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declutter + recycle = spring cleaning


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Time to battle the allergies, garden and breathe a bit of fresh air… sweet. Also time to clean the cobwebs from their corners — both in my mind and in my home. Come spring, I seem to go on a feng shui tear. De-cluttering closets and re-organizing drawers. I don’t know which is worse, to have or not have — things, and places to store these things.

If you have a similar compunction to undertake spring cleaning, you may uncover many possessions that are of no use to you anymore. Here are a few recommendations on where to recycle/unload items that may be of no value to you anymore…

  • NRDC’s – extensive recycling support for NYC.
  • Recycle.co.uk – Free giveaway website based in the UK.
  • Apple Computer – take-back & recycling program for US and Canada.
  • Dell Computer – recycles old PCs and monitors for a fee, no matter what the brand; or for free if you purchase a new Dell.
  • Recycles.org – an exchange network; find someone who may need a used computer or other electronics.
  • Oregon – where recycling efforts run deep.

Once you’ve surrendered your “don’t need anymore stuff,” you’ll have more room…room to stretch on that yoga mat:) before diving in to spring clean your new-found space.

Years ago I read Isle Crawford’s The Sensual Home. What a find — her down to earth recommendations on how to care for your home are amazingly, still quite relevant. Crawford recommends the most natural and versatile tools: baking soda, distilled white vinegar (buy 2 of the largest jugs you can find), salt & lemon; and an old tooth brush for appliances (ie stove knobs & grills), faucets and drains. Covet clean, lint-free cloths. (more…)

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

on the road: Driving Optimum Efficiency on Earth Day


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Earlier this month, the Obama administration signed and put into effect rules that mandate automakers build car and truck lineups that average of 35.5 miles per gallon (39 mpg for cars and 30 mpg for light trucks) by 2016.  That’s a big step toward a fuel efficient future, but let’s not forget that there’s plenty we can do in the meantime to improve economy on the road.

Buying Better
If you’re in the market for a new ride, there are plenty of eco options on today’s dealership lots.  Says Chris Farrell, author of The New Frugality (Bloomsbury Press, 2010), “Small is beautiful. Small cars costs less to buy and are fuel efficient.  Hybrids and electric cars are best.”

While 100 percent electric vehicles aren’t in mass production just yet, they will be later this year.  Both the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf are zero emission sedans that will be in production this fall.  If you can’t wait that long (or don’t have the money for new wheels), consider a hybrid car.  Hybrids have been around since 2000 and can be purchased used for a good deal.  When buying from a private owner, make sure a mechanic inspects the vehicle and battery before signing the dotted line.  (For more tips, read this article.)

If a hybrid or electric car isn’t in your future, keep things simple by sticking to a small vehicle (like Smart, for instance) with a manual transmission.  If it’s an option, purchase a vehicle with a diesel engine, which offers longer fuel life and therefore, fewer emissions.

Eco Driving Tips
In True Green Life (National Geographic, 2010), Kim McKay and Jenny Bonnin advise readers on lightening their lead foot.  “By accelerating slowly, driving at moderate speed, and avoiding the need for hard braking, you can dramatically increase the miles you get from a fuel of tank,” the authors say. According to the book, every five mph driven over 60 mph decreases fuel efficiency by 7 to 8 percent.  McKay and Bonnin also promote one long drive versus several short trip, noting that a warmed-up engine consumes less fuel than a cold one.

Calculate your “real” fuel economy (which takes your driving style into account), by filling out this worksheet courtesy of Consumer Reports.

Renting Wisely

The perfect time to test a car is when you’re on vacation.  Take advantage of uncharted territory by renting a hybrid if you don’t have one at home.  Most national car rental chains now offer green options in car and SUV styles.  Not only will you save money with fewer fill-ups, you’ll promote the addition of eco vehicles to rental fleets.  Of course, if you don’t need a car on your next trip, don’t rent one!  Walk, hike, or even rent an e-bike to tour the new terrain.  After all, it’s best to leave no footprint (carbon or otherwise) whenever possible.

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Building A Good Relationship With Outlet Regulator


This post is contributed by guest blogger, D. Salmons on behalf of TestFreaks, a website that collects product information and reviews from several thousand sources to give consumers the best possible advice.

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The Outlet Regulator is the ingenious power-saving device from Conor Klein, a design student at RISD.  It’s based on the concept of leech behavior.  Just as a leech will suck all the blood it needs and release itself, so does the Outlet Regulator.

Whether you know it or not, many electronics do not stop consuming energy (even when, in the case of cellphones, they’re fully charged).  This is a big energy waste over time.  The Outlet Regulator eliminates this problem – by using a timer circuit and electromechanics – it physically ejects the plug. This disconnects your device from the wall outlet and all energy consumption ceases.

The Outlet Regulator is a magnificent design and a great way to be more eco-friendly.  But for some reason I can’t help but think of the Outlet Regulator as a man.  And because of this, I imagine these situations going on in many homes across the globe:

Scenario 1:
Outlet: I’m so sick and tired of being “plugged in” all the time. It’s so… draining!

Outlet Regulator: I hear ya, man. I’ve fixed that problem. If I’m feeling tired and drained, I just spit that puppy (plug) out.

Scenario 2:
Outlet 1: I was having a great time last night and just when things were heating up… out popped the plug. No “see ya” or “I’ll call you tomorrow”, just wham, bam, thank ya, ma’am.

Outlet Regulator: Yeah, he’s just not that into you!

Scenario 3:
Outlet: You know… plugs are like leeches. They take what they want from you and then just “poof” they’re gone.

Outlet Regulator: Baby, don’t take it so personal. Trust me, I’ve got what they need… they’ll be back.

Outlet Regulator Video from conor klein on Vimeo.

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Hipshack – upcycled 1940’s canvas bag


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Eco fashion for the hip — upcycled, vintage 1942 canvas is reborn as a handy little hip satchel for carrying your cellphone, keys and credit cards.  Features original hardware for that rough hewn, retro – G.I. Joe look.

each Hipshack is a little different; several styles available; ($39 – $59) @ the maytreeark etsy shop

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recycled seatbelt furniture – peter danko’s eco modernism


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With Earth Day coming up fast it’s a great time to consider the materials and processes utilized in the creation of products.

A great example: Designer Peter Danko and his Peter Danko Design studio create great looking, eco-modern, sustainable furniture.

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We particularly like these chairs (above) made with recycled nylon seatbelts.  Nylon seatbelts make a surprisingly fine seating material.  It’s durable, possesses a little stretch, lasts a long, long time – and comes in a wide array of colors.

Danko’s use of ply-bending, or bending wood in layers, combined with his use of other recycled and sustainable materials has reduced the wood used in his chair’s construction approximately 10 fold when compared to traditional chair construction.

via: dotmaison.com blog

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