Canada is a region in Western Canada that consists of oil sands that produce 1.9 million barrels of oil per day; the region itself has 170 billion barrels. Oil sands are made up of sand, water, clay, and bitumen, which is a material that must be separated from this mixture in order to be made into other products such as crude oil. What most people do not know is that the United States gets more of its crude oil from Alberta than any other country. In order to connect the oil from Alberta to other areas, pipelines are used to transport the liquid petroleum.

A Keystone XL pipeline would cause an increase in economic benefits due to the doubling of oil imports from Canada into the United States. However, human and environmental safety must be considered including the risks that spills may occur. Oil sand tar spills cost more to clean than conventional spills because their tar sinks, which results in hazards for humans and the environment. An example of environmental damage from pipeline is shown in the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill, which contaminated surrounding waters and impacted businesses with cleanup costs nearing $1 billion. Alternatively, implementing a $5.4 billion pipeline may create more jobs in the area.

Recently, there has been increasing support for using railway systems to transport the oil due to the decreasing support for pipelines due to their environmental impacts. However there have been cases of train accidents carrying crude oil as these trains burst into flames upon crashing. Oil spills can occur from these railways as well as pipelines, and in 2013, the most amount of crude oil was spilled from U.S. compared to thirty-seven years prior. For example, in Quebec in 2013, an exploding train killed 47 people. Policies should be taken in order to make these railway systems safer specifically for people who live in blast zones.


Both of these methods have economical impacts in terms of creating potential jobs and exporting oil efficiently, but both of these methods also result in hazards as well. The question here then is what is the safest way to transport oil that has the least harms on humans and the environment but also has economical benefits?


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