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Thursday, 28 June 2012

61 Benefits of Bicycling

  1. On-going use of a bicycle has virtually NO carbon footprint.
  2. You will be a leader in your community.
  3. Bicycles increase mobility for those who don't have access to motor transport.
  4. Bikes increase mobility for those who don't qualify to drive a car.
  5. Bicycles increase mobility for those who can't afford motor transport.
  6. Bikes increase mobility for those who don't want to drive motor vehicles.
  7. Bicycles increase mobility for some people with arthritis, back problems and other mobility issues.
  8. Bicycling can be faster than walking, transit or motor vehicles.
  9. Bicycling is the most energy efficient form of transportation ever invented.
  10. You get healthy exercise from bicycling.
  11. Save travel money by biking. If the switch is from a car this includes purchase price, gas, tires, fluids, insurance, maintenance, washing, parking, etc.
  12. Reduce stress by bicycling.
  13. Biking is therapeutic for the mind and spirit -- is fun and can make you happy.
  14. Cycling is therapeutic for the cardio-vascular system, live healthier.
  15. Regular cycling provides better muscle tone, bone mass improvement, clearer skin
  16. Regular bicycling helps with personal weight management -- new full-time bicycle commuters can expect to lose an average 13 pounds their first year of bicycle commuting if they maintain the same eating habits.
  17. Bicycling is a great initial activity for people who are obese and help them on their way to a healthier life.
  18. Regular cycling can lead to lower health care expenses -- save money for a nicer vacation.
  19. Allows the rider to appreciate the more of the nuances of the natural and built environment around them.
  20. Your commute will be the best part of your day instead of the worst part of your day.
  21. The exercise increase your productivity at work
  22. Cycling improves your self-esteem.
  23. Primary school students will thing you are "cool" or "hip" or "neat" or "rad" or whatever the current term is.  In time even older people might come to appreciate your leadership.
  24. Save on the membership to a health club, get your exercise bicycling to work, school, shopping, etc.
  25. Bicycling is nearly a life-long activity.
  26. Bicycling is a great full family and friends activity.
  27. Cycling is low impact on the body.
  28. Cycling is low impact on the environment
  29. Bicycling in your neighborhood is a great way to meet your neighbors and build community.
  30. Camaraderie of cyclists makes it a great way to meet a nice stranger with a similar interest.
  31. Bicyclist can ignore the highway traffic jam reports.
  32. Feel the satisfaction (liberation, freedom) of biking past a traffic jam in the bike lane.
  33. Predictable commute time.
  34. Easier parking.
  35. Cheaper parking.
  36. Leaving your car at home provide a parking space for someone less fortunate.
  37. If you are lazy, your bicycle provides door-to-door transport (you don't have to walk across a vast parking lot).
  38. Reduces the demand for new roads and paving the earth with asphalt and concrete.
  39. Reduces the demand for parking lots and paving the earth.
  40. Reduces energy consumption (see below).
  41. Reduces air pollution -- bicyclist emit few poisonous gases. A four mile bicycle trip keeps about 15 pounds of pollutants out of the air we breathe.
  42. Reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
  43. Reduces water pollution -- bikes don't drip brake fluid, anti-freeze, transmission fluid, toxic dust, etc.
  44. Reduces noise pollution -- even without a muffler bikes are quiet, creating a quieter community.
  45. Reduces road wear -- even if cyclist feel like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders.
  46. Reduces deforestation for planting of rubber plantations and bio-fuel crops, because bicycles use very little rubber and fuel/lubricants.
  47. Reduces crime -- a huge amount of crime is associated with access to motor vehicles.
  48. Reduces road kill and saves animals.
  49. Demonstrates a concern for the future -- walk (ride) your talk.
  50. Prevent and protest the sanctioned murder of innocent responsible citizens (homicide by motor-vehicle).
  51. Bikes small profile reduces congestion.
  52. Easy to vary your route by bicycle.
  53. Increased bike use generates bike facilities which increase property values.
  54. Bicycling gives you more fresh air than a sauna and you can still sweat and clean your pores
  55. Bike Commuting is a license to dress weird and still feel smug.
  56. Urban cycling keeps you humble.
  57. Bicycling can be enjoyed in a wide variety of topography.
  58. Cycling can be enjoyed in a wide variety of climates
  59. Bicycles are a great means to see the world.
  60. Bicycling is cool.
  61. Biking Is Fun.
(Source: ibike.org)

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Tips for Recycling Household Furniture

We love our homes and we love making them by creating the feel of our space with furniture to reflect our style. As we grow out of what we have, though, or it gets worn out, most of us throw our old furniture into the landfill.

By both recycling our old digs, sprucing up those we want to keep and buying used pieces when we crave new ones, we are opting out of the energy-intensive furniture supply chain.

If there’s any hope, revive your furniture with some updated upholstery or a snazzy new paint job (using eco-friendly paint, of course). Chairs are the most common piece of furniture thrown away. To revamp them:
  • Seats are usually screwed on, so simply unscrew them. 
  • Remove the fabric (making sure the foam is still good).
  • Use a staple gun to cover it in the remnant or organic fabric of choice.
If you need to get rid of it, recycle it through reuse. To give or sell your own furniture to others, you can go to:
  • Craigslist: A site where you can scope out opportunities to buy new and free furniture in its “for sale” listings. Also try Ebay.
  • Freecycle: Creates localized lists where you can track what people in your neighborhood are giving away for free.
  • Donate: Your furniture will be a great addition to Goodwill or Salvation Army, and you can receive a tax deduction.
  • Garage Sale: This is a great thing to do when you feel the “spring cleaning” bug coming on. You can also tell your friends and neighbors that you have items to sell and give them first choice.
If reuse doesn’t work out, or the item is beyond repair, recycle it. Check with your local curbside program for bulk days to find a recycling location.

(Source: earth911.com)

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Water conservation at home

1. Check faucets and pipes for leaks
A small drip from a worn faucet washer can waste 20 gallons of water per day. Larger leaks can waste hundreds of gallons.

2. Don't use the toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket
Every time you flush a cigarette butt, facial tissue or other small bit of trash, five to seven gallons of water is wasted.

3. Check your toilets for leaks
Put a little food coloring in your toilet tank. If, without flushing, the color begins to appear in the bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak that should be repaired immediately. Most replacement parts are inexpensive and easy to install.

4. Use your water meter to check for hidden water leaks
Read the house water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.

5. Install water-saving shower heads and low-flow faucet aerators
water-saving low-flow shower heads or restrictors are easy for the homeowner to install. Also, long, hot showers can use five to ten gallons every unneeded minute. Limit your showers to the time it takes to soap up, wash down and rinse off. "Low-flow" means it uses less than 2.5 gallons per minute.

6. Put plastic bottles or float booster in your toilet tank
To cut down on water waste, put an inch or two of sand or pebbles inside each of two plastic bottles to weigh them down. Fill the bottles with water, screw the lids on, and put them in your toilet tank, safely away from the operating mechanisms. Or, buy an inexpensive
tank bank or float booster. This may save ten or more gallons of water per day.

Be sure at least 3 gallons of water remain in the tank so it will flush properly. If there is not enough water to get a proper flush, users will hold the lever down too long or do multiple flushes to get rid of waste. Two flushings at 1.4 gallons is worse than a single 2.0 gallon flush. A better suggestion would be to buy an
adjustable toilet flapper that allow for adjustment of their per flush use.  Then the user can adjust the flush rate to the minimum per flush setting that achieves a single good flush each time.

For new installations, consider buying "low flush" toilets, which use 1 to 2 gallons per flush instead of the usual 3 to 5 gallons.

Replacing an 18 liter per flush toilet with an ultra-low volume (ULV) 6 liter flush model represents a 70% savings in water flushed and will cut indoor water use by about 30%.

7. Insulate your water pipes.
It's easy and inexpensive to
insulate your water pipes with pre-slit foam pipe insulation. You'll get hot water faster plus avoid wasting water while it heats up.

8. Take shorter showers.
One way to cut down on water use is to turn off the shower after soaping up, then turn it back on to rinse. A four-minute shower uses approximately 20 to 40 gallons of water.

9. Turn off the water after you wet your toothbrush
There is no need to keep the water running while brushing your teeth. Just wet your brush and fill a glass for mouth rinsing.

10. Rinse your razor in the sink
Fill the sink with a few inches of warm water. This will rinse your razor just as well as running water, with far less waste of water.

11. Use your dishwasher and clothes washer for only full loads
Automatic dishwashers and clothes washers should be fully loaded for optimum water conservation. Most makers of dishwashing soap recomend not pre-rinsing dishes which is a big water savings.
With clothes washers, avoid the permanent press cycle, which uses an added 20 liters (5 gallons) for the extra rinse. For partial loads, adjust water levels to match the size of the load. Replace old clothes washers. New Energy Star rated washers use 35 - 50% less water and 50% less energy per load. If you're in the market for a new clothes washer, consider buying a water-saving
frontload washer.

12. Minimize use of kitchen sink garbage disposal units
In-sink 'garburators' require lots of water to operate properly, and also add considerably to the volume of solids in a septic tank which can lead to maintenance problems. Start a
compost pile as an alternate method of disposing food waste.

13. When washing dishes by hand, don't leave the water running for rinsing
If your have a double-basin, fill one with soapy water and one with rinse water. If you have a single-basin sink, gather washed dishes in a dish rack and rinse them with a spray device or a panful of hot water.
Dual-swivel aerators are available to make this easier. If using a dishwasher, there is usually no need to pre-rinse the dishes.

14. Don't let the faucet run while you clean vegetables
Just rinse them in a stoppered sink or a pan of clean water. Use a
dual-setting aerator.

15. Keep a bottle of drinking water in the fridge.
Running tap water to cool it off for drinking water is wasteful. Store drinking water in the fridge in a
safe drinking bottle. If you are filling water bottles to bring along on outdoor hikes, consider buying a personal water filter which enables users to drink water safely from rivers or lakes or any available body of water.

(Source: eartheasy.com)

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Green Your Closet: Eco-Friendly Clothing Tips

photo of Colorful clothes hanging to dry on a laundry line and sun shining in the blue sky.
Kermit the Frog told us log ago “it’s not easy being green,” but fortunately times have changed, and it’s easier than ever to Go Green with your purchases, consumption and lifestyle. One often neglected area is super simple to “green up” — your closet!

Laundry tips

  • Wash in cold water whenever possible to save energy.
  • Wash only when clothes are dirty or have odor.
  • For adults, most clothes can be washed on a delicate cycle, which also helps to keep them looking good longer.
  • The more clothes you can hang dry, the more you’ll save energy and wear and tear on your clothes.
  • Look for plant-based, low-to-zero scented, and dye-free laundry detergent to avoid adding unnecessary chemicals on our clothes and into the waste stream — brands to look for are Ultra Purex Natural Elements, Seventh Generation Free & Clear, Green Works Laundry Detergent, Method Laundry Detergent, and Tide Free and Gentle.
  • For dryer sheets, you can use them to do dusting after they are used — a dual purpose! Some brands to look for – Method Squeaky Green Dryer Cloths*, Snuggle Free Clear, Seventh Generation Fabric Softner Sheets*, Mrs. Meyers Lavender Dryer Sheets. The dryer sheets with a “*” don’t have animal-derived ingredients so you can not only dust with them but also throw them in the compost.

Dry Cleaning Do’s and Don’ts

Traditional dry cleaning methods use dry cleaning solvents called perchloroethylene aka PERC or PCE, tetracholorethylene, or tetracholorethylene. These chemicals can cause serious health problems with long-term exposure, which is not good news for those who work in dry cleaning. And some people are sensitive to the residue from these chemicals on a short-term basis — such as dizziness and nose and throat irritation — which isn’t good for you if you dry clean a lot. These chemicals are also hazardous to dispose of — which means they are not eco-friendly.

There are greener dry cleaners, meaning those who provide professional wet cleaning and recycled carbon dioxide cleaning – both methods are environmentally friendly. Some dry cleaners use a silicone-based solvent called D-5 from Dow Corning and say they are green, but the EPA’s studies say there may be a cancer hazard associated with this chemical. And any dry cleaner which uses a hydrocarbon method is also not green, because of the chemical’s VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) release and use of petroleum. If you don’t have a greener dry cleaner near you, make sure you let your clothes air out after picking them up before you wear them. And, whenever possible, handwash items that aren’t “dry clean only.”

Greener Clothing Materials

Don’t just think eco-friendly when caring for your clothes. You have greener options when purchasing new clothes, too. If you can find clothing made out of organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, recycled polyester, or Tencel (made from wood pulp) — these are the more eco-friendly fabrics.

Organic cotton is currently one of the more commonly found eco-friendly materials. To grow and process regular cotton (also called “conventional cotton”), it usually requires a lot of intensive chemicals and pesticides — and some people feel that the residue from those chemicals stay in this cotton after a shirt or pants are made. However, with organic cotton the farmers are required to grow the cotton without toxic fertilizers and pesticides. This is of great benefit to you, so that you’re not exposed to these chemicals, as well as great benefit to our soils, water, and beneficial insects (like bees).

Hemp is not as common but has great promise because it requires little-to-no pesticides or herbicides, less water to grow, and can be turned into several different types of fabrics — faux silk, linen, knit, stretch, canvas, and muslin.
Other fabrics like bamboo, recycled polyester, and Tencel are great for reasons of using less resources to grow (bamboo), re-using (recycled polyester), and being biodegradable and chemical free (Tencel).

Re-use/vintage is also a way to go, but you can be more sophisticated about it. If you love the Boho-chic style, you’ll find loads of style options for yourself at second-hand stores. And, if you’re crafty, it is simple to add a little embellishment, a little extra dart or pleat, or some fun accessories to put together a very happening re-use combo. At Etsy.com and Ebay.com you can find a number of retailers who re-purpose and re-sell vintage wear.

Jewelry for all styles is something that can be particularly green when you source through second-hand stores. A unique piece of jewelry can really turn a plain outfit into wow! And I have found quality re-use pieces even at Goodwill — for just a few dollars instead of big bucks.

(Source: toptvstuffhousehold.com)

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Don't forget to wash that reusable shopping bag

A study finds that reusable grocery bags could carry dangerous levels of bacteria, which can be harmful to humans.

Jabs are currently going back and forth between University of Arizona researchers (whose study was partly funded by the American Chemistry Council) and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental advocacy group which objects to the study’s validity.

The NRDC says it's irresponsible to claim that reusable bags present a serious threat to public health because bacteria are everywhere.

Meanwhile, common sense advocates are reminding us that we wouldn’t wear the same clothes every day without washing them, so apply the same logic to your cloth grocery bags, for goodness sakes.
Amazingly, a full 97 percent of those interviewed for the study never washed or bleached their reusable bags; even thorough washing kills nearly all bacteria that accumulate in the bags.

The UA study tested 84 bags collected from shoppers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Tucson. Fifty percent of the bags were contaminated with harmful pathogens -- 12% of which was E.coli. E. coli can cause a whole host of nasty -- and potentially deadly -- diseases. It’s definitely something you want to avoid eating.

According to the study, cross-contamination within reusable bags is the culprit for most of the bacterial findings. Cross-contamination happens when uncooked items like meat, poultry and eggs leak onto a fabric bag. If the bag isn’t washed after such a leak, the bacteria left by the raw food can contaminate other food stored in the bag on your next grocery trip.

While these findings could potentially scare some consumers, I don’t think anyone would seriously advocate giving up on reusable bags. But you do have to take responsibility for your bags and maintain them properly.

Wash bags regularly to cut down on bacterial contamination.
Let me say this again for those of you who are skimming this article: Washing kills nearly all bacteria that accumulate in the bags. This is a no-brainer, people.

Don’t mix it up where reusable bags are concerned. 
Designate bags for certain uses. Example: Use one bag specifically for meat, one for produce, one for other household items like detergent and cleaning solutions, and one specifically for toting library books and dry cleaning.

Don’t store bags in the trunk. 
I know, I know, this might cut down on convenience, but remember that a hot trunk, filled with soccer shoes and wet beach towels makes an excellent nursery for bacteria. Plus, the higher temperature in your trunk can actually speed the reproduction of bacteria on fresh food. Also, what gets on your bag gets on your hands, and then on your groceries. Do you really want to bring the mud from the baseball field into your kitchen? Think about it.

The UA study is a little alarming, especially when regular hand and clothes washing has been around since the Romans started the tradition about 3000 years ago. But, it always takes some people a little longer to catch up. So remember to wash your reusable bags just like you would any other thing you use frequently.

By recognizing the potential for cross-contamination, and taking steps to prevent it, you can protect yourself, your family and the environment. And that’s something you can feel good about.

(Source: www.recyclebank.com) 

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Office recycling: 5 ways you can make a difference

By now everyone (well, almost everyone) knows something about recycling at home. Whether it's simply collecting newspapers or separating everything from wine bottles to garden clippings, I don't know very many people who don't do some type of recycling - at home. I applaud them all. But still, I'm going to ask, "What have you done for me lately?"
What I mean is this, do you recycle at work, too? It seems to me that many people who are fanatical about their carbon footprint at home, forget about it once they leave for the office. And yes, many companies sponsor recycling programs for things like paper but what else can we do?

Here are some tips to help green your workspace:

Trade In Your Staples For Paper Clips
Staples are easy. Staples are convenient. Staples clog up the recycling stream. You know how you have separate different kinds of recyclables? Well, staples have to be removed from each piece of paper for either to be recycled. Instead, think way, way back to the days of paper clips. Yes, it's true Virginia, paper clips hold papers together as effectively as any staple. How to? Well, you write a note on a scrap of paper and attach to another piece of paper with a paper clip. Seems so simple. And they are completely reusable and last a lifetime. You can even link them together and make a chic necklace. BTW, an old mug makes a neat clip holder. Now you're ready for the front office.

Make Your Own Tiny Memo Notes
To complement your newly recycled coffee mug/ paper clip holder, pair it with some tiny memo notes you make yourself. Just take some used paper or outdated letterhead and trot on over to the paper cutter. (If you don't have an office paper cutter, scissors will do fine.) And trim that old paper into 3 x 3 squares. Or any other shape or size you like. Be creative, let your personality show. Cut ovals, rectangles or even kitty cats. Doesn't matter. Pair with your new paper clips and it's business as usual…without all the waste.

Create A Place For Recycling Office Supplies
Set aside a place in a common area with a box for office supplies. Think staplers, paper clips, pens, etc., and ask everyone to add to the box when they've finished using something, and to check there first if they need something. Think of all the rubber bands that won't be leaving the supply closet. The planet thanks you.

Reuse envelopes for internal correspondence
After all, does anyone really care that they aren't getting a new envelope for that memo about the weekly staff meeting? I'd guess, no. Scratch out the name of the prior recipient then write in the new name, and off it goes.

Repurpose file folders, boxes, and packing materials
Instead of getting a new folder for each new job, why not reuse folders from completed jobs. If you turn old folders inside-out, they even look new. Likewise, use old boxes to store supplies. Reuse packing material to send another package. Or better yet, (with your boss's permission) donate used packaging to your local school, retirement community or church and let them reuse it. You can even return it to any packaging store so they can reuse it.

Respect, recycle and reuse your office supplies, and they will last longer, save your company money and help save the planet.

(Source: www.recyclebank.com) 

Monday, 21 May 2012

How to: Recycle a cardboard box into a DIY earring holder

Are your earrings tangled in a mess on your bureau or scattered about your bathroom cabinet? If you have twenty minutes and a few simple household items on hand, you can quickly and easily craft yourself a mod earring holder from a recycled cardboard box in only eight simple steps! By choosing your favorite colors and materials, you can add a funky accent to your closet or match your new earring holder to your bathroom decor.

Step One: Gather your materials
You will need:
A lid from a sturdy cardboard shoebox or similar box
A stapler
String, yarn, lace, ribbon or embroidery thread in assorted colors
Double-sided tape
Fabric large enough to cover the cardboard box lid (you can also use fabric cut from a used shirt, sheet, or scarf here!)
A needle and thread
Measuring tape or a ruler
Assorted buttons or large beads

Step Two: Prep cardboard lid
Make sure the cardboard lid you chose is well-glued and sturdy. We used packing tape to reinforce the corners and inside edges to make sure no part could come loose.

Step Three: Measure and cut your fabric
Measure the length and width of your lid and add a couple inches to each side to ensure that you have enough fabric to fold underneath the rim of the box lid. Cut your fabric and iron it smooth, since this part will make up the front of your earring holder.

Step Four: Position your fabric
Place a few pieces of double-sided tape on the top side of your lid and position the fabric evenly, pressing down in the center of the lid to stick the fabric on. Carefully flip the box over and make sure the fabric is even.

Step Five: Attach the fabric to the lid
Apply a small bead of glue all around the inside rim of the lid. Carefully and neatly fold one edge of the fabric at a time over the edge of the box lid and staple it on. When the glue dries, this will also ensure the fabric is attached firmly.

Step Six: Choose contrasting colors of fabric or yarn
We used yarn in our earring holder, but you could also use string, ribbon, or lace. Cut out several feet of each color and begin wrapping it firmly around your lid, knotting it tightly in the back. Criss-cross several colors or even several different materials – mix lace and yarn – around your new earring holder. Each horizontal loop will provide a space for earring hooks.

Step Seven: Add buttons
Choose several contrasting buttons or beads. Using your needle and thread, carefully attach the buttons at the junctions of your yarn or ribbon. This is decorative but also anchors the string tightly to the lid and the fabric, creating a stronger area to hang heavier earrings.

Step Eight: Hang your new earring holder
You can place two thumbtacks into the wall and simply hang the lid directly. You can also staple a length of string or ribbon to the top edge of your new jewelry hanger as shown in order to hang it from a hook.

(Source: http://inhabitat.com)