Uplifting Info

IKEA Commits $1.13 Billion to Fight Climate Change and Invest in Renewable Energy

IKEA, a company known for its ready-to-assemble furniture, is also a leader in renewable energy and climate mitigation. The Swedish furniture giant today announced a massive $1.13 billion commitment to address the effects of global warming in developing countries.

According to an announcement, the generous measure was made to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy and to support the communities most at risk. The massive $1.13 billion total is made up of combined pledges from the IKEA Group and the IKEA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the group. The majority of the commitment (around $560 million) will be invested in wind energy and around $110 million is expected to be invested in solar up to 2020.

“Climate change is one of the world’s biggest challenges and we need bold commitments and action to find a solution,” said Peter Agnefjäll, IKEA Group president and CEO. “That’s why we are going all in to transform our business, to ensure that it is fit for the future and we can have a positive impact. This includes going 100 percent for renewable energy, by investing in wind and solar, and converting all our lighting products to affordable LED bulbs, helping many millions of households to live a more sustainable life at home.”

IKEA said it’s on track to become energy independent, producing as much renewable energy as it consumes in its buildings. The company, which has invested around $1.7 billion in wind and solar since 2009, has also committed to owning and operating 314 offsite wind turbines and has installed 700,000 solar panels on its buildings.

Agnefjall told Reuters that the newest investment would “absolutely not” increase prices at the stores, adding that the investments will be “good for customers, good for the climate and good for IKEA too.”

The IKEA Foundation’s funding will go towards helping vulnerable communities build resilience to the impacts of climate change such as floods, droughts and desertification, Reuters noted. The funding will also go towards helping these nations adopt renewable energy technologies in homes, schools and businesses, IKEA said.

“We’re working toward a world where children living in poverty have more opportunities to create a better future for themselves and their families. Tackling climate change is critical to achieving this goal,” said Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation.

The IKEA commitment coincides with the Bonn Climate Change Conference, where world governments are preparing on a global climate agreement to be negotiated at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21) meeting in Paris this December.

IKEA’s announcement makes it clear that the private sector is not waiting for world governments to act. On the contrary, companies like IKEA are committing now to real climate action, including industry-changing investments in solar and wind projects.

Hopefully, IKEA’s investment in the health of our planet and in at-risk communities will encourage other companies and governments to do the same.

Sanders to unveil free college tuition bill

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is set to unveil on Tuesday legislation that would provide free tuition at four-year public colleges and universities.

Sanders, who’s running for president on the Democratic ticket, had originally called earlier this year for two years of free tuition.

The Vermont independent argued in a statement Sunday that the U.S. needs the “best-educated workforce” in order to remain competitive globally.

“That will not happen, if, every year, hundreds of thousands of bright young people cannot afford to go to college, and if millions more leave school deeply in debt,” said Sanders, the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee.

His legislation would eliminate undergraduate tuition at public colleges and universities, the statement said, and would expand work study programs. The measure would also “substantially lower” student debt and bring down rates on student loans, it said.

Sanders, who has been trying to cast himself as the most progressive candidate, called in February for federal and state governments to invest $18 billion per year in public higher education in order to make tuition free for two years.

Hillary Clinton, considered the Democratic frontrunner, hasn’t discussed too many specific policy proposals yet, including college tuition and student debt. MSNBC reported late last month that Clinton would soon unveil a college student debt plan.

Prayer For Nepal

On April 25th just a few hundred kilometres away from Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu a magnitude 7.8-8.1 earthquake shattered the ground, homes and hearts of millions. The event has devastated many of us in the Valhalla community, as well as our network of friends in the Mountain Country. I was in my room, working on my …

Read more

Canada’s Largest Food Retailer To Sell Ugly Produce At Low Prices To Cut Food Waste

CREDIT: Niloo / Shutterstock.com

Shoppers in Canada will have to look beyond appearance if they want to help reduce food waste – and save some money along the way.

Loblaws, the country’s largest food retailer, launched a campaign last week to sell misshapen, “ugly” produce at a discounted rate in an effort to curb the country’s food waste problem (annually, Canadians waste some 40 percent of their food).

The campaign, called No Name Naturally Imperfect, offers aesthetically displeasing apples and potatoes at a discount of up to 30 cents in select Loblaws-owned stores in Ontario and Quebec. “We often focus too much on the look of produce rather than the taste,” said Ian Gordon, senior vice president, Loblaw Brands, Loblaw Companies Limited, in a press statement. “Once you peel or cut an apple you can’t tell it once had a blemish or was misshapen.”

CREDIT: Loblaws

According to the U.N. Environment Program, between 20 and 40 percent of produce is thrown away by farmers simply because it isn’t pretty enough for grocery store shelves. The produce being sold under Loblaws’ new campaign would have been used for juices or soups, or might not have been harvested at all, due to their appearance. Though the campaign is beginning with apples and potatoes, company officials hope that the program will serve as a springboard for the sale of other ugly fruits and vegetables in the future.

The move offers savings to both the consumer, who can access healthy produce at lower costs, and the Canadian government, which loses some $31 billion dollars annually on food waste. Globally, food waste costs nearly $400 billion annually, but according to a February report released by the U.K.-based Waste & Resources Action Program (WRAP), countries could save between $120 and $300 each year by focusing on reducing food waste.

In developed nations, food waste happens most often at the retail and consumer level. Grocery stores often adhere to strict quality guidelines that place too much emphasis on appearance, leading to the disposal of produce that is nutritionally sound but not aesthetically pleasing. Each year, enough unspoiled food is thrown away in developed nations to feed the world’s 870 million hungry people.

CREDIT: Shutterstock

But food waste is more than an economic burden – it’s increasingly becoming an environmental burden as well. Most food waste ends up in landfills, where it decomposes and releases methane, a greenhouse gas nearly 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide. In the U.S., where nearly 30 percent of food is wasted, organic waste is the second most prevalent element in landfills. Globally, food waste accounts for 7 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest producer of greenhouse gases, eclipsed only by the United States and China.

Loblaws isn’t the first retailer to decide that the industry’s insane standards of beauty are a detriment to their bottom line and the environment. In 2014, the E.U. launched the European Year Against Food Waste, prompting French supermarket Intermarché to sell disfigured fruits and vegetables for a lower price than their conformist counterparts. The campaign, titled ” Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables,” created a 24 percent uptick in store traffic, reaching 21 million customers in its first month alone.

As greenhouse gas emissions increase – driven by food waste and countless other factors – consumers might be forced to be less picky eaters anyway. A new report published by climate scientists at the University of Melbourne warns that the effects of climate change, including shifting rainfall patterns and climate-related diseases, will result in the production of less flavorful, lower-quality food. Apples, for instance, are sensitive to heat, and can be affected by as little as 10 minutes of extreme sunlight. If mealy, sunburned apples don’t sound like an appealing future food, maybe buying a small, knobby apple now isn’t such a bad alternative.

Lessons On Personal Sustainability, From Nature

Nature is an intelligent system that has learned to evolve and heal itself over the course of 3.8 billion years. Oftentimes, the solutions we seek for modern human problems can be solved with wisdom from the Earth. If we begin to look at natural systems as guide and mentor, as Janine Benyus suggests in Biomimicry: …

Read more

Multiple Religions Worshiping Under The Same Roof… Wait, What?!

The internationally unique House of Religions opened its doors on Sunday, where e ight religious communities are going to live together under one roof. It is the first of its kind in this world, but hopefully not the last. This is the type of religious tolerance the world needs right now.

In a study on the development of the western districts of Bern, citizens demanded action against the marginalization of cultural and religious minorities in 1998.

According to the operators, the architecture of the building allows various communities to seek contact with each other, while also having their own respectful sacred space.

“Hatred never ceases through hatred in this world. Through love alone they cease. This is an eternal law. ” – Yamaka Vaga (Buddha)

With religious tension rising around the world, it’s nice to see some uplifting examples of love and compassion towards other faiths. Granted, this “temple” does look like a glorified shopping mall from the exterior, but on the inside you can see the unique charm each religion brings to the world. Visiting this church to pray to your god, inevitability makes you realize and acknowledge the god’s and worshipping practices of our brothers and sisters around the world.

It may not be everything we hoped for, but it’s a definite start towards a more harmonious future. These are the first baby steps towards religious tolerance and it’s breath of fresh air, given the surrounding atmosphere of religious hate. I hope this story inspires more people to see the world religions as separate paths that ultimately lead to the same as unity.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Would you like something like this in your town?

Try Out These 3 Powerful Guided Meditations

These meditations are great for feeling peace and calm. They will also help you overcome any challenges you might be facing.

These meditations can be viewed online and downloaded so you can use them whenever you like. They combine traditional meditation with tapping for a very powerful experience.

They will also help release deep core issues that you may be dealing with as it uses techniques from The Tapping Solution by Nick Ortner.

Check out these free meditations to help bring peace, calm and relaxation.

The First US City to Run On 100% Renewable Energy

Congratulations to Vermont’s Largest City, Burlington

The first US city to run entirely on 100% renewable energy.

Burlington, Vermont state’s largest city, with a population estimated at upwards of 213,000 people, has described itself as “forward-thinking”; and recently it earned that title as it recently became the first U.S. city of any decent size to run entirely on renewable electricity.

And contrary to those who insist that renewably generated electricity is an expensive luxury and will cost tax payers too much in the short term, Ken Nolan of Burlington Electric Department (BED) told NPR that the switch to renewables was initially driven by economic concerns and will likely save the city $20 million over the next decade.

The city’s publicly owned utility, the Burlington Electric Department (BED), has a bold mission statement;

– BED will continue to be a leader in sustainability by producing power that is as clean and as locally produced as possible.

– BED will continue to treat the environment with the utmost respect and will continue to influence decisions and public policy that enhance environmental quality, the use of renewable resources, and the sustainability of Burlington.”

The city lives up to that mission by acquiring its energy in many ways,

including biomass, hydroelectric, solar and wind.

Renewable electricity generation isn’t the only way this forward-thinking city it’s future. BED has enacted aggressive energy efficiency programs and boasts that it uses less electricity now than it did in 1989. And despite its small size, Burlington already has nine charging stations for electric vehicles.

Vermont should be proud of it’s accomplishments and we should encourage them whole-heartedly. This is the type of positive change we all need to embrace. If you would like to see projects like this become a reality near you, help share this story. By giving stories like this awareness, you are one step closer to seeing this manifest in your near future.