There are many ways to go green but here are 10 basic ways to start your sustainable life:
1. Save energy to save money.
* Set your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save on heating and cooling costs.
* Install compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) when your older incandescent bulbs burn out.
* Unplug appliances when you're not using them. Or, use a "smart" power strip that senses when appliances are off and cuts "phantom" or "vampire" energy use.
* Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. As much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water.
* Use a drying rack or clothesline to save the energy otherwise used during machine drying. If you must use a dryer, consider adding dryer balls to cut drying time.
2. Save water to save money.
* Take shorter showers to reduce water use. This will lower your water and heating bills too.
* Install a low-flow showerhead. They don't cost much, and the water and energy savings can quickly pay back your investment.
* Make sure you have a faucet aerator on each faucet. These inexpensive appliances conserve heat and water, while keeping water pressure high.
* Plant drought-tolerant native plants in your garden. Many plants need minimal watering. Find out which occur naturally in your area.
3. Less gas = more money
* Walk or bike to work. This saves on gas and parking costs while improving your cardiovascular health and reducing your risk of obesity.
* Consider telecommuting if you live far from your work. Or move closer. Even if this means paying more rent, it could save you money in the long term.
* Lobby your local government to increase spending on sidewalks and bike lanes. With little cost, these improvements can pay huge dividends in bettering your health and reducing traffic.
4. Eat smart.
* If you eat meat, add one meatless meal a week. Meat costs a lot at the store-and it's even more expensive when you consider the related environmental and health costs.
* Buy locally raised, humane, and organic meat, eggs, and dairy whenever you can. Purchasing from local farmers keeps money in the local economy.
* Watch videos about why local food and sustainable seafood are so great.
* Whatever your diet, eat low on the food chain [pdf]. This is especially true for seafood.
5. Skip the bottled water.
* Use a water filter to purify tap water instead of buying bottled water. Not only is bottled water expensive, but it generates large amounts of container waste.
* Bring a reusable water bottle, preferably aluminum rather than plastic, with you when traveling or at work.
* Check out this short article for the latest on bottled water trends.
6. Think before you buy.
* Go online to find new or gently used secondhand products. Whether you've just moved or are looking to redecorate, consider a service like craigslist or FreeSharing to track down furniture, appliances, and other items cheaply or for free.
* Check out garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops for clothing and other everyday items.
* When making purchases, make sure you know what's "Good Stuff" and what isn't.
* Watch a video about what happens when you buy things. Your purchases have a real impact, for better or worse.
7. Borrow instead of buying.
* Borrow from libraries instead of buying personal books and movies. This saves money, not to mention the ink and paper that goes into printing new books.
* Share power tools and other appliances. Get to know your neighbors while cutting down on the number of things cluttering your closet or garage.
8. Buy smart.
* Buy in bulk. Purchasing food from bulk bins can save money and packaging.
* Wear clothes that don't need to be dry-cleaned. This saves money and cuts down on toxic chemical use.
* Invest in high-quality, long-lasting products. You might pay more now, but you'll be happy when you don't have to replace items as frequently (and this means less waste!).
9. Keep electronics out of the trash.
* Keep your cell phones, computers, and other electronics as long as possible.
* Donate or recycle them responsibly when the time comes. E-waste contains mercury and other toxics and is a growing environmental problem.
* Recycle your cell phone.
* Ask your local government to set up an electronics recycling and hazardous waste collection event.
10. Make your own cleaning supplies.
* The big secret: you can make very effective, non-toxic cleaning products whenever you need them. All you need are a few simple ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, lemon, and soap.
* Making your own cleaning products saves money, time, and packaging-not to mention your indoor air quality.
By Angie Thomason
Solar based air conditioning systems are not very new but have become much more affordable and accessible in recent years. There are basically two types: thermal or solar powered. As strange as this may sound, thermal powered air conditioning is a well established technology used for decades in air conditioning for office buildings, hotels, hospitals, and many other applications. Absorption chiller air conditioners are not new, they have been commercially used in the U.S. since the early 20th century and are a very widely deployed technology. They are simple and dependable, using no harmful CFC (Freon, etc.) and some units actually operate without any moving parts. When engineered to run on , the absorption chiller AC units provide the lowest cost to operate and the best return on investment of any air conditioning system in the world. They are low in operating and maintenance costs. They consume little or no electrical energy - essentially the only parts that use electricity are low amp fan motors and small pumps that move the thermal transfer fluid (Glycol, a food-grade antifreeze) from the collectors(evacuated tube solar thermal panels) to the chiller and then back up to the collectors. Inside the unit is another small pump that circulates the refrigerant. The small electrical needs of these can be provided from solar PV panels if desired. There is no "compressor" to consume power.
by Erik Richardson
by Erik Richardson
Anybody can make biodiesel. It's easy, you can make it in your kitchen -- and it's better fuel than the standard diesel sold by the oil companies. Your diesel motor will run better and last longer on your home-made fuel, and it's much cleaner -- better for the environment and better for health.
Biodiesel production is nothing like the production process for traditional fuels. There is no risk of explosion or harmful vapors. Biodiesel is safe, so safe, in fact that it has been proven less toxic then table salt. Biodiesel production can be done in your own home, although most people prefer to do it in outside in a building like a garage. The biodiesel production process involves four simple steps. To make biodiesel you start by making sodium monoxide. You then mix that with the oil and allow the byproduct to separate out. You then clean the fuel and it is ready for use. Biodiesel production is not complex and it actually something you can do at home.
If you make it from used cooking oil it's not only cheap but you'll be recycling a troublesome waste product that too often ends up in sewers and landfills instead of being recycled. Many convenience stores and small restaurants will welcome the chance to provide you with all the oil you can handle.
Most people in the US use about 500 gallons of fuel a year (about 10 gallons a week), costing about US$1,200 a year at the fuel pump (December 2008 prices). Biodiesel homebrewers using waste vegetable oil as feedstock make biodiesel for 50 cents to US$1 per US gallon, so their 500 gallons a year costs them $250-500, while a good processing system can be set up for around $100 and up. Biodiesel burns clean, which means it does not harm the environment and contribute to pollution.
Processing kits and supplies for making biodiesel are readily available locally. One such supplier is Cascade Biodiesel, http://www.cascadebiodiesel.com/index.php.
by Erik Richardson
With green becoming the trend, people tend to scramble for the new gadgets and the new products that can be marketed as green, and the green products generally tend to be pricier. But what about going back to the old ways to be green? There was a time when not everything was chemical-based and when there was no reason to go green, because civilization already was practicing green in many of the day to day activities. Some of these solutions can be found here: http://www.esquire.com/features/green/green-products-0409, and I will summarize information of some of the products below.
There’s the old-fashioned mower that few people use these days. You know, the ones that didn’t run by gasoline, and you certainly couldn’t ride them. They’re the ones you manually push that have the rotating blade to clip the grass. They’re quiet, don’t have any emissions, and you’ll likely get a pretty good workout.
Following that, there’s the milk paint. Yes, that is what people used to use. Milk, the mineral lime powder, and some color mixed together to make an odorless, long lasting paint. Since the 1970s a company titled Old-Fashioned Milk Paint Company has been making the paint in powdered form and there is now some interior paint that they sell. They’re also fairly affordable and there is a large array of colors to choose from; just check out milkpaint.com.
There are of course many old-fashioned, naturally green products available, they just need to be searched for. Green isn’t really a new trend, it’s a renewed trend and you don’t always have to go for the newest green product that is overpriced to really be green. Sometimes the best thing to do is go back to what our grandparents and great-grandparents used…even if it does require a little more work to do it the old way.
Eliminating garbage is a key role in reducing global warming. A compost bin is a fantastic way to eliminate a lot of household waste. I like to find ways to make green decisions and lifestyle changes without enduring additional costs to my already high dollar cost of living. When I looked into purchasing a recycled compost bin I was shocked to find how much they actually cost. They start at around $50 and top out around $300 for the more deluxe models. I’m sorry but as a student and homeowner, I don’t have this kind of money to spend on the non essentials. I decided to build my own and drove to the nearest Home Depot. A couple sheets of plywood, screws, and a few 2x4s later and the register rang up a little over $50. Needless to say, the cashier wasn’t thrilled about having to restock all my items.
I couldn’t afford to spend that much at this time so I decided to brainstorm on other ways to come up with a compost bin. While exiting the parking lot at the Depot I happened to notice several pallets scattered along the rear of the building. What you see in the above picture is a very common site at large stores across America and they usually have a hard time getting rid of them. I continued to stew on what I just noticed on the remainder of the drive home. I returned the next day, talked to one of their employees and was soon on my way home with 4 pallets in the back of my truck.
You will need four pallets and a handful of screws or nails to achieve a pretty large and usable compost bin. You will use a pallet on each of the three sides, leaving the front of course open. This leaves you with one extra pallet. This is used for the missing slats on the faces of the other three pallets. Since pallets have spaces between the face boards, you will want to fill those in with the extra boards you remove from the fourth pallet. You should now have 3 full sides that can be screwed or nailed at the corners for stability. You now have a fully functional garbage eater and you should be out less than $5 dollars for the screws. Here is a list of 103 items you can compost.
Burlap coffee bags
Lint from behind refrigerator
Popcorn (unpopped, 'Old Maids,' too)
Matches (paper or wood)
Seaweed and kelp
Old, dried up and faded herbs
Bird cage cleanings
Hoof and horn meal
Gin trash (wastes from cotton plants)
Hair clippings from the barber
Tea bags and grounds
Powdered/ground phosphate rock
Corncobs (takes a long time to decompose)
Milk (in small amounts)
Starfish (dead ones!)
Melted ice cream
Q-tips (cotton swabs: cardboard, not plastic sticks)
Expired flower arrangements
BBQ'd fish skin
Stale potato chips
Old leather gardening gloves
Guinea pig cage cleanings
Quail eggs (OK, I needed a 'Q' word)
Tea bags (black and herbal)
Electric razor trimmings
Bagasse (sugar cane residue)
Burned oatmeal (sorry, Mom)
Lint from clothes dryer
Tofu (it's only soybeans, man!)
Wine gone bad (what a waste!)
Fingernail and toenail clippings
Moss from last year's hanging baskets
Stale breakfast cereal
'Dust bunnies' from under the bed
Leather watch bands
Tossed salad (now THERE's tossing it!)
Brown paper bags
Lees from making wine
Vacuum cleaner bag contents
Coconut hull fiber
Old or outdated seeds
Macaroni and cheese
Liquid from canned vegetables
Liquid from canned fruit
Greeting card envelopes
Dead bees and flies
Peanut butter sandwiches
Dirt from soles of shoes, boots
Ivory soap scraps
Spoiled canned fruits and vegetables
Produce trimmings from grocery store
Cardboard cereal boxes (shredded)
Urine (It's true! Read the letters below)
1) A comprehensive energy conservation kit for $59.00 which contains
* (1) 2.0 GPM White, Four Function Showerhead
* (1) Toilet Tummy (a water-filled plastic bag hung inside the toilet tank to displace water, and thereby reduce the amount of water used with each flush.)
* (1) 1.5 GPM Aerator (used on kitchen sinks to reduce the flow of water, while maintaining the strength of the flow)
* (5) 14 Watt ENERGY STAR® CFLs (energy efficient lightbulbs)
* (1) White Plate Pal Wall Thermomter (to monitor house temperature and reduce heating/cooling bills)
* (1) Refrigerator Thermometer
* (1) Hot Water Gauge
* (1) Freezer Thermometer
* (1) Shrink Window Kit (5 pack) (to weatherize and seal windows to reduced heating/cooling needs)
* (1) Adhesive Weatherstrip (see above)
* (1) Luminescent Nightlight
* (10) Switch Gaskets (to seal the wall space behind switches and outlets and reduce drafts, thereby reducing heating/cooling needs)
* (10) Outlet Gaskets
* (1) Kill A Watt Monitor
* (1) Instructional Insert
Just this kit alone (which is fairly cheap) helps immensely to reduce the energy demands of a home - house or apartment. Most apartment management companies will permit residents to replace fixtures with energy saving ones, as long as the originals are kept and can be put back when the tenants move out. I have personally used the window seal in many apartments, which reduces the need for heating and cooling dramatically.
An interesting gadget that was forwarded to me by a friend of mine is a solar powered portable charger for electronic items such as cell phones and laptops. After further investigation of the website (www.thinkgeek.com), I discovered that they had a huge range of power and environmentally friendly gadgets, including several different portable chargers (solar powered and power inverters) to wind powered lights. One of the silliest products they offer is a "squishy bowl and cup set," which are reusable, portable, COLLAPSABLE eating utensils made of silicone. I also discovered a website that offers a $20 portable solar charger. (http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/09/20_solar_panel.php) The same website providing the information on the portable solar panel also offers a guide to buying green (www.treehugger.com and click on the tab that says "3. Take Action, Green Buying Guides."), with information on buying everything from workstations and computers to clothing.
All kinds of resources and advice can be found, if people are willing to look for it. Hopefully the websites and information I have provided in my blogs will help people interested in learning more about being environmentally aware.
Posted by Claire Craig-Sheets
In a previous blog, I wrote about the global impact of the biofuel market, and how it has lead to the same deforestation, land, and food issues as fossil fuels. It is vital to know what the possible impact of any alternative choice may be. Biodiesel, created at home, is a much better choice than purchasing commercially produced biodiesel from companies such as Archer Daniels Midland, a company that is responsible for planting a monocrop of oil palms in Borneo, or British Petroleum, which is in the process of snatching a vast spread of land in Mozambique, also for the purpose of planting crops to produce biofuel. Anyone can find information on producing biodiesel at home on the internet, but one helpful site is http://www.journeytoforever.org/biodiesel_make.html. Granted, not all cars run on diesel. Another simpler way to reduce the amount of petroleum gas used is to take public transportation, carpool, bike, or walk as much as possible. Hybrid and purely electric cars are available now. One such company that produces electric cars, trucks, bikes, and scooters can be found here: http://www.zapworld.com/. The Xebra, their sedan, costs just over $11,000. That's less than many conventional cars.
In regards to travel, one excellent option is looking into ecotourism. The International Ecotourism Society (TIES, for short, which can be found at www.ecoutourism.org) offers a directory of locations that provide eco-friendly travel options, as well as a plethora of advice on how to save money, travel in an environmentally friendly fashion, and still have luxuries and convenience available.
Advice from their website on energy-saving tips for travelers:
10 things you can do to conserve energy when you travel
1. Fly Wisely:
Air travel is often the most energy consuming aspect of your travel. Plan your trip so that you minimize air travel, and choose, whenever possible, to stay longer in a destination instead of making many short trips.
2. Travel Light:
Pack only what you need, and don't bring things that will become waste. By reducing the weight of luggage travelers can significantly cut green house gas emissions.
3. Book Responsibly:
When choosing your hotel, tour operator, or other service providers, select ones that have good sustainability practices. Look for information on the company's environmental initiatives; strategies, save energy and minimize waste; involvement in sustainable tourism certification program. A good place to start your search is Ecotourism Explorer.
4. Before You Leave:
Turn off lights and unplug household appliances that can be left unplugged while you are away.
5. While You Are There:
Turn off all the lights and air conditioner/heater when you leave your room, and unplug unnecessary appliances.
6. Greener Way To Get Around:
Utilize public transportation (bus, train, city car, etc.) and alternative modes of transportation (walking, bicycle, non-motorized vehicles, horse, camel) as much as possible. It's a more sustainable way to get around, and also a healthier and more enjoyable way to get to know the place you are visiting.
7. Eat Local:
Reduce your 'food miles' by choosing local. Visit a local farmer's market, shop at a locally owned grocery store and choose locally owned restaurants that buy local. Locally produced foods are a tastier and more sustainable option.
8. Save Water:
Use the minimum amount of water needed for a shower/bath, don't let water run while shaving, brushing or washing, and check if the hotel has a linen reuse program - if so, reuse your towels and bed sheets by placing the card to indicate you don't wish to have them washed every day, if not, request hospitality staff not to change them every day.
9. Charge Your Trip Sustainably:
Whenever possible, utilize options that do not require batteries. Buy rechargeable batteries for your essential travel items such as cameras, razors, and flash lights.
10. Offset the Unavoidable Footprint:
Contribute to a credible carbon offsetting program to support conservation, renewable energy, and other energy saving projects.
Not only is ecotourism beneficial for the environment, but it can also help stimulate local economy. Many ecotourism groups offer tours to areas where vacationers' interests can help create jobs - one of the guidelines offered is to ask what percentage of a lodging's employees are local. They suggest that for food choices, travelers should visit local farmers' markets, thereby also reducing "food miles," or the distance that food must travel.
At the bottom of this blog post, I have included several websites that people interested in ecotourism may visit for further information.
www.ecotourism.org - TIES (contains guidelines, tips, and suggestions for people interested in ecotourism, as well as a directory of locations that they offer tours in)
http://www.untamedpath.com/Ecotourism/what_is_ecotourism.html (information on ecotourism and what it is, also offers information about tours they offer, including South America and the Galapagos Islands)
http://conserveonline.org/workspaces/tncecotourismprogram/publications (provides information and resources for promoting ecotourism and educating people on the benefits of it; home site also contains information on how ecotourism generates funds for conservation, reduces threat to local wildlife, benefits local communities, and a link to the above-mentioned website)
For further information on Biodiesel and other biofuels, stay away from websites such as www.nbb.org and www.biodiesel.org, as the main members of the society are CEOs of companies such as Archer Daniels Midland and others that are responsible for the deforestation and land-snatching I mentioned previously.
http://www.biodieselcommunity.org/ (provides great information on creating biodiesel and the equipment necessary)
Posted by Claire Craig-Sheets
Posted By Tonia Castilleja
An animal, a stream, a whale. There's almost no limit to the number of environmental causes to which you, your friends, or your class can turn.
Avoid Fast Food.
Most fast food is overpackaged and most fast-food companies are responsible for producing mountains of trash. By avoiding fast food whenever possible, you'll help reduce this needless waste.
Bike Instead Of Ride.
Riding your bike instead of riding in a car saves energy and reduces pollution, of course. But it is also fun! That makes it a double benefit.
Boycott A Product.
Choose something that you feel is not good for the environment. Once you decide not to buy it, write a letter to the company's president (the address is often right on the package) and tell him or her why you have decided not to buy the product anymore. If lots of people did this, companies would start making more environmentally responsible products!
Buy Products Made Of Recycled Paper.
How can you tell if a package is recycled? Look right on the package. Many have specific claims, such as "made of 100 percent recycled material." However, some recycled packages don't advertise this fact, although there are ways you can find out for yourself. For example, when shopping for cereal, cookies, crackers, and other groceries packaged in cardboard boxes, make sure boxes are made from recycled paper. If the underside is gray or dark brown, the cardboard is made of recycled material. If it's white, it is made of unrecycled material.
Change A Light Bulb.
By replacing a standard bulb with a compact fluorescent one you will get more light for less money and save a lot of energy.
Clean Up A Stream Or Park.
Get a group of people together and find a stream or park that needs some tender loving care. Arrange for everyone to meet at a specific time to pick up the trash, weed, perhaps even plant some flowers. Ask local business to donate money, tools, or other supplies you'll need for the task. You also should invite a newspaper reporter or TV news team to come along and report on the event. Make sure to check with the proper local authority in charge of the stream or park to get permission so you are sure not to break any laws.
Close The Refrigerator Door.
By leaving it open for just a few extra seconds, you waste a lot of energy. Decide what you want before you open the refrigerator door. Then get it and close the door right away.
Collect Aluminum Cans.
You might raise a lot of money in the process. The best thing is to combine this with your stream or park cleanup (see above). Sell the cans you collect to a local aluminum recycler and use the money for something fun! Or donate the money to a worthy environmental organization (see below).
Contribute To A Good Cause.
You don't have to contribute a lot of money. In fact, you don't have to contribute money at all. A local environmental group probably can use your and your friends' help in a variety of ways. By volunteering for just a few hours a week, you'll be making a worthwhile contribution to the environment. It will make you feel really good!
Create A Compost Pile.
It's easy to do. Find a corner of the yard that's out of the way. Carefully throw food wastes (leftovers, eggshells, coffee grounds, spoiled vegetables, etc.) into a pile and mix with dirt. Every week or so, turn the pile over with a shovel to give it more air. In a few weeks, it will turn into a rich, nutrition soil that will help plants grow. Just think: What used to be "garbage" is now a valuable substance!
Cut Down On Packaging.
We've already given you several ways to do this. Keep in mind that about half of what we throw away is packaging. By buying products that have as little packaging as possible, you can help to reduce those mountains of trash.
Donate Your Toys To A Worthy Cause.
When you get tired of or grow out of your games and toys and other things, don't throw them away. Even if they are broken, they may be fixed and used by other kids less fortunate than you. You'll also be keeping these things out of the trash.
Don't Buy Aerosols.
There are environmentally better packages for most products. Aerosols can't be recycled--which means that they are guaranteed to end up in landfills--and some of their ingredients contribute to air pollution. Instead of aerosols, look for spray bottles, liquids, powders, and roll-ons.
Draw Up A Petition.
If you find something in your school or in your community you think needs to be changed, one way to convince the people in charge is to circulate a petition, getting as many people to sign it as possible. The petition might say something like: "We, the undersigned, believe that our junior high school should begin recycling all paper, glass, and aluminum immediately, and should place recycling containers throughout the school to make recycling easier. Make sure the signed petition reaches the people in charge; send it to the person at the very top. Send a copy of the signed petition to local newspapers and TV stations.
Eat Organic Produce.
Organic produce contains far fewer chemicals than other produce. That's probably better for your health, and it is definitely better for the environment. All those chemicals get washed off of farmers' fields into rivers and streams, where they pollute our water. In addition, many of the chemicals are made from petroleum and other nonrenewable resources. So, don't eat chemicals--eat real food!
Elect "Green" Candidates.
During election campaigns, ask candidates about their position on the environment. Try to ask specific questions that relate to situations in your community--whether they support a mandatory recycling program, for example, or whether they plan to get tough on polluting companies.
Feed The Birds.
Birds need water to drink and foot to eat. Feeding birds not only brings a bit of nature to your backyard, it also helps rid the yard of many kinds of bugs. you can hang a birdfeeder from a tree or place it outside your window, or build a birdbath in your yard from which the birds can drink water.
Find Out How To Dispose of Hazardous Waste.
Nearly every household has some kind of hazardous waste: old paint cans, used motor oil, unused pesticides and weed killers. If you dump these things down the drain, you'll end up polluting the water supply. THey should be disposed of in a site specially designed for hazardous or toxic wastes. Some cities and counties have monthly or annual pickups. Other areas have special drop-off sites. Call your city or county government to find out the proper way to dispose of such trash in your area. Try organizing a hazardous-waste-collection day in your neighborhood or at your school, encouraging others to dispose of materials properly.
Go To A Zoo.
You'd be surprised how much you'll learn about the Earth. Find out how many of the animals in the zoo are at rick of becoming extinct. (Find out how many animals already ARE extinct.) Ask the zookeeper what role humans have played in animal extinction.
Grow A Garden.
A garden provides flowers, vegetables, and environmental benefits. It can help to reduce soil erosion and may help to reduce some kinds of air pollution. Try to grow your garden using as few pesticides and chemical fertilizers as possible.
Have A "Green" Picnic.
Plan an outing that doesn't create a lot of waste or pollution. For example, if you're having a barbecue, avoid using lighter fluid--it contains naphthalene, an air pollutant which is suspected of causing cancer. Instead, use an electric starter or, better yet, a device that lets you start coals using newspapers instead of fluid. Use real plates and utensils instead of paper or plastic, and reusable tin or heavy plastic cups instead of disposable paper or plastic ones. Wash the cups and use them over and over. And set out separate trash bags for paper, glass, and aluminum. Just because you're outdoors doesn't mean you can't recycle.
Hold On To Balloons.
Helium balloons--they kind that float up into the sky--are lots of fun, but if you let them fly away, they may harm fish and animals. Helium balloons eventually fall back to earth and can be blown by strong winds miles away into the ocean. Some sea animals mistake the balloons for jellyfish. When an animal tries to eat a balloon, it can kill the animal. So if you have a helium balloon, hold on tight. If you know of others planning to use them for a celebration, warn them about the dangers of letting the balloons fly away.
Identify Energy Wasters.
There probably are several companies in your community that are wasting precious resources. Does a used-car showroom leave its bright lights shining all night long? Do parents waiting to pick up their kids from school leave their cars idling at the curb for a long time? Wherever you see people being wasteful, say something! Write a letter, give a call, or walk right up to them on the street and ask them not to waste our Earth's precious resources.
Insulate Your Home.
You may find a lot of energy being wasted right in your own home. After you've finished your energy audit, make a list of the things you believe should be done. Your local hardware-store sales person can help you determine how much the improvements will cost, how much energy they will save, and how much money your family will save in reduced energy bills.
Invite A Speaker.
A good speaker can provide a lot of useful information and can answer your questions. Almost every environmental group has individuals who will speak to your school or organization, usually for free. Consider hosting a series of speakers, each on a different environmental topic. Even better, invite two people with opposing view points on a single subject. You may be in for an exciting debate!
Join An Environmental Group.
Ther are hundreds of good organizations around the country. Most of them have annual membership fees of $25 or less, and some have special rates for kids or students. Try to find one that focuses on something your are particularly interested in. Go to a meeting, event, or other activity. You'll probably meet some other kids with similar interests as yours.
Keep The Car At Home.
You've learned by now that automobiles are one of the single biggest sources of pollution. Most driving trips are under five miles, and you'd be surprised how many are under one mile. Try walking, biking, skateboarding, roller-skating, or taking the bus.
Learn About Your Community.
As you travel around your community, watch the local news, or read local papers, looking for things that might be causing environmental problems. Locate sources of pollution. And make suggestions to people in charge about what you think could be done to improve the situation.
Look At Labels.
Reading labels can tell you a lot of things. First, you can find out about a product's ingredients--whether it contains anything that might be hazardous to your health or the the environment. A label will also tell you how to contact the product's manufacturer with your questions and comments. Feel free to let them know what's on your mind. Do you think their product is good? Let them know! Could it be better? Let them know that, too. In particular, let them know if you've decided to buy--or not buy--their product for environmental reasons. Companies listen very carefully to what their customers have to say. It doesn't take very many letters and calls for a company to think seriously about making changes.
Make Scratch Pads.
Here's a good way to recycle paper. When you use a piece of paper on only one side, don't throw it away when you are done with it. Instead, put it in a pile with all of the blank sides surfacing up. When you get a big pile, you can turn the paper into scratch pads. First, get someone to cut the pile of paper in half. Then, staple small batches of paper together into "pads."
Notify The Authorities.
Do you know a polluter? Is a company in your community doing things that are bad for the environment? Don't think twice about reporting them to the local, state, or federal government. You will be doing yourself and your community a big favor. You might even get a reward!
Observe The Three Rs.
Refuse, Reuse, and Recycle. Whatever you buy, wherever you live, the Three Rs are the most important rules to live by, at least as far as the environment is concerned. The next time you go shopping--whether by yourself or with your parents or friends--think about the Three Rs every time you pull a potential purchase off the shelf. Is it something that is overpackaged or wasteful? If so, Refuse it. Is it something that is made of or packaged in recycled material, or which you can reuse in some way? If so, Reuse it. Is it something that can be recycled easily? If so, Recycle it.
Organize Your Friends.
You've probably heard that "two heads are better than one." Well, ten heads can be even better! You and your friends can probably accomplish a lot if you set your minds to it. Think about the ways you and your friends (or family, classmates, scout troop, or whatever) can help out as a group. Then contact a local environmental group and volunteer your services. Think how much fun everyone can have helping to save the planet!
Plant A Tree.
How would you like to plant your very own tree and watch it grow? There are organizations in most communities that have set up tree-planting campaigns. But you don't even need one of these. Visit a local nursery to find out what kinds of trees will grow best in your area. The nursery people might also help you find a good place to plant a tree. You can watch the tree's progress every year, and have the pleasure of know that you put it there for everyone to enjoy!
Protest Animal Cruelty.
Each year, millions of laboratory animals--rats, mice, dogs, monkeys, and others--suffer needlessly because companies use them to test new products, including most cosmetics and personal-care products. Many of these are extremely cruel. These animals are routinely burned and injected with poisonous substances, among other tests. The worst part is that many of the products for which they are being include ingredients that have already been proven safe! Some companies don't conduct these tests. They often label their products "cruelty free" because they do not cause harm to animals. If you had a choice between a product and a product that caused animals to be harmed and a similar one that didn't, which one would you choose?
Quit Throwing Away Batteries.
Americans go through more than two billion batteries a year to power such things as radios, calculators, watches, flashlights, and computers. Unfortunately, batteries contain many hazardous materials, which leak into landfills when batteries are thrown away. Many of these dangerous chemicals get into our water supply. There are two ways you can avoid throwing away batteries. One is by using batteries that can be recharged over and over. You should also find out if there are companies in your area that recycle batteries. If you must throw batteries away, do so at a hazardous-waste collection site, if there is one in your area. Still another idea is to send the batteries back to the manufacturers, signifying that you consider used batteries a potential danger. This may encourage companies to begin recycling. In the end, ask yourself whether you really need to use products that require batteries.
Well, not everything, but just about. As we described earlier, there is little you can't recycle one way or another. One exception is plastic, most of which is not easily recyclable. Set up recycling boxes in your home--one for collecting newspapers, another for collecting other types of paper, another for glass, and another for aluminum. Try composting, which is a way of recycling food and other organic matter. You can even try recycling plastic, if you can find a place that accepts plastic for recycling. If you can't recycle something, see if there is some way you can reuse it.
Reuse A Bag.
Some people believe that bags made of trees--paper bags--are less harmful to the earth than bags made of chemicals--plastic bags. The fact is, making both types of bags creates a lot of pollution, and both paper and plastic bags use a lot of resources. So neither is much better than the other. The best solution is not to use any bag at all, or to bring your own bag. Some people carry a canvas or mesh bag they can use over and over. If you must use a paper or plastic bag, don't throw it away. Try to use the bag over and over--as many times as you can.
Spend Your Money Wisely.
When you buy toys or gifts, beware of things made of endangered animals or things made of wood that comes from tropical rainforests. If you're not sure, don't be afraid to ask questions. The more you know about the things you buy, the better decisions you can make. Your spending money is powerful! If you spend it wisely, you can help influence companies to do things that don't harm the environment--or the things that live in it.
Stop A Leak.
Organize a Stop-the-Leak Day on which everyone in your family tightens, insulates, replaces, caulks, and does whatever else is necessary to make your home as "tight" as possible. Your local water, gas, or electric utility company may be able to provide help, or even instructions and supplies.
Support Green Companies.
In the past, most companies haven't paid much attention to the environment. But now, a growing number are changing the way they do business. Some are changing their products so that they are less wasteful or polluting. Others are encouraging their employees to carpool or to recycle. Still others are helping their local communities improve their environments. These companies deserve all of our support! Whenever you have a choice between supporting one of these green companies or a company that is less green, you should definitely support the greener one.
Take A Hike.
Or go fishing or bird-watching. Whatever you do, go outdoors to a place where there are as few people, cars, and building as possible. Take a look around. Isn't it beautiful? What would happen if all that beauty disappeared because people littered and polluted and harmed the plants and animals? It's important to keep our natural areas in good shape, so that you can enjoy them and your children--and their children's children--can enjoy them, too! So enjoy the great outdoors whenever you can. And if you see some litter there, pick it up and carry it so someplace where it can be safely thrown away or recycled.
Talk To Your Parents/Children.
There's a good chance that you know more about the environment than they do. That's okay, there's still time for them to learn, and you can be the one to teach them. Don't be afraid to share with them the information you've learned through this site and at school. Help them learn about ways they can be Green Consumers and spend their money in ways that will help the environment. Although it doesn't always seem that way, grown-ups do listen to kids. If you share your concerns with them, they will become concerned, too. Together, you can help.
Turn Off The Lights.
This is such a simple thing to do, but sometimes it's so hard to remember! Ask your parents if you can put little stickers near the light switches you leave on the most often, reminding everyone to turn them off when they leave the room. Consider starting a Lights-Off Fund, to which each person must donate a nickel or dime every time he or she forgets to turn off the lights. As those nickels or dimes add up, you might donate them to an environmental organization.
Use Recycled Paper.
There's just no reason why you shouldn't buy recycled paper whenever it is available. In most cases, it is just as good as "virgin" paper--even better, in fact, because it helps save trees! You can buy toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, writing paper, books, newspapers, and many other things made of recycled paper. If you or your parents can't find recycled paper products in your local grocery store, ask the manager to stock them.
Visit A Recycling Center.
If there's a center nearby, stop and take a look around. Look at all the different things being recycled--lots of different colors of glass, paper, cardboard, cans, maybe even tires and household appliances. Ask the people who run the recycling center what happens to all this stuff after it leaves the center. Think about how wasteful it would be if all that garbage wasn't being recycled, but being thrown away instead.
Work For The Environment.
If you decide to get a summer job, see if there's a job available in which you can help the environment. Most environmental organizations need lots of help, and some of these jobs can pay you. Check with the local parks department to see if there are any jobs in the parks taking care of plants or flowers. Check with the local zoo to see if you can work with animals. It might be hard work, but it might be a lot of fun. Either way, you can go home each day with the satisfaction of knowing you are helping make the world a better place.
Write a Letter.
You'd be surprised how much just one letter can do. Most companies don't get many letters from customers, and most politicians rarely hear voters, so when they do get letters, they read them very carefully. According to some experts, if a company or politician receives just twenty letters on the same subject within a few weeks, they consider the subject high priority. You and your classmate can write twenty letters in a few minutes! So, if a company is doing something that you don't like, or if a politician isn't taking actions that can help protect the environment, write a letter. And encourage your parents--and your friends and neighbors--to write letters, too.
eXercise Your Rights.
As a human being living on planet Earth, you have the right to clean air and water, a safe environment, and the unspoiled beauties this world has to offer. You should speak firmly and loudly against those people and companies who threaten to take those rights away from you by polluting or by making decisions that encourage polluting or other wasteful behavior. That's the only way that you can be sure that the world will still be just as beautiful when you are older. If you don't dream of a better world--and do something about it--no one will do it for you.
Yell At A Litterer.
Well, maybe you don't have to yell, but if you do see someone littering, you definitely should say something. Be polite, but state your case. Explain that littering not only is ugly and costs us money (because we have to pay people to pick up the litter and dispose of it), it is also bad for the environment.
Zero In On Specifics.
While we've covered a wide range of environmental problems and solutions on this site, you can be most effective by choosing one or two specific problems to focus on. Don't try to do everything at once. Pick a problem--acid rain, for example, or animal cruelty--and learn as much about it as you can. Find the individuals and organizations in your area working on the problem and see how you can get involved. That will make you a powerful Green Consumer
If we as parents live our lives with sustainability in mind and make green choices our children will not even know any other way up until they are teenagers. For example: recycling; even as early as a child can scribble. Rather than have them color on one side of the paper, flip it over. Have multiple garbage cans and practice sorting. Try not to waste anything! These are basic little things in life that are usually not given a lot of thought. So many of us are targeting the big ticket items but if we all did our part it would make a huge difference. If a child is taught from the beginning of his/her life to leave the faucet off while brushing their teeth and only turning it on when needed they would be very unlikely to deviate from this process during the rest of their life. For the simple reason of who cares how you brush your teeth?
At this point in our society we realize the need for change but it is a new way of life that will make the greatest impact. When a child is raised in a green home and has a routine of all the little things it takes to keep it green they are learning the way of the future. My point is, our routines are routine. It is as simple as that. We are raised to do things a certain way and it is not over emphasized. Whether it be cleaning the light bulbs bi-monthly to get the most light out of them or turning the lights off as you leave a room. Let’s start our kids off on the right foot and it will be the only foot they know.
Not only is this not an ecological intelligent decision, it also prevents the driver from taking advantage of the car pool lane so it may take them longer to get there. I decided to research some of the operating costs of a realistic comparison of two of the most popular vehicles on the road. I chose to avoid comparing purchase prices since it doesn’t factor in the year of the car or whether or not it was bought new. For example, one could buy a three year old SUV for the same price as a brand new, more efficient 4 door sedan since; excluding hybrid vehicles; automobiles have retained their efficiencies for the past 10 years.
With an average round trip commute to work of 25 miles while driving 15,000 miles annually I compared these two most popular vehicles on the road today. A 2009 Honda Accord featuring a 4 cylinder engine with an automatic transmission and a 2007 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 with automatic transmission and 4WD. Given these stipulations the Accord emitted 7.7 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere and the Burb emitted over 70% more totaling 13.1 tons of CO2. That’s an additional 10,800 pounds of carbon dioxide in a single year. The owner of the Accord spent almost $1600 less to drive those same 15,000 miles than the owner of the Suburban. One trip to work and back will cost the Accord driver $3.58 compared to $6.14 with the Suburban.
Keep in mind; neither of these automobiles are extreme in one way or the other. They are just the two most popular. The Suburban is fairly efficient in comparison to other like vehicles and the Accord is not a small economy car so the comparison gap can spread to a much greater distance. For example, a Smart car, which still burns more fuel than a hybrid will drive about 3 times as far on the same amount of fuel as the Suburban. So, if you still insist on traveling in an eight passenger vehicle, try to have almost eight passengers with you.
When it comes to cleaning agents, such as bathroom cleaners & disinfectants, it’s important that they maintain anti-bacterial/fungal/viral qualities and therefore they can not be 100% green, but which cleaner is the most environmentally friendly? A reason this question is important is because much of the water that is flushed down the toilet, washed down the sink, or rinsed down the shower is carried into our outside world and is sometimes sent into the earth.
The unfortunate fact is that there is as of yet no truly green disinfectant, chemicals are needed to minimize/eliminate the viruses, bacteria, and fungi that the disinfectants are meant for. To be more green, consumers should limit there disinfectant use to areas it’s needed, such as the shower where mildew may grow. In this way, the impact of disinfectant chemicals is minimal.
As far as other bathroom cleaners go, some green options are: 20 Mule Team Borax (though any borax would likely do), Ecover, and Bon Ami Polishing Cleanser. They’re all on the affordable side and environmentally safe. The Borax is safe enough to be used as a hand soap, safe for septic tanks, and is still quite strong enough for cleaning the deepest grime. Ecover has plant-based ingredients and is biodegradable. Bon Ami is also biodegradable.
Of course those are just a few of the green cleaners offered on the market; they’re just a few I read that had been tested with other green cleaners that had good reviews. Something to consider is the container that the cleaners come in. If it’s plastic, another sort of pollution is going to occur; something must be done with those plastic bottles at some point. Borax generally comes in a cardboard box, which is something that will break down without polluting.
Teaching children about healthy eating, buying local, and wasting less can influence them to live better and longer and possibly influence others such as their parents and families who may not be as aware of how their actions, purchases, and food habits can negatively effect the environment. Granted, this can be somewhat of a challenge in our busy 'American' lifestyle for a child to encourage an adult to change how they buy groceries, for example. Cooking a scratch meal from fresh local ingredients may seem like an impossibility to a family with two working parents (or for a working single parent), especially when a packaged processed meal is as easy as throwing a box in the microwave and pressing the 'START' button. Not only do the packaged meals, more than likely, travel an extremely long distance to be distributed, but more waste is generated from the packaging of the food; cardboard, polystyrene (styrofoam), plastic, etc.. A lot of the packaging can be recycled, though if there is food contamination on cardboard or the cardboard is waxed, many counties cannot recycle the material and it must be land-filled or shipped to another county for reuse. Also, most styrofoam packaging is not recyclable. Very few places recycle styrofoam being that the cost efficient. Informing children of the reality of the amount of waste generated by purchasing mass produced factory foods, I believe can only have positive results; maybe not immediately, but over time.
I also believe it is important to teach children about gardening, and that one is not completely dependent on the supermarket to feed one's 'belly.' Teaching a child to grow food not only teaches a child about sustainable living, but it also can give a child a boost in pride, a sense of accomplishment, and teaches patients and responsibility. Gardening can also be fun and give kids a healthy break from their studies. Kids can actually see where their food comes from and see how life 'works' and what it takes to care for an organism to grow. Children become more aware of the seasons and what vegetables are available to grow in their area; this also crates an awareness of what vegetables are not available except through shipping from far away lands.
Fun article from the Oregonian's web site: Teaching Children to Garden
----submitted by Tim Bergam
As a motorcycle fanatic I was appalled to find out what a high efficiency furnace filter was. The term high efficiency or high performance air filter in the motorcycle or automotive field means that you will increase power and decrease fuel consumption by installing one. A high performance air filter for these applications allow for more air flow to the engine while still keeping the debris out of the intake system. Why would I not want one of these for my heating system in my house? You absolutely do, but they are not considered efficient. In fact, unlike the high performance air filter which costs almost double what a standard one goes for; a low efficient furnace filter costs around a dollar. These would be the standard fiberglass pleated 1 inch filters. Usually blue in color.
The American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) came up with a standardized rating system, based on the European concept for heating/cooling system air filters. This is known as the MERV rating, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. Whatever that means! The higher the MERV rating, the more efficient the air filter is. Their definition of efficient is the amount of airborne particles the filter removes. In other words, the higher the MERV rating, the more air flow restriction or pressure drop, the more cost, and the more wear and tear on your heating and cooling system.
Heating systems are designed to run at their highest temperature limits in order to meet their rated output. Most new heating systems are designed to run with all registers open, free of any airflow restrictions, and a clean, 1 inch standard air filter. Any deviation from any of these and the maximum operating temperature in the plenum or the heat exchanger will be exceeded. This causes cycling of the heating system which equals overheating shut down and restarting which drastically affects your bill…far more than 15%. If this persists for an extended length of time it will lead to damaged high limit (temp. %) switches, then ultimately a cracked heat exchanger requiring a complete new heating system.
There are many types and styles of air filters on the market today and unless you have asthma, where micro particles can cause you grief; a standard 1 inch low cost filter will suit you fine. If your respiratory issues are severe enough, you might want to consider an electrostatic air filtration system or a completely isolated HEPA filtration system that does not interfere with your current heating system.
Now that you are familiar with the MERV ratings and how a dirty air filter can reduce air flow and increase operating cost. Let’s try to use this information to make the right choices in trying to decrease how much fuel we actually need to heat and cool our homes. If you are unsure of the location of your furnace filter Northwest Natural can come to your home at no additional cost to help you locate your air filter for inspection.
Maybe we, too, should remove emotion when selecting products we need to buy in life. I propose that next time you go to buy something, pay attention to how it makes you feel when you see it, read its name, or even smell it. Products try to appeal to the senses and the emotions attached to these senses in people. If you find that you want to buy a product because of the pretty packaging, the cool commercial you saw on the television, or because the name sounds neat compared to the other products, then you may be a victim of advertising manipulation.
This can have negative effects on the environment because a lot of the products with these superficial advertising qualities are not made as an environmentally safe alternative to other products -- instead their main goal is to make money at any cost.
Look at the other products on the shelf and read the back of the product for the ingredients to decide whether it is more natural. In the end, the color of a package, the cool commercial you saw on TV, or even the trendy name will only be appealing in the moment -- but the effects will last a lifestyle.
In most societies today, physical beauty is a main interest. Advertising and television and movies and the media in general spend a lot of time showing images of 'beauty' that make people feel as if they must aim for an ideal of such high physical standards.
What does this have to do with the environment?
The environment does not have to be THE one and only Environment, but instead it is the many environments we find ourselves living in. If we are concerned with physical beauty issues then you can bet we will use our power as citizens to try to achieve the results we desire. Our power, most of the time, is present from the money we have. Therefore, if we want something then we can usually use money to get it. When we surround ourselves with images of ideal beauty, then our 'wants' and 'needs' shift toward that desire and our money usually follows.
The more people desire these ideals, the more money they spend, then the more resources are made to satisfy these demands and the harder it is on our natural environment.
What can you do about it?
Rethinking our desires is a smart step to begin. Is that new fashion necessary? Do I need to buy those new basketball shoes when the ones I have now are perfectly wearable?
In many modern societies, the problem for each person is one with self-esteem. The various media sources may make men and women feel like they are insufficient and need to buy this or that product to 'fit in' or be 'happy'.
However, as I see it, the problem is NOT with you or me. Most of these ideals are created as a scheme for major companies to get more money and prosper in the greater economy.
Here is a website with some tips for self-esteem:
It is important to have a good self-esteem because with confidence comes good decision-making. With good decision-making comes more mindful actions, which can result in the greater environmental change (among many other things) that our world needs.
When given so many choices among certain kinds of products to buy in the grocery store, it can sometimes be difficult to make a mindful decision. If you are staring at an aisle of cleaning products and you are not sure which one to buy, any sound decision making submits to the bright colors and catchy packaging executed by carefully-planned advertising teams. Most of the time, these attractive products are the most expensive and the worst for the environment. So how do you make a decision with mindfulness? The Internet is a great source of information, but let's say you do not have time to go to a computer to read about different products and you are standing in the middle of the aisle, trying to figure out which item to buy. Given that you have read this blog post, then you may have some extra tips under your belt for more mindful decision-making.
It is sometimes a good idea to compare products' ingredients with each other. Usually the products with the least number of ingredients are the ones that are at least closer to being natural. Also, if a product has ingredients whose names you do not recognize, then try to find one that you can read 80-90% of the listed ingredients. Of course, 100% natural is the best, but 80% is a better bet than if you can only recognize the first couple ingredients listed. Also, if a product says on it "100% NATURAL", it is smart to double-check the ingredients on the back to see if all of the components are, in fact, natural. If you see any chemical names (or names you usually cannot pronounce) in the list, then I would not trust that it is 100% natural. However, like I said, 80-90% is better than nothing.
For future referencing, here is a website that gives you a list of environmentally safe companies:
Just remember, if you are unsure about whether a product is environmentally safe or not, you can always look the product up on-line to get more information. Then you will know better for next time you go to the grocery store.
If you are buying food, look to see where the item was produced, as well as the ingredients in it. If it is from a place outside of your country, or even a place that is far from where you live, then put it down and try to find a local food or at least one that is close to your city. "Environmentally-friendly" living does not necessarily mean consuming "Eco" products -- it means also that we must be mindful of the production of these products. The basis for these products was started somewhere and we should think about the time and energy put into sending products all over the country or even the world. If you do not buy the foreign products, there will be less of a demand for them. If your neighbor does the same, the demand lessens and time, energy, and money spent on shipping these things decreases.
Positive change is a group effort, but you must do your part to make any difference at all.
Going Green Products plus more!
It is amazing how much information on any given topic can be found on-line today, this reason alone can and should encourage us all to take time out of our day to pursue making the best and most informed choices we can about things in life such as the products that we use every day. It really only takes but a few minutes to learn something new and it is well worth the time and effort it takes to get there. Here is an article below with just a few products and reasons for taking time to review what they are, what they do, and how they affect you (negatively or positively).
The toxic household chemicals you store and use in your home every day may surprise you!
Go to your sink right now and take out one of the cleaners you use. Though companies are not required to list all chemical ingredients, many are listed.
Below is a list of toxic chemical ingredients to check for:
• Phosphoric acid
• Sodium hydroxide
• Hydrochloric acid
• Butyl cellosolve (2-Butoxyethanol)
• Bleach (sodium hypochlorite)
• Sulfamic acid
• Petroleum distillates
• Sulfuric acid
• Lye (potassium hydroxide)
Did you find any of these toxic substances listed on your products?
While effective cleaning can improve the healthfulness of indoor environments, studies show that use of some consumer cleaning agents can yield high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including glycol ethers--which are regulated toxic air contaminants—and terpenes that can react with ozone to form a variety of secondary pollutants including formaldehyde and ultrafine particles.
Some cleaning products and air fresheners have unhealthy emissions.
Persons involved in cleaning, especially those who clean occupationally or often, might encounter excessive exposures to these pollutants owing to cleaning product emissions.
Maternal exposure to toxic chemicals during pregnancy can disrupt development or even cause the death of the fetus. Effects can include birth defects, low birth weight, biological dysfunctions, or psychological or behavioral deficits that become manifest as the child grows.
Sources: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (1998); Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (1999); Scorecard (2007).
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<>Here's the List of Cleaning Products and Health Risks:
Butyl Cellosolve (2-butoxyethanol, 2-butoxyethanol acetate or Ethylene glycol monobutyl ether). Butyl cellosolve is a high volume chemical with production exceeding 1 million pounds annually.
The general population is exposed to 2-butoxyethanol and 2-butoxyethanol acetate mainly by breathing air or having skin contact with liquids, particularly household cleaners, which contain these compounds. Butyl cellosolve is a toxic glycol ether chemical used in cleaning solutions.
Material Safety Data Sheet reports potential irritation and tissue damage from inhalation, ingestion, cutaneous, and/or ocular exposure. People who swallowed large amounts of cleaning agents containing Butyl cellosolve experienced breathing problems, low blood pressure, low levels of hemoglobin, acidic blood, and blood in the urine.
Formaldehyde Formaldehyde is a preservative found in many household products. Formaldehyde is an anticipated carcinogen.
Low levels of formaldehyde cause irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin. People with asthma may be more sensitive to the effects of inhaled formaldehyde. Drinking large amounts of formaldehyde can cause severe pain, vomiting, coma, and possible death. In animal studies, rats developed nose cancer from formaldehyde.
Automatic Dishwasher Detergents. Some products contain dry chlorine that is activated when it encounters water in the dishwasher. Chlorine fumes are released in the steam that leaks out of the dishwasher, and can cause eye irritation.
Carpet Cleaners. Carpet cleaners can be extremely toxic to children; who tend to play and crawl around on carpets. The fumes given off by carpet cleaners can cause cancer and liver damage.
Carpet and upholstery cleaners accounted for 5397 poison exposures in 2005. The majority of these, exposures, over 3500, involved children under 6. Source:Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poisoning and Exposure Database (2005).
Naphthalene Possible human carcinogen found in moth balls and metal polishes. Exposure to large amounts of napthalene may lead to hemolytic anemia. Napthalene may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, blood in the urine, and a yellow color to skin.
Mice that breathed naphthalene vapors daily for a lifetime developed lung tumors and some developed nose tumors. Sources: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (2005).
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Bleach. The chemical known as hypochlorite in bleach causes more poisoning exposures than any other household cleaning substance. May cause reproductive, endocrine, and immune system disorders. Source: Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poisoning and Exposure Database (2005).
Degreasers. Many degreasers contain petroleum distillates and butyl cellosolve; which can damage lung tissues and dissolve fatty tissue surrounding nerve cells.
Drain Cleaners. One of the most hazardous products in the home, drain cleaners often contain lye or sodium hydroxide; strong caustic substances that cause severe corrosive damage to eyes, skin, mouth and stomach, and can be fatal if swallowed.
Glass Cleaners. Ammonia is found in many glass cleaners and the ammonia fumes can irritate skin, eyes and the respiratory system. Ammonia based glass cleaners accounted for 6,356 poison exposures in 2005. Source: Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poisoning and Exposure Database (2005).
Ammonia Exposure to high levels of ammonia in air may be irritating to your skin, eyes, throat, and lungs and cause coughing and burns. Asthma sufferers may be more sensitive to breathing ammonia than others.
Swallowing concentrated solutions of ammonia can cause burns in your mouth, throat, and stomach. Getting ammonia into the eyes can cause burns and even blindness. Sources: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (2004); U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.
Oven Cleaners. One of the most dangerous cleaning products, oven cleaners can cause severe damage to eyes, skin, mouth and throat. Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry.
Sodium hydroxide Sodium hydroxide is very corrosive and can cause severe burns in all tissues that come in contact with it. Sodium hydroxide is odorless; thus, odor provides no warning of hazardous concentrations.
Inhalation of sodium hydroxide is immediately irritating to the respiratory tract. Swelling or spasms of the larynx leading to upper-airway obstruction and asphyxia can occur after high-dose inhalation. Inflammation of the lungs and an accumulation of fluid in the lungs may also occur.
Cancer of the esophagus has been reported 15 to 40 years after the formation of corrosion-induced strictures. Ingestion of solid or liquid forms of sodium hydroxide can cause spontaneous vomiting, chest and abdominal pain, and difficulty swallowing. Corrosive injury to the mouth, throat, esophagus, and stomach is very rapid and may result in perforation, hemorrhage, and narrowing of the gastrointestinal tract.
Skin contact with sodium hydroxide can cause severe burns with deep ulcerations. Sodium hydroxide contact with the eye may produce pain and irritation, and in severe cases, clouding of the eye and blindness. Long-term exposure to sodium hydroxide in the air may lead to ulceration of the nasal passages and chronic skin irritation.
Scouring Cleansers. Some cleaners may contain sodium hydroxide or bleach that can irritate mucous membranes and cause liver and kidney damage.
Scale or Lime Removers. These are products designed to remove mineral buildup like lime, scale and soap scum. Source: ScienceLab.com.
Sulfamic Acid Sulfamic acid is toxic to lungs and mucous membranes. Direct skin contact with sulfamic acid is corrosive and causes irritation, dryness or burning.
Eye contact can result in corneal damage or blindness.
Inhalation of sulfamic acid will produce irritation to gastro-intestinal or respiratory tract with burning, sneezing or coughing. Severe over exposure of sulfamic acid can produce lung damage, choking, unconsciousness or death.
Toilet Bowl Cleaners. One of the most dangerous cleaning products, toilet bowl cleaners can contain chlorine and hydrochloric acid. Harmful to health simply by breathing during use. Toilet Bowl Cleaners accounted for 10,461 poison exposures in 2005. Source: Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poisoning and Exposure Database (2005).
Hydrochloride/ Hydrochloric Acid (HCI) HCI can cause severe damage to skin and eyes. Brief exposure to low levels of HCI vapor causes throat irritation. Exposure to higher levels of HCI can result in rapid breathing, narrowing of the bronchioles, blue coloring of the skin, accumulation of fluid in the lungs, and even death.
Exposure to even higher levels of HCI can cause swelling, spasm of the throat and suffocation. Some people exposed to HCI may develop an inflammatory reaction called reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS), a type of asthma caused by some irritating or corrosive substances.
Swallowing HCI causes severe corrosive injury to the lips, mouth, throat, esophagus, and stomach. Sources: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (2007). Managing Hazardous Materials Incidents. Volume III, Medical Management Guidelines for Acute Chemical Exposures; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.
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This website is not only a great resource to have for children and families but it goes into details that almost anyone can benefit from learning based on the products we all use. It doesn’t stop there, it tells you all about the products and the health risks but furthers it by adding another link with detailed information on products that can be used instead that will not cause the health risks as described above. It also gives you hints and describes why you still need to be aware and “dive deeper” to make sure it really is “safe” or “green” as it states. Just take a look here;
What Do I Look For In Environmentally Safe Cleaning Products For My Home?
Environmentally safe cleaning products are becoming more readily available all the time. Even the largest chemical companies, known for their years of dangerous polluting, are now forced to come up with “safer” options for customers who are learning about the numerous, dangerous health risks of the traditional household cleaners they have been purchasing over the years.
So what should we keep in mind when we consider purchasing environmentally safe cleaning products for our homes?
There are several considerations. Lets take a closer look at the most important things to consider.
Make Sure They're Really Green!
Dig a Little Deeper! What About The Parent Company's Green Record?
To ensure you are buying environmentally safe cleaning products that are actually safe, look for these basic qualifications:
No harmful fumes
No volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
Formulated without hazardous chemicals such as:
Kerosene, Phenol, Cresol, Lye, Hydrochloric acid, Sulfuric acid, Sulfamic acid, Petroleum distillates, Ammonia, Sodium hydroxide, Butyl cellosolve, Phosphoric acid, Formaldehyde, Chlorine bleach or Morpholine.
Some good quality, environmentally safe cleaning products have been proven to be every bit, if not more effective than their caustic counterparts. Look for products that offer proof of effectiveness through third party testing.
Make Sure They're Really Green!
Make sure they are made from sustainable ingredients from natural sources.
Biodegradable surfactants that break down in a short period of time rather than years!
Recyclable packaging! Check the bottom of the package for recycling that is available in your area!
Recyclable dryer sheets.
No chlorine bleach.
No volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
No animal testing.
The Beauty of Concentrates!
One of the easiest, most environmentally friendly and economical things you can do is to buy concentrates.
Think about it. You may not have considered how much you are paying for water in a bottle of cleaner. Water in cleaners is the MOST EXPENSIVE WATER you can buy! Not only are you paying a high price for this basic first ingredient, you are also paying to
ship the water,
package the water and
store the water.
Each of these steps adds tremendously to the pollution problem.
Why not add your own water, in reusable bottles, at a fraction of the cost?
By adding our own tap water we save emissions, landfill space and energy.
Look for quality products that are available in concentrates and see how convenient and effective this green solution can be!
Below is a short video clip from The Rachel Ray Show on the benefits of using concentrates.
Look a Little Deeper!
What About The Company You Buy From? How environmentally responsible is the parent company itself?
One final area for consideration we’d like to suggest, is to look at the track record and commitment of the company from whom you are buying. What are you actually funding with your dollars?
Does the parent company show good stewardship toward the environment?
What is the company’s impact on the earth’s climate according to the Climate Neutral Network?
The Climate Neutral Network is an alliance of companies, environmental organizations, and government agencies committed to promoting products, activities and enterprises that minimally impact the Earth's climate.
ther leading Climate Neutral partner companies include Nike and Interface Inc. Participating environmental groups include the Earth Day Network, Rocky Mountain Institute, World Resources Institute, Conservation International and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Government agency participants include the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Network is an independent, not-for-profit corporation, supported by respected corporate and environmental advisors. To date, the Network has certified eight leading companies and successfully engaged a further range of leading corporations and non-business stakeholders in dialogs about the economic, environmental, and social benefits of eliminating our climate impact on the Earth.
The Network's principal activities include:
Certification: establishing certification and branding for Climate Cool™ products and enterprises based on design principles viewed as credible by a broad spectrum of stakeholders;
Networking: promoting the bottom-line value of Climate Cool™ products to corporate and institutional purchasers to recognize and reward exemplary climate neutral innovations in the marketplace.
If your home is anything like the average U.S. home, you generate more than 20 pounds of household hazardous waste each year (the EPA designates toilet cleaners, tub and tile cleaners, oven cleaners, and bleach as hazardous waste).
So, it’s time for all of us to get started and make a change!
Put on the gloves and get rid of the caustic stuff in your home. Your local waste collection service has guidelines for proper household hazardous waste disposal, as well as collection sites for things like paint, batteries, and cleaners.
Whatever you do, please don’t toss this stuff in the garbage.
Where do I go from here?
There is really so much out there, it would almost be impossible not find something of value but really much of it is up to us, we are ultimately responsible for the choices good and bad in life. What we all need to be aware of is that ultimately we ALL are also responsible for much of the good and bad that happens to this world. It will be up to us to make it the best it can be or to be part of its destruction, we get to decide. Why not take just a few minutes each day to learn about what is out there. In today’s worlds we have so many alternatives and much of them far outweigh the others, we can and should make the best and most informed choices especially when it comes to the products we choose to use. I believe much of the problem lyes in the “unknowing” and that is why I want to show you what can be done in just a few minutes of your time. How easy it can be to find healthy and safe alternatives to the many products you may already be using because I think if we all were more aware especially of how easy it can be “We would choose the products that are safer and healthier for not only ourselves and especially our children but for this beautiful world we live in.”
Here are some great ways to start on this mission simply and easily!
SAVE THE PLANET BY CLEANING YOUR HOUSE!
1.TURN OFF THE TV! If you're a TV watcher, pick one night a week and go "TV Free" And turn off all other electrical appliances you arent using. Feel the hum lessen. Get out of the way of unnecessary electrical currents. Did we mention to turn that TV off?!!
2. DETOXIFY your home! Go through those kitchen cupboards. Throw out the poisons and chemicals you use to clean. Your body can't handle it. Your sink may sparkle but you won't. Start small. Just throw out the bleach, ammonia products and things with warning labels. We'll show you how to do this with your whole house. Or just switch and use vinegar to replace ammonia and hydrogen peroxide to replace bleach. It works!
3. CLEAN your house! Get those dust bunnies. Dirt equals disharmony. Keep your house dust, dirt, mold and mildew and mite free. It's a sure fire way to encourage good health. Keep your sacred space, your castle, your external immune system, CLEAN. And you can do it without disturbing the environment, with eco-friendly products. You can have an aesthetically pleasing and healthy home all in one.
4. PURIFY your water and air, two of nature's most treasured resources. As you drink and breathe, feel the connection to all the living entities doing the same thing. Buy an air filter and water purifier to get back to what nature intended.
5. PROTECT your surroundings. Is your basement full of radon? Are you living under power lines? Are your walls painted with lead paint? Is your ceiling dropping asbestos dust on you? Find out. All of these toxic substances are life threatening and worth eliminating.
6. ORGANIZE your house. Clear away that clutter. An organized pace creates flow, increased energy and abundance. Give away those old clothes. Have that garage sale you keep meaning to have. Let go of what you don't need to make room for what you do. Without clearing the space of old things, new things cannot come in.
7. RECYCLE and throw out all the plastic you can. The long term effects of plastics are alarming and that's just the part we know about. Switch to natural, organic materials whenever possible. Choose eco-friendly products.
8. CONSERVE, conserve, conserve. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth. Turn off lights in rooms you are not in. Turn off computers you're not working on; turn down the thermostat; re-time your sprinklers; use cloth napkins instead of paper, real dishes instead of plastic. There are numerous ways to conserve without losing convenience. Try at least one.
9. CREATE a sacred space in your home. Make it a space that reflects your views, beliefs, emotions, beauty - your sense of self and what you want to contribute to the rest of the world . Ultimately it will be your whole house and even the whole world, but for now it just can be a room, a corner of a room, even a shelf or a drawer if necessary. Make it a work of art, your special place. Set up an altar, a garden, anything that promotes tranquility, beauty, peace, and vitality. Gather images, flowers, statues, books, whatever says "time out - I'm taking a break".
10. ACTIVATE your consciousness. Sit in or near (and reflecting on) your sacred space at least once a day to meditate, rest, reflect or connect to that which is true for you. Stop yourself and go into this space for at least 10 minutes a day to connect with yourself, your goals, your higher power, and remember that you are all these things.
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Here are some alternatives to store bought; instead they are the “Make it Yourself” way to go!
by Linda Mason Hunter
Cleaning your house with low-toxic cleansers you make yourself is an excellent way to start your green home-maintenance program. Not only are these cleansers healthy and effective, they smell good, cost less than commercial products, don't pollute indoor air, and only take a minute to make.
Begin by sorting out the area where you keep your cleaning products. Box up all commercial cleansers - ammonia, oven cleaners, furniture polish, disinfectant, toilet cleaner. Tighten the lids and store the cleansers in the garage until your community's next hazardous-waste collection day.
Now you're ready to replace those synthetic chemicals with natural products you make yourself using ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen:
The most common ingredients are:
Distilled white vinegar
Although you may use these recipes to stock your green cleaning cupboard, most work best when freshly mixed.
General Cleaner and Disinfectant
Dissolve 1 cup borax in a gallon of warm water
Sprinkle borax, baking powder or dry table salt on a damp sponge; scour and rinse. Or rub the area to be cleaned with half a lemon dipped in borax.
Rinse and dry with a soft cloth.
Most automatic dishwashing detergents contain phosphates that pollute waterways. An environmentally preferred alternative is one part borax and one part washing soda. If you live in a hard-water area, you may have to adjust the proportions to avoid scum forming on dishes.
Detergents were designed to clean synthetic fibers. Natural fibers can be adequately cleaned with natural substances. Use a mixture of half borax and half washing soda (the same mixture can be used in the dishwasher). To keep colors from fading, add a drop or two of vinegar in the laundry water.
Dissolve 1 cup baking soda and one cup vinegar in boiling water and pour down the drain. Continue to flush with hot tap water until the clog breaks.
Let the oven cool, then sprinkle salt on the spill right away. Let it cool for a few minutes, then scrape the spill away and wash the area clean. Use baking soda for scouring.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Use a solution of baking soda and water or vinegar for the bowl. Sprinkle baking soda around the rim. Scrub with toilet brush as needed. This solution will clean and deodorize.
Mix two parts cooking oil with one part lemon juice. Apply to furniture with a soft cloth and wipe it dry.
Ceramic Tile Cleaner
A mixture of 1/4-cup vinegar to one gallon of water removes most dirt without scrubbing and doesn't leave a film.
© 2007 Green Home, Inc.
Why it matters
Homemade products serve so many healthful needs, for us, for the planet. It's great to be in touch with the simple arts of making things we use, and, it helps us avoid overuse of chemical products.
A list of things you need
½ teaspoon beeswax
½ teaspoon cocoa butter
½ teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon honey
1 vitamin-E capsule
Melt beeswax and cocoa butter carefully over low heat in a sturdy pot.
Stir the mixture until the wax is melted, taking care not to splash, then remove from heat and add olive oil.
Stir in the honey as the cream solidifies.
Add the contents of the vitamin-E capsule.
Store lip balm in small container.
A helpful green hint:
If you're carrying lip balm in a purse or case, be sure to put a small sheet of wax paper under a tightly secured lid to protect from spillage.
Any recommendations and information presented here, either explicitly or implicitly, should not be construed as medical, legal or scientific advice. Follow these suggestions at your own risk.
© 2007 G
by Katherine Eskandanian Yee
Growing up, these homemade, natural concoctions were used by my grandmother and my mother to relieve minor ailments.
Lemon Sloughs Off Scaly Skin
Heels, knees, and elbows can get very rough during the winter. To relieve the rough skin, simply rub halves of lemon on the scaly areas. After the rubdown, nourish your skin with a heavy moisturizer, preferably one that contains aloe, jojoba oil, or vitamin E. Cover your feet with socks to promote the soothing process. Lemon contains citric acid, which naturally exfoliates dry, rough skin.
Honey-Onion Syrup Soothes a Sore Throat
Simply put a large slice of onion in a bowl and cover it completely with honey, put a lid on top of the bowl and refrigerate it overnight. By next morning the flavors have married creating a sweet tasting, soothing elixir. Discard the onion and take 2-3 tablespoons of the liquid. Onions have antibiotic properties that help alleviate cold symptoms while honey coats and soothes a sore throat and reduces the cough. The syrup will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Tea Bags Stymie a Sty
Steep a tea bag in boiling water and let cool. Then, place the moistened bag over the affected eye for 10 minutes. Repeat this process 3-4 times during the day and say good-bye to your sty. The tealeaves' astringent tannins help draw the infection to the surface and reduce the swelling. You must use green or black tea, as herbal varieties don't have the necessary tannins.
Garlic Rub Deals With a Tooth Abscess
This is a great first aid for an abscessed tooth. Simply rub the affected area with a fresh clove of garlic half and eat one to two raw cloves daily. An abscessed tooth is the result of the accumulation of pus in the tooth socket and since, garlic is an antibacterial agent it will help combat the infection. When the herb is chewed or crushed, allicin, which is a substance with antibiotic properties, is released. This double-edged cure attacks the bacteria from inside and out. It definitely brings relief until you get to the dentist.
© 2007 Green Home, Inc.
Simple Vegetable Soap
Why it matters:
Homemade soap is an affordable luxury. It contains natural glycerin that is a skin softener not present in commercial soaps. Homemade soap doesn't have any unnecessary chemicals or colorings.
A list of things you need:
Plastic stirring spoons or stick blenders
Two candy thermometers
Stainless-steel or enameled pot
Plastic box with the lid
Blanket or thick towel
78 oz. olive oil
6 oz. coconut oil
6 oz. palm oil
12 oz. lye flakes
24 oz. soft water (filtered or store-bought)
Put on rubber gloves and safety goggles.
Accurately measure all the ingredients.
In a plastic pitcher, add lye flakes into the water.
Put a candy thermometer into the lye solution and wait until it reaches 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It may take a couple of hours.
Slowly melt the coconut oil and palm oil in a stainless pot.
Take it off the heat and add the olive oil.
Put the candy thermometer into the oil mixture, and let it cool to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Slowly add lye solution and stir it with plastic spoon.
When all of the lye is added use a stick to stir and speed up the thickening process. It may take up to 10 minutes.
If you want to add some color to your soap, use candle dyes, turmeric, paprika, cinnamon or cocoa.
To add scent, use peppermint, lavender, cinnamon or clove.
Now pour the mixture into the plastic box, cover it with the lid and wrap it with the blanket. Leave it for 24 hours.
After the soap has cooled down, take it out of the plastic box.
Cut it in cubes, and let it completely dry out for at least a month.
Helpful green hints:
Do not use anything aluminum.
Wear long-sleeve shirts, slacks and shoes, in case of lye splashes.
Do not allow kids and pets to be present when working with lye.
Any recommendations and information presented here, either explicitly or implicitly, should not be construed as medical, legal or scientific advice.
© 2007 Green Home, Inc.
These are all “make it yourself” alternatives but there is also many other ways to go and by no means is this the only way but take a few minutes each day and investigate, see what works for you, what feels right, sounds like a reasonable and pursuable way to go for you. It is really a personal decision and with all the options and products out there, it is completely possible to find what works for you and at the same time something safe and healthy for you and the environment. Products encompass so much of our lives, such as cleaners which are an obvious one for most but then there is lip balm and vegetable soap, natural remedies, natural pesticides, etc. It is a lot to comprehend once we begin the thought, conversation, and then take action but in just a few minutes we have begun and not soon after we have made great strides. Begin with one thing at a time if that works and go from there, it may take awhile but it is well worth the journey and each day you will be comfortable in knowing that you have begun to make choices and changes that will have a great and long lasting effect on us all and especially the world in which we live.
Here are some other alternatives and many more where this came from!
by ChemFree Solutions
What are Enzymes? Enzymes are the tools of nature. They are present in all living things, where they perform the essential functions of converting food to energy and new cell material. As catalysts they speed up natural processes and create natural reactions that otherwise would not materialize. How do enzymes work? Enzymes bind to the target material catalyzing it into harmless basic elements. Although the enzyme is not consumed in the reaction, it does lose its activity over time and so eventually needs to be replenished. Enzymes can be classified by the types of material they work on: proteins, carbohydrates, fats, cellulose, and lipids. They can also be classified by the types of reactions they perform. Altogether there are over a thousand cultured enzymes. More science than you want to know? The key is that enzymes will outperform caustic chemicals and the natural oils found in other cleansers. Think of it as using a doctorbs scalpel versus the atom bomb; webre more effective and avoid the collateral damage created by other cleaning products. It's because both natural and chemical cleaners work on the same fundamental principles -- acids break down alkalines, and alkalines break down acids. Toxic chemicals work well because they're strong acids and strong alklalines, and natural cleaners are typically less effective because they're weaker acids or alkalines. Naturally Clean cleaners are unique - using only Hospital-Grade Enzymesb
", purified of all bacteria, just like enzyme cleaners used in the surgical suite to clean surgical instruments. This means you can trust them to be safe for your family, your pets and the environment. EFFECTIVE For years the medical industry has cleaned with enzymes to remove organic material before moving to any sterilization process. Without thorough cleaning, harmful bacteria can simply return to grow in a friendly environment. There are thousands of cultured enzymes, each with its unique target, available to the microbiologist today. Taking advantage of this capacity, Naturally Clean has created a family of hospital-gradeb
", vegetable-based enzymes blended together for optimum performance to the task -- cleaners that are better at removing mold, protecting your food preparation surfaces, and removing the stains on your floor. Another advantage is that any remaining enzymes will be re-activated upon contact with water. This characteristic aids in reducing future organic growth while continuously neutralizing lingering odors. FAMILY SAFETY Enzyme cleaners are non-toxic, non-caustic, and hypoallergenic. They are free of harsh fumes and vapors, phosphates, chlorine and petroleum surfactants. Enzymes are not corrosive and can safely be used on any surface not harmed by water. Enzymes are very specific in comparison to inorganic catalysts such as acids, alkalines, and petrochemicals found in traditional cleaners. They work exclusively on their target, therefore no unattended side affects and no significant warning labels. Have you read the caution labels on your cleaners lately? Rubber gloves, ventilated work areas, and poison control contact instructionsbis this stuff safe? Many consumers treat an antibacterial or sanitizing product as a cleaner. Unfortunately these products can be problematic and unsafe if not used properly. The Medical and Food Safety Councils require cleaning before sanitizing. Likewise, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has strongly recommended that use of anti-bacterial cleaning solutions should be reduced because bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics. Never sanitize without cleaning first. In contrast, the consistent use of our Hospital Grade Enzymesb
" cleaners will reduce the re-growth of organisms, eliminating the invisible food sources that attract them. Enzymes keep working and waiting for moisture and a food source to renew the process. ECOLOGY Enzymes come from biological systems, and when finished they are readily absorbed back into nature b biodegradable and non-toxic. Likewise, the targets of the enzymatic conversion are non-toxic and readily broken down to their basic elements. Compared with other ways of controlling chemical reactions, enzymes are more specific, more efficient, and work under milder conditions. Most enzymes function at normal room temperatures with a neutral ph factor, similar to water. By working in neutral conditions, they save energy, provide safer working conditions, and are easier to use. Your only caution is to not subject enzymes to extreme cold or heat, below freezing or above 170 degrees, where they lose their efficacy. Click here to see our Complete Enzymes Cleaning Kit.
© 2007 Green Home, Inc.
Here is a neat fact I bet many of us had no idea about and once again these are products we buy as well, even though often we do not think food when thinking product!
The Top 12 Clean Foods
by Linda Mason Hunter
Green@work magazine (May/June 2000) lists the following as the twelve cleanest crops for safe, sustainable eating:
© 2007 Green Home, Inc.
And yet another widely sought product with some neat info to go along!
Are soy candles better than paraffin candles?
Are soy candles really better than wax candles? Well, if you believe the peddlers of the new-fangled votives, soy candles offer a number of benefits over traditional wax candles. According to Wicks Works, a candle retailer that sells beeswax, soy, and gel candles, soy candles last 50% longer than candles made of petroleum-based paraffin, the ingredient found in most candles. They also burn slower and cooler (helping to better distribute fragrance), are non-toxic, less likely to trigger allergies, clean up with soap and water, and produce very little soot. These factors tend to make them more animal and child-friendly than traditional candles. Soy wax is also a favorite of environmentally conscious consumers. Made from American-grown soybeans, it's biodegradable, a renewable resource, and from a global point of view, it "supports the U.S. economy instead of foreign oil conglomerates." Paraffin wax, on the other hand, is made from petroleum and produces carcinogens and soot when burned. In fact, one air quality researcher stated that the soot from a paraffin candle contains many of the same toxins produced by burning diesel fuel. Even many of the seemingly healthy, aromatherapy candles sold today can do more harm than good. The newly popular gel candles are also petroleum-based and, though contrary to widely circulated emails, they are not likely to explode, they do pose a danger. If sufficient heat builds up, the glass container housing the candle can shatter. Beeswax is another popular alternative to paraffin candles. It is also less likely to trigger allergies and does not produce toxins or soot when burned. It is generally more expensive than paraffin but burns longer. However, some candles labeled as beeswax may also contain paraffin. If a candle doesn't explicitly state it is soy on the label, it is probably a paraffin candle. Soy candles appear more opaque with a whitish film. No matter what type of candle you burn, it's important to remember that you are playing with fire -- literally. The National Fire Protection Association offers a candle safety sheet to help you play it safe next time you want to set the mood for a romantic evening.
© 2007 Green Home, Inc.
Home Alternatives to Dry Cleaning
There is a controversy over the practice of drycleaning your clothes. Some feel that it is harmful to the environment or to you. There are some alternatives to dry cleaning, but sometimes you have no choice. When you have to use a dry cleaners it pays to do a little research. Most dry cleaners use perchlorethylene ("perc") as part of the cleaning solvent. "Perc" has been listed by the Environmental Protection Agency as a possible carcinogen and hazardous ground and air pollutant. Recently, new environmental dry cleaning stores have opened. These cleaners use state-of-the art equipment and non-toxic, safe hydrocarbon dry cleaning solvent. Below are some suggestions on how you may be able to avoid dry-cleaning, but for times when you have no choice, you might want to take the time to find out if environmentally safe cleaners are available where you live.
There are several products on the market that allow you to wash silk, lingerie, cashmere, down comforters and linen. One brand is called "Le Blanc" Linen Wash and "Le Blanc" Silk & Lingerie Wash. Both products are endorsed and used by many fine linen manufacturers and importers including Palais Royal, Edward Boutross Linens, Peacock Alley, Ann Gish, Imperial Children's Wear, Inc./Peter Reed, Christian Aubry and the International Linen Council. The advantage to this product is that it may be used on natural fibers, synthetics and blends.
Some fabrics need special care so always read the manufacturer's label on cleaning instructions. You can also use the following guidelines to help you take care of your fine fabrics.
Wash in warm or cold water (depending on care tag guidelines) and rinse in cold water.
After washing, roll garment in a dry towel to remove excess water and dry on a flat surface away from direct sunlight
To avoid shrinking of wool garments, hand wash and do not wring
To avoid color loss on silk garments, do not rub
To ensure garment is colorfast, test by dipping a cotton swab in the cleaning solution and apply to a hidden area, such as a seam, and allow it to dry. Compare this area with the rest of the garment for consistency in color.
Wet Cleaning is Catching On
· by Stacy Kravetz
After more than a decade as a commercial banker at the Bank of New York, Chris Comfort fulfilled his dream: He moved to Colorado and opened a dry cleaner.
He had a new twist: a "green" cleaner that would remove grime without harming the environment. Though his store, Cleaner by Nature, is smack in between two of Denver's largest dry cleaners, customers have flocked to it. He expects to break even in July, after just six months, and he is considering opening a second store in Boulder.
Mr. Comfort is part of a wave of entrepreneurs who are trying to give dry cleaning a new environmental spin. While their techniques differ, the new stores have one thing in common: They avoid using perchloroethylene, or perc.
Perc has been around for 50 years. It is less likely than other methods to shrink or discolor clothes, and clothing can be cleaned and dried in the same machine. But it is also toxic, and it is governed by stringent disposal standards to prevent air pollution and contamination of local water supplies. In a 1995 report, the Environmental Protection Agency concluded that perc was a "probable human carcinogen."
Later this summer the EPA is due to issue a report on the environmental impact of perc and other cleaning methods. The dry-cleaning industry is already bracing for trouble. "I project that unless there is major new evidence supporting the noncarcinogenicity of perc, we will continue to see a slow decline in the number of perc dry-cleaning plants," says William E. Fisher, chief executive of the International Fabricare Institute, a trade group that represents about a third of the dry-cleaning industry.
The talk of environmental damage, as well as the smell sometimes left on clothes by perc, has led about 6,000 dry-cleaning stores to start using alternative cleaning materials. About 95% of those, including Mr. Comfort's, use odorless petroleum-based solvents. Fans say they can get rid of stains that seemed impervious to perc. The solvents break down dirt and grease, which are then extracted from the clothes along with virtually all of the liquid solvent. Later on, the solvent is separated from the dirt so that it can be reused.
The use of these solvents takes the industry full circle from the 1930s, when petroleum was the cleaner of choice. The problem back then: Clothes cleaned in petroleum could catch fire easily.
New technology has raised the temperature at which the solvents ignite. But petroleum cleaners still have an environmental problem of their own: They release smog-causing particles into the air. Still, petroleum is the fastest-growing alternative to perc, and it is now widely used in Europe.
Mr. Comfort of Cleaner by Nature thinks the solvents are a safer alternative. "I've actually tasted this stuff, and I'm still here," he says.
A smaller group of about 200 cleaners has gone back to basic soap and water. Computer settings on their "wet-cleaning" machines control agitation, water temperature, length of cleaning and the type of soap used. Among the settings: velvet, heavily soiled linens, outerwear, items with high wool content, leather, rayon, delicates and Dockers.
Green cleaners have enjoyed growing popularity in part because they have been able to keep their prices relatively close to those of the dry cleaner down the block. Mr. Comfort's Cleaner by Nature, for example, charges about $4 for a pair of pants and about $9 for dresses. Conventional dry-cleaning prices tend to range from $3 to $6.50 for pants and $6 to $10 for dresses.
The prices are competitive despite the extra cost of ironing for wet cleaning and the higher equipment costs for petroleum-based cleaning. Petroleum machines can cost about 25% more than perc machines, which themselves run from about $40,000 to $100,000, depending on the number of bells and whistles. Wet-cleaning machines are cheaper, starting at about $25,000.
Several large corporations smell big opportunities in all this. Exxon Corp. has come up with a new petroleum solvent called DF 2000 that is used widely in Europe.
Hughes Environmental Systems, a unit of Raytheon Corp., and Global Technologies Inc. of El Segundo, Calif., have teamed up to market a new method for cleaning clothes using liquid carbon dioxide. Hughes developed the method in the 1980s while trying to clean its precision machine parts and optics.
Global Technologies has licensed the technology to several other companies, and it is expected to go on the market at the end of this year. Unilever NV is developing a detergent for the machines, which now sell for $160,000.
Some smaller companies hope to clean up as well. Family-run Cleaning Concepts Inc., based in Marina del Rey, Calif., is marketing an environmental dry-cleaning package that includes a newly built store with petroleum-solvent machines, site selection, training and equipment, for $350,000.
The results are starting to draw customers. "I tend not to be part of the organic set, but it's nice not to have clothes that smell like dry cleaning," says Liz Losh, a writer in Santa Monica, Calif., who switched from a traditional cleaner up the road more than a year ago.
In her wet-cleaning store in Santa Monica, owner Deborah Davis inspects a glowing white wedding dress that has just emerged from a front-loading washing machine with its decorative beading intact. The former Price Club marketing director opened her second West Los Angeles wet-cleaning store two months ago and has doubled overall sales volume since then.
Elise Mallove drives several miles from her home to Ms. Davis's store because, she says,"I'm very environmentally aware. The clothes themselves, when they came back from the regular dry cleaners, always smelled toxic."
And to finalize much of this info up I have chose the finally of things out there to be all about children “our future” and to include info for those who care for and want to give them the safest and healthiest alternatives out there!
How to Green Your Kids Toys
by Sean Fisher
Whats the Big Deal? Its a little cliche) but true nonetheless, your children and your children's children will inherit the world that we create today. So, the stuff we give them shouldn't make life any harder on them in the future. If that alone isn't enough, how about the fact that your child will, more likely than not, chew everything edible and non-edible in his/her sight. Now there's motivation to make sure your child's playthings are green and healthy! Here webll give you the scoop on how to find more sustainable and less toxic toys for your little TreeHugger so you can do good for your child and the environment. Top 10 Tips Here are 10 highly effective ways to go greener. 1. Look for PVC-free PVC (aka polyvinyl chloride) PVC seems to be everywhere we look. Some beach toys, teethers, dolls, and even (gasp!) rubber duckies are cheaply manufactured with the environmentally dubious material. A dioxin-producing powerhouse, PVC releases toxins into the environment all the way through its lifecycle from manufacturing to disposal. Many PVC toys also contain phthalates, chemical compounds that make the PVC plastic more flexible, which initial studies have linked to both cancer and hormonal disruption. Although the long-term effects of phalates on youngsters is not fully known, we fully subscribe to the idea of an ounce of prevention now over a potential pound of cure later. 2. Wood is good Look for FSC-certified wood to find sustainable toys that will last generations longer than the cheap plastic stuff. For the little ones, untreated, unpainted wood is safe to chew unlike plastics that contain PVC. When your child is done, wooden toys can be passed on to a relative, friend, or even sold on eBay or Craigslist to give it a second life. The FSC certification is important, it ensures that the wood you buy has been forested responsibly, allowing for sustainable growth. 3. Power down Batteries have become second nature in most toys today. Not only is this a terrible problem when these toys get disposed of, who wants to give their child the opportunity to chew on a battery? For the young ones, decide if all the battery-powered noise is worth it. Could your child stay just as entertained with a simpler toy, one that might even let you keep your sanity. For the older ones that absolutely must have the newest electronics, look into rechargeable batteries to eliminate waste. For more, see How to Green Your Electronics. 4. The great outdoors The most rewarding toy might not be a toy at all. It might be the act of planting a tree or a vegetable garden. Want a truly carbon neutral activity for your kids? Play tag or hide and seek. Getting your wee ones outside provides them with abundant opportunities to run around, have fun, get exercise, and learn about the urban and natural environments around them. You probably remember time spent outside with family and friends in your youth...your kids will too. 5. Second-hand magic Just because a toy has been used once doesn't mean that it can't be just as much fun the second time around. Check out eBay, Craigslist, Freecycle, yard sales, or your local classifieds for perfectly good toys than have simply been outgrown. And, don't forget that you can always give that same toy a third life (and recoup some of the cost) by putting it up for sale right where you found it. 6. Get organic There are more pesticides and fertilizers sprayed onto conventional fibers than you might care to know about. Not only does the thought of chemically treated fabric probably raise a red flag when you think of your child, it raises a huge red flag for the environment as well. The chemicals we use to "improve" our crops often contaminate the soil they grow in and the air and water systems around it. Look for organic and naturally-dyed cotton, bamboo, tencel, and wool for toys such as stuffed animals. For more, see How to Green Your Baby. 7. Sometimes it's not what's in the box... It is the box. Sometimes it is the stuff you already have that can prove the most fun to imaginative children. So, next time you think about throwing the box from that new toy away, think of it as a potential arts and crafts project instead. 8. Non-toxic paints It's not just the paint on your walls that you should think about. The paint on your child's toys may also have VOCs (volatile organic compounds). There are a slew of new toys that use water-based and low-VOC or no-VOC paints (and nearly all of them will advertise this fact). This way a non-toxic toy gets the non-toxic paint job it deserves. 9. Lasting toys When purchasing new toys, keep the toybs potential longevity on your mind. A long-lasting toy not only means that you won't have to buy another one in a matter of months, it also means that when the toy is no longer in use, you can always pass it along. More money for you + keeping materials out of the landfill = easy decision. 10. The color purple Subtitled: Everything on this list can't have a cheesy "green" pun. But seriously, what better way to go green than with the color itself. Craft projects give your kids an opportunity to use their imagination. Find non-toxic paints and crayons and let the kids loose on all sorts of recycled material from cardboard boxes to junk mail to items they find in the woods. Pet rock, here we come. So you want to do more? 1. Eco-learning toys Find toys that teach a lesson while also providing fun. You might be amazed how easily you can find DIY solar power kits and hydrogen model cars for your young eco-engineer-to-be. And, you might be surprised how much you would want one for yourself. See below for more toys that educate and inspire. 2. Fair-trade manufacturing It's simple: your kidbs toys shouldnbt be manufactured by someone elsebs. Look for fair trade certification to protect against child labor and to make sure you help provide a living wage across the globe. 3. Locally made toys Anyone in your town make toys? Cutting down the length a toy has traveled to your front door is a greener option. As a bonus, locally made toys are often hand-made and unique.
© 2007 Green Home, Inc.
A Clean Home is a Green Home
by Scott Morris
The National Research Council estimates that about 15% of the US population experiences environmental illness and hypersensitivity to toxic materials and chemicals. The National Academy of Sciences expects this to rise to 60% by 2010. When you consider that a quarter of a million new chemical substances are created each year, and that worldwide use of pesticides has exploded from 2.8 million tons in 1972 to 11.4 million tons in 1980 to 46 million tons in 1990, the Academy's estimates don't seem all that farfetched. Research has shown that most people's daily exposures to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and pesticides are far greater indoors than outdoors, even in communities where chemical processing plants are located. Industrial emissions tend to dissipate into the large sky, while the chemicals we bring into our homes and work places become much more concentrated in the closed-in spaces where we spend most of our time.
Some sources of exposure are obvious, like the various household chemicals we have stored in our bathrooms and garages, or the pesticides on the foods we eat. We breathe in other toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde, from the outgassing at room temperature of all sorts of household materials, including building boards, wood and carpeting adhesives, furniture, synthetic carpets, insulation, and bedding, among others.
Still others we bring into our homes from outside in the form of contaminated dust particles. Indoors, these chemicals often persist much longer than they would outside, where they would be exposed to the elements that help break them down.
One of the most immediate courses of action each of us can take to limit our exposure to toxins is to focus on the indoor spaces where we spend the majority of our time. The following suggestions focus on what we can do at home or at the work place.
Keep Dust to a Minimum
Dust is a primary agent for many toxins in the home. Children and infants are especially vulnerable as they go through critical early development. Moreover, they typically ingest five times more dust than adults - 100 milligrams a day - by rolling around on carpets and sticking their fingers and toys in their mouths.
Urban infants typically ingest 110 nanograms of very toxic benzo(a)pyrene - equivalent to smoking three cigarettes daily. House dust also exposes children to cadmium, lead, and other heavy metals, as well as polychlorinated biphenyls and other persistent organic contaminants. What can you do?
Take your shoes off, and leave them at the door. Using a commercial-grade doormat can reduce the amount of lead in a typical carpet by a factor of six. Some pesticides can persist for decades in carpets, where sunlight and bacteria cannot reach to break them down. Researchers from the University of Southern California found DDT in the carpets of 90 of the 362 Midwestern homes they studied, 20 years after DDT was banned.
Bare floors are best, rather than wall-to-wall carpets, which trap a lot of dust. Or consider using large area rugs made from natural fibers that don't outgas toxic chemicals or require the use of toxic adhesives.
If you do use wall-to-wall carpet, tack-strip instead of gluing the carpet.It will be easier to remove and recycle, and there will be no glue to outgas.
Most vacuums only remove larger dust particles, while kicking up the finer particles. Open doors and windows when you vacuum, and send children and pets out of the room.
Avoid indoor pesticides. Even when used as directed, these chemicals can circulate in dust particles well beyond safe levels for weeks after application.
House plants in every room absorb many of the toxic gases that a modern home traps inside. Spider plants, philodendron, and golden pothos have been shown by NASA research to absorb as much as 80% of formaldehyde in a room in 24 hours.
Improve the ventilation of your kitchen, bathrooms with showers, and your laundry room. Most people's highest daily exposures to chloroform (a carcinogen in animals) is from water vapor from hot showers, boiling water, and washing machines.
Ionizing air filters can remove particles as small as 0.1 microns, but the cheaper models tend to emit ozone and electromagnetic fields.
Ban smoking indoors. Our biggest exposure to the carcinogen benzene, a VOC, comes from indoor cigarette smoke, despite the fact that automobile exhaust constitutes 82% of benzene emissions.
Clean and Green
Most household cleaning can be done with a squirt bottle of 50/50 vinegar and water, or with some liquid soap and baking soda, writes Debra Lynn Dadd in her book, Home Safe Home. Here are some other ideas:
Use baking soda and hot water for basin, tub, and tile cleaners.
For drain cleaners, use baking soda and vinegar or trisodium phosphate (TSP) with salt; or use hydrogen peroxide and a plunger for serious clogs.
For hand dish washing, use a plain liquid soap, such as Dr. Bronner's, or rub your sponge with bar soap, and slice a fresh lemon in the dishwater. For automatic dishwashers, use equal parts baking soda and borax.
Use about a cup of baking soda, white vinegar, or borax for laundry detergent.
Use sodium hexametaphosphate instead of chlorine bleach. (~)
Positive Futures Network P.O. Box 10818, Bainbridge Island, WA. Reprinted with permission.
© 2007 Green Home, Inc.
Avoid EMFs and Other Bedroom Risks
Research on the health effects of electromagnetic fields is both controversial and inconclusive. Nonetheless, a growing number of builders and designers believe limiting exposure to EMFs should be an important consideration for anyone who wants to reside in a healthy environment. The Institute for Baubiologie and Ecology in Clearwater, Florida, offers the following suggestions for creating a healthy bedroom.
Remove as many electrical devices as possible. If you must have appliances in the bedroom, keep them at least 6 feet from your body and unplug them before sleeping. The TV is the most dangerous, even when unplugged. Place it a minimum of 3 yards from the bed.
Avoid metal-spring mattresses. Natural mattresses without metal springs are very difficult to find. A natural futon mattress is easier to find and comes in thicknesses from 3 to 8 inches.
Avoid metal bed frames. These often carry a magnetic field. Replace with wooden bed frames. Remove metal boxes, typewriters, and wires from under your bed.
Avoid electric blankets. A person's normal voltage is less than 1 millivolt. An electric blanket can surround you with up to 76,000 millivolts.
Avoid synthetic carpets. Use natural rugs or natural floor covering. Jute backing is preferable.
Cut electricity to the bedroom. A device called a "demand switch" or "cut-off switch" automatically cuts the flow of electricity to the bedroom when there is no demand.
Avoid waterbeds. These are like sleeping under a high-tension line. Stagnant water is depleting to the system and holds an electromagnetic charge derived from the heating element.
Avoid ionization-type smoke detectors. These can ruin your sleep, and their damaging effects can extend up to 50 feet.
Avoid plastic materials.
Avoid synthetic pillows. Use natural pillows filled with cotton.
Avoid synthetic wallpaper. Replace with natural material or nontoxic paint.
Open window at night. Even just a little helps. This is the cheapest way to get fresh air and negative ions.
Be aware of magnetic fields. Do not place your bed near a refrigerator, a computer, a furnace, or a TV, even if they are on the other side of the wall. Raise your bed at least 16 inches from the floor to avoid magnetic fields from wiring in the floor.
Do not sleep directly above a garage. The metal in the car may cause distorted geomagnetic fields.
Remove "baby phones" from a crib. They may emit strong electromagnetic fields.
Reprinted with permission from Natural Home Magazine.
© 2007 Green Home, Inc.
Baby's Bedding Guide
by Aisha Ikramuddin
Sheets, blankets, pillows, bumper pads and comforters, clothing, and diapers should be soft and made of natural fibers that breathe, absorb, and comfort. Such fibers include 100-percent organic cotton, hemp, and untreated wool.
Choose natural fabrics without permanent-press or other finishes that may improve their appearance, reduce the need for ironing, and retard flammability. These finishes often contain formaldehyde or plastic resins that may linger for awhile, even after washing.
Select cotton fabrics that are organically grown and unbleached or naturally colored. Green cotton, while grown conventionally, is not bleached, dyed, or treated with fabric finishes.
Opt for wool fabrics that are chemical-free and fire-resistant when selecting blankets, mattress pads, sweaters, and baby buntings. This water-resistant fiber makes a wool puddle pad a must between the mattress and sheets to avoid diaper-leaking moisture.
Enclose the crib mattress in an impermeable encasement made of tightly woven "barrier cloth," such as polyurethane, to prevent dust mites from thriving on the cell and moisture residue that accumulates on baby bedding and mattresses. Air out plastic encasements for at least a week before using.
Avoid goose-down pillows and comforters that may trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks, even increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. To avoid the latter, also make certain that crib bumpers are firm.
Purchase an organic-cotton pillow and cover it with a natural fabric pillowcase when baby needs a pillow,
Dursban, A Common Pesticide, Now Banned
· by Linda Mason Hunter
June 8, 2000The United States Environmental Protection Agency today banned one of the most common home, lawn, and garden pesticides, citing an unacceptable health risk, particularly to children. By the end of the year 2000 the insecticide, chlorphyrifos (or Dursban), a common ingredient in bug killers, will no longer be manufactured for home use. Its use in agriculture, however, will continue.
Dursban has been widely used for more than 30 years in agriculture and in products sprayed by exterminators and homeowners, according to an article in The New York Times. The article cites more than a dozen kinds of Raid sprays, some Hartz flea collars, and Black Flag liquid roach and ant killer as a few of the common products containing the hazardous ingredient.
The EPA signed an agreement with six manufacturers that will allow them to continue using the chemical on many crops, but will limit the application on apples, grapes, and tomatoes, and eliminate it entirely for almost all uses around homes, schools, and day care centers. Store shelves will continue stocking products containing chlorpyrifos until the end of 2001. However, EPA chief Carol Browner is encouraging retail stores to voluntarily ban the product.
If your home contains this pesticide (you should call the manufacturer of the product if you're not sure since the ingredient is not required to be listed on the label), call your local health department to find out the recommended means of disposal. The best way to avoid an infestation of indoor pests is to simply clean up, don't leave food or dirty dishes in the kitchen, remove standing water, plug cracks. If you do these things, you probably won't need to spray.
· © 2007 Green Home, Inc.
How to Treat Mold in the Home
What is it?
Molds are simple, microscopic organisms, found virtually everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Molds can be found on plants, foods, dry leaves, and other organic material. Molds are needed for breaking down dead material. Mold spores are very tiny and lightweight, and this allows them to travel through the air. Mold growths can often be seen in the form of discoloration, ranging from white to orange and from green to brown and black. When molds are present in large quantities, they can cause allergic symptoms similar to those caused by plant pollen.
Should I be concerned with mold in my home?
Yes, if the contamination is extensive. When airborne mold spores are present in large numbers, they can cause allergic reactions, asthma episodes, infections, and other respiratory problems for people. Exposure to high spore levels can cause the development of an allergy to the mold. Mold can also cause structural damage to your home. Similarly, when wood goes through a period of wetting, then drying, it can eventually warp and cause walls to crack or become structurally weak.
What does mold need to grow?
For mold to grow, it needs:
food sources - such as leaves, wood, paper, or dirt
a source of moisture
a place to grow
Can mold become a problem in my home?
Yes, if there is moisture available to allow mold to thrive and multiply. The following are sources of indoor moisture that may cause problems:
mud or ice dams
damp basement or crawl spaces
constant plumbing leaks
house plants - watering can generate large amounts of moisture
steam from cooking
shower/bath steam and leaks
wet clothes on indoor drying lines
clothes dryers vented indoors
combustion appliances (e.g. stoves) not exhausted to the outdoors
If you see moisture condensation on the windows or walls, it is also possible that you have a combustion problem in your home. It is important to have sufficient fresh air available for fuel burning appliances, such as the furnace, water heater, stove/range, clothes dryer, as well as a fireplace. A shortage of air for these appliances can result in back drafting of dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide into the home.
To prevent back drafting of air, you need either open vents or a ventilation system that brings fresh air into the home to replace air that is exhausted out.
Have your local utility company or a professional heating contractor inspect your fuel-burning appliances annually.
How am I exposed to indoor molds?
Mold is found everywhere, indoors and outdoors. It is common to find mold spores in the air of homes and growing on damp surfaces. Much of the mold found indoors comes from outdoor sources. Therefore, everyone is exposed to some mold on a daily basis without evident harm. Mold spores primarily cause health problems when they enter the air and are inhaled in large number. People can also be exposed to mold through skin contact and eating.
How much mold can make me sick?
It depends. For some people, a relatively small number of mold spores can cause health problems. For other people, it may take many more. The basic rule is, if you can see or smell it, take steps to eliminate the excess moisture, and to cleanup and remove the mold.
Who is at greater risk when exposed to mold?
Exposure to mold is not healthy for anyone inside buildings. It is important to identify and correct any moisture sources quickly, before health problems develop.
The following individuals appear to be at higher risk for adverse health effects of molds:
Infants and children
Immune compromised patients (people with HIV infection, cancer chemotherapy, liver disease, etc.)
People with these special concerns should consult a physician if they are having health problems.
What symptoms are common?
Allergic reactions may be the most common health problem of mold exposure. Typical symptoms reported (alone or in combination) include:
respiratory problems, such as wheezing, and difficulty in breathing
nasal and sinus congestion
eyes-burning, watery, reddened, blurry vision, light sensitivity
dry, hacking cough
nose and throat irritation
shortness of breath
central nervous system problems (constant headaches, memory problems, and mood changes)
aches and pains
Are some molds more hazardous than others?
Allergic persons vary in their sensitivities to mold, both as to amount and type needed to cause reactions. In addition, certain types of molds can produce toxins, called mycotoxins, that the mold uses to inhibit or prevent the growth of other organisms. Mycotoxins are found in both living and dead mold spores. Materials permeated with mold need to be removed, even after they are disinfected with cleaning solutions. Allergic and toxic effects can remain in dead spores. Exposure to mycotoxins may present a greater hazard than that of allergenic or irritative molds. Mycotoxins have been found in homes, agricultural settings, food, and office buildings.
Detection of Mold
How can I tell if I have mold in my house?
If you can see mold, or if there is an earthy or musty odor, you can assume you have a mold problem. Allergic individuals may experience the symptoms listed above. Look for previous water damage. Visible mold growth is found underneath materials where water has damaged surfaces, or behind walls. Look for discoloration and leaching from plaster.
Should I test my home for mold?
The California Department of Health Services does not recommend testing as the first step to determine if you have a mold problem. Reliable sampling for mold can be expensive, and requires equipment not available to the general public. Residents of individual private homes must pay a contractor to carry out such sampling, as it is not usually done by public health agencies. Mold cleanup is usually considered one of the housekeeping tasks of the private citizen, along with roof and plumbing repairs, sweeping and house cleaning.
Another problem is that there are few available standards for judging what is an acceptable quantity of mold. In all locations, there is some outdoor levels of molds. If sampling is carried out, an outdoor air sample needs to be taken at the same time as the sample indoors, to provide a baseline measurement. Since the susceptibility of individuals varies so greatly, sampling is at best a general guide.
The simplest approach is: if you can see or smell mold, you have a problem. Once you know the problem exists, follow the procedure given next.
Unless the source of moisture is removed and the contaminated area is cleaned and disinfected, mold growth is likely to reoccur.
General Clean-up Procedures
Identify and correct the moisture source
Clean, disinfect, and dry the moldy area
Bag and dispose any material that has moldy residues, such as rags, paper, leaves, or debris.
What can I save? What should I toss?
Substances that are porous and can trap molds, such as paper, rags, wallboard, and rotten wood should be decontaminated and thrown out. Harder materials such as glass, plastic, or metal can be kept after they are cleaned and disinfected.
Ultimately, it is critical to remove the source of moisture first, before beginning remedial action, since mold growth will return shortly if an effected area becomes re-wetted.
Removal of moldy materials?
After fixing the moisture source and removing excess moisture, the cleanup can begin:
Wear gloves when handling moldy materials
Remove porous materials (examples: ceiling tiles, sheetrock, carpeting, wood products)
Carpeting can be a difficult problem - drying does not remove the dead spores. If there is heavy mold, disposal of the carpet should be considered
Bag and discard the moldy substances
Allow the area to dry 2 or 3 days
If flooded, remove all sheetrock to at least 12 inches above the high water mark. Visually inspect the wall interior and remove any other intrusive molds. (This step may have to be carried out by a licensed contractor).
Spores are easily released when moldy material is dried out.
Before disinfecting contaminated areas, clean the areas to remove as much of the mold (and food it is growing on) as possible.
Wear gloves when doing this cleanup
Use a non-ammonia soap or detergent, or a commercial cleaner, in hot water, and scrub the entire area affected by the mold
Use a stiff brush or cleaning pad on block walls or uneven surfaces
Rinse clean with water. A wet/dry vacuum is handy for this.
Wear gloves when using disinfectants
After thorough cleaning and rinsing, disinfect the area with a solution of 10% household bleach or bleach alternative (e.g., 1 and a half cup bleach per gallon of water). Using bleach straight from the bottle will not be more effective
Never mix bleach with Ammonia - the fumes are toxic
For spraying exterior large areas, a garden hose and nozzle can be used
When disinfecting a large structure, make sure the entire surface is wetted (floors, joists, and posts)
Avoid excessive amounts of runoff or standing bleach
Let disinfecting areas dry naturally overnight - this extended time is important to kill all the mold.
Bleach fumes can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, and damage clothing and shoes. Make sure the working area is ventilated well.
Can cleaning up mold be hazardous to my health?
Yes. Exposure to mold can occur during the cleaning stage. Mold counts are typically 10 to 1000 times higher than background levels during the cleaning of mold damaged materials. Take steps to protect your health during cleanup:
When handling or cleaning moldy materials, consider using a mask or respirator to protect you from breathing airborne spores. Respirators can be purchased from hardware stores; select one for particle removal (sometimes referred to as a N95 or TC-21C particulate respirator). Respirators are not as effective removing bleach fumes, so minimize your exposure when using bleach or other disinfectants.
Wear protective clothing that is easily cleaned or discarded
Use rubber gloves
Try cleaning a small test patch of mold first. If you feel that this adversely affected your health, you should consider paying a licensed contractor or professional to carry out the work
Ask family members or bystanders to leave areas when being cleaned.
Work over short time spans and rest in a fresh air location.
Air your house out well during after the work
Never use a gasoline engine indoors (e.g. pressure washer, generator) - you could expose yourself and your family to carbon monoxide.
Can Air Duct Systems become Contaminated with Mold?
Yes. Air duct systems can become contaminated with mold. Duct systems can be constructed of bare sheet metal, sheet metal with an exterior fibrous glass insulation, sheet metal with an internal fibrous glass liner, or made entirely of fibrous glass. If your home's air duct system has had water damage, first identify the type of air duct construction that you have. Bare sheet metal systems, or sheet metal with exterior fibrous glass insulation, can be cleaned and disinfected.
If your system has sheet metal with an internal fibrous glass liner, or are made entirely of fibrous glass, the ductwork normally will need to be removed and discarded. Ductwork in difficult locations may have to be abandoned. If you have other questions, contact an air duct cleaning professional, or licensed contractor.
After I've cleaned everything as thoroughly as possible, can I still have mold odors?
Yes. It is possible that odors may persist. Continue to dry out the area and search for any hidden areas of mold. If the area continues to smell musty, you may have to re-clean the area again (follow the cleaning steps given in this sheet). Continue to dry and ventilate the area. Don't replace flooring or begin rebuilding until the area has dried completely.
How can further damage to my home be prevented?
Check regularly for the following:
moisture condensation on windows
cracking of plasterboard
drywall tape loosening
If you see any of the above, seek out and take steps to eliminate the source of water penetration, as quickly as possible.
Can Ozone air cleaners help remove indoor mold, or reduce odor or pollution levels?
Some air cleaners are designed to produce ozone. Ozone is a strong oxidizing agent used as a disinfectant in water and sometimes to eliminate odors. However, ozone is a known lung irritant. Symptoms associated with exposure include cough, chest pain, and eye, nose, and throat irritation. Ozone generators have been shown to generate indoor levels above the safe limit. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that ozone is not effective in controlling molds and fungi, even at high concentrations far above safe health levels. Also, ozone may damage materials in the home. For these reasons, the California Department of Health Services strongly recommends that you do not use an ozone air cleaner in any occupied residential space.
The Importance of Buying Organic
by Scott Morris
Eliminating dust is especially important for children, but dietary changes may be the most important steps adults can take to reduce exposure to toxins. Many chemicals, such as dioxins, accumulate in the fatty tissues of animals and fish, and these chemicals concentrate as they move up the food chain. Eating low on the food chain is one way to reduce your intake of persistent chemicals. Another way is to buy organic foods, both for your own well-being and to reduce exposure of the farm workers who are subject to the most risk through their daily contact with pesticides.
Mothers and Others for a Livable Planet has identified the top-priority foods to buy organic, particularly because of concerns over pesticide residues found in some of these products.
(For more information on the National Standards for Organic Agricultural Production and Handling, adopted late last year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, go to http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/)
B)1998 Positive Futures Network P.O. Box 10818, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110-0818, USA - phone 206/842-0216 - fax 206/842-5208. Excerpted from longer article "Safer Homes and Gardens."
© 2007 Green Home, Inc.
This is just a few reasons and product alternatives to what is out there but ultimately it will be up to you to decide what works for you, your child/ren, or family. There are many reasons to investigate, to make changes, and to ultimately be responsible for you and your place in this world. Here are just a few companies that have product lines which may be of some use but take a few minutes when you can each day and find what works for you, it is out there and it is possible!
We had a glimpse of the future and we liked what we sawWe believe that there are simple choices people can make every day that make our world a better place in which to live. Grassroots offers environmentally-friendly products that allow people to make positive choices for themselves, their communities and the planet. Some people postpone making these choices because they feel it has to be all or nothing. But taking small steps to gradually replace conventional products with healthier alternatives can be just as effective for a sustainable future. How It All BeganUntil Grassroots opened its doors in Toronto in 1994, there were very few options for environmentally-friendly product choices. For more than a decade, Grassroots has pioneered to bring sustainable, low impact products to the marketplace, guiding people towards awareness and environmentally-responsible lifestyles. Gradually, the word spread and our small, green business now mindfully operates two stores in Toronto. Because our products are so unique, demand grew beyond the city limits and even across the continent. The next logical step for us was to improve accessibility for everyone in North America by taking our store online! The Green ScreenBehind every product sold at Grassroots is a story. Not only are these stories about our products and the environment, but they are stories about small, eco-friendly companies that we are proud to support. Because we live in an age where “green washing” is epidemic (green washing is when anyone can claim to make an environmental product), Grassroots carefully sources and investigates products that meet or exceed our environmental standards, respecting and observing fair trade, fair labour, and human rights practices. Shop with confidence knowing that we have researched the products we carry and we can provide you with all the detailed product information to make an educated and compassionate choice. Tooting our HornWe are so much more than a store that sells environmental products. Here are a few things about Grassroots that separate us from the pack:
Feel Good Fridays. As part of our 10-year anniversary celebration, Grassroots introduced Feel Good Fridays. On the last Friday of each month, Grassroots donates 10% of their net sales to local or national environmental organizations. Please mark the last Friday of each month in your calendar to shop and support the environment.
Green Power. Both Grassroots stores are bullfrogpowered (100% green electricity retailer in Ontario that sources electricity exclusively from wind and low-impact water power producers). Find out more at http://www.bullfrogpower.com/.
Carbon Neutral Shipping. Online shopping just got more eco-friendly! Grassroots offsets the carbon emissions for all our deliveries. Zerofootprint makes this possible. Read more about this process.
Packing Materials. For all online shipments, Grassroots either reuses the packing materials from its suppliers or uses recyclable materials.
Awards. Over the past few years we have won the following awards:
Bike Friendly "Business of the Year" Award, 2006, City of Toronto
Commuter Challenge Award, 2006, City of Toronto
Green Toronto Award of Excellence, 2005, Green Toronto Awards, City of Toronto,
Market Transformation Award, 2005, Green Toronto Awards, City of Toronto
Bicycle Friendly Business Award, 2004, City of Toronto
Community Bicycle Network Award, 2002
Green Business of the Year Award, 2002, Riverdale Community Business Centre
Green Business of the Year Award, 2001, Riverdale Community Business Centre
Environmental Business of the Year Award, 2000, Rachel Carson League
Bicycle Friendly Business Award (multiple winner), City of Toronto
No Energy to Waste Award, Greenest City, Toronto
Atmosphere Friendly Retailer Award, Greenest City, Toronto
In-store Workshops. Grassroots organizes dozens of unique workshops every year that focus on issues of environmental sustainability.
Showcasing Local Artists. Every month, Grassroots showcases environmentally-related artwork by local artists.
Book Signings. Grassroots has held numerous in-store book signings from eco-authors such as Bob Hunter, Adria Vasil, Rex Wyler, and Tanya Barnard & Sarah Kramer.
Partnerships. Grassroots has partnered with environmental organizations, such as Coalition for a Green Economy, Evergreen Foundation, Windshare Co-Op, and David Suzuki Foundation to provide storefront exposure for key conservation issues and to help increase public understanding and interest.
Pristine Planet is a shopping resource that brings socially responsible merchants together so visitors can shop, browse, compare & review sustainable companies and products in the convenience of one website.
Rewarding environmentally and socially responsible companies should be as easy as possible, for that is truly the only way that consumers can send a positive message to industry that cannot be ignored. Organizations that make our world a better place should be recognized for their efforts -- and our mission is to help.
How It Works ...
When you purchase products or services from merchants on Pristine Planet.com, you are building a sustainable economy. The revenue generated from your purchase goes directly to green businesses, large and small, which in turn is reinvested into organic agriculture, fair trade, and sustainable business practices, all of which benefit the planet.
A simple purchase may not seem like much, but the reality is, your purchase creates ripples in the economy. When enough people support sustainable businesses, these ripples will have a profound impact on society and the planet. So the next time you are faced with a decision to buy a product, decide what kind of splash you would like to create. Help do your part in growing a socially responsible economy by supporting the merchants on Pristine Planet.
How We Can Help You ...
There are several unique features on Pristine Planet that help you make informed purchasing descisions.
Shop - our green mall is a collection of socially responsible retailers so you can browse, compare, review and shop 1000s of green products in the convenience of one website.
Merchant Report Card - learn about each company and the steps they are taking to be a leader in the green economy.
Reviews - honest product reviews. Find out what's hot and what's not.
Coupons - save money on your next purchase.
Blogs - stay up to date with your favorite merchants.
Did You Know - these are informative eco facts on various green topics.
Merchant List - browse an alphabetical list of merchants who are all working toward a common goal - making the world more sustainable and green.
If you are a socially responsible merchant and are interested in becoming a member, please visit our Membership Information page.
Learn About New Products ...
Add the Pristine Planet 'Eco Friendly Product of the Day' gadget to your Google home page, and learn about environmentally friendly and socially responsible options for everyday items.
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Here is a cleaning service company and the products they use, very neat alternatives plus some added info on why to go green and use these cleaners!
Why Go Green in Your Home?
Cleaning products are everywhere in our homes and most are petroleum-based. They have a dire effect on our health and the environment. EPA research has shown that the air inside a typical home is 2 to 5 times more polluted that the air outside its walls. Indoor air pollution is mostly caused by toxic chemical products like household cleaners. The EPA also found household cleaners 3 times more likely to cause cancer than pollution. Hundreds of chemicals found in homes have been linked to allergies, birth defects, cancer and psychological issues.
Thousands of children die every year from household poisonings. Medical journals have reported 202 cleaning chemicals that are increasing incidents of autism, attention deficit disorder and other developmental conditions in children. Chemicals are on the rugs they sit on, the tables they eat on and the toys they play with. These chemicals can also be harmful to unborn children - one reason why pregnant women are cautioned to restrict their use of household chemicals. Our Pets
Most household cleaners are toxic to pets. Some ingredients in everyday household cleaners are known to cause cancer in animals and are suspected to cause cancer in humans. Pets are particularly at risk, since they spend most of their time on the floor where many chemicals collect. When pets lick their paws and coat, they are ingesting potentially harmful toxins.
More than 20 millions gallons of household cleaning products are dumped down the drain each day. Many of these products contain toxic substances that are not processed by sewage treatment plants and septic systems. Chemicals in household cleaners break down slowly in the ecosystem and accumulate in the fatty tissues of fish and wildlife.
Green Clean is a locally owned company that offers home owners an alternative to regular cleaning services. We provide superior cleaning and use products that have the least negative impact on the environment. Green cleaning is about making a choice that will make a difference.
Green Clean, the choice that makes a difference (609) 465-0046
What products do we clean with?
What does Aromalogics have to say about their products? Click on the link above to go to the Aromalogics website.
Thinking of going green?
Imagine...a full line line of all natural, non-toxic, impressively effective home cleaning products available in more than a dozen inspiring scents. That's what sets Aromalogics apart from the rest. Our first goal is to give you the tools you need to keep your home naturally spotless, but just as important to us is creating a uniquely fragrant natural cleaning experience through a creative infusion of pure essential oils. Think of it as aromatherapy for the home. OK, so they smell good but how do they work and do they kill germs?
Of course. Our products are extraordinary in both performance and scent. As for the germs? Pure essential oils are strongly antibacterial in nature and for this reason we use a surplus of them in everything we make. In fact, research shows that antibacterial plant oils may not cause the drug resistance that leads to "super bugs" like common chemical disinfectants can. All this and they smell good, too.Aromalogics' uncompromised commitment to purity, quality and customer satisfaction goes as far as a guarantee that your products are not even created until the time you place your order. They have not been mass produced and therefore can even be custom blended to fit your own scent preferences or specifications. By maintaining a 100% plant based policy, we can assure you that your cleaning experience will not be hindered by the presence of unhealthy, oftentimes toxic chemicals. Aromalogics products are safe for kids, pets, the environment and you. So live healthy, be happy, and treat yourself to a truly enjoyable, new way to clean.
And to finish off with one which also gave me so much of the information I used here for this blog!
ABOUT GREEN HOME
Welcome to Green Home, your home on the Web for environmentally friendly products. In addition to being one of the first, largest, and most respected online resources for green products, we offer advice and information on greening your home.
What does organic, all-natural, or eco-friendly even mean? It means our products are comparatively less wasteful, and less toxic than mainstream products. There's a lot more to it, and you're welcome to read all about it on our Product Approval Policy.
The bottom line is that here at Green Home, we help the conscious consumer navigate through an increasingly complex green marketplace by taking the guesswork out. Rest assured that our experts here at Green Home have done the research for you. All of our products are environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and guaranteed to be safe for your children, your home, and the earth.
Whether you're looking to save energy on your appliances, go vegan and organic or just live a low-impact lifestyle, we think you'll be rewarded by taking some time to click through our website. In addition to our comprehensive selection of eco-friendly products, you'll find a wealth of interesting articles, information, and a complete ToxipediaTM that will help you lower your environmental impact, reduce your carbon footprint, and make educated decisions about the products that you buy!!
Posted by Nichole Steele