Friday, March 18, 2016

Rebuild Forests with Plantable Coffee Cup

We all love coffee. Period.

What we don’t like is the fact that each coffee cup we use contributes to the pile of waste in landfills. Americans are the leading coffee drinkers worldwide, consuming up to 400 million cups daily (or 146 billion cups annually).

Buying a coffee contained in a disposable cup means contributing to about 23 lbs. of waste every year. Not to mention, Styrofoam is not an entirely recyclable material it’ll be in the landfills for over 500 years.

Sure, merchants can introduce recyclable cups. But, are these enough? Will these be able to reduce the amount of Styro cups in the landfills? No, more so since recyclable cups can only be used three times before they end up in wastelands as well.

Here comes the good news – plantable coffee cups!

A Kickstarter project, spearheaded by an eco-startup in San Luis Obispo, aims to turn your coffee cups into trees. Dubbed as ‘The World’s First Plantable Coffee Cup,’ Reduce. Reuse. Grow., the brains behind the project, wants to manufacture paper cups embedded with native seeds. You simply need to soak the cup in water for 5 minutes and plant it afterward.

The best part is, the cup may contain seeds that are native to a particular region, avoiding the existence of invasive plants in the process. You need not attend a tree planting Philippines event to know how to plant the cups. Instructions on how to plant the paper are detailed at the bottom of the cup, too.

Coffee drinkers may plant the cups themselves in their backyards or a local park. They may also place them on Reduce. Reuse. Grow.-marked trash bins, which will be then transferred to specific reforestation locations.

Alternatively, a third-party organization may collect the cups and plant them for local reforestation initiatives; a more appropriate move since producing these containers involves mowing down of trees. Don’t worry if the cups are thrown away because they are 100% biodegradable; these can be completely biodegraded in just 180 days.

The coffee cups are currently in the prototype form. The project will come to fruition once it reached the $10,000 goal. As of this writing, nonetheless, the project had already garnered more than $21,000. The cups will be delivered to local coffee shops. Each cup will cost about $.02 per cup.

Plantable is not such a new idea. In fact, there are plantable wedding invitations, plantable greeting cards, and plantable gift wrappers. There are also plantable pencils, courtesy of Sprout.

Apparently, this project is a perfect way to tackle the problem that haunts the worldwide coffee industry while breathing new life to trees. And the compostable coffee cup is just the starting point as there are many other seed-filling opportunities.

Let’s drink to that!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Inspiring Nature Quotes - How to Invite Nature Into Your Life

Have you been in any homes in Laguna? Have you seen how these homes are so close to nature you can literally breathe it? Indeed, there are several perks to being one with nature. Perhaps, the nature quotes below will inspire you in inviting nature into your life.

The purpose of life is undoubtedly to know oneself. We cannot do it unless we learn to identify ourselves with all that lives. The sum-total of that life is God. ~Mahatma Gandhi

Just living is not enough... one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower. ~Hans Christian Andersen

On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it. ~Jules Renard

Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction. ~E. O. Wilson

Nature always wears the colors of the spirit. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today. ~Dale Carnegie

Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature. ~Gerard De Nerval

Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises. ~Pedro Calderon de la Barca

To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug. ~Helen Keller

An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day. ~Henry David Thoreau

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. ~John Burroughs

I will be the gladdest thing under the sun. I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one. ~Edna St. Vincent Millay

To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon the verdant green hills is the most perfect refreshment. ~Jane Austin

I myself am quite absorbed by the delicate yellow, delicate soft green, delicate violet of a ploughed and weeded piece of soil. ~Vincent van Gogh

I am in love with the green earth. ~Charles Lamb

Sounds of the wind or sounds of the sea make me happy just to be. ~June Polis

Nature is the art of God. ~Dante Alighieri

Man is not himself only... He is all that he sees; all that flows to him from a thousand sources... He is the land, the lift of its mountain lines, the reach of its valleys. ~Mary Austin

We inter-breath with the rain forests, we drink from the oceans. They are part of our own body. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. ~William Shakespeare

Your deepest roots are in nature. No matter who you are, where you live, or what kind of life you lead, you remain irrevocably linked with the rest of creation. ~Charles Cook

There is something of the marvelous in all things of nature. ~Aristotle

The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful. ~E.E. Cummings

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~Kahlil Gibran

It was in the forest that I found "the peace that passeth understanding." ~Jane Goodall

Wisdom begins in wonder. ~Socrates

Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons. It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and sleep with the earth. ~Walt Whitman

I want to realize brotherhood or identity not merely with the beings called human, but I want to realize identity with all life, even with such beings as crawl on earth. ~Mahatma Gandhi

Never a day passes but that I do myself the honor to commune with some of nature's varied forms. ~George Washington Carver

As long as I live, I'll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I'll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I'll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can. ~John Muir

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

6 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting A Business

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Every business aims to achieve a desirable income. But before you can have a successful business, it always begins with a single step. There will be a lot of thinking and careful planning when you start a business. And whether you like or not, it is in the start-ups where every business can experience a rocky road along the way. Of course, it will always be up to you on how you handle your business.

When it gets down to business, it is a must for you to know by heart what your business is all about, who are your target customers, and how and what way you can promote your business. Even if these are just simple questions, it gives a great impact when you have the knowledge about your business. With that point, you will expect a growing and successful business.

Sad to say, there are a lot of businesses, especially to those who are still starting up, usually commit mistakes. Perhaps, they were not equipped with enough knowledge on what and what not to do when it comes to putting up a business. Well, if you are one of that business minded person who plans to have your own business, then below are some and most common mistakes you need to avoid.

1. Unregistered business

First and foremost, you cannot put up a business legally when you are not registered by Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA). If your business belongs to a PEZA Zone, the government agency will give assistance by providing and tax holidays, and grant incentives to facilitate your business. Moreover, PEZA can also help you with investors, which is beneficial to your business.

2. Not doing enough market research

Putting up a business is not just about for the sake of having a business. Again, when it gets down to business, there should be a lot of thinking and careful planning to achieve the desired business growth. Yes, the first step can sometimes make us feel daunting and frustrating. That is why, it is also a must for you to have knowledge of what your business is all about. If there is anything that you do not know and understand, then it is your responsibility to make sure that you know every single detail of your business, to avoid loopholes when trouble comes.

3. Not focusing on your business

Whether you realize it or not, there are factors that contribute to the things that keep you from focusing solely on your business. Your job, for example, since there are a lot of deadlines that you need to catch up, thinking about your business may not be your priority as of the moment. Of course, you also have the need to attend all the other matters on your work.

4. Not choosing the right investor

Unless you can finance your business on your own, choosing the wrong investor is dangerous to your business. Finding yourself wondering where your money went when in fact, there are a lot of other investors transacts business with you, later did you discover that your cash reserves dwindle. When you plan on having a partner or investor, you have to make sure that you know every transaction that you have, especially when it gets down to money matters. You have to hand on with that matter if you don't want to waste your income.

5. Hiring too quickly

Yes, we understand that you need people to man your business. But it doesn't mean that you are going to hire people who are not capable and don't have any skills in doing the things that are related to your work. You also have to be keen when hiring a person for you not to regret your decisions later on. Moreover, it is also your duty to make sure that the people you want to hire meets the standard of your company. If not, then you have to make them understand your policies to avoid misunderstandings.

6. Not listening to customers

It is one of your downfalls if you are not going to listen to your customers. Of course, your business exists since there are still customers who avail your products. Just imagine your business without any customers, what will it look like? It is not a good way to achieve your desired income, right? That is why, whatever queries your customers have, you also have to take their suggestions. However, there's a caveat, though; it is also your duty to make sure that the suggestions from your customers are beneficial to your business.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Four Features of Economic Zones under PEZA Philippines

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Take a look around your local area. Have you noticed towering buildings and business establishments taking root recently? If you have, then know that you are not alone in noticing these. 

Currently, there has been a vast abundance of these companies in the Philippines that the business sphere in the Philippines is massively different to how it is today than it was years ago.  Foreign business conglomerates have recently been cropping up in the country, and if the business owner possesses the right industrial and economic acumen, he or she would have enough foresight to utilize the many benefits proffered by being registered under a PEZA zone in the Philippines. In the year 1995, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority under Republic Act No. 7915 otherwise known as “The Special Economic Zone Act of 1995” was created. The inception of this law enables multinational and other foreign investors to relocate and establish a business presence in the Philippines. Similarly, the local government may utilize them as their foreign investment mechanism as it allows for the creation of local jobs and labor for the labor capital in the country. Additionally, it improves the country’s foreign relations through various business and economic ventures and endeavors. Lastly, it generates revenue from the operations of these ecozones within the defined economic zones in the country.  

Considering that the Philippines is a customs territory, sales going outside of the country are considered as exportations while merchandise purchased abroad are considered as importations. If an entity is registered under an economic zone (ecozone for brevity), they are viewed as a separate customs territory despite being located in the same country. As a result, the sales of these registered entities from outside of it are exportation to a non-ecozone within the Philippines and purchases are an importation. In order to set a distinction of these items from the normal import and export transactions, they are considered as “technical exportations” and “Technical importations”. To know about the features of ecozones under PEZA, read on below. 


The Philippine government still has the final discerning power of whether or not a particular business entity is eligible for registration. It would choose a select number of business operations or undertaking it would consider best for registration under the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) as an ecozone. Activities eligible for PEZA registration are export manufacturing (Economic Zone Export Manufacturing Enterprise), Information Technology Service Export (Economic Zone IT enterprise or IT Parks and Buildings), Tourism (Tourism Economic Zone Developers or Operators and Locators), Economic zone development and operation, utilities (economic zone utilities enterprise), agro-industrial bio-fuel manufacturing (Agro-Industrial Economic Zone Developers or Operators and Locators) and facilities providers. 


Being in the above business operations does not immediately grant you incentives as prior registration is required. New businesses can file their application papers during the incorporation stage with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or after they get approved by the SEC. Documentary requirements are different depending on the particular type of activity that is to be registered. To qualify, PEZA locators should be located in an ecozone. An ecozone is an area specifically registered by the PEZA or a building accredited as an IT building. 


Business activities engaged by various entities are registered. This means that if a corporation will engage in more than just one business activity, the registration of one business activity does not automatically register all activities. So, in essence, some non-registered activities are not qualified for tax and other incentives.  


There are various fiscal and non-fiscal incentives offered by being registered under PEZA.  Fiscal incentives include income tax holiday of a specific duration (4, 6 or 3 years) and is subject to extension under certain conditions. This means that a PEZA registered company will not be liable to pay 30 percent income tax. Additionally, there is a 5% special income tax upon expiration of the income tax holiday, tax and duty free importation, zero percent value added tax on purchases of goods and services ONLY for use in the registered activity, exemption from withholding taxes on payments of local buyers from customs territory and exemption from payment of any and all local government fees, taxes, imposes or licenses.  Non-fiscal incentives include a simplified import and export procedures, special non-immigrant VISA to certain officers and employees and the employment of non-resident foreign nationals in supervisory, technical or advisory positions. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Interesting Facts About Hot-Air Balloons and the 19th Hor-Air Balloon Festival

It’s that time of the year again and everyone’s excited to wake up so early in the morning despite the chilly morning climate. That is, for those who want to witness uniquely designed hot-air balloons lifting off from the grounds of Omni Aviation Complex. Before you head to the 19th Hot-Air Balloon Festival in Pampanga, however, arm yourself with these interesting and fun facts about hot-air balloons and the festival itself.

Hot-air balloon facts

  • The hot-air balloon was invented by French brothers, Joseph-Michel and Jacques-√Čtienne Montgolfier on December 14, 1782.

  • The first flight took place on September 19, 1783 with a sheep, a duck and a rooster. The flight took only 8 minutes.

  • The first manned flight happened on November 21, 1783 in Paris, France. The balloon flew for 23 minutes and with the span of 5.5 miles.

  • The hot-air balloon was invented after discovering that a fabric bag will rise if filled with hot air.

  • Only licensed pilots can fly a hot-air balloon.

  • Hot-air balloons fly mainly because of science and physics. No motor or machine whatsoever.

  • The traditional shape of the hot-air balloon is called the inverted teardrop. New shapes and designs were introduced in mid-1970s.

  • Hot-air ballooning-related accidents are very rare. There was only a case in 1984 wherein the pilot suffered from a broken arm and leg due to bad landing.

  • A hot-air balloon can carry up to 10 people only, depending on the size of the balloon. The smallest hot-air balloon is called the cloud hopper.

  • Balloon baskets are usually made of rattan or wicker because these materials are light yet strong and durable. Baskets are either triangular or rectangular in shape.

  • A hot-air balloon flight is not possible when it is raining. The hot temperature inside the balloon can possibly bring the rainwater into boiling temperature thereby damaging the balloon fabric. The temperature inside the balloon is kept at 120 degrees Celsius and below.

  • Balloons, which are also called envelopes, is made from nylon. The melting point of nylon is 230 degrees Celsius.

  • The mouth of the balloon or the part nearest the burner is made from fire-resistant material. Nomex is most commonly used.

  • Hot-air balloon flights are constantly being followed by a chase crew. The chase vehicle follows the balloon wherever it goes.

Hot-air balloon festival facts

  • The Philippine International Hot-Air Balloon Festival is the longest-running hot-air balloon festival in Asia. Other festivals held in Asia include Thailand, Taiwan, and Malaysia.

  • At the festival, hot-air balloons will be flown as early as 6am. Did you know that hot-air balloons are very sensitive to the heat? Yes, long exposures to the sunlight may cause the balloon to burst.

  • The 19th Philippine Hot-Air Balloon Festival was founded in 1994, making 2015 its 21st anniversary. However, the festival has been cancelled twice (1999 and 2014) due to financial difficulties.

  • The 2014 festival was not organized by the PIHABF (Philippine International Hot-Air Balloon Foundation), but by  Pilipinas International Balloon Festival, Inc. (PIBF) and Arts, Culture and Tourism Office of Pampanga (ACTO).

  • The very first festival was participated by 21 balloon pilots from 10 countries. The Philippines has one entry.

  • The festival is held on weekends closest to the Valentine’s Day to celebrate the birthday of Captain Joy Roa, the first Filipino hot-air balloon pilot.

  • Every year, while the sound system is playing the National Anthem, there is a mini show wherein a person in parachute carrying the Philippine flag will descend from the sky. This is called the Philippine Flag Jump.

  • The expected attendance this year is 100,000 with 300,000 people on each fiesta day.

  • Back in 2010, a general admission ticket is sold for ₱150 each. In this year’s festival, each ticket retails at ₱300.

  • The admission ticket sales are used in sending less-fortunate students in aviation schools. So, not only you get to enjoy the parade of vividly colored balloons, but also help to educate children who want to be pilots someday.

Interesting, right? The next time you see a hot-air balloon, you will remember these juicy details. Wait. Knowing how safe a hot-air balloon ride is, why not ride one? It is February and chilly, and what better way to enjoy the cold weather than to be one with it?

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Mountain Biking Novice? Better Read This

Mountain biking Philippines is swiftly gaining momentum. And speaking of momentum, more and more locals are trying and then, loving the sport. Why not? Mountain biking is not only good for the environment, but also for one’s overall health. Perhaps, by now, you’ve already learned about the types of mountain bikes and the equipments you need. What you will read here are practical tips in making your ride as awesome as possible.

1 Get loose

On every mountain trail, there will be rough, tight and edgy corners. Be prepared to carve around them; it is better to experience and get the hang of these than to avoid them. There will be obstacles such as rocks and roots. Ride over them as you stand on the pedals. Lift your butt above a little while absorbing impacts by bending slightly. While you go over them, keep your elbows and knees bent.

2 Trust in momentum

Momentum can make everything stress-free when riding a mountain bike. The rocks will seem smaller and climbs, shorter. Before you attempt a challenging mood, maintain a steady pace before speeding up. Slowing down will only affect the momentum negatively.

3 Move

When climbing a steep slope, obtain extra balance. Do this by dropping your elbows toward the hips then, lowering your chin above the handlebar. Upon descending, obtain stability. Do this by leveling your pedals and moving your elbows out before sliding your butt behind the saddle.

4 Shift

When faced with elevations, you may simply zoom into the profiles. But be prepared particularly for rapid channels. Keep your fingers closer to the shifters while changing gears before the spikes and dips along the trail.

5 Look up

When riding, always try to look 20 feet up the terrain if possible. Through this, you may determine and choose the best paths around although you can try choosing paths with minimal hazards. Don’t hesitate to shift, if needed. Before tackling any obstacle ahead that your line of vision allows you to see, make sure that your body is in the right position.

6 Support yourself

As you leave necessities and amenities behind, bring your water, food and tool. Carry with you a spare tube and pump as well.

What you will need

Aside from a trail-ready bike that gives you an overall control with its durable features and components, you will also need a front suspension fork. This will help in rolling over bumps, among other obstacles. Make sure that the fork is specifically designed for mountain biking and in optimal working condition.

Another important component is a disc brake. Your choices are mechanical and hydraulic disc brakes. Steer clear of using V brakes because disc brakes tend to be more powerful and safer.
There will be no need for trendy wheel sizes. The most popular diameters for mountain bike wheels are 26, 27.5 and 29 inches. While all of them have benefits, they will perform much better if the bike fits the rider (yes, that’s you).

For beginners like you, clipless pedals must be avoided. Instead, use flat platform pedals since using them is easier should you lose control or misjudge an obstacle. Nonetheless, if you are more comfortable clipping in, choose the double-sided ones.

Other practicalities

If your first attempt on an obstacle is not successful, you may go back and try again. However, limit the attempts into three tries. Perhaps, it is not for your skill and experience level yet. Skip tough sections, if you must. Walking through them is much easier than suffering needlessly. Finally, take a break. A 30-minute ride can leave you exhausted and out of breath. Stop for a moment and savor the scenery. Eat a snack. Reset.

All in all, don’t be hard on yourself. Remind yourself that you are a beginner, and mountain biking is also a learning process. Not all rides will be successful, but at least, learn a thing or two from the experience. Hope the above tips will help you. Good luck!


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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Green Insulation at Home, You Ask? Here Are Your Options

Whether you are planning to buy a house for sale in Cavite, Bacolod or just anywhere in the Philippines, chances are, you will eventually consider green installations. Why not, right? Aside from the savings, you get to enjoy a really comfortable home minus the guilt. Nonetheless, one of the most commonly overlooked areas is insulation.

If you have plans on installing green insulation, here are some practical tips on how to do so.

Majority of the Filipinos think that there are serious financial consequences of going green. Of course, you need to invest on materials, for instance. But the dramatic impacts that green insulation may have on your home and thereby your lives are more than enough return on the initial investment.

Experts say that savings are more pronounced when it comes to greening your home’s insulation. These are:
  • Creating a healthier home for you and your loved ones
  • Reducing energy consumption and increasing energy savings
  • Encouraging low maintenance
  • Using high-quality materials
  • Embracing more thorough installation approaches
  • Making the home soundproof
  • Experiencing consistent and even temperatures all year round

That’s why, putting a price tag on the true value of having green insulation at home is impossible. In maximizing the benefits though, here are some things that you can do.

1) Conduct an energy audit.

Before doing any insulation installations, perform an energy audit of your home first. The audit can pinpoint exactly which parts of your home’s insulation are inefficient such as leaks. The audit can also determine which areas may still be improved.

2) Check the attic.

Most often than not, the attics are deliberately ignored. We tend to insulate the walls without realizing that attics and crawlspaces are sources of heat gain and loss. So, better check the attic and other discreet areas.

3) Check the doors and windows.

A drafty door or window will negate the overall energy efficiency potential of the installed insulation. Inspect the doors, windows and other components where heat loss may occur. Perform caulking, weather stripping and sealing, if needs be.

4) Build using SIPs.

SIP stands for structural insulated panel. SIPs can be used on walls, floors and ceilings.

5) Compare R-value.

Materials with a higher R-value used in installing insulation are more energy efficient. R-value can be improved through installing a thick layer of insulation materials. Examples of materials with high R-value are cellulose and cotton bat. Cellulose insulation, which is made from 80% recycled materials such as newspaper, contains borate that makes the material pest and fire retardant. Cellulose insulation is also efficient to produce.

6) Avoid fiberglass.

For one, the material releases glass fibers that may cause respiratory illnesses and skin irritation. There are also more serious health consequences such as cancer due to long-term exposure. Fiberglass contains urea-formaldehyde binder, which is a health hazard. Your fiberglass option is installing formaldehyde-free fiberglass. This insulation material has 15 to 30% recycled glass contents. Specifically, choose the loose-blown fiberglass so binders won’t be needed.

7) Consider mineral or rock wool.

Mineral and rock wool insulation are made using construction wastes (molten slag), rocks, or both. This insulation not only has a better R-value, but also higher density that makes it highly fire resistant. It can also block sound better than any other insulation material such as fiberglass.

Going green is the smartest decision that you could ever make for your home and family’s sake. The good thing about going green is you can take one step at a time. Now, you can start with insulating your walls, attic, floors and ceiling with the options presented above. Then, you can proceed to other areas in your house.

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