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Cutting Down for Sustainable Living

Recently I have started to cut down on the amount of junk and clutter in my home. I realized that not only was I living an unhealthy life style but my living was also unsustainable. The way I was living was hurting me, my family and the environment. That is when I knew I had to do something about it. In my journey to sustainability I have uncovered several areas in which I needed to improve. Perhaps you can improve these same areas in your life?

  1. Garbage, garbage everywhere – The first thing that I found out was really negatively effecting my family was the clutter. We had boxes piled up everywhere, a garage full to the brim, extra parts and do dads lying around on the floors and so on. It was one step short of hording and it was killing us. We had to make paths through the junk to even move and it made us all feel very bad. Not only was it hard to move in the house but it was also dusty, dirty and hard to look at. You never wanted to sit in the housebecause you had to look at junk. We would also often lose things and have to buy replacements for things we already have. It was very frustrating and expensive. Even in the kitchen lost items like pots and pans made cooking hard and forced us to eat out or buy prepared meals far more often than we really should have needed to. It was hard on all of us and we seemed to be stuck in a cycle. Whenever something new would come into the house there would be no where to put it so it would just add to the junk. It was kind of like a messy store. Who cares if you drop something where there is already a mess? However if you keep things clean messes seem to stand out and need to be cleaned up. Gradually we have cut down on the junk in our house. It has been hard and is still a work in progress as we try to clean out all the boxes and make room for the stuff that needs to be kept. We went through ten boxes this weekend and two of those were kept because they were board games we had been looking for. The rest were junky toys my kids had long grown out of, old clothes and purses and things like that. We gave the good things away and trashed the rest. It might not have made a huge dent in the mess but with a big project like this one you have to take it one step at a time. I have also reduced clutter by dealing with new thingsright away. Instead of letting mail pile up on the table I go through it and take the bills out to pay them and throw the rest of the mail away.... read more

Asbestos Exposure and Your Health

For more than 100 years, health officials have linked asbestos to a number of serious and life-threatening diseases. Many other diseases are loosely associated with asbestos exposure, but without an official correlation.

While incidence rates for most of these illnesses have been slowly declining, there are still thousands of diagnoses made each year in the United States.

Most asbestos-related diseases, such as malignant mesothelioma, affect the respiratory system. The fibers often enter the body through inhalation, and the esophagus and lungs are the first organs the fibers reach.

However, the lymphatic system can transport fibers to other parts of the body, where they can cause similar carcinogenic processes.... read more

Ode to the Trashman

I’ll be honest I came up with this blog after reading an article in a waste hauling/management magazine by an old time trucker/trashman. The article touched on the loss of respect for today’s trashmen and waste haulers.

garbage truckThe modern trashman or garbageman doesn’t receive the respect he or she deserves (yes there are a good number of women working in the waste and recycling fields, but that’s for another blog) for the services they provide. These positions aren’t considered the most well respected jobs. These are dirty, labor intensive and unforgiving jobs. Many times considered a dirty job provided by the uneducated.

Most people may not realize that these jobs can pay very well. In NYC some garbagemen are making six figures. The jobs are well paying many times and unionized, but the workers earn their pay. Trash hauling is big a money business. People and companies are willing to pay whatever it takes for their trash to disappear. For the most part the waste hauling business is controlled by a handful of large national corporations.

The line of work is dangerous and dirty. These workers have to deal with our waste and heavy machinery. They have to handle what we discard. Ranging from food waste to dirty diapers. Often times even hazardous and deadly materials. When a work grabs a barrel to dump he has no idea what could be inside.... read more

Keeping Green in the Kitchen

green kitchenWhen it comes to cooking and preparing food you might be surprised at how much you waste. There is a lot of wasted food in meal preparation but much of that can be redeemed or avoided with just some simple steps. Here are some tips to keep green in your kitchen:

Less trash – The first step to going green in your kitchen is to reduce your waste. How much food do you throw away? What do you do with leftovers and scraps? How much packaging do you toss? These are all important questions to ask yourself.... read more

  • First of all, when you buy your produce and other items for cooking from the grocery store are you careful about what packing you buy? Plastic and foam containers can stay in landfills for a long time and are not good for the environment. Instead try to buy loose produce and recycle the plastic bags. You can also buy produce that is packaged in recycled cardboard and paper.

  • Next is the leftovers. Many of us make too much food when we prepare a meal and have some leftover. Those leftovers either get tossed right away or stored in the refrigerator until they go bad and are then tossed out. Instead of these wasteful habits there are several other options. One is to make less food. The portion sizes of a typical family meal are too large. You do not have to be stuffed to be satisfied. Try to cut down in the amount of food you prepare and serve to also cut down on the leftover you have and the extra weight your family has.

Top 6 Tips for Cooling Your Home in a Green Way

As the temperatures of summer continue to climb, many people are looking for budget-saving green ways to cool their homes. There are some natural ways to create a cooler environment, and they don't have to cost a lot of money.

The reality is, there are things you can do inside and outside of your home that will help keep it cool in a green way. For instance, you should focus on the sunlight that heats your home and on ways to shade the house from the sun during the hot summer months. Airflow is another huge concern.


Let the cool morning air in, and keep the hot midday air out.

While you may choose to use air conditioning units, strategic placement and maintenance of the units can add to the concept of going green. In addition, some units are much more energy efficient than others. Doing research upfront can help ensure a wise investment.... read more

Is Your Insulation Eco-Friendly?

If you’re thinking of insulating your loft, then it may have crossed your mind about the materials you will use. It may surprise you to find out that insulating materials aren’t necessarily environmentally friendly, and this is probably part of the reason that you’re insulating your loft in the first place. All types of insulation will benefit the environment by helping you keep your heat in, but the materials that are used to create the insulation may not be so beneficial.

Fibreglass

Fibreglass is a material widely used for loft insulation in particular. It has great insulating properties, but it has a negative side to it too. Fibreglass requires a lot of energy to manufacture and the process may produce harmful emissions. It is also non-biodegradable, and will emit toxic fumes when burnt. It is very irritable to skin, eyes and throat and on installation protective clothing is advised.

Mineral Wool    

Mineral wool is made from a combination of recycled steel slag and basalt rock. Mineral wool is recyclable, but often non-biodegradable and emits toxic fumes when burnt. They are durable and resistant to rot, but also requires protective clothing to install.   ... read more

Sustainability Considerations When Using Self Storage

Self storage can be a Godsend for many people looking to move house, improve their existing home or just give themselves more space in the house. Many people are finding that they are running out of space at home, with cupboards and attics filled to the max, and self storage offers a better way to make their homes work for them, whilst still keeping hold of the things that they love. 

However, with so many storage companies to choose from, it can be hard to know which one is best. If you are generally an environmentally conscious human being, the green credentials of your home and business will be high on the list of priorities for you, but what makes them truly eco-friendly? Here are some key elements to watch out for when you are looking for environmentally friendly storage services.

1. Insulation
Insulated containers or storage rooms have dual benefits for you and for the storage company. Better insulation means the temperature is more easily regulated, leading to fewer requirements for heating in the winter and cooling in the summer for the maintenance of an even temperature for your good. Units with no insulation are more prone to dampness and condensation, and could end up damaging your belongings, so look for well insulated storage offers to find the best for you and for the planet.... read more

Can I Afford a Greener Home?

affording a greener homeWith all of life’s little distractions, most people do not have the time to think about “going green.”  Yet, you don’t necessarily have to make your home environmentally-friendly in one day.  You would be surprised how much of a difference little changes here and there could make. 

Conserving Water

One of the easiest ways to save money on bills and to be more efficient is to conserve water.  One change you can make throughout your home is investing in low flow shower and faucet heads.  They range from about $10 to $20 apiece and can save 25%-60% of your normal water usage.   This small investment could benefit your pockets within no time.

Appliances

Believe it or not, appliances can make all the difference in your monthly utility bills.  Replacing each appliance in your house with an energy efficient one can save 10%-20% of energy use which amounts to hundreds of dollars per year.  So although these replacements might be costly upfront, it could be more than worth it in the long haul. ... read more

A Greener Backyard

green backyardIt's summertime and we've been spending a lot of time in our backyard.  Especially with a toddler running everywhere, I've been thinking about ways to make our backyard a more eco-friendly place to spend time.  Here are some ideas:

- Use grass sparingly.  We do like to have some grass in our yard as it serves as a nice open playspace for our toddler, but we never use pesticides, we rarely water it (which, depending on your climate, may or may not be appropriate for you), and we mow it with a push mower.  Instead, plant gardens with native flowers and food you can eat.  When planning out your lawn, look into the different types of grass to see which is appropriate for you.

- Look for used backyard supplies.  You can often find great patio sets used (i.e. craigslist and Freecycle) and many of our backyard toys came from my favorite consignment shop: Kid to Kid.   Want something new?  Look for patio furniture made of eco-friendly materials.  ... read more

Since Asbestos is a Mineral, How Can it Be so Dangerous?

asbestos is a mineralAs part of their fight to keep their profitable asbestos products on the market, industry lobbyists have come up with several clever marketing campaigns to promote the fibers as “safe.” One such technique involves promoting asbestos as a wholesome material, made of nothing more than a naturally fireproof mineral.

Technically, that’s what asbestos is – a naturally occurring material that just so happens to be extremely durable and heat-resistant. But in reality, that’s only half the story.

While many people associate toxins with chemicals and man-made substances, asbestos is among several carcinogens that come straight from the earth. If you recall the peanut butter recall of 2011, or the arsenic-in-rice scare of 2012, you can thank two other “natural” toxins -- aflatoxin, a fungus that grows on stored nuts, and arsenic, which is leeched into rice from water and soil.

Clearly, asbestos is far from the only health-threatening substance that has a natural origin. But how exactly does a centuries-old mineral cause cancer?... read more

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