Watt Watchers of Texas: Texas is Too Good To Waste™

Concrete is one of the most commonly consumed products on the planet, second only to water. 4.4 billion tons are produced annually and is projected to increase to 5.5 billion by 2050. Its durability, strength, and cost-effectiveness have made it a go-to for builders for centuries. Structures made from concrete can last for generations. But at what cost? If you've read our blog on The Truth About Concrete and The Environment, you know there are plenty of reasons to make the switch to more eco-friendly alternatives. From the excessive carbon emissions produced throughout the manufacturing process to its water intensity, the obstacles created by concrete production are beginning to outweigh the benefits of the end product. So what else can builders use? Keep reading to find out!


A mycelium is a web of fungal threads and strands, also known as hyphae. In nature, their function is similar to that of the roots of a tree in that they dig into the soil surrounding the fungi, breaking down the organic matter to extract nutrients that then go to both the fungi and surrounding plants. 

Mycelium is interesting because it is an abundant renewable resource that can create sustainable, organic, and sturdy building materials like blocks or panels. To accomplish this, builders combine the mycelium with clean, organic waste, such as corn stalks or sawdust, and encourage them to grow in a specific shape. The final product is then dried, resulting in materials that are biodegradable, lightweight, fire resistant, and provide excellent insulation. 

Unlike concrete, mycelium materials don't require high temperatures or energy-intensive manufacturing processes. They can grow in ambient conditions with just a little moisture and the proper nutrients, allowing for a significantly lower carbon footprint and energy consumption during production. Additionally, mycelium is biodegradable and compostable. When it reaches the end of its useful life, it can simply be returned to the earth, where it can break down naturally. 

Rammed Earth 

Rammed earth is a construction technique that utilizes natural materials like soil, clay, sand, and gravel. This mix of ingredients is packed tightly into formwork or giant molds layer by layer, compressing it as much as possible with a mechanical rammer. Once it's all compacted, it is left to dry and harden naturally.

This technique is better for the environment for several reasons. It uses abundant and locally sourced materials, reducing transportation emissions. Additionally, suppose a builder wants to change things up. In that case, they can simply deconstruct the rammed earth walls and use the materials again. Rammed earth is also super durable and can withstand the elements very well, reducing the need to keep rebuilding and using more resources. To make things better, this unique material has excellent thermal properties. It acts like a natural insulator, keeping you cool in the summer and toasty warm in the winter. 


Hempcrete is a bio-composite construction material made from the hurd, the hemp plant's inner woody core, and a lime-based binder. The hemp hurd is mixed with water and the lime binder to create a pasty mixture that can be packed or poured into wall forms, similar to concrete. Over time, the hempcrete cures and hardens, resulting in a solid and long-lasting structure. Hemp is a rapidly renewable resource that grows quickly without synthetic pesticides or herbicides. These plants offer a distinct environmental advantage because, unlike concrete, which emits co2 throughout its production, hemp absorbs significant carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during its growth, acting as a carbon sink and contributing to carbon sequestration.

As a building material, hempcrete offers excellent insulation properties. Its porous structure allows for breathability, regulating humidity and reducing the reliance on energy-intensive heating and cooling systems. Additionally, hempcrete is lightweight, reducing the heavy machinery and equipment needed. To make things better, hempcrete is non-toxic. It doesn't release harmful chemicals or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, making it the perfect material to infill existing structures, providing a greener alternative for renovation projects. 


When it comes to ingredients, traditional concrete is particularly harmful because it relies on specific types of sand, leading to the overexploitation of riverbeds and coastal areas. Traditional concrete also requires an extensive heating process, which is highly energy intensive and releases significant greenhouse gas emissions. Contrastingly, finite utilizes desert sand to make building blocks, which is plentiful and often underutilized. Unlike cement, its manufacturing process involves minimal energy input, reducing greenhouse gas emissions significantly. 

As a building material, Finite blocks are beneficial because they contain natural insulating characteristics, helping regulate temperature and reduce the need for energy consumption in heating or cooling buildings. To make things even better, finite blocks can be easily dismantled and repurposed at the end of a building's life cycle, promoting a circular economy approach by reducing waste and allowing for the reuse of materials. Finally, Finite's utilization of desert sand aids in land restoration efforts. By repurposing sand from arid regions, Finite contributes to rehabilitating desert areas, offering the potential for ecological restoration and revitalizing degraded landscapes.

Smart Energy Education strives to create a more sustainable world through energy and water education. If you are looking to learn more about how to make a positive difference in the environment, are interested in energy careers, or would like to participate in some fun energy activities, visit us at Smart Energy Education and Watt Watchers!

Humanity has used concrete to build, protect and fortify communities for centuries. Made from a mixture of cement, water, sand, and gravel, its durability and cost-effectiveness have made it one of the most popular mediums for everything from the world's largest construction projects to homemade decorative vases. As time has passed and new building techniques and technologies have been invented, the recipe for concrete has been tweaked and modified to fit the needs of different projects. This has allowed concrete to become one of the most versatile and commonly used building materials available. 

Why is concrete important today?

Nowadays, people use concrete to build nearly everything. Our roads are paved with concrete to help provide safe, bumpless travel, and coastal cities are fortified with it to protect from tsunamis and hurricanes. Even permanent benches and tables for public spaces are built using concrete. The significance of this ever-present medium can be seen in the most fundamental elements of our communities. The ability to pour a uniquely modified stone mixture to create giant, all-withstanding structures was revolutionary for the construction industry. Life-changing architecture and engineering, such as hydroelectric dams built with watertight concrete, have helped ensure the energy powering our cities is safe from collapse and available for years to come. In fact, concrete has proven to be so reliable that it is now the second most consumed substance on the planet, second only to water. So, what seems to be the problem? 

The downsides of traditional concrete

Unfortunately, the characteristics that make concrete so popular, its strength, durability, and easy application, are also what make it a primary culprit when it comes to environmental damage. Without the ability to absorb water or allow plants and fungi to grow and thrive as usual, concrete eliminates essential organisms needed to absorb CO2, regulate temperatures and absorb excess rainwater. Consequently, communities with high amounts of concrete have been associated with higher temperatures, loss of biodiversity, reduced air quality, and higher flooding possibilities. 

To make matters worse, concrete is highly water intensive. The concrete industry uses an estimated one billion cubic meters of water each year worldwide, without including curing and wash water. Only .5% of the water on Earth is fresh, available water. We need water for nearly everything and cannot afford to let a single drop go to waste. Opting for concrete without looking toward less water-intensive alternatives (Link alternatives to concrete post here) like Mycelium or Hempcrete could have dire consequences in the future. 

Finally, cement, the main ingredient in concrete, is produced by combining limestone, clay, shale, and other minerals. The combination is then heated to extreme temperatures to form a rock-like substance called clinker that is then ground into a powder called cement. The problem with this process is that by bringing the combination of limestone and minerals to such high temperatures, significant amounts of co2 are released into the atmosphere. This process is consequently extremely damaging to the environment and has made concrete responsible for 8% of global carbon emissions each year. 

The Pantheon and the Colosseum, each made from an ancient form of volcanic material called Pozzolanic cement, are testaments to the longevity and durability of concrete. However, as incredible as these structures are, discovering new ways of building is essential if we want to reach net zero by 2050. (link net zero blog here) We need innovative ideas to achieve lasting change. Companies like Solida Concrete, for example, are working to make a difference from within the industry by pioneering revolutionary processing techniques that reduce the energy intensity and co2 emissions of cement and concrete by modifying their production processes

Smart Energy Education strives to create a more sustainable world through energy and water education. If you are looking to learn more about how to make a positive difference in the environment, are interested in energy careers, or would like to participate in some fun energy activities, visit us at Smart Energy Education and Watt Watchers!

Did you know that the type of lawn you have can contribute to global warming and significantly impact energy and water consumption? It's true! From overwatering to using gas-powered lawn mowers and spraying chemical fertilizers, there are several ways in which your lawn care routine could wreak havoc on the environment. So what is there to do? When guests visit, your lawn is the first chance to make a first impression. Thankfully there is no need to stress; you can make many simple and easy changes to reduce your lawn's effect on the environment while keeping it healthy and beautiful. Let's dive in and explore some tips and tricks to help you create a beautiful, eco-friendly yard!

Switch to native grasses and plants

The average American lawn looks like a plot of short dark green Kentucky Bluegrass. There may be a couple of bushes and flowers near the front door, but other than that, not much is likely to vary. This has been the norm for many years. So much so that it's also most often even required by local homeowners' associations. Yet the practice of maintaining lush green grass lawns can be more damaging than you might imagine. 

Despite the neat, clean aesthetic of a well-groomed Kentucky Bluegrass lawn, the amount of water and fertilizers needed to keep it healthy in a non-native environment can be substantial. Native grasses, on the other hand, are much more accustomed to their environment and are more likely to survive on the natural rainfall experienced in the area. Because of this, switching to native grasses and plants can help combat water waste and erosion by significantly reducing how much you need to water your lawn and avoiding unnecessary runoff. 

Provide habitat for wildlife 

When creating the perfect lawn for your home, you may realize that your local wildlife is often pushed to the side. Your main concern may be to build the most beautiful, easy-to-maintain outdoor space possible. However, it's essential to understand the importance of the little creatures in your area. Bees alone are one of the world's most important pollinators, yet they are continually and increasingly under threat by human activities. Creating a habitat for local wildlife by providing food, water, and shelter can help maintain some balance in your local ecosystem. For example, planting local flowers for bees to pollinate or installing bird feeders and baths can make a big difference. 

Opt for natural fertilizers

Synthetic fertilizers are one of the number one culprits when it comes to environmental damage. It may seem convenient to ensure your grass is always greener by buying a bottle of chemicals certified to get the job done. Yet, while these products work well, they are eventually washed away with the rain and, more often than not, end up in our waterways. Avoid this by opting for natural fertilizers like compost, manure, or bone meal. Your lawn will be happy, and you can avoid adding chemicals to your local ecosystem. 

Collect rainwater

Installing a rainwater harvesting system is one of the easiest ways to maximize your resources while reducing your energy consumption. By installing a simple barrel, in-ground tanks, or even a cistern in your yard or garden, you can gather the water needed to keep your plants alive without having to rely on the treated, energy-intensive water pumped to your home. You could even use the water you have left over to wash your car, flush your toilets, or for other non-potable uses. 

These harvesting systems can even help prevent erosion by collecting the water that would otherwise run off the roof and other impervious surfaces, taking essential soil with it, and keeping the native ecosystem from thriving as it should. Watering plants with untreated rainwater permit you to provide water where it's needed most. They help give your plants the nutrients and minerals they need to thrive and create a system where your yard can support the ecosystem instead of depleting its resources. 

Use eco-friendly lawn care practices

Keeping your yard looking tidy and trimmed requires some manpower. To avoid contributing to global warming and air pollution, swap out your gas-powered mower and leaf blower for a manual push mower and a rake. You could even let your grass grow longer than usual to promote healthier roots and save water. 

The name of the game is supporting ecological diversity. Climate change impacts us all. For those looking to help fight for the planet, making changes at home is the perfect way to start. To learn more about how your actions impact the environment, the connection between energy, global warming, the importance of water, and more, visit Resourcefulness.org! Also, remember to follow us on Instagram and Facebook

As people everywhere begin to experience the impacts of climate change, the need to reassess the practices and procedures used throughout our communities has become increasingly urgent. How we produce food, manufacture goods, the transportation we use, and the approach we take when building new infrastructure are all being assessed and modified to reduce their environmental impact. 

The City of San Antonio, a Texas leader in sustainability and green energy, is an active participant in the American Cities Climate Challenge (ACCC). Consequently, over the years, it has implemented various programs to reduce its impact on the climate and protect its community members. Its efforts include energy reduction strategies, water awareness campaigns, and, most recently, regulations that require the City's oldest housing stock to be deconstructed and salvaged instead of demolished and landfilled.  

Prior to these regulations, standard practices allowed for the complete demolition of buildings that were to be rebuilt and replaced. However, throughout this process, perfectly good materials like flooring, drawers, cabinets, piping, and more end up in landfills where they could do nothing but contribute to the growing pollution problem. 

Building and demolition projects can create highly hazardous conditions by releasing toxic chemicals and sediment into the air we breathe, especially in large, compact cities where harmful particle matter can easily end up in people's lungs. This debris can then travel through wind, rain, and landfills and wind up in our waterways, creating additional problems. Recognizing these procedures as a threat to public health for the people of San Antonio, community leaders decided to take action. 

The Office of Historic Preservation launched the San Antonio Deconstruction Advisory Committee, bringing together building professionals, stakeholders, and neighborhood representatives as early as 2018 to develop a place-based deconstruction ordinance and enact lasting change. Initially focusing on City-executed residential demolitions beginning October 2022, the ordinance expanded in January 2023 to include all small-scale residential structures (single family, duplex, triplex, fourplex) if the structure was built on or before 1920 citywide, or on or before 1945 if located in a historic zoning overlay or within a Neighborhood Conservation District. But it doesn't stop there. Beginning Jan. 1, 2025, the program's final phase will expand to include 8plexes, and the date range will expand to 1945 citywide and 1960 in protected zoning overlays.

By implementing a system where buildings are taken apart and assessed for salvageable parts like wood and tiles, San Antonio leaders can limit the substances, harmful chemicals, and microparticles that end up in the air and water while significantly reducing the number of valuable materials that go to waste. As a city with a steadily increasing population, regulations that allow for the growth and improvement of its community while protecting the health of the planet and future generations through sustainable practices have been fundamental. 

Sustainable practices and regulations, such as the ones seen in San Antonio, are extremely important. The world needs innovative and creative solutions to ensure a healthy, prosperous future. Learning about energy resources to better understand the world's energy obstacles is a great way to start. Visit Smart Energy Education and Watt Watchers to learn more, and remember to follow us on Facebook

Trees are incredibly important in the fight against climate change. They play a pivotal role in reducing the greenhouse effect by absorbing and storing carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. Through this process, trees help to reduce the number of greenhouse gasses that build up in the atmosphere, consequently mitigating the effects of climate change exponentially. In fact, trees are often even referred to as "carbon sinks" because of the incredible amounts of CO2 they can absorb and store throughout the course of their lives.

Better yet, the power of trees can go far beyond taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Trees also have many other benefits that can help address climate change. Their intricate root systems, for example, can grow two to six feet underground, grasping the earth around them and reducing the erosion that would otherwise occur through wind, rain, and floods. Their hundreds and thousands of leaves constantly filter pollutants from the air and water, and their distinct towering bodies provide unique, complex habitats for all kinds of wildlife. Even the air around them can become cooler through evapotranspiration, in which they release water vapor into the air through their leaves.

Trees are alive, provide life, and are essential for the health and longevity of humanities life. Yet, demand for mass-produced agricultural products, transportation, and urbanization, among other factors, are increasingly threatening forests and jungles around the world. Deforestation to make room for livestock, palm oil trees, and other human activities is not only a threat to the complex ecosystems found in these environments, but it's also a threat to the health of our planet. 

By tearing forests down, the ability for these trees to take in and store carbon dioxide not only disappears, the destroyed forestry releases all the carbon dioxide it had previously kept stored within its organism back into the atmosphere. Consequently, this eliminates a part of the solution for the global warming problem while making it exponentially worse. 

So what can you do to help? Deforestation may seem like a problem in a land far away and out of reach, especially if you live in a city. However, the habits you build and the choices you make each day hold more weight than you can imagine. It's all about being an informed and responsible consumer. 

The first step is to take the time to understand where the ingredients in your everyday products come from. For example, if you buy collagen supplements, is the collagen produced from fish or cows? Are these animals raised or caught? In either case, is it done so in a sustainable manner? Unfortunately, when dealing with large corporations, the answer to that last question, more often than not, is no. Buying locally, sustainably produced foods and products, buying only what you need, and making sure to reduce, reuse and recycle should always be a priority for every household. 

What you do matters. Visit Smart Energy Education and Watt Watchers to learn more, and remember to follow us on Facebook

Understanding the connection between water and energy is crucial for sustainable development. Water is a pillar for our well-being and is the main ingredient for everything from energy generation, cooling power plants, and transportation to agriculture and medicine. The use of one resource impacts the availability and demand for the other, making it vital to balance their use. 

A lack of water and energy literacy due to insufficient educational programs often leads to overconsumption and wasteful habits. To complicate things further, the ability to access water at the click of a button from our refrigerators or a quick stop at the grocery store has made our water resources seem unlimited. Communities need to understand the consequences of buying products and participating in activities that consume water in an unsustainable manner. 

"It's important for students to learn about water and energy because we use them in our everyday life. Even just turning on a light switch, most people don't realize how water is used in that process." - Natalia Lopez, Engineering Student, the University of Texas San Antonio. 

World Water Day 2023 is taking on the challenge of defeating the water crisis by demonstrating its importance and urging people to take action. So, in honor of this important day, CPS Energy, SAWS, Itron, Inc., and Smart Energy Education joined forces to bring students a unique learning experience surrounding water and energy, hosted by The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts

The event took place on March 21'st, 2023, and was attended by local utility leaders, President and CEO of SAWS Robert Puente, Director of Climate Strategy and Sustainability Andela Rodriguez, and even SAWS' Running Toilet Mascot and special guest The Spurs Coyote joined in. The event was an eye-opening educational experience, brought together as part of the Smart Energy Education initiative, featuring a free screening of the water and energy documentary Thirst for Power, followed by a live panel session composed of the student's peers that discussed the impact of water and energy use on the environment, health, and our modern way of life. 

"We understand that our population is going to double by 2050 at least, and we recognize that there may be droughts in the future. You can't solve these problems right before they occur. You have to get ready for them. You have to plan for them" - Robert R. Puente, President, and CEO, San Antonio Water System.

The students were introduced to renewable energy sources such as hydropower and the importance of water conservation for energy generation and cooling in power plants. While additionally learning about the actions they could take to conserve water and energy in their daily lives and the incredible careers in the energy sector that are essential for a sustainable future. 

"Students my age and younger are going to be the ones taking care of the environment in the future just as adults are now. We need to come up with innovative solutions for our fight against climate change" - Catalina Leal, Mayor's Youth Engagement for Climate Change. 

Overall, the event was a great success, raising awareness about the importance of water and energy conservation and empowering San Antonio students to become stewards in the fight for a healthy planet. The knowledge gained from the event will hopefully allow participants to make informed decisions in their daily lives and contribute to their efforts toward sustainability. Additionally, the screening aimed to inspire students to take on water and energy-related careers that will enable them to take control of their future and create lasting change each day.

"Smart Energy Education is using community partnerships to teach the students today that are going to be the future leaders about ways to be smart about their energy use. Today particularly is about the connection between water and energy use and how when you save one, you save the other." - Angela Rodriguez, Director of Climate Strategy and Sustainability, CPS Energy.

Smart Energy Education is constantly working to bring the public educational resources and opportunities surrounding water and energy. We are confident that understanding the world's most significant obstacles starts with understanding our natural resources' role in our lives. Taking action is the key to a prosperous and sustainable life. Visit Smart Energy Education to discover more about water and energy resources and to learn about the amazing careers that could give you the power to make a greater difference. 

The challenges we face regarding access to food have evolved drastically from the occasional inconsistency of hunting and gathering to the laborious hours needed to maintain a farm to the modern-day hassle of finding time to go to the grocery store or get your food delivered to your door. Thanks to modern energy and revolutionary technological advances such as those that brought us the refrigerator, artificial preservatives, and genetically engineered or GMO crops, humanity has successfully created an international food system where people can happily indulge in their favorite meals from a comfortable distance, far from the source of the fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains that end up on their table. 

While this system has become the standard for many people around the globe, not all is well in the food industry. According to the United Nations, an estimated 17 percent of total food production goes to waste internationally. 11 percent of this statistic is from households alone. At the same time, a modern global food crisis has left millions wondering where their next meal might come from. With our access to modern-day energy and technology, there is no reason for us to let modern-day food scarcity run wild. A drastic change is needed to ensure a healthy future. Thankfully, there is room for improvement and demand for innovation. Battling food waste is the first step. 

In Melbourne, Australia, the Food Organics and Garden Organics (FOGO) collection service is taking a stab at finding innovative solutions to the food crisis by offering its services to residential high-rise buildings of six stories or greater. This 12-month pilot is designed to cater to the individual needs of each residential building and aims to reduce waste in these buildings by installing compost bins that residents can use to put their food waste to good use. 

With nearly 80 percent of Melbourne residents living in high-rise buildings, this project has the potential to provide Australians the opportunity to participate in a more sustainable, healthy lifestyle. 

In hopes of encouraging people to grow their own produce, residents will even be permitted to take some of the soil created in the compost to feed their own gardens. But the positive impact does not stop there. This pilot project will also support the city's circular economy by producing high-quality compost that can be used throughout the city's parks and gardens, helping to improve the health and prosperity of the community's green spaces while teaching residents the power of sustainable practices that contribute to the community. 

In the presence of a food, water, and plastic epidemic, creative ideas that encourage and allow people to make more sustainable decisions are critical. Innovative food production systems that increase efficiency and reduce waste are necessary to make a lasting difference. At Resourcefulness, we aim to propel change by educating the public on energy, water, and introducing people to innovative solutions such as this one to help battle the current crises that threaten the future prosperity of our planet. For more stories of how communities are helping the environment from home, how to create more sustainable habits, energy resources, and more, visit Smart Energy Education and Watt Watchers to learn more, and remember to follow us on Facebook

Agricultural practices and food production have evolved from hunting and gathering and small-scale agricultural production to the massive high-yield food systems we see today. Thanks to modern energy, new technology, and scientific discoveries, we have succeeded in maximizing and modifying food production to fit people's unique desires. Yet, not all is well in the food industry. Fueled by the desire to provide grocery stores with excessive amounts of aesthetically pleasing produce and meat, unhealthy and environmentally damaging practices like the use of harmful fertilizers and pesticides, the overconsumption of water, and deforestation have become part of the standard around the globe. To make matters worse, about one-third of the food produced worldwide is lost or wasted. With food insecurity rates rising and the impact of climate change creating dangerous obstacles around the globe, changing the way in which we view food and our natural resources has become a necessity. 

Consequently, people everywhere have now taken a step back to analyze their daily habits. While many of these problems require institutional changes and government support for the development of more sustainable systems like vertical farming or aquaponics, there are actions you can take at home to alleviate the impact on the planet. Growing your own food garden, for example, is one of the most fulfilling ways to connect with nature and create a more direct connection with food in your home. 

Eat fresh produce 

By growing your own food garden in your yard, even a small one, with the help of indoor gardening tools like Smart Gardens or Hydroponic kits, if you live in an apartment, you can take full control of the quality of the produce you consume. Often, large food producers will trade quantity and aesthetics for quality and nutrition. By planting your own fruits, vegetables, and garnishes, you can grow ingredients with high-quality soil and skip the harmful chemicals and pesticides that you would otherwise consume. What better way to lead a clean, healthy lifestyle than by ensuring your food is packed with nutrients? You could even take things to the next level by playing around with different types of soils and varieties of seeds to modify the sweetness or overall taste of what you grow. 


Even when growing your own food, you are likely to end up with some leftovers. Thankfully, if you have a garden, you can use things you would ordinarily throw out, like egg shells, vegetable scraps, stale bread, coffee grounds, or even coffee filters to fuel a compost to add essential vitamins and minerals to your garden. In the end, it's a win-win; you can reduce food waste and improve the quality of the food on your table. 

Save water

According to the 2022 UN World Water Development Report, an astonishing 70% of groundwater withdrawals worldwide are being used agriculturally to produce food, livestock, industrial crops, and fibers. Water, as abundant as it may seem in certain parts of the world, is a limited resource and should be used strategically and with caution. By taking the time to grow a personal food garden for you and your family, you can use different techniques and technologies to make your garden as water-efficient as possible. 

Improving our relationship and creating a more direct connection with food is essential for a prosperous, healthy future. Something as seemingly small as starting your own food garden can allow you to reduce waste, improve the quality of your food, save water, and take back control over what you consume. What you do matters, so take action and start making a difference. To learn more about the connection between human activities, energy, and the environment, visit Resourcefulness.org, and don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. For information on energy careers and fun energy-related activities, visit Smart Energy Education and Watt Watchers!

Water is essential to all life. We use it in our bodies to carry out cellular processes, in our land to grow food and raise livestock, and externally to keep ourselves and our surroundings sanitary. People lucky enough to live in a water-rich region are so accustomed to having water at arms reach 24/7 they often fail to see its unique value and lasting advantages. From agriculture and manufacturing to electricity and transportation, we need water for everything. So much so that steady access to clean, potable water can determine the prosperity of a community by facilitating gender equality, creating jobs, improving health, generating food, and allowing its members time to gain an education. 

Yet, despite the seemingly endlessness of our oceans, lakes, and rivers, water is a limited resource. While water covers approximately 71% of the Earth's surface, only about 3% is fresh. To make matters worse, about 2.5% of this freshwater is trapped in glaciers, and polar ice caps, are too polluted or are far too deep below the surface to be accessed economically. This leaves only .5% of the Earth's water as fresh and available for human use and consumption. With water demand only rising worldwide, we must take a step back and analyze the long-term impact of our actions. 

The United Nations 2023 World Water Day campaign is all about taking action and accelerating change to solve the water and sanitation crisis. Being aware of the problems associated with water is not enough. There needs to be a conscious and active change in your activities. Participating in this means increasing your awareness of the water intensity of the products you consume and the habits you form. Then, make adjustments to ensure you use the least amount of water possible. Everything from the clothes you buy and the food you eat to the transportation and appliances you use needs to be taken into consideration. 

We understand knowing where to start can seem overwhelming at first. But there is no need to worry. We have you covered. Here are three easy ways you can take action to tackle the water and sanitation crisis. 

Use less energy

You might not think of water use when you turn your lights on. However, the power plants responsible for powering your home often require extreme amounts of water for mechanical power and cooling. So, turn off the lights when you leave an empty room, unplug your appliances when not in use, and opt for more energy-efficient appliances. These will all allow you to save valuable gallons of water. 

Eat and drink responsibly.

The agriculture industry is responsible for 70% of global water consumption. Additionally, deforestation, fertilizer and pesticide pollution, and carbon emissions from livestock all complicate our ability to access our water resources. For these reasons, being conscious of the types of products you buy by ensuring sustainable practices are being used to produce the products you consume can make a massive difference regarding your impact on the world's water resources.

Reduce contamination and pollution. 

Highly polluting products like industrial chemicals, soaps, and agricultural waste can make water in nearby regions unsafe for human consumption. This can cause severe health problems for people worldwide, although most often in rural and low-income communities, and further exacerbate the existing difficulties in accessing clean water. By reducing your consumption of industrial products and supporting companies that produce products through sustainable and ecologically friendly practices, you can help ensure the available water stays clean and safe for everyone. 

Conserve water

The easiest way to help combat the water and sanitation problem is to conserve water at home. Adjusting your habits by turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth and filling buckets with water in the shower while you wait for the water to heat up can make a huge difference. 

Smart Energy Education is proud to celebrate World Water Day in 2023. Visit our website here, as well as Watt Watchers and Resourcefulness, to learn more about energy resources, energy careers, and more! And don't forget to follow us on Facebook. 

The Industrial Revolution brought about a sequence of events that dramatically changed the planet's trajectory. After centuries of consistency, the days of monarchies, travel on horseback, and buying clothes strictly out of necessity slowly faded into the past. New technologies and the ability to use natural resources to maximize and produce energy made it possible for inventions like the steam engine, electric generators, and the incandescent lightbulb to bring humanity into a new age. In a short span, factories made it possible for clothing to be more accessible to the average person. Trains and then cars became standard methods of transportation. Suddenly, crops could be grown in abundance like never before. 

The ability to use the power of energy to make manufacturing goods, transportation, and producing food more efficient eliminated obstacles communities had faced for centuries. Cities grew into the clustered, bustling areas we are familiar with today. Likewise, medications and health improved, and the quality of life for many was greatly enhanced. Parallel to these strides forward came new inventions meant to make our lives easier and solve existing problems. 

Plastic is one such invention. Plastic is created with fossil fuels and was invented as a diverse synthetic material that can be used for nearly any product. Its durable, water resistant, made to last, and cheap to produce, making it a popular medium for everything from containers and water bottles to clothes and home decorations. 

Unfortunately, using fossil fuels to create energy, goods, and more has proved to have adverse side effects on the environment. In the case of plastic, the fossil fuels used throughout its production release large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, increasing the severity of the greenhouse effect and contributing to global warming and climate change. At the same time, most plastics produced worldwide are single-use, meaning they are discarded nearly immediately after they are sold. These plastics are then disposed of in landfills or the ocean, where they can take 400 years to decompose, all the while releasing additional CO2 into the atmosphere, damaging wildlife and exacerbating the already damaging cycle of contamination, human activities, and the environment. 

To make matters worse, because plastic takes so long to break down, eventually, tiny little pieces of plastic end up being released into the environment. These are known as microplastics and are too small to be seen with the naked eye. Their effects on the human body have not been well-researched at this time. Yet, they have been detected in commonly eaten fish, drinking water, beer, and even in the air. 

While plastic continues to be an ongoing, imminent problem, some nations have begun to take action to reduce its impact. With African countries like Kenya and South Africa leading the way, there is hope for a plastic-free future. 

Kenya's strict ban on single-use plastics includes a $40,000 fine for companies that don't comply. In Rwanda, a national ban on non-biodegradable plastic bags was instituted in 2008, and in Cameroon, non-biodegradable plastics were banned entirely in 2014. While implementing and enforcing these laws have been challenging, innovative solutions are being developed to tackle the problem. In 2023, nations like Canada and England announced their own efforts to combat the plastic crisis.

Human activities have a significant impact on the planet. What we dump into our oceans and lakes, what we burn into the air, and what we bury under the ground ends up in the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the food we eat. Ridding the world of toxic waste is paramount for a healthy future. 
To learn more about the impact of human activities on the environment and energy resources, visit Resourcefulness.org. Also, discover amazing energy careers and energy-related activities through Smart Energy Education and Watt Watchers. Also Available on Instagram and Facebook!

Coral reefs are often associated with white sandy beaches, uniquely patterned fish, and brightly colored corals just below the water's surface. We think of corals as the finishing touch to a tropical paradise full of crystal-clear ocean water. But did you know that coral reefs are some of the most complex ecosystems on the planet? The many different types of corals that exist can be found in both shallow, clear water as well as murky, deep, cool water and are responsible for supporting the life of millions of organisms and marine life. In fact, scientists estimate that there are millions of undiscovered species that could be the key to the development of revolutionary medications for everything from cancer and viruses to bacterial infections. 

The Great Barrier Reef alone contains over 400 species of coral, 1,500 species of fish, and 4,000 different species of mollusks. The coral triangle, the most biodiverse coral reef on the planet, is home to 30% of the world's reefs, 37% of the world's coral reef fish, six of the seven marine turtle species, blue whales, sperm whales, 600 different species of corals, and more. In addition to their biodiversity, coral reefs provide an important layer of protection to coastal communities by absorbing the impact of the waves crashing on the coast, reducing the damage caused by storms.

Unfortunately, coral reefs are also highly delicate ecosystems. Human activities have proved detrimental to their survival. For example, without certain levels of grazing fish to keep algae from overgrowing, the corals are unable to obtain the nutrients needed to thrive in their environment, impacting their health significantly. This makes overfishing and using explosives to kill many fish at once extremely destructive to the reef, making it even more difficult for it to grow and thrive. Cruise ships, dredging, and land development similarly carve corals from the ground to make room for docks and alter the landscape. To complicate matters even more, the beauty of corals has become a popular aesthetic. Consequently, leading to their removal for aquariums, jewelry, and at times recreational misuse through touching and breaking during swimming and snorkeling. 

It's also important to remember that there are harmful activities we participate in daily far from the shore that make it extremely difficult for coral reefs to grow and thrive—primarily CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and plastic waste. As CO2 is released into the atmosphere, it cannot escape due to the greenhouse effect. The excess CO2 then causes excess heat, which is absorbed primarily by the world's oceans. Corals are impacted because they have more difficulty creating new coral in this warmer environment. At the same time, the excess CO2 itself also gets absorbed into the planet's oceans. This phenomenon leads to ocean acidification. Shell builders like oysters and corals rely on creating new skeletons and shells by combining calcium and carbonate from their environment. However, as the ocean's acidity increases, it becomes nearly impossible for the shells and skeletons to form. 

Communities worldwide rely on the biodiversity of coral reefs for food, tourism, and recreation. With an estimated 100 million dollar value, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. fisheries from coral reefs are a significant source of income for people around the globe. They are an essential part of the economy and the ecosystem and should be protected at all costs.  

For more information on energy and the impact of human activities on the environment, visit Resourcefulness.org, and don't forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook. If you really want to make a difference, discover amazing energy-related careers and activities through Smart Energy Education and Watt Watchers

The modern-day person can walk into a grocery or convenience store and buy products with ten ingredients they have never heard of before. In fact, there are some common ingredients that can be found in most of our everyday products whose origin and environmental impact are a mystery to the average person despite their significance. One such ingredient is palm oil. 

As an odorless, colorless, semi-solid oil at room temperature that is resistant to oxidation, palm oil can be used as a natural preservative and help maintain the perfect creamy consistency in countless products ranging from ice cream and butter to lipsticks and deodorants. Its stability at high temperatures makes it an ideal ingredient for cooking, and can even be found in some types of gasoline. 

On top of the useful properties mentioned above, the oil palm tree is one of the highest-yielding crops in the world, meaning it can produce high quantities of oil through minimal amounts of land. Palm seed oil has therefore become a cheap alternative to vegetable oils such as olive, grapeseed, or coconut oil. This final factor makes palm oil one of the most versatile and profitable ingredients on the market. These combined properties have made palm oil one of the world's most commonly used ingredients and can currently be found in nearly 50% of the packaged goods in stores. So, why is palm oil a problem? 

Native to tropical regions and initially discovered in West Africa, the palm tree fruit is currently grown primarily in South East Asia. Unfortunately, despite the crop's ability to produce large amounts of oil with minimal land, its drastically high demand has made it one of the primary drivers of deforestation in Malaysia and Indonesia, which currently produce 85% of the world's palm oil. 

These and other tropical regions have a delicate and essential ecosystem that relies on their tropical forests. Local species like the endangered orangutan rely on the forest for food and shelter. Additionally, the Earth depends on forests and jungles to absorb carbon dioxide and solar radiation. Rainforests produce 20% of the planet's Oxygen and return 50% of its precipitation into the atmosphere through evaporation, serving as a critical regulator of rainfall around the globe. 

By tearing down acres of rainforest to plant palm oil trees, exorbitant amounts of CO2 are released into the atmosphere. At the same time, the amount of Oxygen produced is being reduced, and native species' habitats are broken down to nothing. To make things more problematic, the harvesting process in palm oil-producing countries has been known to use child labor and other unethical practices. Unsustainable palm oil production does more than promote deforestation. Additionally,uprooting thousands of acres of rainforest to make room for palm oil trees over time disrupts the region's water cycle. A lack of greenery to absorb rainwater leads to excessive runoff. This drastically reduces the amount of water available to evaporate back into the atmosphere, impacting rain patterns in surrounding regions and leading to excessive runoff. Natural disasters (link natural disasters post here) like floods are then much more likely to occur. 

The ingredients used to create the food, cosmetics, and anything else we use in our daily lives come from somewhere. We may not always see the raw ingredients or even know their origin, yet, their impact may be greater than you imagine. Palm oil may be one of the most revolutionary ingredients discovered and utilized in modern-day products. Yet, if it is not produced ethically and sustainably, its downsides far outweigh its benefits. Understanding its environmental, social, and cultural impacts is extremely important. 

To learn more about how human activities impact the environment and the world's energy resources, visit Resourcefulness.org and follow us on Instagram and Facebook. For information on energy careers and fun energy related activities visit Smart Energy Education and Watt Watchers.

Watt Watchers of Texas is a Partner Program of Smart Energy Education.
envelope-ochevron-circle-rightmenu-circlecross-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram