How You Can Save The Environment Through Gardening
We’re used to taking an uptight, corseted approach to gardening: keeping hedgerows, borders, lawns and pots neat and tidy and weed-free. But as “rewilding” projects have proven, letting nature reclaim the land means a huge boost for wildlife. And with insects (nature’s “glue”) in decline across the planet, and air pollution rife, it’s never been more necessary. But what if your outdoor area is tiny? Or you don’t have a garden at all? Fear not, we have tips for turning even the most miniscule of urban spaces into a haven for nature to save the environment. 1. Plant a window box
You may not have any outside space of your own, but you’ll likely have a window or two. So, rig up a window box and scatter some wild flower seeds. Bees are fond of colourful, tubular flowers like foxgloves and love lavender, borage, catmint and buttercups. (What could be nicer than the scent of lavender wafting into the room?) Our buzzing, stripy pals are also partial to the pink blooms of chives. Add this to your window box and you’ll always have the herb on hand for cooking with too.2. Don’t bother mowing
If you’re lucky enough to have some lawn, you might feel a bit embarrassed to sit on your hands and watch it go to seed, sprouting dark patches and thick tussocks. But leave it a few months and soon the space will be a biodiverse patchwork of wild flowers and different grasses – attracting a plethora of butterflies and other six-legged friends. Meadow grass, buttercup and dandelion all provide favourite seeds for a whole range of birds too.
Tools and utensils used in gardening aren’t very eco-friendly.3. Install some house plants
As well as creating a haven for wildlife, plants have the added benefit of reducing carbon dioxide levels (through photosynthesis). They also help to diminish airborne dust and levels of certain pollutants like benzene and nitrogen dioxide. Fill your home with plants and know that you’re doing your bit for the environment!
Fill your home with plants and know that you’re doing your bit for the environment.4. Build a bee and bug B&B
In the UK there are over 250 species of bees, the vast majority of which are solitary. Some of them nest in holes in walls, pieces of wood and old vegetation. So, you can give a boost to their habitat by constructing your own bee hotel from wood and hollow plant stems, affixing it to a wall or fence or popping it on your balcony.
Construct your own insect hotel from wood and hollow plant stems and affix it to any external wall or fence.5. Cut the pesticides
It’s time to go organic. The first step to encouraging insects and birds into your garden is to ditch all pesticides, weed-killers, fertilisers and slug pellets. To stop slugs ravaging your veggies simply crush up egg shells and sprinkle them around the base of your plants instead.6. Make a hedgehog run
We don’t mean chase a hedgehog, but rather speak to your neigh bours about creating a pathway between gardens and properties so that hedgehogs and other creatures can happily pass from green space to green space. We know that joining up bits of land is crucial for the safe passage and proliferation of wildlife – so get the neigh bours on side and cut some hedgehog-sized holes in the bottom of your fences, or even take out the odd fence panel. This way you get to keep your privacy but welcome wildlife.
Your houseplants reduce carbon dioxide levels and improve the quality of the air we breathe.7. Make your own mini pond
All life needs water, so the best thing you can do with a small or urban space is to create a pond. It doesn’t have to be large – even a washing-up bowl will do. Add plant life and, before you know it, you’ll have frogspawn, pond snails and dragonfly larvae aplenty.8. Pull up paving
Think about hauling out those paving stones and putting down some turf. If your plot is simply too small then another option is to opt for gravel, and scatter some insect-friendly plants like lavender amongst the stones. And there’s always the option of planting some wildflower pots if you can’t bring yourself to say farewell to the flagstones.
“Which way to the next garden?”
Plant herbs and edible greens in your window boxes so that you can also get nutritious food whilst being kind to the environment.9. Think vertically
A clever way to introduce plant life when you have limited space is to encourage some climbers. Ivy, honeysuckle, passion flower, jasmine and wisteria are all wonderful plants for wildlife, and many don’t even need a trellis. Unlike a bare fence, a climbing plant provides space for birds to nest, butterflies to hibernate and bees to shelter from the rain.10. Attach a bird box
A nest box is an excellent substitute for a tree hole, and much needed in areas which are lacking in the latter. Why wait? Get one rigged up! For tits, sparrows and starlings the box needs to be between two and four metres high up on a tree, wall or fence. It’s also important to make sure it’s facing between north and east to avoid strong sunlight and wet winds.
There is a wide gulf between real gardens and those portrayed on social media.
To stop slugs ravaging your veggies simply crush up egg shells and sprinkle them around the base of your plants.11. Borrow a pig
Animal disturbance can help to turn over the soil in a garden and uncover all the dormant, natural seeds. So, if you have the space, what about putting a pig in there for a week or two? An animal also means poo, which is a natural fertiliser and will help attract dung beetles. If a pig’s out of the question (and let’s face it, for most of us it will be), try rooting around in the soil with a garden fork instead and contact a stables – they usually have free dung they’re trying to dispose of.
Blockchain Could Help Us Save The Environment. Here’s How.
What is Blockchain’s Potential?
Blockchains are secure, transparent and efficient. They record transactions as ‘blocks’ on a synchronized and distributive ledger — each one has to be ratified by more than one party, and is tied to the previous block. This means that supply chains involving more than one transaction can be traced along their entire sequence. If they are integrated with smart contracts, they could cut out middlemen. The most well-known manifestation of the blockchain is cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin; however, as it is a transaction system, it can be used for far more than currencies.
The applications of the system are wide-ranging. Imogen Heap plans to use it to ensure recording artists get fairer deals, stating, “Blockchain is the catalyst for change in the industry;” Toyota plans to use it to amass information about driverless cars from vehicle owners, fleet managers, and manufacturers in order to expedite the technology’s development; and Walmart is using it to identify contaminated food sources.
That Tunisia is putting their currency on the blockchain and Japan is accepting transactions using it at 260,000 stores by this summer testifies to the seriousness of its potential.Using Blockchain for Sustainability
Among this revolutionary system’s most promising applications, though, is its potential use in sustainable governance systems, as Guillaume Chapron has argued on Nature. She details four ways in which it could improve governance and sustainability:
First, by making ownership concrete. As blockchains cannot be altered, manipulated, or changed without consent by all parties involved in the network, blockchain could prevent corrupt governments or companies from evicting or seizing the assets of people unfairly. Benben in Accra, Ghana, is already performing this task, along with Georgia and Honduras.
Second, by using its unique traceability. If Blockchain is used in conjunction with the internet of things, the efficiency, waste, and/or emissions of individual commodities, as well as entire company’s supply chains, could be securely and reliably logged. This would enable a reward structure for sustainability because it would provide a way to ensure there is no manipulation of figures or deliberate misinformation.
Third, by providing reliable payments. Blockchains do not require bank accounts — which is beneficial to people in countries that lack the infrastructure to supply them. This would ensure that money intended to be a reward for conservation, or charity payments to specific causes, does not disappear into unintended pockets through bureaucratic labyrinths. Blockchained money could be released automatically to the correct parties in response to meeting environmental targets. Another potential use in this sector is the direct trading of energy, rather than having to rely on middlemen’s conversions or evaluations.
Fourth, by making the corrupt accountable. This can apply on a number of levels, from the governmental to the individual. Votes could be registered on blockchains, making electoral manipulation extremely difficult — or, on a more personal level, evidence could not be tampered with, nor deals changed or fiddled with.
Blockchain can work in tandem with companies advocating sustainable development, governmental improvement, and individual empowerment in a variety of ways — freeing people from webs of complicated contracts, bullying by those in power, and the lack of accountability that often stems from the complexity of the digital age.Read This Next
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Five Steps To Securing Your Remote Work Environment
When the world shut down because of Covid-19 in March of 2020, companies found their employees suddenly working from home. In many cases this meant taking the company laptop with them when they went, or in many other cases, simply working with whatever computing assets they already had. Security was given only a passing thought.
As a result, security suffered badly. Data breaches increased significantly, as did other types of data loss. Now, a year later, it’s time to fix those security holes. Here are five ways to get started.
1. Set a security standard by setting a hardware standard. If your remote employees aren’t already using a standard, company-provided computer, now is the time to consider moving that way. When everyone is using the same set of standard computers, the process of securing them becomes much easier. You have one operating system, one set of updates and one security solution.
Of course, not every employee needs exactly the same computer. For example, engineers and graphics artists may need a professional workstation while office workers may need a good laptop that they can take with them on those partial days back in the office. The goal isn’t absolute uniformity, but rather a consistent set of platforms for a consistent security solution.
Being consistent means that if you’re working with a Windows 10 Pro environment, for example, then all of the Windows computers should be running Windows 10 Pro. The same applies to If you let employees bring their own devices, you still need to set standards for the devices you’ll support, with the standard covering all of the devices your staff is permitted to use at home or in the office.
2. Define a standard security package. A standard anti-malware suite will help you keep a handle on security software updates, and it will save money as well. By having a standard security software package, it will ease the management headaches that come with making sure your staff isn’t choosing their anti-virus according to whatever came free with their home computer.
A good place to start is with Dell’s Endpoint Security, which includes tools to detect and prevent attacks, data encryption and identity management. Equally important, you can make sure your security software, antivirus definitions, and encryption tools are kept current.
3. Use secure communications. Depending on your work from home setup, you have some options when it comes to making sure communications are secure. For example, security gateways such as the SonicWall Security Gateways and Security Appliances have client software that allows remote devices to connect via a secure VPN across the internet.
Considering that nearly every remote employee will be connecting through their cable modem or similar device, there are also solutions that allow for setting up a VPN through a WiFi router. The Netgear AX12 WiFi 6 router, available from Dell, includes support for the OpenVPN standard, which may allow connection to your company security gateway.
For companies that have extensive on-premises resources in a central location, Dell Technologies’ SD-WAN solution may be an option, as well, providing reliable and secure connectivity to business applications.
4. Set secure access requirements. Anybody who gets access to the company network needs to be authenticated. Of course, you’re already using usernames and passwords, but there’s more to be done. In addition to requiring access through an encrypted method such as a VPN, you need to make sure that the person who is accessing the network isn’t just a family member of an employee trying to get to the internet. This means some sort of multi-factor authentication.
Multi-factor authentication can come about in several ways. There’s always the way you’re familiar with by now, which is to send a randomly generated number to the user’s cell phone, but there are other ways that are more secure. One is to issue employees a smart card that can work with a smartcard reader, such as the one in the popular Dell KB813 keyboard, which includes an integrated reader.
There are also authentication tokens such as the Yubikey, which work with virtually any device including laptops and smartphones.
5. Train your employees. The single most critical part of security for remote working is a trained workforce. End-users often represent the ‘weak link.’ They’re the ones who click on phishing emails and who visit dubious websites. And of course, they’re the people who let their kids play games on the company computer.
This lack of training was one of the reasons malware was so effective during the early parts of the pandemic lockdown. To counter it, employees must be trained to recognize security threats, and they need constant refreshing. For example, you can test your employees by sending out fake phishing emails and then seeing who clicks.
What probably won’t work are endless Zoom calls about security. Making the training interactive, and perhaps even making a competition out of it, can keep interest up.
No matter how you look at it, maintaining security when your workforce is at home is a real challenge. But it’s a challenge that can be met through thoughtful management and the right tools. Some of those tools are already in the technology that you use, some can be added to your overall security solution, and some need to come from your employees. You’ll need all of them, because it’s not clear that your staff will be back in the office full-time even when the pandemic is finally over.