Natural Cleaning Tips For Healthy Living - June 2015

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Eco-friendly disposable tableware Eco-friendly tableware Outdoor entertaining tips

4 Disposable and Sustainable Tableware Options

ecotableware

Getting ready for your red, white and blue celebrations this weekend?  While we are celebrating our independence we also want to celebrate our planet with these great disposable AND sustainable tableware options:

 

Susty Party
Compostable, non-toxic, renewable, and stylish tableware made by our Brooklyn neighbors, Susty Party.  From plates to cups to utensils, their eco-friendly offerings are colorful, functional and party-ready (you can even order a ‘Party Pack’ with everything you need!).  Another plus?  The company also provides jobs for the blind with their co-packing partner Clovernook Center.
Favorite Product:  Straws—the paper straws come in two different sizes (smaller for cocktails!) and multiple colors.  We are mixing and matching red, white and blue for our July 4th festivities.

 

VerTerra
We love this statement from VerTerra’s website:  “While we can’t ensure that your meal will be guilt free, we can ensure that your dinnerware is.”  Founded on the belief that it is possible to combine high design with environmental responsibility, VerTerra tableware is made from fallen leaves, steam, heat and pressure and can go from table, to fridge to microwave.
Favorite Product:  Fixed Side—BoatsWe’ve always wondered how we could sustainably serve our summer banana splits!

 

Bambu
Creators of All Occasion Veneerware®, it is the only single-use product made from 100% bamboo and Certified Organic.  These products are so beautiful that they can easily be used for elegant dinners as well as patio parties.  “For us, sustainability goes well beyond the balance between what we take from the earth and what we return to it,” states the brand’s website.  “It’s a philosophy that applies to how we conduct ourselves as a business.”
Favorite Product:  Bamboo Sporks—yes, sporks.  We are all about purchasing products with multiple use.  What could be better than one utensil that is both your fork and your spoon?

 

World Centric
World Centric products are made from wheatstraw, a leftover agricultural fiber and an annually renewable resource.  Worried about gluten?  Wheatstraw is the remaining plant fiber after the grain (which stores the proteins and allergens) has been removed—making it gluten-free.
Favorite Product:  Three Compartment Plate—perfect for the guest who doesn’t want his or her food to touch.

 

If you can’t find the above products locally and/or do not have time to order online, you can still choose more eco-friendly options from brands such as Chinet (products are said to be fully biodegradable and compostable) and Party City’s Eco Party line.

Talk to us:  What will you be serving on your eco-friendly tableware this July 4th weekend?

 

Eco-friendly packing green living Green Travel Summer Travel Tips

4 Tips for Eco-Friendly Packing

Eco-friendly packing

 

Tis the season for summer travel and while you are out exploring this great big wonderful world, don’t forget to take care of it as well.  What we pack can be just as important to our planet as where we visit and what we do once we get there.

Here are 4 tips that will help you stay true to your green living self as you pack your bags and head out of town:

 

Pack Light
The more weight our cars and planes carry, the more fuel they use.  Do your part in keeping emissions low by packing as light as you can.  Pick neutral pieces of clothing that can be mixed-and-matched with each other (super fashionable, eco-friendly choices can be found at Kaight in Brooklyn) and look for items that can be used for more than one purpose.  “For example, bring sandals that you can hike in, use on the beach, and wear in the shower,” says ResponsibleTravelReport.com.  “Bring convertible pants that can be used as trousers or shorts.”

 

Invest in Reusable Items
In addition to purchasing reusable bottles for toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner and soap (The Container Store has great options), we also suggest investing in reusable snack and sandwich bags like these from ReUseIt.com.  They are great for keeping snacks fresh while on the road (or in the air), carrying messy items to and from the beach (think sunblock) and can also be used as a way to save on eating-out costs once you get to your destination.  “If your destination hotel has a nearby grocer, pack sandwiches for a picnic at a local park,” suggests YouMustBeTrippin.com.

 

Eliminate Paper
“When possible, reduce paper weight by downloading books, articles, maps., on an electronic device and leaving the hard copies behind,” suggests ResponsibleTravelReport.com.  In addition to keeping your luggage light, you will be less likely to lose the info you need.  Can’t find the guidebook you need online?  “If you only need a few pages, tear out those pages (or make copies).  If you make notes on those pages as you travel, you’ll have a handy mini-journal.”

 

Re-Charge Your Batteries
A tip from the World Wildlife Federation:  “Go for rechargeable gadgets, which have less environmental impact than ones that require disposable batteries.”  Yes, you will need to pack a charger, but it will still be lighter (and more cost effective) than the packs of extra batteries you will need.  Consider purchasing solar chargers for batteries and other electronics (several now include USB ports) like these from REI.

Happy Travels!

 

Talk to us:  Where are you going this summer?  We’d love to hear about your adventures or see your photos—share them with us on Facebook and Twitter!

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/Patrick Marione
eco-friendly cleaning solutions getting rid of mold non-toxic cleaning

3 Non-Toxic Ways to Getting Rid of Mold in Your House Naturally

Proven Ways To Kill Mold Naturally

Cleaning Mold

 

Studies show that health problems from mold exposure are on the increase—from headaches and runny noses to more serious respiratory conditions, mold is not only hurting your home, it is hurting your health.

Two things that mold needs to live in your home:  moisture and warmth.  During this time of year when many of us are experiencing higher than usual humidity levels and excessive rain, here are 3 non-toxic ways to get rid of mold:

 

Tea Tree Spray
Although tea tree oil can be expensive, a little goes a long way in this easy recipe from Care2.com.  Combine 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle.  Shake to blend and spray on the molded area.  DO NOT RINSE—the strong odor of the tea tree oil will soon dissipate.

Vinegar
We love vinegar (read our Huffington Post article about it!) and find it to be one of the best ways to clean mold and mildew.  Simply pour vinegar into a spray bottle and apply to any areas where mold and mildew may be growing.  Let sit for a few minutes before wiping away with a clean cloth.

Hydrogen Peroxide
Mix one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide with one cup of water.  Wet a cloth with the mixture and wipe on mold.  After it sits for at least 10 minutes, scrub the area to remove all mold and stains before wiping down surface.

After using any of the above options for removing your mold, spray the area with a baking soda mixture (1-2 tablespoons of baking soda combined with 2 cups of water). No need to rinse—the baking soda will continue to deodorize and prevent future mold growth.

 

Two additional ways to keep mold from growing:

Keep Humidity in Check
As we mentioned, mold loves moisture so keep your humidity level between 30%-50%.  To decrease humidity, open windows, turn on the air conditioner, fix leaky plumbing and do not overwater your plants.   Also, turn on your exhaust fans in the bathroom to help circulate air in those spaces where moisture likes to stay.

Purify Your Air
You may want to consider investing in an air purifier.  If you do, purchase an air purifier that eliminates VOCs and does not produce ozone.  Click here for things you should know before you shop.

 

Talk to us:  What are you doing to keep your home free from mold and mildew this summer?

 

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/bark

 

 

Gardening Small Space Gardens Urban Garden Tips

Top 4 Urban Gardening Tips and Tricks

raisedbedgarden

 

Create the Perfect Urban Garden This Year!

This time of year always makes us want to spend time in our garden.  The problem?  We live in an apartment with a very tiny outdoor space.  This year, we are using these 4 tips to create a beautiful garden in our small space.  Will you join us?

Make a Plan
You don’t have to have a degree in landscape architecture to create a guide that will help you design your space. “Before sketching out your ideas, decide how you will use the garden,” writes Burpee.com.  Do you want a private space for entertaining or a vegetable garden with a view? Next, pay attention to how the sun moves around your space-especially if you have one or two walls that enclose your patio.  “Take time to closely observe the amount of shade,” says landscape designer, Susan Cohan, APLD on the Burpee website.  “People often think they have a sunny garden when in fact there is a great deal of shade.”

 

Create a Container
Once you know the plan for your space,  you need to choose your containers.  While you can go to any garden supply store and pick up some nice pots and planters, really anything that holds soil can be used as a container–look at these creative ways to use dollar store finds from HGTV.com.  Another great option is to make a raised bed for your patio or deck. This is especially great if you are planning a vegetable garden.  “It offers perfect drainage, protection from pests, and easy access to crops,” suggests Sunset.com.  You can find DIY instructions for a 4- by 8-foot bed here–the perfect project for this weekend.

 

Grow Up
Automatically thinking “ground” when we say garden?  When you are working in a small space stop looking down and start looking up.  “Many crops can be easily trained to grow up poles, trellises, or even lattices attached to walls,” says Care2.com.  “Any kind of support that is sturdy enough to use string across it will work.” You may also want to try attaching small flower beds to a fence or wall–it adds a great design feature in addition to being a nice place for your plants to grow.   Plants that work best in a vertical garden include peas, cucumbers and peace lilies.

 

Pay Attention to Food & Water
“Plants in containers and with limited soil use up available nutrients more quickly, and shallower soil can’t hold as much water as the ground can,” writes Mother Earth News.  “Make sure to regularly supplement your soil with organic compost, kelp meal, bone meal or organic cottonseed meal to give plants the nutrients they need to thrive.”  It is important that plants get the water they need, but your containers must also drain well.  Put your finger in the soil about 1 inch–if it is moist, don’t water.

 

Talk to us:  What are you growing in your urban garden this summer?

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/normanack

 

 

DIY Wine Bottle Crafts Outdoor Space Ideas Upcycle Wine Bottles Wine Bottles

Upcycle Your Wine Bottles

If you are enjoying warm evenings sipping wine on your balcony or patio, why not upcycle those empty bottles and add some charm to your outdoor space.  Checkout some of these great ideas we found on Pinterest:

Decorative Vases via Top Inspired

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A little glass paint, some rhinestones and a lot of creativity will give you some beautiful vases for those summer blooms.

 

Candle Holders via WeddingPartyApp.com 

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If you are not quite comfortable cutting the glass, you can use the top of the bottle as a candle holder.

 

Wind Chimes via wikiHow

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Yes, there are quite a few pieces of material you need for this (think 3/4 inch hooks, jewelry chains, metal ring) and you should also save your corks.  But, it makes a great sound in the evening breeze.

 

Water Fountain via CraftyPicks

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In this photo, the crafter used a piece of driftwood to hold up the bottle, but you could also use an inexpensive wine bottle holder that keeps the wine flowing toward the cork.

 

Tiki Torches via DesignSponge

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If you have some additional yard, this is a great way to not only add some ambiance to your backyard space, but it will help keep mosquitoes away.

Talk to us:  What creative way are you reusing your wine bottles this summer?

 

Greening Your Office Summer Activities for Employees Summer Work Policies

Summer Office Policies that Make You Green

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In the words of Will Smith, “Summer, summer, summertime.  Time to sit back and unwind.”  Easier said than done when you are a small business owner, right?  This summer, we encourage you to take advantage of the “summer, summer, summertime” and implement some of these office policies that are not only good for your employees and your company, but good for our planet:

 

Organize a Work CSA
Workplace CSAs are beginning to pop up throughout New York City thanks to CSAs like Local Roots NYC, an organization that already has numerous workplace distribution points included on their list.  See what CSAs may already be in your workplace neighborhood (here’s a great NYC map) and contact them to see if they would be willing to work with you and your company.  Can’t find one that fits?  Consider creating your own with these great tips from Just Food.   You can find a list of potential farms by visiting Local Harvest.

Encourage Green Transportation
Have employees spend at least one day a week participating in more eco-friendly transportation options such as biking or walking to work.  Studies show that avoiding just 10 miles of driving every week can eliminate about 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year.  In addition, employees that spend time in the great outdoors prior to the workday will be more productive.  Click here for tips on how to bike to work in NYC.

Make Telecommuting an Option
Offer employees the opportunity to work from home.  With cloud services, email, texting and Skype a big chunk of what we do each day in our offices can be done while at home.  Allowing your employees to telecommute even a portion of their week lowers overall CO2 emissions, increases worker productivity and saves you money.

Go Casual on Fridays
During the summer months, end the work week with a “lighter and cooler” attitude by opening up the windows and turning down the thermostat to save on cooling costs and electricity.  If possible, consider closing your office early on Friday afternoons (or implementing a 4-day work week) so you can turn off the lights and computers.

Organize a Volunteer Program
Studies show that employees who are encouraged to volunteer for a cause are happier and more productive so use the downtime of summer to organize a volunteer program for your employees. Plan a company-sponsored service day where employees are given the day off to volunteer or allow employees to participate in individual volunteer programs during work hours.

Whatever your summer policy, make sure you reward employees who participate in an effort to encourage others to get involved as well.

 

Talk to us:  What is your office summer policy?

 

 

 

 

 

Less waste Living with less Minimalist Living World Environment Day

World Environment Day: How to Live Better by Living with Less

Today is World Environment Day with the theme, “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.”

Watch the World Environment Day 2015 Official Video:

So, how do you begin living with less?  Here are 4 things you can do today that will not only help you live with less, but will help you live a less stressful life:

Declutter
As you know, we are not fans of clutter.  We encourage all of our clients–residential and commercial–to throw out or donate everything they don’t need or use.  Struggling to decide if it is something you think you might need?  We love this tip from Apartment Therapy:  “Take and hide everything you think you could do without for a few months, to give yourself distance to be able to give them away.”  Once you realize how much you really don’t need, donate or recycle the hidden items.  Do this trick every few months and you will keep stripping away all unnecessary items from your home–leaving you with a more simple lifestyle.

 

Clean Out Your Closet
According to Becoming Minimalist, we wear 20% of the clothes 80% of the time, leaving all of us with a closet full of things we don’t need.  First, take out seasonal items and box them up for storage (MakeSpace will pick up and deliver items to and from a storage facility).  Next, get rid of all items that no longer fit or are out of style–consider donating them to charity, selling them to a local thrift shop or hosting a clothing swap with friends.  For items you just can’t seem to part with, try this tip from Refinery 29: “Compile everything in an opaque bag, tie it up, and hide it in the back of your closet. If, after a year (yes, a year), you haven’t gone snooping in that bag for something you forgot, just drop the whole thing off at your local charity.”  You will be amazed at how much better you feel when your closet isn’t crammed with clothes and shoes (and how much easier it is to get dressed in the morning!)

 

Think Multipurpose
Before you head out to the store, look for ways to reuse what you already have such as old magazine racks being used to store kitchen paper products, turning placemats into coasters or using old coffee mugs to house your indoor herb garden (they look great on your windowsill).  If you must go out and shop, always look for items that serve multiple purposes in your home.  A couch that is also a bed, an ottoman that can be used for storage, a shelf that turns into a desk–you get the idea.

 

Eat Healthy
“The reduction of artificial wastes and packaging materials is probably the most tangible benefit to the environment,” writes Mark’s Daily Apple.  Buy local as much as possible, purchase meats from organic farms (LocalHarvest has a list) and grow your own vegetables (Apartment.com offers tips for growing vegetable gardens on a balcony or patio).  Get into the habit of making a weekly meal plan before you head to the grocery store as well as keeping an inventory of what you have on hand.  If you have a nice pantry area, consider buying some food in bulk (think beans, oils and flour), putting them in your own reusable containers or bags. Checkout grocery stores such as Fairway Market in Brooklyn (and other NYC locations) that have a wide-variety of bulk food options or join a food co-op such as the 4th Street Food Co-op in East Village  Great way to save money and the environment.

 

Talk to us:  What is your best tip for living better by living with less?  Happy World Environment Day!

 

 

 

 

 

First Aid Kits Organize Medicine Cabinet Summer Safety Tips

5 Tips & Ideas on How to Organize Your Medicine Cabinet for Summer

While the medicine cabinet is not exactly the first place you think of when it comes to organizing your home, it is one of the most important areas to keep clean and stocked—especially as we head into the summer months.  We recommend starting this process by clearing out all products and wiping down the inside and outside of the cabinet with an eco-friendly cleaning solution such as our Ecospirit brand.

Once everything is out of the cabinet, you need to begin sorting through what you need, organizing what you have and purchasing what you may be missing.  Here are some tips:

 

Medicine CabinetOut with the Old (& Smelly)
Are items outdated, old or smelly?  They need to be thrown out, even if they’re not empty.  Expired items will no longer be effective and may even be hazardous to your health.  Before you toss products into the trash, checkout these tips from the FDA on how to properly dispose of unused medicine.  In addition to looking at dates on medicine, be sure to also look for cosmetics that may have expired—if the consistency and/or smell of the product has changed considerably, throw it out.

 

Add Warm Weather Medicines
There are certain items you should always have in your medicine cabinet regardless of the season such as basic pain relievers and products that relieve mild digestive ailments (here is a great checklist from Real Simple).  However, in the summer months, you will want to add allergy medicines, hydrocortisone cream and eyedrops.  We also recommend having children’s versions of medicines available.  Even if you don’t have children of your own, you never know when a tiny houseguest might need some immediate relief.

 

Manage Duplications
Do you have three of each item crowding your cabinet?  Move the extra items to another area such as a linen closet or kitchen pantry.  You can continue to keep them organized by creating small bins labeled by type of product (i.e. “Lotions”, “Digestion”). Keep in mind that some medications and cosmetic products become less effective when stored in areas of high humidity or heat and you should always keep items out of reach of children.

 

Re-stock First Aid Kit
You probably use your first aid kit more during the warmer weather months, so make sure it is stocked and ready.  Your at-home emergency kit should include Band Aids, sterile wash for cleansing wounds, ointment, gauze and burn relief.  We also recommend adding extra sunscreen and aloe vera gel for unexpected sunburns.  The Red Cross gives you a more complete list of items to include.  It’s always better to take the time to make sure you’re prepared before an emergency actually happens.

 

Make it Pretty
You may not think “medicine cabinet” and “pretty” should be used in the same sentence, but we know that the more attractive an area is, the more likely you are to keep it organized.  HGTV.com suggests purchasing glass jars for cotton balls or bandages, using small plastic organizers for tweezers and combs and taking advantage of the removable shelves to organize items by size.

 

Talk to us:  What is the most used item in your medicine cabinet?

 

 

image courtesy of flickr CC/osseous