Posts Tagged ‘eco-friendly’

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!

Make Your Own Non-Toxic Cleaning Kit

Posted by Colleen Kennedy on May 19th, 2011

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to clean your home naturally. All you need are a  few  key ingredients. Naturally derived ingredients can be found in most any store and can save you money. Ounce for ounce they cost a fraction of the price as their commercial counterparts. And, they don’t pollute so they’re better for you and the environment. Use them alone or with eco-friendly green cleaning products found in your local health food store and transform your home into a healthier living space. You’ll breathe easier when you do!

Start here:

  • Sturdy Bucket
  • Natural latex gloves instead of the standard latex gloves. They are hypo-allergetic, anti-microbial and dust mite resistant.
  • Natural Sponges and Cotton Cloths. Both are biodegradable.
  • Natural Bristle Scrub Brush (you can also recycle your old tooth brushes and use them to clean small, hard to reach areas)
  • Spray Bottles made form recycled /recyclable plastic.
  • Glass Containters
  • Newsprint

Next, you want the following ingredeints. They’re simple, natural and inexpensive. They’ve been used for centuries and still hold up today.

  • Baking Soda
  • Washing Soda
  • Distilled White Vinegar
  • Lemon Juice
  • Natural Washing Soda
  • Essential Oils Such As Citrus or Tee Tree oil
  • Vegetable Glycerin
  • Liquid Castile Soap

Recipe: Natural Window Cleaner

1/2 teaspoon of castile soap

3 table spoons of  vinegar

2 cups water

Spray bottle

Combine ingredients in spray bottle and shake it up. The key ingredient here is the castile soap. It cuts trough grease. Use newsprint to wipe  mirrors and glass to keep surfaces free of streaks and lint.

Recipe: Soft Scrub

1/2 cup baking soda

castile soap

Combine in a bowl, baking soda and enough castile soap to form a paste. Pout on sponge and  wash the surface. This is great for kitchen sinks and bathtubs because it rinse clean without leaving any grit behind. You can add a teaspoon of vegetable glycerin to keep the mixture moist and store it in a glass jar to use another time. You can also add a touch of lemon juice for a fresh, clean scent.

Recipe: Furniture Polish

1/2 teaspoon of oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

cotton cloth

Mix ingredients together in a container and pour onto cloth and wipe. That’s it! Very simple, very effective.

Do you have a favorite homemade green cleaning recipe? Please share your tips and suggestions!

Baking Soda Tips

Posted by Colleen Kennedy on June 7th, 2010

We cook with it, deodorize our refrigerators with it and even clean with it. We’ve heard stories from our mothers and grandmothers about it’s great powers. It’s eco-friendly, green cleaning that  promotes simple, healthy living and it’s affordable!

There are many great non-toxic household cleaners out there that I love. Many of these products have baking soda in them. Baking soda is a simple reminder that you don’t have to get all fancy when it comes to finding a good eco-friendly solution. Recently, I read an article on 15 Unusual Uses For Baking Soda. This article had great tips  and interesting comments from readers. There’s also a link to Vicki Lansky’s book, Baking Soda: Over 500 Fabulous, Fun, and Frugal Uses You’ve Probably Never Thought Of.

Here are my top 5 picks:

1. Vacuum Cleaners

Sprinkle baking soda on your rugs and carpet, let sit for 10-15 minutes then vacuum up the odors.

2. Deodorizing The Refrigerator / Freezer

I know this is an obvious one, but I like it non the less. Especially now that Arm & Hammer makes special boxes just for this purpose. Instead of having an open box in your fridge, which we all have spilled from time to time, the new box has a mesh-like side to keep the baking soda in the box. Nice improvement!

3. Washing Food

There are many fruit washes on the market today and they all are a bit costly. Here’s an easy, inexpensive way to remove dirt and chemicals from your fruit and veggies. Simply pour the baking soda onto a sponge, moisten, scrub and rinse.

4. Up-Set Tummy Remedy

Normally, I prefer candied ginger which works great. However, in a pinch, baking soda will do the trick. Mix one teaspoon to a glass of water and drink. It tastes nasty but you’ll burp, releasing the acidic gasses, and you’ll fell much better.

5.  Clean Mold & Mildew

Like the article says, this works well on plastic shower curtains. Most of the mold occurs on the bottom of the curtain. Besides placing them in the washing machine, you can simply scrub it on the curtain itself and rinse.

I want to hear from you.  Have any tips or suggestions? How do YOU use baking soda?

For more ideas, read the full  article 15 Unusual Uses For Baking Soda from

Make Everyday Earth Day!

Posted by Colleen Kennedy on April 19th, 2010

By now, I’m sure you’re aware of the various Earth Day celebrations and events taking place in your community so, I won’t list them here.

Instead, I’d like to talk about how we can make Earth Day a daily celebration and not just something we do one day a year. Earth Day is not just about celebrating the planet but honoring it and we do that by the choices we make everyday. In my last organizing blog, 7 Tips for Better Organizing, I mention how being organized is a process and a matter of habit. If we take that same mentality and apply it to Earth Day, then slowly, everyday will become Earth Day. Here’s what I propose:

LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT OUR HABITS How are we shopping, eating, cleaning, traveling, consuming?  Can we recycle more? Can we consume less? In each of these areas we need to look at our actions and see if what we are doing is helping or hurting our environment. We need to explore alternatives and find eco-friendly solutions. I think one of the biggest change we can make is to consume less. Before we buy am item, we need to ask ourselves, do we really need it? Would my life suffer without this item, or could I actually get along without it? Also, are the things we’re buying supporting companies that are doing good in this world or are we supporting companies that continue to pollute our environment? For example, fair trade products help local families earn a decent living while supporting sustainable practices.

THE LARGER PICTURE What we do today, effects how we live tomorrow. It has been said that it takes 30 days to change a habit. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible. It takes commitment, dedication and honesty. It’s a process that begins with small steps. Let this Earth Day be a new beginning, like New’s Year Day. What small step will you take today, tomorrow and the next day to make our world a better place? Honor  Mother Earth, our home, by changing habits to support a healthier, happier lifestyle. In the end, we’ll all be the better for it!