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Top 13 eco-friendly ideas



1. Recycle as much as you can

In addition to recycling paper, glass and cardboard, be sure to drop off your no-longer-wanted electronics, batteries, ink cartridges, light bulbs, and building materials at a recycling depot or other drop-off point.

2. Rent instead of buy

Some types of equipment only get used occasionally. If you don’t need them regularly, consider renting instead of buying items like compressors, lawn aerators, pressure washers, ATVs and RVs. This will help reduce over-consumption.

3. Plan your route wisely

Reduce your carbon footprint by using public transit, carpooling, cycling, walking, using a carshare service or swapping your gas guzzler for an electric vehicle.

4. Choose certified goods

From cleaning products to clothing, food, cosmetics, and building materials, you’ll find many items on the market with easy-to-recognize environmental certifications. Look for them in stores near you.

5. Support local businesses

When you buy locally-made goods, both you and the products you purchase spend less time on the road. This means that there’s less fuel consumed and fewer greenhouse gases generated. Additionally, local products tend to require less packaging.

6. Renovate with sustainability in mind

If you’re renovating your home, consider making it more energy efficient by insulating the basement, installing Energy Star windows, switching to geothermal energy or installing a green roof. You should also consider using recycled materials if possible.

7. Reduce the amount of water you consume

Install a low-flow showerhead and toilet, repair leaky pipes, collect rainwater to water your garden, take short showers and keep water chilled in the refrigerator instead of running the tap.

8. Avoid overpackaged products

If you buy products in bulk, you’ll generate less waste. Many communities have zero-waste retailers that allow customers to fill their own bottles and bags with products such as shampoo, vegetables, dish soap, and even windshield washer fluid.

9. Upcycle broken or unused items

Find a new purpose for broken and unused things. For example, you can transform a chipped teapot into a vase, get your furniture reupholstered and drop off toys and clothing that no longer get used to charities that will redistribute them.

10. Endorse eco-friendly businesses

Many companies have taken steps to become more environmentally-friendly or have adopted programs to reduce their carbon footprint. Take the time to search for and support such businesses.

11. Save paper

When you must print documents, use recycled paper, print on both sides and reduce margins and font size to fit more on each page. To reduce paper consumption even further, be sure to sign up for electronic bills.

12. Use electricity wisely

Choose energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs, turn off the lights when you leave a room, turn down the heat at night and plug your electronics into smart power strips

13. Choose reusable products

Opt for reusable versions of disposable products when possible. Straws, sandwich bags, water bottles, sanitary napkins, and makeup removal pads all come in reusable formats that can be washed and reused repeatedly.

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What type of fruit should you grow?



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



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



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



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



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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5 ways to protect your bike from thieves



If you regularly use your bike to commute or run errands, you should take steps to protect it from getting stolen. Here are five ways you can reduce the risk.

1. Lock it. Invest in a sturdy U-lock and use it when you leave your bike unattended. The best way to secure your bike is to weave the lock through the frame and front spokes.

2. Secure the wheels. Although they make it easier to transport your bike, wheels with a quick-release mechanism are easy to steal. Opt for nuts and bolts instead.

3. Use a bike rack. Avoid fastening your bike to street signs and fence posts as they may not be properly lodged into the ground. A thief might be able to lift or unscrew the pole.

4. Move it around. Don’t park your bike in the same place every time, as this could make it an easy target. If you have to leave your bike outside all day, move it at least once.

5. Get it engraved. If someone steals your bike, an engraving makes it easier to identify and harder to resell. Some police departments offer this service.

Finally, keep a record of your bike’s make, model and serial number at home. This information will be useful if your bike gets stolen and you need to file a police report.

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