Thinking of doing a little redecorating after you finish your spring cleaning? Our living room space is often the first place we look when we need a fresh update to our homes. Thanks to a few quick decorating tips, you can get a new look while also creating a more eco-friendly environment for your family and friends.
Try these decorating tips to make your living room more green:
Do More Than Paint
Yes, adding a new paint color (with zero VOCs, of course) can give your living space a facelift, but adding texture can actually keep away dust and pollen. Use clay plasters and natural pigments that will keep your indoor air fresh while also giving your room a fresh new look.
Move Your Furniture
A simple rearrangement of your furniture not only changes the space, but can actually decrease your energy usage. Try to move furniture away from exterior walls and drafty windows as well as moving bulky furniture (such as sofas) away from vents. Big furniture in front of vents absorbs a high percentage of the hot or cool air, making it necessary for you to turn up the heat or air conditioning in order to feel comfortable. If you must have a piece of furniture in front of a vent, make sure it sits a little bit away from the vent so the air can circulate.
Reupholster the Couch
Instead of buying a new couch, have it reupholstered. In addition to having it covered in eco-friendly, durable fabric (hemp is a good choice), also make sure they stuff it with a sustainable fiber like bamboo or organic cotton. Ask if your upholsterer can recondition the frame and repair cushions or springs as part of the entire job—this will make the couch last even longer than before, saving you money while you are saving the planet.
Reclaim Your Wood
Studies show that replacing carpet or rugs with a wood floor will improve your air quality. But, due to deforestation concerns, some feel wood floors are not as sustainable as other floor options such as cork. A great eco-friendly option is to look for reclaimed wood floors that are created from wood salvaged from old buildings—not only are you recovering and recycling materials, but the craftsmanship of the wood will add instant charm to your home. Another option is to look for hardwood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This organization adheres to high social and environmental standards. In the living room, people spend a lot of time on the floor, so make sure you keep floors clean & healthy by always using a nontoxic, natural cleaner such as our Ecospirit™ Floor Cleaner.
Think Fair Trade
You may be a regular buyer of fair trade coffee and chocolate, but have you considered buying fair trade products for your home? Websites such as shoppingforachange.org offer eco-friendly home décor accents that are both beautiful and sustainable. Each piece is handcrafted from green, sustainable, natural materials and earns a fair salary for the artisan’s work. If you can’t find something you love via a fair trade vendor, buy from a local craftsman, which will also decrease your overall carbon footprint.
Talk to us: What decorating tricks do you have for making your living room a more eco-friendly space?
Happy Earth Day! While there are numerous things you can do to celebrate our wonderful planet with your friends and family, this is also the perfect time to celebrate with your company. Use this year’s Earth Day celebration as a way to kick-off more eco-friendly options in your workplace.
Celebrate Earth Day in your office by trying one or more of these ideas:
1. Know How Much You Use
According to an article in Inc. magazine, companies need to know how “ungreen” they really are before they can begin to be more green. Checkout the EPA’s Energy Star program that offers tools to help you gauge your energy and water use.
2. Encourage Green Transportation
Have employees spend at least one day participating in more eco-friendly transportation options such as biking or walking to work. In addition, set up a company carpool program where employees work together to decrease the amount of cars on the road each day.
3. Go Paperless
Spend the day in the digital world—using the least amount of paper you possibly can. Use email to send meeting agendas, edit materials online and use file sharing software to communicate and work with your team. If you must use paper, consider printing on both sides of one sheet and set printers so they won’t print test pages.
4. Email Encourage Others
Have employees put a simple tag line at the end of their emails encouraging people to not print out the message. An example: “Please consider the environment before printing this email.”
5. Put Your Computers to Sleep
According to the EPA website, simply putting your computer to sleep can save $10-$50 per computer each year. Encourage employees to make sure their computers are “sleeping” when not in use.
6. Keep it Clean Indoors
Use natural, nontoxic cleaning products such as those we have in our Ecospirit™ product line to keep your office clean and healthy. If you can, consider hiring an eco-friendly cleaning company such as GreenHouse Eco-Cleaning, producing a healthy environment for employees and guests.
7. Plant It Up
The more green plants you have in your office, the more healthy your office air will be. Give each employee a plant for his or her desk or fill a conference room or hallway with new green life. And, don’t forget about the outside. Bring in small garden tools and plants and have teams of employees spend the day outside making your company naturally beautiful.
8. Bring In Lunch
Instead of everyone heading out to lunch, have employees bring in their own food creations from home—asking them to bring it in reusable containers and using reusable utensils. If you are able, consider hosting lunch for your employees—bringing in locally grown and sustainable food options.
9. Dispose of Your Electronics
Work with a local organization to help your company—and its employees—dispose of electronics in a safe way. Have a collection box available with a list of acceptable items and make arrangements for the box to be picked up once it is filled. Look around the office for old electronics, but also encourage employees to bring items from home.
10. Host A Recycle Challenge
Even if your company has a recycling program, Earth Day is a great day to reintroduce it to everyone. Create a team competition—giving each work team their own recycling bin and see which team can recycle the most material.
Talk to us: What is your company doing to celebrate Earth Day this year?
We love that our big city is one filled with big love for our planet. Since 2007, New York City has been on a mission to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2030—and we are well on our way to doing just that. This Earth Week, we encourage you to get out there and celebrate with your fellow New Yorkers—celebrate the small and large steps you have been taking to reduce your overall carbon footprint. Happy Earth Week, New York!
Here are some of the events happening around our city during Earth Week 2014:
Earth Day at Union Square
Tuesday April 22
11:00 am-7:00 pm
Kids’ activities and entertainment, green vehicle runway show, green travel exhibits and green product samples are just a few of things that will be happening during Earth Day 2014. Bring your used clothing, textiles and electronics for free recycling and enjoy an after work concert (3pm-7pm).
Earth Day Hike
Tuesday April 22
200 Nevada Avenue, Staten Island
10:30 am-11:00 am
A walk along the ponds of High Rock where you can learn about the history of the environmental conservation movement on Staten Island and it continues to protect the “heart and lungs” of the Greenbelt.
Earth Day at Grand Central
Wednesday April 23 & Thursday April 24
11:00 am-7:00 pm
Exhibits by partner organizations outside of East 43rd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue
Arbor Day Great Tree Walk
Friday April 25
Conference House Park, Staten Island
1:00 pm-4:00 pm
Celebrate Arbor Day with a Great Tree Walk at Conference House Park, led by a NYC Parks and Recreation arborist.
MillionTreesNYC Spring Stewardship Day
Saturday April 26
Marine Park, Brooklyn and Conference House Park, Staten Island
9:00 am-1:00 pm
This spring’s MillionTreesNYC forest restoration day will focus on stewardship and caring for young forests that have already been planted. Activities will include removing invasive weeds, picking up litter and spreading mulch. Registration is required for this event.
Green Festival New York City
Saturday April 26 & Sunday April 27
Pier 94, 711 12th Avenue
10:00 am-6:00 pm
The largest and longest-running sustainability event in the country, there is something for everyone interested in living a more sustainable and healthier life.
Talk to us: What are you doing to celebrate Earth Week in the New York City area?
This weekend is Easter and we are not only celebrating the Easter Bunny, but also celebrating Mother Nature. There are numerous eco-friendly ideas you can incorporate into your own Easter celebrations—from natural egg dyeing to hosting a sustainable brunch, making this weekend’s fun good for you and your family as well as good for the planet.
Reuse and Recycle
While it is tempting to buy a new basket each year, reuse what you already have or consider using basket alternatives you can find throughout your home such as cloth-covered storage bins, sand pails, or small tote bags. Be sure to recycle your candy containers and other packaging and look for ways to reuse packaging such as these great egg carton craft ideas found from Spoonful website.
Let Green Fill the Baskets
Do not use the plastic Easter grass found in stores. Instead, reuse shredded paper cuttings or fill the bottom of your baskets with colorful pieces of cloth scraps or a product your kids will actually use like socks. Look for more earth-friendly candy options such as organic chocolates and jelly beans and even think green with your gifts and toys—a startup garden kit with seeds, nontoxic art supplies or certified free-trade or homemade toys will make any child smile.
Eco Egg Decorating
Ditch the prepackaged egg dye kit for a more natural alternative such as creating your own homemade natural dye made from the spices you find in your pantry or the vegetables from your garden (think beautiful purple cabbage or yellow onion). If you must go with a prepackaged option, look for one that uses natural ingredients such as Natural Earth Paint. Visit the EcoWatch site for more great eco egg ideas.
Instead of heading out for brunch, host your own Easter meal at home this year. Decorate with natural elements such as flowers and greenery and use cloth napkins and washable plates, cups and utensils. Only serve local, organic and sustainable foods and reuse leftovers instead of throwing them out (leftover eggs make a great egg salad!). Yahoo! Voices has other ideas for throwing a green dinner party.
Do a Quick Company Green Clean
Your home will soon be filled with Easter guests young and old and while you are busy preparing for all the festivities, don’t miss one great green opportunity: cleaning. A clean home not only makes your guests feel more comfortable, but creates a healthier environment for everyone. Use nontoxic, natural cleaning products such as our Ecospirit™ line or, if you are really pressed for time and live in the NYC area, you can book our Wild Green Pre & Post Party Cleanup, allowing you to enjoy the fun while we take care of keeping it all clean.
Talk to us: What are you doing to make your Easter more eco-friendly?
One of the busiest rooms in our home? The bathroom. It is a room that gets a full workout—beginning at dawn and ending long after the sun has gone down. It is a room everyone (including most guests) will visit at some time during each day, which can make it one of the most eco-unfriendly rooms in our house. A few quick changes to your bathroom will make this busy little room better for our planet, and better for your family.
Take these steps to make your bathroom more green:
Use Less Water
Did you realize that toilets use approximately 27% of the water consumed in your household? This is more than your washer, dishwasher and sinks—giving you an unbelievable opportunity to save water just by installing a low-flow toilet or installing a dual-flusher. The low-flow strategy can also be applied to your shower heads and sink faucets.
Go Natural with Your Linens
Who doesn’t love coordinating bathroom towels, linens and shower curtains? Instead of just paying attention to the color, pay attention to the material, looking for products made from organic cotton or bamboo. These materials are not only good for the planet, but good for your health—bamboo is known to have antibacterial qualities and organic cotton is safer for your skin (and feels wonderful!).
There are numerous paper products working hard in your bathroom—including toilet paper and tissues. While it may be difficult to find a non-disposable alternative, look for products composed of 100% recycled paper. Try to avoid things that are disposable such as razors and toothbrushes and when cleaning, use reusable towels instead of disposable cleaning wipes.
Get Pretty, Clean & Green
Look through your personal care products to see if their ingredients come from natural sources and/or if the product packaging is recyclable. If not, consider changing to more healthy alternatives, which, thanks to brands such as Burt’s Bees and Ecco Bella, allow you to be kinder to the planet without skimping on your beauty. Also, while you are busy getting ready to look your best, think about how you can conserve energy and water. Let your hair air dry instead of plugging in a dryer and turn off the water while you are brushing your teeth.
Most bathrooms are small and often not well ventilated, making cleaning with nontoxic cleaners a must. You can use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar or invest in a safe eco-cleaning product such as our Ecospirit ™ Bathroom Cleaner, it will cut through the soap scum and germs leaving behind a shine you can see and inhale.
Talk to us: What tips do you have for making your bathroom more green?
During the month of April, as we celebrate all that is wonderful about our planet, we challenge you to green every room of your house—starting with the room that holds a very special place in our hearts, the kitchen. We love spending time with family & friends sharing new recipes, cooking great foods and creating unforgettable conversations. Our kitchen is one of the busiest rooms in the house, which makes it one of the best places to start when looking to do a green makeover this spring.
Take these steps to move your kitchen into a greener space:
Keep It Clean
While you may be well-versed in how to handle raw foods, you may be missing some opportunities to keep your kitchen free from bacteria and germs. At the end of each day wipe down countertops, cabinets and fronts of appliances with a natural, eco-friendly cleaner such as our Ecospirit™ All-Purpose Cleaner and put your sponge in the microwave. Yes, the microwave. According to Health.com, three out of four kitchen sponges and rags test positive for potentially dangerous bacteria. Putting your sponge in the microwave on medium for a minute helps clean the sponge and reduce the chance of you spreading the bacteria to other surfaces and dishes.
If you think running the dishwasher uses more water than washing by hand, think again—washing a load of dishes in a dishwasher actually uses LESS water than washing dishes by hand. Some tips from WebMD.com: make sure your dishwasher is full before you run it and always use the “economy” setting if that is available on your brand. You can also save a little energy while saving water—let your dishes air-dry instead of using the heat-dry option.
Reduce Your Recyclables
While many kitchens have recycling bins, consider reducing the amount of recyclable items your family uses. For example, instead of purchasing water bottles, invest in a water filter for your faucet or a water filter pitcher to keep in your fridge. Use dish cloths and napkins instead of paper products, use glass containers instead of plastic wrap for keeping leftovers and purchase a reusable grocery bag instead of deciding between paper or plastic.
Repurpose Your Food
Here is an alarming statistic from Inhabitat.com: Americans wasted 33 million tons of food in 2010. To help alleviate this issue, consider creating a compost system. Inhabitat suggests using an indoor odor-minimizing composter or, if you have the outdoor space, checkout tips from howtocompost.org. A side benefit to composting is that you may be able to use the nutrient-rich soil to create your own garden.
Become Your Own Chef
Instead of buying pre-packaged and often processed food, make it yourself. In addition to always knowing what you’re eating, you are reducing the energy it takes to process and transport your food and reducing waste by eliminating the packaging. If you really want to green your food preparation, buy local whenever you can by visiting local farmers’ markets or joining your local community supported agriculture (CSA) co-op. Another great benefit to making your own food? It’s a great way to get kids into the kitchen.
Talk to us: What are you doing to move your kitchen into a greener space?