Green Living – A More Earth Friendly Life

RECCYLE  REUSE 2Green living means living in a more environment friendly manner in order to create a positive impact to the environment and to ensure that the planet is able to provide for future generations. It is also referred to as sustainable living or eco-friendly and green living may well be one of the most sought after yet challenging lifestyles of the day.

As a green living advocate, your main intention will be the reduction of carbon footprints. Harmful carbon emissions from various products and activities are released to the environment on a daily basis. Minimizing or eliminating these emissions is your biggest goal as a green living adherent.

To achieve this outcome, it is vital for you to use renewable resources more and more. For instance, oil is a non-renewable resource. Once the supply of oil runs out, everything that relies on this resource will stall. Cars, power supply, companies even the ordinary house stove will be crippled once gas is depleted. If you can cycle as a mode of transport you will make a positive impact on the environment and your well-being.

Renewable resources are your best option. This is because they are never depleted. Trees can be planted again. Vegetable oil can be made over and over again as long as the vegetables are available. The same principle applies with wind or solar energy.

This is why a huge number of people worldwide have shifted to solar energy for household or company use. For instance, in 2010 more than 100 countries have utilized solar panels to generate electricity. The power produced however is still insufficient to cover the total world demand of 4.8TW. It is still a long way to go before total transition to renewable resources is made however you can contribute in your own small way to reach that goal.

 What is Green Washing?

With the growing awareness of living green among people, some unscrupulous business people are taking advantage of this honorable endeavor by dishonest practices. One such practice is green washing.

Green washing is the act of making an unsubstantiated claim about the positive environmental impacts of a certain product. Some companies make it appear that their products are more eco-friendly than the others. This may place them a step ahead of competition. Also, it makes them appear more socially responsible because of their seemingly environment friendly practices. Thus, making them a champion of the green living cause when in reality they hardly contribute anything substantial.

This dirty tactic is more of a marketing strategy to lure more customers like you who are intent on pursuing some environment friendly practices to buy their products. For instance, when green computing became the vogue, a number of companies changed their packaging and advertisements to align with the rising energy efficient demands of the consumers.

However, as more private groups are getting involved with the green movement, the façade that these companies wore were slowly exposed to the public. Some non-governmental units are making it a life-long mission to determine the environment-friendly businesses and products from those who are not.

How to incorporate green living in your daily life

There are many ways that you can integrate green living into your everyday life. They say, everything begins at home. This gem of truth also holds true in green living practices.

To implement eco friendly practices, it is best to start small. Start within yourself. The examples you show will rub on to others and before long, green living is no longer a distant reality but a pulsating truth.

 Household Products

When you use energy efficient appliances and lights in your home you can make a significant impact on the environment. You may even influence other people and their households and when most households make use of these energy efficient materials then it will not be long that carbon emission and other problems associated with fossil fuel will be greatly reduced.

Energy Efficient Lights

Lit Energy efficient light bulb in a group of old light bulbsOne great example of an energy efficient product that you can use is the light emitting diode or LED. Using LED lights can be very advantageous to your home. This lighting technology is highly energy-efficient and it can last an extremely long time. LED bulbs have an extended life of around 40,000 hours which is way longer compared to ordinary light bulbs and incandescent, halogen or even florescent lamps.

Technological advancements introduced made LED even more efficient as it can now emit higher wattage of light without increasing its energy use. Also, the lifespan of an average LED bulb also increased in the process.

 Solar energy

Another great option that you can harness in your household. It provides energy for your homes using sunlight. Perhaps, you could consider the most popular solar technology use nowadays which is the photovoltaic system or PV. This technology makes use of PV solar panels. The panels are mostly made up of silicon materials that can convert sunlight to electricity. For every 100 square feet of PVsolar panel, around 1kW of electricity is produced.

A 1.5kW PV panel can produce 7.3kWh of power. The ordinary household requires 20.5kWh of electricity everyday. This means a third of your electricity needs in the household are provided by the PV. It would also help if your family makes use of energy efficient appliances such as air conditioner, washer and heater to extend the use of PV.

When you use PV panels, you save the environment 1 ton of carbon emissions per year. A regular PV can last 25 years. This means, you save 25 tons of carbon dioxide emissions to the environment.

You can also incorporate other energy efficient practices in the household such as minimizing the use of lights, use of low wattage appliances and utilizing toilets with low flush to conserve water. In addition drying clothes by hanging them under the sun, turning off the computer when not in use, walking or cycling to work, using a carpool, taking 2 minute showers and wearing appropriate clothing for the climate can all make a positive difference.

What about green living food?

ORGANIC PRODUCEYour food intake also matters. Processed animal products make use of fossil fuel and water to produce. According to studies, a pound of beef requires 2,500 to 5,000 gallons of water to produce. In comparison, if you eat more fruits and vegetables you reduce water consumption let alone potentially improve your health and prevent diseases. In addition if you choose organic or biodynamic foods you will be contributing to more sustainable agriculture.


Aside from using energy efficient products, another option for green living that you can adopt is recycling.

Recycling means converting waste products to new products. For instance, plastic garbage is recycled into bags. Thrown water bottles can be made into a Christmas tree.

Recycling helps the environment in a number of ways. It minimizes the need for landfills. It can also reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions ie the manufacturing of plastic requires the use of fossil fuel energy which emits CO2.

It also saves other resources. For instance, recycling paper can save the trees. Trees are used to manufacture paper. If paper is recycled some trees are spared from being harvested and cut down.

Each of us can make a difference. If we all work together to attain the same end, we will get there faster. Global warming, climate change and other adverse effects of carbon emissions are all harsh realities that may confront us. By doing our share, we can create great impacts to the environment at the same time provide a sustainable and secure place for future generations.

Sustainable living is about you making a conscious choice to shift to more eco-friendly practices. You can make a difference to the environment. Everyone can!

Toxic Chemicals In the Home – Is Your Home A Health Hazard?

green-cleaning 2Cleanliness is next to Godliness, right? That’s why we like to keep our households sparkling fresh and clean.

Plain soap, water and elbow grease were the traditional cleaning agents of yore but these days cleaning and personal products have trendier names, fancier packaging and are often detrimental to our health.

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandates that cleaning product labels contain information on toxicity and poison control where warranted, it doesn’t require manufacturers to post their material data safety sheets. In most cases, you won’t know what chemicals are in the products you use on a daily basis unless you take the time to track them down.

The Corporate giants who profit from manufacturing the toxins that impact on your health and that are now ubiquitous in your home and just about anywhere and everywhere you go in everyday life will not volunteer any more information than they are required to by law.

slowdeathbyrubberduckIn their book “Slow Death By Rubber Duck“, leading environmentalists, Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie expose the hidden and harmful dangers that we have become exposed to in the toxic world that we now live in. Canada has been leading the charge in many ways with addressing the issues of the excessive amount of toxic chemicals we are exposed to in our everyday life.  In particular Canada has taken decisive action in relationship to BPA in products.

If you want to identify, better understand and eliminate the effects of the numerous toxins impacting on your health and the environment this is a must read for you.

Common Toxins in Your Kitchen and Bathroom

Here’s a short list of the toxic chemicals that you can come into contact with every day:

Bisphenol A (BPA)

BPA is an ingredient found in leading brand baby bottles, epoxy glue and lubricants used for auto and household maintenance is a known hormone disruptor. Through numerous scientific research studies it is also believed that rising levels of BPA can be linked to increases in breast and prostate cancer, metabolic disorders and behavioral problems like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. BPA is not friendly for anyone of any age or gender. Think about that plastic water bottle you drink from?

kordeltawaterbottleThere are now BPA free products available including baby bottles and water bottles without BPA.  Follow Canada’s lead and make sure baby bottles are BPA free. We love the Kor Delta BPA free hydration vessel that is not only good for your health, it is also very stylish and comes in a great choice of colors.  We also love this product from Kor because the company donates a minimum of 1% of sales to water -related causes around the globe. There is even a great surprise under the lid every time you take a drink.

Sodium hypochlorite a/k/a chlorine bleach

Chlorine bleach is the active ingredient in a host of household cleaners, mold and mildew removers and oven cleaners. When mixed with ammonia – a common ingredient in other household products – chlorine bleach products produce toxic chlorine gas.

Phenol and cresol

An ingredient used in disinfectant cleaners, dishwashing liquids and pre-wash stain removers. If swallowed, these chemicals can cause diarrhea, dizziness and fainting, or – in the worst cases – liver and kidney damage.


An ingredient used as a preservative in liquid detergents, laundry detergents, fabric wrinkle removers, particleboard furniture and building materials and cosmetics. Studies have linked formaldehyde to leukemia and other forms of cancer. Even at low levels of exposure, formaldehyde can irritate the eyes, throat, skin and lungs.


An ingredient found in household cleaners, window cleaners, paint strippers and various forms of metal polish. Exposure to even low levels of ammonia can cause skin and eye irritation; exposure to high levels of ammonia can cause severe burns and pulmonary edema.


TUNA MEAT IN A CANMercury can be found around your home, in your food and in the environment including in water.

Of considerable concern are the high levels of mercury in fish. Recommended as a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein, fish has become a popular dish on many menus and diets around the world.  If you are a sushi lover, eat tuna or you are pregnant reducing the amount of high-mercury fish in your diet is advised.

Around the home you can also find mercury in thermometers used to assess fevers and in cooking to check the temperature of candy, meat and oil for deep-frying. Mercury can also be found in fluorescent lights although to a lesser degree than a decade ago and in those old-fashioned temperature gauges attached to signs that many people collect as antiques.

Once released into the environment, mercury enters the food chain through water pollution from whence it causes neurological damage in all vertebrates including humans.

A 2003 study found that 8 percent of American women have blood mercury levels that have been deemed unsafe by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.) According to the World Health Organization, however there is no safe limit on the amount of mercury in your body.

Prolonged exposure to or unsafe levels of mercury can affect liver and thyroid function, cause tremors, memory loss irritability and disturbances to vision.

In February 2009 at the end of the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Governing Council meeting in Nairobi an agreement was made by environment ministers for a global crackdown on mercury.

The decision taken by over 140 countries was a turning point that would lift a major health threat for hundreds of millions of people. With a significant risk to the environment as well as human health a voluntary Global Mercury Partnership was decided upon while the negotiations and final agreements for an international mercury treaty could be finalized.

Since 2009 several more events have been held with a 2013 goal to have
the regulation of the use and emissions of mercury in a new global legally binding instrument.

Top Household Cleaning Hazards

TOXIC CLEANING PRODUCTSChemical cleaning products are supposed to make our lives easier by cutting down on the effort involved in keeping a tidy home. Many of these products carry significant health risks and threaten our environment.

What is more important, your health and the environment or a get clean quick method that is harmful to your health and the environment?

Carpet/Upholstery Shampoo

It takes a lot of chemicals to get spilled coffee off the white sofa; among them are perchlorethylene – a known carcinogen, extremely toxic to liver functioning – and ammonium hydroxide, a weak ammonia solution that’s also been linked to cancer.

Furniture Polishes

Furniture polishes make great use of petroleum distillate, phenols and nitrobenzene.

In addition to being extremely flammable, petroleum distillates are potential carcinogens, linked in particular to skin and lung cancers. Phenols cause edema, hives, rashes and burning when it comes in contact with your skin and when ingested phenols can cause circulatory collapse and coma.

Nitrobenzene poisoning typically occurs through inhalation of toxic fumes. Symptoms can include headache, nausea, cyanosis and in extreme cases, circulatory and respiratory collapse.

Air Fresheners

You didn’t think those air fresheners worked by pumping out all the unpleasant smells in your house and replacing them with fresh, sweet-scented air, did you? No, they work by coating the inside of your nose with a chemical residue. That residue contains phenols and formaldehyde.

Toilet Bowl Cleaners

The active ingredient in many toilet bowl cleaners is hydrochloric acid, an extremely corrosive substance that can cause pulmonary edema, permanent kidney and liver damage, and even coma and death if ingested; and severe burns if splashed accidently on the skin. Some toilet bowl cleaners also contain oxalic acid whose fumes cause pulmonary edema and which interferes with the absorption of calcium if ingested.

Drain Cleaners

Most drain cleaners are a cocktail of lye and hydrochloric acid. Sometimes trichloroethane (1,1,1-TCE) is used as a solvent. Trichloroethane is occasionally used recreationally by teenagers looking for a high; death is associated with central nervous system depression and cardiac arrhythmias.

Lye is the common name for chemical sodium hydroxide, an extremely caustic, alkaline chemical that causes severe eye irritation and burns, and, when mixed with water, creates an exothermic reaction.


Dangerous when mixed with ammonia (see above) and an extremely caustic corrosive on its own, bleach has the potential to cause pulmonary edema and coma.

Dishwasher Detergents

Poison centers across the United States cite dishwasher detergents as the number one cause of accidental poisonings in children under the age of six.

Dishwashing detergent powders commonly contain highly concentrated amounts of dry chlorine. They may also contain phosphates that have a deleterious effect on the environment, causing the unchecked proliferation of algae in lakes and other standing bodies of water.

Even after the rinsing cycle is through, the compounds in dishwashing detergent leave a potentially carcinogenic chemical residue on the plates and utensils we use to eat.

Mold/Mildew Cleaners

A veritable smorgasboard of toxins that include formaldehyde, lye, chlorine bleach and assorted chemical fragrances.

Safe and Healthy Options

seventh-generation-cleanerThe dangers of using most commercial cleaning products are very real. Fortunately, many safe and effective products are now available that won’t harm our babies, infants, children, seniors, pets, planet or us.

You can reduce the chemical burden in your home with a variety of low cost methods by simply buying more natural products that don’t contain the harmful chemicals.

There are many different guides available so you can educate yourself and have handy the information you need to make a safer decision for yourself and your family.

Stop using the hazardous chemicals to get rid of household pests like cockroaches or flies. There are many different aromatherapy oils like bergamot and lavender when used the right way can prevent and help to eliminate some common household pests.

Other Poisons In Your Home

Of course cleaning products are far from the only chemical toxins found in your home. To some degree, we expect to find pesticides and other chemicals in our landscaping and gardening products.

Chlordane and dieldran are no longer sold as insecticides for everyday use, but they’re still used for industrial agriculture. Poisoning may occur through the ingestion of contaminated root crops, meats, fish, and shellfish.

Mercury may be found in many brands of charcoal used for barbecuing. But still – wouldn’t we be more comfortable if we chose to garden and barbecue with chemical-free alternatives?

Until two decades ago, lead was also a common ingredient in most paints and especially in older houses, still presents a serious health hazard particularly to children.

What about the family pets? Pity the poor dog whose toys, pet bed, collar and leashes are contaminated with lead, mercury, chlorine (PVC), bromine and arsenic.

Children and Chemicals

Children under the age of six are one of the two groups most vulnerable to toxic chemicals in the home. Exposure begins before birth.

A 2009 study conducted by the Environmental Working Group found over 280 toxic chemicals in the cord blood of ten newborns. Children’s metabolisms are much faster than adults, so they absorb common poisons more quickly. Furthermore, their still developing organs are more susceptible to chemical damage. Household cleaners that are kept in an unlocked cabinet underneath the sink are the perfect height for a curious toddler to investigate.

A report issued in 1989 by the U.S. House of Representatives found that the most common cause of poisoning in the home in children under the age of six is liquid dish soap, which is liberally laced with formaldehyde and ammonia.

Although most cleaning products emblazon the warning KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN in big, bold letters on the label, in 2006 ingesting common household cleaning products injured nearly 12,000 children. Three-quarters of these cases were children under the age of two. The number one culprit? Sodium hypochlorite or bleach.

The Elderly

Like children under six, the elderly are most likely to spend more time in the home that means they are at greater risk of exposure to environmental chemicals. Their metabolisms, and physiological and biochemical processes are slowing down and their organ systems may be showing signs of compromise.

With functional changes in their eyesight and nervous systems, the elderly may misread labels or become confused among similarly packaged products.

Seniors are most at risk for carbon monoxide inhalation and accidental poisoning involving pesticides.

Unless someone living in your home is severely immunocompromised, you don’t actually need that antibacterial scrub with the fancy label – plain vegetable soap, water and elbow grease will do the trick just as they’ve been doing it for many years.



Eco Friendly Furnishings – Enhancing Your Home Naturally

CARBON FOOTPRINT 2Celebrities are doing it, politicians are doing it and your neighbors are probably doing it!

Choosing eco-friendly furnishings for your home is fast becoming the zeitgeist of this decade and beyond. If you are considering becoming an eco-conscious homeowner or tenant there is a wealth of resourceful information available to enable you to create the green design and lifestyle that you are looking for.

You can buy everything from all your furnishing needs including, tableware, clocks, linen, candles, cushions, curtains and natural area rugs made from natural, sustainable, and non-toxic materials and that’s got to be good for you and the environment.

From the bedroom to the bathroom there is a wide range of products made from natural materials including organic cotton, natural latex, seagrass, pure wool, jute, beeswax, hemp, bamboo and sustainable timbers.

Seagrass rugs are environmentally friendly because they do not contain formaldehyde and are very strong and durable making them an affordable option for any budget and a healthier choice for your home or office.

One of the fastest growing in popularity and most renewable resources is Bamboo. Available in the marketplace today is an extensive range of beautifully crafted items for your home including chopping boards, bowels, utensils, plates salad servers and of course beautiful bamboo rugs.

Bamboo, unlike other hardwoods does not swell or shrink as it absorbs little moisture and it is harder than maple and very durable so it will have a longer life span in your home. If you are not replacing items as frequently that will be a saving for your pocket book and the environment.

To shed some light on your planet friendly dining, home office or bedroom you can choose energy-efficient natural lighting to create your own special ambience. Placement of your lighting can also increase the effective output and choosing LED lamps will reduce energy consumption because they use less energy than fluorescent or incandescent bulbs and unlike fluorescent bulbs LED light bulbs don’t contain mercury vapor.

In addition, natural beeswax or soy candles can create that special ambience in the home, save on energy and are also available in a scented range with many being made from natural aromatherapy oils. Many of the candles currently on the market are made with synthetic wax and are cut with a considerable and concerning amount of petroleum-derived oil creating toxic fumes when burned.

The eco friendly home furnishings and now plentiful with so many innovative products available across all budgets and with many available online you don’t even have to get into the car to buy them. Now that’s eco friendly!

If you really want to be kind to yourself, family, friends and the environment you can keep up with the latest trends and fashion and win points for your support for the environment when you choose eco friendly furnishings.

Decorating In Eco Friendly Style – It’s Chic to be Green!

GREEN LIVINGGreen, green and more green! If you think that going green and being environmentally friendly in the home is a lot of hype about a short lived craze then think again.

With the media still feasting on the effects of the global economic crisis and the threats surrounding climate change going green and moving towards more eco friendly, sustainable homes and lifestyles is not simply a luxury fad for the rich and famous.

So what does it really mean to decorate your home or even office in eco friendly style and what are some of the benefits?

First and foremost, you need to educate yourself and become aware of the important issues and the options that are available. Think about using less non-renewable resources and that will also be less taxing on energy and water then you will be decorating with sustainability in mind and in many cases contrary to what you may believe your green design may be more affordable than you think.

I am sure many of you would like to think of yourself as having altruistic motives but let’s face it, who doesn’t want better health for themselves and if you didn’t already know reporting your eco-friendly improvements on your annual taxes could get you some benefits. Talk to your tax adviser for more information about any tax breaks related to eco-friendly choices in the home.

If you do have altruistic motives then the most obvious and greatest benefit after your own health and wellbeing is of course the bigger picture benefit to the environment and the global population. So let’s act local and think global and get on with our decorating project.

If you do have budget constraints then Shabby Chic may be the style for you. You don’t have to buy everything new with the Salvation Army and Goodwill offering old favorites at affordable prices and you will be surprised at what a can of eco friendly paint can do for your pre-loved furniture. Another option is the local wood salvage yards where you can buy reclaimed lumber to make your own furniture.

If you are concerned that you will have to wade through a quagmire of seemingly green friendly stores to find what you are looking for contact your local office of the U.S. Green Building Council to find the locations of the green stores in your area.

If health and wellbeing is your number one priority then you need to be considering the materials used in your home including floor coverings because carpet can off-gas formaldehyde which has even been attributed as a cause of cancer. There are safer options for floor covering with natural area rugs made from sisal, wool, jute, seagrass and hemp that provide very affordable options.

For those on more of a champagne style of decorating budget you will find just about anything and everything you want from eco friendly designer lighting to designer flooring.  Persian rugs can be a great eco friendly choice for flooring as many of the original and traditional rugs are made from natural fibers and colored with natural vegetable dyes.

Decorating in eco friendly style can make a positive difference for you and the environment!

Eco Friendly Cleaning Materials – Keeping Your Home Clean and Green

If you are concerned for the wellbeing of the environment, your loved ones, extended family and friends choosing to eliminate mainstream cleaners from your home and switch to more natural products may significantly improve your health and the health of the planet.

If you consider yourself to be “an average American” then chances are you are probably using about 25 gallons of toxic and hazardous chemical products in your home each year most of which will be in your household cleaning products. And to add a really scary component to that, more than 50,000 chemicals have entered the market since the 1970’s and by comparison many have not even been tested.

There are a myriad of reasons to switch to more natural, non-toxic cleaning products. In addition to being biodegradable most of these products are also very concentrated which means that you can use a lot less and not only save money for yourself that also means less waste, potentially less shipping and often less packaging. All this will also be a great saving for the environment.

If you are sensitive to harsh fumes, have sensitive skin or other allergies you can use a wide range of products from the kitchen to the bathroom that will keep you and your home clean and green and many of the more natural products will even outperform the traditional alternatives. Many of the ingredients used in the more eco-friendly products also contain ingredients such as vitamin E and aloe vera that can moisturize, smooth and even protect the skin making them very safe for humans including babies, children and even the family pooch.

For those of us who are not environmental scientists wading through the quagmire of information can be quite daunting. Whether you are choosing laundry powder, spray and wipe all purpose cleaners, dishwashing liquids, furniture polish, carpet cleaners, bathroom or furniture cleaners and even your shampoo read the label and check for the following information on the product label;

Free of artificial fragrances, preservatives, colors, phosphates and chlorine, chemical free, non-toxic, no petroleum by products, solvents, fillers or thickeners. The product label may also advise that every ingredient is renewable and Earth friendly with some companies extending their philosophy to a shift in their supply chains to Fair Trade ingredients. The Fair Trade movement has proven to make a significant difference to the lives of thousands of farmers and workers around the world.

You can make a difference to your own personal environment and the global picture by buying from companies that produce household and personal cleaning products made from eco-friendly, renewable ingredients and if possible with a Fair Trade stamp to add that extra benefit.