Recycled objects. Get inspired!

12 02 2013

Today I would like to share some cool ideas of recycled objects. I hope this can give you ideas and inspire you to do the same!

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Cardboard Life Cycle

18 11 2012

Cardboard recycling





How to choose an eco-friendly product?

11 10 2012

With so many products claiming to be green or environmentally friendly nowadays, it is hard to know what is actually an eco friendly product.Green Questions

You can find lots of different descriptions such as:  green, environmentally friendly, eco-friendly, sustainable, environmentally responsible, etc. products.  All these products will have one main point in common which is that they cause minimal harm to people and the environment.  They also can be chemical free, organic, biodegradable, recyclable or made with recycled products.

Very often the manufacturing and/or consumption of these goods have a minimal impact on the environment.  Although there are no universal certifications or standards to deem a product as eco-friendly, there are some rules in several countries that constitute an organic product.  For instance, for organic cotton, there are some internationally recognised organic farming standards that rule the organic cotton certification.

Most of the time it is common sense or some agreements made between key players from the eco-industry which come up with a logo or a certification of eco-friendly products.

Is the Production Process Eco Friendly?

Eco-friendly products are often linked to fair trade business.  Whether in a factory or on a farm, working conditions should be fair and protect human rights.  The treatment of animals is also an important point to be considered.  In this case it will be mentioned, “no animal testing”.  Some cosmetic brands such as Aesop or The Body Shop are well known for being against animal testing.  A friend of mine works for Aesop and she has confirmed that it is a real statement and not some marketing ploy to improve the brand awareness.

If the product is a crop or manufactured from a crop such as grain, soil pollution must be taken into account.  Pesticides, herbicides and insecticides are very harmful for humans and the environment. For this reason you should search for the organic label, as for organic cotton.

What Are the Negative Effects of the Production / Manufacture and transport?Green toy

Think about what it takes to produce a product. Consider the amount of resources that are being used to put the item on the shelf.  Is the product being produced in a big factory using a lot of electricity? Where is the factory located? Does it require long transport distances to be available on the shelf next to your place?  Sustainable production helps to protect our diminishing natural resources. Think about buying local products. You will be helping the environment and growing the local economy.

Find out what other resources are being used to create the product.  Is the company utilizing recycled materials? Does the company use compostable or biodegradable packaging? How much waste is produced by the company? The most eco-friendly producers have zero waste.

What about the greenhouse gases and carbon emissions produced by the company? Are there harmful chemicals being released from factory smoke stacks into the atmosphere, like in plastic production? Are the production, shipping, packaging and distribution creating much pollution into the atmosphere?  Is the company doing something to reduce their overall footprint?

How Much Waste Does Your Product Create?

The first thing that you generally do when you bring home a product is remove the packaging.  Is it individually packaged, like tuna meals or yogurt cups?  Or is this a product that you generally keep on hand and can buy in bulk?  Is the packaging recyclable?  Can you purchase a refill so you don’t need to buy a new package each time?  Is the product reusable or disposable?  Landfill, these days, is full of disposable waste!

Eco-friendly products usually take all or some of these questions into account and create packaging that would be recyclable, refillable or made with biodegradable materials.

Help in Finding Eco Friendly ProductsEnvironmentally friendly

As you can see from above, it might seem a bit overwhelming to evaluate the entire ecological impact in order to determine how environmentally friendly a product really is. Luckily, there are a number of ecological organisations that have created labels that have certifications to help us figure out the eco-friendly option.

Here is a short list of some these organisations:

Green Seal – examine products for their overall eco friendliness

The American Humane Association (AHA) – find food products that were created with animal welfare in mind (USA)

USDA Organic Certification – locate foods grown without harmful chemicals (USA)

Energy Star – identifies energy efficient appliances

Australian grown / made – helps find products that are Australian

Green Table Australia – recognises Australian restaurants, cafes and catering businesses that are doing what they can to reduce their impact on the environment.

Rainforest Alliance – An international non profit organization dedicated to the conservation of tropical forests.

FSC – is an independent, non-governmental, not for profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.

Some countries have launched their own green labelling system to help customers identify the environmentally friendly option. Here are some examples:

SGLS Singapore Green Labelling Scheme

HKGLS – Hong Kong Green Label Scheme

SuisseGreen (Switzerland)

Environmental Choice (Canada)

GECA  – Good Environmental Choice Australia (Australia)





Fashion is going green

25 09 2012

You might have heard about organic cotton and hemp fabrics being used in the fashion industry, but have you heard about fabrics made from PET plastic bottles, or from milk? These are just a few sustainable textiles that are starting to be used in the fashion industry.

The milk fabric is not a new invention. It was created during the Second World War by a German biologist and fashion designer Anke Domaske. To create the fiber, liquid milk is dried and its proteins extracted. The separated proteins are then dissolved in a chemical solution and placed into a machine that essentially whirls the fibers together. The fibers can then be spun into yarn and woven into fabric. The process is quite long, but the milk fabric has some great advantages. It holds dye, is breathable and it captures the moisture to make skin tender and smooth.

Another way to go green in fashion is to use recycled materials. You can find some brands online that produce clothes and accessories using a large range of recycled items, like bags made with old advertising banners, or recycled aluminium can pull-tabs. There is also an American brand called Harvey that uses car seat belts to make their eco-chic bags.

In 2009 the American agency Cone Communications raised some questions regarding how high was consumer interest in environmentally friendly products purchasing despite the bad economy. Here are some interesting results from the Cone Consumer Environmental Survey:

  • 35 percent of Americans have higher interest in the environment today than they did one year ago.
  • 70 percent of Americans indicate that they are paying attention to what companies are doing with regard to the environment today.
Eco-friendly sunglasses

Stella McCartney new eco-friendly collection

Aware of this new consumer behaviour and interest, luxury brands are also going green. Some iconic brands are adopting eco-fashion style in their new creations. In 2012 Stella McCartney launched her brand new eco-friendly collection of sunglasses. She also created an eco-friendly lingerie collection that is made with organic cotton. Check out the green blog from Stella McCartney. Another new player in the eco-friendly scene is Gucci. The luxury brand launched a range of sustainable shoes called “Sustainable Soles” in June 2012.

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But eco-fashion is more than that; in my view eco-fashion is all about creativity. You can transform your old clothes and create something totally new and fashionable.  You can make a funky bag with your old jeans, or a pretty cool bracelet or necklace with some seeds or buttons. It’s up to you to be original, go wild and create your own green style!

Click here to download the survey.

I selected this post to be featured on Environmental Blogs. Please visit the site and vote for my blog!

 

Art Hunter

Val hunt

 

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Saving water and electricity

24 09 2012

Today I decided to write about how we can save water and electricity. These few tips are easy to incorporate to your everyday life and will also have an impact on your water and electricity bills.

Save water

Turn off the tap when brushing you teeth, washing your hair, shaving and soaping your dishes.

Checking for leak in the house is quite easy. Turn off all of the faucets, stop consumption and check to see if the hydrometer still spins. If it does, you are wasting water and money.

Did you know that watering the garden and plants early in the morning or evening prevents the water from evaporating? Not everyone think about that, but this is a great green tip.

I recently read that occasionally cleaning light bulbs in the house can help save energy and improve the lighting in your home up to 20%. Increasing lighting reduces the need for extra lamps and other light sources.

Save electricityDon’t leave the door of your fridge open for a long time trying to decide what to eat. The fridge uses a big chunk of the energy consumed in the home. In most homes around the world the refrigerator is the second largest user of electricity (13.7%), right after the air conditioner (16%).

Do you use your microwave as a clock? Leaving the machine on day and night even without using uses electricity. Leaving home appliances on stand by can consume up to 20% of the power used when they are functioning. Get into the habbit of switching off appliances at the socket or unplug them when the are not in use. When I use to live in Switzerland we had an extension led with a button that you could switch off all the appliances at the same time. Choose the best option for you and try to turn off your home appliances.

When washing your clothes make sure that you gather a reasonable quantity of clothes to wash together instead of a few items at a time. The same you can do when ironing. Personally I never iron my clothes, only if they really need it.

Wash clothes in cold water to save 90% of the energy. Avoid pre-washing to save energy. If your clothes are really dirty, you can soak them in detergent before turning on the washing machine. And why not use eco-friendly laundry products? Personally I never use the “Pre-wash” option and always use eco-friendly laundry liquid.

What are you doing to save water and electricity? Share your tips with us! It can help others to save too! You can also share your tips on our Facebook page!!!





5 simple Tips to make your daily life more eco-friendly

16 09 2012

Since I launched this blog, many people from around the world ask me what they can do in their everyday life to help to reduce their impact on the environment. So I decided to post a short list of 5 simple tips that we can do to be more eco-friendly. These are just some simple things that we can do in our daily lives that don’t require  much effort, but there are thousands of other things we can do to help the environment. You probably  know all that, but it’s always good to have a reminder…

1. When brushing your teeth don’t let the water run unnecessarily. Try to do the same when you’re in the shower turn off the tap when soaping up or shampooing your hair. There is a massive amount of energy required to process and pump tap water. You’ll also be reducing your water bill!

2. Get your bike and ride to go to work. Take the opportunity to exercise and stay fit! If you have to drive, what about carpooling? Besides saving fuel, it can also be more social and less boring than driving alone. Public transport can be also an affordable alternative. You can save money on fuel and car parking.

3. Avoid using plastic bags when you go shopping. Take your bag with you. Eco bag

You can also use green bags with designs that are very trendy and fashionable.

4. When disposing of furniture, clothes, shoes why not donate to charity or recycling? Check out for donation spots near your house and make someone happy.

5. Reduce, reuse, recycle all you can, PET bottles, glass, cans, paper, cardboard, batteries, aluminium, coffee capsules, used oil … all these objects can be transformed and reused. Use your creativity!

These simple gestures are easy to integrate into our daily lives and will surely make a big difference to the environment.





Green cleaning products

9 09 2012

We use cleaning products to keep our homes sparkling clean, fighting germs, streaks, stains and odours. Cleaning is supposed to be about maintaining a clean and healthy home. Unfortunately most cleaning products contain chemicals that can harm be harmful to your health and the environment? What kind of cleaning products do you frequently use? Have you heard about eco-friendly cleaning products?

Have a look at the label of any traditional cleaning product you have and look at the list of chemicals it contains. Some of these chemicals are quite toxic and can cause allergies in some people. Here are some examples of chemicals found in many cleaning products that can be harmful for your health.

Ammonia

Vapours may irritate the skin, eyes, throat, and lungs. People with asthma may be particularly sensitive to the effects of breathing ammonia. Long-term exposure can cause kidney and liver damage. If ammonia is mixed with products that contain chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite), it can form highly poisonous chloramine gas.

Ammonia is often found in: window cleaners, drain cleaners, toilet cleaners, bathroom cleaners, oven cleaners, stainless-steel cleaners, car polish, and all-purpose cleaners.

Coal tar dyes

Derived from petrochemicals, and may be contaminated with trace amounts of heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium and lead. Dyes in cleaning products can be absorbed through the skin or ingested in the case of soap residue on dishes. There is concern that synthetic dyes may cause cancer and that heavy metals can harm the nervous system and cause other adverse health effects. Curiously, these chemicals are not necessary for the cleaning function of the products. They are primarily used for colouring.

Coal tar dyes can be found in: most types of cleaning products.

Phosphates

Also used as a fertilizer phosphates can be very harmful for the environment. They can reduce oxygen levels in water, potentially killing fish. They can also increase harmful algal blooms and weed growth. Certain algae blooms produce chemicals that are toxic to animals and people who drink the water. In many countries, new regulations were introduced in 2010 that limit phosphorus concentration in household cleaning products to 0.5 per cent. These regulations are certainly an improvement, but why not use phosphate-free brands?

Phosphates can be found in: dishwasher detergents, laundry detergents and bathroom cleaners.

The list of chemicals that you can find in traditional cleaning products is very long and contains some complex names such as 2-Butoxyethanol, MEA (monoethanalomine), DEA (diethanolamine), TEA (triethanolamine), Nonylphenol ethoxylates, Silica powder, Sodium dichloroisocyanurate dehydrate, Sodium hydroxide or caustic soda, Triclosan, Trisodium nitrilotriacetate…

Previously I was not convinced of the effectiveness of eco-friendly cleaning products. I admit that I was a bit sceptical few years ago, mainly because I was used to using traditional products.

I have been using eco friendly cleaning products for over 3 years now. This has convinced me about the quality and the effectiveness of some eco-friendly cleaning products.

They are not only less harmful to your health, the environment and chemical free, but they are also just as effective as traditional cleaning products. There was also the issue that until recently there was not really any other option than using traditional cleaning products, but nowadays there are multiple brands in the market place offering a greener option.

Earth cleaning products

In Australia, eco-friendly brands such as “Earth” or “Orange Power” are not more expensive than traditional brands. So I guess if I can use cleaning products that are chemical free, less harmful for my health and skin, are not more expensive than traditional products and above all effective, why use products that can harm my health and the environment? I have made my choice regarding cleaning products and I always buy the eco label if there is one available.

What about you? What kind of cleaning products do you use in you house? Do you have the green option available?








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