February 29, 2012

Green Tip of The Day

Make sure your home is properly insulated. Check the insulation in your attic, ceilings, exterior and basement walls, floors, and crawl spaces to see if it meets the levels recommended for your area. The U.S. Department of Energy offers an online Zip Code Insulation Calculator which recommends insulation levels for your home based on your zip code and other basic information about your home.


February 28, 2012

Green Tip of The Day

When shopping for a new appliance, look for the Energy Star label. It will tell you the annual energy consumption and operating cost for each appliance so you can accurately compare both the up front price and the monthly energy cost you'll be paying for the following 10 to 20 years.


February 27, 2012

Green Tip of The Day

Sign up at Recyclebank.com to earn rewards for being green. As if being green wasn't rewarding enough, Recyclebank rewards people for taking green actions like pledging to use less energy or recycle more with discounts and special offers from retailers, restaurants, and other local and national businesses. Registering is free and the site is full of green living tips and advice. Check it out today!


February 24, 2012

Green Tip of The Day

Green up your e-mail. Green up your e-mail with an eco-friendly electronic signature. Check out ecofriendlyemail.com for ideas to create an Eco-signature all your own. My personal favorite is “Save a tree. Don't Ctrl P.”


February 23, 2012

Green Tip of The Day

Swap your incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Energy Star-certified bulbs use 70% percent less energy and last up to 10 times longer. For those who don't like CFLs' bluish-white light or how long some of them can take to light up completely there's the Energy Smart hybrid Halogen-CFL light bulb by GE. It casts the same kind of warm glow as an incandescent bulb, but lasts eight times longer than incandescent bulbs.


February 22, 2012

Green Tip of The Day

Opt for cloth dish towels and napkins over disposable paper towels and napkins. Keep a supply of cloth napkins, dish and hand towels in the kitchen to use in place of paper products. Toss them in a mesh bag until you have enough to run a load of laundry. You'll save paper, reduce waste and save money.


February 21, 2012

Green Tip of The Day

Toss scratched nonstick cookware. Nonstick cookware can be safe to use as long as you take care to not heat it too high or scratch the chemical coating – the two ways a harmful, carcinogenic chemical named perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) can be released into the air. Always wash nonstick cookware by hand using nonabrasive cleaners and sponges and avoid using metal utensils or stacking pots and pans to avoid scratching. If any of your nonstick cookware does happen to become scratched, toss it. When looking for replacement cookware, consider pieces made from other materials. Health Canada has a great overview of the benefits and risks of various cookware materials. It's best to have an assortment. Stainless steel, cast iron, ceramic, Pyrex, and silicone are all good options for cookware and bakeware.


February 20, 2012

Green Tip of The Day

Shop for products made from high percentages of post-consumer waste. Products “produced with recycled materials” can include manufacturing scraps and waste that were reintroduced back into the manufacturing process, but post-consumer waste is material discarded after consumer use (i.e., garbage that's been thrown out in waste bins and dumps or littered). Products made with post-consumer content help keep more waste out of landfills. Even if you recycle every bit of paper, plastic, and metal that comes your way, the value becomes lost if there are not enough companies making products with post-consumer waste. So, support businesses helping to reduce waste for a sustainable future and buy products made from post-consumer content or packaged in materials made from post-consumer content. The higher the percentage the better.


February 17, 2012

Green Tip of The Day

Save paper by reducing junk mail. Call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (567-8688) or visit http://www.optoutprescreen.com/ to opt out of receiving pre-approved credit card offers for five years. You’ll have to provide personal information like your Social Security number, but it’s confidential and will only be used by the credit bureaus to process your opt out request. You can also notify the three major credit bureaus that you don’t want your personal information shared for promotional purposes. Click here for the addresses and a sample letter. Finally, register with the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service to opt out of receiving unsolicited mail and e-mail from companies that use the DMA’s Mail Preference Service.


February 16, 2012

Green Tip of The Day

Go paperless. Opt for electronic statements from your bank, credit card companies, and utility providers. In addition to saving paper, electronic statements are more secure and easier to keep organized than paper statements.


February 15, 2012

Green Tip of The Day

Bring your own reusable shopping bags when you shop. Americans throw out about 100 billion polyethylene plastic bags every year. According to the EPA, the processing and burning of petroleum (from which plastics are derived) is one of the main contributors to global warming. Keep a stash of reusable bags handy so they're easy to remember and use.


February 13, 2012

Everyday Green's Guide to Water Conservation

Even if you don't live in one of the many communities currently facing a serious water shortage or drought, you can still help the planet and save yourself money by conserving water. There is as much water in the world today as there was thousands of years ago. Nearly 97% of the world's water is undrinkable and another 2% is locked in ice caps and glaciers. That leaves only 1% to meet all our agricultural, manufacturing, and personal needs.

Everyone can take at least few of these simple steps to help conserve such a valuable commodity.

At Home
Fix those leaks. Running toilets, dripping faucets, and other leaks can add up to over 10,000 gallons of wasted water every year. That's more than 1 trillion gallons of water leaking from U.S. homes each year. Check your plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems regularly and fix any leaks right away to avoid such waste.

Put an aerator on all household faucets and cut your annual water consumption by 50%.

Install low-flow shower heads to save water without sacrificing pressure. An efficient shower head will save a family of four up to $285 per year. They typically cost less than $15 and are simple to install.

Install a low-flow toilet. They use only 1.6 gallons per flush, compared to 3.5 gallons per flush for pre-1994 models. If you have an older model, adjust your float valve to admit less water into the toilet's tank.

Check out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's WaterSense website for help selecting water-efficient shower heads, toilets, faucets, and other bath accessories. Products and services that have earned the WaterSense label have been certified to be at least 20 percent more efficient without any sacrifice in performance.

Only run the washing machine and dishwasher when they are full. Doing so can save up to 1,000 gallons of water a month.

Instead of rinsing dishes with water, scrape them off before loading into the dishwasher. Toss food scraps into a compost bin rather than using a garbage disposal.

Instead of running the faucet every time you want a cool glass of water, keep a pitcher of filtered tap water in the refrigerator.

Keep the water you use to cook and rinse produce to water plants.

Shorten your shower by a minute or two to save up to 150 gallons of water per month.

Turn the water off when you brush your teeth to save 4.5 gallons of water each time.


Outdoors
Landscape your yard to use less water. Opt for more flowerbeds, walkways and drought-tolerant plants.

Aerate your lawn at least once a year so it can better absorb water.

Spread mulch around plants for better moisture retention.

Water your lawn and garden in the morning or evening when it's cooler to cut down on evaporation.

Install a rain barrel to collect rainwater that can be used to water indoor and outdoor plants and wash your car. You'll save water, reduce the amount of pollutants pouring into local storm water systems, and help your plants grow better (compared to plants watered with chlorine- and fluoride-treated tap water).

Sweep your driveway, walkway, deck, and front steps with a broom rather than using a garden hose.


Out and About
Make water conservation a habit you keep at work and at the homes of family and friends. Lead by example.

When staying at a hotel, reuse your sheets and towels.

Buy less. Everything requires water to manufacture. The less you buy, the smaller your water footprint. If you truly need something, first consider re-purposing something you already own or purchasing used. Buy reusable products rather than throwaway products and always remember to recycle.

Teach others. Instill the importance of water conservation in your children early on. Educate your family and friends and start a campaign at work. Just getting one person to make a simple change can make a difference. Remember: Every bit helps!


Green Tip of The Day

Make your own dishwasher detergent. You'll save money, avoid harsh chemicals, and cut back on plastic bottles. Mix the following together in a sealed container:

1 cup borax – available in the cleaning aisle of most grocery and hardware stores
1 cup baking soda
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup citric acid – if you can't find food grade citric acid, you may substitute two unsweetened lemonade packets

For each load (make sure the machine is full each time), put a tablespoon of this mix into the detergent compartment and fill the rinse dispenser with white distilled vinegar.


February 10, 2012

Green Tip of The Day

Prepare more of your own food. Pick up a morning coffee and buy some lunch and you’re easily spending $10 a workday. That adds up to about $200 a month, $2,400 a year! Invest in a thermos and brew your own coffee and you’ll break even after about a week. Plus, you’ll save all those throwaway cups. Pack a lunch (in reusable containers) and you’ll save money, avoid harmful food additives, and reduce waste. Keep a stainless steel bottle of home-filtered water handy and you’ll save money on bottled water (which is often no cleaner than tap water) and cut down on waste.


February 9, 2012

Green Tip of The Day

Just say no to paraffin candles. Despite how nice they may look or smell, traditional paraffin candles and the smoke and soot they produce can contain harmful toxins. The American Lung Association and the EPA have warned consumers that using paraffin candles can decrease indoor air quality. Paraffin is the last petroleum byproduct removed in the refining process (right after asphalt). The fumes released by paraffin candles are comparable to those produced by burning diesel. For a healthier, greener alternative look for candles made from soy or beeswax with non-lead wicks and scented with essential oil.


February 8, 2012

Green Tip of The Day

Fill your home with air-cleaning plants. NASA spent two years testing 19 different house plants for their ability to remove common pollutants from the air. The most effective plants were proven to be philodendron (heartleaf, selloum, and elephant ear varieties), cornstalk dracaena, English ivy, spider plant, dracaena (Janet Craig, Warneck, and red-edged varieties), weeping fig, golden pothos, peace lily, Chinese evergreen, bamboo or reed palm, and snake plant.


February 6, 2012

Why to Choose Fair Trade, Organic Chocolate This Valentine's Day

By now we all know chocolate can be good for one's health. Chocolate, particularly less-processed dark chocolate, contains high levels of antioxidants and flavonoids which protect against cancer, heart disease, and other diseases. Cocoa is also high in magnesium which is good for the circulatory system and heart.

Yet, despite all these great benefits, chocolate can have some very negative consequences for the people whole cultivate it and the environment.

Most of the world's cocoa comes from the Ivory Coast and Latin America. Several years ago it came to light that cocoa producers in these areas were engaging in forced child labor and trafficking. While some of the worst offenders have been shut down, the problem still persists in too many places. Even if child labor is not an issue, workers on conventional chocolate farms endure difficult, even hazardous, conditions and low wages. And in may cases the farmers themselves receive only a fraction of what the unscrupulous middlemen make.

One way to help small, local farmers provide better working conditions and wages for their workers, as well as engage in sustainable farming practices, is to support the fair trade industry. To be certified as fair trade by the Fair Trade Federation companies must guarantee a "fair price" to producers, as well as meet rigorous, transparent social and environmental standards. The goal is to help producers in developing countries become economically self-sufficient, protect the environment and bring improved living conditions to the people of these regions. Today, consumers can purchase fair trade coffee, tea, apparel and linens, grains, flowers, fruits, honey, nuts, olive oil and sugar, as well as chocolate. Just look for the TransFair USA Fair Trade logo. TransFair is the only third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States.

Organic chocolate is also a growing market. Chocolate certified organic uses cocoa beans and other ingredients grown without the use of herbicides, pesticides, or chemical fertilizers. Organic cocoa trees are grown under a thick canopy of rainforest vegetation. These trees filter rain and moisture down through the vegetation and provide rich organic material which falls to the forest floor below. Organic cocoa production helps ensure the health of the rainforests' ecosystems.

Fortunately, the options for organic and fair trade chocolate continue to grow, making it easier to choose chocolate that is better for the environment and for the people who cultivate it. This Valentine's Day opt for organic, fair trade chocolate to show how much you really care.


February 3, 2012

Green Tip of The Day

Zap away less energy by unplugging appliances, like toasters and coffeemakers, when they’re not in use. “Standby usage” accounts for anywhere from 6% to 26% of a homes' electricity use.


February 2, 2012

Green Tip of The Day

Charge your cell phone with a car charger or your computer's USB port when you're online to save energy and money. Less than 10% of the power drawn from a wall plug by a cell phone charger is actually used to charge the phone. The rest is wasted. So, at the very least, make sure to unplug all electronic chargers once items are done charging.


February 1, 2012

Green Tip of The Day

Take simple steps to reduce your water consumption. Install low-flow shower heads to save water without sacrificing pressure. An efficient shower head will save a family of four up to $285 per year. They typically cost less than $15 and are simple to install. Put an aerator on the faucet and cut your annual water consumption by 50%. If you are in the market for a new faucet, look for 0.5 to 1 gallon per minute (gpm) models. Install a low-flow toilet. They use only 1.6 gallons per flush, compared to 3.5 gallons per flush for pre-1994 models. If you have an older model, adjust your float valve to admit less water into the toilet's tank. To check for tank leaks, put several drops of food coloring in the tank and see if the color makes its way into the bowl, indicating a leak.