Turn off the Water While…

September 16, 2010 · Filed Under Green, Save and Go Green

There are so many ways we waste water everyday by leaving the water running unnecessarily.  Here are a few situations in which you can turn off the water to help conserve your water use.

In the Shower

You need water to rinse yourself off in the shower, but do is it necessary to run the water when lathering your hair or scrubbing with soap?  For those who especially take a long time to do either task, the water and energy savings can really add up.  For each minute you save by turning off the water, you could potentially be saving approximately 2.5 gallons of water and $15 a year in energy costs (depending on your showerhead and energy costs) .

Washing Dishes

Washing dishes can use more water and energy than most people expect.  By shutting the water off when scrubbing the dishes with soap, up to half of the entire water faucet use can possibly be eliminated.  That can be fairly substantial considering that it can often take several minutes to clean an entire sink-full of dishes.  Try scrubbing all your dishes first, then rinsing them off.

Brushing Teeth

It is recommended that we brush our teeth for 2 minutes.  There is just no need for water to be running while we are brushing our teeth, but some people do.  If the water is left running for the entire time, it can waste 2 gallons of water and waste lots of energy if hot water is used.

Washing Your Car

Car washing is one of the biggest water wasting culprits at our homes.  The best solution to avoid this waste is to go to a commercial car cleaners, since they often reuse their water.  If you do wash your car at home though, make sure to either turn off the water or use a water hose nozzle to prevent waste.

Check out my water calculator to find out the water and energy use in any of the above situations.

Green Pumpkin Power! Uses for Every Part of Your Pumpkin

September 8, 2010 · Filed Under Green, Save and Go Green

With Halloween just around the corner, you are probably planning on carving a pumpkin. But what happens once the big night is over? Don’t throw your pumpkins out, because there is plenty you can do to make use of every part of that leftover pumpkin.

  • You can donate your leftover pumpkins to a local farmer. Many farmers are struggling just as most of us are these days and will greatly appreciate the thought. Pumpkins can be used to feed livestock, too.
  • Eat pumpkin seeds. All you have to do is toast them and add a little salt for a great snack. These are great for throwing in a bowl during football games, which many people are watching around this time of year. Put some in a Ziploc baggie for your kids to take to school. They can be used for a number of situations. Easy and fast snacks!
  • Grow your own pumpkins for next year. Save the seeds and watch as you grow pumpkins for next Halloween. If you’re not up for growing anything, ask your neighbors or local farmers if they’d like to do so and give them your seeds.
  • Turn your pumpkin into puree. By pureeing your pumpkin, you can create treats like pumpkin pie, pumpkin bars, pumpkin soups, pumpkin butter, and many others.
  • The thick pulp, which is the lining of the pumpkin, can be used to make cakes and breads. You can also use this pulp to make pumpkin milk shakes and cider.

Your skin can also benefit from the pumpkin, which offers many rich vitamins, enzymes and even essential amino acids. This homemade treatment gently exfoliates your skin. The alpha-hydroxy acids can aid in minimizing the appearance of those fine lines and even help with freckles, age spots, and rough skin. You will want to puree your pumpkin and then set it on your face for 10 minutes. When it starts to tingle, wash off with warm water. You can refrigerate the pumpkin puree for several days and use it again.

Aren’t sure how to puree your pumpkin? It’s simple. The first thing you need to do is wash off any dirt and dry your pumpkin thoroughly. If you haven’t already carved the pumpkin you are pureeing, you will need to remove all of the seeds and stringy contents of the pumpkin. Then cut your pumpkin into pieces and place it into a microwave safe bowl. Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and zap your bowl for 10 minutes. After time is up, stir your pumpkin and microwave it for another 10 minutes. Once the pumpkin is cool, remove the outside skin from the pieces of pumpkin. Using a vegetable peeler will make this easier. You can now puree your pumpkin in a food processor.

Veronica Davis is a freelance writer and internet business columnist for Examiner. She works with several businesses online, including ones that focus on green living and saving money. If you need a food processor or even want to get a good deal on pumpkins, she recommends seeing if there are any good Walmart coupons to use.

Ten Steps To A Greener and Eco-Friendly Backyard Garden

August 18, 2010 · Filed Under Environment, Green, Save and Go Green

Nowadays people are becoming more environmentally aware and are seeking ways to make their impact less intrusive. Recycling is a big issue now and the latest trend towards safer cleaning supplies and containers is also a big change in the right direction. But in the home we can also make a difference in the purchases we make and the furnishings we use. The backyard and garden are areas were we can begin to make changes to ensure a sustainable setting that is beautiful as well as helpful to the native environment.

1. Use Natural Sunlight

The first step is to begin using natural sources as much as possible and a good place to start is sunlight. By installing solar lights in your garden and backyard, you can enjoy good natural sunlight by day and have soft light at night at no cost. Based on your design theme, you can find solar lights in many styles, from small lights for highlights and strings to attach to the porch or gazebo, to ones built to look like rocks so that they are unobtrusive to the scenery. Adding a motion sensor allows you to trigger them only when needed so you’re still free to enjoy the peaceful night if you desire.

2. Try to Always Use Natural Materials

Another natural alternative also comes from the materials used to construct garden and backyard furnishings and decorations. Even though a plastic porch swing may be popular to most, try to purchase swings made from more natural materials. When choosing wood for paneling or deck work, choose varieties that were grown and harvested with the environment in mind and make sure they are durable. You want to avoid harsh chemicals and paints so this wood should be a type that ages well, like cedar. Another renewable eco friendly plant is bamboo and it is gaining wider acceptance and being used as fencing as well as other purposes. And don’t forget rocks in your garden as they can be used to great artistic effect if placed precisely.

3. Make Your Lawn Natural Again

This may seem like an odd step to take; after all wouldn’t the lawn be natural by default? Perhaps not as natural as you’d like to think. Most people use dangerous pesticides and other chemicals on their lawn to ensure a perfect green color and growth. Some also use grass types not native to their area which then requires more water than other grasses as well as a lot of maintenance. But here is an alternative. By using sustainable grasses, those that won’t require such extra help, as well as allowing native plants to grow in the lawn as well, you can still have a fantastic lush green lawn that can be easily cared for.

4. Use Only High Quality Wood, Properly Grown

Beware of woods that are harvested in a wasteful way. Since the eco friendly approach is to do as much as possible without leaving a large environmental footprint, you should buy items made only from woods harvested with sustainability in mind, or from a tree farm. Shop around until you also find high quality products. This will insure that the wood is durable and won’t require treatment with harsh chemicals. Some of these woods, in fact, age quite well and will reward you with enhanced natural beauty as time goes on.

5. A Classic Design Gives You Long Term Enjoyment

You want to pick furnishings and accessories for your garden and backyard décor that withstand the test of time. Nothing would be more frustrating them to choose a design theme, only to have it become passé within a few years and require a complete overhaul. Certain things are timeless, however, and are a welcome addition regardless of time or place. Choose a classic style for your larger items, such as umbrellas, chairs, picnic tables and the like, and add tasteful highlights such as colorful cushions and accessories. Even the flowers you choose to grow can add a classic touch. Use annuals to alter the colors as the seasons progress, and cool colored flowers for a softer touch. Adding brightly colored flowers can have the opposite effect, creating areas with a bright highlight where you want it.

6. Why You Should Cook Outdoors

Cooking outdoors is a great way to save money and energy in the home. During the summer the air conditioner is on and consumes energy, raising the utility bills accordingly and when the kitchen is in use the AC may be used at higher settings to offset the heat. You can save that money by going outside and starting up the grill or solar powered oven for dinner. Not only do you save but you gain as well. An outdoor dinner under the stars is something the entire family can enjoy and it’s something you can do as often as you like.

7. Carefree Landscaping

Using plants native to your area will greatly reduce the amount of maintenance you have to do on your garden and backyard. Since they are already used to the climate and rainfall, they don’t require extra water or special conditions. An even better benefit is that in the long term they will provide a habitat for the local birds, butterflies and other wildlife, adding to the beauty of your outdoor décor.

8. Water is Another Natural Element for the Green Garden

An overlooked addition that would benefit any outdoor design, water can add a soothing touch, a relaxing corner as a counterpoint to the more festive gathering areas like the barbecue. A solar powered fountain is the best of course, providing an energy free accessory. Other ways to use water include installing an inexpensive fish pond or using a water barrel to collect rain in areas where water conservation may be an issue.

9. Protect Your Long Term Investment

When you make purchases, for your home as well as for the outdoor décor, keep in mind their long term value. Don’t waste money on items that will require a lot of maintenance, or can’t be repaired or reused in some way. The last thing you want to do is contribute to the local landfill. Quality goods on the other hand, will last for a long time and can even be given away when you’re done with them so they can have the longest life possible. In this case, be wary of recyclable furnishings, as they require a lot of resources to reprocess.

10. Five R’s to Keep in Mind for Eco-Friendly Living

A final step to take on the road to living a more sustainable lifestyle is to keep in mind the five R’s, reduce, reuse, recycle, repair, and redecorate. Be careful of low quality goods that will need to be replaced quickly or that can’t be repaired and kept in use. You should do everything you can to make sure furnishings, accessories; indeed everything in your home has as much use life as possible. And when you’re done with it give it to a friend that may have need of it, or organize a sale if you have a lot of things you wish to be rid of. As much as possible, avoid throwing things out for the landfill. Recycle as much as you can.

An eco-safe environment is not difficult to create as long we make better choices and are aware of the impact we have on our habitat. Gone are the days where people could pretend that nothing they did affected anything else. Now it is up to us to create new sustainable practices from the ground up and teach our children how to live well so that nature can continue to sustain us all. And it all begins with how we furnish and care for our home and garden.

About the Author

Jay Chua is not only an outdoorsman and a nature enthusiast, but he also publishes the website, PorchSwingSets.com. Along with his wife, Deisy, he lives a green lifestyle in Vancouver, Canada, complete with organic fruit trees he has planted in his garden. If you would like further information on purchasing durable and sustainable outdoor furnishings such as single rope hatteras hammocks visit PorchSwingSets.com to see a plethora of options.

Test your Greenie Knowledge!

July 14, 2010 · Filed Under Green, Guest Posts, Quick Saving Tips, Save and Go Green

Want to see just how much of a greenie you truly are? Take the Practically Green Quiz online to find out just what shade of green you may be!

Benefits
You get your quiz results, and while taking the quiz you find out ways to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. You can also share your results on Facebook with friends and family and see who can become the ‘greenest of them all’. They also offer specialized tips that apply to where you are in your personal green journey sent right to your email!

Part of the results offer you comparisons, tips for how to improve, and the option to “Ask an Expert”. Not too bad for a 5 minute quiz.

Cons
If you want additional information you have to sign-up and provide your gender, year of birth, and area code. For those concerned with identity theft or being on “one more list” you might want to just take the test and learn as you go!

To take the Practically Green Quiz, Click Here!

Bicycle Diaries with David Byrne

July 9, 2010 · Filed Under Environment, Green, Guest Posts, Health, News, Save and Go Green

If the name David Byrne sounds familiar, its because he has been making music since the 1970s with the Talking Heads. He has since gone solo, and continues to release albums. Yet it isn’t his four decades of music-making that has gotten everyone talking. He recently released a book titled “Bicycle Diaries”(although not his first book either). It chronicles his experiences biking throughout the World since the 1980s. With conversations and highlights about who he meets, the culture and landmarks of the cities, and the politics that guide them as he pedals around town.

Pedaling through New York City starting in the early 1980s, Byrne used bicycling primarily as a form of transport due to convenience not to make a political or environmental statement. Since purchasing his foldable bicycle, he has brought it with him worldwide to discover cities with a different set of eyes.

“This point of view, from his bike seat, became his panoramic window on urban life, a magical way of opening one’s eyes to the inner workings and rhythms of a city’s geography and population.”

So check out what this perspective has to bring either through your own bicycling experiences, and/or living through his!

To check out Bicycle Diares, visit David Byrne’s website.

Top Green Driving Tips

June 22, 2010 · Filed Under Automobiles, Save and Go Green

When most of us are driving, the main concern is not always conserving as much gas as possible.  We are just trying to get from point A to point B with no concern for the environment or our wallets.  But, if we incorporate several green driving tips, we can help cut back our gas consumption while lowering our gas bill.

Green Cars

Photo by {link:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcaven/3867815284/}Michael Cavén{/link}.

Bike

Bike to Work Day has already passed, but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be riding our bikes more often.  All those small trips to the grocery store or anywhere local are perfect times to ride your bike.  Sometimes longer trips to work can be difficult, but that shouldn’t discourage you.  Drive partially to work and ride your bike the remainder.  All that is required is to find a location where you can park the car for the day.

Riding your bike also has health benefits, which is pretty obvious.  But what’s even better is that you can get your entire family involved, especially the kids.  Also, since there is no gas required to ride your bike, I consider this one of the most eco-friendly options for travel.

It can be difficult to find a bike path, to ride on, but Google Maps has made it easy for us.  They have added Bike Directions to their existing Google Maps application.  This makes it extremely easy to find an easy route to take while riding your bike.

Carpooling

With so many cars on the road, there has to be a better way to reduce that number?  Well there is, it’s called carpooling.  I’m sure if you asked around your office, you would probably find at least one person that is in a fairly close proximity to where you live.  Yet so many people traveling to the same place travel individually, congesting our roads, costing them additional money for gas and generating more pollution.

There are many online resources available including Carpool Connection and Zebigo in which you can find people who are looking for others to carpool with.  The longer you live from work, the great benefit you get from carpooling.  Give it a shot and you will almost instantly see the savings as well as helping the environment.

Public Transit

Almost all major cities have a good public transit system that can get you to work without having to deal with heavy traffic.  I live nearby Washington DC and the traffic on our local beltway is always congested.  Luckily there is a good transit system that can take you to almost any part of the city without having to deal with that hectic traffic.

Taking public transit also helps alleviate having to find parking or paying tons of money to park everyday.  Whenever I used drive into the city, I always spend way too much time trying to find parking and frustrated with the entire situation.  That’s why I almost always take transit to avoid the hassle.

If public transit is available, check it out as it might save you a little time, frustration, money and even the environment.

Consistent Driving

Did you know that one of the biggest wastes of gas in our driving involves accelerating and braking?  According to FuelEconomy.gov, you can improve your gas mileage anywhere from 5-33%.  That could amount to a large savings on your gas bill each fill up, while cutting your gas consumption.

Some ways to keep your speed consistent include coasting your car whenever possible and using cruise control.   There is no reason to press the accelerator to the floor for each light nor skid when a red light comes up.  Just make sure to be consistent with your driving and don’t go to the extremes.

Slow Down

Driving faster on highways may make the driver slightly shorter, but it could be costing you.  For every 1 mph you go over 60 mpg, your mpg decreases and could be costing your approximately $0.05 per gallon of gas.  Considering that not many people follow the posted signs on highways, that could be as much as a $1 per gallon of gas by just slowing down.  Going faster is not always the solution to get somewhere faster.

Use Air Conditioning Wisely

It can be difficult to determine when and how long to allow it to run while driving.  What may surprise you that similar to a home programmable thermostat, running the air conditioning for shorter periods can help you actually reduce you gas consumption.  This means that blasting your air conditioning when you get into the car for a short period is actually better than turning it on a low setting and higher temperature.  This is due to the fact that the air conditioning fan requires very little energy to power.

Another confusing issue involving the car’s air conditioner is When to roll up the windows.  The general rule is the faster you drive, the better it is to roll up your windows and use the air conditioner instead.  Driving at low speeds and stopping often is one of the only situations in which turning off your air conditioner and keeping the windows rolled down is better for fuel efficiency.

Avoid Idling

Eliminating excessive vehicle idling can help drastically reduce the amount of emissions our cars emit along with save a little cash.  What most people do not realize is that for every two minutes that we allow our cars to idle is equivalent to driving it a mile.  That can really add up if you are sitting in heavy traffic or allowing your car to warm up during the winter months.

Whenever sitting in your car for any period of time, turn off the car and open up the windows.  Also, there is no reason that we need to allow our cars to idle during the winter months just to warm up our cars.  Modern cars do not need to be warmed up to begin driving.  It’s all about our comfort when we enter into the car than actually helping our cars run better.

Keep Your Tires Inflated

Making sure your car tires are fully inflated is an often overlooked way to help improve your gas mileage.  By maintaining the proper pressure in all of your tires, you can help eliminate a possible 3.3% lose in mpg.  Though not as large of an impact as the other tips I mentioned, it can help keep you safe as well.  Low tire pressure can increase your chances of getting into an accident, risking your health and potentially cost you thousands.

Remove Excess Weight

This is an obvious choice in order to help improve your mpg.  I often hear people mention this and makes complete sense.  You can expect to see a savings of around 2% for each 100lbs you reduce in your car.  This means that having more passengers in the car by carpooling greatly outweighs any lose of mpg due to the extra weight.

Though not a huge savings overall, there is no reason to drive around with extra weight. It’s easy to remove those extra items, especially the heavier they are.

5 Green Debt Reduction Tips

May 24, 2010 · Filed Under Save and Go Green

The concept of ‘going green while reducing debt’ is very simple. The concept states that it is possible to save money and environment at the same time. You can do this by making simple efforts and eco-friendly decisions. This article highlights five simple green debt reduction tips that will help to save money and environment.

Debt Consolidation Care

Green debt reduction tips

The five green debt reduction tips are given below:

  1. Change household lighting: Most of the people use chandeliers and other multi-bulb lighting fixtures in their home. However, these energy-efficient light bulbs are very costly. Therefore, those people who are serious about debt reduction and going green, should use single-light fixtures. Thereby, they can save both energy and money.
  2. Waterless or composting toilets: You should use waterless or composting toilets. These type of toilet fixtures are cheap, easy to install, and require low maintenance. These type of toilet fixtures don’t need water and are quite sanitary to use. Thereby you can save on the home water bills.
  3. Unplug unused appliances: It is a proven fact that electrical gadgets such as microwave ovens, DVD players, water coolers, computers consume energy even when they are not turned on. Therefore, you should unplug unused electrical equipments, which can help save on your utility bill.
  4. Downsize: Many people have spare bathrooms, bedrooms, and other spaces that they don’t even use. In that case, they can move to a smaller residence. This will lower lower monthly rent payments. Also, it will help to lower heating and cooling costs as small space needs less temperature control. This means less energy will be consumed.
  5. Redo insulation: The insulation in most homes have been installed years ago and was not created with a focus on saving the environment. These insulations allow harmful emissions into the atmosphere at a very high rate. However, nowadays new insulation systems are available in the market which reduces home energy costs and allow fewer carbon emissions into the earth’s atmosphere.

The last green debt reduction tip will be to use reusable stainless steel bottles instead of plastic bottles and bags. It’s the simplest way to save money and environment.

The concept of ‘going green while reducing debt’ is very simple. The concept states that it is possible to save money and environment at the same time. You can do this by making simple efforts and eco-friendly decisions. This article highlights five simple green <a href”http://www.debtconsolidationcare.com/debt-reduction.html”>debt reduction</a> tips that will help to save money and environment.http://www.debtconsolidationcare.com/“><img src=”http://www.debtconsolidationcare.com/styles/dtcc/img/logo.gif” alt=”Debt Consolidation Care” title=”Internet’s first get-out-of-debt community”></a>

Green debt reduction tips

The five green debt reduction tips are given below:

1. Change household lighting: Most of the people use chandeliers and other multi-bulb lighting fixtures in their home. However, these energy-efficient light bulbs are very costly. Therefore, those people who are serious about debt reduction and going green, should use single-light fixtures. Thereby, they can save both energy and money.

2. Waterless or composting toilets: You should use waterless or composting toilets. These type of toilet fixtures are cheap, easy to install, and require low maintenance. These type of toilet fixtures don’t need water and are quite sanitary to use. Thereby you can save on the home water bills.

3. Unplug unused appliances: It is a proven fact that electrical gadgets such as microwave ovens, DVD players, water coolers, computers consume energy even when they are not turned on. Therefore, you should unplug unused electrical equipments. Thereby you can save on your utility debt as well as can save the environment.

4. Downsize: Many people have spare bathrooms, bedrooms, and other spaces that they don’t even use. In that case, they can move to a smaller residence. This will lower lower monthly rent payments. Also, it will help to lower heating and cooling costs as small space needs less temperature control. This means less energy will be consumed.

5. Redo insulation: The insulation in most homes have been installed years ago and was not created with a focus on saving the environment. These insulations allow harmful emissions into the atmosphere at a very high rate. However, nowadays new insulation systems are available in the market which reduces home energy costs and allow fewer carbon emissions into the earth’s atmosphere.

The last green debt reduction tip will be to use reusable stainless steel bottles instead of plastic bottles and bags. It’s the simplest way to save money and environment.

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