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The scoop: I just drove from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. I learned a lot about America along the way.

Some key highlights from rural America:

  • Galena has hundreds of storefronts in the middle of rural Western Illinois
  • Badlands National Park is in South Dakota but looks like a white Mars
  • There are job shortages for hourly workers from coast to coast. It is tangible.
  • Counties are more significant than states. Remove all stereotypes.
  • Ethical and sustainable agriculture is the most important thing in the world.

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The scoop: After spending a few summers commercial landscaping, I learned a thing or two about what to do and what to avoid if you care about the environment. Landscaping can be complementary to surrounding wildlife, or totally intrusive, depending on your strategy.

The key to sustainable landscaping: 1) Reduce open, unused space 2) Keep grass above 3 inches 3) The lusher the better 4) Use native plants, check for invasive ones 5) Maximize what you have, your yard can be largely self-sustaining.

Bottom line: You can work with your landscaper or do it yourself. Creating a sustainable landscaping strategy does not require additional work. In fact, if done right, it should require less maintenance. You just need a little research and attention to detail if you want it to look good too.

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Gardening can be as simple as putting a seed in the ground and watering it. But we tend to overcomplicate it. Many get discouraged when plants don’t grow properly. Looking for some quick garden wins? Here are 5 easy edible plants you can grow for all the gardening beginners out there.
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The scoop: A compost pile is an eco-friendly, efficient way to maximize your garden’s potential. And it’s super easy to set-up and maintain.

Step 1: Pick a location, choose how to store it. Choosing a spot for your compost depends on where you live. If you end up putting it in a bin, poke some holes and cut out the bottom.

Step 2: Collect, collect, and collect more waste. Make it a habit to add organic materials to your compost. See below for a full list of compostable (and non-compostable) items.

Step 3: Wait, use, and maintain. After a few months, you will be dripping in black gold! Once your compost is set up, keep adding more materials to maintain it.

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Here's how to transform yourself into a minimalist:

  1. Track your purchases and categorize them. I break my purchases into "needs" (basic modern survival stuff), "boosts" (productive buys), and "luxuries" (extra things that make life more enjoyable).
  2. Think before you buy, think after. Why am I about to make this purchase? Now imagine making the purchase, how would you feel after one week, one month, one year?
  3. Take responsibility for a product's end-of-life. The trash can or recycling bin should be the last option. Can you share it, borrow it, sell it, repurpose it, thrift it, make it?

Bottom line: 'Less is more' stands the test of time; when you practice minimalism in an intentional way, everyone benefits. If you do shop, always keep ethics and savings in mind.

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The scoop: Microplastics can be found in every crevice of the Earth. As they become more prevalent, they are more likely to impact human health.

Top ways to avoid microplastics:

  • Filtered tap water > bottled water.
  • Shellfish = microplastic.
  • Eat more fresh food, less takeout.

Zoom out: As the global production of plastic goes up, there will be more plastic to deal with. Research on the impact of microplastics on human health is still developing. Better to be safe than sorry.

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During the past year, I noticed the rise of online shopping more than ever. One day I woke up and my parents were using Amazon as much as my younger sister. I realized even socially-conscious consumers couldn't resist the convenience of big online retailers.

Then, one night on my way home from band practice I got stuck behind a garbage truck on my block. Almost every recycling item was contained in an Amazon box.

The next day, I set out to create a sustainable shop for reusables and consumables.

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The scoop: Don't wait for the next big world event to prepare yourself. How can you make you and your family more 'disaster-proof'?

Some disaster-proof tools:

  1. Practice the 50/30/20 rule. Spend 50% on 'needs, 30% on wants, save 20%.
  2. Utilize your 5 PM - 12 AM. Build a side hustle or passive income outside of your day job.
  3. Network, network, network. The best time to network is when you think you don't have to. Always present your best self and treat everyone equally.
  4. Make a strategic relocation. If you're thinking about making a move, do it when things are mellow. Don't wait for the next big event to pack your bags.
  5. Learn new skills. It can be professional, it can be personal. You can be 20, you can be 60. Just learn something new every day, week or month.

These goals are not perfect for everyone. BUT at least one or two is a tangible goal you can strive for. Set quantitative targets with time intervals.

Humans are only as sustainable as our ability to survive in harmony with nature. Invest in your survivability.

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The scoop: Home gardening is a safe, simple way to take climate action in your backyard (or even in your kitchen!). You can also save yourself some $$, and get some much needed peace of mind.

What's wrong with the grocery store?

The industrial agricultural system takes a large toll on the environment. Whether cutting down trees for more farmland, or using fertilizer to increase crop yields, Big Ag is unsustainable in the long-term. Agriculture causes about 80% of worldwide deforestation efforts, with devastating environmental consequences.

Environmental benefits of home gardening: While home gardening won't change industrial agriculture, it can still have plenty of local environmental benefits on 1) your property and 2) its surrounding ecosystem.

Economic and health benefits: Studies show that being surrounded by more greenery can actually reduce stress and improve mental health. If your vegetation also grows well, you can save a few trips (and dollars) with some home-grown produce. If large vegetation is planted outdoors, you can even reduce electric bill consumption over time.

Bottom line: By expanding generalized access to indoor/outdoor gardening, we can teach more people to take decentralized climate action. It will also support more harmony with people and planet.

Dig deeper → 4 min

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  4. Tech
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The scoop: Electronics produce millions of material waste every year. Here are some simple ways to recycle or repurpose your old gear.

Recycling electronics:

  • You can dispose of old batteries, computers, tvs, and phones at major retailers like Home Depot, Best Buy, Lowe's and Staples. Use a search engine to find one near you.
  • Make sure your device is shot before recycling it - you may be able to donate it, sell it online, or trade it in for a new device.
  • Always back-up old files and do a factory reset before selling, recycling or donating a device.

Bottom line: Being responsible with e-waste is an easy way to dampen your footprint and help under-served communities at the same time.

Dig deeper ➝ 4 min.

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