5 Benefits of Using Reusable Bags to Promote Your Business

Reusable bags have taken the grocery business by storm right now, and for a variety of reasons. People are more environmentally conscious nowadays, and they’re asking the same from the companies they do business with. This is why there is such a huge trend towards eco friendliness, and you can’t afford to fall behind. Here are some of the benefits of using reusable bags to promote your business.

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Effective Promotion Tool

Branded reusable bags work for promotion on so many levels. First of all, they are a prime tool in increasing your brand’s recognition and building brand awareness. Not only that, but every time someone decides to use one of your bags for any reason, they will be reminded of your brand. Your bag will work as a sort of portable billboard that will advertise your brand wherever your clients go. And not only that, it will work as a sort of endorsement; your friends and family will see this bag as a personal vote for the brand, and might form a more positive image of that brand as a result.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Since you’ll be using sustainable materials, you will be reducing your carbon footprint on the planet. Many reusable bags come from recycled materials, such as old bottles for instance, reducing our reliance on natural resources. And once the bag has served its purpose, it can be easily recycled and repurposed, or even composted in some cases.

Show Your Commitment to Going Green

Using reusable bags shows to your clients that you are actually willing to walk the walk and really do your part in protecting the environment. While this may work on a superficial level, you also have to follow through with actual measures if you want to be consistent. But this alone will do a lot to improve your image among your environmentally conscious clientele.

Allows You to Stretch Your Marketing Dollar

One of the great things about reusable bags is that they are a fairly cost-effective marketing tool. You could buy reusable bags wholesale and have them printed with your company’s logo for pennies. Not to mention that you’ll often charge clients for the bags themselves. So in a clever way, your clients will be paying to advertise your business on your behalf.

They Have Various Uses

Reusable bags are by far the star of the promotional item world. As a matter of fact, they are some of the most sought-after items at trade shows and people will literally make lines for them in some cases. So much so that they’ve become genuine items now, with Ikea’s iconic aqua reusable bag which has become sort of a pop culture cult. Because of their usefulness, people tend to hold on to them for many years, allowing your brand to gain even more visibility over time.

 

Recycled reusable bags have tons of benefits every business owner should consider. They’re cheap, convenient and are one of the most powerful and understated marketing methods you can use to build awareness for your brand.

Saving the Environment While Driving When You Can’t Afford a Hybrid

While you might love the idea of cutting back on the number of emissions your car churns out into the atmosphere, you might not be able to afford a hybrid vehicle. While you may not have any problem covering a hybrid with quality Austin insurance, it could be the monthly car payments that give you fits. Thankfully, there are other ways to do your part to save the environment without going broke as a hybrid vehicle owner.

Remove Your Junk

Before you head out again, clean out everything that you don’t need from the trunk, backseat and passenger seat. All that extra weight is negatively impacting your overall gas mileage, which sends you back to the pump faster. There’s also the fact that your engine is working harder to handle the stress of the extra weight, which certainly isn’t doing the air any favors.

Take It Easy When Stopping and Starting

There’s no need to gun the engine as soon as the light turns green. Not only does jackrabbiting chew up your gas and release more emissions, it can also lead to accidents should you collide with drivers trying to make lights just a second after they turn red. Easing to a gradual stop rather than stomping on the brakes is better on your brakes as well as your engine. This means you should make sure you’re going the posted speed limit and pay attention to cars and traffic lights ahead of you so you have time to respond accordingly.

Keep Your Car Tuned Up

Be sure to take your car in for regular oil and air filter changes. It’s understandable to want to put off an oil change for a while, but doing so can cost you more in the long run by eating away at your fuel efficiency and belching harmful fumes into the air. The same applies to tune-ups, which allow your engine to operate more efficiently and let you get as many miles as possible out of your vehicle. Something else about regular tune-ups even when your car seems to be running fine is that mechanics can let you know if there are any minor issues with your car that should be addressed in the near future, giving you time to start saving up for those needed repairs rather than learn of them when they’re more expensive.

Pay Attention to Your Tires

Proper tire pressure is essential not only to how your car maneuvers on the road, but also how much gas it burns. You want your tires to have the optimum amount of contact with the road so there’s just the right amount of friction and resistance to get you where you need to go without your engine or tires having to work harder than necessary. In the colder months of the year, you might have to over-inflate your tires to compensate for the cold air sapping air from your tires. In any case, a tire-pressure gauge or a professional mechanic’s help is essential for making sure your tires have the right amount of pressure.

Don’t Be Afraid to Turn Your Car Off

When you’re stuck in heavy traffic that moves slower than chilled molasses in the winter, go ahead and shut your engine off. Traffic jams can seem more like you’re in a parking lot and less like you’re driving on a road, so you might as well shut the engine off like you would in a parking lot. Imagine the reduction in emissions if every vehicle on the road was turned off during traffic jams. Do your part to start a positive trend all while saving gas.

Know that driving a hybrid only does so much if you don’t practice the basics of being an environmentally-conscious driver. How you drive is much more important than what you drive.

 

6 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Wedding Reception

One of the beautiful advantages of a modern wedding is how you can update it to reflect your beliefs and share them with the attendees. And you can integrate both ethical living and environmentally friendly habits into your reception. Here are 6 tips for an eco-friendly reception. Note that all of this advice is practical for anyone with any budget.

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Pick the Right Location

One of the popular tips for hosting an eco-friendly wedding reception is holding it at an eco-friendly location. Outdoor gardens and especially those that use your funds to save local plants are one option. If you want to host the reception outdoors, hold it in a pavilion with fans instead of a tent with artificial air conditioning. Holding it indoors in local museums or art galleries is another option. Wherever you hold the reception, have it close to the wedding venue, if not part of the wedding venue to minimize travel.

One issue often overlooked when planning the reception is the location of the ceremony. For example, destination weddings where you expect everyone to fly to Hawaii or Bermuda so you don’t have to travel after the ceremony to the hotel are incredibly wasteful. Conversely, holding the wedding reception near your home or a centrally located facility within easy commuting distance of all attendees is the ideal solution.

Select the Right Food and Drink

Select locally sourced wines instead of something that comes from abroad. Choose seasonal foods where possible. You don’t have to go overboard on organic food, since much of it is overpriced for a green-washed label and isn’t really better for people or the environment. Conversely, asking for homemade food gifts in place of appliances you won’t be using anyway is an excellent way to secure food and drink for the wedding. Another factor to consider is food waste. Don’t plan a massive buffet if most of it will be thrown away. If there is food left over, think about how you can donate it at the end of the event before you start placing orders. Composting is a slightly better choice than throwing it all away.

Plan for Hygiene and Health

A common mistake for planning eco-friendly receptions is failing to take hygiene into account. They plan to bring many people into a facility and a few end up going in the bushes instead of using the bathroom. You can solve this problem by renting Satellite restroom trailers. Aside from properly collecting and disposing of waste, you’ll give everyone proper facilities for changing clothes and washing their hands, reducing the risk of illness after the event.

Waste Not, Want Not

Another factor to consider is the waste your event generates. You can reduce this by serving food on small reusable plates instead of paper plates guests throw away. Consider giving out compostable plates and cutlery. An ideal situation is giving away keepsake beverage glasses as gifts to your guests so they don’t have to throw it away. However, hiring a caterer to serve food and drink before taking up dishes they’ll wash and reuse is certainly better than throwing away everything people ate with once.

Think of the Flowers

Consider using artificial flowers that guests can take home instead of living plants. If you want to use flowers, arrange for sustainably grown flowers. Don’t go for the upscale imported Peruvian roses.

Consider Your Vendor Selection

Try to find local service providers who in turn rely on local sourcing. You’ll certainly help the environment if the band is local instead of someone driving in from 300 miles away. This should include caterers in the area if you’re not going to buy items in the area to use for the event yourself.

Having an eco-friendly wedding is all about making the right decisions. You don’t have to rearrange your whole reception in order to do so, just keeping waste at a minimum and having the proper installations in place to manage both human and material waste is already a step in the right direction.

Other Home Improvements for a Sustainable, Energy-Efficient House

In the previous article, we discussed solar panels and how you can use them to turn your house into a sustainable, self-sufficient property. The prices of solar panels and supporting hardware are becoming more affordable by the day, which is why it is even more appealing to invest in a good solar panel system for your house.

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Solar panels aren’t the only upgrade to add in order to make your property more energy efficient and sustainable. There are other great home improvements to consider, and we are going to look into them in this article.

LED Lights

LED lights are among the best things to pick up if you want to boost your house’s energy efficiency. They consume much less power than conventional bulbs and investing in them will immediately lower your energy bills. LED bulbs are up to 80% more efficient than CFLs and neon lights. The cost of LED lights is also much more affordable than it used to.

This is a home improvement that practically pays for itself. You may have to pay for the LED lights yourself at the beginning, but you can expect to save a lot on your electricity bill that the savings will cover the purchase in just a few months.

Energy Efficient Windows

The cost of heating and cooling the interior of your house is usually the major part of your energy bills. Changing the interior temperature to the right level is even more expensive when you have cracked windows and bad insulation.

Investing in energy efficient windows is the first step towards solving that problem. Once you get the windows installed, you will find cooling or heating your house to be a lot easier and much more affordable. You can also add additional window treatments to boost energy efficiency even further.

Insulation Upgrades

Upgrading your home’s insulation is the next thing to do. Aside from wall insulation, it is also important to look into ducts, especially if you use central heating and cooling. According to the EPA, a fifth of the air forced through ducts in residential properties leaks. This results in poor energy efficiency.

Similar to the previous home upgrades we discussed, insulation for pipes and ducts is much improved and very affordable these days. Skipping this step would be a mistake, especially if the goal is to make your house more energy efficient in the long run.

A Smarter Home

Last but certainly not least, consider turning your property into a smart home. Use a programmable thermostat and install a smart home hub such as Google Home to further improve energy efficiency. These smart devices can be remotely controlled and programmed for maximum efficiency.

With a smart thermostat installed, for instance, you can have the interior of the house kept at a comfortable temperature just 30 minutes before you arrive home after work instead of all day long. Imagine the amount of money you can save from this feature alone.

Paired with solar panels and clean energy, these home improvement options are even more valuable. The next time you want to upgrade your property, consider the improvements we covered in this article to get started.

The eco-struggle: a tricky task for businesses

If there’s one thing businesses struggle with, it’s maintaining an air of social responsibility. In a world of corporate greed and unfettered capitalism, the free market reigns – and any notion of social enterprise, particularly when it comes to the environment, is placed on the backburner.

It’s a problem we’ve covered in this blog before – but there’s still little sign of change from governments and businesses.

December 2015 marked major environmental talks in Paris between leading heads of state, one heralded by attendees as a major step forward for eco-concerns. But the praise hasn’t been universal.

The talks, intended to establish a viable predecessor to the Kyoto Protocol, have been called a “triumph of mediocrity” by Spiked columnist Ben Pile.

The problem? It didn’t go far enough. Governments agreed to cut carbon emissions however they pleased, rather than reaching a real consensus. In short, it wasn’t an agreement at all.

Hypocrisy from governments

Without any kind of protocol in place, heads of state can continue to favour capitalism over the environment.

In Britain, for instance, The Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) is expected to cut subsidies for solar panels by up to 90 per cent, a move announced only a few days after the Paris climate talks ended.

Instead of green measures being bolstered, funds are being funnelled into oil mining in Scotland, fracking in England and Britain’s first nuclear power station in over a decade.

Governments, then, appear to have found a way to make it look like they’re doing far more than they actually are when it comes to the environment.

But green concerns can be tackled without the help of world leaders, albeit on a smaller scale. With collective action, the rapid pace of climate change could be slowed.

Becoming the force of change

As was alluded to in the first paragraph, businesses can be the real force for change if they choose to be. What can they do?

Even minor improvements can help in a small business. If you’re the owner of an SME, invest in a few office plants (we’d recommend this company for great service) to further oxygenate your workplace. Thanks to photosynthesis, plants will “breathe in” carbon dioxide and “breathe out” oxygen, offsetting much of the waste in your company.

To go even further, reduce waste by cutting down on paper, car journeys and electricity. You could even persuade your employees to ride bicycles to work, or get the bus instead of using their company cars.

As governments continue to frustrate green activists with their refusal to help the environment in a meaningful way, your business could become a pioneer in eco-concerns. So consider how you can cut back on wasteful resources.

Holy $hit, there’s 2

Since I began my financial turnaround in 2009 and began focusing on paying off my debt, I found that it was really easy at first. I had no time and no money, and I was in a ton of debt so there was nothing else on my mind, every. single. day.

Since I’ve now paid off 3 credit cards, 2 student loans and taken out (and paid off) a vehicle loan, I dont feel like my back is up against the wall anymore. I’ve gotten married since then, and now H and I make a comfortable income compared to our expenses, and have been able to save quite a bit of money over the last couple years. We bought a house, spent a boatload fixing it up, and are now just trying to take care of the last little things (and build a new room, which is also almost finished). That being said, I’ve been feeling for quite a while that we probably should be saving more money. It’s not like we are going on a bunch of trips to far-flung locales, we arent buying a whole slug of new appliances, and we arent really buying anything big – just kind of wasting money because of our occasionally lack of preparation (mainly around mealtimes).

Though we would like to save more, it’s always difficult without a concrete reason. We arent going to alaska again this summer (which I think my wife is still broken hearted about – as am I), we dont have a wedding or a honeymoon to save for, and we arent making major upgrades on the house any longer.  The compulsive urge to save has dwindled, so we are looking for ways to get it back on track.

Well, we didnt have to look for long. We found out that we are pregnant toward the end of august, which was very exciting. We had been trying for a few months, and both H and I were happy that it finally took (though I wouldnt mind still being in the trying phase). We went to the doctor to get everything confirmed at week 8, and we were not prepared for what happened there.

As we were getting the ultrasound done, the tech moved the little wand around and I thought I saw 2 black spots on the screen. All I thought to myself was Holy shit, there’s 2! and a few seconds later, the tech said “well, it looks like there’s 2 in there” and my wife looked pretty shocked. We both left the doctor pretty excited and a bit nervous.

(For those that were at fincon, this is why you didnt see much of my wife – she still was not feeling all that hot in october). For those that heard me talking about her, and were convinced that she didnt exist (Joel, Kevin) she’s very real.

Right now, mom and babies are feeling much better than they have, and are starting to enjoy life again. Officially, our due date is may 1, but that is for 40 weeks and twins almost never make it that long – we are expected to go 37 weeks, which will put us sometime around early to mid april. She’s starting to tell people at work, but a lot of them have not figured out quite yet – she’s showing, but not all that much, considering it’s twins.

Needless to say, there’s now a fire lit under us again (though we did buy a roomba, but that’s a subject for another post) and we’ve been doing pretty well at increasing our savings drastically. I’ll let you know more about exactly where we are at the end of the month, but I think we are doing pretty good so far.

Right now, I’m also searching for ways to lower our impact (cost, and waste) while raising twins – those things go through diapers and baby wipes like it’s going out of style! So soon, be on the look out for some of the things that my wife and I are learning in the process.

Readers: Do you have any kids? Got any helpful tips for us? Leave them in the comments (please!)

Cheap Summer Vacation Series: Glacier Bay National Park

This year, H and I took a trip to alaska to visit a few national parks that I was unable to get to when I went up there in 2011. We went to two parks, Denali and Glacier Bay National Parks. We had an awesome time, and I wanted to share some financial details of our trip and some pictures.

Both of these parks are in alaska, and are not the easiest or cheapest places to get to, but once you get there there are plenty of activities for low or no cost. Getting to glacier bay is difficult – you need to fly from wherever you are to anchorage, then down to juneau, then take a (literally) 13 minutes flight to gustavus. Once you get to the gustavus airport you need to make your way to the national park, which is about 10 miles. H and I took a cab that we split with a group of people and it cost us $10 bucks each. Since we couldnt fly with any fuel, we had to stop by the store and pick up some fuel for our camp stove. From there, it was on to glacicer bay to our campground.

Below are some of my favorite pictures from the trip

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This was the beach that we did all of our cooking on. You had to cook in the intertidal area so that if you dropped any food or left anything that a bear might smell, it would get washed away by the tide. This is a sunset from the first night – after 4 days in fairbanks, it was nice to see the sun set at a normal time (around 1030pm, If I remember correctly)100_4530

This is a picture that we took on a hike the first full day we were there. It was a nice hike – I’ve never been in forests that were that dense before. There was moss and trees and other things growing everywhere! I’m just used to tall trees and bare forest floors.100_4557

The next day, we went on a guided kayak trip. This picture was taken from the kayak of a sea otter who was just hanging around eating. I had fun in the kayak, but I think that I positioned the steering pedals wrong because my leg kept falling asleep.100_4606

This was a picture from our last day in glacier bay – We decided to take what they called the “long boat” which is a day cruise to the upper reaches of glacier bay that are fairly unaccessible without this boat. What we found out while we got on the boat though was that you could bring your own kayak, and this boat would drop you off somewhere along the route, and you could kayak around the portion of the park where basically no one goes and camp on the island beaches!  I wish that I had known that before we left, but unfortunately I didnt. It’s just something we can save for next time.100_4672

This is from the boat ride – a little island full of sea lions. I saw these last time I went to alaska and went fishing, but it was cool to see them again, and H had never seen them outside of a zoo setting.100_4774

This picture is from the glacier that we got to see (if I remember correctly, it’s the mendenhal glacier). I love glaciers and think they are so fucking cool, so I was really excited about this. This glacier was huge, and like all of them, very cold once you got close. It was really fund to see the glacier calving, and it really made me envious of the people with the super fancy new cameras with the giant lenses. We were very close so I still got some good pictures, but they could have been much better. This is one of the few glaciers in the park that is advancing (growing every year).100_4752

This is a picture of the same glacier, and you can see how far it extends up into the mountains behind it! It’s a huge glacier and awesome to look at.

H and I had a blast in glacier bay, and we are hopeful that we get the opportunity to travel there in the future. It was a nice time, and a great way to spend our 1 year anniversary. I’ll include a sappy anniversary picture that we took on the final day in glacier bay. We were able to get the boat on our anniversary, then head to anchorage and have a pretty good dinner at glacier brewhouse. So even though there was about 2 hours of flying in there, it was a great time.

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There are our cold hands near the glacier.

Readers: Have you ever been to glacier bay national park? If not, are you interested in going now? If you are, drop me an email and I can tell you how I did it for super cheap for H and myself.