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A Common Chemical To Look Out For

What are some of the first things we do everyday before we head out the door? Take a shower, brush our teeth, put on deodorant? What if I told you that there was a chemical found in some soap, toothpaste, mouthwash and deodorant that could be potentially harmful. The name of the chemical is Triclosan, and it is an antibacterial agent that is used in many household items. 

According to some studies, Triclosan can be harmful to the immune system by contributing to bacterial resistance in people, which can lead to superbugs that can’t be killed by antibiotics. Overexposure to Triclosan increases the likelihood of developing allergies, since exposure to bacteria reduces allergies. On top of being potentially harmful to your immune system, it can also be harmful to the environment. Triclosan is toxic to aquatic bacteria, it inhibits photosynthesis in certain algae which are responsible for a large part of photosynthesis on Earth.

There is an easy solution for combating against the possible harmful affects of this chemical, simply look for products that don’t use it. If you do happen to still use a product which contains Triclosan for say, mouthwash, then change to a soap that doesn’t contain the chemical. Even by just reducing the amount of Triclosan you come in contact with everyday will help.


Don’t Forget To Clean Your Cleaning Tools

No matter how often you may clean your home, you won’t “really” be cleaning if you are using dirty cleaning tools to do the job. Forgetting to clean the tools you use to clean everything else will eventually just spread bacteria and germs. Here are a few tips on how to clean those very tools which clean everything else.

“Sponges”- Sponges can actually be cleaned by being put in the microwave or dishwasher, to kill off any bacteria. They may also be put into a washing machine, but only if the temperature of the water is at least 120 degrees F.

“Rags”- Rags, like sponges, pick up a ton of dirt and grime, but should not be cleaned the same way. Rags should be thoroughly rinsed off in a sink right after use and tossed in with a load of laundry. If you really want the rag to get a superior clean, try soaking it in lemon juice and sun-drying before putting in the wash.

“Washing Machine”- Since we’ve already talked about cleaning sponges and rags in a washing machine, lets make sure they are going into a clean one. Luckily when cleaning your washing machine, it will take care of the majority of the work. Simply run a load on warm and add about a cup of white vinegar. Just open the door when you’re finished to air out a bit.

“Broom”- Cleaning your broom is something I’m sure most people don’t even think of, (at least nothing more than just brushing off dust from the bristles). To give your broom a proper cleaning, start by wiping down the handle with disinfectant wipes or use a rag with a little soap and water. Then fill a bucket halfway with soap and warm water, stick the bristles in and run your fingers through them loosening any dust or dirt. After the bristles have been removed of dirt, rinse them off with hot water in the sink, then place the broom out in the sun to dry. It’s also the same deal for mops as well.

Other Uses For Vodka

Mixed drinks, shots,…… deodorizer? Apparently there are a few more ways vodka can put a smile on your face. According to an article from Stylelist Home, there are many uses for this spirit outside of the bar. So the next time you’re making a Bloody Mary, save some of that vodka for these jobs.

Goo Remover: Got a price tag, sticker or label that just won’t peel off? Bring on the vodka. Simply saturate a sponge (or paper towel) with the strong stuff, apply to the sticker and wait about a minute. The paper (and tacky residue) will come right off.

Chrome “shiner”: Restore the beauty of chrome fixtures in seconds with this easy trick. Just moisten a soft cloth with vodka, then rub down the fixture. Good as new. (This will also work on porcelain and glass!)

Room Deodorizer: Since air fresheners can often leave a room smelling worse, try this no-odor fix. Fill a spritzer bottle with a 1:1 ratio of water to vodka (this is a good time for the cheap stuff) and mist the air. Surprisingly, the room won’t smell like a vodka martini.

Bouquet Preserver: Bacteria growth can make a pretty bouquet fade fast. To prevent this, add a few drops of vodka to every time you change the water. The flowers will stay lovelier longer.

Shower Cleaner: The moist, humid environment inside a bathroom can often lead to mold. To clean AND prevent it from happening again, spritz the shower, curtain liner and all, with vodka. Chemical-free and effective.


A Green Clean For The Leaves

With the official start of autumn right around the corner, it’s time to start preparing for the fall clean-up in your yard. I always thought that if you had to do yard work, the fall was probably the best time of year to do it. With the weather nice and cool (perfect for working outside) and the beautiful scenery of the changing leaves. While doing your fall clean-up this year, why not do it the “green” way? Here are a couple ways to keep your fall clean green.

“Rake”- Instead of annoying your neighbors and polluting the air with a loud leaf-blower, try raking and bagging your leaves this year. Not only is it easier on the neighborhood and the environment, but it’s also good exercise.

“Use Biodegradable Bags”- Instead of using plastic bags for disposing of leaves, grass, and other clippings, try using biodegradable bags. These bags will wear out and turn to dust within 1-2 years, not hundreds of years like regular plastics.

“Self Powered Tools”- If you happen to have some old fashioned tools at your disposal, such as a push mower, why not use them. Although it may take a little bit longer to mow the lawn, it will be better for the environment and give you a nice little workout.

“Compost”- If you have a garden, start a compost. If you take all of the leaves and grass and start a compost heap, you can have great mulch for the spring.

Toilet Paper More Eco-Friendly

Here is an interesting and informative article from GreenBiz, on how the paper industry (and especially toilet paper) is doing it’s part to lessen it’s negative impact on the environment.

Most toilet paper available today for the  away-from-home market includes most, if not all, recycled content. While the percentage of pre and post consumer recycled content in bathroom tissue can vary by brand and supplier, the good news is that, whether pre or post consumer material, the use of recycled fiber keeps it out of the landfill. Some brands of tissue are more eco-friendly than others. With a bit of research, one can determine what to consider, besides cost, when making a green purchasing decision.

The U.S. Department of Energy ranks paper manufacturing as the fifth most energy-intensive industry: a major emitter of greenhouse gases through electric power generated using coal, oil and gas. While its energy use remains a huge challenge, the industry has made giant strides in reducing its environmental impact in recent years. Today, according to Dan Silk, vice president of sustainability for Georgia-Pacific, there are more trees in the United States than 120 years ago. Properly managed forests are certainly important but the transition toward including more recycled content in products has also made a huge difference.

The elimination of chlorine from the manufacturing process — a step now certified by the Chlorine Free Products Association and signified by its Processed Chlorine Free mark — has further reduced tissue’s negative impact. In paper making, dioxins are formed during the bleaching process when chlorine combines with organic material. Dioxins can bioaccumulate in the environment and are a proven cause of numerous health problems. Dioxins almost wiped out the eagle population in the United States.

Byproduct of Recycling Process

While what chemicals are used in the manufacturing process is important to consider, so too is what is done with the byproducts of manufacturing. For example, the de-inking of recycled paper produces a sludge that historically has been sent to landfills. Georgia-Pacific’s Silk says concrete manufacturers are now using his company’s de-inking “waste” as an ingredient in concrete. Joe Tadeo, CEO of Atlas Paper Mills, says his company is providing it to farmers to use on their fields. “It holds water in the soil and adds some degree of nutrient,” he says.

Earlier this year, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) published a report titled, “Don’t Flush Tiger Forests: Toilet Paper, U.S. Supermarkets and the Destruction of Indonesia’s Last Tiger Habitats.” WWF found that American companies and consumers are inadvertently contributing to Indonesian rain forest and tiger habitat destruction by buying toilet paper and other tissue products made with fiber from Asia Pulp & Paper (APP). Products made with APP fiber, such as toilet paper,were increasingly landing in hotels across the country under the Paseo and Livi brandnames, WWF said. The WWF report highlights the importance of knowing where the ingredients for tissue come from.

“I would be skeptical of product made outside the United States,” Tadeo says.

Those looking for assurance that companies are indeed doing what they say they are doing from an environmental standpoint should not only look for the Processed Chlorine Free mark but also the Green Seal, EcoLogo, Forest Stewardship Council, and Sustainable Forestry Initiative marks.

The “Greeness” Of The Freedom Tower

With today being the 11 year anniversary of the tragic attacks of September 11th 2001, I thought it would be interesting to a look at how the new Freedom Tower (which stands near the site of where the World Trade Center stood) is helping to honor those lost, and providing a look at a greener future.

One World Trade Center, or “The Freedom Tower” began construction in 2006, and is due to be completed sometime in 2013. When completed the massive building should stand at 1,776 feet, to honor the year our country gained it’s independence. The building will be proof that New Yorkers, and Americans in general, are moving forward towards a better future. This can also be seen in the way the building is being constructed. Much of the building’s structure is made from recycled materials, and almost 80% of the building’s waste materials are also being recycled. The roof of the building will even collect and recycle rainwater.

The building uses special glass that conserves energy by blocking out heat and uninhibiting light. While only using limited oil, and natural gas utilities, the tower will primarily be heated by steam. One World Trade will also make use of off-site hydroelectric and wind power. A steam to electricity turbine will also be used to conserve energy by using steam that in turn generates an electric current. The tower is also expected to receive a LEED Gold Certificate, which would make it one of the largest, most environmentally sustainable buildings in the entire world.



Back To School The Green Way

With the first week of September in the books, most kids are either finishing up their first week back at school, or preparing for their first day come Monday.  Back to school time can be a fairly expensive time, but it doesn’t have to be as bad as you may think. Here are a few tips on what to do this school year to help keep some “green” in your pocket, while reducing waste.

“Walk or Bike”- If you happen to live within under a mile from the school, try having your kids walk or bike to and from school instead of driving them. It will save you money on gas, reduce emissions, and give your children some exercise.

“Re-usable Containers”- If you use re-usable lunch containers and water bottles, you will cut back on the amount of garbage you produce with paper bags and plastic water bottles. You will also save on not having to continuously purchase such items.

“Use What You Already Have”- I’m sure if you looked around your home you could find a bunch of perfectly good pens, pencils, and paper. By doing a little inventory of your home, you can figure out what you need to buy and what you may already have. This can save you some bucks and a trip to the store; not to mention it will cut back on waste.

Obviously there will be plenty of spending this school year, with new outfits and class trips, etc. But, by using these tips you can save a few bucks and help out the environment.



Forgotten Places To Clean

When people clean their home, they usually focus on just the basic stuff. Cleaning the floors, vacuuming rugs, wiping down counter tops, and cleaning the sinks and toilet. These are all important places to clean, and definitely the most noticeable. However, there are several places people forget about which can reduce dust and the spread of germs.

Here is a quick list of some often neglected places and things to clean.

“Behind the Refrigerator”- By occasionally vacuuming or mopping behind the fridge, you can reduce the amount of dust in your home, and keep out any unwanted bugs and/or mold.

“Tops of Cabinets, Bookshelves, etc.”- The top of large furniture is often neglected because it is “out of sight, out of mind”. It is important to remember to clean the tops of large furniture because they accumulate a ton of dust.

“Door Knobs”- Door knobs are used countless times a day by a number of different people and can spread germs. To fight against the spread of germs, simply wipe down the knob with disinfecting wipes.

“T.V. Remote”- Just like door knobs, the remote control is touched and used by everyone in your household and can transfer germs. In fact it is on of the top ways to transmit infections, according to researchers at the University of Virginia. Disinfecting wipes should do the trick for limiting the amount of germs being transferred.

“Ceiling Fans”- Ceiling fans collect dust like it’s nobody’s business. If you haven’t cleaned the fan off in awhile and happen to turn it on…….you just spread dust all throughout the room. A simple wipe down with a duster or rag work.