Great Kitchen Ideas

green feather duster

One of the most wasteful parts of any home is always the kitchen. Everything gets wasted here. Water gets wasted constantly. Food gets wasted. Paper gets wasted. Plastic wrap gets wasted. Everything gets tossed away in the hubbub of getting dinner done and the dishes washed, and in between, we all produce quite a lot of waste here. While waste is a cycle that is borne mostly out of a desire for efficiency, it can be mitigated through the use of appropriate items throughout our kitchens. Two great ways to reduce waste and be more environmentally friendly in the kitchen are:

Biobag Compostable Trash Bags

These bags are absolutely great. Not only can you use them for regular trash, but you can compost them in your compost pile just like you would compost a paper bag. The secret is what it’s made out of. The plastic here isn’t quite the same as the plastic you’ve become accustomed to over the years. Instead of the nasty, oil-based plastics we more commonly use, the Biobag Compostable Trash Bag will break down in a very short amount of time. The secret is in its chemistry. The plastic in the bag is made out of corn starches, meaning it has a much more natural rate of decay than a plastic bag.

Green Cleaning Products

There are a lot of options out there if you want to use green cleaning products. I personally like the Seventh Generation line of products, but there are a lot of choices. If you’re new to using green cleaning products, then I recommend getting a gift basket of some type that will give you the chance to see how many different environmentally-friendly cleaners work.

Bamboo Everything

bamboo stalks

There are a few different options out there for people looking to have a more sustainable lifestyle. First, you can always just use reusable things. This is probably the simplest of all things you could do, and it will probably have the most immediate effect. However, if you simply need to use something that is lightweight, and that you may be OK with tossing every now and then, then you can’t go wrong with bamboo.

Not only does bamboo look good, but it’s light and it’s very sustainable. Some types of bamboo can grow feet in just a single day, meaning that there’s even less time spent between seeding and harvesting. Not only does this mean it’s a very useful product, but it also means that it’s a much more sustainable one. After all, if resource managers can get tons of bamboo out of one spot over and over again, why would they ever need to branch out into other spots?

I specifically like this travel set on Treehugger.com if you are looking for something nice, attractive, and sustainable. The great thing about this utensil set is that it comes with a very cool carrying case, making it very easy to tote around with you wherever you go. The size of the case doesn’t seem to be very proprietary or anything, so if you ever need to replace the bamboo with metal or other bamboo utensils, then it’s going to work just as well.

In the end, this is just a cool little thing to have around. It’s simple things like this that really add up over time to make your life much more sustainable, and really that much easier to live. If you are looking for any other green living ideas, Treehugger.com is a great place to start. This is especially true if you’re looking for recycled goods or anything of that nature. Good luck!

Usable Bike Chains, Part Deux

bike chains

I’ve talked about bike chain-themed wares on this site before, but this is a really interesting take on what can be done with a chain. This bike chain picture frame by Graham Bergh is a great little piece that adds a very unique flavor to any photo and room arrangement. The greatness of the piece lies within its utilitarian, yet infinitely versatile, look. This is definitely a piece that can make people stop and take a peek, and it is a wonderful addition to any home.

First, they start off much the same as many other items of this nature. They start off as old, useless junk that most people have already written off as trash. This is where Bergh and his small team of designers come into play. They put themselves in the right place at the right time to grab the best chains they can to do a lot of different things with. Some of the chains get turned into those awesome little bottle openers I talked about a few posts ago. Others get turned into these frames. The ones that aren’t up to snuff in terms of quality are either tossed or donated to local schools that teach bike maintenance. Either way, every effort possible has been made to do something with these chains other than just dump them off.

The thing that is really great about this piece is that it invokes a certain “steampunk-esque” feel to just about any living arrangement. The patterns of the chain are delicate, and they contrast with the brute strength of the steel chain, making for a very interesting melding of form and function. This is also great for the frame since it means that it is very abrasion resistant, meaning you won’t have to worry about messing the frame up until it’s busted beyond repair.

There are a lot of great ways to make your home much more eco-friendly without really going to that much trouble. The simplest ways are always the best ways, and it doesn’t get a whole lot simpler than just intercepting something on its way to the dump.

Vinyl Record Bowls: Blasphemy or Awesomemy?

vinyl record

There are a lot of different things that people do to turn old, useless junk into something usable. Not only is this great for the environment, but it is also a great way to create useful, kitschy stuff for around your home that says something about you. Sort of like the Vinyl Record bowl by Modern Artisans. For the music lover in your life, this is a great way to give a great eco-friendly gift that says something about them.

Or go ahead and buy it for yourself. I’m sure you’ve earned it. Whatever you do, there’s no doubt that you’ll be impressed by this thing. I’m not entirely sure how they force it to keep its “vinyl” look despite being warped like this, but it’s still pretty cool despite that. That’s really the great thing about these bowls that makes them really stand out. They still “look” like vinyl records, just warped into a bowl. It’s like you’re really eating off of a record of Buddy Hackett’s greatest hits… and maybe you are.

The bowls come in a number of genres as well. So if you’re a metalhead at heart, you can eat your mead and gruel off of an old UFO. If I could find a Rush album among the mix of bowls these guys sell, I can just about guarantee I would get it. It’s cool that you get that much control over what the bowl looks like, and it’s another way that a music lover can really tailor these bowls to say something about who they are and the role of music in his or her life.

Either way, it’s a great way to reuse something that would just go in a heap of trash outside the city limits anyway. As has been said time and time again, reusing is always better than buying new, and generally better than recycling. In fact, it’s the ULTIMATE form of recycling in that you’re cutting out the middle man and just using the thing itself instead of just the material.

Buying Recycled Products: Awesome Eco

recycling symbol

I’m a huge fan of recycling glass for a number of reasons. Mostly, it’s because I’m a huge fan of going barefoot and nothing ruins your day more than some carelessly strewn glass interacting with your foot. However, it’s also because it’s one of the most widely used materials on Earth, and it often simply winds up being dumped into a junkyard once people are done with it. This is especially true with windshields, windows for buildings, and stuff like that.

This is why I love these recycled beer glasses so much. First, I love me some beer. Second, they are made out of 100% recycled glass. They even retain some of the hues that was imbued within the glass originally to keep out sun glare. Don’t worry, there are no harsh chemicals in the glass that could leech into your drink, but it does give them a really interesting look. Each one of these glasses is completely hand made, and no two of them look identical. Since I’ve never understood this obsession that some people have with all of their stuff looking the exact same, this is really great for me. It gives your kitchen some character when you have stuff in it that varies a little. Maybe that’s just me.

This is the time of year when you can make bad decisions or good decisions in epic proportions. At no other time of year do people spend so much money all at once. Due to this, it’s important that we all dedicate our purchases during this time of year to the most responsible items we can. It’s important to take advantage of the massive saturation provided by the temporary acceptance of “shopaholism” that happens during the Christmas season. Things like this are a great way to do that.

There are a lot of different products out there that are made out of entirely recycled materials. Since the best way to be environmentally conscious is to recycle/reduce/reuse, these really are the top of the line in terms of eco-friendly gifts. There will be more of these types of gifts coming up in future posts.

Portable Solar-Powered Insect Killer

solar powered insect killer

Created by Gotcha, the Solar Powered Insect Killer is a simple and portable little device that would be perfect for any outdoor activities. Sitting around outside when the mosquitoes are out is perhaps one of the most uncomfortable things imaginable. Plus, since there is no need for batteries or to keep the device plugged in, you can take it anywhere. As long as it has been left in the direct sunlight for several hours, the fully charged unit will continue to operate for about 5 hours. That means up to 5 hours of enjoying the night, comfortable and insect-free.

This Solar Powered Insect Killer works by attracting the insects and bugs to the extra bright LEDs. And just like the classic insect killer, the bugs are drawn closer and closer to the light until they are zapped by the high voltage grid that surrounds it. All the power for the LED light and the high voltage grid is created by the two mounted solar panels and stored in a rechargeable battery. For even more convenience, the unit switches from solar powered to running off the battery automatically when the sun goes down, so you don’t even need to think about it. The special LED light attracts mosquitos, midges, and biting flies into a high voltage grid. The pests are killed instantly. The built-in handle and included stand make the Solar Powered Insect Killer an easy and portable device that will greatly improve people’s enjoyment of the outdoors.

Keep America Beautiful Month

Great American Cleanup logo

In 1953 a group of individuals formed an organization called “Keep America Beautiful” aimed at reducing the amount of littering on public lands, highways, and waterways encouraging Americans to take pride in America. It is the nations largest volunteer-based community action and education, group. Since it’s conception it really has grown in leaps and bounds with campaigns and promotions such as

  • Canine TV star Lassie appears as a mascot for an anti-litter campaign.
  • “Crying Indian” PSA campaign, the iconic symbol of environmental responsibility and one of the most successful PSA campaigns in history.
  • President Reagan endorses the Clean Community System.
  • Take Pride in America program, created to promote the wise use of public lands, begins with federal agencies.
  • “Close the Loop, Buy Recycled” U.S. EPA partnership
  • Web-based educational tools, including Clean Sweep U.S.A “Back By Popular Neglect” PSA campaign

Each April is Keep America Beautiful month drawing attention to the campaigns and research done by Keep America Beautiful and their three primary areas of focus: litter reduction, waste minimization, and beautification.

The only way to make a difference is to get involved. Keep America Beautiful invites you to join the millions of volunteers who participate in Keep America Beautiful programs nationwide. Get active with your family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. Connect with local businesses and government. However you take part, you will help transform your local environment into a cleaner, safer and healthier community.

  • There are 565 Keep America Beautiful affiliates throughout the country. If you want to help keep your community clean and beautiful please volunteer!
  • Join the Keep America Beautiful mailing list for emails on national programs, events, and good news network.
  • Donate to Keep America Beautiful to provide much-needed support for Keep America Beautiful educational and community programs.
  • Become a sponsoring business by supporting local community initiatives or nation programs
  • Volunteer for the Great American Cleanup

Great America Cleanup Campaign
Throughout the months of March, April and May, an anticipated 1,200 KAB affiliates and participating organizations nationwide will rally an estimated 3 million volunteers to hold litter and debris cleanups on public lands and waterways, host recycling drives, spruce up community amenities like parks and playgrounds, remove graffiti, plant trees, and community gardens, and host many more activities designed to improve the living environments that we all call “home.” The 2010 theme, “Green Starts Here,” is a rallying call that encourages volunteer groups, community leaders, and people of all ages and walks of life to begin creating more sustainable communities through their efforts as volunteers, and through their daily choices and actions. It also reflects Keep America Beautiful’s long legacy of community improvement activities. You can find volunteer locations at the Keep America Beautiful website

Source: www.kab.org

Going green with USPS

Living in the United States and recently visiting my local post office I noticed an inconspicuous box on the far left of the counter. I’m not quite sure what drew me to looking at it more closely, because it really wasn’t anything special to look at, no large slogans or fancy advertising just a rather ordinary looking box with colorful images on it. On closer inspection whilst waiting for the USPS clerk to finish my transaction I noticed the words recycling and that the box contained a large supply of what looked like small plastic bags.

Looking closer still at exactly what the USPS was offering, I was stunned! Free mail in recycling for small electronics! The envelope is USPS approved for the transport of cell phones, PDSAs, smart phones, MP3 players, digital camera or up to four ink-jet printer cartridges. Well the last part really drew my attention! I had used printer cartridges at home awaiting recycling, but the nearest collection point is the far side of town and I don’t go that way often, if I used this bag all I had to do was walk to the mailbox! The best part is that this service is FREE. No cost to the consumer! Awesome news indeed. The USPS website stats that these envelopes are available in select locations. Regarding this recycling scheme, state that they are:

Making recycling easy by mail. The mail is an easy and efficient way to recycle items so they don’t cause environmental harm.

We’re piloting a mail-it-back program consumers can use to mail their used electronic items such as PDA’s, cell phones and ink cartridges.

We are working with OSRAM SYLVANIA and Veolia Environmental Services to help consumers properly recycle used compact fluorescent lamps.

And Hewlett Packard, Dell, and Sprint are helping customers return empty ink cartridges, cell phones and other wireless devices, old computers and computer equipment through the mail.

This scheme follows closely with their green initiative. The USPS was the first mailing or shipping company to achieve Cradle to CradleSM certification for their packaging. Many of the containers in the USPS system are made from recycled
materials, and so are the stamped envelopes, post cards, stamp booklet
covers, and packaging materials they provide. Also their online click’n’ship service eliminates the need for customers to travel to the post office to mail letters and parcels. And as their website states “When you order a product on online, choose the Postal Service to
deliver it. We are already coming to your house 6 days a week so it’s
not an extra trip for us. Make the switch-have your packages delivered
by the Postal Service.”

It all makes perfect sense really! After visiting their website and seeing everything they are doing to help lower their global footprint and help me lower mine. I really wish that they’d make more of a big deal out of this service though as the in store promotion really isn’t that enticing, and if I hadn’t been right next to the envelope box I really wouldn’t have given it a second glance. So get the word out there, get to your post office and get recycling!

 

 

 

 

Natural Air Fresheners

image of pink flowers

Whether you’re trying to freshen up your house for guests or if you’d like to cancel out strong food odors from that delicious meal you just made, there are quite a few natural air fresheners you can use instead of chemical-laden commercial air fresheners.

FRESH PLANTS / FLOWERS
Live or cut, a bunch of flowers can add beauty to your space as well as purifying the air. They have been known to neutralize the air by removing the formaldehyde given off by furniture or kitchen cabinets made with fiberboard. Live rubber plants, azaleas, and bamboo palms are also thought to be able to do this. Some flowers are so fragrant that their scent will fill the air while they are in bloom. Gardenias, lilacs, lilies, and some organic roses smell lovely and linger.
LEMON
If you’re cooking vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, or cabbage or fish, all which give off sulfur orders, use lemon to reduce the smell. Slice about six lemons and simmer them in a handful of cloves in a pan of water for ten minutes. Much better!
ROSEWATER
You can make your own sweet-smelling rose water by placing a few drops of rose oil in a small bowl of water and add a solubilizer (available in the cosmetics section of health food stores) one drop at a time. Float fresh rose waters on top and replace them as they brown.
POMANDERS
To add a natural fragrance to your closets and drawers stud oranges with whole cloves, spaced evenly and as close together as possible. Don’t forget about it once you put it in there and when you’re through with it, compost it.
SOAP
Aside from using natural chemical-free soaps for washing, they make excellent drawer fresheners too. Place them in with your socks, undergarments, pajamas for a clean fresh smell.
EUCALYPTUS
Eucalyptus appears in many products, from deodorants to shower gels to cold remedies. It is known for its sinus-clearing power. Simmer eucalyptus leaves on the stove in water to freshen the air and clear the sinuses. Put a sprig of eucalyptus in a room to freshen it for a couple of weeks.
VINEGAR
Vinegar can neutralize stinky smells, such as cigarette, strong cooking odors, and musty smells. Fill a glass dish with 1/2 inch of white vinegar and place in musty drawers or cabinets until the smell goes away. Make ice cubes out of vinegar and run them through your garbage disposer to eliminate odors.
ZEOLITE
This non-toxic, odorless volcanic rock is known to remove pet odors, cooking, and smoke smells, You can buy it at hardware stores in pouches or shakers. Hang the pouches in closets or basements or use the powder on spot odors.
(Ref: Martha Stewart, Home Keeping Handbook)
N.Parkington

Slide Your Computer Mouse Onto Something Earth Friendly

image of a mouse on eco-friendly-pad

In the market for a new mouse pad? Mousepads these days are reasonably priced for the most part. Want to bring eco-friendliness to your mouse habits? Try using an eco-friendly mouse pad instead. They are still reasonably priced just as the not so eco-friendly mousepads are. Check them out, and help support the cause for a brighter, cleaner, healthier environmental future. Also, if you know of a local store that carries eco-friendly mousepads please share it in the comments section. It could help out the other readers. Thanks! We should try to help each other as much as possible, especially during these tough economic times. Every little bit counts every step of the way. Have a good day, everyone!

Tetra Pak Mouse Pad
Made entirely of recycled Juice Boxes. The plastic coating bonds the sheets together and viola! no glue needed. Random colorfulness makes these wonderfully unique and one-of-a-kind.

Fellowes Recycled Mouse Pad – Leaves
Earth-friendly mouse pad is made from 95% recycled tires, optical-friendly for superior tracking, non-skid rubber base protects desktop from scratches, durable and easy to clean. USA orders only.

Recycled Mouse Pad – Blue Ocean
Earth-friendly mouse pad is made from 95% recycled tires, optical-friendly for superior tracking, non-skid rubber base protects desktop from scratches, durable and easy to clean.

Scenic Foam Mouse Pad, Nonskid Back, 9 x 8, Sunrise Design
Colorful mouse pad works great with both optical and ball mice. Striking photo design will enliven your workspace. Non-skid backing keeps mouse pad still while you move.

Recycled Plastic Mouse Pad
Mousepads are made of recycled polythene bags and measure 7.5″ x 9.5″ (19 x 24.1 cm). Handmade in and fairly traded from India.

Not interested in earth-friendly mouse pads but want to encourage a healthy environment? Try one of these two mouse pads:

Blue Recycled Mouse Pad

Non-slip backing keeps the mouse moving while the mouse pad stays in place. Dimensions: 9.25″ x 7.75″. No minim order.

Handle With Care Mouse Pad
Non-slip backing keeps the mouse moving while the mouse pad stays in place. Dimensions: 9.25″ x 7.75″. No minim order.