Latest Green News Tue, 28 Oct 2014 01:18:59 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.1 (obRSS 1.8.11) Latest Green News TOP GREEN NEWS at ECOSEEDs Global Green News Portal - The Information Leader in Tomorrows Economy, a FREE service featuring the latest green news and information on the worlds fastest growing economic sector - Green Technology Why saving chinchillas is important for saving the earth
Why saving chinchillas is important for saving the earth

Image from Micah Sittig

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Chinchillas make expensive pets and they are a long time commitment as well. They have a life span of around 15 to 20 years. Hence, people who adopt them as pets are suggested several ways to take care of these exotic pets. But what about those living in the wilderness? They are subjected to exploitation by the humans for their fur. In addition to this, they are also prey animals. It is an endangered species that is declining steadily even in the protected wildlife population. The main reason to preserve chinchillas is to strike a balance in the eco-system. How often have you heard that every single animal has its part to play in achieving this balance?

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Chinchillas have a squirrel like body and are best known for their plush fur. The fur trades are spread in markets of Europe and North America. This trading began around 19th century and it is still continuing today. Due to unnecessary trapping and killing the chinchilla population has declined steadily over the years. By the end of the 19th century, the animals that were once abundantly available had become endangered. This is one of the primary reasons why it is essential to save chinchillas. Why kill these peace loving, little, gentle animals for human pleasure? As it is the chins are prey animals and naturally killed as food by the other animals in the wild. Humans hunting these animals for their fur led to their decline at a faster rate and they could not even repopulate themselves.

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Any existing chinchilla today, is, thus, considered an endangered animal. Chinchillas get easily stressed out. Hence, when their habitats are disturbed, the animals become defensive. This leads to the loss of their energy and disrupts the time that these animals require for reproduction and rest. Those who have a chinchilla as a pet know how they behave once stressed. May be it is related to their being a prey animal and being constantly attacked by other animals. These are tender animals which easily give up on their lives when faced with health problems or threats.

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Thus, it is all the more necessary to save these animals as they are unable to fight for themselves. In addition to these, the passive management techniques have also not helped in increasing the chinchilla population. Moreover, there are several issues involved when you try to breed the chins. There are situations when things turn pretty nasty. Hence, a lot of factors have to be taken into account before two chins are put up for mating.

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A lot of land has also been cleared for mining, hunting and farming. As a result the habitat has fragmented and degraded. However, re-vegetation practices have helped in filling up the gaps in these fragmentations. A number of measures have also been undertaken to increase their habitats. Rescue operations have led them to be put up for adoption as pets. But chinchillas are expensive animals and require thorough care as pets. Besides being prone to diseases, they also have the habit of hiding their woes. As a result, they demand more attention than the other pets.

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The very fact that these little animals have become endangered is a reason enough for their conservation. They need to be saved from the mindless slaughter for deriving their furs. Instead of killing them, it is more humane to adopt one of these rodents. They are inquisitive, bright and clean animals with unique personality. You would find it quite entertaining by simply sitting around them. Thus, the need of the hour is to save them from becoming extinct.

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Jack Dawson works with a NGO that works for endangered animals. In this article he discusses the plight of the chinchillas and the need tosave them.

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China’s waste cooking oil turned into aviation biofuels
China’s waste cooking oil turned into aviation biofuels

Image from Yuichi Kosio

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A new demonstration factory to turn waste cooking oil into aviation biofuel has opened in China.

Boeing and Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China are sponsoring the facility which will be called China-U.S. Aviation Biofuel Pilot Project. The two companies estimate that 500 million gallons of biofuel could be made annually in China from used cooking oil.

"Strong and continuing teamwork between Boeing and COMAC is helping our industry make progress on environmental challenges that no single company or country can solve alone," said Ian Thomas, President, Boeing China. "By working together for mutual benefit, we're finding innovative ways to support China's aviation industry and build a sustainable future."

The facility will use technology developed by Hangzhou Energy & Engineering Technology Co., Ltd to clean contaminants from the waste oils and convert it to jet fuel at a rate of 160 gallons per day.

The biofuel to be produced at the China-U.S. Aviation Biofuel Pilot Project will meet international specifications approved in 2011 for jet fuel made from plant oils and animal fats.

"We are very happy to see the progress that has been made in the collaboration between Boeing and COMAC, especially the achievement in aviation biofuel technology," said Dr. Guangqiu Wang, Vice President of COMAC's Beijing Aeronautical Science & Technology Research Institute. "We will continue to work with Boeing in energy conservation and emissions reduction areas to promote the sustainable development of the aviation industry."

Sustainably produced biofuel is expected to play a key role in supporting aviation’s growth while meeting environmental goals. Biofuel could reduce carbon emissions by 50 to 80 percent compared to petroleum through its lifecycle. – EcoSeed Staff

What needs to be injected In the core DNA of urbanity

By Kimberly Grimms

Urbanization has taken an unprecedented upward turn in recent years. In 2007, half of the world’s population – around 3.6 billion people – lived in urban areas. Comparing this to the urban situation back in the 1800s, when only 2% of the world’s population lived in cities, economists have described it as the greatest migration in human history. Research predicts that by 2050,the forthcoming city setting is looking at an estimated 6.3 billion inhabitants.

Slum dwellers have increased significantly in recent years, with one billion people globally living in severe deprivation and environmental distress. Because of this deepening urban inequality, the Earth's ecosystems are being significantly damaged—and it seems like technology has taken the environment’s immortality. It has also caused imbalances in the environment and in the consumption of natural resources, leaving cities around the world continuously struggling to find the most sustainable way to build a resilient urban future.

Today’s Urban Development Structure

People living outside urban lands are constantly searching for greener pastures in the city. This is what makes urbanization unavoidable. It is easy to see the issue of slum growth and social disturbance as a threat to development—but then again, significant economic growth is also hinged on the steady increase of urban population.

Urban areas also embody environmental destruction done by rapid modernization and technological advancements; but experts believe that if given proper attention, all aspects of urbanization can potentially hold the key to solving the world’s environmental problems and other long-term sustainability issues. Policymakers are addressing multiple concerns, most of which are centered on the reduction of the world’s ecological footprint, and improvement of the overall urban structure.

Substantial effort is seen in city trends involving green innovations. Sustainable forms of energy are being utilized in a larger scale, allowing diminished use of harmful fossil fuels. Green living is also increasingly manifested in many areas of societies where green architectural designs are being sought after. With energy-efficient home designs becoming one of the most proactive city trends, even condos in key cities are now adapting to this standard. Building in key cities are also done under improved standards of sustainable development, and condo building sustainability is slowly gaining popularity among construction companies worldwide.

Even so, environmental analysts suspect that the amount of damage done is too massive, that in order to keep up and eventually be able to recuperate losses, a much more extensive and holistic platform must be developed.

Rethinking the Urban Core DNA

In the near future, a lot of the new urbanites will be poor. Urban inequality will be more pervasive than ever—unless we do something about it today.

While attention is indeed given to most of society’s pressing concerns, little is done to help improve the lives of the urban poor. Many efforts are done to banish them from the slums, without really taking the more proactive route of relocating them to a place where they can potentially contribute to sustainable development.

Contrary to popular belief, the majority of urban population growth is likely to be in smaller cities and towns, where the poor lack managerial and planning capacities. With this, evicting the poor from their homes and denying them of their services does more harm than good to the urban situation.

Once urban and national governments recognize that poor people make up a large part of the urban core DNA, and accept the demographic and social composition of urban growth, some basic initiatives will begin to suggest themselves.

And so, the vision of the future comes to this: What if experts and policymakers give more consideration to finding new ways to equip small cities to plan ahead for expansion, and educate them on how to use their resources sustainably? Doing so could make a huge impact on the fate of poor people and contribute to the prosperity and sustainability of the major cities as well.

Kimberly Grimms is a futurist who spends most of her time monitoring social behavior in search for new consumer trends. She uses the information to create viral and useful content as part of the new media strategy. She's interested in technology, market behavior, new media, environment, sustainability, futuristic scenarios and businesses.

U.S. E.P.A. to replace dirty diesel engine school buses through rebate program
U.S. E.P.A. to replace dirty diesel engine school buses through rebate program

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has launched a rebate program that will help fund the replacement of school buses that have older, dirtier diesel engines.

Under the E.P.A.’s National Clean Diesel Rebate program, public and private bus fleet owners eligible to apply for funding can have their old, dirty school buses replaced, thereby reducing diesel emissions and improving air quality.

As part of the 2014 School Bus Replacement Funding Opportunity, E.P.A. is offering approximately $3 million in rebate funding.

Public and private school bus fleets are eligible to apply for rebates for the replacement of school buses with engine model years 2006 or older. E.P.A. will accept applications starting October 15 to November 17, 2014. Applicants may submit only one application for up to five buses.

“School buses are the safest and most environmentally friendly way to transport children to and from school. The rebates to retrofit older bus engines will provide healthier rides for the 25 million children across the country who ride them on a daily basis,” said Janet McCabe, acting administrator for E.P.A.’s Office of Air and Radiation.

The rebate program is in line with E.P.A.’s implementation of new standards that require diesel engines to be more than 90 percent cleaner.

Older diesel engines emit large amounts of pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. These pollutants are linked to health problems, including aggravated asthma, lung damage, and other serious health problems. – EcoSeed Staff

New oxygen-removing catalyst developed for better biofuel production
New oxygen-removing catalyst developed for better biofuel production

Researchers from Washington State University have developed a new catalyst that can remove oxygen from plant-based materials for a more efficient biofuel process.

The researchers mix inexpensive iron with a tiny amount of rare palladium to make their catalysts.

The new catalyst addresses one of the challenges in biofuel production which is grabbing carbon for fuel while removing oxygen. Too much oxygen, which is naturally found in plant material used for biofuel, makes the resulting fuel less stable, gooier and less efficient than fossil fuels.

While iron had already been used as a catalyst to remove oxygen from plant material, these catalysts don’t work to well in biofuel production. This is because the iron catalysts rust and stop working when they interact with water. Biofuel production requires the use of water.

Palladium, on the other hand, can work with water but it isn’t very good at removing oxygen. Also, palladium can be very expensive.

What the researchers did was add a bit of palladium to iron to “water-proof” it. Adding palladium to iron covered the iron surface with hydrogen and prevented water from interrupting the oxygen removing reaction. It also caused the reaction to speed up and work better.

“With biofuels, you need to remove as much oxygen as possible to gain energy density,” said Professor Yong Wang who led the research team. “Of course, in the process, you want to minimize the costs of oxygen removal. In this case, you minimize hydrogen consumption, increase the overall activity and gain high yields of the desired fuel products using much less expensive and more abundant catalyst materials.”

“When combined, the catalyst is far better than the metals alone in terms of activity, stability and selectivity,” said Mr. Wang.

The researchers will be continuing their studies on the catalyst to see how it stands up under more realistic conditions that more closely mimic real biofuels production. – EcoSeed Staff

Kitchen green-over: Seven easy steps to an eco-friendly kitchen

By Jona Miranda Jone

According to a World Health Organization Report, the global temperature has gotten warmer at about 1 degree Celsius over the 20th century. Although the impact of global warming and climate change is irreversible, further damage can still be prevented.

It’s a good thing that more and more people these days are up to the challenge of going sustainable. This ranges from simple activities like choosing environmentally friendly items from the grocery store, to constructing green buildings and homes, and to completely making a lifestyle change.

Of course, the best way to get involved is to start at home. Making little environmentally sound changes in the household is a great way to really cultivate a green mindset. In fact, even the place where you would only cook and prepare food can be transformed into an eco-friendly space! Here’s how:

1. Use eco-friendly cleaners and detergents

Divert to phosphate-free dishwashing detergents or use household items such as lemon juice and baking soda for cleaning the sink and other parts of the kitchen. You can put it in a spray bottle filled with water.

You can also use homemade cleaning alternatives that are cheaper and accessible. You can use this recipe from for homemade dishwashing cleaner and rinse agent.

• 1 cup borax
• 1 cup washing soda
• ½ cup citric acid
• ½ cup kosher salt (for scrubbing action)

Use 1 Tbsp. per load.

Each batch yields 24 ounces of detergent. You can put it in a used container. For the rinse agent, just fill the compartment with white vinegar.

2. Evaluate your units and equipment.

Evaluating your units and appliances will not only help you save energy and money - it can also help you get rid of appliances and gadgets that you no longer need.

When replacing kitchen equipment, patronize products that are made of eco-friendly materials. Support companies that produce kitchenware and products such as cutting boards and food storage containers that are made from 100 percent recycled materials. Cabinets and other kitchen units can also be replaced with more durable ones so they can last longer.

Go for high energy rating appliances.

When purchasing heavy-duty appliances such as refrigerators, it is always better to consider the A++-G European Energy Label rating system. Other low energy efficiency rated white goods may be cheaper, but they consume large amounts of electricity. This means that although you save money by purchasing cheap white goods, you’ll end up spending a relatively higher amount in the long run because of high electric consumption.

Aside from energy-efficient refrigerators, another option can be refrigerators that use hydrocarbons (such as R600a) as a refrigerant. Also, look for chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)-free refrigerators that use recycled materials.

If you don’t want to buy new one, you can either insulate it on the sides or regularly clean the coils at the back so you can keep your refrigerator’s energy consumption to the least amount.

You can also explore other low-energy units such as eco kettles, which boil only the water you need and keep the rest in a tank so it can be used later. It also has the ability to heat water in three different temperatures. So if you need warm water for your herbal tea, you don’t need to waste energy by heating the water to 100°C.

Recondition your oven

Experts suggest the use of convection ovens over conventional ovens. It is due to their ability to circulate the heated air around the food being cooked which takes shorter time and reducing required temperature which tantamount to low energy consumption. On the average, you’ll drop your energy use by about 20%.

3. Recycle leftovers

Another great way to achieve a green kitchen is to make use of a recycling bin. Kitchens can be designed or redesigned in a way that gives it access to a garden compost bin. This way, leftover food can be re-used as fertilizer.

Planning your meals can also help in reducing waste by keeping you from buying food you won’t eat. You can also plan to use leftovers in cooking different food recipes.

4. Reduce plastic and unnecessary packaging use

Instead of using plastic cling wrap and re-sealable bags to store and cover food, you can use lidded containers. You can also try using reusable plastic containers as long as they are not made of harmful chemicals. In this case, refrain from using plastics labeled with recycling codes 3 – 7. However, to ensure maximum safety for your family, consider the use of glass jars instead of plastic containers. Gallon-size jars are also great for storing bulk items. Aside from its reusability, it also won’t allow chemicals to leach into your food.

There are also aluminum foils that are made of 100% recyclable materials. You should also stop buying bottled water but use pitchers instead. Pack your lunch with no disposable packaging through a lunchbox that has different compartments.

5. Use dishtowels instead of paper towels

Do not make it a habit to use paper towels; instead, use dish towels, as they are inexpensive, washable, and has less carbon footprint.

6. Eat more vegetables

Another easy way to make a kitchen more eco-friendly is to try vegetarian food a little more often. Raising livestock has more destructive impact on the environment than putting up a garden with plants and grains. Besides, all the leftover food can be buried in the compost pit you can use for your garden.

7. Put some plants inside your kitchen

Plants make homes more cozy and inviting. Not only do plants beautify your kitchen, plants also help regulate carbon emissions from your cooking stove. You can also plant culinary herbs in the windowsill!

In the end, what’s more fulfilling than staying in a clean and environmental-friendly space? Achieving this is no longer impossible as you can explore several options to go green. Greening-over your kitchen takes time and effort but it is definitely worth it.

Jona Miranda Jone is a Washington Times Communities Writer. She's been writing about business, sustainability and environment.

U.N.I.D.O. project to change Vietnam’s industrial refrigeration scene

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization has launched a project in Vietnam that will change the country’s use of refrigerant gas thereby reducing ozone depleting gases and its contribution to climate change.

The project, titled “Reducing greenhouse gas and ozone-depleting substances emissions through technology transfer in industrial refrigeration,” was launched this October 21 in Hanoi.

The objective of the project is to change Vietnam’s industrial refrigeration scene which still heavily depends on hydrochloroflourocarbons – a refrigerant gas that depletes that ozone layer and contributes to climate change.

Through the project, U.N.I.D.O. will help the country’s cold storage industry convert away from refrigerant gases such as HCFCs towards global warming potential (G.W.P.) refrigerants.

The project will be a mix of technical assistance, policy and regulatory support, technology transfer, capacity building, and awareness raising activities. With regards to technology transfer, sustainable and affordable cold storage plants will be promoted in selected demonstration sites, serving as pilot plants for cold storage facilities in Vietnam and elsewhere.

More than 100 participants from government agencies, national private companies, associations, U.N. agencies, donors, partner technology providers, and refrigeration experts met during the project’s inception workshop, wherein the shared and discussed technical and policy issues and looked at creating a network of stakeholders.

The venture is funded by the Global Environment Facility and was officially approved by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Viet Nam. Funds will also be provided by the Vietnamese Environmental Protection Fund in the form of soft loans for companies undertaking technological conversion. – EcoSeed Staff

Sony Pictures Entertainment installs 60 E.V. chargers for employee use
Sony Pictures Entertainment installs 60 E.V. chargers for employee use
NRG eVgo completes Largest Corporate Installation of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Southern California, Sony Pictures Entertainment employees at three locations can charge their electric cars while they work (Photo: Business Wire)

A total of 60 charging stations have been installed at Sony Pictures Entertainment’s lot and offices in Culver City, California.

The installation is said to be the largest corporate deployment of electric vehicle charging stations in Southern California.

NRG eVgo, a subsidiary of NRG Energy, Inc., announced that they had completed the installation of the electric vehicle charging stations on October 14 as part of their eVgo Ready for Electric Vehicle program.

S.P.E. had elected to participate in the program which provides qualified workplaces with turn-key E.V. solutions to allow employees to charge their electric vehicles. Its estimated that the daily average of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles parked in the Culver City offices is about 90 vehicles.

Aside from installing the charging stations, eVgo will provide charger maintenance and driver support.

“Working with S.P.E., an iconic brand in entertainment and technology, demonstrates that E.V. charging at work is no longer a novelty; it is a necessity for the best employers,” said Terry O’Day, vice president of NRG eVgo in California. “As the largest corporate electric vehicle charging program in Southern California, S.P.E. is joining the largest comprehensive EV charging network in the greater Los Angeles area.”

The charging infrastructure supports S.P.E.’s environmental initiative, Sony Pictures a Greener World, by allowing its employees to choose more eco-friendly ways of commuting.

The eVgo program complements their Alternative Vehicles Incentive program which helps employees purchase hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles. Since S.P.E. began offering the incentives in 2008, over 300 vehicles have been purchased.

“The studio is always looking for ways to empower our employees to be sustainable both at home and at work. Thanks in part to the Alternative Vehicles Eco-Incentive, demand for E.V. charging infrastructure was high and increasing. Our partnership with NRG eVgo has been critical in helping our employees choose these eco-friendly vehicles with the confidence of access to charging at work,” said Craig Schwartz, senior vice president, Global Facilities at S.P.E.

NRG eVgo aims to build a comprehensive network of fast-charging sites located along major transportation corridors in the United States. Service plans offered by eVgo can provide E.V. owners with a home or workplace charges and use of the networks public charging stations. – EcoSeed Staff

I.D.B. finances private sector wind farm in Uruguay
I.D.B. finances private sector wind farm in Uruguay

The Inter-American Development Bank will be financing the development, construction, operation, and maintenance of a 48.6 MW private sector wind farm in Uruguay.

The financial aid comes from the approved loan of up to $42.2 million from I.D.B.’s ordinary capital. The Kiyu wind farm, located in ParajeBarrancas de San Gregorio, in the department of San Jose, will generate approximately 187,900 megawatt hours of renewable energy yearly – enough power to meet the needs of 67,753 consumers.

The wind farm will be developed by Cobra Ingenieria Uruguay SA and generate energy at a price that is competitive with other sources of energy in the country. This will help with the diversification of the energy mix, ease dependence on fluctuating hydrological conditions, and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 122,135 tons annually as fossil fuels will be replaced by renewable energy.

The project also supports the entry of a new player into the wind power sector in Uruguay and an increase in the private sector’s stake in the energy market.

“The bank continues to support the wind power sector in Uruguay as we have from the outset, with the financing of several projects that have helped the sector post considerable growth in the past few years,” said Jean-Marc Aboussouan, chief of the Infrastructure Division of the Structured and Corporate Finance Department at the I.D.B.

At present, around 45 percent of Uruguay’s installed capacity corresponds to hydroelectric power, 38 percent to thermoelectric plants, and the remaining 17 percent to renewable energy sources – 12 percent from biomass, 5 percent from wind power, and a small fraction from solar power.

By 2017, it is projected that Uruguay will reach an installed capacity of 30 percent in non-conventional renewable energy sources. – EcoSeed Staff

Flooring options when building an eco-friendly home
Flooring options when building an eco-friendly home

By Sarah Smith

As more home builders and other professionals in the building industry continue to seek out eco-friendly flooring materials for their environmentally savvy clients, flooring experts and manufacturers are committed to coming up with various innovative options to choose from. The following list provided by My Floor are some of best and most reliable eco-friendly flooring options that are available in the market today:

1. Bamboo

Bamboo flooring stands out as one of the best low VOC flooring options that have continued to gain popularity among many homeowners in the country. Apart from being made from natural vegetation that grows to maturity in two to four years, far less than many trees take, bamboo flooring is also durable. In addition, it is available in a variety of hues that are capable of blending well with different interior settings and decorations, giving it an edge over traditional flooring options.

2. Linoleum

Due to the fact that linoleum is made from less toxic materials such as linseed oil, tree resin, cork dust and wood flour, it is an excellent eco-friendly flooring solution that you can ever rely on. Apart from being water resistant and fire retardant, it is also easy to clean and maintain. In addition, its extraordinary ability to hold up to wear and tear enables it to last for a long period of time.

3. Cork

Typically recycled waste cork left over after bottle stoppers are manufactured or made straight from raw cork, cork flooring is not only beautiful but also soft underfoot. Cork comes from the bark of cork oak tree, which only grows well in the vast forests of the Mediterranean. Apart from being water resistant, it is also a natural insect repellent.

One of the many advantages of cork is that it is customizable, meaning that it can be finished in a variety of patterns or stains to suit your preferred design or color scheme. Its ability to withstand traffic makes it suitable for the kitchen and living room.

4. Urethane Cement

Urethane cement flooring is suitable for areas that are prone to high-impact abuse, harsh chemicals or thermal shock. If temperatures fluctuate from time to time in your area of residence or place of business, urethane cement could be the best flooring option for you. This also applies if you have heavy machinery or traffic that can create a high-impact environment for your floor.

Urethane cement flooring is very suitable for commercial kitchens, processing facilities and places that are often exposed to water such as dishwashing areas. It has a decorative appeal and is resistant to a lot of chemicals as well as the harmful UV rays.

5. Polished Concrete

When used as the finish floor, polished concrete, which is a low VOC flooring that contains high fly-ash content, serves as a multipurpose green flooring option. Unlike carpets, polished concrete doesn't harbor dust, allergens or mold, enabling it to contribute to high indoor air quality.

A variety of finishing techniques can be applied to produce amazing visual results, from inlaying materials such as glass to creating a tiled effect with different colors. If you would like to have customized polished concrete flooring that suits your personal preferences, you can ask your local building contractor to do the work for you.

6. Glass Tiles

Made from recycled beer and wine bottles, glass tiles are fast becoming a wonderful green option for floors as well as kitchen and bathroom walls. These tiles are non-absorptive and come with added mold and mildew resistance. On top of that, they are available in an array of patterns, colors and finishes.

Sarah Smith is a small business owner, and is currently learning about environment, using the internet. Aside from working on her own business, she likes to use social media, and read travel books.