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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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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Housewares

Monday Tip of the Week – Coffee to Go, Please!

If you start every morning with a steamy cup, a quick tabulation can show you that the waste is piling... Read

If you start every morning with a steamy cup, a quick tabulation can show you that the waste is piling up. Invest in a reusable cup, which not only cuts down on waste, but keeps your beverage hot for a much longer time. Most coffee shops will happily fill your own cup, and many even offer you a discount in exchange!  Not to mention, they look nicer.

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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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Environment

Eco-Friendly Destinations in Florida

“As summer arrives and you begin to think about what warm vacation destination to go to, you may want to... Read

“As summer arrives and you begin to think about what warm vacation destination to go to, you may want to drop Sunny Florida into the hat.  There are many eco-friendly destinations where you can enjoy the beach, Disney, golf and various outdoor recreational activities.   There are multiple properties that have been certified green through the Florida Green Lodging Program.  The program designates and recognizes lodging facilities that make a commitment to conserve and protect Florida’s natural resources.

Check out a few green certified resorts we have uncovered below:

Plantation on Crystal River – Located on the Nature’s Coast of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, this beautiful 50 year old eco-friendly and green lodging luxury resort is surrounded by the natural springs of King’s Bay. This bay, in Crystal River, is one of the largest aquifers in the state and home to more than 400 West Indian Manateesthat migrate each year to the warmth of the springs.

Wildwood Resort – a nature-based hotel and gold retreat.  Located in beautiful Wakulla County, thirty minutes South of Tallahassee, Florida. This resort has some of the best wildlife viewing, fishing, canoeing, hiking and boating around.

Hilton Clearwater Beach, Florida – The hotel is committed to safeguarding the environment through consistent water conservation, energy efficiency, waste reduction and clean air practices. Located along 10 acres of sparkling white-sand beach overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, the Hilton Clearwater Beach provides the perfect environment for business and leisure.

BuenaVista Palace – Located in one of the country’s most gorgeous natural settings, the Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa in Lake Buena Vista Florida fully recognizes the importance of keeping the environment healthy.  Adjacent to the Downtown Disney® area, Buena Vista Palace is a luxurious haven offering unsurpassed comfort, hospitality, and design.

DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Napleslocated in Naples, Florida. Nestled on the banks of the Cocohatchee River, the all-suite hotel is the perfect destination for those seeking rest and relaxation in sunny Southwest Florida. The shimmering Gulf of Mexico coast is only two miles away. The hotel is focused on sustainability for the benefit of their hotel guests.

Find out more about the Florida Green Lodging Program!

Now go out and plan that Florida vacation and feel good about where you will be staying!”

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Mom & Baby

UpCycle Spotlight: The Almighty Baby Food Jar!

“We are always interested in clever ways to upcycle everyday products into new and useful items.  Today we are going... Read

“We are always interested in clever ways to upcycle everyday products into new and useful items.  Today we are going to showcase some of the coolest uses for all of those baby food jars you go through feeding your little one.

Spice Racks

   
Candle Jars & Holders
   
   
Pin Cushions & Sewing Storage
   
Herb Planters
Holiday Decorations
 
 

 

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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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Pets

DAbB’s Review of Wood Chuck Dog Toy

While we don’t bring our “other children” (our pets) to the office, we still couldn’t help but be excited when... Read

While we don’t bring our “other children” (our pets) to the office, we still couldn’t help but be excited when our Wood Chuck Dog Toy showed up at the office this week! Made by the fine folks at Planet Dog, this thing packs a SERIOUS wallop! Honestly, it’s a good thing they don’t allow these things in the MLB… I’ve never thrown anything so far in my life.

The entire shaft is made from sustainable bamboo, and with a cork handle which is INCREDIBLY comfortable. Better yet, included in the price was one Recycled Rubber ball which fit perfectly. That recycled rubber is stronger than it looks – I’ll be surprised if any of our pets can get their sharp little teeth through that… (knock on wood).

Best of all, we bought it from Only Natural Pet Store, who shipped the toy in biodegradable packing peanuts (swoon!). Not only do they talk the talk, but walk the walk as well. In fact, we had to make sure so we dropped a few into a glass of water.  They were gone within 20 minutes.

   

We couldn’t be happier with our purchase – If you’ve got a little friend with too much energy, we think you’ll like it too!

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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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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... Read

“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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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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Pets

Lets Talk About #2

“So, not the most fun topic, but when thinking of all of the ways to do a bit better, you... Read

“So, not the most fun topic, but when thinking of all of the ways to do a bit better, you cannot forget about the Fidos and Fluffies in your life.  That’s right, we have some helpful hints on how to reduce your pet’s “pawprint”.

Cat Fact
According to the EPA, approximately 10 million tons of pet waste sits in our landfills, with nearly 2 million tons non-biodegradable cat litter. Clay-based cat litter-the largest selling type of litter-is just not pet nor eco-friendly.

Cat Solution
An easy solution is to choose a biodegradable and organic litter made from plant-based material. Today’s eco-friendly litters are made from products such as corn, recycled newspapers and even tea leaves.  Brands we like are:  World’s Best Cat Litter and Shweet Scoop.  From what we can tell, cats really like the organic/natural litters a great deal.  The natural litters tend to be soft and lack the smell of typical litters.

Dog Fact
We have all seen it…and are maybe even guilty of it… picking up Fido’s “presents” in a plastic bag.  We have actually seen people drop their dog’s “presents” in a storm drain.  Although the owner may think they are doing what is best, they are actually doing far more harm than good.  In most communities, storm drains empty directly into lakes or streams; and therefore, it pollutes these important water sources.

Dog Solution
So so so easy.  Use biodegradable bags.  Some parks actually have these bags for free.  However, if your town does not provide such a service, we recommend Bags on Board and BioBags. 

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Housewares

Hard Rock Cloth Diaper Detergent Remix

$19.95

Free of phosphates, dyes, enzymes, whiteners and brighteners, Rockin’ Green Detergent is natural and safe for your family’s clothing and... Read

Free of phosphates, dyes, enzymes, whiteners and brighteners, Rockin’ Green Detergent is natural and safe for your family’s clothing and perfect for baby’s cloth diapers!

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Solar

PV Local History 101: California History of Solar

At times we like to fly our “Nerd Flag”.   Go Solar California has a great history of solar in the... Read

At times we like to fly our “Nerd Flag”.   Go Solar California has a great history of solar in the Golden State.  Here are just a few fun facts we enjoyed:

-The origins of the PV Cell are found in the work done by Chapin, Fuller and Pearson from Bell Laboratory in 1954

-In 1978, the US Congress passed the “Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act”.  This law established the right for independent power producers to interconnect with the local utility distribution systems.  So for people who today get a nice monthly check from their local energy company can thank the efforts made by Congress nearly 35 years ago.

-In early 1979 the world’s largest PV manufacturing facility in Camarillo, California started producing more than a megawatt of PV modules in one year.

-The Sacramento Municipal Utility District generated 1.0 MW of photovoltaic power in 1984.

Go to Go Solar California to read the entire history.

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Solar

Retailers – The Quest to go Solar

“Many retailers today – large and small – are looking for ways to be sustainable, and also do things that... Read

“Many retailers today – large and small – are looking for ways to be sustainable, and also do things that make sense for the business.  Going Solar has been one of those things that make sense for both goals.  With growing frequency, companies from Apple to Walmart have been making this a reality.  Below are a few examples of companies who are utilizing renewable energy and paving the road to an energy-efficient world.

IKEA
IKEA, the largest home furnishing store in the world, is up to 30 solar installations in its stores across the US including Tampa, Florida (July 2012) with the one of the latest in Frisco, Texas (August 2012). The company has made a serious commitment to sustainability and confidence in photovoltaic technology.

IKEA owns and operates each of its solar power systems atop its buildings.  Drawing from its Swedish heritage, the company believes that Solar can be a good business while aiming for its operations to minimize impacts on the environment.

WALMART
Walmart has installed more than 150 solar projects across the US.  The company currently has 62 megawatts of solar panels installed, while operating fuel cells and wind turbines at other locations.  Walmart has plans to have 1,000 solar-powered locations by 2020.

APPLE INC.
By the end of 2012, Apple will meet the energy needs of their Maiden, North Carolina datacenter by generating onsite renewable energy.  They are building two solar array installations which use high-efficiency solar cells and an advanced solar tracking system.

Apple plans to buy solar panels from SunPower for the huge solar farm, and the projects should be completed by the end of the 2012.

MACY’S
In 2010, the Macy’s solar installation in Goodyear, AZ claimed the title for the largest single-rooftop system in the US.  Most of Macy’s efforts have been focused in California, installing solar panels on 26 stores.”

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Doing A Bit Better

UpCycling 101 – What Is It?

“A term that’s popping up more and more in the green world is “upcycling”. But what is it, and who... Read

“A term that’s popping up more and more in the green world is “upcycling”. But what is it, and who does it benefit?  More importantly, who’s leading this movement and what are they doing?

Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials into something that’s usable and “new”. It’s like recycling but not in the sense of turning glass bottles back into glass bottles.  It’s more like turning old soda cans into jewelry, or old barn wood into a coffee table.  While people have been upcycling for years, the movement has lately grown – it’s no longer just for the hardcore DIY’ers – in fact, anyone can do it.

Instead of ending up in a landfill or being processed through a recycling center (which does waste energy and water), our waste products gain new life through upcycling at home. These projects make great gifts, and are sold through various outlets such as Etsy.

Alchemy Goods is another leader in the space of upcycling, and produces messenger bags, wallets and totes using old tarps, banners, seatbelts and tire tubing.

Another company, Terracycle, has made its sole purpose to upcycle all of those things that can’t necessarily be recycled or are difficult to recycle (such as Capri Sun packages). Their products are made from crowd-sourced materials and donors are credited for future purchases.

These aren’t the only games in town, and you should certainly explore some home-friendly upcycling crafts on your own or with your family! It’s one more way that you can do a bit better!

 

 “

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Family

Eat, Grill and be Green

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  No, no, the OTHER most wonderful time of the year.  That’s right... Read

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  No, no, the OTHER most wonderful time of the year.  That’s right – it’s almost Summer, which means barbecue season! Unfortunately, barbecues can mean a lot of waste.  Here are some ways to green up your barbecue for those festive occasions:

-Go Local! Buying local ingredients supports your local farmers, but it also has benefits to you. It usually means fresher veggies and fruits – which means it hasn’t been on the truck as long.  If you shop at your local farmers market, you can usually talk to the farmers or their family directly about how their food is grown and which of their produce is organic.

-Consider Solar Lights. They’ve come down in price quite drastically in the last few years, and come in many forms.  Consider some solar light stakes, or these lovely Pagoda Solar Lanterns from Bambeco.  Just think how nice they would look strung all across your back yard!

-Get a Keg. Okay, if you’re going to serve beer, it makes way more sense to get a keg!  Your beer cost goes way down, while the sustainability factor goes way up. Drinking out of mason jars is also a great idea, as they’re reusable, washable, and it’s not as big of a deal if someone writes their name on one or breaks one.  If you absolutely insist upon the red cup, just wash them afterwards.  They’re not dishwasher safe but will hold up in the sink for 5-10 more uses.

-Use Those Disposables Up. We’re not a fan of using disposable anything.  Even if it’s recycled, it’s still so wasteful!  But you’ve undoubtedly gotten plenty of disposable napkins and cutlery from your favorite takeout place. Now’s a good time to use those up.  You can even wash those afterwards and use them a few more times.

-Consider Cloth. Cloth napkins will really class up your party, and won’t end up in the landfill.  They’re not expensive, and you can even make your own out of fabric scraps, old jeans, etc.
Now get out there and show your green gang just how well you grill!”

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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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Environment

More Throttle AND Better MPG? Sold.

“According to your grandparents, the best ways to increase gas-mileage are to keep the windows rolled up, don’t run the... Read

“According to your grandparents, the best ways to increase gas-mileage are to keep the windows rolled up, don’t run the air conditioner, and keep the speedometer below 40.  Thanks, Grandpa – but we have a better idea.  Fuel economy can easily be increased with a new Air Intake System – and there are other benefits, too.  Along with more MPG, you’ll also get higher horsepower, and better throttle response.

It’s simple enough to do and only takes a few minutes.  The friendly people at your local auto parts store will be able to guide you toward the right system for your vehicle.

These systems replace the cheap system your auto-maker included with the vehicle, and increases the efficiency at which your vehicle burns fuel.  The more efficiently your vehicle burns fuel, the less fuel it uses to do the same thing.

These systems can run from $50 – $200, depending on the make and year of your vehicle.  Less gas, more green.”

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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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