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

Monday Tip of the week: Send your kids to school with a waste-free lunch

Did you know that you can adopt an endangered species? There are a lot of animal lovers out there who... Read

Did you know that you can adopt an endangered species? There are a lot of animal lovers out there who just don’t have time to take care of a pet. A great way to help animals if you don’t have a lot of time is by adopting an endangered species. There are quite a few programs out there, but we love the World Wildlife Foundation (or WWF). There are a variety of animals and price ranges to choose from, so no matter how much (or little) you can spend, you’ll still be helping keep these animals alive and well. This is also a great project to do if you have kids–it’s never to early to teach them the importance of taking care of our world. Check out the WWF website for more information here.”We can’t believe it’s that time of year again–back to school! This year, pledge with your kids to have waste-free lunches. It is estimated that school lunches produce 67 pounds of waste per school year per child. Not only is a waste-free lunch great for the environment, but packing your child fresh foods instead of prepackaged is good for their bodies! A waste-free lunch requires the following:

  • Reusable lunch box (preferably bento style so you can easily say goodbye to plastic baggies)
  • Reusable utensils, napkin, water bottle
  • No prepackaged food–buy in bulk and section snacks off in the lunch box

Learn more about waste-free lunches at wastefreelunches.org so you can start Doing a Bit Better.

 “

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Garden

Use Solar Lanterns to Light your Garden

As we are nearing the end of September (yikes!), it’s always nice to do a little sprucing up to the... Read

As we are nearing the end of September (yikes!), it’s always nice to do a little sprucing up to the yard as the weather starts turning. One things that we love about the fall are the early nights, and what better way to take advantage of them than by installing solar lanterns on a walk way or flower bed. They will be powered all day by the sun, and shine brightly as the sun goes down–you never have to worry about batteries or burying miles of extension cords. With solar lanterns you simply put them in your garden and let the sun do the work for you. Plus (and it’s a big plus) you’re doing a bit better for the earth, and your wallet–bye bye higher electric bills.

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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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Environment

Monday Tip of the Week: Get yourself an old fashioned rain barrel

“This weekend, we saw our first rain of the season–and it was a big reminder of all the great uses... Read

“This weekend, we saw our first rain of the season–and it was a big reminder of all the great uses for rain water. Rain water is great to use to keep your garden growing and healthy, why? Because rain water does not have any of the additives found in tap water. It’s also great for your wallet–last we checked, rain water was free!

Learn how to install your rain barrel with this handy step by step, here.

 “

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Food

Monday Tip of the Week – Just Another Meatless Monday

“Looking to save a few bucks and shed a few pounds? Consider meatless Mondays. Americans consume way more meat (on... Read

“Looking to save a few bucks and shed a few pounds? Consider meatless Mondays. Americans consume way more meat (on average, 260 pounds a year) than our bodies are meant to handle, which adds up to extra poundage. With swimsuit season just around the corner, who can afford that?

Here’s how to do it: consider replacing meat with another high-protein item, such as nuts or mushrooms. Mushrooms are an especially good substitution as they contain a lot of healthy protein, and the consistency resembles meat. May we suggest a pot of mushroom chili?

Oh, and there’s another bonus. Since 2006, the average cost per pound of beef has risen to over $4.40 a pound (it was $3.97 in 2006) and is steadily continuing to rise. Assuming the average family eats 2 lbs of meat per meal, that’s a savings of $457.60 a year.  That’s enough for a new summer wardrobe!”

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Twitter
Solar

Top 10 Reasons to Go Solar

“It’s pretty obvious that Solar is the future of energy for most of us – and why not? It’s clean,... Read

“It’s pretty obvious that Solar is the future of energy for most of us – and why not? It’s clean, for sure. But if you’re looking for a few pointers to help state your case to go solar, try some of these!

1. Savings
As soon as residential solar is installed, you begin to save money.  Also, when your solar units produce more power than you need, you will feed the electrical grid.  And who buys this electricity? Your friendly neighborhood power company.  The value of the electricity purchased by your local utility is seen on your monthly bill as a credit – which means they pay you (a nice change of pace, don’t you think?)

2. Peak Shaving
Many locals have “peak shaving time”.  Peak shaving time refers to the time of day when the greatest draw on the electrical grid is seen.  For most of us, we see this time during the heat of the Summer day. In order to aid in reducing the demand of electricity, many local utilities charge more for power during this time.  Solar power coincidentally produces its maximum output at this same time.  Since you’re using less power from the grid, your power bill does not see this peak billing.  Take that, summertime!

3. Environmentally Friendly
Solar PV produces no radiation, carbon emissions or noise.

4. Socially Friendly
By requiring less energy, there is more available for others and less need to construct new power plants.  It’s like the electrical equivalent to a cup of sugar.

5. Installation has never been so inexpensive
Due to local and federal tax incentives, competition in the marketplace and supply have significantly driven down the cost of solar power.  In fact, many places offer next to zero cost for installation.

6. New modern designs
Today’s solar designs are nothing like the big boxes of the 1980’s.  There are many designs that are completely flush with your roof.  There are many styles that are actual tiles / shingles themselves. (See our article about aesthetically pleasing solar tiles if you need proof!)

7. Longevity
The solar panels used in these systems are warranted for at least 20 years and often, even longer.

8. Low Maintenance
Solar PV requires little maintenance.  Just twice a year you need to hose off any dust/dirt.

9. Adds life expectancy to roof
The main element that destroys all roofing materials is Ultra-Violet light (UV) emitted by the sun.  If the roof is shaded or covered with solar panels, the UV does not attack the roofing system in these areas.

10. Solar PV can be mounted on shade structures
This can include such structures as carports in parking lots or exterior roofed lunch areas.

There you have it. 10 great arguments to help you win your to go solar!”

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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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Doing A Bit Better

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

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

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

Upcycle Your Old Neck-tie Into a Curtain Tie

Recently, a team member here at DAbB remodeled their bedroom, painted it blue, and bought translucent white curtains.  The problem?... Read

Recently, a team member here at DAbB remodeled their bedroom, painted it blue, and bought translucent white curtains.  The problem?  What to use for curtain ties!  She tried jute rope, she tried denim, and she tried

 

 the scraps of the curtains themselves after being hemmed, but nothing was looking quite right.

 

Then the idea came – we’re all bound to have old neck-ties that we don’t wear anymore – so why not upcycle them into something actually usable?
The steps were pretty easy.
1. Measure out 2 equal lengths of the neck-tie, preferably parts of the same width (a skinny tie works really well)

 

2. Sew the ends of the lengths.  We got lazy and used white thread, which stands out – but it’s in the back of the curtain, so who cares?
3a. If you don’t have a snap setting kit, you can glue two pieces of velcro onto each end3. Add a snap using a hole-punch and a snap-setting kit
4. Take a picture and send it into DAbB!
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Men

Summer is here guys-and your lawn is waiting.

It is that time of year again when your weekend “honey-do” list contains “mowing the lawn”.  But if you are... Read

It is that time of year again when your weekend “honey-do” list contains “mowing the lawn”.  But if you are looking to get out of this chore, here are our recommendations for eco-friendly grasses.  These attractive grasses  require less watering, less mowing, and less fertilizer, all of which helps cut down on your carbon foot print-and give you more time on the weekends.

  • Ecolawn: This blend of fine fescue grasses is highly drought-tolerant and requires less fertilization than traditional grass. It can be grown anywhere in the United States.
  • Buffalograss: As the native grass of the Western Plains, this variety thrives in drier areas of the country such as California and Nevada. It only needs to be mowed once a month.
  • Seashore paspalum: This is an eco-friendly grass for Southern states with warm climates. It doesn’t even like fertilizer, and it tolerates recycled water, or even salty water.
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Housewares

Corks, Pas Deux – Bourbon-cork Coaster / Trivet

“After our last article about crafts for reusing corks, we couldn’t help but get excited to try something. We opted... Read

“After our last article about crafts for reusing corks, we couldn’t help but get excited to try something. We opted for bourbon corks, this time, as they’re usually made of real cork (instead of that synthetic stuff), and have the neat wooden tops that give them a real rustic look. It also helped that we had a few laying around.

We also opted for ease, in this case. There are plenty of materials to use if you want to avoid using any sort of bonding agent – but thanks to the magic of a hot glue gun, we were able to whip this coaster up in about 10 minutes. And it shows.

What You’ll Need
9 Corks of the same height
A hot-glue gun
hot-glue sticks
Right-angle
Jute twine (optional)

Steps
1. Using the right angle, glue the first two corks together.  If there’s a label on top of the wood, hopefully you’ll do a better job of lining them up than we did.  Continuing to use the straight edge to make clean lines, add additional corks one by one until you’ve created the desired shape.  Allow the glue to fully cool/dry before picking it back up.

2. Once all 9 corks are glued together, flip the coaster over and bind with jute twine. To do this, simply glue the end of the jute twine to center of one side of the coaster, and begin wrapping around the cork portion, alternating gluing on every other side.

Easy enough! Now you can enjoy a frosty beverage in style.

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Doing A Bit Better

Groupon Gives Back

We love finding good deals as much as the next person.  So when we found out that Groupon launched a... Read

We love finding good deals as much as the next person.  So when we found out that Groupon launched a group action fundraising program called Groupon Grassroots, you can only imagine our excitement.

 

According to Groupon, the new program (which just launched in April, 2012) is “a new way to discover local causes, rally together, and lend a helping hand”.

We did some digging and found out that Groupon Grassroots isn’t just a good idea on paper – it’s actually working.  On this year’s Earth Day, the donations through Grassroots resulted in some pretty impressive numbers!  Here are some of the highlights:

-$126,000 in cause-related donations were made
-4,400 trees planted across US and Haiti
-443 bike light sets and helmets sent to locals in Austin & Portland
-1,400 attendees to environmentally focused programs
-40 volunteers traveling to Zambia
-18 vacant lots in Cincinnati were filled with over 25 raised garden beds
-5 cities were treated to improve water quality through trash removal and training volunteers  to test water

And that was all in 1 day!

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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... Read

“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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Housewares

Honest Air & Fabric Freshener 9 Fl Oz

$6.95

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

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

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Recycle

Shopping Online Auction Sites? Keep it Green!

Buying used items and giving them a new chance at life is a great way to save them from a... Read

Buying used items and giving them a new chance at life is a great way to save them from a landfill. If you want to take your thrift store, garage sale, or ebay shopping to an even more eco-friendly level, try starting your search at eBay’s Green Store. The online auction website has created a home for their most green items. Quick searches for refurbished, resource-saving, or upcycled goods are just one click away.

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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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Housewares

Eco-Alternatives to a New Headboard

“There’s something about a headboard that just ties a bedroom together – it’s like wearing a belt.  It breaks up... Read

“There’s something about a headboard that just ties a bedroom together – it’s like wearing a belt.  It breaks up the room while adding depth and style to it.  The only problem is that headboards are expensive and can easily run upwards of $400.

Here’s the thing – we live in a time of great (and abundant) design.  There are plenty of alternatives to a traditional headboard out there with minimal waste.

For less than $40, you can achieve the great style of a traditional headboard with the modern style of a silhouette decal.  This particular decal from Dezign with a Z comes in a variety of colors, and they’ll even let you select your wall color to see how it will look.

Not interested in the traditional looking decals?  Try something a little non-traditional, like branches or grass:

 

Wall Flats have traditionally been used for adding some architectural depth and texture to walls in living spaces, dining rooms, and bedrooms – and they’re incredibly eco-friendly (often made from post-consumer material or renewable sources such as bagasse).  But they’re affordable (about $80-90 for a 10-pack from InhabitLiving.com) and will not only add color to your bedroom or guestroom, but depth and texture as well.

When in doubt, do something simple!  A large piece of solid-colored canvas or a canvas-framed photograph will give your bed the frame that you’re looking for, and can be done for cheap.  If you’re feeling particularly creative, you can stretch a patterned fabric over the canvas and staple it on the sides.

There are plenty of ways to do something unexpected and chic without spending a fortune, and all while being green.”

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Housewares

Way Basics Modular Storage Cubes

$134.99

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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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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