Posts tagged eco

Save Money and Live Better

I have been living below the poverty line for years. I haven’t worked a day job in a very long time. I do work on the internet and make money there but the amount is far less (at this time) than one would make at a 9-5 job. However, I do not live in a tent, I actually live in a nice townhouse with my sister and elderly father. But I must admit that we don’t buy new stuff all the time, we recycle everything, we are not consumed with having the “next big thing” and use “cheezy old stuff” as much as possible, stuff everyone else throws out but works fine.

There is a sanity in what most Americans consider crazy. The idea that we must have shiny, new and expensive is a really bad idea that has driven our culture to the edge of sustainability. And why are you driving yourself to an early grave chasing more and more money when what you already have can save you lots of money and, better yet, what your foolish neighbor tosses out can benefit your life for free! In fact, I know several people who make their entire living on what other folks throw out. And, no, I don’t spend hours every day refinishing, reburshing or repairing… I am not any more handy than you.

So how do we live in a nice home and manage to feed ourselves every month? For one thing, there are a huge number of things you can do every day to save money and retain a pleasant lifestyle that allows for free time and fun. You have to learn how to stretch your money and make it work for you every day. This does not only entail budgeting and controlling expenses, it requires a change of mindset. You cannot continue to look at used items, refurbished items, things you can get for free, etc… as junk. All of it is just as useful as new stuff if it works fine. We are a consume and toss society and that is simply not working for us, it’s driving us into the poor house and wrecking the planet, to boot. So perhaps it’s time to reign it in.

If you are ready to give it a try and make the big leap to changing your way of thinking, then here are some suggestions I would like to make. These are some things that you can slowly integrate into your lifestyle to start loosening that stranglehold that material consumption has got you into. So take a deep breath and relax. It’s time to live for more than just money.

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Green Cigarettes

Not only are cigarettes bad for you but they are also hard on the planet. Tobacco as a crop is prone to disease and insects love to eat it so it is constantly sprayed with various chemicals and pesticides. These end up in the environment, as well as your body, and pollute soil and water. Common pesticides that are used in Tobacco insect control include DDT, Aldrin and Dieldrin, which are not allowed on food crops but can be used on the stuff you smoke. Nice to know your lungs are full of DDT, no? But these horrible chemicals also contribute significantly to ozone depletion. As I already noted, they seep into the local water supply, not good for those living on these tobacco plantations or in neighboring villages.

The production of tobacco crops uses more than six kilometers of paper per hour, which equals about 600 million trees a year. Consider that fact the next time you are signing a petition on rainforest destruction while having a smoke. And did you know that even the filters are bad for the environment? They are not biodegradable and they end up in the landfill and in garbage piles everywhere for decades. Since butts are the single most littered item in the U.S. and worldwide, cigarettes may be, in fact, the least environmentally friendly item out there.

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Dump Your Dish Detergent!

There is a new product out there that you guys should know about. It is a new natural dish scrub made from various natural elements like corn and peach pits. This in lieu of using sponges or greenie meanies or other items meant to be used with dish detergent. These new little goodies do not need detergent to work. I can vouch for that because I have used one of them and am so far very impressed. First of all, let’s get the endorsement thing straight on the front end. These people linked to my blog because I had an article on the dangers of dish detergent and they found this valuable to their customers. They did not ask me to review this product on the blog. But I did ask if I could try one and they did send me one for free. And that is the end of my relationship with them. But here is what I thought when I used their product.

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Wash Your Clothes in Green Soap

I have done a lot of posts in the past that have covered the area of cleaning the home and doing it in an environmentally safe and non toxic fashion. But there is always more to discuss, as the concept of cleaning goes beyond just scrubbing the tub and scraping the stove. You also clean your clothes, your body and the outside area of your residence. In truth, all of this cleaning requires chemicals of various kinds and even the stuff you are sudsing up with in the shower can be toxic both to the planet and to you.

Consider first the washing of clothes. Did you know that only the toilet wastes more water than the washing machine in the average household? It’s that wasteful… and expensive! And as that water drains out, it takes with it the chemicals from your laundry detergent. This means they end up in the drinking water supply and how do they clean drinking water? With chlorine and other chemicals, all of which amplify the toxicity of the detergents you use. While popular, name brand detergents do a great job cleaning your clothes, they also do major damage in the environment. They also have an effect on you and your family, either on the front end where they contact your flesh through the wearing of the washed clothing… or on the other end where they end up in your glass.

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The Scoop on CFL Bulbs

Why Switch to Compact Fluorescents?

Photo courtesy of What’s Toxic

I am sure you have heard of CFLs, that you should be using them, that you should avoid them, etc… with the argument still raging on both sides. Environmental groups have been encouraging people to switch from their current old fashioned light bulb to the new Compact Fluorescent Bulbs. The country of Australia has mandated that incandescents be phased out completely and, here in the US, California is considering similar legislation.

At the same time, you have been hearing that they are hazardous and require special handing, especially if they break. They have to be recycled in a specific way, not just tossed in the trash, making them seem formidable and problematic. But do their benefits outweigh the risks? And are the risks a genuine concern? Let’s give them a good look today and decide for ourselves.

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Fluffy and Fido Go Green

A lot of the stuff you use on your pet, from food to flea dips, are toxic and bad not only for the furry friends but for the planet too. Here are some quick suggestions for changes you can make that will be good for you, the kids, the pets and the planet.

Natural First Aid

For smaller accidents like cuts, scrapes, minor burns, you do not need to use OTC meds. For most of these, a simple application of fresh Aloe Vera will take care of the problem. Instead of meds for vomiting, try using Activated Charcoal. For hairballs or constipation, give organic vegetable oil. For fleas, try washing the animal with the following rinse: Pour 2 packed cups of fresh Peppermint, Rosemary or Pennyroyal into a large pot. Pour over with 1 cup of boiling water. Allow to steep like tea. As the water cools and the tea steeps, it will start to smell very strongly. Once it is dark and strong smelling, strain out the herbs. Then mix the remaining liquid with 4 full quarts of lukewarm water. Make sure this is tepid in temperature, safe to use on your pet. And then wash and rinse and do this once a week if necessary to keep the bugs off. Another flea and tick shampoo idea: Pour 2 ounces of natural liquid soap into a squeeze bottle. This can be any natural castile or glycerin soap that is non toxic and chemical free. Blend the soap with 5 drops of oil of citronella (buy the pure organic kind, not the stuff they sell in bargain bins), 5 drops of Organic Rose Geranium Essential Oil and 5 drops of Organic Lavender Essential Oil. Shake it up really good and then wash the pup or kitty with it. Dry off well and repeat every week.

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How to Green Spring Cleaning 2009

It’s that time of year again! Time to crawl out of the heated house into the sunlight of the natural world and start tending the garden and cleaning up the home. I always loved spring cleaning when I lived alone because it was so easy! But now that I have a house full and I’m the “house spouse” of the crowd, it is a lot more work. So I have a method of working through it while thinking about the planet at the same time, a sort of “ritual” that makes it all happen faster. I thought I’d share that method along with some great ideas that can be modified to suit your individual situations. And hopefully this will help your spring cleaning go green.

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Green Your Home FAST!

Everybody is looking for ways to save the planet and save money, too. It is the primary goal of all of us today in this cold economy with a fast warming planet. Some folks seem exasperated with it all, saying that going green is a luxury and right now, we have to be economical. But someone needs to explain conservation to these folk. Conservation IS saving. Saving money and saving the earth.

You should be conserving in every way possible every single day. It will lighten the load on your wallet, make your life simpler and help the gasping environment at the same time. You should be thinking in this mode every day, all day. How can I save this? How can I stop losing that? How can I simplify my needs? How can I save money? We cannot afford to slip backwards one time in this effort, as it can cost us that last dime and push us closer to bankruptcy while adding another pile of trouble on our world at large. When you think about it, you will realize that what has happened to America then began to happen all over the world. As a rich country, a superpower in the world arena, we control the destiny of billions. Including many countries we will never visit and many others we don’t even know the names of.

So it is very important that we get it together, for ourselves, for the world and even more so, for our children and their future. But that does not mean it has to be a loss or a sacrifice. In fact, we have sacrificed more in the past, chasing money and working like dogs, than we will in the simpler, kinder future. And some of the solutions to our most pressing problems are readily in hand today. And, best of all, they just don’t cost a lot while they will save us tons of money and trouble in the future.

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The Ultimate Eco Ride: Bamboo Bikes

Although it’s kind of cool to look at and is almost a form of art, the bamboo bike is practical enough for not only biking around but for racing bikes as well. There are several companies making this bike and Calfee Bamboo Bikes has won awards for the Best Road Bike, Best Off-Road Bike and People’s Choice Award at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show. Check this out:

Ghana Bamboo Bike by Calfee Design

Have I got your attention now?

According to Calfee, bamboo is an ideal material for bicycles. The vibration damping is a performance advantage on longer rides. It is also stronger and lighter than most metals. This is a green product and most people who buy it are making a statement even though the quality of the ride is primo.

Another great project involving the Bamboo Bike is going on at the Bamboo Bike Project. These folk are making bikes as a sustainable form of transportation for poor people in Africa. They are also attempting to stimulate a bike building industry in Africa to satisfy local needs. You can donate or help out by going to the website and making a donation.

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How to Detox Your Home

The air inside your home can be toxic. It can even be more dangerous to your heath that the sooty, pollen laden air outside your front door. This is because we go for long periods without opening windows or circulating air. In the winter, we rely on dry, overheated air that disperses dust and debris everywhere and in the summer, we rely on moldy, wet air conditioners that cause bronchitis and strange infections like legionnaires’ disease. As global warming marches forward, the winters will get colder and drier and the summers will be blazing. Humidity levels are dropping worldwide because of the lack of rain and this is causing the faster dispersion and wider spread of pollutants and air born toxins.

Overall, this closed up air and temperature control that we rely on is also why the air in your home likely contains two to five times as many pollutants as outdoor air, according to an estimate by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). And if you’ve been working with harsh chemicals, such as paint strippers, the air in your home may be one thousand times more toxic than the air outside during and immediately after the procedure. And if you rarely open your windows, double that time span and add hours to any application of cleaning chemicals, beauty products or household toxins like pest control sprays. They literally circulate throughout your home over and over again, looking for enough fresh air to disperse themselves. Without it, they hang like a cloud.

But don’t let me scare you too bad. There are solutions to this problem, a form of detox for your home. So you don’t need to wear a gas mask all day or run outside every few minutes to gasp “fresh air”. Just follow my hints and take the steps necessary to clean the air in your home. I will clue you in on the most common offenders of air quality and what you can do to reduce their effects.

But before you don a gas mask and hunker down in a closet, realize that there are steps you can take to clear the air in your home. Below, the typical offenders and how you can minimize your risk:

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