Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

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Perhaps you’ve made the move out of the city. You are located 40 miles into the heart of the beautiful countryside. You’ve taken most of the steps you can to live off the grid, but you want to do more. When it comes to reducing your carbon footprint, there is still a great deal you can do to enjoy a high quality of life while still helping to protect the forest and nature itself.

Where Does Carbon Come From?
Take for example your fuel sources. Electricity produces carbon dioxide. Your heating and cooling systems may be operating on fuel that’s producing carbon. Coal itself contributes to about 34 percent of all carbon emissions generated by people each year, with oil, petroleum, and natural gas also contributing. So, what can you do to reduce the carbon footprint you are creating?

Simple, Effective, and Very Cool Ways to Take Things One Step Further

You are already doing a great deal by living off the grid, but what else can you do to reduce your footprint? Check out a few of these key recommendations:

Move your oven outdoors
Outdoor wood-fired ovens and solar powered ovens are an excellent investment. Not only does cooking indoors raise the temperature and, therefore, creating more need for power to cool the home, but cooking outdoors using wood or the sun’s energy is far more sustainable. You can still cook the same types of foods in the same cooking styles (baking, roasting, and even frying), but your energy source is more sustainable. Consider using solar cookers, either one you buy or one you design for the most efficient option.

Maximize rainwater
Rainwater provides a highly effective solution for water needs including irrigation for gardens, which tends to be one of the largest demands for water consumption on a farming property. Those who live in an area with moderate levels of rainfall or more may be able to use a rainwater system to sustain all water needs. A single rain barrel is a good starting point, but an above-ground stacked system may be best for those who need more access.

Composting Toilets
What about waste? Most people, even those living sustainably, often don’t want to consider this concern. However, in recent years, a number of new solutions have become available including composting toilets that are not only sanitary, but also very easy to use. They work to turn waste into soil, but must be taken care of to work properly. Purchase an already made composting toilet and the composting material necessary usually sawdust. You can also use wood chips such as cedar or oak leaves. The material is added to a larger outdoor bin and, over time, it becomes compost like any other.

Keeping Food Cold
Refrigeration may be necessary in some situations, but there are several other ways you can more sustainably keep foods from going bad. For example, the use of a root cellar – as simple as it sounds – can be one of the best options. Another option is to use solar-powered appliances. A large selection of products exist all of which can help you to enjoy all of the “”luxuries of life”” without the cost or the carbon footprint.

In addition to this, think simple in everything you do. Insulate and seal your home to reduce energy loss. Reduce the amount of beef and dairy you consume. Grow an organic garden and recycle everything from the bags to the food waste you have. By taking these steps and focusing on sustainability in everything you do, not only can you remain off the grid, but you can also take every step possible to reduce your carbon footprint.

Cannabis in the Medical World

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There is a shift in how the world views cannabis. First simply seen as a gateway drug in the United States, it is now gaining traction and being legalized for use as medical marijuana. New Mexico was the first to license and regulate production and distribution of cannabis using a state agency. Now Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska have successfully legalized medical marijuana as part of a group of over 23 states that have legalized all or part, such as cannibidiol, of the plant. There are many reforms underway with Uruguay the first country to legalize marijuana. Our country is coming to a turning point with approximately half of our United States approving the use of medical marijuana. Through we have seen a turnaround, there are those who hold to the belief that marijuana harms users and resist this recent perception and new findings. Understanding of cannabis and how it can be used to treat a range of medical issues safely with fewer side effects can offer another view of this health-promoting substance.

Mind-changing Benefits of Cannabis
There are an array of ways in which medical marijuana has been used to treat patients and provide relief, reduce occurrence of symptoms, or inhibit the spread of possibly mortal diseases. Cannabis, and its parts, have been found to help in:

Glaucoma treatment. Glaucoma can lead to blindness and those individuals that also have diabetes can experience an increase in intraocular pressure. Smoking marijuana can help patients relieve pressure from eyes and experience improved eyesight.

Epilepsy management. Smoking marijuana has helped those that suffer from seizures and disorders experience relief and relaxation.

Pain reduction. Individuals diagnosed with MS, Rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, HIV, alcoholism, or have experienced amputation or spinal surgery, have found that marijuana ingestion offers them pain relief as part of a medical marijuana treatment protocol. A 2010 Canadian study found that medical marijuana was substantially more effective as compared to aspirin in limited perceived pain.

Prevention in the spread of Cancer. Cannabidiol, a chemical found in cannabis, may turn off the Id-1 gene, inhibiting cancer cell growth. Research using breast cancer cells showed that those treated with cannibidiol shoed a lower incidence of the gene and any remaining cells were less invasive. Other studies abroad showed a correlation to the death of cancer cells.

Slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s. THC appears to positively impact Alzheimer’s patients. According to a 2006 study, chemicals in THC can help prevent the formation of amyloid plaques. This means longer and more cognizant lives for individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s.

HIV treatment. Research has shown support to help with symptoms that impact patients with HIV, such as weight loss and body aches. In addition, a Louisiana study found that THC given to infected primates seemed to decrease the damage to their immune system in the stomach.

Appetite stimulation. Studies supported by the National Cancer Institute reveal that cannabis inhalation has a positive result on calorie consumption, increasing the number of calories consumed. Also, the American Journal of Medicine showed users to be thinner than the average person, with a healthier metabolism and improved response to sugars.

Parkinson’s tremor reduction. Research in Israel found that smoking pot reduced pain and tremors in patients with Parkinson’s and had also shown a correlation to better sleep quality and improved fine motor skills. Muscle tension relief and a reduction in tremors also benefits multiple sclerosis patients.

PTSD relief for veterans. Marijuana has been found to be a safer treatment alternative to traditional PTSD treatment. Marijuana has a relaxing effect on users without a fuzzy mental state experienced with antidepressants. Soldiers can relieve anxiety without the feeling of being medicated. Most prescribed drugs have a high risk of addiction and are not to be used over long periods. Marijuana use can fluctuate with the needs of the patient and no conclusive studies demonstrate that marijuana is addicting in the common sense of drug addiction as with substances containing opiates.
While some may have a vague knowledge that marijuana can increase the appetite, reduce feelings of nausea and provide some modicum of pain relief, it is truly outstanding to see the applications and implications for the medical use of cannabis.

Getting to the Root

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At best, even the most resistant/stubborn lawmakers have grudgingly been making comments like “we’ll continue to keep a close eye on things,” and other half-hearted acknowledgements that things haven’t been as terrible as they expected/predicted/hoped.

At the same time, other supporters are more enthusiastic, saying that this is only the beginning of a great time for these states that were early adopters, and there’s plenty more positive benefits coming, everything from additional tourism (and tourism dollars) to a healthier population to less crime to more money for cash-strapped states and cities.

Retailers and producers continue to grow in Washington and Colorado, and the marketplace still is trying to determine the proper ratios of shops to patrons and producers to shops.

By most accounts, the state situation is going well. Here’s a snapshot.

Washington. The Evergreen State made things legal in 2012, and the first shop opened in 2014. A July 2015 report by the Drug Policy Alliance showed that low-level marijuana-related criminal offenses have dropped by 98 percent, law violations dropped by 63 percent and convictions by 81 percent. Violent crime has dropped 10 percent. Traffic accident data has remained steady, although safety experts say it might be too early to see any effects specifically to marijuana use. As of summer 2015, the state received at least $65 million from taxes on sales, which goes into the general fund. Bloomberg estimated that at this rate, tax revenue could hit $1 billion in five years.

Along with recreational retailers, the state now requires medicinal dispensaries to have a retail license, which is expected to double the number of granted recreational licenses from about 200 statewide to more than 400. While some cities have welcomed the new economy, others have created local laws to keep them out.

Colorado. The second pioneer state to ‘go green’ has also seen generally positive results. Retail sales began in 2014, and state experts estimate there are now just over 300 retailers and 500 dispensaries.

In its first year, sales were estimated at $700 million, which included $313 from recreational and $386 million from medicinal use. Of this, about 109,578 medical pounds were sold and 38,660 pounds recreational pounds were sold. This total equates to state revenue of about $63 million.

However, a Newsweek article has pointed out there may be some unintended consequences, such as increases in teen overdoses from edibles; an increase in homelessness in major population areas; and fears from the agricultural industry that pesticides and chemicals sometimes used in marijuana cultivation could affect fruit and other unrelated crops.

And, others claim there has been a 32 percent rise in marijuana-related traffic deaths, which opponents blame directly on the drug, while supporters say is statistically insignificant with a gradual decrease in overall traffic deaths.

Other states. Voters in Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. have approved recreational marijuana in recent years, and all of these areas are still putting together policies and procedures. Oregon is currently accepting applications for recreational licenses, and limited amounts of recreational use can be made at licensed medical dispensaries. Alaska is also accepting applications, although there have been legislative attempts to ban businesses in unincorporated areas. D.C. has seen the most confusion – voters approved a recreational initiative, which the mayor supports. However,Congress has opposed the effort.
Residents of other states, and many municipalities, are continuing to watch how things grow in these states, pun very much intended. The increased revenue is attractive, as is the potential decrease in demands on the criminal justice system. However, pot continues to be illegal on the federal front, and law enforcement in states surrounding the legal states are concerned about an increase in people bringing it to sell there, or simply passing through with something purchased legally but with the intent of selling elsewhere.

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