About 75 percent of Ljubljana is made up of green space.

What We Can Learn From Europe’s New Green Capital

Ljubljana, Slovenia, recently won the 2016 European Green Capital Award, given annually by the European Commission to cities that set a high-bar example of sustainable urban development. While many may never have heard of Ljubljana, we have a lot to learn from them. 

Ljubljana: Leader of Sustainability
The city is the capital of Slovenia, and the political, administrative, cultural and economic center of the region. It's home to more than 280,000 inhabitants. In the last decade, it has evolved into a thriving urban center with an exemplary dedication to sustainability and minimal environmental impact.

The streets of Ljubljana used to be dominated by gas-guzzling cars and trucks. Now, one can see residents taking advantage of public transportation as well as pedestrian and cycling networks. The European Commission reported that the most significant change has been the modification of the traffic regime on the main traffic artery of Slovenska Street.

The Mobility Plan, adopted in 2012, aims to equalize use of the city's public transportation with cars and non-motorized modes by 2020. It has already helped increase public travel to nearly 28 percent. 

Addressing Climate Change
Ljubljana has also emerged as a leader in confronting climate change. The city ambitiously proposed plans to reduce emissions by up to 80 percent by 2050, a goal that reflects the city's commitment to transparency concerning environmental data. As testament, the World Summit Award, a United Nations initiative, chose Ljubljana's Thermal Power Plant as one of the world's five best practices in the area of environmental protection and health for its communication with residents about its emissions and effects on health and the environment. 

Rapid Urbanization
For the first time ever, the majority of the world's population lives in cities, according to the World Health Organization. Even 100 years ago, only 2 out every 10 people lived in an urban area, yet by 2050, more than 7 out of 10 people are expected to live in a city.

Ljubljana's steps toward energy efficiency align with the messages of Ilchi Lee, an advocate of a peaceful, sustainable world. Lee expressed some of his concerns about climate in "The Call of Sedona: Journey of the Heart."

"The clock of civilization is moving much faster than all of us expected, and the earth's environment is losing its balance at a shocking rate," Lee wrote.

With such a rapid urbanization process, it's important for individuals, communities, states and nations to set goals regarding energy efficiency and minimizing the carbon footprint.

Following Ljubljana's Example
In recent years, there have been hundreds of projects that have improved quality of life and environment. For example, about three-quarters of the city consists of green space. Between 2008 and 2012, the city created almost 100 acres of new parks – that adds up to a whopping 6,027 square feet of green space per inhabitant. 

Two million trips have been made on the public bike program since 2011. Furthermore 3,500 waste containers have been replaced by 51 underground waste collectors. 

Perhaps we can find new ideas and inspiration to help minimize our carbon footprint, for there is no doubt the citizens of Ljubljana are setting a precedent for the rest of the world to follow. 

Solar panels are no longer for the rich and famous.

Turning Old Batteries into Solar Cells

Leave it to scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop a way to turn environmental damage into a going green poster child.

The researchers proposed a system that recycles materials from discarded car batteries into new, long-lasting solar panels that provide emissions-free power.

Ilchi Lee, an advocate of a sustainable world, points out that car batteries are typically a big source of lead and harmful acids, which, when not disposed of properly, can contaminate the environment. At the beginning of this process, the raw ores that produce lead can create toxic residues. However, by implementing recycled lead from old car batteries, manufacturers can prevent buildup of toxic material from landfills and reuse it in photovoltaic panels.

The system, published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, is based on an up-and-coming technology in solar cells that highlights a compound called perovskite, which are cheap, stable and highly efficient solar cells. The novel photovoltaic reached an energy-conversion efficiency of 19 percent and was stable for over 1,000 hours under full sunlight. As such, this compound is surging into the marketplace as a viable option, allowing scientists to make use of it with used car parts.

In the meantime, you can exchange old car batteries at a retailers that sells new batteries. The majority of these retail outlets collect used batteries for recycling. Or, you can take your old car batteries to a local household hazardous waste facility.

Turning off the faucet while you're brushing your teeth can save gallons of water each month.

6 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Environmental Impact

Brainstorming ways to minimize your carbon footprint? You've come to the right place. As much as we don't like to admit it, food, water, gas – the world's natural resources – are limited. Ilchi Lee, advocate of a peaceful, sustainable world, urges that, person by person, we can create change. By making an impact, we can reduce our impact. 

1. Turn Thermometer Up 2 Degrees in Summer, Down 2 in Winter
Heating and cooling accounts for a large percentage of a household's energy consumption. In fact, these services cost more money than any other system in your home – typically totaling about 48 percent of your utility bill, according to Energy.gov.

So, save money year-round by turning up your thermometer in warm weather. An average thermostat temperature for warmer weather is around 77 degrees Fahrenheit. If you're not at home during the day, you can increase the temperature to reduce cooling costs.

Turn your thermometer down in cooler weather. About 68 degrees Fahrenheit is an average winter temperature, depending on your climate of course. Each degree below the 68 mark reduces 3 to 5 percent more heating energy consumption.

2. Plant a Tree
Trees are carbon dioxide's Kryptonite. Oak, maple, apple – no matter the type of tree, it absorbs tons of carbon dioxide – the gas that's contributing to climate change – during its lifetime. 

They also emit oxygen, making your neighborhood a bit fresher place to breathe.

3. Recycle Paper, Glass, Plastic and Anything Else
The importance of recycling cannot be understated. It conserves raw materials, turning used goods into new products. Put another way, by recycling, you are keeping something alive longer.

Instead of throwing away junk mail, recycle it. Rather than tossing empty milk jugs, recycle them. If you're getting rid of glass bottles, recycle them!

4. Don't Waste Water
Scientists agree that in the 21st century water will become the world's most precious limited resource. So, conserve when you can. 

Brushing your teeth takes two minutes. During that two minutes, valuable water may be spiraling down the drain. Turn the faucet off after wetting your brush, and turn it back on to clean your brush. That alone could save 4 gallons a minute. Add that up for a family of four and you've saved 200 gallons a week.

5. Install Low-Flow Aerators 
Low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators can reduce your home water consumption as much as 50 percent, cutting your energy cost of heating the water by as much as 50 percent. This is a great way to conserve water and save money.

6. Carpool, Walk or Bike
Team up with a roommate or colleague to carpool to work every day. Not only will this save you money on gas, it will produce less emissions. In the last year, roughly 85 million gallons of gas was saved by carpooling, according to Commuter Solutions. 

Biking to work is another good alternative. It's another win-win – you get a workout and the environment gets a breathe of fresh air.

With these steps, you can start to optimize your energy efficiency and help preserve the earth's natural resources.

When it comes to climate change, boundary lines between countries fade away.

New App Streamlines Sustainability Tips

When it comes to protecting earth's natural resources, we all have to do our part. And as technology becomes more advanced, it may help us work our way through the planet crisis.

With this in the forefront of their minds, an Arizona State University graduate and professor launched a social media app aimed to inspire people to take action to improve the conditions of planet earth. 

The app is called "eEcosphere," and it encourages collaboration between individuals on everything from heavy climate change topics to sustainability tips. More specifically, eEcosphere enables people to share and comment on one another's suggestions on articles like "how to do your laundry better" and "3 ways to reduce your impact when eating out."

"Sustainability is a human challenge," George Basile, co-founder of eEcosphere and a professor at ASU's School of Sustainability, told Arizona Central News. "It's a human problem. The social feature really builds on the idea of helping people, thereby helping global challenges."

The eEcosphere app lets you exchange action-worthy ideas with your friends and adopt the ones that connect with you. It can even help develop and materialize ideas by linking one another with the resources and people that can make it happen. The app also partners with business, sustainable operations and government entities to enrich content. 

For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture provided information about flowers specific to each region, so users could figure out what to plant in their areas.

Andrew Krause, app co-founder and an ASU graduate, said his goal is to disseminate information on environment friendly concerns that can allow people to do things in their everyday routine – which often add up being the most impactful - more sustainably.

He said climate change is a pervasive issue for everyone, especially the Millennial generation. That's why Krause figured the technological platform of an app would be suitable. 

Ilchi Lee, an advocate of a sustainable world, couldn't agree more with Krause's principles. Lee constantly drives home the point that we are all part of this world together – and we are all earth's citizens. When it comes to climate change and lack of natural resources, the boundary lines between communities, states, countries fade away. There is only one group, and that is us. 

A woman strikes a yoga pose.

Comparing Healing Touch and Regular Meditation

Many people are looking for energy methods for healing. 

A simple touch from one person to another has been shown to promote a sense of trust and teamwork, but there is a little-heard of practice that incorporates the sense in a different way. It's called healing touch. 

Like many others, Anita Kiger, from Dover, Delaware, needed a change when she reached her mid 50s. She had constant back and neck pain and longed for new inspiration. 

She found it only 15 minutes away from her house at a meditation studio. From licensed professionals, Kiger started receiving healing touch, which combines meditation with physical touch to focus on parts of the body that are stressed or in pain. 

The method, a relaxing, nurturing energy therapy, helps bolster well-being by massaging energy into the body. In this way, the physical touch stimulates blood flow, playing a role in delivering essential nutrients to the area in pain. 

"When you're sick or in surgery or there's some kind of illness going on there, energy fields are out of balance," Dr. Frances Zappalla, a pediatric cardiologist certified in integrative medicine, told Delaware Online News Journal.

Although Zappalla said she was skeptical at first, after working with a number of patients with such healing touch practices, she said she sees real benefits. 

Zappalla emphasized the importance of the connection between the mind and body. Similar to practicing meditation and striking yoga poses, healing touch reduces blood pressure and heart rate. However, unlike these practices, healing energy has not been measured quantitatively in a reliable way, according to the University of Minnesota.  

There have been countless studies done on regular meditation benefits and the stress relief provided by yoga practices, but healing touch has not had a large body of research for proper testing. 

A big reason why integrative medicine might be effective in general relates to lifestyle choices, the cardiologist said. Healthy eating and mindfulness play a big role – instead of reaching for a cheeseburger, opt for the chicken salad, and instead of concentrating on negative thoughts throughout the day, try to harness uplifting experiences and positive self-reinforcement. 

Ilchi Lee, a master of meditation and The New York Times best-selling author, explains that every individual should find a relaxation technique that works for him or her. According to ancient Chinese practice, the body is made of channels, like veins, through which energy flows. When these channels become blocked from things like an injury, exploring healing treatments with yoga and meditation can prove instrumental in tearing down the energy blockades to feel like yourself again. 

Ilchi Lee recently visited Kerikeri, New Zealand.

Ilchi Lee Visits New Zealand, a Magnet for Meditation

As The New York Times best-selling author and acclaimed philosopher, Ilchi Lee has been frequenting Kerikeri, the largest town in Northland New Zealand.

In June, Lee visited Kerikeri for the second time, and he plans to return for a three-month-long stay. He says that Kerikeri, with Rainbow Falls, the friendly people and the peacefulness, is a magnet for meditation.

Of course, setting has a lot to do with mindful meditation. Reaching a sense of calm is given a big helping hand from the soothing, relaxing environment in which one practices. Kerikeri, a subtropical paradise, aptly fits the bill.

The 63-year-old South Korean has followers from all corners of the world. He combines the Korean Taoist tradition, known as Sun Do, with neuroscience and environmental wisdom, and he has written 36 books, many of which have been translated into several languages.

Becoming a Fun Person
All of us have gone through the struggle of figuring out who we really are and what we want to do with our lives. For Lee, becoming happier all starts with living in the here and now, and embracing life for what is rather than what it appears to be on the surface.

When you look at someone you think is fun, what characteristics do they have? Outgoing, generous, adventurous? No matter your personality, Lee says, you can become a "fun" person – someone who makes their existence beautiful.

"Becoming a fun person isn't hard to do," Lee told the New Zealand newspaper Stuff.co.nz. "Right now, at this very moment, change how you smile, how you speak, how you walk and how you breathe. Practice it every day, in every moment. Smile, talk about good news, walk with a spring your step and breathe."

From Struggle to Success
As a child, Lee grappled with the problem of attention deficit disorder. When he was a teenager he turned to the martial art taekwondo to help ease his restless mind. Although he initially didn't pass his college entrance exam, Lee ended up graduating with a degree in clinical pathology and opening a clinical pathology practice. Through meditation, Lee was able to fight off the problems of ADD, and he began to teach methods of meditation to classes gathered in a community park.

The classes were the starting point of a lifelong journey, as Lee has since opened hundreds of Dahn Centers in South Korea and the U.S.

When the entrepreneur visits places like Kerikeri, he sees a human potential that transcends national boundaries. One of Lee's biggest messages is that we should all consider ourselves citizens of the earth. Lee believes that peace can only be achieved if humanity gives up nationalistic identities and becomes more self-sufficient in health care. Instead of over-relying on pharmaceuticals and specialized health care, we should rediscover the natural means of health maintenance.

Lee notes that our minds are the driving force of our happiness. We have a lot of external and internal noise – people telling us one thing, and our minds telling us another. Get rid of the cluster and fill it with good news. Through meditation, we can learn to work with our minds instead of against them and form relationships between one another to build a stronger future.

Air travel emissions account for about 5 percent of warming, according to The New York Times.

What Air Travel Does to the Environment

We hear endless talk about the carbon emissions left by cars and trucks on the road. But what about the greenhouse gases emitted from airplanes? 

According to The New York Times, a round-trip flight from New York to San Francisco generates a warming effect equivalent to 2 or 3 tons of carbon dioxide per person. 

The average American creates about 19 tons of carbon dioxide a year. So, if you take five long flights each year, they may add up to three-quarters of the emissions you make.

Although air travel emissions currently account for 5 percent of warming – there are hundreds of thousands more auto vehicles than airplanes, not to mention the devastating impact of coal power plants – that number is projected to rise significantly. This is because the volume of air travel is growing faster than gains in flight fuel efficiency. 

"For many people in New York City, who don't drive much and live in apartments, this is probably going to be by far the largest part of their carbon footprint," Anja Kollmuss, a Zurich-based environmental consultant, told The New York Times.

What the FAA is Doing About It
But it's not all gray skies. 

In late June 2014, the U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx awarded a $442,500 Federal Aviation Administration grant to Denver International Airport to cut emissions and improve air quality at the airport through the FAA's Voluntary Airport Low Emission program.

VALE is designed to lower all sources of airport ground emissions in all areas of marginal air quality.

"This program supports President Obama's efforts to combat carbon pollution and reduce aviation's emissions footprint," said Secretary Foxx. "These funds will help airports around the country make the necessary investments to reduce fuel costs and help protect our health and the environment."

Since 2005, the FAA has funded a total of 66 VALE projects at 34 airports

For the Denver airport, the project will allow planes shut off their auxiliary power units while parked at the gate and link up to a cleaner cooling and heating system. All of this will save fuel and help improve air quality by reducing emissions. 

Through the VALE program, airports have sliced ozone emissions by about 466 tons per year, which is about the same as removing 26,000 trucks off the road each year. 

A strong advocate for a sustainable world, Ilchi Lee, remarks that there's no doubt that these are steps in the right direction for leaving a smaller carbon footprint. We just have to be more conscious about where we fly to, and the efficiency of our travel.

Although Millennials are less likely than older adults to describe themselves as environmentalists, they are the most sustainability-conscious generation yet.

Millennials on Sustainability

People born from 1980 to 2000, also referred to as the millennials or generation Y, will bear the brunt of the environmental burden as climate concerns are dumped on them from previous generations. So, in an effort to spur action and hear their perspective, strong advocate of a sustainable world, Ilchi Lee, among others, wants to find out what these problem-solvers are thinking, and how they might take action.

A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center suggests while millennials are the most sustainability-conscious generation yet, they don't call themselves "environmentalists." In fact, only 32 percent of Americans in generation Y see themselves as environmentalists, compared to 42 percent of Americans between the ages of 49 and 64 (born between 1965 and 1980), and 44 percent of those born after 1945.

Based on the younger generations' attitudes, it's likely that millennials simply reject the label of "environmentalist." Despite this, gen Yers are more likely to attribute global warming to human activity, more supportive of stricter environmental laws and more likely to favor environmentally friendly polices such as tax incentives for hybrid vehicles and green energy development. 

But getting the word out isn't the main problem. But before talking turns into action, accurate and relevant news needs to spread among the generation to get an incentive in motion. Right now, although almost every American has heard about climate change, even intellectual, forward-thinking youth are disengaged from the topic. 

University of Santa Barbara sustainability director Kathleen Merrigan recently hosted a panel about what the millennial generation thinks about biobased sustainability. In the discussion, the young people talked about the importance of social media and especially short video message to reach them. There are many stories that need telling, and getting them engaged in the learning process can be very effective.

"What they're doing is trying to teach young people to be storytellers," she said in a press release. "We'd like to send our students out to farms and help tell the story of American agriculture."

Indeed, sharing tales can come in the form of social media, since it shares plenty of ground with sustainability. Through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites, we are able to capture and share moments in real time, sowing a tapestry of individual and shared experience. Although often posts may be trivial, the monumental ones stand a chance at influencing the viewer. Pictures on "Make Every Day Earth Day," links to eco-friendly videos and referendums to limit deforestation can all make a difference.

Help your company go paperless.

3 Easy Ways to Reduce Waste At Your Company

If the average person in the U.S. generates 4.3 pounds of waste per day, imagine how much a 100-person company throws out? Too much. Many businesses are even wasting more than they did two years ago. Cutting down on disposables not only saves money on waste hauling, but demonstrates industry leadership and social responsibility. 

So, check out these efficient ways to lower your company's wastefulness:  

1. Cut Down on Packaging
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, one-third of waste in developed countries comes from packaging. Take a look at the shipping and supply methods used in your business. Could you do away with single-use containers? Pepsi-Cola saved $44 million by switching from corrugated cardboard to reusable plastic shipping containers. 

What's more, with the shift onto the online world, consider emailing that 25-page handout instead of printing it for each employee.

2. Go Paperless
Paper consumption has tripled since 1960, and Americans produce 85 million tons of paper into the waste stream, according to Go Paperless Solutions, Inc.

There are better alternatives. Along the same lines as reducing packaging, companies can save lots of money on sending documents via email, the cloud or other virtual platform rather than printing, faxing and boxing. On the back end, it can easily reduce an enterprise's costs on ink, toner and electricity. 

3. Ditch Bottled Water
Bottled water spells disaster for our carbon footprint. The manufacturing, filling and shipping processes emit vast amounts of fossil fuels. 

At the end of the day, bottled water is just glorified tap water. In fact, 25 percent of bottle water comes from the tap, and the containers we toss out are being left for the next millennia to handle. That's not a wise global gift. 

Instead, provide glasses or reusable bottles in your company's break room. 

Before you decide to ignore the message that the world is sending us, consider this: More than 7 billion pounds of PVC are thrown away in the U.S. each year, according to the Clean Air Council. Only 18 million pounds of that is recycled. 

There's no doubt that we – not just your neighbor or your co-worker, everyone – need to lend a hand in recycling. Ilchi Lee, an advocate of sustainable environment, emphasizes that as citizens of the world, it's our job to keep it clean for generations to come. 

Solar panels on houses can save homeowners 50 percent on their electricity bill each year.

Solar Power Progress

The sun is one of our most powerful natural resources - it sets our circadian clocks and provides necessary vitamin D to our bodies throughout the day. Our central star powers not only our bodies, but our homes and companies as well. In the last decade, solar power has been growing rapidly, with a huge shift to replace fossil fuels. 

The largest solar-panel plant in the world was recently finished in Arizona, where the 290-megawatt project sitting between Yuma and Phoenix will send electricity to California for at least 25 years. Called Agua Caliente, which means "hot water" in English, the solar farm uses thin, film solar panels that rely on a compound of cadmium-telluride to convert sunlight into energy. Talk about a push toward a sustainable world!

At maximum production, the project can generate enough electricity for about 230,000 homes, although the panels depend heavily on the weather. A cloudy day could diminish production significantly. 

Last year the solar industry installed a record amount of solar capacity. In the U.S., California and Arizona have been leading the pack with a growing number of solar power projects. The construction boom reflects a movement to replace fossil fuel power generation with cleaner energy sources. For instance, California requires its utilities to get 33 percent of their electricity supplies from renewable sources by 2020. 

But your state does not need to have legislation in place for you to be part of the sunshine movement. Homeowners who install solar systems in their houses can save an average of 50 percent of their electric bill. The average American household uses 920 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month, and solar panels can account for as much as 840 kWh, according to Solar World. 

But perhaps the most exciting and ambitious project is Solar Roadways. Developed by two Idaho engineers, the technology would replace ordinary streets with a solar panel roads that could melt snow and ice and generate electricity. The road would consist of hexagonal-shaped panels that are made up of four layers: half-inch thick glass surface, followed by a layer of LED lights, an electronic support structure and a base layer made of recyclable materials. 

"We can produce three times more power than we use as a nation. That will eliminate the need for coal-fired power plants," Scott Brusaw, a co-founder of Solar Roadways, told Computer World.

The company, which has already received some federal funding, is now running a crowdsourcing campaign on Indiegogo.com. The technology is currently being tested. 

Ilchi Lee, who is an advocate of a sustainable world, explains that the next step is to be able to save solar power in a sort of battery form. If we can harness the energy for the cloudy and rainy days, we can revolutionize the energy efficiency game. 

For Brain Education and Peace