Eco-Friendly Decorating

Recycling Asbestos

Posted by Colleen Kennedy on June 9th, 2017

If you’ve ever remodeled an older home, then you know the trouble you’re in when finding asbestos insulation, siding or ceiling tiles. Most of us have heard about the dangers of Asbestos, but where did this material come from and why is it so bad? And how can we get rid of it safely? Well, let’s start at the beginning.

WHAT IS IT?images-5 It’s a natural occurring mineral found in the ground on every continent in the world. The asbestos minerals are made up of fine, strong fibers that are resistant to heat, fire and other chemicals. Because of it’s fire-resistant and insulation properties, it has a wide variety of  uses. Asbestos has a long history starting as far back as 2500 B.C. where it was first used as a cloth. But it was during the Industrial Age that it became the “go-to” material for ships, buildings, cars, and our homes. Some of the products made from asbestos include, cement, roofing, flooring (linoleum and carpet),  ceiling tiles, paper for electrical panels, break pads, and the ever popular home insulation. This stuff is everywhere!


Unfortunately, this widely used material comes with a heavy price, Cancer. One such cancer is Mesothelioma, a rare but deadly form of cancer linked to Asbestos exposure effecting your lungs, heart and/or abdominal regions. Those at greatest risk are construction workers, firefighters, mechanics, people working in factories, shipyards, mines and more.

The reason Asbestos is so dangerous is because the strong, tiny fibers that make up Asbestos can be easily released into the air. The fibers as so microscopic that you can’t tell you’re breathing them in. Essentially, you could be exposing yourself to it for years without any symptoms as it grows, and grows in your body.  Fortunately, we’ve moved away from using it and have instead replaced it with more environmentally acceptable substitutes. (*learn more on my website under Eco-Friendly Decorating). However, there’s still a lot of it out there.  So, what do we do with all of this cancer-laden material we’ve just unearthed in our home-sweet-home?

Recycle it! Yes, Asbestos can be recycled! Even though Asbestos resists most chemical reactions, it will react with strong acids and bases. The dissolved asbestos solution can then be melted and used to create glass or ceramic material. Recycling keeps it out of the landfill, where it’s still an active and dangerous material, and it can be reinvented into a useful, non-toxic material. Pretty cool, huh? Check with your local waste management facility to find out how and where you can recycle asbestos. *Removal of Asbestos material should always be handled by licensed and trained professionals.

There’s a lot of information out there on Asbestos and I want to point you to a very informative site brought to my attention by a Bright Ideas follower, Virgil, who was recently diagnosed with Mesothelioma and who has benefited greatly by the Patient Advocates at

This site has a wealth of information on Asbestos, industrial and occupational hazards, how to protect yourself, cancer treatments and support, how to recycle asbestos and so much more,  free and available to you. Please check it out!

Thank you  ~Colleen

If you have a Bright Idea you’d like to share, please contact me!




Host Your Own “Shop & Swap”!

Posted by Colleen Kennedy on October 7th, 2011

Let’s face it, money’s tight these days. Everyone’s pinching pennies. But that doesn’t stop us from needing (or wanting) new clothes or home decor. So why not host your own Shop & Swap? It’s the latest trend in fashion but I’m suggesting it can be done for home decor too. It’s a great way to recycle unwanted items and get “new” ones too! Here’s what you need to get started.

1. A good size room (or two)

2. A few folding tables & chairs

3. A rolling clothes rack & two full size mirrors

4. Items you want to swap

First, create invitations through evite. Send them out 2-3 weeks in advance. Make sure to invite all shapes and sizes, to be fair. Then, choose a room or two large enough to hold a few folding tables, rolling racks and mirrors. This can be your garage, basement or living room. If you can, set up a small area to act as a dressing room.

Organize the area according to items. Home decor (small items like candle holders, vases or table ware), tops, bottoms, shoes, accessories, etc. Place mirrors in an accessible  area of the room for guests to use.

Set Some Rules If you can’t part with it, you can’t bring it. Items must be clean and undamaged. Empty pockets, check zippers and buttons. Also, you may want to have your guests pick a number upon arrival to see who shops first. This will help in the event there are some really desirable pieces that more than one person might want.

Set A Theme Use the current season to make it a theme party such as a Halloween costume swap, or a  Holiday decorations swap.  Or how about a vintage, party dress or athletic swap? I’ve even heard of young women hosting a prom gown swap. Use your imagination and have fun! Don’t have any items to swap, how about making some coupons for a service you can swap for? For example, 2 free hours of babysitting or house cleaning. Or, with the holidays coming up, your coupon can be for help with shopping, cooking, or gift wrapping.

Finally, donate leftover items to your local charity. Remember, you’re all in this to de-clutter your closets. No need to take things for the sake of taking. If there’s nothing you want, at least you lightened your load and had fun with friends.

So have fun with your event. Make it a party! Serve snacks or make it a pot luck. Play some fun music to set the mood. Any way you choose to do it, it’s a great way to gather your friends, have some fun and who knows, maybe even get a new look for your home and yourself! Hosting a Shop & Swap is Eco-friendly, affordable and fun!

Have you hosted or been to a clothing swap party? Please share your experience or helpful tips!

Yes , You Can Make A Difference!

Posted by Colleen Kennedy on November 23rd, 2010

What does Vegas, President Obama and the environment have in common? No, it’s not a trick question. The answer is: a woman who uses her creativity, strong set of values, and undying commitment to help ensure a cleaner world for all. Meet Dottie Turner, better known as “Dottie Do”. She’s Nevada’s recycle queen and she has a vision, a story to tell and a lesson for us all.

What you may see as trash, Dottie sees as treasure. A jar that once held jelly, now holds cotton balls on a bathroom counter. An empty juice bottle acts as a beautiful vase for a bouquet of flowers; a plain old shoe box decorated with bits of lace now functions as a jewelry case. Below, plastic pint baskets that once held berries are transformed into a decorative toilet tissue holder.

And of course, her proudest Dottie Do creation, an Obama ’08 campaign poster turned place mat which she presented to the then Senator during a town hall meeting.

Sound simple? Well, it is! In her own words, Dottie says’ “Everything that man has made, can be made into something different”. It’s true, we’re a wasteful society, but we don’t have to be. All we have to be is open. Open to possibilities, open to learning, open to giving and open to caring: for the environment and for future generations. I couldn’t agree more with Dottie when she says, “There are too many people who are not working for the future and thinking about what we leave our children.” She believes that “….our environment deserves as much attention as many of the other important issues of the day.” And she’s right, because without a healthy environment, we don’t have much of a future.

Since I started this blog a year ago, I’ve been preaching about the three R’s of being green: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. I’ve said that it takes time to change  old wasteful habits and  that it’s not always easy. And, I’ve heard all the excuses as to why  it’s difficult. “I don’t have time”, “It’s too expensive to go green”, and of course,”I can’t possibly make a difference”. Well Dottie says you’re wrong and I agree. After all, here is a woman  taking her passion for people and planet and creating positive change in her little corner of the world. Imagine if we all took that approach.  Each one of us making a small positive step towards healthier, better living. Each one of us creating a ripple. Eventually, all the little corners of the world  would be a better place. The ripple effect of small change is rather large my friends. Just ask Dottie’s children, grandchildren, neighbors and me, a total stranger who has been so touched by this woman’s deep sense of caring and ingenuity that my ripple has extended out to all of you.

So, the lesson here is, do like Dottie Do! Think creatively, care deeply, and know that yes, you can make a difference!

All photos courtesy of Dottie Turner

5 Eco-Friendly Floor Options

Posted by Colleen Kennedy on August 20th, 2010

Planning on installing a new floor? Nowadays, there are many choices that are both affordable and green. Here are some options to consider and why I’ve chosen them as my top five.

1. Bamboo

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant  on earth. It can be sustainably harvested every 5-7 years. Although considered a grass, it grows as a stalk and  has been used for centuries in many parts of the world. It  is now being grown commercially in North America. Because of it’s quick replenishing time, it’s an excellent  renewable resource. In fact, Bamboo is now one of the most popular floor choices. At prices ranging from $1.89 – $3.89 per square ft, it’s also an affordable one. You’ll love it’s silky, smooth finish!

Why I like it:

  • Durable – it’s 2x stronger than Oak!
  • Beautiful – there are many unique types of Bamboo offering a wide range of color, grain and application choices. Use it for flooring, cabinets, doors or countertops.
  • Renewable – it replenishes itself every 5-7 years.
  • Affordable – as the demand for quality Bamboo has increased, the price has decreased. I have seen the price as low as $1.89 per sq. ft.
  • Easy Maintenance – no wax floor!

2. Cork

Cork is the ultimate green flooring material and is becoming increasingly more popular these days. A completely renewable resource, cork is harvested from the bark of  living cork oak tress. That means, the tree is never killed to harvest the cork. It has many properties that make it an excellent choice for your home including: a variety of sizes, patterns,colors and applications.

Why I like it:

  • 100% Renewable
  • Healthy For You- it’s naturally hypoallergenic, anti-microbial and anti-fungal which means it’s mildew resistant. A plus for anyone living with allergies or in a damp climate!
  • Insulates Well- keeps your feet warm in winter and cool in summer!
  • Sound Absorbent – muffles sound so it works great in an apartment or condo setting.
  • Easy Installation – can be installed directly over existing floors, concrete slabs or plywood subfloors.
  • Absorbs Shock – it’s easy on the body!
  • Affordable – From $1.49 to $3.49 per sq. ft.
  • Naturally Fire Resistant
  • Low Maintenance

3. Sustainably Harvested &

Reclaimed Lumber

Sustainably harvested wood is extracted from forests in a way that is ecologically sound, and both socially and economically beneficial to the communities in which these forests exist. These managed forests are careful in their harvesting practices, helping to contribute to the preservation of these beautiful forests. This type of wood is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Reclaimed lumber comes from many sources such as, antique wood from the de-construction of old structures like barns, mills and houses; beams, timbers, wine barrels and box cars. The wood is typically oak, fir or pine. Praised for it’s strength, versatility, rich colors and unique characteristics, reclaimed lumber is a favorite among builders and homeowners alike.

Why I like it:

  • Durable
  • Warm, Rich Colors- there’s a variety of colors from white oak to deep cherry.
  • Unique Appearance- each wood produces it’s own unique and interesting grain.
  • Follows the 3 R’s of Green Decorating- Reduce, Recycle, Repurpose.
  • Multi-Purpose- floors, counter tops, furniture, doors and more!

4. Marmoleum

Marmoleum is a brand name for Linoleum. It’s made by combining natural materials such as linseed oil or pine rosin with wood flour or cork dust.  Free of  VOC’s or other toxic chemicals, it’s a great non-toxic flooring option, especially for those with asthma or allergies. Marmoleum comes in sheets, which can be installed with a solvent free adhesive, or as a square click which doesn’t need any adhesive. It’s durable, easy to clean and comes in a variety of colors and sizes allowing you many design options.

Why I Like it:

  • No off-gassing (off -gassing comes from volatile organic compounds and toxic chemicals such as urea formaldehyde found in vinyl, adhesives, paint, carpet and particle board.)
  • Durable- as the linseed oil oxidizes, the floor becomes harder and more durable.
  • Anti-Static Properties – this means dirt & dust don’t stick, so there’s less cleaning for you!
  • Anti-Bacterial
  • Endless Design Possibilities
  • 100% Natural Ingredients & 100% Biodegradable

5. Recycled Glass Tile / Terrazzo

Recycled glass tiles and Terrazzo are both beautiful materials that can be used to create a stunning look (it’s great for counter tops too!). Both are excellent environmentally friendly flooring options that re-purpose what would otherwise be thrown in a landfill.  These tiles are fast becoming the choice for homeowners. Both have high durability, ease of maintenance and a beautiful look!

Recycled glass uses discarded glass bottles that are turned into beautiful recycled glass tiles. Custom looks can be created to fit you’re personal style.

Terrazzo, a centuries old art, mixes bits of broken glass with pieces of marble, granite, ceramic &  porcelain from such sources as discarded sinks and toilets. The bits are then mixed with cement to create beautiful, unique tiles. Found in many commercial settings, like libraries and government buildings, it’s now an affordable option for homeowners.

Why I like it:

  • Follows the 3 R’s of Green Decorating- Reduce, Recycle, Repurpose
  • Multi Purpose – floors, counter tops, backsplash, bathrooms.
  • Frees Up Landfills- since we’re running out of space for our trash, this is a good thing!
  • Huge Color Choice- tile design is practically limitless. Let it jump starts your imagination!
  • Non-Absorptive-they don’t hold water or stains.
  • Beautiful, and allows for creativity

All of these materials are beautiful and a great choice  for you and the planet. Whichever material you choose, make sure  the company you buy from explains the contents of the product. If it’s wood or Bamboo, make sure it’s certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and that it doesn’t contain any added urea formaldehyde, a toxin you don’t want to breathe! Also, be aware that labeling can be tricky. Labeling  something recycled doesn’t mean it’s 100% recycled. Read the contents and ask questions. The better informed you, the better choice you can make!

Decorating with Flea Market Finds & Yard Sale Sensations!!

Posted by Colleen Kennedy on July 13th, 2010

Summer is a great time to get outdoors and hit the yard sales and flea markets for great decorating finds. And what better way to help the environment and your wallet! It’s a great way to recycle items that would eventually end up in a landfill and finding great deals is good for the soul and easy on the budget! With a little imagination, you can turn trash into treasure with just about anything! Here are a few ideas to get you going:

  • Repurpose an old, slightly beat up dresser with fresh paint or stencil and use it as a T.V. stand or night stand in a bedroom. Or, try placing it in your kitchen for exta storage for table linens and special dinner ware.
  • Create some mood lighting with an old glass lampshade and a candle. Look for a vintage colored glass lampshade, place the candle on a small dish and place the glass lampshade on top. You’ve just created a one of a kind lighting piece! The amber colored, dimpled glass piece I used here, creates an interesting textured shadow effect.
  • Picture frames can be turned into many beautiful new items. Install a mirror, fabric, wallpaper, or even a new picture to give an old frame new life. Here, I framed an old record store promotion poster of Mick & Keith. Feeling crafty? Turn your old frame into a serving tray. Place a piece of whimsical fabric or wallpaper under the glass, hot glue some wooden handles on the side and voila!
  • Old wooden doors add architectural interest to any room. In the bedroom, they make great headboards. They can also serve as a dinning table or coffee table. Just leaning one against a blank wall will create a nice conversational piece, adding texture and interest to the room. You can also repurpose old windows. For example, gather a couple of small pictures say, from your vacation, and glue each one to a piece of heavy cardboard. Now hot glue or nail the cardboard to the back of the window.You now have a very unique picture frame that you can hang on a wall of use as a coffee table top!
  • Decorative boxes are one of my favorites! Use them to store your old VHS or cassette tapes, remote controls, or pictures. Odd numbers like 3 or 5, make an interesting arrangement. If you’re lucky enough to find vintage hat boxes, you won’t have to decorate them yourself. However, if you’re feeling crafty, you can always decorate your boxes with shelf paper. Most shelf paper is self-adhesive, just cut it to the size of the box. Try stacking the boxes next to a side chair or place on a table for an added decorative touch.

The key to decorating with great yard sale and flea market finds is to keep an open mind. Try not to get hung up on what the item was originally used for, but rather, what you can do with it. Think outside the box. By doing so, you’ll create one of a kind pieces and give your home a more unique, personal look. Also, get out there early and don’t be afraid to haggle-that’s half the fun! And remember, it’s only a good deal if you love it and can create something useful from it. So, put your creative thinking caps on, get outside and have fun!

*Photo Credits: 2 picture window frame is property of  and the glass lampshade photo is property of Colleen Kennedy.