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Thursday, July 31, 2014


eco home decor: hand-painted antique tin ceiling tiles

hand-painted antique ceiling tile

These works of art are created from antique tin ceiling tiles salvaged from a building built in Central Texas in 1905. The 24” x 24” tiles are uniquely individual with all of the dents, holes, rust, flaking paint and character created by 100+ years of ceiling duty.

hand-painted antique ceiling tile

The tiles have been brushed to remove loose materials and sealed front-and-back with a satin sealer to slow the process of rusting and flaking. The tiles have not been straightened, or unbent, and thus maintain their rustic nature and appearance.

hand-painted antique ceiling tile

The hand-painted tiles depict leaves and ferns and feature hangers and wire. Materials: acrylic clear satin finish, permanent oil based cream paint, antique tin ceiling tile. $89 from Habit Shmabit who specializes in making new things from salvaged and upcycled finds.

related: more eco-friendly home decor items featured on

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

5 unique bathroom renovation ideas

spa bathroom

You didn’t get into the complicated business of renovating your bathroom to end up with a plain, boring bathroom that is just another room inside the house. Imaginative design can turn any bathroom into your houses secret weapon – the sacred space where you hide away from every day life’s hustle and bustle. You will find some inspiration on, but in the meantime, here are five more unique bathroom renovation ideas.

Make a seat
We tend to think (or not to think but act out of habit) about the shower cabin as this tight, steamy space where you stand and, well, take a shower. Think big and you’ll turn taking shower into a pleasure equal to taking a long bath. Plan for a bigger shower cabin, let’ say double the size of what you’re used to. Once it’s in your design include a seat under the shower. No, not a chair you bring from outside but a full, tiled bench where you can sit and relax sauna style.  This unique solution not only is very practical and improves your everyday bathroom experience but will also catch the eye of any potential buyer of the house. They might not even notice you don’t have a bathtub…and why would you need one if you have a shower you can sit under.

Go outdoors
If your house design allows it think about installing an outdoor shower cabin. Taking shower outside, in the sunshine is one of life’s greatest pleasures and a house with an outdoor shower sound more attractive in a “for sale” advertisement.

Use the space
If you’re blessed with a spacious bathroom think about turning it into your own bathroom-spa-fitness club. Moving some of you gym equipment like the treadmill or stationary bicycle inside your bathroom will do just that and as a side effect you might get these muscles or flat stomach you always dreamed of – after all if you see your gym gear every time you brush your teeth you might feel inclined to use it more often.

Go Black
We often think bathroom as white. Challenge the stereotypes and re-imagine your bathroom in darker shades. To be able to do that you’ll need a lot of natural light (big window), a lot of space, more mirrors and more… courage. But once it’s done you’ll and up with a bathroom that stands out of the crowd and in a good way.

It’s a bathr…. A gallery
When do you have time to think about the important things in life, things grand and eternal? When can you let you mind go, release you imagination, gather your thoughts and seek inspiration? That’s right, in the bathroom. One of the things we tend to lack time for in our daily lives art and culture. Well, why not place it in your bathroom. A piece of art only seems out of place in the bathroom but placed there with confidence might actually improve the overall look of the bathroom. Same goes for a small bookshelf. Just remember to install good ventilation system in the bathroom; moisture can be deadly dangerous to some objects.

Think out of the box and you might change the boring square box of your bathroom into one of the most unique rooms in your house.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ditch the Exotics and Go Native

native garden flowers

Welcome to our newest contributor, Sheila Thomas, a San Diego native and Environmental Systems major at UCSD.

When looking for plants to adorn our homes, we often turn to plants with bright flowers, vibrant colors, appealing shapes and forms. This often means we are choosing exotics instead of natives.  Planting exotics often results in having to waste money on watering and babying the plants in your garden – and often needing the addition of fertilizers and pesticides to keep the pests away and the plants looking good. On the other hand, native plants require minimal upkeep, are pest resistant, weather tolerant, drought tolerant and host to native birds and butterflies.


Despite misconceptions, native plants are just as vibrant as exotics: California Lilacs, Ceanothus (above), are evergreens with bright fragrant blue blooms. Another misconception is that finding native plants is impossible.  Determining which plants grow natively and where is as simple as a Google search or asking a local nursery to point you in the right direction. Nurseries like Las Pilitas Nursery, with locations in Santa Margarita and Escondido, CA sell natives only in-store and online.

Switching to natives is a great way to go green for any yard. Natives eliminate the need for watering, fertilizing and pest treatments; as they have been growing and flourishing on their own for hundreds of years. It is also an easy way to transform your garden into being self-sustaining and ecofriendly. Anyone any where in the world can have a beautiful ecofriendly native garden, it only requires finding a nursery that will sell native plants and a little creativity to get all the neighbors jealous.

Additional reference material:
Saxon Holt, Las Pilitas Nursery

related: more gardening articles from The Alternative Consumer

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Kickstarter Project: ProGo propane powered motor scooter

progo 3000 propane powered scooter

Have a short commute? Like to zip around city streets and sidewalks like a motorized 10-year old? Zev Charles Ellenberg and his company, ProGo Recreation, are trying to revitalize the motorized scooter market by going green. The ProGo 3000 propane-powered scooter has an on-going Kickstarter project with the modest goal of raising $18,000 for the production and marketing of their low-emissions scooter. Propane’s high octane and low-carbon and oil-contamination characteristics have resulted in greater engine life and significantly lower carbon emissions than conventional gasoline engines.

progo folded

The small, 16.4 oz., propane canister used to power the ProGo 3000 is readily available and easy to change. You can even pack an extra canister in your backpack to insure you don’t run out of fuel while you’re bopping around campus or running errands. Unlike electric scooters that need to be recharged for up to 4 to 8 hours to provide an hour or so of ride time – a single propane canister is estimated to keep you zipping around for 2 to 3 hours at speeds up to 20mph – without the smell, mess and emissions associated with a similar gasoline powered engine. progo engine and tank

Some features:

  • EPA AND CAPB Approved / California Legal
  • Easy pull start
  • 25cc 4 stroke propane engine
  • Lightweight, durable steel frame
  • 20 mph top speed – 2-3 hours run time per 16.4oz propane canister
  • Folds for convenient carrying and storage
  • No Choke, no priming, and no carburetor gum-up, no need for winterizing

Propane pluses:
Utilizing propane as a vehicle fuel source instead of gasoline reduces U.S. dependence on foreign oil and increases energy security.  Propane’s fuel mixture is completely gaseous and doesn’t suffer from the cold start problems associated with liquid fuel. Propane is nontoxic, nonpoisonous, and insoluble in water. Compared with vehicles fueled by conventional diesel and gasoline, propane vehicles can produce lower amounts of many harmful air pollutants and greenhouse gases, depending on vehicle type, drive cycle, and engine calibration. source: The Alternative Fuels Data Center

The GoPro 3000 will retail for around $449 when it ships in October, 2014. If you pledge $399 you can get one at a reduced price.

Check out the ProGo Kickstarter project which runs through August 24th.

related: more alternative scooters featured on The Alternative Consumer

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Feng Shui: On Land and At Sea

EcoChi Super Yacht

In Feng Shui and Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is believed that health for an individual occurs when chi flows freely through the body nourishing every cell. The same is true for a space- whether it is your home, office, public environment or even a ship!

Compass School, teaches us to go into a space with what is called a “Lao Pan” Compass. This compass is used to determine the directional influences on a property in relation to the universe. Since boats, ships and yachts are perpetually in motion, this school of Feng Shui is not relevant for this kind of project.

The most well-known school of Feng Shui is called Form School. The flow of energy in a space is enhanced by intentional selection and assignment of furniture, or by specific placement of a decorative item. This school is appropriate for any interior design project including boats and yachts.

Feng Shui Tips for boats, ships, yachts and SuperYachts:

  1. Proper door alignment is critical for good Feng Shui.  An oversized door opening into a small space like a bathroom (head) means guests will be in there very often with indigestion or sea-sickness. A remedy would be to hang a mirror or beautiful art on the outside of the door.
  2. Any boat is already rich with Water energy so stay away from dark colors like black or navy blue and uneven patterns or shapes. This creates too much water energy which can result in very uncomfortable journeys.
  3. Avoid spiral staircases without risers. This causes chi to escape, acting like a hole in the center of the ship. A Feng Shui cure for this scenario? Glue 5 lucky Chinese coins under the first and last stair.
  4. Position your bed against a solid wall so you can see the door to your room but be sure not to be in line with it.  The wall symbolically protects you, your dreams and goals. The sightline to the door keeps you in control and in the power position.
  5. Looking for passion onboard? Red fresh flowers are sure to spice things up! Be sure to change the water every day and discard the flowers as soon as they start to wilt.

Prince Albert II of Monaco’s Wood Forever Pact promotes the use of wood on SuperYachts from well-managed forests and sustainable sources. Green and sustainable choices make for good Feng Shui and a better world. EcoChi® designs utilize wood from managed forests whenever possible. Taking care of our natural environment nurtures us-it is the circle of life that the 5 Feng Shui elements are based on.

Debra Duneier is a Feng Shui Master Practitioner, Certified Eco-Designer, accredited LEED® Green Associate and award winning Author of EcoChi: Designing the Human Experience.

related: more Feng Shui tips from The Alternative Consumer

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