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The environmental impact of fast fashion

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The inexpensive rapidly produced clothing sold by large retail chains that are often referred to as fast fashion carries a steep environmental cost. Here’s what you should know about it.

Water stress and pollution
The fashion industry uses a lot of water. The water footprint of a single cotton shirt, which is the total amount of water needed for its production, is approximately 650 gallons.

These companies also tend to produce their clothes in countries with more relaxed environmental regulations than Canada or the United States. This means they dump untreated wastewater into rivers people rely on. A full 20 percent of worldwide water pollution is directly caused by textile treatments and dyes.

Ocean pollution
Every time a garment made of a synthetic fiber like polyester, rayon or nylon is washed, it releases nearly 2,000 plastic microfibers. These end up in the ocean, where they enter the food chain and eventually end up on our plates.

Waste accumulation
In 2014, people bought 60 percent more clothes than they did in 2000, and since we recycle only 15 percent of our clothes, most end up in landfills. Many of these are made of synthetic textiles, which will take over 200 years to decompose.

Greenhouse gas emissions
The fashion industry accounts for 10 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Production, manufacturing, and transport all factor into this. In addition, the synthetic fibers used by many brands are made from fossil fuels.

The fashion industry has a huge environmental impact. You can help mitigate this by privileging local brands and natural fibers and by buying second-hand clothing as much as possible.

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Lawn care: 3 reasons to leave it to the pros

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Are you tired of spending your weekends taking care of your lawn? If so, hiring a professional may be the solution. Here are three great reasons to use a landscaping service.

1. You won’t need any equipment
If you hire a contractor to take care of your lawn and garden, you won’t need to maintain a lawnmower, sharpen hedge trimmers or shop for fertilizer. In fact, you won’t need lawn care tools at all. This will save you the hassle and expense of buying, storing, and maintaining them.

2. You’ll have more free time

Did you know that many people spend the equivalent of a week each summer taking care of their lawn and garden? If you hire a professional, your landscaping contract can include everything from mowing the grass and pruning the hedges to watering and weeding your garden. With fewer chores, you can spend your time doing the things you enjoy.

3. You’ll avoid unpleasant surprises
If there’s a problem with your lawn, plants, or trees, your landscaping contractor will know exactly what to do. A professional can identify and resolve issues involving pests, watering, fertilization, and more. This will save you the time and effort of trying to figure it out on your own.

This summer, trust your lawn care to a professional. Your yard will be beautiful and well-maintained, thereby increasing the value of your home and enhancing your enjoyment of the property.

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What type of fruit should you grow?

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Fruit-bearing trees, shrubs, and plants are easy to grow and can add visual interest to your yard with their vibrant foliage and flowers. Here’s what to plant based on various preferences.

If you want a harvest this summer
To enjoy your fruit within a few months, opt for fast-growing plants. A few examples include strawberries, raspberries, ground cherries, cantaloupes, and watermelons.

If you want long-lasting producers

If you’re willing to be patient, plant a perennial tree or shrub that has a long life but only bears fruit after a few years. Apricot trees and blackberry bushes take about two years to produce fruit. For blueberries, pears, and apples, you’ll need to wait three years. Plum trees take six years.

If you want unique but delicious berries
If you want to plant fruit that’s a little out of the ordinary, try black currants, Arctic kiwis, or Saskatoon berries. These berries are great for making mouth-watering jams.

Keep in mind that some trees and shrubs only bear fruit if there’s a second plant nearby to pollinate it. If you want to grow apples, for example, you’ll need to plant two trees.

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The advantages of permeable paving

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Permeable pavers, such as interlocking sto¬nes, can be used to build driveways, walk¬ways, and patios. Here’s why they’re a great choice.

They reduce runoff
Permeable paving allows water to seep into the ground. This means runoff is less likely to pool on the surface or end up in the sewer system. Consequently, you’ll have fewer puddles when it rains and less ice buildup when it’s cold. Permeable pavers also reduce the risk of flooding and erosion.

They keep cities cooler

Permeable pavers remain cooler than asphalt because they’re paler and absorb less sunlight. This makes them particularly suited for cities where large amounts of asphalt create urban heat islands. In fact, some cities are beginning to make permeable paving a requirement for certain projects.

They’re a good investment
Permeable pavers are easy to install because they don’t require the ground to be compacted beforehand. They’re also more durable than asphalt so they cost less in the long run. Plus, they can increase the value of your home.

Lastly, permeable pavers can help filter out pollutants and replenish the water table with clean water. This makes them a particularly great choice for eco-conscious consumers.

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One option for some seniors: Roth IRA

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Some investors could make a big move in this crisis-driven market by converting their retirement accounts to a Roth IRA.

One caution: It might be smart for you, and it might not.

Naturally, with all things about investing, it all depends.

Roth IRAs are great investments when the stock market is down, according to Leon LaBrecque of the Sequoia Financial Group. That’s because, as the market recovers, you make money tax free.

Roths are also good when taxes are low. You hope to pay low taxes on a Roth when you invest and avoid higher taxes when you take distributions. If you are looking at the recent $2 trillion relief bill, with promises of more to come, who would blame you if you thought taxes were going to rise?

Finally, Roths are best for optimists. Do you think it is a bear market that won’t recover for a decade? Or do you think it is a short-term crisis market that will recover swiftly?

A down market that is poised to recover, is an optimum time for converting to a Roth, according to LaBrecque.

To actually decide whether this would be beneficial to your situation, you have to speak to an investment professional. Depending on your financial situation, there are several ways to create a Roth, but also serious pitfalls.

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Robot companions for your pet

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If you’re worried about leaving your cat or dog alone while you’re at work, you may want to invest in a robot pet companion. These battery-operated devices are designed to amuse, feed, and otherwise occupy your furry friend while you’re not home.

There are different models available, such as ones that regularly feed your animal and others that periodically eject treats. The best robot companions, how¬ever, truly interact with your pet. They connect to your smartphone and can be set to either operate automatically or be controlled through an app. The best part is they give your pet something to play with when you’re not around, ensuring that Fido or Mittens isn’t bored in your absence.

Robot pet companions are water-resistant and strong enough to withstand bites. Most of them include a camera, microphone, and speaker. This al¬lows you to see and talk to your pet when you’re not home and ensure they’re safe and happy.

Part pet-sitter and part toy, these robots are set to change the way we take care of our cats and dogs.

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3 reasons to use a smart speaker

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Smart speakers are no longer novel, and an estimated one in four adults in North America now owns at least one. This type of product (whether it’s made by Google, Apple, or Amazon) may be particularly useful for seniors. Here’s why.

1. It can simplify tasks. If you connect a smart speaker to other smart devices in your home, you’ll be able to turn on the lights, adjust the thermostat, and close the curtains simply by uttering a command. This can be invaluable if you have arthritis or reduced mobility.

2. It can issue reminders. Whether you want to remember to take your medication or call a loved one on their birthday, a smart speaker can help. This device can function as a to-do list, a calendar, and an address book all in one.

3. It can improve your safety. Most smart speakers can be programmed to initiate a conversation at a set time each day. If you don’t respond, the device is able to automatically send a message to one of your family members advising them to check up on you.

A smart speaker can make your life easier and help you maintain your independence.

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