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Knowing your carbon footprint

Yes, we all – one way or another – contribute to the destruction of the Earth. But then again, there are things we can do. Such as cutting out carbon footprint.

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By P.A. Castro

It may sound like a far stretch, but flying to the US to be with a loved one can be likened to burning kaingin style a parcel of land (also known as slash and burn farming). At least it would be if the concept of carbon footprints – a “measure of the impact our activities have on the environment, and in particular climate change; it relates to the amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) produced in our day-to-day lives through burning fossil fuels for electricity, heating, transportation, et cetera,” states carbonfootprint.com – is followed.

While with burning kaingin style the carbon emission is obvious, flying (or, for that matter, using various forms of transportation) entails the need to combust fossil fuels, such as oil, coal and gas. And when fossil fuels burn, they, too, emit GHGs like CO2 that inadvertently contribute to global warming, what with 98% of atmospheric CO2 coming from the combustion of fossil fuels (Energy Information Administration).

So, yes, flying to the US to be with a loved one can be likened to slash and burn farming.

DIFFERENT FOOTPRINTS

Carbon footprint can be broken down into the primary and secondary footprints.

On the one hand, the primary footprint is more personal, since it is the sum of direct emissions of GHGs from the burning of fossil fuels for, say, energy consumption and transportation. Thus, “more fuel-efficient cars have a smaller primary footprint, as do energy-efficient light bulbs in your home or office,” states Maggie L. Walser, writing in The Encyclopedia of Earth.

On the other hand, the secondary footprint is still personal, albeit on a broader scale, as it is the “sum of indirect emissions of GHGs during the lifecycle of products used by an individual or organization. For example, the greenhouse gases emitted during the production of plastic for water bottles, as well as the energy used to transport the water, contributes to the secondary carbon footprint. Products with more packaging will generally have a larger secondary footprint than products with a minimal amount of packaging.” To put it simply, the “more we buy the more emissions will be caused on our behalf.”

No matter the type, though, “because of the presence of GHGs in our atmosphere, the average temperature of the Earth is 14 ºC (57 ºF). Without the greenhouse effect, the average temperature of the atmosphere would be -19 ºC (-2.2 ºF),” Walser states.

CUTTING FOOTPRINTS

For the UNDP – United Nation’s global development network advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience, and resources to help people build a better life – in the Philippines, there are simple things that can be done to reduce one’s carbon footprint, including:

  • Turn it off. This cannot be stressed enough – turning off energy consuming appliances/gadgets/et cetera when not in use can save up to 40% of power consumption. For that matter, when everything electrically run is not really needed, opt to not use them, e.g. airconditioners in beachfront properties.
  • Avoid plastic. Everything about plastic spells disastrous – from its production to its disposal, so avoiding using it is ideal. At least until biodegradable plastics become the norm.
  • Be a wise driver. Start with buying a hybrid car (less carbon emission), to checking car tires when travelling (it improves the car’s fuel efficiency), to optimizing speed (Did you know you will consume up to 25% less fuel if you drive no faster than 90 km/hr?), et cetera.
  • Replace them. Those incandescent bulb are through as compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are becoming the norm; ditto mobile phone chargers using electricity, with solar charges making a headway.
  • Eat wisely, e.g. go local by choosing food produced closer to home, thereby reducing energy used for their transport.
  • Recycle. Yes, use the three R’s – reuse, reduce, recycle. They always work.

While “individual efforts to reduce emissions can go only so far, (with the) cutting of CO2 and other GHGs down to safer levels requiring significant government regulation,” it is noteworthy that “lessening carbon footprints does let people see where they are and how they can change,” Walser states, adding that altering individual habits is always a good start.

Measure your carbon footprint at carbonfootprint.com, firstcarbonsolutions.com, or nature.org.

Believing that everyone's perspective is important, Zest Magazine has opted to provide an avenue for these perspectives to be known. care to hear the publication's contributing writers; or better yet, do some contributing yourself by contacting info@zestmag.com.

NewsMakers

How to help children build a growth mindset

Consider these three tips to help children build a growth mindset.

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A new year is a perfect time to consider the habits you want to keep and the ones you’d like to develop. One resolution to consider is helping your children develop a growth mindset this year.

“We know one of the greatest boosts to parents’ confidence over the past year came from knowing their children’s whole selves are being nurtured, and we want to see that trend continue,” said Carter Peters from KinderCare Learning Center’s education team. “A growth mindset helps children try new things despite fear of failure. It’s the kind of thinking that allows inventors and creative thinkers to get excited about trying something new and ensures they have the cognitive flexibility and problem-solving skills to work through hurdles.”

Adults can often easily spot when children are engaged in creative thinking and prideful of their work, but that confidence may be lost as failures turn into insecurities. By nurturing a growth mindset and showing children they can learn and develop new skills in any area, it better sets them up for long-term success.

Consider these three tips to help children build a growth mindset:

Photo by Markus Spiske from Unsplash.com

1. Praise effort

It’s easy to fall into the habit of praising successes. However, praising effort encourages children to try new things without the fear of failing. It also teaches children personal growth and achievement are possible, even if their overall effort wasn’t a success.

“Young children often get excited to try something new,” Peters said. “By praising effort and showing children they’ll still be loved and valued despite the outcome, you can reframe how they approach challenges and teach them that difficult doesn’t mean impossible.”

2. Encourage the process

People often withhold praise until there’s a result, which leads children to hurriedly scribble a picture to hold up for a “good job” instead of taking time to focus on their efforts. When children know adults will encourage them during the process, instead of only upon the achievement, they’re more likely to try new things or master a new skill. For example, try providing encouragement such as, “I can see you’re focused on drawing that tree. It looks so lifelike because you’re putting so much thought into what you’re doing.” Once their project is finished, continue the encouragement by hanging up their artwork or school projects in a prominent place.

3. Model a growth mindset

You can model a growth mindset for children by narrating your actions when you are facing a challenge: “I am having a difficult time putting this shelf together, but it’s OK. I’ll take a break then read the instructions again.” Remove negative words from your vocabulary, such as “I can’t” or “I’m stupid.” Even when you are joking, children may not be able to tell the difference. You can also ask your children to join you in problem-solving. Take time to hear their ideas and try them even if you think they won’t work. This not only supports the development of their growth mindset, but the quality time and encouragement reinforces their sense of self-worth and builds confidence.

For more tips to help children develop a growth mindset, visit kindercare.com.

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NewsMakers

Signs of a Healthy Marriage

Although there are many different ways to define a healthy marriage, these three qualities are essential for any lasting and fulfilling relationship.

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A healthy marriage is built on trust, respect, and communication. Couples with these qualities in their relationship tend to be more satisfied with their marriage and overall life. They also report feeling closer to their partner and having stronger well-being. With 2.3 out of every 1000 people in the US experiencing divorce in 2022, it is important to frequently check in on the health of your marriage.

Although there are many different ways to define a healthy marriage, these three qualities are essential for any lasting and fulfilling relationship.

Signs of a Healthy Marriage

A healthy marriage is built on trust, communication, and mutual respect. If you and your partner can effectively communicate and share a mutual level of respect, then your relationship is off to a good start. Trust is also important in a healthy marriage, as it allows you and your partner to feel secure in your relationship and rely on each other.

Many other signs can indicate whether or not a marriage is healthy. For example, couples who can spend quality time together and enjoy shared activities usually do well. Couples who can openly discuss their relationship with each other and work through difficulties together are also more likely to have a happy and healthy marriage. Finally, marriages, where both partners feel like they can be themselves without judgment from their spouse tend to be the strongest and most lasting.

Freedom to be yourself

In a healthy marriage, partners feel free to be themselves. They don’t have to put on a facade or pretend to be someone they’re not. They can be open and honest with each other and feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, feelings, and desires.

Both partners should pursue their interests and hobbies without compromising or sacrificing for the sake of the relationship. There’s no need to agree on everything – in fact, it’s healthy to have some separate interests – but overall, both partners should feel like they’re able to be true to themselves within the relationship.

Lots of good communication

In a healthy marriage, partners can communicate effectively. It means expressing needs and wants and listening and responding to what the other person is saying. There are mutual respect’s opinions, even if there are disagreements. Couples in a healthy marriage feel comfortable communicating with each other about both the good and the bad.

Good sex life

A good sex life can be a major sign of a healthy marriage. A lack of sexual activity can be an early warning sign that something is wrong in the relationship. Often, couples who have a good sex life are more connected emotionally and physically. They are also more likely to trust each other and communicate openly.

Trust in each other

In any relationship, trust is essential. Without trust, there is no foundation for the relationship to grow. In a marriage, trust is even more important. Trusting your spouse means you feel confident in their ability to support you emotionally and financially. It also means that you feel safe sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings with them.

When you trust your spouse, you know they have your best interests. You feel comfortable being yourselves around each other and sharing your hopes, dreams, and fears. Openness and honesty in your relationship allow you to be vulnerable with each other. This vulnerable honesty creates a deeper level of intimacy in your marriage.

When you trust each other, you can be more forgiving when mistakes are made. You know that everyone makes mistakes and that nobody is perfect. You also understand that your spouse is human and capable of making mistakes like anyone else. If they make a mistake, you are more likely to forgive them because you know they are sorry and will try not to make the same mistake again.

Trust is one of the most important foundations of a healthy marriage. If you want your marriage to thrive, build trust in each other.

A successful, strong marriage takes work, but with communication, trust, respect, vulnerability, and affection as its core components, you can together create a partnership that will be long-lasting.

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NewsMakers

Why hustle culture can do more harm than good to your mental health

Despite the fact that hustle culture causes individuals to increase their working hours and reduce the number of hours they have for sleep, it can actually cause people to become a lot less productive, making the entire culture itself extremely counterproductive.

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Anybody with social media will be aware of the hauntingly popular notion of ‘hustle culture’, which refers to people feeling pressured to work tirelessly, without rest, and to be constantly making money and being productive. 

The research team at Private Rehab Clinic Delamere, has stressed that this notion can be extremely toxic and can cause a negative impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Stress

One of the many negative impacts that hustle culture can have on an individuals mental wellbeing is with extreme stress. Stress in the workplace can affect people both mentally and physically, it can generate feelings of anxiety and cause depression. In phsycial form, stress can cause heart disease, difficulty breathing, headaches and alcohol and drug dependency. 

Stress caused by heavy work pressures, long hours and workloads can result in burnout. Being burnout can affect everyday tasks at work or in the home, it can make an individual feel less productive and it increase the risk of mistakes. In industries that deal with machinery or are based in dangerous environments, this could have catastrophic consequences. 

Anxiety 

Hustle culture creates a toxic environment for fear, guilt and shame, and the glorification of overworking can lead to severe cases of anxiety. The anxiety makes employees feel that they have failed if they ever take a break. Not allowing yourself any time to relax can be extremely dangerous for your mental health and wellbeing. Anxiety can lead to a plethora of other issues including lack of sleep, fatigue, and exhaustion.

Exhaustion

Working too much, feeling constantly under pressure and having a poor sleep cycle can cause exhaustion. This can lead to counter-productivity later down the line as exhaustion can cause difficulty with concentration, memory and even emotional imbalance. 

There are also instances where the body is able to just shut itself down and fall asleep whilst working, this can be extremely dangerous if a person’s industry involves driving vehicles or operating heavy machinery. 

Fatigue

Fatigue is sometimes compared to exhaustion, however fatigue can be more long term and can cause further damage to a person’s mental health and wellbeing. Symptoms can be much more severe than exhaustion too, individuals will often experience headaches, dizziness and muscle pains and weakness.

Fortunately, with some simple and practical lifestyle changes such as taking more breaks and getting proper sleep, fatigue can reduce over time, but in some cases you may need to see a doctor. 

Decreased Productivity 

Despite the fact that hustle culture causes individuals to increase their working hours and reduce the number of hours they have for sleep, it can actually cause people to become a lot less productive, making the entire culture itself extremely counterproductive. 

This is why hustle culture has a negative impact on both employers and employees, for employers they end up with workers being much less productive and the workers themselves begin to face a plethora of physical and mental health issues that can be entirely avoided.

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