Do You Know What You Can Compost?

October 29th, 2014 Posted in Life & Money Smart Tips | No Comments »

What To Compost

What To Compost

Composting is something that is incredibly good for your garden and for the environment. When you compost, you keep waste from being thrown away and you give your garden and plants the vital nutrients it needs to grow strong and healthy. Composting is very easy to do. Essentially, all you do is take organic waste, mix it up with dirt, throw in some mulching worms and keep rotating the compost every few weeks and you will have great compost for your garden. As for what you can compost, there are plenty of different things you can compost.

One thing you can compost is your hair and nails. These items are organic and will disappear over time but if you put them in your compost you can give your garden a big shot of nitrogen and calcium, which is very important for your garden. So, when you have a haircut, or cut your nails throw the waste into the compost and help your garden out.

You can compost your jeans and cotton shirts. This is because denim and cotton are organic and will break away over time. All you have to do is cut up the pieces of the clothes and throw them into the compost. They will disappear over time and give your garden lots of great nutrients and minerals. All that will be left eventually are the buttons and zippers, and you should probably just remove those when you throw the clothes in the garden in the first place.

Vegetable waste, fruit waste and any other type of food can be thrown into your compost. This gives your compost many vitamins, nutrients and minerals that will help your garden grow very strong. Now, it is important to note that you cannot put meat or egg shells into your compost. Egg shells do not break down so you have to mash them into a powder so that it can biodegrade. Meat runs the risk of getting maggots into your compost, which will cause your compost to be ruined.

If you rake the leaves on your lawn, then you will be able to compost the yard waste. Many homeowners now leave leaves on their lawn through the winter because it helps to provide the lawn with nutrients and you can use that same concept in your garden. Just take the yard waste and mix it into your compost and the following year you will have a very healthy garden.

Animal waste, specifically manure from horses and cows is extremely high in nitrogen and a good way to help your garden out. You should only use the manure of horses and cows, unless you have a special composter that can handle human or dog waste. Done right, you will help the garden with minerals and nutrients that come from the food the animals eat.

Compost is something that can help your garden greatly and it is essential if you are going to be doing any sort of organic gardening.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Thegreenlivingblog.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on June 25, 2010.

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October 25th, 2014 Posted in Internet & Technology, Reviews & Interviews | No Comments »

OnePlus One

OnePlus Smart Phone Gives Better Value For Your Money

After much anticipation and excitement, Google finally released its flagship 2014 long-awaited smartphone Nexus 6. All the rumoured features and specs of this gigantic phablet appear to be somewhat true, except its gigantic price.

Google’s Nexus branding has been known for its reasonable price, which is much less than other brands in general. For example, the Nexus 5 was priced at $350 and $400 – a $200 to $300 cheaper than other comparable models.

The same reduced price tag was expected for the Nexus 6. However, it broke everyone’s heart when it was released on Oct 15, 2014. CBC reports that Nexus 6 pricing for Canadians will be a hefty $749, much higher than the roughly $500 I was expecting it to be.

On the other hand, a new phone company called OnePlus was founded in China in December 2013, taking the smartphone market by storm. OnePlus makes elegantly high-end and high-performance smartphones at ridiculously low prices that were never heard of before. For example, their 64 GB 2014 Flagship Killer is only $349, which can be easily sold for more than $700 by other manufacturers.

However, OnePlus has its own drawback; you can’t just buy it if you want. Due to high demand, the manufacturer is unable to keep up with supply, and as a result it’s only available via invite. If you have an invite from OnePlus or someone who already bought one sends you an invite, you will be able to buy it.

As I have been contemplating buying a new Nexus 6 and eagerly waiting for an invite from OnePlus, I was leaning more towards Nexus 6, if the price tag stays within my expected range. Surprisingly enough, all of a sudden I got an invite from OnePlus just before the Nexus 6 release date. I did not hesitate to buy OnePlus, as the invite stays valid only for 24 hours. After purchasing OnePlus on Oct 14, the Nexus 6 price shock came the next day on October 15.

The choice became obvious once I found out the price of the Nexus 6. It is no longer an affordable brand like its predecessor models. As I am waiting to receive my OnePlus, at the same time I am feeling good about not buying Nexus 6 and saving about $400 – $500. Thanks, Google Nexus 6, but no thanks.

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Can One of The Worst Polluters On The Planet Become The Greenest Country in History?

October 16th, 2014 Posted in Canada & Beyond | No Comments »

China and the Green Energy Revolution

China and the Green Energy Revolution

For the longest time, many considered China to be the place where green energy was doomed to failure. After all, this was a country that was building one coal factory every single week, in a slow week. Clouds of pollution would obscure entire cities and it was so bad that the country had to stop half the city from driving during the Olympics. Clouds of pollution from China could even be seen from space making their way over to the United States.

However, things have changed and China may become a world leader in green energy. As part of its economic stimulus package to restart the economy after the financial meltdown that swept the world, China created the largest green investment program in the entire world by giving out $336 billion in funds to green companies. That is well above the $80 billion put aside by the United States and the $45 billion by the European Union.

China has expressed that it wants to have energy security as part of its economic transformation and the country has pushed ahead with renewable energy development. Roughly 17 percent of the electricity in China currently comes from renewable sources and the country has the largest number of hydroelectric generators in the world. In 2007 the country had 145,000 megawatts of hydropower and by 2010 that had increased to 190,000 megawatts. Thanks to the heavy investment into green energy, China is expected to be able to supply all its power itself, through renewable resources, within the next 20 years.

Currently, China produces one-third of the solar photovoltaics in the world and the country has led the world with the manufacturing of these photovoltaics with its six biggest solar companies amounting to $15 billion in value. Nearly one gigawatt of energy is produced in China by solar energy, putting it second only to Japan. In 2007, there was 20 megawatts of installed solar capacity and that more than doubled in 2008 to 50 megawatts. By 2012, it is expected to be 232 megawatts and by 2020 most expect China to be producing 20 gigawatts of energy from solar resources.

In addition to solar energy, China has the largest wind resources on the planet, with 75 percent of those resources being found off-shore of the country. Currently, wind power in China accounts for 12.2 gigawatts of energy and the country is the fourth largest producer of wind power after the United States, Germany and Spain. This past year, China also became the largest maker of wind turbines in the entire world. While the country wanted to have 10 gigawatts of wind energy installed by 2010, it will most likely exceed 25.1 gigawatts within only a couple years. By 2020, the country plans to have 100 gigawatts of energy coming from wind energy.

Clearly, China is showing the world that when it does something, it does it on a large scale. With China pushing green energy, one of the worst polluters on the planet may become the greenest country in history.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Thegreenlivingblog.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on May 29, 2010.

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Next eBook: Money Hacks

October 9th, 2014 Posted in A Dawn Books | No Comments »

My Next Book Will Be An EBook

My Next Book Will Be An EBook

I have decided to publish my next book as an eBook via Amazon Kindle. For those who are not reading A Dawn Journal for long, I would like to mention that my first book, Invest Now, was a paper book.

eBook sales will overtake print sales across the globe, if they haven’t already. eBooks offer various advantages over printed books, such as instant global distribution, instant access for readers (instant gratification), very short timeframe to publish (about 24-48 hours once uploaded on Amazon), affordability for readers, and more control for authors.

I have contemplated about 20-30 names for my next book. Initially I was thinking about naming it Save Now: A Universal Guide to Saving. However, I think I found a name that better fits the content and more attractive than the above name:

 Money Hacks: How Small Changes Save Big Money

But I might change the above name if I can come up with something better. The book will be filled with tips you can use daily to save money. Like Invest Now, I will keep Money Hacks simple and short. Expect it to be around 150 pages.

I have decided to set the price at $2.99. However, I will have some free days so A Dawn Journal readers can download it for free. The free download announcement will be published on A Dawn Journal.

I have finished writing in my notebook and am now typing it on MS Word. In between editing, formatting for Kindle, and finishing the cover, you probably are looking at another one to two months before it is available. Stay tuned for more, as I will keep you posted as work progresses.

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The World’s Best Places to Live 2014

October 2nd, 2014 Posted in Canada & Beyond | 1 Comment »
Niagara Falls, Canada

Canadian Cities Are Among The Most Liveable on Earth

If you have been thinking cities like New York, Los Angeles, Florida, London, Tokyo, and Paris are some of the best places to live, think again. A recent report published by The Economist’s Intelligence Unit puts three Canadian cities in the top ten list of the most liveable cities on the world.

Here are the top ten most liveable cities among 140 cities on earth, based on 30 factors across categories such as stability, infrastructure, education, health care, and environment.

1. Melbourne, Australia

2. Vienna, Austria

3. Vancouver, Canada

4. Toronto, Canada

5. Adelaide, Australia

5. Calgary, Canada

7. Sydney, Australia

8. Helsinki, Finland

9. Perth, Australia

10. Auckland, New Zealand

On the top ten, three cities are in Canada and three cities are in Australia. Most liveable cities are often mid-sized cities in rich countries with lower population, as the report points out.

The liveability of the Canadian cities has improved compared to other cities. On the other hand, the conditions on the bottom cities on the list deteriorated, especially concerning human rights violation and conflict.

The least 10 liveable cities on earth are Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire), Tripoli (Libya), Douala (Cameroon), Harare (Zimbabwe), Algiers (Algeria), Karachi (Pakistan), Lagos (Nigeria), Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea), Dhaka (Bangladesh), and Damascus (Syria). To view the full report, visit The Economist.

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The Environmental Trend of Using Sod Roofs

September 28th, 2014 Posted in Life & Money Smart Tips | No Comments »

Eco Friendly Sod Roof

Eco Friendly Sod Roof

When you think of the roof of a house, you probably think of shingles, sheets of tin or ceramic tiles. However, there is a new trend in roofs that is actually not anything new. It is sod roofs and for thousands of years they were the way most humans built a roof. It is nothing new, but this age-old practice is being rediscovered as more and more individuals try to become more self-sufficient and environmentally-friendly.

Also called turf roofs and green roofs, a sod roof is typically built these days by combining dimpled plastic drainage membranes that are used instead of birch bark. Bitumen roofing felt is nailed down and a drainage membrane is put over this to create the drainage layer. Turf is then put on.

Other types of green roofs do not use this method. Some are only roofs with container gardens on top, while others feature irrigation systems and while not sod, allow for the growing of plants. Another form of green roof is the use of rooftop ponds that are used to treat grey water before it is used elsewhere by the homeowners.

A green/sod roof serves many purposes for a home or building. It helps to create a habitat for some wildlife, especially birds and insects, while absorbing rainwater, insulating the building and lowering the urban air temperature. It has also been found that not only do green roofs increase the value of a home; they also greatly increase the life span of the roof itself.

Some other benefits of the green roof include:

  1. It can reduce the cooling load of a building by as much as 90 percent, with 50 percent being the norm.
  2. It reduces storm water run off.
  3. It filters both pollutants and carbon dioxide out of the outside air.
  4. It helps to filter out any pollutants that may be in the rainwater.
  5. It insulates the building from outside sound.
  6. It provides agricultural space even in the middle of the city.

In a study done by Environment Canada, it was found that a green roof greatly improves the insulation of the roof. In the study, there was a 26 percent reduction in summer cooling needs and a 26 percent reduction in winter heat loss when there was a green roof. The lifespan of a roof was also increased by two to three times when it was a green roof.

Buildings all over the world are beginning to latch onto the idea of a green roof, including in Vancouver where more and more buildings are growing gardens on the roof instead of just leaving it bare.

Just recently, the University of Central Arkansas put in plans to put soil and plants on top of a classroom building in order to save money on the cost of utility bills and to help gain more benefits from the natural surface on top of the roof. University officials plan to put low-growing and slow-growing plants on the top of the roof, amounting to roughly 2,000 square feet of soil and plants. The life of the building will also be extended because the green roof will soak up UV rays.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Thegreenlivingblog.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on May 15, 2010.

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Global Real Estate ETFs Take Off

September 24th, 2014 Posted in ETFs & Mutual Funds | No Comments »

Investors Chasing Global Real Estate ETFs

Investors Chasing Global Real Estate ETFs

Who would not like the idea of buying global real estate without leaving home? No wonder global real estate ETF investments skyrocketed. As Bloomberg recently reports in an article, investors are gobbling up global real estate companies at a record pace.

According to the Bloomberg article, global real estate ETF the SPDR Dow Jones International Real Estate ETF (RWX) attracted 340 million in August, the most of any ETF that is comprised of property, mainly non-U.S. real estate.

Global real estate demand has dramatically exploded since the global financial crisis as investors started to look for a safe haven to park money and get higher returns.

As I mentioned in this article on A Dawn Journal in March, 2014, a PwC report mentioned that the global real market will grow substantially in the future due to rapid urbanization and demographic changes.

If you are looking for some global real estate ETFs, here are some places to start with your research. The iShares Global Real Estate (CGR) is a popular name trading on the Canadian exchange. On the U.S. exchanges there are SPDR DJ International Real Estate (RWX), SPDR DJ Global Real Estate (RWO), and Vanguard Global ex-U.S. Real Estate ETF (VNQI), among others.

Like any other investments, global real estate ETFs are subject to various risks such as market risk, currency risk, interest rate risk, credit risk, and so on. Also, do your homework before getting into any investments.

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How To Increase Fuel Efficiency

September 21st, 2014 Posted in Life & Money Smart Tips | No Comments »

Tips To Conserve Gas And The Environment

Tips To Conserve Gas And The Environment

When you drive a car that does not have good fuel-efficiency, you are doing no good for yourself, or the environment. It is important to find ways to conserve gas so that you can ensure you save money, and the environment in the process. Here are some ways you can increase your fuel efficiency.

  1. Do not warm your car up too much, even when it is cold. When it is -30 degrees outside, you only need to warm up the vehicle for about one minute at most.
  2. Revving up your engine can cause fuel to be wasted for no reason.
  3. Slowly accelerate your vehicle rather than speed up quickly. Only push the pedal down about a quarter of the way so that the vehicle can operate at its most efficient level.
  4. When you buy gas, buy it when it is coldest outside because gas is denser when it is cold. This gives you more fuel concentration for less money at the pump.
  5. A very important tip is to not speed. When you speed, you lower your fuel efficiency. For example, traveling at 55 mph will give 21 percent better mileage compared when you are driving at 70 mph.
  6. When you are driving on the highway, close the windows of your car because the air drag of open windows will reduce your fuel efficiency by about ten percent.
  7. Use your cruise control whenever you can because this keeps your vehicle from constantly adjusting in speed, which ensures your vehicle stays at its most efficient.
  8. Coast down hills as much as you can. Coasting down a hill and letting the momentum carry you for a brief period of time will save a lot of gas and keep the fuel efficiency high.
  9. Try to limit how much you reverse as much as you can because reverse uses more gas than going forward. One good tip is to back into a stall so you can pull out in drive when you start your vehicle to leave.
  10. Keep your vehicle tuned-up because this will give you the most fuel efficiency when you are driving. Clean air filters in your vehicle to keep fuel efficiency high.
  11. Keep your tires inflated to their optimum limit. Tires that are underinflated will lower your fuel efficiency. You should also get tires that have a larger diameter for your rear tires because this will also save you fuel.
  12. Do not have the air conditioning on because it will lower your fuel efficiency by about 20 percent. The more you use electronics in the engine, the more of a load on the engine and the less fuel efficiency you will get.
  13. One of the easiest things you can do to save money and fuel is to walk as much as possible. This keeps you healthy and it keeps you from using gas. In addition, you should look at car pooling to work. This will save you 75 percent on your fuel costs for your commute to work.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Thegreenlivingblog.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on April 3, 2010.

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Samsung 32 Inch 1080P LED Smart TD Review

September 17th, 2014 Posted in Internet & Technology, Reviews & Interviews | No Comments »

Samsung Full HD 32 Inch Smart TV

Samsung Full HD 32 Inch Smart TV

The reason I wanted to upgrade to a smart TV was not because of how smart it was or anything else, but its incredible low electricity consumption. For example, my old 23-inch LED 1080P HD TV consumed about 100 Watts of electricity. However, even with a bigger screen and much more features, the Samsung 32-Inch LED consumes only 40 watts. That’s a lot of savings if you look at in terms of years or its lifetime.

Some of the features:

- 32-Inch Full HD 1080P 1920×1080 resolution

- Samsung Smart Hub features apps that let you stream content including YouTube and Netflix.

- You can stream content from your smart phone or table. You can even cast your device’s screen on TV.

- Surf web on TV using Samsung web browser, or you can browse web on laptop and cast screen on TV using Chromecast.

What I Like

The price is very low in terms of what you are getting. Stunning crisp clear picture quality will grab your attention right away once you turn this on. You will be paying $100 to $200 more for similar smart TVs from other manufacturers. Also, I noticed that those from other manufacturers consume more electricity as well. Audio quality is also good with its Dolby Digital Plus/Dolby Pulse sound. There is no need to use a separate sound system.

What I Don’t Like

At times, the Samsung 32-Inch 1080P LED Smart TD can be a little slow, if you try to access its apps via the Internet, or if you try to load up its built-in TV guide. The reason model UN32H5203 is a little slow is because it uses a standard processor. However, there is another model UN32H5500 that uses quad-code processor and it’s a lot faster (and pricier as well).

Another thing to mention it’s not super slim as it has a 0.5 inch bezel. Same here with model UN32H5500 – which comes with a thinner 0.3 inch bezel and it is very thin.

Last Word

Even with some minor flaws, the Samsung 32-Inch 1080P LED Smart TD is definitely a smart buy and you can’t go wrong due to its reasonable price.

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How To Go Green With Bamboo

September 13th, 2014 Posted in Life & Money Smart Tips | No Comments »

The Power of Bamboo

The Power of Bamboo

One of the greatest gifts the Earth has given us to go green is a plant that has been used in Asia for thousands of years; bamboo. In the west, bamboo is not used as much as it is in Asia, but that is beginning to change as more and more people discover just how amazing this plant is.

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world, usually growing about one foot every single day. This means that rather than reach maturity in 30 years like trees in North America, a bamboo stalk can reach maturity within three years. In addition, one bamboo stalk can be harvested many times as each time the stalk is cut; a new stalk will continue to grow.

However, the fast growing ability of bamboo is not the only thing that makes the plant so great. There are several facts about bamboo that most people do not realize which show how versatile the plant is.

  1. Bamboo stalks are used in Asia to reinforce concrete because it has the same tensile strength as steel.
  2. While bamboo stalks are as strong as steel, fabric made from bamboo is actually as soft as silk.
  3. Bamboo towels are much better than cotton towels because bamboo is better for the environment, it does not take as much space to grow and bamboo towels are 1.5 times as absorbent as cotton towels.
  4. Bamboo can grow nearly anywhere and where it does grow; it helps to protect the soil from erosion.
  5. Bamboo can be made into a variety of environmentally-friendly products including floors, countertops, furniture, clothes, towels, baby clothes, baby products, toys, scaffolding and construction materials.

One of the biggest concerns about bamboo is that people feel that it costs more. This is not true at all. In fact, bamboo is beginning to fall in cost because it is becoming so commonly used throughout the world now. Even Wal-Mart, is beginning to sell bamboo products for a very low price. Many studies have also been done and found that bamboo is going to be one of the biggest exports and imports throughout the world in the 21st century. Many countries are starting to jump on this and grow their own bamboo. Currently though, China accounts for about 80 percent of all the bamboo exports in the world, and China grows all the bamboo it uses. The United States, Canada, Europe and Australia account for some of the bamboo exports and their hold on the market is beginning to grow.

So, if you are thinking of going green in your home, you can do no wrong by implementing bamboo everywhere you can. The floors are strong, the countertops are beautiful and the fabrics are soft. In addition, if you are thinking of investing in something that will increase in value in the coming years, then you should look at bamboo.

What other plant on Earth is as strong as steel, as soft as silk, waterproof and more absorbent than cotton? Bamboo is the wonder plant of the 21st century.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Thegreenlivingblog.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on Mar 7, 2010.

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