Natural Cleaning Tips For Healthy Living - February 2014

Create and maintain a clean environment of your very own.

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Buy what you need. Use what you buy.

Are you one of the millions of Americans throwing away money on food you don’t eat, electricity you don’t enjoy and possessions you don’t need? In its report, “The Food Wastage Footprint,” the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that a year of wasted food had a carbon footprint equal to 3.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide. Why so much waste? Simply put: We don’t know how to live on less.

From turning off lights to exploring alternative packing materials, sustainable shopping habits save you money and support the environment. In essence, let’s start thinking in terms of “buy-what-we-need, use-all-we-buy.” This sentiment might sound strange in our culture of excess, but the concept is growing in popularity amongst responsible business owners. Consider former Trader Joe’s president Doug Rauch and his plans to develop a new concept store-restaurant selling food that was rejected from supermarkets based on appearance or arbitrary age-guidelines. His project, called The Daily Table, is an effort to utilize these would-be wasted foods to feed Boston’s hungry, low income residents.

Rauch’s passion for reusing and maximizing resources should be an inspiration to all of us to think and live differently, greener. Where can we cut back, reuse and repurpose? And how can we find ways to support our community by making small changes in the little choices we make every day.

How about this for a small, easy change: eat at restaurants that support sustainable, green business practices. For example, Panera Bread Company donates leftover baked goods to charitable organizations in need every night after closing. Not only do the communities surrounding their bakery-cafes benefit from the donations, but awareness of Panera’s cause marketing efforts has increased green business practices of competitors.

Cut down on your electric waste by turning off lights, closing doors and setting the temperature a little higher than normal. Not only are these actions better for the environment, they’re healthier for you too. Research shows that the human body works better when it’s allowed to experience seasonal temperature and lighting changes.

Another way you can choose to conserve is by shopping for fair trade items instead of conventional products. Fair trade is a term for the direct relationship between consumers and producers. In a fair trade relationship craftsmen and buyers work together to ensure that products are created using eco-friendly business practices and materials and a good price is then paid for those products. Since fair trade products are often made using traditional methods and materials, buying these items also serves to keep cultures alive and vibrant.

Talk to us: What other opportunities do you have every day to cut back, give back and do more?

 

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The Business of Fast Fashion

This is the time of year that the Mercedes-Benz Fall Fashion Week takes over most of New York, as fashion has done in one form or another in this city for more than 70 years. This week is an exciting, creative whirlwind of new fashion trends and styles showcased from a host of designers around the world; but how does it affect you and me and our environment?

According to retailers, designers and environmental thought leaders it’s the ‘Fast Fashion’ that stems from Fashion Week that green shoppers should be wary of. According to OnlineMBA.com the term refers to clothing and accessories that are designed to reflect current industry trends, yet produced using less expensive materials to ensure a low price tag. For the last two decades, clothing retailers like H&M, Zara, and Forever 21 have popularized Fast Fashion among everyday consumers. However, not everyone is a huge fan of the trend.

Many designers, for instance, have complained that Fast Fashion has reduced conceptual originality within the clothing industry in order to produce a higher volume of garments and accessories. Zara, for example, churns out 10,000 new items every year; most boutique designers, by comparison, release between 50 and 100 pieces.

The Fast Fashion trend has also led to environmental concerns. Every year, the clothing industry produces 2 million tons of waste, emits 2.1 million tons of carbon dioxide, and uses 70 million tons of water; these figures have significantly risen in the years since Fast Fashion became a retailing standard. To make matters worse, the quality of these garments is typically so low that most are discarded or donated to charity by the wearer within two years of the original purchase.

Roughly 300 retailers have signed on to the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), a collective that aims to reduce wastefulness in the fashion industry. SCAP seeks to produce and sell clothing without producing undesirable environmental effects; another goal of the group is to exclusively limit international business deals and projects to countries that have established strict labor regulations.

Watch more about this disturbing retail trend here:

Created by OnlineMBA.com

Tell us: What do you think of this stance on ‘Fast Fashion?’ What are you doing today to make your wardrobe greener?

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10 Ways to Clean and Use Lemon & Baking Soda in Your Home

The Benefits of Using Lemon & Baking Soda to Clean Your Home

It’s common knowledge that lemon and baking soda are must-haves for cocktails (lemons-only please), cookies and cakes; but did you know that these two ingredients are also green cleaning powerhouses? Alone they each have their own benefits: lemon is a potent antibacterial and its clean citrus smell leaves behind a fresh scent that countless commercial cleaning products have been trying to recreate for years; and baking soda is an almost perfect drawing agent to pull out stains, odors and even venom from stinging insects. Not to mention that baking soda’s natural grit makes it an ideal scouring product when it’s combined with a little elbow grease.

Yes, alone these foodstuffs are excellent in recipes, but when used together they have the usefulness to replace every one of the toxic cleaning products under your sink. Their uses are virtually limitless, but just to get you started here are 10 ways we use this go-to cleaning combo in client homes and offices.

  1. Baking soda is a natural bleaching agent, which means it should be your go-to stain remover for everything from sheets to shoes. Just add a little of it to your detergent and run it through your wash or let the stained item soak before wiping and rinsing.
  2. Lemon banishes body odors from textiles with the added benefit of lightening the yellowish sweat stains that get left behind. Use it in your shoes to refresh a worn out pair, or soak a shirt in it before washing and rinsing as normal. Always spot test first to be sure the fabric isn’t sensitive to the active citrus.
  3. Painful bee sting? Soaking a hand or foot in a baking soda and water solution will draw out the stinging venom and soothe the throbbing pain. This is especially useful on animals that may have a negative reaction to over-the-counter products.
  4. We often use lemons to eradicate kitchen odors and caked-on food. Microwave a bowl of lemon slices and water and all you need is a damp cloth to wipe down the clean microwave after one minute on high.
  5. A microwave isn’t the only place in your kitchen with an odor problem. Turn the odor-fighting power of lemons on your stinky garbage disposal by grinding up lemon rinds and running a little hot water. You’ll be amazed how much better your kitchen smells afterwards.
  6. You can use lemons and baking soda instead of drying cleaning. Try this trick at home: soak a yellowing shirt, blanket or pillow in a lemon juice and baking soda solution. When the fabric lightens rinse with cold water and air dry.
  7. Mix baking soda, lemon juice and water and use it to scrub your kitchen and bathroom.
  8. Wood cutting boards are infamous for being as bacteria-ridden as they are beautiful. Squeeze enough lemons to soak your cutting board for at least one hour. When the wood lightens up and stains are gone, rinse with hot water and dry well before using.
  9. Thirty-to-45 minutes of soaking in a lemon juice and baking soda solution will lighten the grout in your bathroom or kitchen, especially when you scrub it in with a brush.
  10. Don’t forget the tried and true use for baking soda: cut down refrigerator odors by placing an open box in the back of the unit.

Talk to us: What creative uses have you found for this go-to combination of green cleaning power? If you’d rather not squeeze lemons and mix your own cleaning solutions, we suggest Ecospirit green cleaning products, which we also use in our offices. It’s a plant-based line of cleaning solutions that come ready-made for you to spray, wipe and clean.