Category Archives for "Eco Friendly"

The Benefits of Compact Fluorescent Lighting

CFLs have several advantages over incandescent light bulbs: they last from 8-10 times longer, use about 75% less energy, and produce 90% less heat while delivering more light per Watt. For example, a 25 Watt CFL provides about 1800 lumens, compared to 1750 lumens from a 100 Watt incandescent lamp.

CFLs have come a long way since their introduction. They provide a flicker-free, soft-white light and come in a variety of styles. The traditional “twist” bulb is the most popular, but if you need a more stylish version, consider the household style. This bulb is similar in design to a standard incandescent bulb but uses significantly less energy. The 3-way CFL is perfect for reading lamps or conversation areas where ambience is a factor. The globe style is designed for bathroom fixtures.

Here’s a groovy advantage – CFLs save you money! One 20 Watt CFL (replaces a 75 Watt incandescent bulb) will save you $66 dollars over the life of the bulb (based on $.12 KWH). Replace one 100 Watt incandescent bulb with a 25 Watt CFL and save a whopping $74 dollars over the life of the bulb (hey – that’s 21 extra Mocha Latte’s).

Not only are CFLs the smart choice – they’re hip too. The EPA reports that CFLs are the environmentally responsible choice. Replacing one incandescent light bulb with an energy saving CFL bulb reduced carbon monoxide emission to the atmosphere by 1,000 pounds.

According to the Department of Energy, as a nation we spend about one-quarter of our electricity budget on lighting, or more than $37 billion annually. And while traditional incandescent light bulbs are less expensive to purchase, they are much more expensive to operate. Incandescents aren’t such a bright idea after all (sorry – couldn’t resist).

How To Create a Roof Top Garden

If you live in an urban area and only have a small rooftop you can still create a magical lush garden. Here’s how to do it:

#1 – Check with your local planning office to ensure you can add the garden to your home. If your home is rented obviously this is another point to consider with your landlord. You’ll also want to check that your rooftop is structurally safe to take the extra weight.

#2 – Think about safety. Your planning office should set these regulations into place and advice you regarding safety, but it’s worth noting. If you have young children especially, you’ll need a barrier that is high enough so that they cannot climb on it. Also keep items away from the sides of the rooftop which children can use to climb on and look over the railing. A good idea may be to place a screen of different heights (to avoid blocking the wind completely) around the edge of the garden and planting lots of plants in front of the screen. This way the edge can’t be accessed easily.

#3 – Once you’re ready to build your garden concentrate on the structural parts of it first. The rooftop will be windier than a standard garden and you’ll need to install windbreakers. You can add bamboo screens or wooden trellises but leave several sections as they are. This way you disrupt the force of the wind cycle rather than abruptly stopping it. This means that your trellises and screens are more likely to stay up than get blown away.

#4 – Think about water. Will you have a separate tap installed for the garden or do you have a nearby source of water? Rooftop gardens can be a lot of sun and certain plants may need to be watered regularly. To be a little more green with your watering habits install a water collector to one side of the garden. This way you can use rainwater for the plants. You can also plant certain tropical or plants native to your area which will need little water – palms are great for shade, can act as a windbreaker and need little water even in very hot sun.

#5 – Think green and lush. A very green and super lush rooftop garden can be a magical place. The goal should be to block out some of the sunlight and give you an almost jungle-like sanctuary to retreat to from your urban surroundings. Do this by planting plants with lots of green foliage such as palms, fatsia and ferns. Keep the ferns underneath shady areas as they don’t do very well in direct sunlight.

Once you’ve filled the garden with lots of green structural foliage add a dash or two of color with bright accent plants in pots. Hot pink and/or purple always work well against green. You can also try a deep plum burgundy shade or bright orange.

Finally add a natural accent or two. A set of wicker loungers or chairs are fantastic for relaxing on. A small wooden or steel table with a few chairs make a great place to eat. And don’t forget to add tea candles and lanterns for a magical feel. A string of solar bulbs hung around the rooftop can be a nice natural source of light too.

Benefits of Environmentally Safe Cleaners

Did you know that general purpose cleaners are estimated to contribute about 8% of total non-vehicular VOC emissions in California? (Source: Green Seal) Here are six tips, provided by Green Seal, that show how by simply switching your current cleaner to an environmentally superior one can benefit your health and the environment.
1. Fewer adverse health effects from toxic compounds. Some cleaning products contain toxic chemicals, which may kill aquatic life and harm humans. Cleaners with sufficient concentrations of ammonia and sodium hypochlorite can irritate the lungs and are not recommended for people with heart conditions and chronic respiratory problems.2. Fewer toxic releases from manufacturing. Ingredient manufacture sometimes involves toxic releases as well. For example, petrochemical extraction and refining processes release benzene and other toxic chemicals into the environment.

3. Fewer hazards in the municipal solid waste (MSW) stream. Cleaning products containing hazardous ingredients present further hazards when disposed as MSW, because these systems are not designed to manage even minimal volumes of some hazardous chemicals.

4. Less ecosystem destruction from persistent chemicals.Components of cleaning products that break down slowly or incompletely may endanger plants, animals and microorganisms that live in water systems.5. Less smog and ozone depletion. Some components of cleaners, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), contribute to photochemical smog. The EPA has found that levels of VOCs in indoor air are up to 10 times greater than levels outdoors.

6. Less waste. Even the packaging of cleaning products has environmental impacts. For example, secondary packaging and non-refillable containers contribute unnecessary waste to landfills and incinerators.

Green Glass: A Revolution in Beverageware

If you haven’t seen Green Glass products before, then you’re in for a wonderful surprise! Green Glass uses reclaimed water and wine bottles to make a wide selection of innovative and stylish glassware. And now you can buy Green Glass products right here at

The Green Glass story begins more than ten years ago in South Africa. In 1992, Mara Penrith, an industrial designer who was living in South Africa with her husband, was cleaning up after a dinner party. She commented that it was a shame they couldn’t do anything interesting with the beautiful, empty wine bottles leftover from the party. Which led almost immediately to a brainstorm: what if they could turn those bottles into glasses and goblets? Her husband Sean and business partner Philip Tetley thought it was a great idea, and got to work. It wasn’t as easy as it sounded — but after considerable trial and error (including eight months and thousands of smashed bottles), they finally perfected the art. A worldwide patent was obtained, and a revolution was born.

Green Glass beverageware can now be found in the hands of celebrities and on movie sets – and has even graced the dinner table of King Carlos of Spain. The company has manufacturing facilities in both South Africa and Schofield, Wisconsin. Green Glass’ new manufacturing plant in Wisconsin has enough capacity to convert over 200,000 bottles into glasses a month, at a speed of one glass every ten seconds.

So, how does it all work? Green Glass has agreements with recycling companies nationwide. Those companies supply Green Glass with hundreds of thousands of reclaimed bottles each year, including Perrier bottles, Westport River bottles, and Lambrusco wine bottles. The bottles are washed and sterilized, sliced in half, and each half is smoothed and highly polished. The bases of the bottles are transformed into tumblers. The necks of the bottles are heated up, the tops twisted to close off the openings, then flared to form a base – creating a stemmed goblet.

No hazardous byproducts are formed during the manufacturing process, and tons of glass that that would otherwise be headed for landfills is saved. To view a pictorial of the complete metamorphosis of wine and water bottles into beautiful, functional glassware. offers many Green Glass designs to choose from. And, as always, they are all available at below-retail prices. Click here to see our selection of tumblers and goblets. The glasses come in sets of four, and are all dishwasher-safe. Just another simple way to add style to your home and help keep the planet clean!

Do You Know What’s Polluting Your Home?

You probably know quite a bit about outdoor air pollution. We hear air quality ratings on the news. We read about reducing CFCs. We know about problems with smog, ozone, and acid rain. We know it’s bad for our health to breathe bad air. But what about indoor pollution? The kind of air pollution that exists inside our own homes?

Indoor pollution is not a minor problem relegated to a few unlucky homeowners. In fact, unbeknownst to you, indoor pollution may be a real problem in your house. The EPA reports that indoor pollution levels are generally around 2-5 times — and often more than 100 times — higher than outdoor levels. Given that many of us spend as much as 90% of our time indoors, indoor pollution is a serious concern.

Your home is an active, enclosed system. What you bring into that system affects everything within it – including you and your family. Increases in the number of cases of asthma, allergies, and chemical sensitivity are only a few examples of the effects that indoor pollution has. Why has this problem mushroomed so rapidly? In is, in part, the result of companies constantly trying to reduce the cost of household products — which has, in turn, led to increased use of cheap synthetics and chemicals in the manufacture of those products. These goods are then marketed to unsuspecting consumers who bring those products into their homes. The combined output of these items creates what we refer to as a “chemical cocktail” — many toxins which, when mixed together, combine to create new, more toxic compounds.

There are many components to indoor pollution. Some pollutants are “intermittent pollutants,” such as malfunctioning stoves or personal care products. Others are “continuous pollutants,” such as building materials and plug-in air fresheners.

The toxins that pollute our homes come in all shapes and sizes, and they don’t necessarily smell bad or toxic. In fact, most of them don’t emit any smell at all. And that’s one thing that makes them so dangerous.

Common indoor pollutants include:

  • Carpeting and manufactured wood flooring
  • Household construction products (such as joint compound)
  • Paint
  • Household cleaners
  • Air fresheners
  • Dry cleaning
  • Wallpaper
  • Window coverings (plastic mini-blinds, or shutters made from chemically treated lumber)
  • Furniture containing press board or particle board
  • Salt-treated lumber
  • Plastics (including toys, dinnerware, etc)
  • Bedding/Mattresses (these are commonly treated with chemical flame retardant, formaldehyde, and a myriad of other chemicals)
  • Personal care products
  • Radon
  • Molds/mildew
  • Second hand smoke (this can come from smokers, fireplace, or candles)
  • Damaged chimney flues
  • Malfunctioning appliances
  • Hobby materials such as glue, solvents, etc.
  • Household pesticides
  • EMFs (Electro Magnetic Fields surround all live electric wires and appliances – this includes electric blankets)
  • Misused ozone generators (if not used properly, these can potentially have negative health consequences)
  • Carbon monoxide

So how do you know if your home is suffering from unhealthy levels of indoor pollution? You may think there’s no problem because you don’t feel like anything is affecting your system. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t, in fact, a problem. To help you figure out if you do have too much indoor pollution in your home, here’s a checklist of things to look out for:

  • Unusual and noticeable odors; stale or stuffy air
  • Noticeable lack of air movement
  • Dirty or faulty central heating and/or air conditioning equipment
  • Damaged chimney flues
  • If you have headaches or a feeling of nausea when home, but feel better when you leave the house
  • Unvented fossil fuel appliances
  • Excessive humidity (check for condensation on windows)
  • Moldy window frames, walls, floor boards
  • Tightly constructed or remodeled homes (typically use synthetic materials and not breathable)
  • Health reaction after a remodeling job or after moving into a newly-constructed home (eg, flu symptoms, persistent sore throat, cough, headache, cold symptoms)
  • Hobby materials stored inside the house such as glues, solvents, etc.
  • Weatherizing materials
  • New furniture (many contain formaldehyde, pressboard, and other chemicals that outgas)
  • Generally feeling healthier outside the home

Take extra care to notice if children have any symptoms. Their systems tend to be less resistant than those of adults, and they may be more susceptible to developing allergies or asthma. In fact, indoor pollution is a significant culprit when it comes to children with asthma, so removing inside pollutants may dramatically improve a child’s health.


Now that you have identified what can cause indoor pollution, what can you do to improve the air inside your house? Plenty! Check out our list of simple things you can do to clean up the air in your home — and clean up your health, too.

  1. Open windows whenever possible – even if it is just for a few hours. This allows toxins to escape and fresh air to circulate.
  2. Add houseplants – they help filter the air and add a sense of life to any home.
  3. Switch to natural household cleaners (click here). They tend to be better for those with asthma and are much safer for you and the environment.
  4. Purchase a bagless vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
  5. Only burn natural, soy or beeswax based candles with metal free wicks. Ones with essential oils are less likely to irritate lungs than those with fragrance oils.
  6. Opt for carpet-free floors such as solid wood, natural linoleum, or tiles. According to Debra Lynn Dadd, author of Home Safe Home (ISBN 0-87477-859-X) says that synthetic carpet is made from a complex blend of as many as 120 chemicals that can emit many hazardous chemicals. They include pesticides (act as antimicrobials), neurotoxic solvents (such as toluene and xylene) and the potent carcinogen benzene. Formaldehyde is also a commonly emitted from carpets according to reports by the EPA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Symptoms of a reaction include burning eyes, memory problems, chills and fever, sore throats, joint pain, chest tightness and difficulty concentrating to name a few. Check with your local carpet dealer for natural wool or cotton carpets. If you have kids or pets, consider natural hardwood or natural linoleum.
  7. Consider using natural linens and mattresses when purchasing new bedding (click here). Some good materials to check out include organic cotton and natural, untreated wool. By buying natural bedding, you’ll avoid chemicals like formaldehyde, and you’ll sleep better, too. Wool helps wick moisture away from your body, prevents you from being too hot, and provides for deeper, more restful sleep.
  8. Buy clothing made from natural fibers. By this, we mean organic cotton. There are many styles available, and organic cotton is a much cleaner option than many other fabrics — including conventionally grown cotton (which accounts for 25% of the world’s pesticide use).
  9. Choose a safe, less toxic paint such as Safecoat�. Did you know that mercury was used as a fungicide in both paint and joint compound until as recently as 1989? Old paint may also contain lead, so beware if you are stripping older paint or if you’re dealing with peeling paint.
  10. Create an indoor fountain. While this doesn’t have a direct impact on removing toxins, it does help to create a calm space that is good for the soul. Place the fountain in a room that doesn’t have any electronics (no TV, stereo, or phone), and you’ll temporarily reduce your exposure to EMFs, while simultaneously increasing your sense of calm.
  11. Avoid scheduled pest treatments. Sometimes treating for pests in unavoidable, but try to treat your home as little as possible. And make sure you investigate exactly what is being used when you do need to spray.

These are just a few of the things that you can do to create a healthier home. Other easy changes you can make include using essential oil-based air fresheners, and doing your best to replace things with natural fibers and solid wood. Sometimes these items cost a bit more, but the savings in air quality is priceless.