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Thursday, July 24, 2014

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7 ways to green the work day grind


bicycle symbol on traffic light

Here a few simple tips for making your daily trip to the office a little greener and more civilized.

  • Start with a nutritious breakfast. Load up on some fiber, fresh fruit, protein and a little caffeine if you need it…
  • Get organized. Where are you going and how are you getting there? Figure out the most efficient route to work.
  • Use public transportation – it’s a lot safer, less stressful – and generally cheaper – than driving yourself. Public transportation – utilizing trains, buses, or a shuttle can also eliminate lbs of emissions each week. Buying a monthly ticket can save additional cash.
  • Carpool, walk or use that bike. I know you hate how your friends drive but carpooling can save everyone some money and emissions. Getting on your bicycle or walking to work can help you reduce your waistline, eliminate your need for a costly gym membership and keep you out of the doctor’s office. AHA recommends 30 minutes of walking a day to maintain heart health.
  • Bring your own lunch. Save money, calories, avoid temptation and peer pressure by brown bagging it. I know you’ll be ridiculed as “that guy”, but hey, the money saved and positive health impact of eating better will go a long way to mitigating any lost self esteem. You can always plan to eat your homemade chow at some scenic or serene spot, as opposed to a cafeteria or lunch counter – cutting down on your daily exposure to chaos and turmoil. Stepping away from the desk is a great way to take a break and get a fresh perspective.
  • If you have to leave the office for a quick bite, avoid the perils of fast food emporiums where even a simple cheeseburger can top 1,000 calories and food oozing with processed mystery stuff, harmful fats, toxic salt and processed sugars.  Make lunch a food adventure. Try to frequent small neighborhood dining establishments that feature fresh, healthful, local ingredients made by local chefs and foodies. Change things up and frequently try new places. Your stomach and psyche will thank you.
  • After reversing your commute take some quality time with your family, pet or spouse. Shake off the remaining constraints of your office or cubicle by getting outside for a half hour for some exercise or fresh air. Try to avoid the temptation to power on the tv and disappear between the pillows on your couch upon returning home.

related: more green tips from alternativeconsumer.com

image credit: bicycle symbol on traffic light photo via shutterstock.com

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What to do With Old Paintings? Make Them Cool Again!


vintage painting

One thing you can do to give your home a new look is hang good paintings on the walls. Perhaps you already have some paintings up on display but if they have been there for quite some time or if they were painted years ago, it is a good idea to invest some time in cleaning them up.

All paintings get stained and collect dirt over time which makes them dark. Cleaning up a painting will allow the vibrant colors to show again. Hanging up paintings is an inexpensive way of sprucing up the interiors. So if you don’t have any paintings already, buy some art prints.

Here are some things you can do by yourself if you happen to find an old print that you like.

Repairing Tears
The first thing you need to do is check the print for any tears. If you do find a tear remember to never use adhesive tape to repair it. Use starch paste and Japanese tissue paper or Ilene’s glue and a piece of cotton canvas to repair the tear.

Start with laying out the painting on a flat and clean surface. Use a backing paper beneath the painting at the place of the tear. The dimensions of the Japanese tissue or cotton canvas should be a little longer and wider than the tear itself. Apply the starch paste or glue onto the tissue paper or the canvas. Stick the tissue paper or canvas onto the tear.

Now place acid-free tissue paper over this spot. Place a book or any other heavy object to apply even pressure on the treated area. Leave it to dry in this position undisturbed for a day.

You might see some white lines around the tear when you turn the painting over. Use a fine-tipped brush to touch-up the colors and no-one will be able to notice the tear.

Cleaning
Hanging a painting over a fireplace or in a smoking room will cause soot and grime to collect on it, making it very dull. A painting needs to be cleaned carefully. If one isn’t careful, paint can come off along with the dirt.

Place your painting upright and start by using a dry brush. Gently rub it all over the painting. Work from the top towards the bottom of the painting. Bread with a doughy consistency such as sourdough will also be great to get rid of the dirt on the painting. Scoop out the inner portion of the bread and roll it over the painting. The dirt will stick onto it easily.

You may wish to take your painting outside the house for this step to avoid creating a mess inside. You can brush off the bread crumbs using a dry brush. Do this carefully; crumbs left behind can become a breeding ground for mold and insects.

Restoring
A painting consists of many layers; first a primer is used on the canvas, followed by paint and lastly, about two coats of varnish. Varnish yellows as it ages. Aged varnish can be removed by using a varnish remover.

Test the varnish remover or emulsion cleaner on a small area before you start. Use cotton swabs dipped in the solution to clean the painting. The cotton swabs need to be rolled back and forth gently. Never scrub the painting.

Avoid dipping used and dirty swabs into the cleaning product you’re using. Make sure you only work on small areas at a time. Stop immediately if you feel you are removing paint along with the varnish.

Once the varnish has been removed, allow the painting to dry completely. You can touch up the painting with paints as required. Allow the painting to dry again and then apply a fresh coat of varnish.

Varnish should be applied with a flat-bristled brush. Apply only in one direction so that brush strokes aren’t obvious. Once dry, apply another coat using brush strokes in the opposite direction for an even finish. Varnish will seal the painting and protect the cleaned surface from dust.

Framing
If you find that the frame is rotting or has become dull, you should definitely get a new frame for the painting. A frame in the right material and color can make a painting look better than it actually is. The right frame can also help any painting fit in with the existing decor in a room.

If you are going to frame the painting by yourself, be sure to use acid-free backing and paper wherever necessary. If the painting is going to be hung in a humid environment, avoid wood or metal frames and go for acrylic, glass or stainless steel.

Hanging or Storing
Avoid hanging the painting in places where it will be subjected to moisture, smoke or direct sunlight. Paintings should normally be hung at eye-level. But if you are planning to hang a painting in a corridor or a place where people may bump into it accidentally, hang it a little higher.

If you wish to store the painting, use bubble wrap and acid-free tissue paper to cover it on both sides and then place it in a box. You can line the box with acid-free tissue paper too. Store the box away from direct sunlight. Avoid storing paintings in attics or basements as temperatures and humidity levels in these places are often damaging to paintings.

Conclusion
Adding paintings to your house is quite an inexpensive way to make an impression on your guests. You only need to look for good paintings. If you come across a nice painting that needs restoration work, you can save a lot of money by restoring the painting yourself.

Just be careful while you restore a painting. If the painting is expensive and you aren’t sure of yourself, you can leave the job to professionals.

Author Bio
Sophia Mann writes on paintings and art. Her interest in the visual arts developed early when she attempted to duplicate a drawing her brother had brought home as a school assignment. She has been fascinated with this medium of artistic expression ever since. She also paints in her spare time.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Keep Exhibiting Green


It’s well known that exhibiting at a trade show can do wonders for any brand or business. It’s a great way to make new contacts and to hopefully draw in some new customers and clients. However, a lot of money can be wasted on unnecessary products, and many don’t think about the implications trade shows can have on the environment. Eco-Swinger SignThousands of leaflets and flyers that will probably end up in the bin, cardboard signs discarded after one use and an abundance of little plastic pens. Useful, but how long will it take for that pen to biodegrade after it’s finished?

Some display companies offer eco-friendly biodegradable and recyclable banners, printing and large pavement signs, which are well worth investing in if you care about the environment. These are a great alternative to PVC banners and are very durable.

Rather than printing out hundreds of leaflets which may or may not be glanced at briefly, put together an eye-catching and interesting company information pack PDF with a QT code, or else print one A3 copy and invite people to take a picture of it on their tablet or phone. Make a point of talking about how it’s an eco-friendly move away from annoying leaflets, as this is just one of the many ways you could strike up a conversation with your audience. Hopefully, they’ll love mother nature just as much as you do!

Instead of giving out free sweets in wrappers, try a large bowl of M&M’s with a scooping ladle, or better yet, fruit! A free banana or satsuma for everyone who downloads your company information pack onto their phone or tablet, what more could you ask for? In addition to this, give out free company pencils rather than pens… less plastic means more happy environmentalists!

Business is a tricky game to play at the best of times, especially if you’re looking to be as eco-friendly as possible. However, we have seen a great influx in interest for eco-friendly products and marketing plans, so fingers crossed it will catch on and protecting the Earth will become the norm.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Be Entranced by the Perfect Entrance to Your Home


entrance with plants

Do you ever put your key in your front door, only to have it fall off at the hinges? Does your doormat have the durability of used toilet paper? Do people regularly throw bits of rubbish at your doorstep because they’ve mistaken it for a skip?

Yeah, you might want to consider sprucing up your entrance. Your doorway is the first impression any visitors will get of your home, so you have to make sure it’s in tiptop condition. So, what can you do? Simply try a few of these tips.

dirt trapper door mat
A matter of mats
You know what it’s like – you wipe your feet on your doormat, only for it to hold about as much dirt as a broken toy dump truck. Although you could pick up a doormat for a quid from bargain shops, investing in dirt-trapper mats will scrape muck from your soles with gusto.

To complement your mat, add in a sizeable shoe rack by your door to stop any errant muck trailing around your home.

A door to adore
If your door is choc-a-bloc with dents, scratches and paint that’s more faded than the career of Les Dennis, then a new one would be a great purchase. In what scientists are referring to as a “Goldilocks’s Door”, you should be searching for something firm enough for security but aesthetically pleasing enough to welcome you into your home. It’s also important to match your door with the rest of your house. After all, it’d be a bit weird if your door was an intricate Art Deco affair while the rest of the place was a 19th century townhouse. Make it match and you’ll have a door to adore.

Flora to fawn over
Have you ever dreamed of owning an entrance resembling a pastoral work of art? You know the type – a gentle trellised archway covered in vines standing before a cobbled path up to a doorway drenched in the pungent scent of roses.

It might seem like a pipe dream, but you can create a pleasant atmosphere with the use of a few plants. Some roses, a small plant pot, a handful of hydrangeas – the possibilities for plant life are almost endless, with an array of colours and smells to feast your eyes and nose upon. And once you’ve got these scents sorted, you’ll have an entrance that you won’t want to leave.

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mobile Solutions To Make Your Business Go Green


Going green isn’t just a catchphrase for environmentalists; it’s also a way for businesses to save money. If you’re interested in not only saving the environment, but saving your business money as well, look into these mobile solutions to use your phone to go green.

Cut Down on Paper Consumption

logging operation

Every year, the average American consumes and disposes of seven trees worth of paper. When added together, that means nearly 2 billion trees are cut down every year to create everything from receipts to printer paper. However, using your mobile phone to send memos, invoices, and receipts can significantly cut down on paper usage.

For example, Square can help you accept mobile payments on Apple and Android devices. With Square, you download the free app, get a free secure credit card reader, and then you only pay when you make a sale. Customers can get an email or text receipt, so you can save money on paper. Plus, you can feel good knowing that every 17 trees saved will absorb 250 pounds of deadly carbon dioxide every year.

Charge Your Phone Battery Less Often
Constantly having to charge the battery on your phone is a waste of electricity and money. However, GreenPower, a free app for cell phones, provides your battery with more life automatically. GreenPower works by turning off mobile data, WiFi, screen brightness, and Bluetooth when you don’t need them, and turning them back on when you do.

Since this app, which works with almost all Android phones and carriers, works automatically, you don’t have to manually turn these settings on your phone off and on to save battery. Also, by working in the background, it also ensures minimal disturbance with your apps. When you extend the life of your battery, you can charge your phone less often and save money on electricity costs.

Conduct an Energy Audit
At times, electricity is one of the largest expenses a business incurs. However, apps like Green Outlet help you run an energy audit to find out which machines or appliances are costing the most money to run. To use the app, you simply have to enter the type of machine and state how many hours a day it runs. Then, Green Outlet, which costs $0.99 for Apple devices, calculates your monthly electric bill and your carbon footprint.

Plus, this app will even alert you if you exceed carbon usage guidelines set by the United States government. By adjusting the hours that each machine runs, you can see where you can save on electricity costs and reduce your carbon output.

Cut Your Carbon Footprint from Traveling
When it comes to carbon dioxide emissions, vehicles are the biggest culprits since they release around 1.5 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas pollutants every year. Unfortunately, for many businesses, travel and transport is a necessity. Even so, it’s still possible to go green by using apps like Ecorio.

This app, available for free on Android phones, allows you to track your carbon footprint from travels you make. Using the phone’s GPS, Ecorio keeps track of where you are and helps you plan a more eco-friendly trip. You can also use the app to connect with other Ecorio users and arrange carpools to save gas and money, as well as share other environmentally friendly tips.

Recycle Old Mobile Phones
When you’re ready to upgrade to a new cell phone, you can’t simply throw your old phone in the trash. Cell phones are made with substances like lead, copper, and zinc, which are harmful to the environment. Old phones can sit in landfills for hundreds of years and leak these toxic substances into the ground and water supply.

Donating or recycling can cut down on manufacturing pollutants entering the air and water supply and reduces the need to waste valuable natural resources. For every one million cell phones that are recycled or donated, we can recover 33 pounds of palladium, 75 pounds of gold, 772 pounds of silver, and 35,000 pounds of copper.

These mobile solutions are simple ways to help make your business go green, save money, and save the environment all at the same time.

Image via Flickr by crustmania

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