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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Environment

Chrysler Recognizes its Green Dealers

In a push to green-up an industry that’s already not-so-green, Chrysler has recognized 30 of its more eco-friendly auto dealers... Read

In a push to green-up an industry that’s already not-so-green, Chrysler has recognized 30 of its more eco-friendly auto dealers across the U.S. – and more than a third of which are in, you guessed it: California.  Some of the achievements recognized include:

– A 2,000 square foot solar system in Arkansas

– A heating system based on used motor oil from oil changes in Michigan

– Collection and recycling of rain water in Oklahoma

For a full list of the honored dealers (just in case you’re in the market for a new Chrysler), check out the press release.

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Family

A Little Green Mother’s Day Love

“Another Mother’s Day is just around the corner.  Why not think about it a little differently this year?  Sure moms... Read

“Another Mother’s Day is just around the corner.  Why not think about it a little differently this year?  Sure moms like store bought gifts, but you can make her day extra special (and green) by simply doing a few of the following:

-Let mom sleep in – nothing like 8 hours of sleep to make her happy!

-Give mom control of the TV remote – If she wishes to watch cooking shows all day, let her be

-Handmade cards – always a winner

-Skip brunch out and prepare a special meal in – just make sure you do all the heavy lifting!

-Use eco-friendly frames with pictures of mom and her all her favorite people (that’s you!)

-Create special memories, a nice nature walk with the family, trip to an art gallery, etc.

-Bake her cookies – with organic flour!

-Give her a five minute foot massage

 

Remember – a little love goes a long way!”

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Housewares

DAbB’s Review of “Cuppow”

“Okay, confession time: we’re suckers for rustic green design. And there’s fewer things more rustic than drinking out of a... Read

“Okay, confession time: we’re suckers for rustic green design. And there’s fewer things more rustic than drinking out of a mason jar, right?  So what happens when you need to go somewhere, and suddenly you’re walking or driving and, *splat* you’ve got coffee or iced tea all over your shirt? (Cue Detergent Pen Commercial)

That’s why Cuppow was invented, which made us hyperventilate with glee when we saw it.  It essentially turns your wide-mouth mason jar into an adult sippy cup.  It’s BPA free, too, so it’s safe.

Suffice to say, we ordered one.  It was like Christmas morning when we were opening the package, and here is a shot of the Cuppow in action with coffee at the DAbB office:

So what’s the verdict? It works great, frankly. The ordering process was a little archaic, and it’s a little loud from the air intake hole, but other than that we really have no complaints!  Well done, guys.”

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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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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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Food

If Your Carrot has Traveled More Than You…That is a Problem

Did you know the average piece of produce we Americans eat each night has traveled nearly 1,500 miles before ending... Read

Did you know the average piece of produce we Americans eat each night has traveled nearly 1,500 miles before ending up on a plate?  This means the amount of fossil fuels consumed and the amount of carbon emissions is doing more harm to the environment than the broccoli is doing good for your liver.   Buying locally farmed produce does not mean you have to go to a Farmers Market (although it clearly is a great way!).  Simply log on to localharvest.org, sustainabletable.org or even the U.S. Department of Agriculture at ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/map to find out where local produce is sold in your area.  Not only will you be doing better for you and your family, but supporting your local farms and community as well.

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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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Family

Very easy ways to DAbB for your home. Seriously, these are very easy.

We asked our staff what quick, easy ways our readers can make a change in their home right away.  This... Read

We asked our staff what quick, easy ways our readers can make a change in their home right away.  This is what came back:

For your kids, buy crayons made of soybean oil, not paraffin

Switch to a manual can opener.  Yes, a manual…you can do it.

Invest in a roasting pan instead of using disposable ones.  You will save money in the long run, and honestly, it is so much easier to pull out food in something sturdy.  (We don’t need to tell you the amount of time we have dropped food on the floor from a flimsy aluminum one).

Buy a bigger jug of milk. If you only use half a gallon at a time, you can pour half the milk into a carafe and freeze the rest. Then about a day or two before you need it simply put in the fridge.  And yes, it tastes the same.

Stop throwing away your dryer lint! Put it in the backyard for the birds — they use it to feather their nests.  Crazy-but true.

Clean your refrigerator coils — vacuum out the dust and wipe with a damp cloth. You’ll be surprised at how much nasty stuff accumulates down there!

Put a cover on your pool when you’re not using it. Not only will it keep the water cleaner, but it will keep it from evaporating, resulting in saving water.

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Family

All About Recycling

One of the easiest ways to Do a Bit Better is to separate your recycling from your trash, but a... Read

One of the easiest ways to Do a Bit Better is to separate your recycling from your trash, but a lot of people (us included!) aren’t always sure what can be recycling and what is trash. Here are some simple tips to remember when you aren’t sure if you should put it in the blue bin.

1. All cardboard boxes can be recycled unless they are waxed. If you can, removing the adhesive labels and tape will ensure that the glue won’t interfere with the pulping process

2. Corks from wine bottles should be thrown away (or reused!)

3. You cannot recycle a container that has motor oil in it, but all other chemical containers can as long as they are completely empty

4. Remeber, there are many things you can’t put in the trash or recycling–most recycling centers and stores like Best Buy will take your old electronics and batteries

5. It is important to keep your recycling indoors until recycling day. Wet newspapers and cardboard may not absorb the chemicals needed to process the paper fibers into new products

Here at Doing a Bit Better, we have the graphic below right next to the garbage to remind us what goes where.

Start recycling so you can Do a Bit Better!

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Food

Huntington Beach Students Do A Bit Better

We want to give a great big “way to go” to the students of Greg Goran’s sustainability class at Huntington... Read

We want to give a great big “way to go” to the students of Greg Goran’s sustainability class at Huntington Beach High School in California. Over the past three years, these students have planted, nourished, and picked their own fruits and vegetables at their school. It has become such a successful garden that they now sell their produce to Slapfish, a local seafood restaurant. These students truly are, doing a bit better. If you want to read more about their efforts, click here.

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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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Recycle

The Princess Project

“ Pink, Yellow, Peach, Sea Foam oh my!  Not quite colors of the rainbow, but of the pretty bridesmaids dresses... Read

Pink, Yellow, Peach, Sea Foam oh my!  Not quite colors of the rainbow, but of the pretty bridesmaids dresses you still have hanging in your closet from the last 5 years.  So what to do next? RECYCLE of course!

We recently heard about a fantastic organization called The Princess Project that accepts donations of new or gently used gowns in excellent condition in all fabrics, sizes and colors.  The Princess Project provides free prom dresses and accessories to high school girls who cannot otherwise afford them. All of this is made possible through volunteer, donor and community support (people like you and me).

This organization is for California residents, but if you live elsewhere, please Do A bit Better and contact another organization that does the same in your state (See the Events Near You page)

Have fun cleaning out your closet!”

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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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Family

DAbB-ing at the end of the School Year

As school begins to wrap up for the summer, teachers and students are left unloading everything from their lockers to... Read

As school begins to wrap up for the summer, teachers and students are left unloading everything from their lockers to their classrooms.  What should they do with all the half used notebooks, gently used binders, old pencils, crayons, non-functioning erasers? Don’t just throw them out!  Think about doing the following and share these ideas with your local school.

-Tear out the unused pages of those notebooks for scrap paper, and use the other parts for art projects

-Empty out the binders (recycle the paper) and reuse them in the next school year

-Collect all the half used crayons and melt them into a new reusable shape (see our previous article on UpCycling Crayons)

-Reuse non-functioning erasers by turning them into stamps instead.  Draw a design on them then cut it out with an art knife.

Save a tree, some money, and give your children a note to year end greening!

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Hansen Wholesale

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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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Housewares

Recycled Glass Votive- Green

$5.00

Handcut from reclaimed wine cooler bottles, these charming votive candleholders are ideal for wherever you want to add the sparkle... Read

Handcut from reclaimed wine cooler bottles, these charming votive candleholders are ideal for wherever you want to add the sparkle of candle light, also they’re perfect to hold candies, dips, salad toppings or more.

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Doing A Bit Better

There’s a BETTER App for That

“With the increase of smartphone ownership in the U.S., there really is an app for pretty much everything you could... Read

“With the increase of smartphone ownership in the U.S., there really is an app for pretty much everything you could think of.  So there’s no surprise that there are dozens (if not hundreds) of apps out there to help you Do A bit Better every day! From local green-business maps to energy consumption meters to carbon footprint calculators, there really is something for every aspect of living green.  Here’s a few apps we suggest for your day-to-day living.

Meter Readings: This app is great for monitoring your home’s monthly energy usage, water usage, and costs.  After enough data has been entered, this app will start plotting graphs so that you can visualize trends.  See how low you can get your energy bill!

Ecobee Smart Thermostat: With this app, you can control your home thermostat through WiFi to heat, cool and ventilate your home.  Note that this app is free but is used in conjunction with the Thermostat hardware that you install in your home. Manage your daily heating profiles, vacation settings and more from anywhere you go, and decrease your home’s energy / gas usage.

Yoink: Rather than taking that old couch to the landfill, find someone who can use it! List/find local, free items and avoid an exhausting trip to the thrift store.

Carticipate: If you’re the kind of person who likes to live life in the fast-lane (the carpool lane), then this app is for you. Coordinate carpools with local drivers and riders, and get to work more quickly while reducing CO2 emissions!

Of course this is just a short list of many green apps, so look around! Whether you’re managing your utilities, cleaning out the garage, or getting to work, there’s plenty of information literally at your fingertips to help you Do A bit Better.”

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Housewares

Reusable Snack Bags-Whale Watching-Blue

$9.95

These eco-friendly Snack Happened Reusable Snack Bags are ideal for holding everything from snacks, fruit, sandwiches, mini first aid kits,... Read

These eco-friendly Snack Happened Reusable Snack Bags are ideal for holding everything from snacks, fruit, sandwiches, mini first aid kits, cell phones, crayons, toiletries, iPods, and more! Perfectly sized so little hands can use them with ease.

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Solar

Not Your Parents’ Solar Panels!

“With the recent explosion of the solar market, many people are turning to solar power as a way to live... Read

“With the recent explosion of the solar market, many people are turning to solar power as a way to live a more sustainable life by harnessing the natural power of the sun, and save a few bucks in the process.  But some are still hesitant to join the solar movement because they fear the benefits of solar will not live up to the aesthetic drawbacks of having a large system mounted on their roof.  But to those naysayers we say, never fear – Solar panels have come a long way!  Long gone are the days of ugly, chunky panels that look like an awkward toupee on your home’s head.  What’s more, the option to lease solar hardware allows consumers to focus their investment on the service, rather than the hardware.  There are a few on the market that we think help homes look a bit better…

Solar Shingles – These sleek solar panels are seamlessly installed into most standard roofs.  Depending on budget, usage, and roof design, they can be installed over entire roof sections, or blended throughout standard asphalt shingles for a virtually invisible look.

Solar Tiles – For those with Spanish style architecture utilizing terra cotta tiles, the Solar industry has you covered.  As with Solar Shingles, these tiles can be interspersed throughout standard tiles, or used exclusively to achieve a Greek Mediterranean look.

Solar Film – Ideal for sheet-metal roofs, solar film can be unrolled and installed between roofing ridges.  At only a fraction of an inch thin, these panels provide a great camouflaged solar solution.

Concentrated Photovoltaic Solar Cells – For those that opt for ground mounted systems, concentrated photovoltaic solar cells provide a very strong solution.  These systems use mirrors and/or lenses to concentrate a large area of sunlight, onto a small area.  The result is one of the most efficient panel options available.

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