July 13, 2015 Family

DIY “UpCycled” Crayons

“Here’s a fun one for the whole family.

What do you do with those boxes of old, heavily used (but loved) crayons?  You turn them into a DYI project with the kids!  They can be melted down and turned into great recycled, different shaped writers that your young and older children can both enjoy.

Here’s what you need:

  1. Kitchen knife
  2. Old crayons
  3. Mini –cake or muffin tins (cute heart or various shapes are fun!)

Directions:

  1. Parents use the knife to chop crayons in to pea-size pieces. Have the kids help remove any remaining paper.
  2. Preheat oven to 150 degrees
  3. Have children fill tins with crayon pieces, mixing colors to make cool designs.
  4. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or just until the wax has melted
  5. Remove the shaped crayons after they have cooled.  If they stick to the tray, place in the freezer for an hour and they will pop out.

Tip:  If you don’t want to devote your tins to the melted wax, line them with tin foil

Now you and your kids can color away!”

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Housewares

Eco Sprout Detergent 48 oz.

$13.95

Eco Sprout Detergent is an eco-friendly, all natural detergent that’s great for your entire family, and SAFE for cloth diapers... Read

Eco Sprout Detergent is an eco-friendly, all natural detergent that’s great for your entire family, and SAFE for cloth diapers & sensitive skin. It will clean and disinfect your diapers while rinsing clean.

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Family

Summer is here….here are some easy and DAbB ideas for kid friendly activities

“Wondering how you can keep your kids from spending the summer planted on the couch watching TV and playing video... Read

“Wondering how you can keep your kids from spending the summer planted on the couch watching TV and playing video games? Get your children outside while also creating great family times and memories.

Here is some of our favorite ides for you and your kids this Summer:

1. Grow a Garden

Kids love this.  We have found if we ask our children what veggie or herb they would like best for dinners they really connect and are more invested in building and caring for a garden.

When building the garden, let your kids get right in there in the dirt when planting, tending and picking. Even toddlers can use a small plastic shovel, put seeds in the soil, and pull a carrot out of the ground.  Clearly you will want to make sure your camera is at the ready because this will be too cute.

No room for growing veggies? Grow a few in pots on a balcony or even inside by a sunny and ventilated area.

2. Get Crafty

Rainy day? Turn cereal boxes into magazine organizers (or a fun way to corral kids books) by covering them in used wrapping paper, or paper grocery bags you decorate together. Explain the importance of reusing materials that still have a useful life, rather than throwing them in the landfill.

Or make a quick model of the solar system with clay and straws — and talk about how Earth is the only planet we know we can live on, and why we all need to take care of our planet.

3. Take a Hike

Regardless if it is a short walk or a longer hike, you will have the opportunity to teach your children about the nature, how to care for the planet, and get in a bit of exercise.  We sometimes take a kids “specimen” kit to aid in our exploring and understanding.

4. Bike to the Store

Between 1990 and 2001, miles driven for shopping grew more than 40 percent — three times as fast as all other types of driving — according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Ride bikes to the store together — get a cruiser bike with a big basket (or take a backpack). It’s great exercise — and a great opportunity to talk with kids about how using fossil fuels impacts the Earth. Take a stash of reusable shopping bags with you.

5. Reduce Your Carbon Footprint Together

From recycling to composting to using less water, eco-friendly activities can start before you leave the house. Calculate your environmental footprint together using The Conservation Fund’s Carbon Zero Calculator. Let kids type in the numbers, and talk with them about what your footprint means. Then involve your kids in steps you can take to make it smaller — such as switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs, which use 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent.

Have a great summer!”

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Doing A Bit Better

Chevrolet Announces Low-Impact Labels by 2013

“Doing A bit Better, just got… well, a little better.  Beginning with the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic, Chevrolet plans to apply... Read

“Doing A bit Better, just got… well, a little better.  Beginning with the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic, Chevrolet plans to apply eco-impact labels on all of its brand-new vehicles by 2013. As the first of any automaker to present its cars in this manner, Chevrolet’s Ecologic label allows customers to assess environmental impacts associated with any particular Chevrolet vehicle in all stages of its product life.

With these Ecologic labels, GM makes itself more attractive to environmentally conscious consumers. According to GM North America President Mark Reuss, “Customers want companies to be honest and transparent about their environmental efforts and sustainability goals, and rightly so. Putting an Ecologic label on each Chevrolet is just one more way for us to share our environmental progress.”

The numbers and data on the Ecologic labels are determined by independent, third-party sustainability agency Two Tomorrows, a company that provides environmental audit and assurance services to companies.

Source: Forbes”

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Food

Don’t Throw That Out!

“Gourmet foodie or mac-n-cheese bachelor, we all despise cleaning out the fridge. It’s frustrating – and not-to-mention wasteful – to... Read

“Gourmet foodie or mac-n-cheese bachelor, we all despise cleaning out the fridge. It’s frustrating – and not-to-mention wasteful – to throw out everything it feels like we just bought.  Here are some ways to keep food more fresh.

Fresh Herbs
If you’re like us, you’ve probably bought a big bunch of parsley, used a little, and threw the rest back in the bag in the fridge. After a day or two, the parsley starts wilting and not before too long, it’s not worth using anymore. To keep fresh herbs useable for about a week, store the stems in a short glass in about 2” of water and cover with cheesecloth or a plastic storage bag. This will help the plants stay hydrated and humid, and will double the shelf-life of your herbs.

Eggs
True egg lovers despise that funky taste old eggs start to get after a while. Much like your box of baking soda, eggs absorb flavors in your fridge. Who wants that smelly-fridge flavor in their Denver omelet? Instead of keeping your eggs at the bottom of the fridge, keep them out! Eggs stay fresh for up to 2 weeks without being refrigerated – in fact, they’re sold on the shelf in the U.K., not the refrigerated section. You can test the freshness of your egg by gently placing it in a glass of lukewarm water. If it sinks, it’s still fresh.

Potatoes
Many people have taken to throwing out their potatoes after losing firmness or once they begin sprouting.  While this is unnecessary and wasteful, there are ways to cut down on these phenomena. Store apples in a dark place, like in a cupboard. In fact, if you store your potatoes and apples together, the apples will help slow the sprouting of the potatoes

Carrots
While it takes a while for fresh carrots to go bad (i.e. soften, mold, etc), they can quickly become hard and knobby. Unless you plan to use them right away, try to buy carrots with the leaves still attached. Much like fruits, the carrot will stay fresher longer. If not using the carrots right away, put them in a tall glass full of wet sand. Add a few tablespoons of water about halfway through the week to keep the carrots fresh and tender.

Spices
Some spices, after a while, pick up moisture from the air and begin to clump together and harden. This is common in especially warm kitchens – but doesn’t have to be! Cut a 6×6 inch square of a fine-mesh cheesecloth or other porous fabric. Place a tablespoon of dry rice in the center of the square, and bunch up the four corners, forming a small satchel. Tie off with string or a twist-tie, and put in the top of your spice jar. The rice will absorb moisture, keeping your spices fresh and dry.

Follow these tips, and food will stay fresher and flavorful for longer! It will save you money, cut down on food waste, and help you Do A bit Better every day!”

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UpCycle

Monday Tip of the Week – Clip of the Day (literally)

You know those annoying little bread clips that come on most loaves of bread today? Like this one: Well stop... Read

You know those annoying little bread clips that come on most loaves of bread today? Like this one:

Well stop throwing those out!  Instead, we have a clever way to upcycle them which will take 30 seconds of your time, and make all of your friends say “why didn’t I think of that?!”. Write the name of one of your Audio/Video devices on it (such as DVR, Cable box, Wii, Apple TV, etc.).  That way, next time you’re trying to figure out which cord is which, all you have to do it read.

Easy, right? Check back here for more clever ideas on how to upcycle your household junk!

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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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Housewares

Zoo Reusable Sandwich & Snack Bag Set- Monkey

$11.99

Snack Bag Set is made for little kids learning to eat independently, whether at home or on-the-go. The sandwich pouch... Read

Snack Bag Set is made for little kids learning to eat independently, whether at home or on-the-go. The sandwich pouch is ideal for your kiddo’s favorite lunch, without the waste of traditional plastic bags.

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UpCycle

Monday Tip of the Week: Use a tea can to grow a garden

“There are a lot of great uses for old tea cans–you can use them for storing little things like buttons... Read

“There are a lot of great uses for old tea cans–you can use them for storing little things like buttons or safety pins. Here at Doing a Bit Better we like to use them to make an indoor garden! It’s simple. First step, drill (or punch if the metal is thin) a small hole in the bottom of the tin to give you plant proper drainage. Step two, plant your garden. We like to plant herbs and keep them in our kitchen so we have easy access to fresh seasonings! Check out the picture below.

 

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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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Solar

Maryland comes out on top!

The Ecotech Institute recently released the very first “Clean Jobs Index” (there are over 3,000,000 jobs across the county!). Something... Read

The Ecotech Institute recently released the very first “Clean Jobs Index” (there are over 3,000,000 jobs across the county!). Something that we are really interested over here at Doing a Bit Better are LEED Projects. For those who need some catching up, LEED Projects stand for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Projects. This could be anything from a building installing solar panels, to conserving water in the work place. And you all know how we feel about solar (it’s the future!). We would like to congratulate Maryland for coming out on top as the state who has the highest number of LEED projects per capita! Way to go, we hope the other 49 states follow your lead–no pun intended. To read about other states rankings, click here.

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Housewares

Monday Tip of the Week – Green light!

“If every household in the United State replaced one regular light bulb with one of the new compact fluorescent bulbs,... Read

“If every household in the United State replaced one regular light bulb with one of the new compact fluorescent bulbs, the pollution reduction would be equivalent to removing one million cars from the road.

Don’t like the color of the light? Use these bulbs for closets, laundry rooms and other obscure places where the light is less likely to bother you.  Or try changing your lampshade and light covers where it makes sense. A clear cover or light colored lampshade increases the amount of light that’s distributed.”

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Doing A Bit Better

Three More Hybrids We Love

“A few weeks ago, we described our love for the sexy, new Fisker Karma.  So we wanted to feed your... Read

“A few weeks ago, we described our love for the sexy, new Fisker Karma.  So we wanted to feed your need for green speed with three more amazing eco-machines:

Toyota  TS030 Hybrid
To put it lightly, this ain’t your aunt Millie’s Prius.  Honda’s first ever hybrid LeMan’s car debuted in January and has been generating tons of buzz.  With the sport predominantly championed by diesel engines, Honda is banking on their Hybrid cars’ ability to run more laps without needing to refuel.  We can’t wait to see this eco-friendly, carbon fiber beauty put to the test in June at the famous 24 Hours of Le Man race.

Code X Luxury Hybrid Yacht
For the boaters in the world, we bring you the Code X Luxury Hybrid Yacht.  Looking like something out of a 007 movie, this 47 foot floating green machine touts touch screen controls, 710HP solar hybrid power system, and a GPS controlled “virtual anchor” system that will keep it in position regardless of conditions.

Zero Motorcycles MX

Ok, so, technically the Zero MX isn’t a hybrid…its better.  It’s all electric!  That means it’s lightweight & plenty fast.  And no need to worry about sounding like a mosquito buzzing in a megaphone because this baby is silent!  Plus, you can leave your battery on the charger for hours, days, even months (if you are away from home). It’s ready to go when you are, and plugs into any standard 110 or 220 volt outlet.  Starting at just $9,495, the Zero MX is ready to rip up the track when you are!

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Housewares

Your Easy-access Guide to All-Natural Cleaners

“We all know that green cleaning products are great way to Do A bit Better.  But these products can also... Read

“We all know that green cleaning products are great way to Do A bit Better.  But these products can also be pricey and not readily available at your local supermarket.  But, whether you realize it or not, your kitchen is a virtual cornucopia of terrific all-natural cleaning products!  Here are just a few green cleaners you probably already have on hand:

White Vinegar
White vinegar is your kitchen’s all-purpose cleaner.  Vinegar’s natural slightly acidic properties make it a great choice for disinfecting and deodorizing just about any room in your house.  To create a gentle-but-effective cleaner, simply mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle.  For areas that need a little more “oomph”, simply add a little more vinegar and a little less water.  (But don’t go too crazy with the vinegar, as too much can be damaging.  It’s always best to spot treat your solution on a hidden area, and avoid using on any natural stone such as marble, granite, travertine, or limestone.)

Vinegar isn’t just a surface cleaner – it is also a terrific all-natural fabric softener.  Simply add ½ cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle in place of store-bought fabric softener.  Not only does vinegar reduce the amount of lint, but it also breaks down laundry detergent effectively, which is great for family members with sensitive skin.

Salt & Club Soda
Not just for popcorn and cocktails, salt & club soda are a highly effective duo for eliminating the dreaded red wine stains.  The key to removing red wine stains is to treat the stain as quickly as possible.  To begin, assess the damage: if the stain is on the carpet or table cloth you can work directly on it, but if the spill hit the drapes or an article of clothing, remove and place the stained item on a flat surface.  Next, liberally pour the club soda cover over the entire stain.  The carbonation in the club soda will help lift the stain.  Once the stain has been lightly soaked, pour ¼ inch of normal table salt directly on the stain– just dump it on.  The salt will begin to lift the red wine out of the area being cleaned.  Dab gently with a damp cloth to remove the remaining salt.  Repeat as necessary until the stain is gone.

Baking Soda
Baking soda is a great deodorant.  Simply place an open container in the back of your refrigerator, freezer, or by your trash cans to eliminate the smell.  Got teenage boys at home with that not-so-great teenage boy smell?  Simply pour baking soda into old socks and stuff inside their shoes to naturally deodorize while they are not being worn.

Lemons
Lastly, we have nature’s natural cleaner – the lemon!  There is a reason why so many commercial cleaners are citrus based: the pleasing scent and natural acidity make for an unbeatable cleaning combination.  Lemon juice can dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits, or you can use it to clean and shine brass & copper.  Or, mix 1 part lemon juice with 2 parts olive oil to make to make your furniture shine.  For other surfaces, try mixing lemon juice with vinegar or baking soda to make cleaning pastes – just be aware that lemon juice can act like a natural bleach, so be sure to spot test the lemon juice in a hidden area before using.  When you are done squeezing the cleaning power out of the lemons, toss the peels down the drain to help make your disposal smelling fresh & clean.

 “

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Environment

Monday Tip of the Week: Have a green Labor Day

Labor day is often the last big BBQ day of the season. As you enjoy your relaxing day off, don’t... Read

Labor day is often the last big BBQ day of the season. As you enjoy your relaxing day off, don’t forget to Do a Bit Better. It’s always best to use real dishes, but if you have to use paper plates, make sure they are made from recycled materials, and recycle them again! Same goes for utensils and cups. Here are some great options from Preserve, check them out!

 

Have a great holiday!

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Housewares

Green Rim Recycled Pitcher

$14.00

A tale of transformation from trash to sparkling treasure—reclaiming what was once thrown away and giving it stunning new purpose.... Read

A tale of transformation from trash to sparkling treasure—reclaiming what was once thrown away and giving it stunning new purpose. Sparkling with bright, leafy green, evoking summer days and cool drinks with friends.

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Housewares

DoingABitBetter – More Tweets for your Tuesday

“Since our last post about Green Twitter Accounts, we’ve encountered even more great tweets that we’re sure you’ll love. @acmepartybox... Read

“Since our last post about Green Twitter Accounts, we’ve encountered even more great tweets that we’re sure you’ll love.

@acmepartybox – Green party favors and supplies (because those kids parties mean a LOT of trash!)
@CAGW – “”Crafting a Green World”” for all sorts of neat tips on green DIY & crafts
@AllOrganicGirl – Natural/Organic living news & advice
@BeingContent – ethical & organic beauty news, product recommendations, tips
@AptTherapyGreen – Apartment Therapy’s green team takes on sustainability in small spaces

And as if it needs saying, follow us! @DoingAbitBetter.”

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Housewares

Baja Recycled Wine Glass- Set of 2

$20.00

It’s fiesta time! Our Baja Wine Glass is hand-crafted from 100% recycled glass. Bold lines of blue and green bring... Read

It’s fiesta time! Our Baja Wine Glass is hand-crafted from 100% recycled glass. Bold lines of blue and green bring a simple, elegant style that’s perfect for every day or party time. These are made from thick, durable hand-blown glass that won’t break or tip over as easily as traditional glassware

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Family

The Fridge Isn’t Enough – What to do with Your Kid’s Artwork

“Not that you don’t love your kid’s artwork, but what should you do with it all?  We all have stacks... Read

“Not that you don’t love your kid’s artwork, but what should you do with it all?  We all have stacks and boxes full of our little artist’s creations. Here are few suggestions on how to reuse and display their little master pieces, so there are no late night runs (you know, when the kids are asleep) to the recycle bin!

Use as gift wrap – kids designs make beautiful wrapping paper for birthday gifts.  Trust me when I say, people will be asking you who made the amazing paper creation.  Your kids will be happy knowing others get to enjoy their work as well!

Laminate- run on down to any printer that has a laminating machine or use the one you have at home.  Take the kid’s art and turn them into beautiful placemats, pet food mats and/or bookmarks.  They are great gift ideas for friends and family.

Frame It – frame and mat the art work.  It’s a great way to decorate the kid’s rooms, your office and more.  They also make great gifts for friends and family.

Make a Book – compile your favorite pieces and make a book the whole family can enjoy.

Lastly, a great way to preserve the work is to scan it all and you can look back at them forever.  Then get your child to agree to recycle the originals without the midnight run to the recycle bin!”

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Doing A Bit Better

Early Prep for Your Green Garden

“Spring is rapidly approaching and before you know, mega-stores will be opening up their gardening centers (the ones that always... Read

“Spring is rapidly approaching and before you know, mega-stores will be opening up their gardening centers (the ones that always seem to get birds trapped in them). We’re not saying it’s time to bust out the trowel just yet, but prepping for an hour or two on the weekends now can make all the difference once it’s time to plant.

Start Composting
If you haven’t already, consider composting – it’s really not as icky as it sounds.  In fact, there are countless products on the market today that make the entire process more simple than ever – such as the NatureMill composter. It automatically mixes and applies heat to your food scraps to make composting simpler and faster. In fact, the sleek design makes it worthy of your kitchen, and it can easily fit in an unused cupboard or closet.

If you can’t stand the idea of composting inside, consider a hand-crank version which sits in your back yard.

Plant Potatoes
Heartier varieties of potatoes can – and should – be planted early for harvesting in August. Consider Yukon Gold and Russet potatoes, both of which are high in starch and are great for frying and baking (staples come August!)

Trim your Annuals
Now is the time to clip the flowers off of your annuals to allow for new growth – which means you don’t have to buy new flowers this year. Make sure you stick those clippings in your compost!

Clean your Green Bin
You’re going to be using it a lot this summer – but chances are it still stinks from last year. A gentle scrub with hot water and a biodegradable cleaner will make you think twice about using it at all this year!”

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Garden

Letting the Lawn Lay is the Best Way

“We all want the best looking lawn on the block- but it may be surprising that spending less time on... Read

“We all want the best looking lawn on the block- but it may be surprising that spending less time on your lawn will actually make it greener.  Most grass species are best kept at least 2.5 inches tall.  At this length, the lawn is able to absorb more sunlight into it’s overall surface than that with a shorter length.  With more sunlight absorption, you will get a thicker turf and deeper roots which also means you don’t have to water as often.

Another little lawn tip is let the lawn clippings lay.  Lawn clippings actually add nitrogen to the soil, and discourages weeds from germinating.  You will therefore use less fertilizer and herbicide.

So the next time you see “”Cut the Lawn”” on your honey-do list, you can tell your significant other that you’re Doing A bit Better by not cutting it.  You’re welcome!”

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