JouleBlogThe latest news from JouleBug, the easy way to make your everyday habits more sustainable, at home, work, and play. Discover how you and your friends can use resources—without using them up, with this newly designed app.
Earth Day, first celebrated in 1970 as a way to raise awareness around the need to protect the planet’s natural resources for future generations, continues to inspire new commitments to environmental sustainability each year on April 22.
Influenced by Vietnam-era protests, Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson chose that specific day to maximize the number of students who could be reached on university campuses in a “national teach-in on the environment.” It worked. More than 20 million people across the United States participated, providing a broad base to support legislation such as the Clean Air Act (updated in 1970) and the Endangered Species Act (1973).
Denis Hayes, a Harvard grad student, helped coordinate the first Earth Day. For its 20th anniversary he expanded its reach to the globe, organizing 200 million people in 140 countries to take a stand.
Over the years Earth Day has expanded into Earth Week, and then into Earth Month. Each April thousands of organizations encourage more than a billion people to consider how their personal actions, amid larger policy decisions, make a difference in the world around them.
Earth Day’s emphasis on educating individuals about tangible actions they can take provides a short-term “boost” for environmental protection. By sharing knowledge, developing skills, changing attitudes, and supporting the intention to act, Earth Day can encourage behavior change such as shifting lifestyle habits, participating in restoration activities or advocating for environmental policy changes.
The commitment to changing a behavior, even for a day or a week, can have lasting effects. It’s somewhat like opening Pandora’s box; after discovering how even small decisions and actions affect the larger world, it’s difficult to “unknow” and ignore those impacts. For these reasons, participating in a JouleBug challenge for even a short time has the potential to encourage long-term behavior change.
Initially focused on water and air pollution, a National Geographic post explains that current Earth Day events and actions around the world can now be broadly categorized into 10 core issues:
– Climate Change
– Conservation & Biology
– Food & Agriculture
– Green Economy
– Green Schools
– Recycling & Waste Reduction
– Sustainable Development
JouleBug is a valuable – and fun! – tool to understand and act on many of these issues, blended in with a competitive element to encourage even greater participation. It’s also an excellent platform for sustainable storytelling. Through comments and sharing photos of “sustainability in action” Joulebug participants can help shape behavior norms in an ever-increasing spiral upwards toward protecting the one and only planet we have.
Over the past 46 years Earth Day has evolved from a single day celebrating the environmental movement in the United States to a global network empowering more than a billion people to better understand, protect, and improve the environment. JouleBug is proud to play a part.
Image © NASA
Did you know that household leaks waste over 1 trillion gallons of water a year in the U.S. alone? Tightening up those faucets, shower-heads, and toilets can make a big difference in your water and water bill savings!
Save water and your wallet by sealing those leaks!
Check out these JouleBug pins designed to help you preserve and conserve!
Start your savings!
photo © JouleBug
Fat and high-cholesterol foods? No problem. Alcohol and coffee are fine too, but skip the spoonful of sugar. And that salt shaker? Put it down.
Keeping up with the latest nutrition recommendations can be as daunting as keeping up with the Joneses. Both could drive you nuts, potentially damaging your health and your wallet.
Thankfully the latest version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released earlier this year by the U.S. Agriculture and Health and Human Services Departments, seems to be the voice of sanity. Its newest advice is an exercise in moderation, explained in a recent New York Times article as emphasizing the “need to focus on a health-promoting eating pattern ‘across the life span.'”
The experts are now less worried about the high-cholesterol eggs and shrimp that might land on your plate and more concerned about what kinds of fat you’re eating. Avocados, nuts, olive oil and fatty fish are packed with unsaturated fats, the kind linked with better health and longevity and part of the celebrated Mediterranean diet. Fats can also make you feel full longer, a key feature in any weight loss effort.
Saturated fat, salt and added sugars are the big three no-nos according to the report. Refined carbohydrates – such as white bread, white rice, cakes, cookies and that yummy breakroom doughnut – are also on the “not that” list. Stripped of their fiber and nutrients, they are empty calories not much better than eating that spoonful of sugar.
While the guidelines stop short of calling out smaller meat portions, they do lower the recommended protein amounts for teenage boys and men. Processed meats, loaded with both saturated fat and salt, have been linked to increased risk of cancer and heart disease.
Waking up to the smell of sausage might not be the best idea, but the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee? Bring it on. It’s the first time the guidelines admit that a couple of cups a day are acceptable. The same stands for alcohol as well. Moderation is key: men can have up to two drinks, and women one, a day.
So what should you eat?
According to the Times, “diets with a rich variety of vegetables and fruits; whole grains; fat-free or low-fat dairy foods like milk, yogurt and cheese, and protein foods that contain little or no saturated fat, including eggs, shellfish, lean meat and poultry, beans and peas, soy products, nuts and seeds.”
That said, for the first time the guidelines “advise Americans to focus less on individual nutrients and to think more broadly about overall patterns of healthy eating.”
Bottom line, it’s about taking in essential nutrients through many different kinds of whole foods, maintaining a healthy weight and reducing your risk for chronic diseases.
Cheers to your health!
Photo © iStock
We are very excited that a JouleBug Pin got its first Super Bowl ad!
Saving water is important whether your state is in a drought or not! And conserving can be so simple! Just keeping the faucet off while brushing your teeth can save up to 4 gallons of water!
Check out Colgate’s #EveryDropCounts campaign ad here:
Clean energy ideas and innovation hit peak excitement last year. In its “8 Tech Breakthroughs of 2015,” National Geographic profiled high-tech wonders such as autonomous cars, tall wind, tidal, fusion, fuel cells, home automation and more, enough to tantalize even the most discerning science fiction fan with the promise of what’s next in powering our world.
But the story actually saved the best for last. The biggest breakthrough? Decidedly low-tech. The last two paragraphs claimed the biggest news is the potential to reduce 20% of a home’s energy use through no- or low-cost behavioral changes, no smart gear required.
There is an inexpensive technology in our homes right now that can conserve energy immediately. It’s called a light switch, says a recent Carnegie Mellon report. Convincing a teenager to use that light switch every time they leave a room, however, is a social science challenge, not a technology challenge.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration states the 2014 average residential use was 911 kWh each month. According to the U.S. Census there are 115,610,216 households in the nation; a 20% savings translates into 252 billion kWh of energy saved. This is more than enough for every home in California and Florida!
Sounds great on paper, but have you tried changing a teenager’s behavior lately? It’s a daunting mission.
That’s exactly why community partners sponsored several JouleBug Challenges in schools around the country last year; competition and sharing are great ways to captivate a reluctant teenager.
When participants see the impact of their collective actions at the conclusion of a Joulebug Challenge, many are “blown away” with the results.
More often than not the final outcome is those same reluctant teenagers teaching their parents a thing or two about how to use resources more wisely.
Today is America Recycles Day! Recycling is at the basis of living a sustainable lifestyle, and the best part is — it’s easy! Join the movement and inform yourselves on what can and cannot be recycled; and make a little extra effort to ensure those items don’t end up in the trash!
Recycling can have a big impact on the environment.
In 2009 alone, Americans recycled over 82 million tons of materials. The reduction in CO2 emissions from this recycling is the same as taking 33 million cars off the road!
We are headed down the right track but it takes everyone to make it an effective system! Start today to make recycling a habit in your sustainable lifestyle! When you make sure that your paper, bottles, and other non-trash items end up in the recycling bin, make sure to buzz the Bin to Win pin!
Think paper and bottles are the only things that should have another life? Not true! Old electronics like cell phones and CD players should be recycled as well so their earth metals can be reused. Buzz the Second Life pin when you recycle an old electronic.
Another way to support recycling is at the store. In 2010 America recovered over 60% of paper to recycle into new products. When you buy paper or toilet paper, try brands that use recycled materials to lessen your impact. Then buzz the Blank Sheet or Bear Bum pins!
Visit AmericaRecycles.org to find out more about what can be recycled, to find a recycling location near you, and to get more info on the impact that recycling can have!
Fall is here and it’s the perfect chance to give you’re A/C a break after a long, warm summer.
JouleBug’s new ‘Air it Out’ pin encourages you to use the brisk fall air to cool down your home.
Leave your windows open at night when temperatures drop instead of having to keep your Air Conditioner running. It’s a great way to save on your energy bill and it will keep your home confortable and cool!
Buzz the Air it Out pin when let the fresh air cool you off with open windows!
Drought got you down?
If you live in California or other drought stricken areas, we know that finding new ways to conserve water and save on your water bill is always a good thing! Even if you don’t live in California, water conservation is important and can help you save money and one of our planet’s most valuable resources!
JouleBug is introducing new pins to take your water conservation game to the next level!
Head to your app’s ‘Water’ category to check out these brand new pins! Start earning more points and saving more water today!