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Green New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Day is a mere two days away, which means many people are putting together a little list of things they may like to change to better themselves in the upcoming year. Unfortunately, many of these resolutions are often forgotten about after a few weeks, days, and sometimes even hours. This year, instead of making a resolution like “eating less chocolate” or, “read more books” (which are both fine resolutions, don’t get me wrong) why not make a green resolution. By making a “green resolution”, you will not only be bettering yourself but also helping the environment. Here are a few examples of green resolutions, which can be simple changes that have a large impact.


“Carpool, Bike, or Walk”– Instead of driving everywhere in 2015, try walking or biking to your destination when you can. Not only will it reduce pollution from your vehicle, both are also a good form of exercise. If you do need to drive, say to work or school, try carpooling with friends or coworkers.

“Buy Less Bottled Water”– By using a water filter and reusable water bottles instead of plastic bottled water, not only will you be making a huge difference for the environment, but you’ll be saving a lot of money.

“Reusable Shopping Bags”– The number of plastic shopping bags consumed is staggering, something like 1 million per minute worldwide. Needless to say, plastic bags are not good for the environment. The best way to limit the use of plastic bags is to bring your own when shopping. The reusable shopping bag not only reduces the number of plastic bags used, they also fit more items and are way more durable.

“Reduce Water Waste”– Sometimes we don’t even realize how much water we actually waste. Luckily, cutting back on water waste is actually quite easy. Not letting the water run while brushing your teeth or taking shorter showers, are two effective ways to cut back water usage.


These are merely a handful of suggestions of how to have a greener 2015. If we all make a few simple adjustments to our everyday life, and are a bit more mindful of our usage and waste, we can all make a huge difference in the upcoming year. Happy New Year everyone!


Several Places Flu Germs May Be Lurking

flu : 3d virus in abstract backgroundThere is absolutely nothing fun about being bed-ridden with a bad case of influenza. This also just so happens to be the heart of flu season. So, how do you defend yourself against catching the flu this year? Well, avoiding contact with people who currently have the virus is always a good idea, as is quickly disinfecting areas and materials that have come into contact with an infected person. Carrying around a portable bottle of hand sanitizer, is also a very good idea. And of course, trying to avoid contact with objects which are known to be covered in germs, ie., subway poles and stairwell banisters. But what about those lesser known, somewhat hidden areas where flu germs may lurk? Luckily, Market Watch, has a list of 7 unexpected places flu germs may be hiding.


Don’t touch anything this holiday season

This flu season is expected to be a particularly nasty one due to the strain of virus that’s being reported, and as careful as we try to be, there are germs lurking in some surprising places.

Although reports of influenza are low compared with previous years, Americans should brace for a particularly bad strain, according to an official health advisory released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “This season, influenza A (H3N2) viruses have been reported most frequently and have been detected in almost all states,” the advisory said. H3N2 is associated with higher hospitalization rates and more mortality has been observed, especially among older people, very young children, and persons with certain chronic medical conditions, the CDC reported.

If that wasn’t bad enough, microbes that cause norovirus — which in turn leads to vomiting and diarrhea — as well as other infections lurk right under most people’s noses.

Here are 7 odd places to watch out for hidden germs:


Airplane food trays and seat pockets

The bad news for planes with quick turnarounds: nasty bugs can last for days. The sinister sounding Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (more commonly known as MRSA) lasted longest (168 hours) on material from a seat-back pocket while the bacteria Escherichia coli O157:H7 (also known as E.coli, which can cause kidney problems) survived longest (96 hours) on the material from the armrest of planes, according to research presented to the American Society for Microbiology earlier this year. Restrooms in planes where space is cramped is also another hotspot for germs.

Subway turnstiles and bus ticket machines

Most people (at least during flu season) are careful about touching stainless steel poles on subways and buses, but don’t often think about subway turnstiles and bus ticket machines that are arguably touched by even more people, says Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona. “They don’t routinely disinfect these machines,” he says. Commuters are 6 times more likely to develop an acute respiratory infection if they traveled recently by bus or tram, according to a 2011 study by the University of Nottingham in the U.K. and published in “BMC Journal of Infectious Diseases.”

Office coffee stations and water coolers

Smart people keep their distance from sick colleagues, but then use the same coffee machine or water cooler. Germs like hard surfaces and can find their way to 40% to 60% of common surfaces in offices, hotels and health care facilities in just 2 to 4 hours, says Gerba, who recently conducted a study on how viruses spread in the workplace. He presented its results earlier this year at the 54th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in Washington, D.C., an infectious disease meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. Obviously, avoid doorknobs and other people’s keyboards.

Liquid soap in washrooms

While it’s a good idea to open the door of a washroom with your sleeve, there’s one other piece of equipment that should be avoided like the plague: Soap dispensers. Liquid soap itself can become contaminated with bacteria and 1-in-4 dispenser machines in public restrooms are contaminated with bacteria, including fecal matter, according to a 2011 study published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. “Washing with soap from dispensers with sealed refills significantly reduced bacteria on hands,” the study found. Failing that, bring your own.

Aisle seats in planes, trains and theaters

When traveling by bus, train or plane this holiday season — or even when visiting a theater — think twice before choosing aisle seats. These are the seats that will be touched most often by other people as they’re trying to find their own, Gerba says. In 2008, members of a tour group experienced diarrhea and vomiting in an airplane flight from Boston to Los Angeles. Other passengers who suffered secondary infections were either sitting next to those infected — or unsuspecting passengers seated in aisle seats, according to a study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Salt and pepper shakers

There’s often no point in washing your hands before a meal (thereby avoiding doorknobs and soap dispensers), and picking up clean cutlery — and then using condiment holders that have often not been washed. A 2008 study by researchers at the University of Virginia examined 30 people who were showing symptoms of the common cold and were asked to identify 10 surfaces they’d touched in their home over the previous 18 hours: more than 40% of the surfaces tested positive for rhinovirus, the most common virus to cause the common cold: All salt and pepper shakers cited by participants tested positive.

Exercise equipment at the gym

Bacteria loves moisture, especially sweat, but one study found that rhinoviruses still cling to exercise equipment — even after cleaning. A final thought for germ-phobic people who are afraid to travel this holiday season: Many colds and flu are spread around the home, says Elizabeth Scott, associated professor at the Department of Biology at Simmons College in Boston. But it’s always good to leave the house prepared. “When I am traveling, I always carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer and use it many times,” she adds.

Taking Care of Those Forgotten Chores for the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us, and if you happen to be planning on entertaining guests this season it’s time to start getting your home into tip top shape, which means tackling some chores that you may often forget about or just choose to put off. The good people at Enviro Maids, have compiled some tips on how to take care of some of the more common, “dreaded chores”. Tasks such as, cleaning out and disinfecting your trashcan, taking care of soap scum, and cleaning stainless steel appliances are a few of these forgotten and/or dreaded chores which are discussed. So, check out this article and get your home as clean as possible for this years holiday parties.


Easy Ways to Tackle those Dreaded Chores

Kitchen trash can

Your kitchen trash can is one of the most germ-filled surfaces in your home. WebMD reports that the average trash bin has 411 bacteria per square inch! Traces of food and liquid can sometimes leak through plastic bags, leaving you with a stinky, icky mess. Give your trash can a good cleaning once or twice a month to prevent mold, mildew, and a petri dish of bacteria from covering its surfaces. Spray the inside and out with a cleaning solution and scrub; rinse and let completely dry before lining with a plastic bag.

Soap scum

Unsightly and stubborn to get rid of, soap scum is notorious for being one of the most dreaded cleaning tasks. Soap scum is a combination of mineral deposits, soap residue, body oils, and dirt. shares a couple of ways to get rid of the cloudy, stuck-on mess:

  • Mix ½ cup of boiling water (be careful!), 1 ½ cups of white vinegar, and a squirt of dish soap in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture on the surfaces of your shower and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Scrub with a nylon cleaning brush and rinse.
  • Wet the surface to be cleaned with hot water and sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda onto a damp sponge. Scrub the trouble spots using a circular motion; rinse and repeat as necessary. For stubborn areas, try adding a bit of white vinegar to the baking soda.

Window blinds

Over time, dust and grime can accumulate and stick to your window blinds. What makes this task so tedious is trying to clean each of the slats. To remove dust, simply slip an old sock onto your hand and using your thumb and fingers, run your hands over the slats. For stuck-on grime, mix a solution of equal parts white vinegar and warm water and follow the steps above.


Need to brighten up your crystal chandelier and remove the cobwebs? It’s not as bad as it seems. The pros at suggest first covering the table or surface directly below your chandelier with a drop cloth. Next you’ll need your favorite glass cleaner and two cotton gloves or two old white socks. Spray the glass cleaner directly onto one of the gloves and wipe each area; use the other glove to dry and remove any remaining residue.

Stainless steel appliances

With so many different hands going in and out of the refrigerator throughout the day, chances are your stainless steel refrigerator is constantly covered by fingerprints and streaks. has an easy fix:

  • Prepare a solution of 1 teaspoon dish detergent and 1 quart hot water
  • Using a microfiber cloth, rub the detergent solution onto the marks in small sections, going with the grain of the stainless steel.
  • Rinse with clean hot water, and dry immediately.

Buffing with mineral oil is also a great way to remove streaks

De-crumbing the toaster

If there’s a burning smell coming from your toaster each morning and the bread you’re toasting isn’t the culprit, chances are it’s the leftover crumbs lingering at the bottom that’s the problem. Cleaning your toaster is one of those chores many simply forget about. To clean your toaster oven, suggests:
Placing a small oven-safe dish filled with water inside the oven and heating the dish at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. The moisture will help to soften stuck on gunk. Unplug the oven and remove the crumb tray and the rack; dump out the crumbs. Use a plastic spatula to gently get rid of stuck-on bits. Wipe the inside with a damp cloth; wash the tray and rack and dry. Done!

DIY, Natural Christmas Ornaments

Christmas time is just around the corner, which means many people are picking out their tree to bring home to be decorated. Decorating the tree has always been one of my favorite parts of the Christmas holiday. It is often a family affair, with everyone pitching in to help make the tree look as bright and festive as possible; with lights, tinsel, and of course, ornaments. Unfortunately, over the years, many ornaments are either broken or lost. However, before you run to the store to buy new ornaments to replace those lost or broken, check out these tips on how make natural, DIY ornaments, from Good Housekeeping


All-Natural Christmas Decor

Bring the beauty of nature to your Christmas tree with these all-natural ornaments and decorations.

Red Burlap Garland

all natural christmas treeMake a unique garland by using red burlap to adorn your tree. Take 2 yards of your material (find it at fabric or crafts stores) and cut into 3-inch-long strips, making sure you cut with the grain. Pull threads on each side of the strips to fringe the edges about 1/4 of an inch on each side. To make the garland ruffled, pull one thread from the center of one end and pull to gather the garland slightly. When finished, wrap around your tree however you like before hanging with ornaments.

Golden Walnut Ornament

homemade walnut ornamentSpruce up your holiday walnuts by making them look like treasure on your tree. Spread walnuts onto newspaper or another surface you don’t mind getting messy. Using gold spray paint, spray walnuts, turning so they are fully covered. Allow time to dry. Using an ornament hanger with one end straightened out, push the straight end into the little hole on top of each nut. The wire should stay by itself, but you can add a dab of glue to make the hanger more secure.

Cranberry Mini Wreaths

mini cranberry holiday wreathWhat goes around comes around with these tiny cranberry “wreaths” for your tree. Take about 20 to 25 cranberries (depending on the size of hoop you want to make), and thread onto floral wire. Tie the floral wire in a circle, and hang among the other bows and baubles on your tree.

A Few Alternative Cleaning Solutions

If you’re against traditional cleaners and into saving money, chances are good you’ve tried to come up with some alternative cleaning solutions for your home. While items like vinegar, lemons, and baking soda may be common knowledge for the experienced DIY cleaner, there may be a few items lying around your home you weren’t aware could handle certain cleaning tasks. Here are a few examples of some of the more unusual natural cleaning solutions from the good people at Green Cleaning Magazine.


5 Unusual Natural Cleaning Solutions

Unusual Cleaning Solutions

Are you fed up with buying expensive products that sometimes don’t manage to do the trick at all? Is your space under the kitchen sink full of bottles with warning signs that make you wonder if washing off a stain isn’t also washing your health?

Don’t dismay—here are 5 ideas for green cleaning that uses safe, everyday products as effective cleaners:

Alcohol: you might be surprised that alcohol is a great cleaning tool. It is useful in many areas—from disinfecting and cleaning to defrosting windows. It does wonders in cleaning bathroom and toilet areas, making sinks shine and disinfected.

It is the weapon of choice when it comes to ink and permanent marker stains. It is also effective on cleaning mirrors and tiles. Remember that although this product is getting more and more reputation, it is still not largely found in the cleaning aisle of many supermarkets. If you are familiar with it and want to give it a try, it might be necessary to do a little research on where to find it in your country.

Cola: believe it or not, the liquid joy of millions of people around the globe actually has great cleaning potential. One of the most well-tested uses is toilet cleaning—just pour the drink, wait for an hour, scrub with a brush and then flush for sparkling result.

Cola is also great for removing rust and refreshing objects, due to its phosphoric acid ingredient. Are you a coin collector? Consider soaking the pennies in the drink to make them shiny as new.

Vinegar: a true champion when it comes to natural cleaners. It is well known for usage to combat mold, mildew, and a ton of bacteria that can be harmful for human health. It can disinfect glassware, washing machines and coffeemakers. After proper soaking, it can free the showerhead from any mineral deposits. Combine it with some baking soda to make an effective drain cleaner.

Lemon: great for cleaning, disinfecting, and deodorizing countertops. It can easily remove stains off many types of surfaces, glassware, and cookers. We are all aware of smells that can linger on our skin for days, such as when dealing with raw fish. Lemon can remove the odor easily. Try dropping a lemon slice in your garbage disposal, too, for a fresh smell.

Toothpaste: a truly unexpected usage of common toothpaste is as a cleaning agent. It can be used to shine up bathroom and kitchen chrome. It does wonders in polishing silver and cleaning CDs.