Going Green Experiment: Day One…Save the whales!

Today was our first day of the going green commitment. August 28th, a Thursday, was a day where we committed to conserving water in our home, in order to limit our water waste and help our environment. I’ve never really paid much attention to our water usage, so today was quite the eye opener. I couldn’t believe how often I left the water running when washing my hands and turning to do something else, or running water in the sink while pouring breakfast cereal.

Both my wife and I committed to taking shorter showers than usual, and I decided to shave and brush my teeth in the shower. Combining morning routines was different, but saved us time so that we could get on with our day.

One of the areas where water is used the most is in our bathrooms. Here are seven ways that you can save water in your bathrooms, lowering your utility costs and helping our environment.

1. Check to see if you’re current shower head is a low flow or water-efficient shower head. Water-conserving shower heads are inexpensive and can save a family of four up to 17,000 gallons of water a year.

2. Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Get ride of tissue, insects or other waste in a trash can instead of the toilet.

3. Combine morning routines. Consider washing your face, shaving or brushing your teeth while in the shower.

4. Fix leaking faucets and toilets. Research has shown that an average of 8% (or more) of all home water is wasted through leaks. Fixing a leak can save 500 gallons of water each month.

5. Remind your kids (and significant other) to turn off showers and sinks when not in use.

6. Check with government agencies and utility companies for rebates on water-saving fixtures.Water Saving Tips

7. In the shower, turn water on to get wet; turn off to lather up; then turn back on to rinse off. Repeat when washing your hair.

Other water-saving tips? Leave a comment or suggestion below. Stay tuned tomorrow for day two of the Going Green Experiement

August Recycled Used Clothing Challenge Week 4

The last two weeks have flown by and I have had lots of time to sew and create. I have enjoyed how the aprons turned out but I think my kids would get some strange looks if they wore them to school. I did manage to make a large heavy duty book bag for my daughter. I think it turned out nicely considering I had no pattern and just sewed it together. It was made completely out of recycled material and fabric. She loves it so that makes it worth it. I did take some pants and converted them into a skirt for myself and a dress and added some elastic to make it a skirt.

I recently found this site and thought they had a lot to offer. AuH20 is an environmental and socially conscious clothing store located in the East Village. They specialize in one-of-a-kind pieces that are recycled, redesigned, and reconstructed, sewn right on site.

I did find myself in another Goodwill by the pound(Outlet) in a different city and was amazed at the differences. I have found that I have enough things to make/sew now so I was thinking that I need to make this challenge a bit harder. I’m going to see how long I can go without buying any clothes anywhere and using what I have. I do love the thrill of going to the goodwill or thrift stores and finding fabulous old 60’s clothes but my house isn’t big enough to hold everything I find on my weekly trip to the Goodwill.

Now if only I can get my sewing machine fixed than everything in this world will be alright.

Green Your Way Back to School

Yes its that time again. September is almost here and school will be starting next week. But before you go off to the mall or the nearest drug store for all your school needs, stop to think about how you can make choices to reduce your environmental impact.

Here are some great ways to “Green Your Way” back to school.

1. Carpool, Ride or Walk. Save gas and carpool with a friend. Ride your bike or walk if you live close enough. 60,000: Gallons of gasoline that would be saved each day if just 6 percent of those who drive less than a mile would walk instead. Statistic from PlanetGreen.Discovery.com.

2. Bring an Eco-smart lunch. Stop brown bagging it! Make sure and get a washable, reusable, PVC-free, container to tote your lunch to school. 18,760: Pounds of lunch waste created per year by one elementary school. WasteFreeLunch.com has all the information you need to start a waste free lunch program at your school.

3. Use Eco-friendly school supplies. Try to find biodegradable, recycled supplies. For green back to school supplies check out TheGreenOffice.com.

4. Recycle in your cafeteria and classrooms. Start a recycling program in your cafeteria and classrooms. Work with staff and students to get bins with labels marked for recycling items that usually end up in the trash.

5. Find green clothes. You don’t always have to break the bank and buy new. Try buying used, this is not only economical, its Eco-friendly as well. Check out your nearest thrift store or go to Buffalo Exchange for some great gently used clothing. If you must buy new, try to find clothing that is made with sustainable fabrics, such as organic cotton, bamboo or hemp.

Check out enviroteens.com for more ways that you can help make a difference in your school and community. This is a great site created by a teen for teens and just about anyone else who would like to make a difference in the environment.

Green Lighting: The Lightbulb is on But is Anyone Home?

I have switched most of the lights in my house to Compact Fluorescent Lights or CFLs, I knew it saved energy and that it was good for the environment but exactly how good, well I hadn’t a clue. Recently I read this article about CFLs and what I found out will hopefully make you want to change your light bulbs to CFLs also.

BENEFITS OF CFLs

1. CFLs are four times more efficient and last up to 10 times longer than incandescents.

2. CFLs use 50-80% less energy than incandescents.

3. CFLs use 1/3 the electricity saving you money in the long run.

4. Replacing a single incandescent bulb with a CFL will keep a half-ton of CO2 out of the atmosphere over the life of the bulb reducing air and water pollution.

5. CFLs are very versatile. They now make 3 way and dimmable CFLs.

Here are some helpful hints when looking for the perfect CFL for each room in the house.

Living Room/Dining Room – You will want warmer CFLs where entertaining guests. The yellow and red tints make skin tones and clothing look softer and more inviting. Look for a kelvin range of 2,700 – 3,000.

Study/Workshop – Go with cooler kelvins for task lighting, around 3,500k. The iris contracts in response to a bluish green tint, making it easier to focus on stuff close up.

Bedroom – Go for something warm around a 2,700 k.

Bathroom – A CFL isnt the best option for the bathroom. Its normal lifespan of 10 times that of an incandescent is cut short when it’s turned on and off frequently.

Backyard – A kelvin of 3,000 is perfect for the outdoor lighting, it adds warmth and a good amount of light.

Check out Earth Easy for more about Energy Efficient Lighting.

Energy Saving Green Home

Are you in the market for a new home or want to remodel the one you already have? If so make the green decision when home shopping. Energy efficient homes help you save money on utility bills, year after year. Many local builders are building energy-efficient homes that are certified through these programs.

ENERGY STAR – To earn the Energy Star, a home must meet guidelines for energy efficiency set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. These homes are at least 15% more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 IRC, and include additional energy-saving features.

EARTH ADVANTAGE – This free standing nonprofit organization works with builders and developers to bring the most energy efficient, sustainable and healthy homes to the market.

LEED for Homes – LEED(Leadership in Energy and Environmental Deasign) for homes is a voluntary rating system that promotes the design and construction of high performance “green” homes. LEED homes have lower energy and water bills, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and fewer problems with mold, mildew and other indoor toxins.

Eco-Friendly Clothes

Everyone wants to look good and feel good in what they are wearing. Eco-friendly has come a long way with the broad band of companies and clothing items they sell. Make your fashion statement with organic fibers, recycled materials and natural dyes. Check out these Green clothing websites for your next Eco-friendly outfit.

Bernardo Green – The worlds first totally Eco-friendly suede fashions. Created entirely from biodegradable elements. Each hang-tag is made from biodegradable waste materials and when planted its seeds will grow.

Viva Terra – Which means living earth, sells clothes from partners and suppliers who work to make a positive difference in the world and the items are made from organic, sustainable resources.

Eco Skin – They use only environmentally sustainable luxury fabrics woven, dyed and sewn in the USA.

Levi’s Eco – Levi’s is now making jeans from recycled and organic cotton.

Oxygen Required – They offer a contemporary collection comprised of Eco-friendly fabrics, using bamboo and surplus fabrics.

Matt & Nat – They have wonderful bags and purses for every occasion, from wallets to diaper bags, made without any animal products, completely vegan.

Toggery – They have a great line of organic clothing for the environmentally conscious consumer.

We Be Bags – Eco-friendly totes made from used farm sacks, colorful fabrics and authentic sail ties.

Shrinking your carbon footprint doesn’t have to be hard in fact its easy and affordable when it comes to style.


10 Ways To Be Greener and Save Money

1. Decorate your home with houseplants. They remove volatile organic compounds(VOC) from the air.

2. Always clean out the lint filter of the dryer. A dirty lint filter causes your dryer to use 30% more energy.

3. Switch from paper towels to sponges. One sponge can last the equivalent of 17 rolls of paper towels. Zap the sponge in the microwave for 2 minutes each week to get rid of germs.

4. Say no to catalogs. Check out the statistics at Bird on a Wire.

5. Save energy and set your wash cycle to cold. You can save up to $63 a year.

6. Try to shave 2 minutes off your shower. Even a 5 minute shower uses 10-25 gallons of water.

7. Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs. They use about 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs.

8. Plug all your appliances into a power strips and turn off the power strip at nights to save energy.

9. Invest in a programmable thermostat. This can save $150 a year on energy costs.

10. Change the air filter in your car once a year. This will help you get better gas mileage, making your travels cheaper in the long run.

Why Buy Green Beauty Products

There are so many ways in which we can help the environment and beauty products is one that isn’t looked at often enough. Check the labels of your favorite beauty products and see what toxins you are putting on your body & face every day.

Most beauty products today contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or other related toxins. A report published in the Journal of The American College of Toxicology in 1983 showed that concentrations as low as 0.5% could cause irritation and concentrations of 10-30% caused skin corrosion and severe irritation. National Institutes of Health “Household Products Directory” of chemical ingredients lists over 80 products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate. Some soaps have concentrations of up to 30%, which the ACT report called “highly irritating and dangerous“.

Check out the Guide to Less Toxic Products for information on the toxicity, less toxic alternatives and home-made alternatives.

Check your products with the amazing database at Skin Deep: The Cosmetic Safety Database by Environmental Working Group. It gives you the Hazard level, what the ingredients are linked to, if they test on animals and if they are a Compact for Safe Cosmetics signer. After looking at the toxicity of your beauty products you will want to switch to the greener side of beauty products too.

Here is a list of green, organic, eco-friendly, beauty products you should try:

Village Green Market

Care by Stella McCartney

Dr Hauschka

Burt’s Bees


Whats Up With Reusable Plastic Water Bottles

We walk around with our water bottles in hand feeling good about the choice we made to drink water instead of an alternative drink but what we don’t know is that we could be ingesting bisphenol A (BPA) along with that water.

Bisphenol A has been used for decades in tough polycarbonate plastic. Polycarbonate plastic makes up the drinking water bottles, as well as baby bottles and tableware. The chemical is also used in dental sealants, medical devices and in the resin lining of most food cans. There is controversy whether BPA can be linked to cancer or miscarriages. What we do know is that BPA does not break down in landfills and when the water bottles are used improperly toxins leak from the plastic into the liquid that is ingested. Read this article Battles Over Bisphenol A, from defendingscience.org.

The best choice when choosing water bottles is to go with stainless steel. But what if you love your BPA-containing water bottle and can’t seem to part with it? Studies have shown that the chemical leaches more with heating, so make sure and wash it by hand and use it only for cold liquids.

4 Things Not To Do With Your Plastic Water Bottles

-Do not put the plastic bottle in the microwave.

-Do not wash the plastic bottle in the dishwasher.

-Do not let the plastic bottle heat up in the car.

-Do not use if the plastic bottle is discolored or has spider cracks

Klean Kanteen, the reusable, lightweight, and risk free stainless steel Kanteen was introduced in 2004 to encourage better health, hydration and environmental responsibility. Stainless steel is durable, sanitary, toxin-free and non-leaching.

Nalgene has come out with new BPA-free choices, including water bottles made with everyday Tritan.

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9 Pesky Insect Solutions Without Toxic Chemicals

Are you looking for ways to eliminate those pesky insects that are hanging out in your gardens, flower beds and in your kitchen this season, but hoping to do it without using heavy doses of potentially toxic chemicals?

Here is a list of solutions you can try:

1. Kill ants with soapy water or citrus oil and water.

2. Destroy ant nests with sugar and boric acid baits. Check out this article on Boric Acid the All Natural Insecticide.

3. Kill moths and their larvae with extreme heat or cold. Use a dryer or place garments in a freezer for several days.

4. Crush cockroaches by placing boric acid baits near food-prep areas and along walls. Maintain a clean kitchen. Try sticky traps with pheromones(chemicals that attract the bugs). For more information on pheromones, check out this article at BeyondDiscovery.org.

5. To control insects that are eating your garden plants, you can enlist the help of ladybugs and lacewings, natural predators of aphids. Both ladybugs and lacewings are sold for this purpose.

6. For slugs who love to chomp in your garden provide a barrier they will not cross, such as sawdust, wood chips, or ashes around your garden. Slugs will be deterred by this simple barrier, or will become injured and die trying to cross it.

7. For earwigs, fill tuna cans full of beer or even water, all around your garden, this will attract them and they will crawl in and drown as they cannot get out.

8. For grasshoppers, fill a water bottle with molasses and water and spray the mixture on grasshoppers as you see them in your yard. The concoction is sweet and attractive to them, but clogs their nasal passages and causes them to suffocate.

9. Planting garlic or spraying your garden with a garlic spray (simply made from chopped garlic cloves and water mixed well) deters most insects.