Category Archives: Healthy Living

What’s In Your Water?

Water pollution remains a constant concern in many US communities. This guide can be helpful in understanding what contaminants that could be in your water. You should contact your water utility if you suspect something is wrong.

Water

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2014 Green Lifestyle Resolutions

First come the New Year, and then comes the resolutions.  With eco awareness on the rise, it’s not surprising that many New Year’s resolutions are to live a cleaner and more sustainable life. While green living may be the new buzz word, to start doing it may take some definition and direction. Here are a few ideas that may help you move toward a more green 2014:

1.  Practice the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. new-year-resolution
2.  Buy organics:  Shop your local farmer’s market for organic fruits and veggies and look for natural personal care and clothing made from natural fibers.
3.  Bring your own reusable bags when you go shopping.
4.  Composting as much as possible. Collect your table scraps and lawn clippings in a yard composter to make free fertilizer! Use it on your plants, gardens, tree pits, anywhere!
5.  Recycling: recycle everything! Paper, materials, home items, and more!
6.  Energy efficiency: purchase energy star certified appliances.  Buy and use renewable or wind energy and monitor your use of energy.
7.  Water: Reduce you water usage with xeriscaping and using sprinkler systems in the yard. Use shower timers and other water conservation tools to reduce your daily water usage.
8.  Indoor air quality: use chemical free cleaners, live plants, sustainable fabrics and paint in your home. Your indoor air quality will improve and you’ll support sustainable businesses producing green products.
9.  Wash your clothes in cold water. You will reduce your energy consumption by reducing the amount of heated water needs. Also, instead of using the dryer, try to hang your clothes outside or indoors on a folding rack .
10.  Play outside. Have fun and keep fit by appreciating all that nature has to offer: parks, trails, gardens, etc.
11.  Green your travel. Try a eco trip this year for your vacation.
12.  Get an Energy Audit: Find an energy audit company in your area to analyze the energy efficiency of your home.  An audit can potentially save you thousands of dollars by making a few changes.

Have a Happy (Green) New Year!!!

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Ways to Have a Green Christmas

Here are a few ways you can make this Christmas season more eco-friendly:

green-christmas

1. Buy Less

Gifts can fit a practical need and need to be bought new, while other are gestures of thoughtfulness. Find gifts that fit without overspending. 
2. Christmas lights

Solar LED lights are the most energy efficient lighting options. Worse case, convert all older lighting to some form of LED and reduce your energy cost by up to 90%.

2. Wrapping paper

Instead of wasting loads of money on wrapping paper,  use old paper bags, newspapers and school art work. If you do buy, use environmentally friendly wrapping paper. Choose wrapping paper made using fibers such as hemp or paper from recycled content. Also, reuse or recycle gift packing materials

3. Set Holiday Light Displays On Automatic Timers

Setting the light display on an automatic timer allows you to only have the lights on during optimal times, minimizing the waste of having the lights on during the overnight hours.

4. Shop online

Rather than driving around for hours and wasting time and gas, consider shopping online.

5. Cook As Efficiently As Possible

If you are cooking on an electric oven, the Environmental Protection Agency suggests that you can reduce your use of electricity by doing some of your cooking in a crock pot, which supposedly uses less electricity than an electric oven. You can also reduce your fuel consumption 

6. Durable decorations

When buying decorations, ensure you buy good quality or make them yourself from reusable products you find around your home. Good quality decorations may cost more initially but they won’t need to be replaced as often as their cheaper versions

7. Christmas tree choices

Whilst artificial Christmas Trees last longer, the plastic used to make them can be quite toxic to our environment. Consider purchasing a real Christmas Tree. You can keep it in a pot through the festive season than plant it in your backyard at the end of December. Real trees also support tree planting programs which soak up carbon from our atmosphere.

8. Green gifts

Consider only purchasing Eco Friendly gifts. You can find products available that are often made from recycled goods or are made only of sustainable materials.

9. DIY cards and gifts

Make your own cards and presents – these gifts are more likely to be treasured, extending their life cycle. You can also reuse last year’s cards by making gift labels for this year.

10. e-cards

Instead of sending traditional Christmas Cards to family and friends, which cost both money and resources, reduce your carbon footprint by sending an e-card with a personal message.

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Filed under Energy Conservation, Healthy Living, Recycling, Repurposing

Green Tip: Compost Your Food Waste

Generally food waste is organic and will decompose, but when mixed with other waste in the landfill food waste actually contributes to the production and release of harmful gases which potentially cause environmental damage. In fact, food scraps are the third largest segment of the waste stream with nearly 26 million tons generated each year. Of the overall waste stream,about 12% is food-related, behind paper and plastic

However, by composting your food waste, you can actually put that waste to good use by putting it back back into the earth. The resulting compost can be used in a variety of different ways to support your yard or garden.

Compostable Food Items:

  • Uncooked vegetables and peelings
  • Salad
  • Fruit
  • Tea bags
  • Crushed egg shells
  • Coffee grounds
  • Non-food materials such as plants and flowers, grass clippings, leaves and shredded paper, cardboard.

Non-compostable Food Items:

  • Food which has been cooked. Cooked food, even vegetables, can attract vermin
  • Meat or fish
  • Dairy products
  • Non-food items such as cat or dog litter, large pieces of wood, coal ash
  • Plastics and metals.

How to Compost

You will need to buy or make a compost bin to effectively to manage your waste to create compost. Check with your local municipality for compost bin rebate programs.

Place your compost bin on a level, well-drained area. Make sure that the base of your compost bin is open and place it on soil ideally. This is so that the compost can absorb nutrients and moisture from the soil below easily. It also enables creatures like worms to get into the waste and they help break it down into compost.

Cover the compost bin with a water-proof cover. Every three months you will need to stir the compost pile until it is ready. The process can take anywhere from four to 18 months depending upon your climate and the types of waste in the compost pile. The compost is ready when the compost is a consistent dark brown and develops an earthy smell.

Tips for Composting

  • The ideal composting mixture will be a combination of all the materials in the first list above.
  • Small items tend to compost faster. Cut larger items into smaller pieces to speed the composting process.
  • Add fresh water periodically to maintain the needed moisture level for a healthy compost pile, but do not over-water. If your compost pile gives off a strong odor, add less water and add wood chips or cardboard  to soak up the additional moisture.
  • Access to direct sunlight will speed the composting process.

Easy and Quick Composting

For those that may not want to deal with the physical demands or time it takes for a compost pile to mature, we recommend the use of a tumbling composter. Tumbling is the most effective method for making compost quickly because it evenly mixes nitrogen and carbon materials(green and brown) for optimal eco-interaction. Add the benefit of complete distribution of moisture, air, and organic microbes throughout the batch and you’ll create conditions perfect for express composting. Vented ends provide optimal aeration so this tumbler will help create finished compost 4 to10times quicker than a tradition composting bed. Plus its resistant to animal entry and it’s easy to turn. Just load up the composting drum and tumble it a couple times a week. Nature will do the rest as it creates nutrient rich organic compost in as little as 3 weeks.

If you are interested in a yard composter, you can visit http://www.greenlivingeveryday.com/category-s/40.htm to see our full line of home and garden composting products.

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Why use Organic Baby Shampoo and Wash

Your baby’s skin is the largest and most delicate organ. Yet we regularly massage the skin with products loaded with petrochemical ingredients. If you would read the label on the back of your child’s shampoo or wash bottle, you would see dyes, preservatives, synthetic foams, parabens and petrochemicals. Remember, the skin is a porous membrane, so up to 60% of products that are applied to skin will make its way into the body. This results in over 90 industrial chemicals that the body can’t breakdown and eliminate. This material will accumulate over time and can lead to serious diseases like cancer.

The average consumer can’t fully determine the long term dangers of applying various chemicals and corrosives to their children’s skin and scalp. As more parents are becoming aware, they are reconsidering using conventional bath products. Here is a further listing of some of the harmful ingredients in many conventional bath products:

  • Diethanolamine or DEA – This is a carcinogen that if used repeatedly could lead to cancer.
  • Propylene Glycol – Ingredient in industrial antifreeze. Gives shampoo slippery characteristic.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate – Inexpensive detergent chemical that creates foam. Found in most dish detergents.
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate – Found in industrial engine degreasers.
  • Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate- Inexpensive detergent and makes mixtures foam well.
  • Olefin Sulfonate – Deodorized kerosene

True organic shampoo and wash products offer a wealth of benefits for hair and skin that will be immediately noticeable. Organic products gently infuse your hair follicles and skin cells with natural minerals, herbal extracts, and oils. Keep in mind that not every natural ingredient is safe for a baby’s delicate skin. Some essential oils may be irritating so when choosing a shampoo or body wash for your baby, read the label carefully and be sure it has been proven safe for infants. There are lots of shampoos to choose from, so check out a few to see which one best meets your needs.

Vermont Soap Organic Baby Wash is great because it is two products in one. It can be used to wash both baby’s hair and body.  Bath time will only take about two squirts–one for the body and one to shampoo hair.  Typically, one bottle will last much longer than most store bought brands. So even though it’s a little more per bottle, you will save in the long run. Plus you’re getting the benefit of knowing you’re using the most natural ingredients for your baby’s sensitive skin.

When you use organic bath products, you’re also helping your environment by letting bio-degradable substances go down the drain and not harsh chemicals.

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Filed under Healthy Living, Product Review, Sustainable Goods, Uncategorized

Home Winterization Tips

How to Winterize Your Home and Save Money

1. Change Furnace Filters

2. Run Fans in Reverse - Most people think of fans only when they want to be cool, but many ceiling units come with a handy switch that reverses the direction of the blades. Counterclockwise rotation produces cooling breezes while switching to clockwise makes it seem warmer by making an updraft that sends the warmer air pooled near the ceiling back into the living space. This can cut your heating costs as much as 10 percent.

3. Winterize Your A/C and Water Lines - This one’s really easy, and it will save you wear and tear on your cooling system, so it can function at tip-top shape the next time you need it. Simply drain any hoses and air conditioner pipes, and make sure you don’t have excess water pooled in equipment. If your a/c has a water shutoff valve, go ahead and turn that off.

4. Turn Down Your Water Heater - While many conventional water heaters are set to 140 degrees F by installers, most households don’t need that level, and end up paying for hot water that just sits around, slowly cooling. Lowering the temperature to 120 would reduce your water heating costs by 6 to 10%.

5. Install Storm Doors and Windows - The simple act of installing a storm door can increase energy efficiency by 45 percent, by sealing drafts and reducing air flow. Storm doors also offer greater flexibility for letting light and ventilation enter your home. Look for Energy Star-certified models.

6. Use an Energy Monitor - Measure your way to savings with an energy monitor.  This device indicates household electrical usage by device in real time.  Now you´ll know if it is time for a new refrigerator or if that old air conditioner is still saving you money.

7. Use Caulking and Weather-stripping - Simple leaks can sap home energy efficiency by 5 to 30% a year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That means it pays to seal up gaps with caulking and weather-stripping.

8. Insulate Your Pipes - Pay less for hot water by insulating pipes. That can also help decrease the chance of pipes freezing, which can be disastrous. Check to see if your pipes are warm to the touch. If so, they are good candidates for insulation.

9. Insulate your attic. One of the easiest ways to save some money is to ensure that you have at least 12 inches of insulation in your attic. Hot air rises and through the attic is where it’ll go unless you sufficient insulate it. The rule of thumb is that if you can see your ceiling joists (the wooden beams), you don’t have enough because those are often shorter than 12 inches. You should also reduce the amount of transfer through your attic stairway by installing an attic stair cover.

10. Turn off exterior water lines. Chances are you won’t be using any of the water faucets outside of your home, so shut the valve that allows water to those exterior bibs. This prevents the water inside from freezing and cracking your pipes.

11. Wrap your water boiler. Since it’ll be cold, it’s more important than ever to invest in a water heater blanket and warp your water heater so it loses less heat into the ambient air.

12.  Open the blinds in sunny rooms. Be sure to keep the blinds open on any rooms that get a lot of sun, ever little bit of extra heat can help keep those bills down.

13.  Get a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats can help you save a ton of money by only turning on when you most need it. All HVAC systems work the same way – they are either on or off (there’s no low, medium, or high intensity setting). If you can keep your system off when you’re not home or when you’re asleep, you can save yourself a lot of money. They are easy to install and often break-even (cost vs. savings) within the first year.

14.  Consider lowering the temperature setting on your thermostat. A lower temperature means the system is on less, so try lowering the temperature a degree at a time.

15.  Replace your HVAC air filter. During the winter, when the system will run more often, it’s good to replace it monthly so that you don’t have a dirty air filter ruining the efficiency of the system.

16.   Install window insulators. Window insulators are simply plastic sheets you tape up over windows to add an extra layer of protection from the cold. If you have especially drafty or old windows (especially if they’re single pane), consider replacing them.

17.  Block those leaks - One of the best ways to winterize your home is to simply block obvious leaks around your house, both inside and out, experts say. The average American home has leaks that amount to a nine-square-foot hole in the wall. First, find the leaks: On a breezy day, walk around inside holding a lit incense stick to the most common drafty areas: recessed lighting, window and door frames, electrical outlets. Then, buy door sweeps to close spaces under exterior doors, and caulk or apply tacky rope caulk to those drafty spots. Outlet gaskets can easily be installed in electrical outlets that share a home’s outer walls, where cold air often enters.

18.  Don’t forget the chimney - Ideally, spring is the time to think about your chimney, because “chimney sweeps are going crazy right now, as you might have guessed.” That said, don’t put off your chimney needs before using your fireplace.

One other reminder: To keep out cold air, fireplace owners should keep their chimney’s damper closed when the fireplace isn’t in use. And for the same reason, woodstove owners should have glass doors on their stoves, and keep them closed when the stove isn’t in use. An installation of a chimney draft guard will also prevent the loss of heat via your fireplace.

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Filed under Energy Conservation, Healthy Living, Home Winterization

Why Organic Fruits are Better

It seems more and more people these days know to go ‘organic’ when it comes to their fruit. Many of us understand some basic reasons for why organic is better, but there are also some fundamental differences between organic and non-organic fruit. The USDA’s farmers marketNational Organic Program defines organics as, ” A production system this is managed to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.

The problem with non-organic fruit is the high concentration of pesticides. There are about 12 fruits and vegetables to avoid unless you are buying organic. The Environmental Working Group, a exposure of 90% by avoiding the “dirty dozen.”  The following are ranked in order of highest toxicity: peaches, apples, celery, sweet bell peppers, nectarines, strawberries, potatoes, cherries, lettuce, imported grapes, pears and spinach.

The good news is that there are several fruits and vegetables that are very clean. The “cleanest dozen” are ranked in order of lowest pesticide load to highest and are as follows: avocado, onions, sweet corn (frozen), pineapple, mango, asparagus, sweet peas (frozen), kiwi, bananas, cabbage and broccoli. You will note that these fruits and vegetables have a thick outer skin, that keeps the pesticide concentration low.

Even though these foods a tad bit more expensive, people who are conscious of the environment don’t mind the extra buck they need to pay as long as they feel they are doing something constructive for the environment and for themselves.

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