Doing A Bit Better

Doing a bit Better for babies

California Governor Jerry Brown, with the support of the California chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, just signed a... Read

California Governor Jerry Brown, with the support of the California chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, just signed a new safety guidelines bill. The bill mandates that children, age 2 years and younger, while passengers in cars, must sit tight in rear-facing car seats.*

While some parents oppose the bill because they like keeping kiddos in their line of sight, a study in the journal Injury Prevention presented findings that children under 2 are 75% less likely to die or be severely injured in an accident as rear-facing passengers.

Doctors and traffic safety experts also support the bill. It’s slated to go into effect in 2017.

*40/40: Kids who are taller than 40 inches or who weigh more than 40 pounds will be exempt.

 

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Doing A Bit Better

Step away from the sponge.

“Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Spongebob Squarepants™!” Rather, more accurately, who lives in a landfill for all... Read

“Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? Spongebob Squarepants™!”

Rather, more accurately, who lives in a landfill for all eternity?

The common household sponge may be small, but it can have a pretty daunting effect on sweet Mother Earth. Imagine, if you will, millions of those colorful scrubbers piled up and not rotting away in landfills everywhere. Most sponges are made of polyester or plastic and treated with triclosan (a harmful pesticide that’s a suspected carcinogen) that’s released when it comes in contact with chlorine in tap water.

A smart, recommended alternative is to use cellulose sponges. Cellulose is the primary building material that makes up cell walls in plants, and may be the earth’s most abundant organic compound. But, what you really want to know is how they hold up as house cleaners, right? Cellulose sponges are up to 15-times more absorbent than paper towels, they’re reusable and biodegradable, and you can find them at pretty much any natural food markets.

Polyester/plastic sponges may be a few cents cheaper, but really, at what cost to this marvelous earth? So suck it up and get some cellulose!

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Doing A Bit Better

5 Tips to make your Fall a little bit better

The heat is still upon us, but not for long! As fall is right around the corner, the days will... Read

The heat is still upon us, but not for long! As fall is right around the corner, the days will start to get shorter and the sidewalks will become littered with leaves. Here are some tips for your home and your family that will help you do a little bit better during the changing of the seasons:

  1. Check the furnace
    • One of the easiest ways to make sure your home is efficient is to test and make sure your furnace/fireplace is clean. Not only does this make winter stress free because you know that your furnace or chimney will work throughout winter, it’s also a money saver.
    • Cleaning around the furnace will allow it to run smoothly thus giving you more heat with less energy during the winter.
  2. Insulate the house
    • Check the windows around your house for proper caulking, make sure your windows are sealed tight and no breeze is coming through. Plastic film can sometimes work as an alternative.
    • Make sure doors are weather stripped and replace strips if necessary. If there’s a draft coming through replace the threshold of the door or use towels, blankets, or old sweaters (we will discuss these items further below) to place under the doors.
    • Hang a thick curtain or blanket in front of your doors to block cold air from entering the house.
  3. Create/purify air flow
    • If you have a ceiling fan, adjust the settings so that the fan is going in reverse. If you’re standing underneath the fan and can feel the breeze from it then make sure to turn it the opposite way. This maneuver allows for air to be pushed up against the ceiling and down the walls, allowing the air flow to re-circulate the warm air without causing a chilling effect.
    • Clean vents to ensure debris and dust aren’t getting into the air flow of your house. You’re going to essentially button up your house during the winter and you don’t want to have to open windows because your house is too stuffy.
    • Move objects away from vents, baseboard heaters, registers on the floor, or radiators so that air moves freely around your house. Also, as said above, make sure to clean around these areas.
  4. For the kids (Going back to school)
    • Buy clothes and materials from second hand stores/thrift shops. There’s chic thrift stores for all ages now!
    • Bring your own reusable bags to go shopping.
    • Avoid single use packaging food when preparing lunches. Also, try and reuse Ziploc bags for however long you can.
    • Make sure to not buy school materials in bulk.
    • Have a “Swap” party: invite families to exchange clothing and usable school supplies.
    • If you drive your kids to the bus stop, bundle them up and walk them to the bus stop as an alternative.
  5. Everyday Stuff
    • Clean the gutters and make sure that your downspouts are pointed away from your house will provide piece of mind when the weather is unfavorable. And while you’re up there, why not check out the roof’s condition to make sure it’ll last through the upcoming seasons?
    • Open blinds in the morning/during the day to attract heat and then close them at night to retain the heat. Honeycomb blinds are especially efficient.
    • Go through the family’s wardrobe and re-purpose items. For example, use old t-shirts as new kitchen rags for cleaning, or old sweaters and towels as a way to ventilate your house.
    • Organize the kitchen, the refrigerator should be checked to ensure it is sealed tight as to not let cold air into the house. And food that is old or not needed should be composted or thrown out. Room in the refrigerator is needed for ample air flow.
    • Get rid of cleaning products that contain harmful chemicals, especially triclosan. DIY cleaning products using baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice are highly accepted. If not able to make cleaning products yourself, Method and Seven Generations cleaning products are great alternatives to conventional cleaning products.
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Doing A Bit Better

Monday Tip of the Week- Eight Eco-Friendly Laundry Tips

Control the temperature About 90% of the energy associated with doing laundry involves just heating up the water. The solution:... Read

  1. Control the temperature
    • About 90% of the energy associated with doing laundry involves just heating up the water. The solution: turn that dial cold.
  2. Wash full loads
    • Even the most energy efficient loads use 40 gallons of water. Reducing the number of loads you do each week will save water and money. If you find yourself doing eight or more loads of laundry each week, skipping just one will save over 10 percent on your laundry costs
  3. Upgrade to energy efficient washer and dryer
    • This is not permission to go out and replace your current machine that’s running fine. (But nice try!) If you’re in the market for a new washer or dryer, buying an energy efficient model can save both water and energy, and lower your bills.
  4. Switch to natural detergents and stain removers
    • Natural products tend to be free of chlorine bleach, synthetic fragrance, dyes, and optical brighteners. What’s in them? They’re usually plant (not petroleum) based, contain biodegradable surfactants, and are often specifically formulated to perform well in cold water. Be sure to read the fine print when shopping.
  5. Choose non-chlorine bleach
    • Use in the home isn’t quite as detrimental for the environment as industrial use (like bleaching paper), but chlorine bleach can irritate skin and eyes. Most non-chlorine bleach is hydrogen peroxide. You can buy branded versions, or just stick to the three percent version sold in drug stores. And doing so will really add up. In fact, if every US household replaced just one 64-iunce bottle of chlorine bleach with non-chlorine bleach, we could prevent 11.6 million pounds of chlorine from entering our environment
  6. Rethink dryer sheets
    • The chemicals-including synthetic fragrances-found in conventional dryer sheets and fabric softeners are similar to what is found in conventional detergents. They’re largely questionable for human health and the environment. Plus, don’t even think about recycling those dryer sheets/ Either skip them entirely or choose eco-friendly ones like Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day lavender dryer sheets
  7. Hang clothes to dry
    • Keeping your clothes out of dryer extends their life, reduces energy use, and cuts costs. Whether indoors or outside, line drying can be done year round. Just don’t put dark colors in bright sunlight or they’ll fade. Bonus: Indoor rack drying during the winter doubles as a humidifier
  8. Make your own laundry products
    • The only real way to know what’s going into your laundry is to whip up your own solutions. Use safe-for-the-environment ingredients that are already in your pantry like vinegar, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda. Many of these DIY formulas have been used for generations and get the job done
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Solar

First Solar Powered Airport

India has achieved a goal that is in the right direction. This past week Cochin International Airport, based out of... Read

India has achieved a goal that is in the right direction. This past week Cochin International Airport, based out of the southern Indian state, Kerala, has garnered praise for being the first airport solely ran off of solar power. The airport, which had installed a few solar panels in 2013, has claimed its right to be the first airport to run exclusively off of solar power. This immense project has led the airport to claim 45 acres of land, and includes 46,000 solar panels spread across the 45 acres. Projections show that if the airport runs functionally for 25 years, than it will be saving roughly 300,000 tons of emissions, which is equivalent to planting three million trees, or not driving 750 million miles. A milestone to say the least, and yet there is still so much we can do. But, it shows that gains are being made, and we’re striving to make our world healthier.

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Doing A Bit Better

The Little Bamboo, Doing a Bit Better

A Sanford, FL based company, The Little Bamboo, has just made everyone a little bit happier. The environmentally conscious company,... Read

A Sanford, FL based company, The Little Bamboo, has just made everyone a little bit happier. The environmentally conscious company, which prides itself on making a multitude of products out of bamboo, has just tapped into the hand-soap market and is currently setting itself apart from the competition. Their newest product, Bamboo Charcoal Soap, is not only a major crowd pleaser, well a very, very small crowd pleaser (5 stars on Amazon.com, out of 17 reviews), it is also eco-friendly. The hand soap is handcrafted by master soap makers in Thailand, ensuring the highest quality of product. And when bought, the product comes with a list of all the ingredients involved in making the soap. Besides that, the product is also good for you. It is environmentally friendly and doubles as a skin treatment. The product acts to treat skin disorders such as acne, psoriasis, eczema, by using all-natural ingredients like moringa and turmeric that help exfoliate your skin. This company’s transparency with their products is great, and really makes you feel like you’re buying products from those that really care about what they make and how they make it. Make sure to grab a three pack of charcoal bamboo soap at your local Amazon retailer. Bonus, The Little Bamboo make socks out of bamboo too!

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Solar

Peel-and-Stick Solar Cells – So Fun!

The Scientific Journal Reports that Stanford University scientists have developed a thin “peel-and-stick” solar cell that can be attached to... Read

The Scientific Journal Reports that Stanford University scientists have developed a thin “peel-and-stick” solar cell that can be attached to almost any surface.

The fabrication process included a wafer of silicon, silicon dioxide, sandwiched metal and a film of nickel on which the thin-film solar cells are placed, and then attaching a layer of thermal release tape.  After being dipped in water, the target surface was coated with adhesives and the thin-film solar cells were attached to the sticky surface and the thermal release tape was removed.

These thin solar cells can be placed on a wide range of surfaces, and could someday be used commercially to generate solar power.

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Environment

Cloth > Paper

When cleaning, like the counters in the kitchen, the first thing that many people go for is the paper towel.... Read

When cleaning, like the counters in the kitchen, the first thing that many people go for is the paper towel. While effective, this habitat can take a toll on the environment. After all, they come from trees! Instead, why not find some old t-shirts stashed way back in your closet that you never wear anymore and use them like you would a paper towel. They get the job done, you use less paper, and you are able to repurpose an item that would have most likely been thrown away.

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Solar

Top 10 Questions for Your Local Solar Installer

“So you’ve decided to go solar – congratulations! But now what? Well, it’s time to research your local solar installers.... Read

“So you’ve decided to go solar – congratulations! But now what? Well, it’s time to research your local solar installers. If you live anywhere near any of the major DMAs, there’s bound to be plenty of options. That said, we’d like to suggest a few questions to ask the solar installers you interview.


How long has your company been installing solar electric systems?

In our opinion, you should look for a company that has been installing in your area for 4+ years.  With this level of experience, they understand local installation requirements, and have a long enough track record for you to review consumer comments on websites.

How many of your employees have solar panels on their homes?
We love this question.  If their employees don’t believe in solar, they why should you believe in them?

How many NABCEP certified employees work for your company?
A very large majority of licensed electricians do not have training or experience with solar electric systems.  NABCEP provides a well-respected certification process that requires the installer complete classroom hours, lead multiple PV installations, and pass a comprehensive exam.   If the installer is not NABCEP certified, we would encourage you to look for a new solar installer.

Will everyone working on my system be an employee of your company?
Sub-contractors are not always a bad thing.  However, you want to make sure that you meet everyone working on your home.  Additionally, if a company is using a sub-contractor, you should ask how long the two companies have worked together.  You are looking for a long-term relationship (no online profile required).

Can I see a list of ten clients that you have installed solar electric systems for?
An installer who has pride in their work will always be able to supply you a list with at least 8 names on it.  When contacting these customers, see if you can drive by their house to see the installation.

How do you determine your system output data?
We love installers who will come to your home free of charge at least once during the first year to evaluate how your solar installation is performing.  We believe a check-in at the six month mark is ideal.

How long is your warranty on all of my components and your work? 
In addition to manufacturing warranties, a qualified solar installer will also back their work.

Does your panel manufacturer perform quality control audits on your installations?
Few solar panel manufacturers will audit installations to measure the quality of the companies that sell their products. In our opinion, preference should be given to those companies who are audited.

What is the efficiency of the panels that you are proposing to install?
Positive Energy answer:  More efficient panels require less space, and allows you to get more energy output per square foot.  A smaller array footprint is very important to avoid shaded areas, when shading is an issue.  It also means less weight for the roof, fewer attachment points, less labor and less installation material required.

How does your company implement its values?
One way companies vote for a more sustainable world is with their dollars.  We give preference to companies who buy many of their products and materials locally.  Additionally, we believe that an employee-owned company with a profit sharing program shows a commitment to employees.

Now that you’re armed with an arsenal of important questions to ask, we think you’ll be able to find the right solar installer for the job! If you’re interested in being connected with a trusted, certified solar installer in your area, check out our solar page!”

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Environment

Buy Local Products

The farther that a product has to be shipped to a store for a customer, the more gasoline has to... Read

The farther that a product has to be shipped to a store for a customer, the more gasoline has to be used to get the product there. As we know, gasoline is detrimental to the environment and is the reason for many of the problems we face with our environment today. So how can we reduce these fossil fuels? It’s simple, support locally grown products! This will not only help out your economy, but it will also reduce the distance to be travelled to transport products. Less distance traveled equals less fossil fuels being used. Less fossil fuels being used equals happy planet!

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Hansen Wholesale

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Solar

Spring Cleaning Your Solar Panels

It’s spring cleaning time.  Aren’t you excited?   We have had a few questions about how to clean solar panels.  After... Read

It’s spring cleaning time.  Aren’t you excited?   We have had a few questions about how to clean solar panels.  After all, dirt, debris, and even bird droppings can quickly reduce the amount of electricity your system will produce.  Please keep in mind, this is how we clean our panels, however, we deeply encourage you to follow the specific instructions outlined in your user manual.

-We recommend you spray down your panels at least twice but preferably four times per year.  In doing so, you will spend a very short time cleaning your panels
–              You should spray in the morning.  You don’t want the water to evaporate due to the heat of the day

-Inspect after you spray.  Yes, this means you will most likely have to climb up on your roof
–              If you see a stubborn stain, typical glass cleaner will remove it quickly
–              Just one other safety note: never climb onto your roof if you are not comfortable with this activity.  Also, never do it alone…have someone hold the ladder

-Inspect the panel while you are cleaning it for cracks in the glass. Solar panels most often malfunction because of water damage. If you notice any cracks, fill the crack with a high-temperature silicon seal.

-Inspect wire connections as well for any sign of damage or decay. If you find a damaged wire, replace it immediately. Keep these connections clean and as dry as possible.

That’s it.  Now, get the kids to clean out the garage!

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Promote

< Callout > Ideas

callout_ideas

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Environment

Line Drying

Before dryers were invented, how did people get their clothes dry after washing them? They used a technique called line... Read

Before dryers were invented, how did people get their clothes dry after washing them? They used a technique called line drying outside. Not only did it effectively dry clothes, but it gave you the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. So, why not adopt this practice again? You will become more eco-friendly and on top of that, save on your energy bill!

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Solar

The White House is Doing a Bit Better!

It was announced in October 2010 that the White House would be installing solar panels to its historic rooftops–we understand... Read

It was announced in October 2010 that the White House would be installing solar panels to its historic rooftops–we understand the delay, Mr. President. You’ve had a lot on your plate.

The big day is finally here! Solar installers have begun their work this week. We’re excited to hear that one of the most famous addresses in the world will soon be home to clean energy. Good on you 1600 Penn Ave! We hope this will inspire everyone to Do a Bit Better.

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Environment

The multiple uses of glass jars

Glass jars come in all shapes and sizes and are used to hold and contain many different types of products.... Read

Glass jars come in all shapes and sizes and are used to hold and contain many different types of products. When we are done with the product inside of the jars, we believe that the jar has served its purpose and now can be thrown out. Think again! This is an opportunity to become more eco-friendly. Instead of throwing the jar out, why not use the jar again as storage or to contain another product. It could even be used as a cup for beverages. Repurposing objects in the home will also show your children the importance and the practicality of reusing for the sake of our planet.

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Promote

< Callout > Pets

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Housewares

Honest Air & Fabric Freshener 9 Fl Oz

$6.95

Refresh fabrics without the use of harsh, synthetic chemicals or masking agents. Leaves nothing behind but the refreshing scent of... Read

Refresh fabrics without the use of harsh, synthetic chemicals or masking agents. Leaves nothing behind but the refreshing scent of essential oils .

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Recycle

Monday Tip of the Week – Electronics Recycling

Recycling isn’t just about plastics, glass and paper. Some of the biggest potential hazards to the environment are electronics that... Read

Recycling isn’t just about plastics, glass and paper. Some of the biggest potential hazards to the environment are electronics that end up in landfills. Those old computers, monitors, or cell phones can contain toxic chemicals and pollutants. The good news is that when you upgrade, it’s easy to recycle! Use this handy tool at greenergadgets.org to search by zip code for places you can safely recycle those old devices.

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Housewares

Way Basics Modular Storage Cubes

$134.99

Lifestyle! If you need simple, basic furniture that&rsquo;s practical, versatile, and good for the environment, Way Basics is for you.

Lifestyle! If you need simple, basic furniture that&rsquo;s practical, versatile, and good for the environment, Way Basics is for you.

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Mighty Leaf Tea

Tea Drinkers Rave

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Recycle

Can You UpCycle 20,000 Plastic Cups?

New York City is about to find out! Between February and May, CDR Studio will collect 20,000 cups from concerts,... Read

New York City is about to find out! Between February and May, CDR Studio will collect 20,000 cups from concerts, sporting events, and collection boxes. They will then be assembled into a giant serpentine structure in the pavilion of this year’s Figment Art Festival on Governor’s island in New York City. The pavilion will serve as a meeting place for attendees of the festival.

In previous years, the festival has featured pavilion installations made of other recycled materials, including upcycled milk crates, water bottles, and milk jugs.

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Health & Beauty

Monday Tip of the Week – Getting in Shape the Green Way

As the New Year begins and it’s time for our resolutions, we’re pretty sure that getting into better shape is... Read

As the New Year begins and it’s time for our resolutions, we’re pretty sure that getting into better shape is on a lot of lists. Gym memberships spike in January, with everyone trying to drop those holiday pounds. If you are thinking about joining a gym to use the various machines, consider this: treadmills can use up to 7 times as much power as stationary bike and elliptical machines.

Many of those machines are even completely carbon-neutral, and just the effort of pedaling powers all the lights and displays. Choosing machines that consume little or no power is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Now that’s doing a good thing for your health and the planet.

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Recycle

Do a Bit Better with Homemade Dryer Sheets

We love this eco-friendly project from Pinning Gals. Save money and the planet by creating your own reusable natural dryer... Read

We love this eco-friendly project from Pinning Gals. Save money and the planet by creating your own reusable natural dryer sheets. Commercially produced dryer sheets are made with lots of chemicals, but you can use an eco-friendly liquid fabric softener and upcycled fabric from old clothes to create homemade dryer sheets that can be used again and again. Check out the step-by-step instructions here.

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UpCycle

Green Gift Wrapping? Try Furoshiki!

The holidays mean something a little different to everyone, but one thing is almost universal: wrapping paper piles as far... Read

The holidays mean something a little different to everyone, but one thing is almost universal: wrapping paper piles as far as the eye can see. This year, instead of wrapping gifts in paper that will end up in the trash, consider the Japanese technique of Furoshiki. Using a single piece of fabric with no extra tape or materials, you can wrap gifts of any shape or size. It’s a fun project and the result is a beautifully wrapped gift that your friend or family member won’t soon forget.

 

Watch the YouTube tutorial here!

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