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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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10 ways to green your local environment


ecological footprint

Appropriately enough, living a more environmentally responsible lifestyle starts close to home. The place you can make the biggest impact on the environment is your local community. Here are 10 simple tips for leading a more responsible green lifestyle.

  • One of the most important actions anyone can take is voting. Don’t be beaten down by the deranged shouting voices of the climate change deniers and those who view clean water regulations and environmental oversight as inconvenient obstacles to business and development. Vote early and often
  • Join the local chapter of a green organization like the Audubon Society or the Sierra Club, or start a local one protecting your local parks, beaches and forests. Get involved. (more…)
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Monday, September 15, 2014

Creative DIY: fun ideas for giving new life to old pianos


upcycled piano fountain

Old pianos that have become family room eye sores can present an over-sized disposal challenge. Before you send old Betsy to the basement, sell her to strangers at a garage sale, or a make a strenuous trip to the local landfill, there may be another, more fun solution. If you’re handy with power tools and have a little vision you can transform your old beat-up piano into a new piece of furniture for your home or garden. There are many (more…)

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Gorgeous and Green: 3 Secret Eco-Friendly Beauty Tips


red lips

It’s not always easy being gorgeous and green.

When you’re busy helping look after the world, the flawlessness of your skin, perfection of your eyebrows and fullness of your lips tend to take a back seat.

Also, with the vast number of goods us eco-friendly beauty queens simply can’t use, it can be more than a little challenging finding the perfect product to mesh with our daily routine AND our beliefs.

Consequently, if you’re finding it extremely difficult to know where to begin, we’re here to talk you through some of the more environmentally friendly ways you can buff up your daily beauty routine.

Take Advantage of Mineral Foundation
More and more, people are beginning to understand the benefits of natural makeup and mineral foundation, which, unlike liquid foundation, uses a finely ground powder to help cover any blemishes, age spots and uneven skin.

Importantly, mineral foundation doesn’t contain any nasty oils, talc, dyes or perfume, meaning your skin will enjoy a perfect colour match and an instant soft-focus effect thanks to the light-reflecting minerals contained within.

Use Bars of Soap
This may not be popular, but by swapping your shower gel for bar soap, it’ll cut down on the need to use plastic bottles to contain your body wash. Of course you recycle, but in case it slips your mind, it’s best to stick to good, old fashioned soap.

To take it one step further with your eco-friendliness, make sure you only buy soap from companies who use recycled materials to package their product – but if not, try to do your bit for the environment by doing it for them.

Manufacture Your Own Products
Following on from the point above, when we consider the packaging cosmetics tend to be wrapped in, the impact on the environment is tangible. Additionally, the synthetic chemicals synonymous with some products can wreak havoc on sensitive skin.

Indeed, National Geographic’s Green Guide has revealed the average adult uses nine personal care products a day, with almost 120 chemicals combined. Nice. The solution? Make your own! Not only is it great fun (promise), you’ll know exactly what’s going into the product you make.

While this should be enough to get you started on the route a comprehensively eco-friendly beauty routine, it’s worthwhile conducting further research, which will allow you to systematically introduce other beautification techniques into the fray.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Virtual Water Dilemma: Act 3 – Our Stuff


fresh water with bubbles

Virtual water may be defined as all the water that goes into the creation of a product. Conservation usually means shorter showers and watering less. However, only about 5 percent of the water an average American uses each day comes from their home and garden. 95 percent of daily water consumption is hidden in the virtual water used to make the food we eat, the energy we rely on, and the goods and services we use. (more…)

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Virtual Water Dilemma: Act One – Food


fresh water with bubbles

What is virtual water?
In times of drought people try their best to not let the faucet run, take a shorter shower and water the gardens less. But these are all activities during which we can see how much water we are wasting, making saving it simpler; we just don’t use as much. But what most people don’t think about is virtual water. Virtual water is a term for all the water that goes into making an end product.

Perhaps the most common source of virtual water in our daily lives is the food we choose to eat. In fact more than 50 percent of our water footprint is derived by the food we consume. From growing, to transport, to processing and distributing all the food we eat comes to us at some virtual water cost. Even a simple task like deciding whether or not we want cheese on our hamburger can have an impact. After all it takes 700 gallons to make one pound of cheese.

cows look into camera

The cheeseburger 
Let’s break down that cheeseburger. For the bun – top and bottom – we’re looking at 22 gallons of water. Our meat patty is 616 gallons and if we want cheese on it we need to tack on an extra 56. If we’re feeling healthy and we want the veggies, lettuce costs 1.5 and tomato costs 3. But what is any burger without some fries, so that will be another 6. In the end the entire combo takes about 700 gallons to make. But why is it so water costly to make one cheeseburger? Because of all the other things that require water to put that burger on your tray. Plants and animals don’t just grow up overnight and from nothing. Plants have to be watered from seed to harvest. And animals need to be fed food that is first grown and then the animal itself consumes H2O. Keep in mind that the gallons needed may vary based on region, processing and treatment of the livestock.

water in fruit_1

The switch up
Knowing about the virtual water that goes into a product is the first step to making water-wise choices. There is no way to eliminate virtual water consumption all together but we can make eating choices that help lessen the blow.

  • Instead of beef have chicken – beef can require a staggering 2,500 to 5,000 gallons to produce – chicken, a more modest 815 gallons.
  • 8oz of coffee will cost 29 gallons so switch it to a tea which only uses 7.
  • For a sweet treat – 1 pound of chocolate costs a 2,847 gallons vs. a mango that requires 190.
  • Cut back on the butter. Butter which comes in at 2,044 gallons is something most of us can do with much less of.

No one is saying give up eating animal products altogether but because animal products are more costly, cutting back there will have the greatest impact. Also keep in mind that not all produce is created equal – some cost more than others but as producers they may still have the lowest impact.

Fresh water with bubbles photo via shutterstock.com

related: more food articles from The Alternative Consumer

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

DIY Eco-Friendly Leash for Your Pet – Easy, Simple and Fun!


doga and feret on leash

You are a big fan of DIY projects, so why not try something for your very best friend, your pet dog?

Quality dog accessories are expensive, and you already may have stretched the pet-stuff budget getting home quite a few of the goodies you saw at the store.

Dog leashes are one of your favorite buys, and would you not love to have some lovely leads to make evening walks with your dog easier?

Dog collars and leads are some of the simplest-to-make items for your dog, and just as essential if you have an energetic pooch who takes you for a walk rather than the other way round.

In this post we look at how you can create your own dog leads and restraints (using eco-friendly material) and give them a personalized touch.

Eco-Friendly Dyed Dog Lead
Colorful rope leashes are quite popular. They are strong and sturdy, durable and pretty to look at as well. So why not make one for your pooch instead of shopping online for one?

You can choose the color of your choice and get started. You will need a quality rope about 3 yards long and 3/8 inch thick. Go for eco-friendly recycled nylon climbing rope. There are also several companies that make ropes from donated stuff and recycled materials, so you can rest assured you will find an apt choice.

In addition to the rope you will need a natural and organic fabric dye that is safe for your pooch as well as the environment. Choose a color of choice, but if it is a dark shade like orange or black, you can dye your lead to get a perfect gradient or a dip-dyed effect.

You also need 2 rubber clamps and a snap hook. You can look for green options while purchasing these as well.

Now let’s see how you can go about making that stylish dog leash.

Step #1: Determine the Length of the Lead

  • Six feet is the standard length of dog leashes and a safe measure to go with. Measure the rope and cut it as per the length you need. Tape, melt or tie the ends so that the rope does not unravel.

Step #2: Prepare the Rope for Dyeing

  • Soak the rope in warm water for some time. This helps the rope absorb the dye better.
  • Prepare the dye as per the instructions given on the pack. You require very less quantity for this project, so use accordingly and avoid wastage.

Step #3: Dip and Dye Away!

  • Dip the whole rope in the dye and take it out immediately. You can divide the rope into three parts and get each portion dyed to a different degree.
  • Dip the portion you want to be dyed deep for a longer period in the dye. The other two portions can be dipped for different time periods according to the gradation you want.
  • For best results use eco-friendly dyes.

Step #4: Let the Colors Set on the Rope

  • Remove the rope and let it line-dry for some time. The purpose of this step is not to dry the leash but to let the dye hold fast.
  • Putting the darker end at the top allows the dye to creep down to give a lovely gradient effect to your leash.

Step #5: Rinse Thoroughly

  • The next step is to rinse the rope thoroughly in cold water, until the water runs clear. You can use a recommended fixative to help seal the colors.
  • Dye fixatives are a bit opaque when it comes to the eco-friendly part, so you can choose to forgo using them, until and unless you are sure they are certified green.

Step #6: Hook, Snap and Clamp- You Are Ready!

  • This step comes after the rope has dried completely. It may take close to a full day for the rope to dry, so give it the necessary time to air out.
  • Feed the chosen end of the rope through the snap hook and form a small loop. You can secure the free end with a pair of rubber clamps.
  • Now, move to the other end of the rope where you need to form the loop that goes over the head of your dog. Form a suitably big loop, and secure the loose ends with the rubber clamps as before. (The rule of thumb is if your dog’s head measures 20 inches you need a loop that is 10 inches wider. So 20 inches + 10 inches= 30 inches wide)
  • You can camouflage the rubber clamps with a cute DIY sleeve or covering made of a material of your choice. Yarn, twine or recycled leather covering will work fine. Google for ideas!

Reflective Dog Leash

  • A reflective dog leash will help make both you as well as your dog visible to the traffic while out for a late-evening stroll.
  • This is a really simple project and will help give a facelift to an old, but favorite leash. Leashes made from organic materials usually have an old and worn-out look, so you can use the reflective tape to jazz things up.
  • You need a reflective fabric tape approximately 2 inches longer than the leash. There are eco-friendly reflective tapes available that are made from non-toxic materials and are bio-degradable. Some come with safe self-adhesives as well for extra convenience.
  • While measuring for the length of the fabric tape required, you should also add in the hand loop of the leash. Cut out the fabric strip according to the measurements.
  • Apply a thin layer of eco-friendly glue over one side of the leash. Press the reflective fabric tape onto the surface, smooth out as you go and hold it in place firmly.
  • If there are excess fabric ends around the leash, trim them for a clean fit.

You can follow the same process for the collar also. If there are loops or buckles, you can thread in the reflective tape through them to cover the entire face of the collar.

Conclusion
There are plenty of DIY projects that you can try out to craft perfect accessories for your dog. The end products may not have the finish or the style of commercial products. But since you made them with all your love, they will have the personalized touch your pooch will definitely heart.

Written by: Nicola Reynor

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

green home: recycled glass countertops


recycled glass countertop

Whether you’re building a new home, or remodeling an existing one, you may want to consider installing recycled glass countertops in your kitchen and bathrooms. Recycled glass will add a great aesthetic, earth-friendly touch to your home’s decor. Recycled glass countertops are sustainable – leave that granite or marble in the ground – and can be used anywhere a stone countertop can be used. Most recycled glass tops are comparable in abrasion resistance, durability, maintenance and stain resistance to a granite, marble, or stone surface.

vetrazzo recycled glass countertop

We happen to like the look of Vetrazzo’s surfaces (above). Vetrazzo makes their recycled glass countertops entirely in the United States. The glass in Vetrazzo’s countertops is 100% recycled glass. (more…)

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Green Diet


cows look into camera

Americans’ waistlines are expanding, grocery bills are spiraling, healthcare expenses are mounting and our consumption of corn, meat and processed sugar is skyrocketing. What’s a health conscious, environmentally-aware cheapskate to do? Here are few helpful ideas:

  • Grow your own. We’re talking about the stuff that goes into your belly not your peace pipe. A little raised garden in your backyard or on your patio or terrace can provide the fresh veggies and produce your body craves.
  • Forget the red meat. As crazy as it seems, Methane emissions from the cattle industry in the US outstrip those of the oil and gas industry. The global cattle industry is also one of the greatest causes of deforestation and erosion — as more and more old growth, carbon absorbing forests are cut and burned to create more grazing land. Red meat can also clog up your digestive system. A diet that features whole grains and veggies  can be easier on your system as well as the environment. (more…)
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