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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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Take a Single Action This Month to Save – and Satisfy


By Karen Wirth, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Did you know that October is Energy Action Month?  You’ve probably already heard a lot about the actions consumers can take to save energy—change a light bulb to an LED model or select ENERGY STAR qualified products. But did you know there is one simple action you can take to not only save energy, but save water, reduce utility bills, and shower better?

WaterSense® the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) water-saving counterpart to ENERGY STAR, is a labeling program for water-saving products from toilets and faucets to the systems that control our automatic sprinklers. Before a product can earn the WaterSense label, it must be tested and independently certified to meet EPA’s criteria for both water efficiency and performance.

saving water infographic shower
If you replace just one showerhead in your home with a WaterSense labeled model this month, your family can save more than 2,900 gallons of water each year—the amount it takes to wash more than 70 loads of laundry. A WaterSense labeled showerhead can also save the amount of electricity it takes to power the average family’s home for 13 days and reduce your annual water and energy costs by more than $70.

If you’re worried that using less water will take your powerful shower down to a trickle, think again. Because EPA has set strict performance criteria on WaterSense labeled showerheads for water force and spray coverage, you can be sure to get the same satisfying shower you want and deserve. What’s more, you’ll be saving at least four gallons of water with every shower, not to mention the energy and money it takes to heat that water. In other words, you’ll shower better.

In honor of Energy Action Month this October, WaterSense and many of its manufacturer, retail and utility partners are also celebrating Shower Better Month. Many water utilities are offering free showerheads replacements or rebates on WaterSense labeled models; check out EPA’s website to see if your local utility is one of them. Even if you can’t earn a rebate for purchasing a WaterSense labeled showerhead, you can see how quickly your investment will pay for itself by using EPA’s “We’re for Water” calculator.
Learn more about Shower Better Month and other ways to save water and energy today.

Karen Wirth is the WaterSense marketing and outreach coordinator at EPA.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Five Ways to Go Green When Doing the Laundry


Recycle t-shirt drying on clothesline

Although it may seem like a menial chore, weekly laundry greatly affects our environment. The average washing machine uses vast amounts of energy to heat water and run the dry cycle. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to reduce your personal energy and water use and ultimately reduce your environmental footprint.

All of this is possible by simply greening your laundry habits.

Cut the dryer out of the equation
It’s getting a little too cold and wet to hang the clothes outside and for many, this means putting them into the dryer. Unless you need a certain item of clothing right at that minute, your clothes will dry just as well inside as they will outside. They may take slightly longer but if you time it right, your favourite outfits can be ready for when you need them.

The dryer is the second most energy-guzzling appliance in the household – using it only when necessary will reduce your environmental footprint, whilst saving you money on household bills.

Wear it more than once
Not everything requires washing after just one wear. The likes of thick knits and jeans can take up a great deal of room in our washing machines, which is when wearing them more than once is the greener option.

Use green laundry detergent
A number of supermarkets and health food stores sell eco-friendly detergents. These products do the same job using fewer ingredients. The likes of phosphates (which are found in all conventional laundry soaps) can cause algal blooms that have a negative affect on marine life and ecosystems. Plant-based products are therefore a much better option. Another option is to buy eco-balls – a product that claims to wash clothes without the use of a detergent.

Choose a concentrated detergent
Concentrated detergents boast a smaller carbon footprint and reduced packaging. When investing in concentrated products, make sure you pick up the one that’s right for your machine.

Wash by hand
If you only have a few items to wash, save on electricity and wash them by hand. This is not only a much quicker process; it’s one way to dramatically reduce your carbon footprint.

Organization is the key
Instead of several little washes, aim for just the one big wash every week. This may require organization from all family members but it will be worth it if you wish to green-up your laundry.

Use a cleaning service
Commercial washers and dryers tend to use less energy than home appliances. When you have a rather large load to contend to, take your washing to a laundry service instead.

Avoid ironing
Only iron items when you need to. Aside from using a great deal of energy, ironing has a tendency to deteriorate fabric. A better option is to iron the item prior to it being worn, chances are it will only become creased hanging in your wardrobe over long periods of time anyway!

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Recycled Milk Jug Jack-o’-Lantern Lights


recycled plastic milk jug ghost light

DIY … A spooky way to light your sidewalks this Halloween …

Many times when you’re trying to create crafts around the home inspiration often comes from an everyday item. A neat craft option this Halloween season is to create light-up ghosts, or lights that will invite trick-or-treaters to your door. If the average American drinks about 20 gallons of milk a year odds are a family can save a few jugs for craft purposes. If you’re not a family of milk drinkers or you just don’t have enough gallon milk jugs around the house, fear not. Since 1976 plastic has been the most used material in the United States so odds are pretty good that you have other plastic jugs around the home that you can use instead. And if not maybe your neighbors or friends can pitch-in.

When I was younger I used transformed milk jugs to cover the lantern lights in our front yard, to turn them from everyday white to Halloween appropriate orange. All I used was craft paint and scissors. Ghost jugs make a more impressive statement but are still easy enough to make to be kid friendly.

milk jug jack-o-lanterns

What you will need is: (more…)

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Eco-Fashion Friday Finds – orange is the new green


pumpkin orange merino wool shawl

Fashionista alert … Add a heap of pizzazz to your fall wardrobe with this dramatic, chunky Roccoco knit shawl in ultra-warm and renewable Merino wool. This striking, pumpkin-colored shawl is a must-have fall and winter accessory. Meticulously hand-knitted in luxurious and very soft 100% Merino wool, the shawl is generously sized and allows for many styling variations. The intricate geometric pattern is augmented by soft ruffles all around. Created with chunky weight yarn and intended to make a statement. $380 from Elena Roseberg

handmade Raw Earth tee

The tie dyed Down Pour tee (above) features a hand-dyed rain pattern that just screams Halloween! Designed with a low hip length and a round neck, the tee has extra long, slim sleeves with raw hem cuffs you can custom cut to your desired length. The tee’s super soft 100% organic cotton is treated with a stunning tie dye technique which mirrors heavy rain on a train window. Handmade with low impact dyes in Los Angeles by Raw Earth & Wild Sky – a sustainable style company founded by Karen Kananen and Samantha Robinson. On sale for $111.16 @ btc elements

vintage orange suede go-go boots

Style is timeless and these vintage pumpkin go-go boots are loaded with it. Knee length, orange suede – the height of 19080′s urban chic. Hipster, boho, hippie, orange, retro – these boots (more…)

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

5 green tips for winterizing your home and garden


fall garden

As the first cold fronts of the season, armed with their accompanying storms and winds shake the brightly colored orange and fall foliage from many northern yards and forests, it’s time to take stock and prep for winter.

Here are five simple tips for making your seasonal transition a smoother, greener, and more economical endeavor:

large composter

  • Gather all ye leaves and compost. Don’t bag the piles of fall leaves that are covering your lawn and haul them to your already-overloaded local landfill. All that organic material is valuable stuff. Invest the time, energy or funds in building or purchasing a composter (you may need more than one). There are online plans for building a designer composter, or you can just go DIY and create one out of heavy duty fencing wire, or cut the bottom off an old trash barrels. The nutrient rich soil that will be created in just a few months of composting can be used to revitalize your lawn, gardens or planters.  (more…)
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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

DIY Halloween – Costume Wings in 6 Easy Steps


diy fairy wings

With Halloween right around the corner, it’s time to think about what you’d like to dress up as. Most people buy from places like Party City where they pay high prices for a one-time-use costume. And most of these outfits are usually tossed after Halloween, finding their way into landfills. So instead of choosing a store bought costume this year, a smarter, greener option would be to make one yourself.

I flew around the ‘net and found lots of inspiration, like this: In just 6 easy steps you can make a pair of simple wings for a fairy, lady bug, butterfly or winged creature costume. The main components of these wings are items you can find around the home: old wire hangers and nylons. Add face paint, some appropriate body wear, and you’re ready to take flight.

old nylons

Supplies: nylons or pantyhose you no longer need, paint, elastic, ribbon, a hot glue gun and metal wire. If you don’t have old wire hangers hanging around the house, you can pick up some wire at a craft store like Michael’s.  (more…)

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

rustic children’s woodland art on reclaimed wood


reclaimed wood fawn art

Does your little lover of nature need some woodland creatures or rustic art to adorn their room? These handmade artworks will add rustic charm to any kid’s room or nursery. These sweet pieces of wall art have been designed and made by the husband and wife team of Denise and Robert Devenie of Devenie Designs.

reclaimed wood woodland scenes

Woodland creatures, trees and messages are featured on weathered reclaimed planks that have been hand painted, refinished and sealed. A cool way to add inspiration to any 2-legged creatures shelter.

forest animal art

Why purchase a piece of mass produced art from virgin wood, when you can decorate your home with art that is OOAK, handmade and loaded with rustic character – while also saving living trees? Surround your wee ones with nature and they’ll hopefully learn to appreciate and value it. A great way to bring the spirit of the outdoors inside. The pieces featured above range in price from $45 to $135.

related: more eco-friendly home decor items featured on The Alternative Consumer

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Monday, October 13, 2014

The Abattis Bioceuticals Biocube System – the Future of Sustainable Farming?


Farming - Landscape

Where does your food come from? Who is producing it and what goes into it? These previously questions are being uttered from a growing number of people in the United States, as tales of inefficient water use, polluting fertilizer runoff, or our consumption of mysterious genetically modified crops commonly sweep across our news feeds and regularly grace our dinner tables. plants and produce We are blessed with a wealth of arable lands and favorable climates in the United States which have historically secured the availability of affordable foods in our society, so why must we overuse artificial fertilizers, poisonous herbicides and pesticides or implant genes from fish into our tomato plants? The answer: the American farmer is ultimately limited by the amount and distribution of flatland available for cultivation. (more…)

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