Posts Tagged ‘green’

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!

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!

4 Ways To Green Your Easter Basket

Posted by Colleen Kennedy on April 1st, 2010

Every year, the Easter Bunny delivers pretty baskets filled with tasty treats like malted milk balls, jelly beans, chocolate bunnies and of course, those sticky sweet ever popular Peeps. And I confess, I have fond memories of my big plastic multi-colored basket with it’s green plastic grass where I’d search for days for every last jellybean. O.k……..so, another confession……..the Easter bunny still visits my house. Only now, I’ve found a way to be Green about it. Here’s a few tips to help you ( and the bunny) Green your Easter basket:

1)

Invest in baskets that can be repurposed throughout the year. Natural basket made of twigs, straw or driftwood are great options. You can make one yourself or buy from a flower shop or better yet, a thrift store.

2)

Decorate the basket with pretty ribbon or felt. I used pink & white ribbon around my basket handle to give it spring look. I used the same basket for Christmas changing the ribbon to red and green.

3)

Instead of plastic grass, try using shredded paper or line your basket with green felt. Of course, if you have plastic grass left over from last year, using it is better than throwing it away. Just don’t buy new plastic grass.

4)

When buying chocolate, look for products that are marked as “Fair Trade Certified”. These products meet social, economic and environmental criteria regarding the production and trade of an agricultural product. In general terms what that means is, these products were made in a sustainable way that doesn’t harm the environment, supports farming families and supports fair wages & labor conditions. It’s a little more costly but well worth the price.

Finally, I have to mention the little fuzzy friends that seem to be a popular Easter gift, the baby chick. Unless the recipient lives on a farm please don’t buy them a live chic. I know they’re cute and fuzzy and fun for oh……about 10 minuets, but honestly, kids get bored with them and then what? You can’t let it out into the wild. And you don’t want them to become a play toy for a cat or dog. If your little one REALLY wants to pet a baby chic, take them to a petting zoo instead.

Have a Happy Easter!

‘Natural’ Cleaners Get Official Certification | GreenerDesign.com

Posted by Colleen Kennedy on March 8th, 2010

‘Natural’, ‘Green’, ‘Eco-Friendly’, these are all words we’ve been hearing a lot of lately. But what do they mean?

Well, there are varied opinions about the definition of ‘Green’. However, let’s go with the very simple definition provided by businessdictionary.com that states  ’Green’ as “having positive environmental attributes or objectives.” According to another online dictionary, ‘Eco-Friendly’ can be defined as “having a beneficial effect on the environment or at least not causing environmental damage.” The two words are used pretty  much interchangeably, however, there are some very specific guidelines a product must follow to be considered green or eco-friendly but up until now, there haven’t been any for the word ‘Natural’.

For many years products claimed to be natural if they had a hint of lemon scent or one natural ingredient even though they contained many noxious chemicals. But thanks to the Natural Products Association, that’s all changing. The NPA has set some new standards for using the the word ‘Natural’ in product description. Two key points are:

  1. 95% of the products ingredients must be all-natural or derived form natural sources.
  2. Products can not contain any ingredients that are suspected of causing human health risk.

The other points regard prohibiting animal-based materials & by-products and animal testing. I think this is a major step in stopping some of the green-washing that has been running rampant ever since it became fashionable to be green. I hope this gives you a better understanding fo the word ‘Natural”. For more detailed information, please see the link below.

‘Natural’ Cleaners Get Official Certification | GreenerDesign.com.