July 13, 2015 Health & Beauty

Home-made beauty products

“Make your own beauty products?  Sounds hard, but it’s actually quite simple.  Aside from saving a little money, many commercially produced beauty products are packed with nasty chemicals that can do damage to your body.  As mentioned in our Caring About Personal Care article  (link to article), there are Parabens, Phthalates, Tricolosan, Oxybenzone and Formaldehyde in many of the beauty products we use every day. We are Doing A bit Better here by making a few of our own. We promise these DYI beauty products are as easy as going to your kitchen and pulling a few things together.

Homemade Perfume

An easy way to smell delicious in a snap is to grab a sauce pan, lemon juice and vanilla extract.  Mix the two, heat them up and you’ll have a sweet homemade fragrance just like that.  Pour the rest in a glass jar for continued use.

Use Vegetable Oil to Condition Your Hair
Is there anything vegetable oil can’t do?  In addition to being used for cooking and fueling some cars, it can also work as an amazing conditioner for your hair.  Grab some all-natural oil (organic is the best), pour in your hand, rub at the scalp and then comb through to the ends.  Let sit a few minutes and rinse.  You’ll be left with soft conditioned hair!

Exfoliate with Strawberries
We can all use exfoliation once and a while – after all, it’s a great way to make your skin feel baby-fresh.  So instead of reaching for store bought exfoliant, why not just grab some strawberries?  Strawberries have natural fruit acid that helps in exfoliation of your skin. All you need is 8-10 berries, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of coarse salt (sea, kosher, etc).  Mix all the ingredients together and then massage it on your hands, feet, face or any place that needs a gentle scrub.

Make Your Own All Natural Lip Gloss
Looking for a clean, fresh gloss to sooth those dry lips and make them shine too?  Make your own lip gloss by mixing 1 teaspoon of fresh aloe vera gel with 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil and 1/8 teaspoon of vitamin E oil. Stir until smooth, then use right away, storing the rest for later.

Homemade Deodorant
Homemade deodorant is easy as sprinkling a little baking soda onto a damp wash cloth, and applying it to your underarms. It’ll keep you fresh throughout the day!

 

These are just a few ways to look and feel good naturally and to know that you are Doing A bit Better!”

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Family

Turn Off the Water, Buy Yourself Dinner

“Did you know that according to the California Energy Commission, about 75% of the water used in the average home... Read

“Did you know that according to the California Energy Commission, about 75% of the water used in the average home is in the bathroom?  Leaving the water running while we brush our teeth or wash our faces only increases this number. It can be a tough habit to break, but putting a price-tag may aid you in getting your family to change their habits.

Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth in the morning and at night saves a whopping 8 gallons of water each day, according to the EPA. If each member of a family of four nixed the water-running habit, you’d save about $13.75 per person or $55 each month.

That savings can buy your family dinner at your favorite restaurant.”

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Food

Easy Tips to Green up your next BBQ party

Whether you are celebrating our nation’s birthday or having friends over, we have five easy tips to make your next... Read

Whether you are celebrating our nation’s birthday or having friends over, we have five easy tips to make your next BBQ party a bit better.

  • Party Food – Shop at a local farmer’s market for your BBQ ingredients. You can usually find great local organic produce, breads & meats.  If you can’t find what you are looking for then go to your grocer and look for products which are made/farmed in your local area.  Buying local is best for you and your local economy.
  • Tableware – Buy biodegradable dishes (we should link this to a CJ brand).  Great for outdoor use & can be tossed in the trash with little guilt.
  • Napkins – Use washable cloth napkins to reduce paper waste.  If you want a bit more style to your BBQ go and buy bandannas.  They are usually rather inexpensive-we find them $5.00 for a twelve pack-and you can give them out to your guests as a party favor.
  • Compost – So easy.  Just have your compost bag ready for all leftovers food scraps & other organic trash.  Another hint, we often will buy compostable flatware and dishes so all trash ends up in one bag.
  • Grill – A solar powered grill is the most eco-friendly way to grill these days, but if that’s not an option for you opt for a grill that burns natural gas rather than charcoal–it’s cleaner!
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Recycle

Doing Better Than Your Next Door Neighbor

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans throw out nearly 5.5 billion pounds of electronics a year—such as TVs,... Read

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans throw out nearly 5.5 billion pounds of electronics a year—such as TVs, stereos, cell phones and even computers.  As a results, million of pounds of chemicals and heavy metals end up in the ground.  Despite local agencies making it rather clear how easy it is to recycle electronics, our neighbors have yet to catch on.  So the next time you are at your next block party and you overhear someone talking about how much they hate their blender tell them to go to www.mygreenelectronics.org to find a local recycling center in their area.  The site also provides a list of electronics, from laptops to baby monitors, that are easier on the environment  and your energy bill.

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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

Way Basics Eco Friendly Three Shelf Cube

$55.95

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

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

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Food

Monday Tip of the Week – Being a Greener Professional

“Sometimes we get so caught up in our day-to-day, that we forget about our better-living-goals when we’re on the go. ... Read

“Sometimes we get so caught up in our day-to-day, that we forget about our better-living-goals when we’re on the go.  Here are some reminders and possibly new ideas that can get you going!

Morning Coffee
If you’re not the type to make your own coffee in the morning (which could potentially save you over $300 a year), then you’re probably stopping into the local coffee shop before you hit the office.  Here are some ways to Do A bit Better at your java-stop:

-Bring your own cup.  You’ll get a discount on your coffee, and you’ll stop seeing those white paper cups pile up in your recycling bin

-Skip the sleeve – If you insist upon the paper cup, consider not using the sleeve or reusing the sleeve.  There’re also a variety of reusable silicone sleeves for sale across the net.

-Pour it, don’t packet! Sugar packets and stir sticks add up. Pour your sugar from the provided dispenser instead of tearing open a few packets, and let nature do the stirring for you. If you keep your sugar and milk at the office, it will stay hotter longer.

Lunch time!
If you work downtown, you’ll notice how many people scuffle around in a hurry to get their lunch and go. You’ll also notice everyone carrying a paper bag, with a sandwich also wrapped in paper inside – followed by a paper soda cup. That’s a LOT of waste. Consider this, instead:

-Bring a reusable bag – they’re not just for grocery shopping anymore!

-Skip the soda – on top of it being incredibly bad for you anyway, those soda cups pile up in the landfill. We have a water carbonator in our office to substitute for soda, and the carbonated water helps trick our bodies into thinking we’re drinking something more sugary! Win-win.

Meetings
You’ll impress your clients and business partners if you look a little greener!

-Don’t provide bottled water – leave some empty glasses and a pitcher of water on the table for all to enjoy.

-Put your presentation on a thumb drive – all of those paper versions you pass out will likely just get tossed out anyway.  If you HAVE to print it, print on both sides to use half as much paper!

Now you’re on your way to being the model professional for a better world!”

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Housewares

Quick Fix to Stop the Drip

“An average American consumer uses about 100 gallons of water per day- or 1,600 glasses.  Household water consumption has increased... Read

“An average American consumer uses about 100 gallons of water per day- or 1,600 glasses.  Household water consumption has increased by 200% since 1950, despite our population having only grown by 90%.  As a result, more than 36 states are expected to face water shortages in the next six years.  Stemming the flow is as easy as fixing a leaky faucet or toilet.  A dripping faucet can waste up to 74 gallons of water a day and a leaking toilet up to 200 gallons per day.

In repairing a leaky toilet you can save $30 a year, which may not sound like much, however, it’s also saving 73,00 gallons of water.”

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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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Garden

Mulching the Funny Pages

“You know those times when you realize your parents were right about something? Sigh… this is one of those times.... Read

“You know those times when you realize your parents were right about something? Sigh… this is one of those times. Many staff members here remember using newspapers in their family’s garden as kids, but never really knew why. We all hate weeds. Using the good ole Sunday newspaper is incredibly useful for keeping weeds at bay, if not completely keeping them out of your garden. This method doesn’t involve chemicals that might harm your produce, damage your plants, or cause health problems for your family. It’s also cheap and super easy.

What You’ll Need
A large amount of newspapers (The size of the Sunday paper finally comes in handy!)
Organic mulching materials such as:

Grass clippings
Pine Bark
Leaves
Straw

Steps
Open up a section of the newspaper and place it right on top of the soil and tightly around your plants. We recommend you have at least 12 pages thick. Make sure you overlap the edges so light and weeds can’t pierce through the paper. (Make sure you don’t use glossy paper from coupons, inserts, etc! These typically contain mild toxins from the ink.)

As you lay the paper down, place 3-4 inches of mulch over the top. This amount of mulch will help to keep the newspaper down and it looks great. And now you’re done!

The newspaper mulch will not only keep the weeds down, it will also fertilize the soil, cool the roots of the plants in the summer heat, add organic material to the soil, and save water. Earthworms will be active underneath the mulch, tilling the ground for you and adding worm castings, which is pure gold for plants.

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Family

Monday Tip of the Week: Make Story Magnets from old children’s books

Our friends over at Sun Hat & Wellie Boots have some great tips for green living. One of our favorites... Read

Our friends over at Sun Hat & Wellie Boots have some great tips for green living. One of our favorites is upcycled children’s books turned into story book magnets.

The steps are simple. Take an old book (a great place to pick these up would be your local library’s book sales–you can usually get children’s books for $.25 a piece!), you cut the images you would like, use a thicker card stock or old manila folder for backing, laminate, and attach some magnetic tape.

This is a great way to teach your children the importance of re-using, and will help their imaginations grow!

 

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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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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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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

Harvesting Your Own Rainwater – Hip or Hype?

“There’s been quite a lot of talk recently about how eco-friendly harvesting rainwater is. But there’s two sides to every... Read

“There’s been quite a lot of talk recently about how eco-friendly harvesting rainwater is. But there’s two sides to every story, so we thought it might be a good idea to measure the pros and cons about harvesting your own rainwater.

 

Pro’s                                                                    Con’s
-During water shortages, rainwater is an excellent way to make sure your plants don’t die or get under-watered. -Many Rainwater Collection Bins are made from PVC or other plastics, which are made with a lot of oil and energy. Upcycled wine barrels would work better.
-Your water bill goes down when you don’t water your plants from the hose every evening. -Rainwater can contain bird droppings or other pollutants.
-Reduces chemical runoff. -It may mean cutting a bit of your gutter-pipe so that you can fit the container under your gutter, which can be difficult to replace.

The end result?  If done right, the benefits to collecting your own rainwater can far outweigh the cons.

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UpCycle

Save the Landfill – AND Your Sanity

“We all hate it. We’ve all complained about it.  After a vacation away, we dread it – Junk Mail.  In... Read

“We all hate it. We’ve all complained about it.  After a vacation away, we dread it – Junk Mail.  In fact, we spend about 8 months of our lives opening junk mail.

So what do you do about all of those credit card offers and catalogs? Sure, we can recycle them – but there’s got to be a way to get to the source, right?

There are several services out there whose main goal is to reduce junk mail, including DMAchoice.org, who can help you opt out of catalogs, donation requests and magazine offers.  There’s also OptOutPrescreen.com, who can help you opt out of all of those annoying credit card offers.

Not comfortable giving out even more personal information? Then consider this neat upcycling idea from CraftingAGreenWorld.com, which demonstrates how to make a notebook out of junk mail!”

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Family

The Eco-Friendly Easter Basket – Fact or Fiction?

“Hippity, Hoppity, Easter’s on its way!  What better way to Do A bit Better this year, than to prepare an... Read

“Hippity, Hoppity, Easter’s on its way!  What better way to Do A bit Better this year, than to prepare an eco-friendly Easter basket for your little ones?  Here’s how:

Start by skipping the fake grass.  It’s usually made out of non-recyclable and non-biodegradable plastics which we just toss out the week after Easter.  And then what?  It sits in the landfill.  Dried grass gives a naturalistic look – or you can make your own paper grass from colored paper with a paper shredder.  It’s bouncy enough to keep Easter-eggs from breaking, and can be recycled afterwards

Speaking of Easter-eggs, consider dying your eggs naturally this year.  Egg shells are surprisingly absorbent when it comes to color, and the dye doesn’t have to last long! Consider boiling the eggs in some of these to color your eggs “au natural” this year: Pomegranate Juice, Blueberries, Spinach Juice, and Yellow Curry.  Boil these things in some white vinegar and you’ll get vibrant, natural colors!

Localize your candy!  Support your local Chocolatier for better chocolate, local economic stability, and less manufacturing / transporting / packaging waste.

Consider a better basket. Pick a basket you’ll like, reuse and keep (for guest towels, décor, gardening) instead of buying a cheap one you’re just going to throw out.  It may not be pastel colors, but a few ribbons will make it all-the-more festive!”

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Family

Ways to Reuse that Expired Interior Paint

So you painted your bedroom last year and have some leftover interior paint.  Now it’s expired, and won’t mix well... Read

So you painted your bedroom last year and have some leftover interior paint.  Now it’s expired, and won’t mix well enough to use in any other rooms. What to do?  If you throw out your expired interior paint, it will end up in the landfill and some runoff will probably end up in the water.  No good for mother Earth. It’s not recyclable, even though the can is – but first, we have to figure out what to do with the paint inside!

-Make Art!  Grab a piece of canvas or reclaimed wood and slather it in your expired paint. Use masking tape to parse out lines for styling, or add in some sand for texture. Then, you brag to all of your friends that you made it.

-Do some last minute touch-ups. Chances are you’ve missed a spot or scratched the wall at some point.

-Paint some furniture. You can buy unfinished furniture at a fraction of the cost of finished furniture, and while we think stains and lacquers look great, consider making a great accent piece with your leftover paint.

Not only will you have a fun project for the weekend with all of your leftover paint, but you’ll also make some space in the garage.  Up next: How to upcycle that old paint can!

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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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Recycle

Monday Tip of the Week – Getting Green with your Glass

“We’re lobbing you a softball here, people.  If you’re at home or on the road, there are receptacles and programs... Read

“We’re lobbing you a softball here, people.  If you’re at home or on the road, there are receptacles and programs for recycling glass readily available.

Glass is 100% recyclable! It can be recycled over and over again without losing purity or quality. Recycled glass reduces related air pollution by 20 percent and related water pollution by 50 percent. If it isn’t recycled, it can take a million years to decompose.

Glass can also be UpCycled in many ways. Check out these awesome tumblers made from old soda bottles!”

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Housewares

Quick Home Tip – Let Your Dishwasher do the Work

“And by dishwasher, we don’t mean your husband. Today’s dishwashers aren’t like the avocado green one you grew up with. ... Read

And by dishwasher, we don’t mean your husband.

Today’s dishwashers aren’t like the avocado green one you grew up with.  They are highly powerful, so you can skip rinsing dishes before using your dishwasher.  In doing so, you can save up to 20 gallons of water each load. You save time, money, and avoid dishpan hands!”

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