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Paper or Plastic?

shutterstock_145228456I recently came across the following video from DNews (Discovery News) briefly addressing the age old grocery store bag question of ” paper or paper?. It’s quite educational and entertaining, and I suggest anyone with a spare 3 minutes to take a peak.

Though the video is not up to date on the newest ordinances banning plastic bags in the United State (think California) it is still worth watching.  The video  highlights global plastic bag ban successes like Rwanda,  but it also “attempts” to be “balanced” as well and questions the sourcing of recycled bags and the landfill impact of paper bags.

A ban on plastic bags will not just impact “grocery store decisions” but all shopping decisions that result in the receipt of a one time use bag. Banning plastic bags forces people to become more organized and think more sustainably.

 

bag tree via shutterstock

“Paper or Plastic: Which Bags Hurt the Environment More?” via DNews

 

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

The Ultimate Tree Care Guide

Guess Which Countries Rank the Highest in Energy Efficiency

Give Your Christmas Tree A Second Life!

shutterstock_120988276Just because Christmas is over doesn’t mean your tree has outlived its usefulness. Give your tree a second life by recycling it.

Many towns and cities have Christmas tree pick up recycling programs. If your area doesn’t have one you can deconstruct the tree for personal use or identify a nearby tree recycling drop off site.

Here are some “second-life” options for your beloved tree:

Use Your Excess Tree Parts to Improve Your Garden
There are many ways that a deconstructed pine tree can get your garden into top shape for the spring. Heavy pieces can be used in compost and tiny branches can be used as mulch, or to protect you flower beds from the winter. Pine needles will also help the soil retain moisture.

Use Discarded Branches To Make “Natural” Bird Feeders
Coat a branch with peanut butter and bird seed to make a simple feeder for flying winter residents.

Use Trees To Improve Your Fish Pond
A sunken Christmas Tree provides excellent hiding habitat for fish in a fish pond.

Feed The Goats
Goats can “clean” a Christmas tree at an alarming speed!

Donate Your Tree To A local Mulching Program To Improve Local Parks
Many US cities ( like NYC, Chicago, Atlanta, and Los Angeles) have programs where you can drop off your unwanted trees and the city will reuse them to mulch public parks.

Discarded Trees Can Be Used To Prevent Erosion
States like Louisiana and New Jersey use discarded trees to prevent erosion from the Ocean.

PS. Make sure to remove all decorations before recycling your tree, there are no environmental benefits to tinsel!

Recycled Christmas Tree via Shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

The True Cost of Meat

Can Recycling Increase Your Attractiveness?

shutterstock_95091373Who knew that recycling could make people consider you more attractive? Usually when I’m at a restaurant or and at party and ask “is there somewhere that this can be recycled?” the response I get is “Are you serious? Relax.” but according to the results of a poll by PepsiCo I may be hanging around the wrong people.

During a survey of 1,140 Americans, PepsiCo found that many Americans over the age of 18 find recycling an attractive, mate worthy trait. Hooray!

The study found the following:
- 40% of people said they would have a more positive opinion of someone if they learned they recycled
– 21% of people said they would be turned off if they found out on the first date the other person didn’t recycle.
– 2 in 5 respondents want a significant other who cares about the environment

Improved sex appeal (attractiveness) is a pretty powerful incentive. For many people increasing attractiveness may be a more powerful incentive then increasing sustainability and doing our part to protect the environment.

Of course, the numbers still need to be improved upon. Only 2 in 5 people want a significant other who cares about the environment?  I personally would appreciate higher numbers, but websites like Glamour and Yahoo found PepsiCo’s findings significant enough to share.

Though only 40% said that finding out the other person recycled would increase their positive perception of the person, it’s still a higher percent then finding out the person has a graduate degree (25%) , impressive job (18%), or good saving (8%).

I would also like to bring up another thing to consider when thinking about the “positive results” of PepsiCo’s study. There is a bias to self reporting. Most people wouldn’t admit out loud that they prefer a person with status to a person with environmental values. So the accuracy of the results can be questioned.

But any way you interpret it, recycling probably won’t hurt your appeal.

shutterstock_139170386

bubble love via shutterstock

young couple via shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

9 Cleaning Guides to Keep Your Home Green

By: Guest Contributor, Roger Gallager

 

Cleaning your house doesn’t need to look like a chemical warfare. You don’t need to use the same cleaning agents that are not only harmful to your health, but are also not environment friendly. It’s a safer idea to go back to basics when it comes to fixing most common cleaning problems. Keeping your house clean usually comes with toxic fumes and hazardous components, but the good news is that you can change it.

 

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Image from Flickr, Creative Commons

 

Common household cleaning products are usually made from harmful chemicals designed specially to kill most types of bacteria. Along with this, it exposes you and your loved ones to danger and illness. According to Phillip Dickey of Washington Toxics Coalition, the most dangerous cleaning products are oven cleaners; drain cleaners, and acidic toilet bowl cleaners. These chemicals can cause severe burns in the skin, eyes, or esophagus and throat if ingested. Ingredients with higher amount of toxic include ammonia and bleach, which can produce fumes that are highly irritating to the eyes, nose and lungs and shouldn’t be used by people with lungs or heart problems. Knowing these, switching to homemade cleaning alternatives should be a no-brainer.

 

The list is long for these natural cleaning ingredients that you can use. An article from DMCI Leasing provides some of the most common and most effective cleaning alternatives and some tips on how to use them. And here, is an easy guide for your household cleaning projects.

 

Baking Soda Rules Them All

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Image from Flickr, Creative Commons

 

Baking Soda can be used in almost every household chore; from the kitchen to your garage. Baking soda is effective with removing stubborn stains from surfaces. Create a paste (3 parts baking soda, 1 part water) then apply and let stand before scrubbing or wiping it clean. It also helps keep odors away simply by sprinkling it to garbage bins, carpets, and even to your dog’s fur!

 

What to Trust with Rust

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Image from Flickr, Creative Commons

 

Vinegar is another versatile alternative household cleaner. The vinegar reacts to rust making it easier to dissolve off of the metal. Simply soak the metal in vinegar for few hours before scrubbing it off. You can also try to soak it for 24 hours to lessen scrubbing efforts. Another option is to use salt and lime. Simply sprinkle salt before juicing a lime over the top. Let it set for 2-3 hours before scrubbing.

 

 

Wood Furniture Cleaning

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Image from Flickr, Creative Commons

 

Oils work like magic. Use essential oils depending on your needs. Lemon for deodorizing, eucalyptus and tea tree for sanitizing and peppermint for purifying are some examples. Olive oil can also be used by combining it with vinegar in 2:1 ratio. Use a cloth to wipe wooden furniture rubbing off scratches, or use warm olive oil to prevent other wooden materials such as rattan from cracking. Add 1/2 cup of beeswax and 1-½ cups of olive oil to keep your wooden furniture from drying out. If you don’t want to worry about mixing, use coconut oil as an alternative.

 

 

Having Pain with Laundry Stain?

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Image from Flickr, Creative Commons

 

Different types of stain need different types of cleaner. White vinegar, baking soda, salt, and lemons, are the most usual eco-friendly cleaners that you can use. One example, for cleaning blood or wine stains, put salt on top of the stain while your cloth acts like a cover of a bowl, then pour hot water directly onto it.

 

 

Smells Fishy

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Image from Flickr, Creative Commons

 

Foul odors are not unusual with storage compartments especially with refrigerators. If you don’t always have the time to clean it, try leaving charcoals or citrus rind regularly and see how it works. Alternatively, you can use onions every now and then.

 

 

Termites and Pests

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Image from Flickr, Creative Commons

 

Getting rid of termites and pests is important in preserving your home. There are over 300 varieties of termites but the subterranean termites are the ones that cause 95% of the damage. You can eliminate this by crushing an Aloe plant and soaking it in water. You can then use it to spray directly onto pests or wooden materials. Orange oil is also very effective to get rid of these pests. For prevention, mix borates (commonly known as borax) with water and spray it onto doors, walls, and other wooden materials.

 

Glass Cleaners

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Image from Flickr, Creative Commons

 

Cleaning glass panels can be done easily using homemade ingredients. Use ¼ cup of vinegar, 2 cups of water, and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Combine them all in a spray bottle and shake very well as cornstarch might settle in the bottom. Cornstarch and water can be eliminated if you prefer to do so. You can use a squeegee or an old newspaper to wipe it off. Make sure your newspaper is at least two weeks old to avoid ink transfer.

 

Ease with Cleaning Grease

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Image from Flickr, Creative Commons

 

Instead of using your dishwashing soap, you can again depend on vinegar and baking soda. Spray vinegar on surfaces and let it sit for few minutes before wiping it clean, or sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge and use it to wipe down greased surface.

 

 

It’s Not Just for Oral Hygiene

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Image from Flickr, Creative Commons

 

Toothpaste has a lot of surprising tricks to offer aside from preventing cavities. Some examples of usage for toothpaste are cleaning your bathroom mirrors, bottom of your flat iron, bathroom sink and other ceramics, making your chrome shine, and even crayon on your walls. Just make sure you don’t forget to separate your cleaning toothbrush and the one you use for your mouth!

 

Cleaning with natural, eco-friendly alternatives are not only easy, but are cheap. You can save your family and your house from chemical exposure and improve their health in the long run. After all, creating mixtures and combining ingredients is not that complicated. All we need is an ounce of creativity.

 

Roger Gallager is a Daily Caller contributor. Follow him @RogerGallager.

by Editor

EPA’s ENERGY STAR Program ranks Streaming Options by Energy Efficiency

By: ENERGY STAR

The average American spends about five hours per day watching television—and this year over two-thirds will do so through streaming. As consumers are weighing which streaming option will work best for their budget and their needs, EPA has another factor they’d like consumers to consider: energy efficiency and the environment.

For the first time, EPA’s ENERGY STAR program has ranked streaming options by energy efficiency. As TVs get bigger and bigger and set top boxes and new game consoles demand more energy than previous generations, binge-watching “Friends” now has potential to suck energy as well as time! With ENERGY STAR’s recommended approaches to streaming, consumers can save energy and time.  And less energy means less greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

The following infographic summarizes energy-efficient streaming, and provides these tips on how to save energy with consumer electronics:

  • Televisions are now manufactured with multiple screen settings and options that can affect the power consumption of your television. Set your television to the “home” or “standard” setting, which uses less energy. Reducing the brightness can reduce your television’s energy use by 18 to 30 percent.
  • Always look for the ENERGY STAR when shopping for new home electronics products—they will use 25-30 percent less energy than standard equipment.
  • A game console is great for games, but if used for streaming, it can use as much as 171 watts of power! Save energy by using your laptop or tablet instead.

10448_EPA-ES_Infographic_v7

by Editor

Eco Friendly Gift Guidelines

shutterstock_66510676With the holidays just a short distance away everyone seems to be rushing around trying to find the perfect gift. Looking for a gift that provides maximum personal impact but minimal environmental impact can be hard. Especially smaller ticket gift items for people you don’t really know like Secret Santas, Coworkers, long lost cousins, or brothers girlfriends.

Green Hot Tip: Think Local, Think Natural, Think Recycled!

As my “gift” to ENN blog readers I have put together a short set of guidelines to help you come up with the “perfect gift”.

Make A Hand-Made Gift From The Heart
Honestly, hand-made gifts are my favorite. Not only hand-made gifts fit my budget but they also seem to really please my friends and family. Knowing that someone put their soul into making you a gift is extremely satisfying.

Make A Donation in The Persons Name
Some people aren’t material and would appreciate you donating to an important environmental or social cause in their name. Donating is also a good gift for the person who already has everything.
Just remember to consider the gift receivers values before deciding where to donate.

Give a Locally Sourced Food Productshutterstock_150667202
If you’re the type who likes to give fancy chocolates and olives as a gift try giving something locally sourced, like your favorite jam from the local farmers market.
Another food related idea is to make frozen meals for a friend who doesn’t have the time or skill to cook.

Give A Gift That Can Be Enjoyed Outside
Instead of giving a gift that keeps a person “plugged in” give a gift that helps inspire the user to go outdoors! Everyone loves the outdoors; most people just don’t know it yet.

Give A Gift Made From Upcycled/Recycled Goods
Many stores now carry eco-friendly options for goods made from repurposed materials.

Give A Gift That Helps Prevent Waste
Everybody loves to save money. Before choosing a gift consider whether there is an option that is reusable or requires lower energy consumption.

shutterstock_197731259ReGift
There is no shame in Regifting. I said it, and I mean it. What’s the use of a gift if all it does is take up space in your closet? Just remember that the gift should be in good shape and to avoid the original gift giver.
Regifting is a great idea for Secret Santas and grab bags.

Give The Gift of Service
We cannot survive without a little help from our friends. The gift of service, instead of goods, is perfect for a friend who is always busy or needs help fixing/assembling something but doesn’t have the money to hire someone.

Wrap Responsibly

Instead of buying brand new wrapping paper from virgin trees use newspaper, fabric, or magazines found around the house. If you really want to buy wrapping  paper look at non-virgin options made from recycled paper.

Remember, First Think Local
And if that doesn’t work here are some websites with eco-friendly gift options:

http://inhabitat.com/
https://onetwine.recyclebank.com/
http://www.lushusa.com/

Green Wrapped Gift via Shutterstock

Gift Giving via Shutterstock

Holiday Toast via Shutterstock

 

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

Natural Cleaning Tips To Avoid Termites And Pests From Pestering Your Home

By: Guest Contributor, Aby Nicole League 

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Image by Aleksey Gnilenkov via Flickr

It’s crazy how we sweat over small things.  And by small, I mean tiny little creatures that share habitation in our home.  These pesky little pests, insects, and termites make themselves at home and real occupants of the house end up smashing, squishing,  and spraying all sorts of pesticides until our home reeks of stinking odor.

 

The problem with pesticides is that it is poison.  It can be inhaled, absorbed through your skin, and ingested.  The World Health Organization estimates that there are three million cases of pesticide poisoning each year including more than 200,000 deaths primarily in developing countries.  Children are the most vulnerable to harmful effects of toxic chemicals found in most commercially-available pesticides.  Exposure to toxic pesticides may damage the neurological system and linked to asthma, allergies, and even cancer and reproduction problems through hormone disruption.

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Photo by jetsandzeppelins via Flickr

Pesticides are also harmful to the environment.  They are a main source of water and air pollution. When they are sprayed, it is impossible to limit their reach to targeted pests only and inevitably contaminates the areas around them.

 

Beginning from the home, we must learn to get rid of pests naturally.  Green and organic ways of cleaning the house have become increasingly popular these days and for a good reason.

 

Shut Them Out

The first rule: don’t let the pests in.  Prevent these creatures from entering your home by getting rid of damp areas and standing water that attract insects.  Don’t leave water under house plants and fix your plumbing system.  Block possible hiding places and seal openings in walls.  Don’t store newspapers and magazines for far too long because they make a cozy home for pests.

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Photo by Werwin15 via Flickr

 

Don’t inadvertently feed them.  Manage food scraps and throw the trash frequently.  Store opened food items in tightly-closed containers that pests can’t chew on.  Don’t leave dirty dishes and even pet food out for too long.  Regularly clean areas and cabinets where food is stored.  Show these pests that they have no business in your home.

 

Operation: Ant Control

Do you see a trail of ants on your walls?  A pinch of sugar left on the table or a piece of candy that a toddler leaves behind can start an ant revolution in your home.

 

There are green ways to clean our house of ants.  Among the most effective is keeping a spray soap bottle.  Just two teaspoons of liquid castile or vegetable-based soap in a gallon of water make a good natural alternative in dealing with pesky ants.  The anti-bacterial substances found in soap keep ants at bay.

 

Most ants hate cucumbers so leave peels and slices in the ants’ point of entry, usually in the linings of the door or window.  Trace the ant column and put tea bags of mint tea, cayenne pepper, citrus oil, cinnamon or coffee grounds.  Ants are known to have aversion on these things.

 

Soak cotton balls in a solution of one liter of water, one teaspoon of borax, and a cup of sugar.  Place the soaked cotton ball in a container with holes to allow access to ants.  This will serve as bait that ants will carry over and kill their colony.  Remember to keep soaked balls from children and pets.

 

Dust Mites In Our Midst

Dust mites are everywhere.  They are in our sheets, mattresses, pillows, throw rugs, carpets, sofa, furniture, and our kids’ stuffed toys.

 

Wash your beddings at 55 degrees Celsius or higher because detergents have no effect on mites unless water temperature is high.    Cover mattresses and pillows with laminated covers that dust mites can’t penetrate.

 

Create a mixture of baking soda and essential oils such as peppermint, eucalyptus, or wintergreen. They are known to absorb moisture, deodorize, and sanitize.  This duo is known to be among the most effective natural cleaning alternatives. After washing in hot water, sift the mixture across your mattress and beddings and leave for at least an hour before vacuuming. Repeat this every two to three months.

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Photo by Mark Faviell via Flickr

 

Citrus For Fleas

Fleas enter our homes through our pets or our visitors’ pets.  Aside from bathing and grooming pets regularly, clean and vacuum areas in the house that they frequent.  Before reaching for that pesticide, go for citrus.  Citrus is a natural flea deterrent.  Just pour a cup of boiling water over a slice lemon (including skin) to release more citrus oil.  Let this soak overnight and sponge on your dog to kill fleas instantly.  Adding garlic or apple cider vinegar to your pet’s food will also help. Remember that this is only advisable for dogs, never for cats.

 

Terminate Termites With Orange

When it comes to termites, prevention is still the key.  When infestation becomes so great, expert intervention becomes necessary.  Prevent termites from pestering the foundations of your home by clearing wood debris, wood piles, and stored lumber around your home and crawling spaces.  Fix leaky pipes and make sure downspouts don’t direct water to your home.  The same soapy solution used for ants can be sprayed on termites.  You may also use orange oil.  It is an extract obtained from orange peels and is insoluble in water.  Drill small holes into the infested wood and inject orange oil. It will yield results within three days or three weeks depending on the degree of infestation.

 

Catnip For Roaches, Garlic For Mosquitoes

Cockroaches and mosquitoes are two of the most common house pests.  A clean home is still the best defense and there are natural cleaning tips with green alternatives to defeat these little monsters.

 

Catnip is a natural roach repellent.  It has nepetalactone, which is harmful to roaches but not humans.  Leave sachets of catnip in roach-infested areas.  You may also mix catnip in water and spray in the hiding places of cockroaches.

 

For mosquitoes, mix one part garlic juice with five parts water and dip strips of cotton cloth in them. Hang them in patios or areas in the house that mosquitoes love.

 

Cleaning your house regularly is still the best pest deterrent.  Don’t make your home friendly to pests by finding easy, affordable, and green ways to clean your house.  However, when pests manage to still get in, don’t grab that toxic pesticide spray right away.  Go to your kitchen and find safe alternatives there to get rid of pests naturally and include them in your house cleaning routine.

 

About the Author: Aby League is a qualitative researcher and a passionate writer. She is an innovator and technology enthusiast. She has been writing about health, psychology, home improvement and technology. To know her more, follow @abyleague on Twitter.

 

by Editor

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