Spring Cleaning Tips: Homemade Stain Remover

2011 April 13
by garrettvd

Homemade Stain RemoverFor the second addition to our series of articles focusing on eco-friendly spring cleaning tips, this week’s article is all about how to remove stains using a homemade stain remover.  There are many eco-friendly homemade stain remover alternatives to bleach and other harsh chemicals.

But, why is bleach and other volatile organic compounds so bad?  Clothing-wise, they weaken the fabric after repeated use, which makes your clothing more susceptible to damage.  But more importantly, health-wise, they not only cause respiratory problems, burned skin and damage to your nervous system, but they also release toxins known as carcinogens into the air whenever used, which can be inhaled and in turn put unnecessary strain your immune system.

So, what can you do about it?  You can switch to a homemade stain remover for one!  There are a few well-known ingredients that go into making various homemade stain remover concoctions, and they are typically interchanged with one another.  Here are some combinations that I’ve personally used in the past, as well as a brief explanation of some of their many applications.

  • Vodka: Works great for removing arm pit stains on your white shirts.  Good for removing wine, ink, and grass stains, as well.
  • Lemon Juice + Salt: A scrub for removing bathtub stains, cleaning your microwave.  Leaves a pleasant lemony scent!
  • Baking Soda + Water: An all-purpose cleaner; I use it for floors especially, as it is a natural deodorizer.  Just makes sure to rinse with water after letting it sit for a while.
  • Borax + White Vinegar: A natural toilet bowl cleaner.
  • Boiling water: Believe it or not, boiling water is excellent for removing not-so-bad stains!  I’ve read that using hot water can be bad for stains that are sugar-based, like pop, etc, because it may spread the stain, so use wisely.
  • Club soda + White Vinegar: Good for removing carpet stains.  Just spray or dab a bit onto the affected areas, work in until the stains starts to come out.

Thought for the Day
Making a homemade stain remover is pretty straightforward, and uses generic, easy-to-find ingredients.  By learning how to remove stains in an eco-friendly manner, and following our eco-friendly spring cleaning tips series of articles, you’re doing the earth a big favor!

Do you have some tips of your own?  We’d love to hear them!  Please feel free to post them in the comment section below.

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Eco Friendly Tips: How to Recycle Batteries

2011 April 8
by garrettvd

How to Recycle BatteriesAmericans consume approximately 3 billion dry-cell batteries per year for use in electronic devices like digital cameras, MP3 Players, wireless computer mice, among many other practical uses.  Of these 3 billion or so batteries being consumed, only about 3% are recycled, with the remaining 97% ending up in our landfills.  And what happens when they are in the landfill?  They will begin to leak and eventually end up in our groundwater.  That’s bad news for you and me!

How to recycle batteries

But, why do so many people discard their used batteries in the trash, instead of recycling them?  The answer is simple: people just don’t know how to recycle batteries, or are too lazy to do so.

Luckily, we are here to teach you some eco friendly tip on how to recycle batteries in an efficient way!  So, firstly, you should understand that there are two types of batteries…

  1. Lead-Acid Automobile Batteries – These are batteries are used in various types of automotive and recreational vehicles, and are considered an environmentally friendly success story.  In North America alone, it is said that upwards of 95% of these batteries are recycled; due for them most part to the profitability.  However, due to a slump in lead prices recently, the profitability is beginning to slip, and many recyclers are barely breaking even.  New batteries contain between 60% and 80% recycled lead and plastic.

    If you want to skip the middle-man and make some cash, go around and ask your friends if they have any old batteries, and bring your old batteries to a local scrap yard, where they will be more than happy to take them off your hands for a fair price.  When collected, they are sent to a recycler where many of the materials are recycled.  The lead and plastic is reclaimed, and sometimes even the electrolyte is recycled by separating sodium sulfate crystals from used electrolyte and sold for use in textiles, glass and detergent manufacturing.  These raw materials are then sold to a battery manufacturer.

    How to recycle batteries of this type: Most retailers who sell lead-acid batteries are also required by law to collect used batteries.  Simply bring your used batteries back to the retailer, who will take it off your hands for free.

  2. Household batteries – These are typically considered to be “dry cell batteries”, as opposed to the aforementioned lead-acid based batteries, which in most cases operate using a liquid electrolyte solution, and consequently are known as “wet cell batteries” or “gel cell batteries”.  Though dry cell batteries contain far less mercury nowadays than they did a few decades ago, people still throw them away in our landfills because thy simple don’t know how to recycle batteries.  They are still not good for the environment when discarded into a landfill.  Dry cell batteries are composed of any of the following:
    • Alkaline
    • Zinc carbon
    • Mercury-oxide
    • Silver-oxide
    • Nickel cadmium
    • Lithium ion
    • Nickel metal hyride
    • Zinc-air
    • Lead-acid (sometimes)

    How to recycle batteries of this type: An eco-friendly tip that we recommend following is to keep a plastic recycling bin in the garage (or even just a container if you don’t use that many batteries) with all of your discarded dry cell batteries, and wait until your city has a hazardous waste collection day; typically, these occur a few times per year.  If your city doesn’t have these, they will usually have hazardous waste collection points, or sometimes even allow you to call ahead and schedule a pickup.  These hazardous waste recycling programs differ for every municipality, so I recommend finding out what yours is.

Rechargeable batteries

Another eco-friendly tip you should follow is to opt for rechargeable batteries, instead of single-use batteries.  They usually take anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes to charge, and can last for several years if proper care is taken.  I’ve personally had mine for at least 5 years!  That’s probably $80 to $100 I’ve saved from reusing the same 8 batteries over and over.

Thought for the Day

It’s not that hard to learn how to recycle batteries, and you can feel good knowing that you’re not clumped into that 97% of people who are poisoning our landfills with old batteries!  Do you have an eco friendly tip relating to recycling batteries?  We’d love to hear it!  Let us know in the comment section below.

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Eco Friendly Tips: How To Recycle Old CDs

2011 April 8
tags: ,
by garrettvd

How to recycle CDs

If you’re like me, you have loads and loads of old CD-R’s laying about.  Don’t throw your old, unwanted CDs out just yet!  There is far too much electronic waste in our landfills as it is.  Instead, lets recycle them!  But, are CDs recyclable, you ask?  Absolutely!  Have a look at the eco friendly tips below to learn how to recycle old CDs when it comes time to clean out your old CD rack.

How to recycle old CDs

  • Make a disco ball – That’s right! You can recycle old CDs to make a funky disco ball for your room, or to give your cubicle a little personality!  This will take a bit of effort and elbow grease, though.  You need the following materials to make your very own disco ball:
    • Unwanted CDs
    • Kitchen shears
    • Heat gun or hair dryer
    • Medium-sized Styrofoam ball
    • Thick work gloves
    • Sturdy string or wire
    • Glue gun

    Putting your disco ball together is simple:

    1. Grab your heat gun or hair dryer and begin to heat a CD up until it becomes relatively hot and malleable; this makes it far easier to cut.  (Caution: Make sure you don’t heat the CD up so much that it begins to give burn or give off a toxic odor!)
    2. At this point, you can begin to cut the CD into small pieces; use a pair of kitchen / gardening shears, as they are stronger than the average pair of scissors.  Try to cut evenly sized pieces.  I recommend 1cm x 1cm pieces, but it’s up to you.
    3. When you have a fair amount of 1cm x 1cm CD pieces, you can begin to glue them to the Styrofoam ball with the glue gun.  Start at the very bottom of the ball, and work your way up, making even rings around the ball.
    4. When you’ve glued your last CD piece to the ball, glue a string or wire onto the top so you can hang it.  Voila!
  • Make an accent wall – This is a very interesting idea I’ve heard about.  It’s only really practical if you have loads and loads of old CDs, but it’s a great idea none-the-less.  Simply take all of your old CDs and glue them to your wall, shiny side facing out!  It makes a unique (and super cool) accent wall for your home.  You’ll first need to figure out how many CDs you’ll require for your wall.  Hypothetically, let’s say you have an 8’ x 8’ accent wall. The diameter of each standard CD is 120mm, which in feet is 0.394’.  Some quick math will tell us you need 400 CDs!  If you have that many that you were going to get rid of, why not give your recreational room some personality?
  • Make a CD cover collage – Those CD covers in the jewel cases make a great collage when they pieced together.  If you’re not daring enough to make an accent wall, why not try to frame a collage of CD cover artwork and place it on the wall?
  • Make a flowerpot – Not from the CD, of course!  Generally when you buy a pack of CDR +/-, they will come in a plastic container.  Instead of throwing this container out, lets recycle it.  Drill or poke 4 holes in the bottom of the container, and cover the bottom with gravel.  Then fill the remaining space with potting soil.  Add a plant of some kind, and there you have it!
  • Make a wreath – That’s right! Recycled Christmas decorations are a perfect way to recycle old CDs!   What better way to ring in the holidays than a nice, big wreath in your living room?  Simply grab 10 or so CDs, arrange them in a circle (making sure to alternate the layering) and glue them together with a glue gun. Finish off with some ribbon, or as a way to keep the kids entertained, let the kids decorate it with some red and green acrylic paint.
  • Sell them! – If you don’t want to be crafty, you can always  recycle old CDs by bringing them to your local used music store or pawn-shop and sell them.  Believe it or not, a lot of people still love to buy physical CDs; especially those rare ones that aren’t available on iTunes.

Thought for the Day

Taking something old and unwanted and repurposing into something useful is easier than you’d think.  It just takes a bit of thinking outside of the box to recycle old CDs!  So, get your thinking cap on and lets recycle as much as possible!  Do you have some eco friendly tips for old CD’s?  Please, share with us in the comments section below.

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Eco Friendly Tips: 6 Unique Green Goods From The Eco Shop

2011 April 7
by garrettvd

Solar GrasshopperNowadays, you can purchase green goods in just about any category, from green beauty products to keep yourself naturally young looking; green technology to keep the tech-savvy people happy, to green organic foods at your local grocery store; eco fashion apparel and accessories to keep you stylish and trendy.  You can get just about anything you want from the eco shop down the road or online that encourage sustainable living, and give you guidance on how to be environmentally friendly in your day-to-day life.

 

Below are some unique green goods that we felt deserved to be talked about:

  • Stainless steel soap bar – Yes, you heard right! It really does exist.  In fact, it’s the next big craze in eco-friendly kitchen accessories, as it doesn’t require any actual soap to use.  This is a soap bar-shaped piece of stainless steel that is said to do wonders at removing various kinds of odors from your hands after preparing food, such as garlic and onion.  Using it is easy, simple rub the stainless steel bar in your hands under cold water, and the odors will magically disappear!  What is the science behind this?  Well, scientists seem to be stumped on this one, but theorize that it works by the friction caused from the rubbing action.  Weird, huh?
  • Scared Grasshopper Solar Toy – Now this is a cute green technology item! Kids (and even cats) love the solar grasshopper toy.  It’s basically a plastic grasshopper shaped toy, with 4 metal prongs for feet, and has an 18mm x 30mm solar panel on it’s back.  When exposed to direct sunlight, this little critter will begin to shake frantically and move across any given hard, flat surface.  No batteries required!  It’s good, simple fun.
  • “I’m not a paper cup!” mug – Looks can be deceiving! These cups are most certainly not made of paper.  Styrofoam and paper cups are an unnecessary waste of space in landfills (find out how many we waste per year in this eco friendly tips article) Instead, this mug is made of an entirely ceramic material, with a silicon lid and sleeve. These are a fun, eco friendly alternative to paper cups and travel mugs. Pick one up today!  You will be the envy of your office!
  • iPhone and iPod solar chargers – Another very cool breakthrough in green technology, and green goods in general!  They are perfect for everyday usage, or when you’re not near a power outlet to plug your phone charger into.  Just keep one in your purse or coat pocket, and plug your phone in when necessary.  As expected, it takes a while to get a full charge, but you are using the direct power of the sun to charge your phone, so that’s expected.  A very cool item worth taking a second look at.  There are even all-purpose solar chargers for your blackberry, camera and more!
  • Cube cardboard speaker set – Another very cool piece of green technology! These are foldable cardboard speakers that you can draw, sketch or paint on to customize.  Coloring these speakers is a perfect way to keep the kids entertained, and will give you something sentimental to have at work!
  • Bamboo iPhone cover – All of your iPhone-owning friends probably have phone covers…. But, how many of them have a bamboo iPhone cover?  That’s right.  A cover made completely from renewable bamboo.  Your phone will be the envy of your social group, and you might be able to convince a few people that you are using a 100% wooden mobile phone!

Thought for the Day
We hope you found something to peruse through the next time you’re green shopping!  What kind of green goods are you generally on the lookout for? Share with us in the comments section below, we’d love to hear!

 

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Eco Friendly Tips: What Does Eco Friendly Mean?

2011 April 6
by garrettvd

Eco Friendly TermsWe encounter eco-friendly terminology everywhere nowadays: at the stores you visit, on the products you purchase, in the news you read, in eco friendly blogs and in casual conversation.  Over the past few years, environmental sustainability has become a hot topic, due partly to the buzz surrounding global warming.  People have become increasingly aware of the environmental impact that their actions make, and are striving to find resources to instruct them how to be environmentally friendly in order to erase their carbon footprint.  Companies, too, are aware of this, and more often than not attempt to greenwash their products or services to appeal to this demographic of customers.

But what does eco friendly mean, really? Being eco friendly means following a set of guidelines or principles that either minimizes the environmental impact of any given action, or is beneficial to environmental sustainability.  An example of the former definition would be driving a hybrid vehicle, such as a Toyota Prius, to and from work, thus minimizing the environmental impact of driving to work in a non-efficient vehicle.  An example of the latter aforementioned definition would be taking bicycling to work instead of driving, thus eliminating any environmental impact.  But why stop there?  Here are some more eco friendly terms:

  • Alternative Energy – A term used to describe any source of energy intended to replace current energy resources, such as coal, fossil fuel, and nuclear energy.  This differs from the term renewable energy (see below for that description).
  • Carbon Footprint – The measurement of the environmental impact of a person or an action over time, associated with the quantity of carbon dioxide (CO2) or other greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere.  It is generally measured in tonnes.
  • Carbon Neutral – Offsetting your carbon footprint by an equal or greater amount, by following eco friendly practices or guidelines that reduce or eliminate CO2 or greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Eco Fashion – Clothing created using organic or sustainable materials, manufactured following earth-conscious or socially responsible practices, or created using repurposed or recycled apparel or accessories.
  • Fair Trade – An organized social movement whereby international producers of agricultural commodities are financially compensated for their goods in a manner that is socially and economically moral.  These commodities are generally, but not limited to coffee, chocolate, tea, and sugar.
  • Free Range – Livestock or domestic poultry that is raised outside of confinement and / or permitted to roam freely and graze, as opposed to being born and raised in a cage or pen.
  • Global Warming – An increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere leading to a change in weather patterns, which in turn creates various environmental and agricultural impacts, including but not limited to rising sea levels and drought.  Global warming is argued to have been the direct impact of rising pollution levels since the industrial revolution.
  • Greenhouse Gases – Gases in the earth’s atmosphere that absorb thermal-infrared radiation from the earth’s surface, thus increasing the overall temperature.  These gases are typically water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone.
  • Greenwashing – A practice of companies falsely promoting or exaggerating their products or services as being environmentally friendly, in order to capitalize on the earth-conscious consumer demographic.
  • Renewable Energy – Energy that comes from renewable resources that can be replenished naturally at a rate comparable or faster than it’s consumption; typically these are energy sources like wind, solar, geothermal, tidal, hydroelectric and biofuel (ie. bagasse is produced as a byproduct of the sugarcane processing, and is used to fuel the boilers for this process).

Thought of the day

Hopefully the above list provides some insight into the jargon of environmental activists.  If you have some terms that you think would be suitable, or eco friendly tips on how to be environmentally friendly, please let us know in the comments section.  We’d love to add them to the list!

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Eco Friendly Fashion Tips: Recycle Your Old Clothes

2011 April 6

Eco Friendly Fashion Tips

Eco friendly fashion doesn’t necessarily just mean clothing that is made from organic materials, or clothing from companies that donate to an earth-friendly cause – It also means clothing that has been repurposed to become another article of clothing or accessory. As eco friendly fashion begins to gain popularity amongst both fashion designers and consumers, many people have started thinking about how they too can repurpose their old clothing, instead of just throwing them out. Below are some eco friendly tips that may just motivate you to rummage through your closet or dresser drawers.

Eco-Friendly Fashion Tips

  • Have a hole in the knee-area or below on favourite pair of jeans? – All is not lost! Before you throw them out, why not try making them into a pair of shorts? Simply cut just above the knee-area with a pair of scissors, and then hem them. Not great at sewing with a machine? There are tons of instructional videos out there on Youtube that will teach you how to hem jeans, so why not give it a try? You were going to trash them anyways! Feeling a bit more experimental than just making shorts? I’ve heard from people who have made a nice skirt from an old pair of jeans. Why not try something like that?
  • Turn them into rags – Spare rags are never a bad thing to have around the house. You can use them for washing your car, checking your engine’s oil level, washing dishes, cleaning windows, polishing furniture with beeswax furniture polish, and everything in-between. And if you’re stressed or angry with someone, it’s always fun to rip apart some old clothing!
  • Spare socks? Not a problem! – Do you have a drawer full of single socks whose partner has somehow gotten lost en-route to or from the washing machine? Well, don’t throw them out! Instead, make some stuffed sock animals, or sock puppets! It’s a great family activity to keep your kids entertained on a rainy day, and there are countless patterns readily available on the Internet. All you really need is:
    • Spare or orphaned socks
    • Sewing needle, or a sewing machine (if available)
    • Thread
    • Scissors
    • Pencils
    • Pins
    • Buttons (for eyes! Bigger buttons work best)
  • Save the buttons – It’s a good idea to save as many buttons as you can, especially those that come from dress shirts or dress pants. Many times have I had the button on my dress shirts come off, and many times have I had to replace said button. Luckily, having kept a jar full of spare buttons in my closet, a replacement was never too far away. Another good reason to keep spare buttons is for arts and crafts (as mentioned above, buttons make great eyes for sock puppets and sock animals). But why stop there? Here are some other ways to recycle buttons that I’ve heard of:
    • Make some stylish earrings from bigger buttons
    • Use them for embellishments in scrap-booking
  • Donate your unwanted clothing to charity – A study performed in January 2008 by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development determined that there were approximately 643,000 sheltered and unsheltered homeless people in the United States. Homeless advocate groups in Canada have determined that there are approximately 300,000 people who are homeless. These numbers have likely risen due to the tough economic times brought on by the recession, so it’s important for us to do all we can to support these homeless people. Donating to your local Salvation Army or Goodwill Industries can at least provide them with some comforts. We suggested you donate the following items:
    • Shoes
    • Coats or jackets
    • Cold weather accessories (earmuffs, toques, gloves or mitts, etc.)
    • Professional clothing, for interviews, etc.
    • Pants
    • Shirts (long-sleeved and T-shirts)
  • Thought for the Day

    Take a look through your own clothing and see what fits, what doesn’t, and what you haven’t worn in a few months. Instead of throwing it away, try recycling it using one of the eco friendly fashion tips mentioned above. Have your own eco friendly tips you want to share? Please do! We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Homemade Furniture Polish

2011 April 4
by garrettvd


Spring is here! And with the arrival of spring, that means it’s time to begin the tedious task of spring-cleaning.  But, it doesn’t have to be so bad!  Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll be posting articles here and there containing eco-friendly spring-cleaning tips to help you not only have a squeaky-clean house, but an environmentally friendly one.  We’ll begin this series of spring-cleaning articles with a tip that will make your wooden furniture shine like never before…

Homemade Furniture Polish

Making your own homemade furniture polish is easier than you’d think.  Why go through the effort of making your own, as opposed to just grabbing a bottle of Pledge?  Well, for one thing, aerosol cans in general contain liquefied gas to create pressure that propels the polish on a desired surface when the spray nozzle is pressed.  The downside being that this gas is typically volatile hydrocarbons such as propane, n-butane or isobutane.  This means that they are flammable, and not so great for the environment.  In fact, up until the late 1980’s, many aerosol cans used a group of compounds know as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which scientists believed were damaging the ozone layer.

This homemade furniture polish contains only 4 simple, readily available ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 5oz natural, unrefined beeswax
  • 2 tsp carnauba wax
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • Optional: add 2 to 3 drops of an essential oil of your choice (lavender, orange, etc.)

Preparation

Preparation is easy.  Simply melt both the beeswax and the carnauba wax in a double boiler over high heat.  Pour in the olive oil as the waxes begin to melt, stirring occasionally.  Turn the heat down and add a few droplets of essential oils into the pot.  Stir a few more times.  You’re done!

You now have your very own eco-friendly furniture polish, using organic ingredients.  Make sure to spot-test your homemade furniture polish in an inconspicuous area using a cloth prior to applying to the entire surface.  If you are satisfied with the results, continue to apply the polish to the entire surface.  Let it dry, and then use a clean cloth to buff the polish, removing the excess wax from the surface.

Thought for the Day

It’s a pretty easy recipe to follow, but if you don’t have the time to do it, or you just don’t want to muck up your cookware, then you can pick of bottle of Daddy Van’s beeswax furniture polish up from our store.  Do you have some of your own eco-friendly tips? Why not share with us! We’d be happy to add them to the list!

If you have any ways to share, please feel free to send us an email. We are always looking for new eco–friendly living ideas! Your feedback, questions, and comments are greatly appreciated.

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Eco-Friendly Tips For Gardening

2011 April 2
by garrettvd

Green Gardening Is Easy!

As mentioned in our last post “5 eco friendly tips for the average consumer“, spring is here, and us green thumbs are busy readying our garden plans. Gardening is an enjoyable task, and having a great garden will give you a sense of pride, and also some great curb appeal. Below, we’ve compiled a list of 6 eco-friendly tips to help you get the most out of your garden, while respective the soil in which it grows.

Eco-Friendly Gardening Tips

  1. Use a rain barrel to collect rainwater – Using a rain barrel with a spout or hose attachment can dramatically reduce the amount of yearly hose-water consumption, especially during the summer months, and as a happy by-product, will also reduce your utilities bill! Rainwater is much better for organic vegetable gardens as municipal water contains dissolved minerals, salts and chlorine. And it only takes about 1/4 inch of rainfall collected from the average-sized roof to completely fill a barrel! Just make sure to put a lid on your barrel, as mosquitoes love still water.
  2. Use cocoa shell mulch instead of bark mulch or fabric weed covers – Cocoa mulch, despite costing a small amount more than traditional ground covers, sees numerous benefits:
    • Contains a greater amount of natural nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium fertilizers (NPK)
    • The texture of the shells deters slugs and grubs from getting to your crops.
    • Retains the moisture in your soil more effectively than typical bark mulch, due to a natural gum within the shells that is activated when it comes in contact with moisture
    • Breaks down over time to enhance the color and texture of your soil
    • They smell great! Although cats don’t seem to think so (another benefit! Keeps cats from doing their business in your garden!)
  3. Make your own organic weed killer – There are plenty of effective eco-friendly tips to keep weeds out of your garden, using readily available household products:
    • Salt – Either drizzle granular salt over the weeds, or dilute with 1 part water, 1 part salt. Salt should only be used in places where you don’t want any plant growths, such as cracks in your sidewalk or driveway.
    • Vinegar – Squirt (or spray) a bit of undiluted, pure vinegar (with 5% or more acetic content) into the weeded area.
    • Biodegradeable, non-toxic dish detergent – Diluted with water. I have yet to try using condensed liquid detergent created from soap nuts, but I’d be interested in seeing if that is equally effective!
    • Boiling water – That’s it! Just boil some tap water in a kettle (or in a pot over the stove) and drizzle over the weeds as necessary. Prepare for instant satisfaction, as those weeds shrivel up within a few minutes! When finished, try drizzling some cornmeal over the problem areas as a preventative measure; the cornmeal will act as a ground cover inhibiting weed growth in those areas.
    • All of the above – It doesn’t hurt to make a organic and non-toxic super-concoction of weed killers by mixing in water, salt, biodegradeable dish detergent, and vinegar together in a spray bottle; in fact, this is generally what I do.
  4. Make your own compost – Compost improves the fertility of your soil, and provides a nutrient-rich food source for micro-organisms (and worms!). On average, half of the contents of the average kitchen garbage container are suitable for compost; things like vegetable cores and stems, eggshells, and spent coffee grinds (even the filters!) can be composted. If you don’t have a composter already, run out to your local home improvement store and pick one up. Making compost that yields dark, rich soil is easier than you’d think!
  5. Repurpose old plastic as a greenhouse – As far as eco-friendly tips go, this one is a bit unusual, but definitely worthy of making the list.  I’m not suggesting that your build a full-sized greenhouse out of old bits and pieces of transparent plastic (unless of course you want to!). You can build mini-greenhouses for your spouting plants using the top halves of pop bottles, or by taping or gluing together translucent CD jewel cases.
  6. Make a water-wise garden – Having a water-wise garden doesn’t mean that you have to plant cactuses in your front lawn; although that would use up much less water. Water-wise means using recycled water (from a rain barrel or other source of grey-water) as well as using practices that will reduce overall water consumption. Here are some tips to help you maintain your own water-wise garden:
    • Shade is everything – locating your garden near a shaded area is very important. Surfaces such as your driveway or sidewalk tend absorb heat and evaporate moisture in nearby soil. If your garden is located near a hard surface, see about getting some bushes or trees planted in that area to provide a bit of shade. As mentioned previously, cocoa mulch as a ground cover can be used to retain the moisture content of your soil, as well.
    • Find suitable plants for your climate – I wouldn’t expect to be able to grow a tropical garden here in Southern Ontario, so it’s important to group plants together in your garden with similar sun, soil, and water requirements as suitable for your climate.

Thought for the Day

I’m sure there are many more eco-friendly gardening tips out there, but these are the ones that happened to pop in my head. Do you have some of your own eco-friendly tips? Why not share your eco friendly tips with us! We’d be happy to add them to the list! If you have any ways to share, please feel free to send us an email. We are always looking for new eco–friendly living ideas! Your feedback, questions, and comments are greatly appreciated.

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The Environmental Benefits of Telecommuting

2011 April 1
by garrettvd

Nowadays, more and more companies are supporting what I like to call the “work-from-home” movement. Major corporations are flirting with the idea that working from home not only boosts productivity of their employees, but also has a huge impact on the environment.

Companies such as Sun Microsystems were one of the pioneers of this movement, having supported what it likes to call “Open Work” services for their employees for about 17 years now. Nowadays, over 11,000 of Sun’s 19,000 employees are taking advantage of this program.

 

Some quick facts

  • Each employee saves approximately $1,500 per year on gas from commuting alone, all the while saving nearly 3 weeks of time wasted on commuting
  • Each employee also reduces their energy consumption by 5,400 kW hours per year
  • This program only took 24 months to implement, an impressive feat for a company of Sun’s size

More and more companies seem to be going this route, another good example being Cisco systems, who found similar benefits to their employee’s productivity and work/life balance. An in-depth study conducted by Cisco with a group of 1,992 employees in the summer of 2009 found that the average employee telecommutes on average 2 days per week. 60% of the time saved on commuting is spent working, and the remaining 40% is spent on personal time. As a result, that year Cisco estimated it saved $227 million in productivity, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions being released into the environment as a result of commuting by 47,320 metric tons.

With services like GoToMeeting and Polycom, the “in-person meeting” is becoming a thing of the past. You can be anywhere, so long as you have internet access, and be able to conduct a meeting. As a freelance web developer, I find I just as affective to conduct meetings over these types of software than it is meeting in person, given my client’s (and my own) busy schedules.

Thought for the day

There’s really no downside to telecommuting. Why not talk to your employer about the possibility of telecommuting?

If you have any ways to share, please feel free to send us an email. We are always looking for new eco–friendly tips and ideas! Your feedback, questions, and comments are greatly appreciated.

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5 Eco-Friendly Tips for the Average Consumer

2011 March 31
by garrettvd

The Green Consumer

Today, it’s more important than ever to be green-conscious when it comes to grocery shopping. Within the past decade or so, there has been a change in perception from the typical consumer from the “buy, buy, buy”, to “re-use, reduce, recycle”. Be it due to genuine concern for the welfare of the environment, or just wanting to save some cash in these tough economic times, there are tons of little things here and there that you can do to consumer in a greener way.  Below, we provide you with some eco-friendly tips that will help you become a green consumer.

5 Eco-Friendly Tips for the Average Consumer

  1. Don’t throw those coffee grinds out! – Owning a Keurig coffee machine has its ups and downs. The up being the great coffee, but the downside being that you’re left with a ridiculous amount of used K-cups. However, there is a solution! You can compost those used coffee grinds, or just throw them directly into your garden. Spent coffee grounds have very high nitrogen and carbon levels, and initially will have a high acidity level. The acidity will degrade over time as the microbes during the composting process will turn the acidity in the grinds to pH neutral levels. Don’t brew your own coffee? Check out your local coffee shop; they generally either bag up their excess coffee grinds to give to customers for free, or have a composter that’s open to the public around the back.
  2. Use a metal water canteen, with purified water – Approximately 29.8 billion plastic bottles are consumed by the U.S. every year; 27% of which are recycled, and the remainder are either incinerated or end up in a landfill. The solution to this problem is simple – Using a home water purification system, or even a Brita water filter, plus the use of a metal canteen such as the Kleen Kanteen will leave your conscious guilt free – And save you a lot of cash, as well!
  3. Grow your own veggies – Spring is here, and it’s about time we start to plan our gardens. Growing your own fruits and veggies can be a lot of fun, and you also save money in the long run. Why not grown some green beans, tomatoes, romaine lettuce and carrots this year? I personally have gotten a lot of yield from those vegetables.  Check out out other blog article to learn some eco-friendly gardening tips.
  4. Craving some chocolate? Why not opt for the healthier raw, organic chocolate coacoa nibs? – Those little nibs are packed full of anti-oxidants, which consist of vitamins A, C and E, and beta-carotene, which neutralize free radicals that can cause cellular damage… Which in turn assists in skin repair and strengthening of blood vessels! Organic Coacoa nibs go great in milk-shakes, desserts, or eaten straight from the bag. Coacoa itself has even been said to diminish your appetite, possibly due to its MAO inhibitors. There’s no downside!
  5. Do away with paper and Styrofoam cups – Americans throw away 16 and 24 billion paper and Styrofoam cups per year, respectively. Instead, when you go through a drive-thru for your morning coffee, give them an “I’m Not A Paper Cup” mug, and watch their reaction as they remark how cool it is!

Thought for the Day

It’s not too difficult to make little adjustments to our lifestyle in order to produce less landfill waste and be a green consumer. It just takes a bit of ingenuity and thinking outside of the box!

If you have any ways to share, please feel free to send us an email. We are always looking for new eco–friendly tips and ideas! Your feedback, questions, and comments are greatly appreciated.

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