Monday, December 31, 2012

Start The New Year With A Clean Body & Mind - Safe Detox Tips

I don't know about you, but after this holiday season, I'm in serious need of a detox! All that rich food, sugary treats and desserts, way too many snacks, a few too many holiday martinis.... It's all catching up to me. I've been feeling overly stuffed and sluggish for a couple of weeks now, so I decided before the holidays that once January hit I would do a good cleanse and get my body back in tip-top shape for the rest of the winter. I tend to stay away from the weird extreme cleanses that are really hard on your body, and opt for the more natural and gentle detox diets which eliminate sugars and other junk completely for a period of time. I find these safer and more natural, as they help the body support what it does naturally, without causing it too much stress. (Click here for more info on my favorite detox diet - the Total Wellness Cleanse.)

Detoxing is a wonderful way to get healthy and accomplish some of your New Year's goals. It can help you lose weight. It can give you back your energy. And it can help you improve your brain function. However, detoxing also comes with risks if not done properly. Here are 5 tips for detoxing safely.

#1 Get doctor approval. If you have an existing health condition make sure you get permission from your doctor. Diabetes, pregnancy, kidney disease and anemia or low blood pressure may be reasons to avoid detoxing.

#2 Start slow. Detox too quickly and you can experience serious side effects. They include dizziness, headaches and stomach upset. Diarrhea isn’t uncommon. If you experience an onslaught of symptoms consider stepping back your detox plan. Symptoms are the result of too many toxins being released into your system at once. They can also be a result of withdrawal from processed foods or chemicals. If you normally drink a lot of caffeine or diet sodas you may experience withdrawal as your body adjusts.

There are two approaches to detoxing. You can ease into it. For example, you might drink one juice meal and eat two solid meals the first day. Juice for two meals the second and third day with one solid meal. And then juice for the next two or three days to complete your detox. You might also ease back into eating solid foods by reversing the process.

The other approach is to be aware of your body’s reaction and make adjustments as you go. For example, if you’re juicing and have a detox reaction you might eat one solid meal during the day.

#3 Keep a journal. Journal your symptoms and side effects. Also journal what you ate/drank before you experienced the symptoms. That way you can recognize patterns in what you’re eating or your symptoms.

#4 Detox when you don’t have to be “on.” Detox when you can rest and relax. The weekend or an extended weekend is a great time. You can take it easy on your body and mind while you’re detoxing. If you have to go to work or tend to family while you’re detoxing it can be extra stressful. Get plenty of rest and treat your body well.

#5 Drink water! Water helps flush the toxins out of your body more quickly. The faster they’re out of you, the faster you’ll feel better. The faster you’ll have renewed energy, focus and mental clarity.

Finally, make sure to follow a trusted detox plan. If you experience any unusual symptoms or side effects, contact your physician or nutritionist. Don’t detox without a solid, safe and proven plan. To your great health in the year ahead!

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Video - Fair Trade: The Movie

This short video explains the benefits of fair trade for the farmer, the economy, the environment, and the consumer, showing how each piece of the economic system is improved upon through fair trade practices. The successful use of a fair trade system serves as a positive model for change, and demonstrates that it truly is possible, economically feasible, and even preferable for all parties involved to evolve to a fair-trade model.

Check it out to be inspired and motivated to get involved in supporting fair trade, even if it's just through making small changes in your purchasing habits for products you already buy!

Fair Trade - The Movie. An original.
Fair Trade is about helping small family farmers in developing countries get organized and develop their business skills in order to tap into the world market directly.

We hope you've enjoyed our articles, videos, and resources for living a cleaner, greener, healthier, and more sustainable lifestyle throughout the year! We will be taking a break next week for the holidays, but be sure to check back at the start of 2013 for more green living news, tips and ideas, and we're planning some great changes to benefit all of our readers in the year ahead.

From your friends at New Holistic Living, have a wonderful, safe, fun, and healthy Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What Can You Do to Make Your Town a Fair Trade Town?

Fairtrade is the global movement to bring about a better world through regulating and labeling products Fairtrade if they meet certain criteria. These criteria relate to fair pricing, employment practices and environmental sustainability.  They help build local businesses, agriculture and artists. 

If you believe strongly in this movement, you may want to do more than buy Fairtrade products and share your enthusiasm for fair trade with others.  One thing you can work towards is to make your town a Fair Trade town.  Here’s how:

Sign announcing Leuven's Fair Trade Town status
Sign announcing Leuven's Fair Trade Town status (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Step One:

Visit Fair Trade Towns USA.  It’s a national movement devoted to helping unite people just like you with others around the country. 

Step Two:
Understand and begin working within your community to meet the five Fair Trade town criteria, which include:

* Form a steering committee
* Outreach to area retailers
* Engaging the community
* Gain media attention
* Pass a fair trade resolution

They suggest a few principles to help you create your Fair Trade town.  These suggestions include:

* Find key influencers in your community and contact them.
* Demonstrate an interest in your community for change. 
* Educate key influencers – tell them what Fairtrade is, how your community is motivated for change and how they can go about meeting this demand. 
* Publicize your successes to further reach members in your community and to motivate further change.

English: A Traidcraft Fairtrade stall in a chu...
Fairtrade show stall. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Step Three:

Host an event. Events are a great way to cover several of your steps in one fell swoop.  You can gain the media attention you need, educate your community and reach your local movers and shakers (and influence politicians) with one key event.  Event suggestions include:

* Concerts
* Wine/food tastings (with fair trade products)
* Fashion Show

If you’re stumped or would like to recruit help to make your town a Fair Trade town, consider contacting other Fair Trade towns in your state.  They’ll have the experience and connections to guide you.  A Fair Trade town is a town you can be proud of, and as more and more Fair Trade towns pop up around the country, awareness will spread and person by person, town by town, the world will become a better place. 

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Monday, December 17, 2012

What Is Fairtrade & Why Should You Care?

I discovered a new store yesterday - well, really just new to me - it's been there a few years, but the few times I was in the area it was outside of their business hours. It's such a cool little store - all focused on natural, sustainable, local and fairtrade products. (I browsed for far too long!)

You may have seen some packages labeled "Fairtrade" on a visit to your local market.  Or perhaps you’ve noticed the media addressing the topic of Fairtrade.  Even notable Starbucks Coffee has started an initiative to use only Fairtrade coffee in their establishments.  But what exactly is Fairtrade?

Fairtrade Certified quinoa producers in Ecuador
Fairtrade Certified quinoa producers in Ecuador (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Fairtrade is essentially an organized system to ensure that producers, artisans and businesses worldwide are treated fairly.  That means fair pricing and practices.  Fairtrade also works to ensure environmental sustainability, fair labor conditions, and the reinvestment of resources into local communities - something that's good for everyone.  Essentially, Fairtrade is for the betterment of all.

So who regulates Fairtrade and who determines if a product or business can be labeled Fairtrade?  Internationally, there is the Fairtrade Labeling Organization, or FLO, which co-ordinates Fairtrade labeling at an international level.  Their offices are located in Bonn, Germany and they:

* Set international Fairtrade standards
* Organize support for producers around the world
* Develop global Fairtrade strategy
* Promote trade justice internationally

Nationally, there is the Fair Trade Federation.  The FTF was established to strengthen and promote North American organizations fully committed to fair trade. The Federation is part of the global Fairtrade movement, building equitable and sustainable trading partnerships and creating opportunities to alleviate poverty.

WFTO Fair Trade Organization Mark
WFTO Fair Trade Organization Mark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Likewise, there is also a European Fair Trade Association. EFTA's goal is to promote fair trade and to make fair trade importing more efficient and effective.

Fairtrade Action Network was established to connect volunteers who are interested in promoting fair trade. Their goal is to create an internet community to share ideas and experiences on fair trade campaigning.

As you can see, Fairtrade is a global initiative. According to FLO, in 2008, Fairtrade certified sales amounted to approximately $4.08 billion worldwide, a 22% year-to-year increase.  As per December 2008, 746 producer organizations in 58 developing countries were Fairtrade certified.

Buying Fairtrade products helps to ensure people around the world are essentially treated fairly.  It brings global commerce to a whole new level.  The Fairtrade label gives you the confidence the people who made your product are living a better life.  It’s a great movement - one you can be proud to participate in. For more ideas on how you can get involved, check back for Wednesday's post.

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Video - Reduce Exposure to Toxins in 5 Areas

This video provides succinct guidelines for reducing the toxins entering your body through cleaner air, water, and food choices. From choosing a good air filter, to filtering your water, to finding and identifying organic foods that are affordable, to choosing natural cleaning and personal care products, she offers a number of tips that can help reduce toxins in your daily environment. Tips such avoiding dry cleaning, and choosing natural methods of pest control in your home and garden. She also lists ingredients to avoid when shopping for personal care products, and reviews the "Dirty Dozen" list - produce which is most contaminated through conventional farming, and is most important to buy organic.

Check out this informative video to learn more about how you can reduce toxins in your home and lower your toxic load naturally.

Brenda Watson's Detox Strategy: Vibrant Health in 5 Easy Steps - Reduce Exposure
Excerpt from Brenda Watson's Detox Strategy (PBS Special) where Brenda Watson, CNC explains that the "R" in RENEW is for Reduce. She gives you some easy ways to reduce exposure to toxins in your life.

For more helpful tips on reducing your toxic load, as well as where to find cleaner, healthier products, visit

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Are High End Filter-Free Air Purifiers Really a Better Deal?

Whether you watch television, read magazines, or use the internet, there is a good chance that you have seen advertisements for air purifiers that do not require the use of replacement air filters.  These advertisements often claim that you can save a considerable amount of money overtime with the purchase of a filter-free high end air purifier.  Although this is true in many cases, many consumers are left wondering if air purifiers that do not need replacements are really a good deal.

Samsung to Enter Chinese Air Purifier Market
Samsung Air Purifier (Photo credit: samsungtomorrow)
When it comes to determining if filter-free air purifiers are really a good deal, there are a number of important points that you will want to take into consideration. These points, a few of which are touched on below, can help you decide what type of high end air purifier you should purchase for your home.

One point that you will want to take into consideration is your use.  Are you looking to temporarily clean the air, like if you have family staying at your home for about a week or two?  If one of those family members is a smoker or if a family pet will be coming too, you may not need to invest in a high end filter-free air purifier.  While filter-free air purifiers do work, they are costly.  With that being said, their costs do pay off over time with regular use, since you do not have to purchase potentially costly replacement filters.  However, if you do not plan on using a filter-free air purifier on a daily basis, the extra costs may not be worth it to you.

When looking to purchase a high end filter-free air purifier, how much you are willing to spend upfront should also be taken into consideration.  As previously stated, air purifiers that do not need replacement filters, especially those that are considered high end systems, do cost more money.  Depending on the brand and where you make your purchase from, you could easily spend thousands of dollars on a high end filter-free air purifier.  As previously stated, you can see a return on your investment in a few years, but it is important that you first have the money to spend.  If not, you should still examine high end air purifiers, as they are known for their strength, durability, better and long lasting results, but those with filters tend to be more affordable.

Another important point to take into consideration when looking to buy a high end filter-free air purifier for the home is quality.  Since filter-free air purifiers make the most out of new technology and they are known for their results, many assume that they are all considered high end products.  This isn’t necessarily true anymore due to knockoffs.  Many companies have seen how well filter-free air purifiers have sold, so they try to make their own.  Unfortunately, many do not use quality materials or the same technology.  That is why you will want to make sure that you purchase a true high end filter-free air purifier.  One great way to do this is by using the internet to your advantage.

The AHAM-certified seal lists a rating for tob...
The AHAM-certified seal lists a rating for tobacco smoke, pollen, and dust removal, and a rating for room size. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When looking to research high end filter-free air purifiers, if you already have a make and model in mind, perform your search with that information.  If not, you should use search phrases like “air purifiers with no filters,” “high end filter-free purifiers,” or “best filter less air purifiers.”  The results that you will find may be links to websites were air purifiers are being reviewed or sold.  Wherever your internet search takes you to, be sure to read reviews online and examine ratings.  This will help to ensure that you spend your money wisely.

Finally, the space that you need to clean should be examined.  Are you looking to clean the air in one or two rooms or your whole house?  It is also important to examine the CADR.  This is the Clean Air Delivery Rate.  This is the rate in which an air purifier can clean the air inside your home.  It is best if you choose a high end air purifier with a higher CADR, especially if you are looking to filter the air in a large space, or more than one room. (A couple of good examples are below.)

Filter-Free Air Purifiers:
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Monday, December 10, 2012

How to Save Money When Buying A High-End Home Air Purifier

If you are looking to improve the quality of the air inside your home, as well as your health, you may be interested in buying a home air purifier.  If this is your first time looking to buy an air purifier, you will want to go with air purifiers that are considered high-end.  This is because they often produce the best results and last much longer.  Unfortunately, many individuals are turned off by the costs of high end air purifiers.  Although these quality air purifiers are more than worth their costs, there are also a number of steps that you can take to help you save money.

A Sharp FU-888SV Plasmacluster air purifier.
A Sharp FU-888SV Plasmacluster air purifier. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One of the best ways to save money on the purchase of a high-end home air purifier is to understand your options.  This is important, as it enables you to compare prices, brands, and quality.  In fact, comparing prices is another one of the ways that you can go about saving money on air purifiers.  You can visit a number of your local home improvement stores to compare air purifiers and their prices.  If this approach is too time consuming for you, the internet can also be used to compare prices, but at a much quicker rate.

When using the internet to compare prices on air purifiers, it is best if you know what you are looking for, especially if you are looking to save yourself time.  With that being said, the internet is also a great way to research, examine, and compare different high end air purifiers.  If you do already know what make or model air purifier you want to purchase, incorporate your wants and needs into your standard internet search.  This can help to give you targeted results.  These results should be links to online stores that sell the air purifier that you want more information on or that you want to buy.

In addition to using the internet to compare prices on high end air purifiers, you can also use the internet to make your purchase or purchases.  When doing so, a great way to save money is to examine manufacturer websites.  Although air purifiers are commonly sold in traditional retail stores, many product manufacturers also sell their products online themselves.  Many shoppers find it much cheaper to shop directly with the source, as the middleman and other expenses are eliminated.  Although the savings may not be huge, they can still help if you are shopping for a high end air purifier on a budget.

English: Air ionizer/purifier with its corona ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If you would prefer to shop for a high-end air purifier locally, there are still easy ways that you can save money.  Consider calling a few local stores, like home improvement stores, to ask about available high end air purifiers and their prices.  This approach is a great way to compare prices, but without having to make multiple trips to different home improvement stores.  In addition to home improvement stores, air purifiers are also sold at many department stores and discounts stores.  Although these types of stores are known for their affordable prices, they may not have a large selection of high end or high quality air purifiers, if any at all.

The above mentioned ways are just a few of the many ways that you can go about saving money on the purchase of a high end air purifier both on and offline.  And for extra ways that you can save money, be sure to search for sales.  Many stores advertise their sales on air purifiers online or in local newspaper inserts.  Coupons are also a great way to save money.  Some home improvement stores place money saving coupons in their weekly newspaper inserts.  Although hit or miss, there are some product manufacturers that have may also have coupons available for printing on their websites.  These coupons, if you are able to find them are another great way to save money on your purchase of a home air purifier.

Home Air Purifiers Online: 
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Friday, December 7, 2012

Video - Healthy & Tasty School Lunches

This short video gives you some great ideas to make your kids lunches delicious, fun, and healthy. Once you make sure your kids' lunch boxes are safe, you want to make sure that what's in the box is also safe and healthy for your child! These tips will help create fun and visual interest in your kids lunches, and encourage them to try and eat different nutritious foods. Check out some of these tasty tips for ideas on how to get your kids to eat healthier at school and at home.

Quick Tip Recipes: How to Make Healthy School Lunch for Kids - Weelicious
Healthy School Lunch Tips: Don't know where to start when it comes to packing a delicious and healthy school lunch. These tips, tricks and ideas will help you think outside the lunchbox making the process a breeze! Tell us what you think! Post...

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How to Make Kids’ Lunchboxes Waste-Free

We talked about safety issues with lunchboxes on Monday, but what about making your lunch containers safe AND environmentally friendly? When we think of school lunches, many of us picture a brown bag containing a paper napkin, a sandwich on store-bought bread in a plastic baggy, a box of juice or milk, and perhaps a piece of fruit and a plastic-wrapped cake or cookie.

A lunch sits on a blue tablecloth with a brown...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What we probably don't picture are landfills heaped with non-biodegradable plastic packaging and brown paper bags that were not recycled. Let's take a new look at the portable kids' lunch and find ways to make it less wasteful, along with keeping your kids safe.

1. Lunch box not bag

Not only is a reusable lunchbox (see Monday's post for some safe options) or insulated bag more environmentally friendly, but it provides a convenient container and carrier for the reusable containers and flatware your child will be bringing back home.

2. Reusable containers

Remember the thermos you used as a child? Filling a thermos with a cold drink is less wasteful than juice boxes, bottles of water, cartons of milk, or other convenience-packaged beverages. Refillable glass, stainless steel or hard plastic water bottles are another great option.

Covered glass containers or the thermos are good for hot or cold foods - chopped fruit, potato salad, or green salad are good cold options for such containers. Warm food suggestions are pasta, soup, or some of those wonderful dinner-leftovers.

3. Cloth napkins

These are not expensive and come in a wide range of designs. Let your child personalize his or her lunch with a unique napkin. Choose cloth napkins that can be washed with your regular laundry.

4. Do away with plastic straws and flatware
Straws are really not necessary, especially if you are using a refillable water bottle. Go ahead and pack whatever forks and knives you normally use at the table, or get a special set for your child's lunchbox. Since you'll be packing your kids' lunch in a reusable lunch bag, it's a simple matter for the flatware to be put back in the bag, brought home and washed.

Lunch box for January
Lunch box for January (Photo credit: monicca)
5. Home-made food

Remember the store-bought bread mentioned in the beginning? It undoubtedly came in a plastic bag or packaging. Making your own bread is not only healthier - it's cheaper and saves on throw-away packaging. And it's much more delicious as well! The same goes for the meals you pack. If you have to open a can or open a package to prepare their lunch, that's one more thing you will be throwing away.

Store-bought cakes and cookies, canned pasta or soup, and bags of chips are some suggestions of waste-producing items you can make yourself or dispense with altogether - the homemade versions will be tastier AND much healthier too!

6. Sandwiches

How do you pack this old lunch stand-by without plastic baggies? There are all sorts of reusable containers available that are just right for a sandwich. Flat containers with tight covers in hard plastic or glass are a great solution. They are widely available, washable, and they keep the sandwich from getting squished.

Lunch time does not have to be waste time! These tips should help you pack a healthier and more environmentally friendly lunch for your kids.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

5 Safer Alternatives to Dangerous Lunchboxes

Are lunchboxes dangerous? And we're not talking about what's in them, although sometimes that can be scary enough! But we're going to assume that you lovingly pack your child’s lunch for school-filling that adorable Hello Kitty or Snoopy lunchbox with healthy items, tasty treats and enough nutrition to get them through the day.  Unfortunately, that adorable lunch box may be poisoning them and actually hindering their learning experience – the exact opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish.  Here are a few safe lunchbox alternatives, lead free and still completely adorable.

Lunch boxes
Lunch boxes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What makes some lunchboxes dangerous?

In short, recent studies have shown that a large percentage of lunchboxes leach lead.  This means your child may be eating their sandwich you lovingly made that morning and consuming dangerous levels of lead with their PB&J.  The culprits are usually vinyl lunchboxes made by major lunchbox manufacturers and sold at standard retail outlets.  Lead causes behavioral and learning problems and prolonged exposure can lead to cancer and death.  However, this article isn’t designed to scare you, rather to empower you to protect your beautiful children and keep them safe.

5 Safe Alternatives to Dangerous Lunchboxes

1. Reusable bags.  Many manufacturers are making really nice reusable bags designed specifically to carry lunches and smaller items.  Children can find them in their favorite colors and designs and spills are easily cleaned up by tossing them in the washing machine.

2. Recycled plastic.  Several businesses have popped up which produce lunch totes and containers made from recycled plastic bottles.  Not only are you providing your child a safe alternative, you’re being environmentally conscious – something many children are aware of and will be proud to be using an environmentally friendly lunch box.

3. Stainless steel.  Many children are image conscious or prefer to have notable characters on their lunchboxes.  Be it Spiderman, Dora the Explorer or Hello Kitty, they want the image on their lunchbox.  Stainless steel lunchboxes, think the old-fashioned flip top boxes you carried when you were young, are lead and PVC free. 

Two types of small paper bags
Small paper bags (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
4. Brown Bag it.  Paper bags are a great way to send your child to school with a personal message written or decorated on the outside.  And for the environmentally conscious, paper bags can be reused many times and you can purchase recycled paper bags or recycle them yourself.  Additionally, those plastic bags collecting in your cupboard from the local market can be reused as lunch bags several times over – they’re not pretty but it’s good to use them and give them a purpose.

5. Make your own.  A trip to the fabric store with your child where you can pick up the supplies can be a fun adventure with your child.  They can help you choose the items and even help make their lunchbox they're carrying with them something they’re proud of each and every day. 

There are many safe lunchbox alternatives.  Talk with your child to find a solution that keeps them safe and makes them happy. 

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Friday, November 30, 2012

Video - Renewable Energy Systems Examples

If you are curious about creating your own home energy generation system, but think it sounds like a lot of work, there are actually more and more companies like Ontario's Excess Energy, who are experts in setting up the whole system for you and you really won't have to do much - other than watch your electric bills go down! This short video shows a number of examples of homes using solar and/or wind power for all or most of their energy needs, and you will also be able to see what a home energy generation system looks like, and what parts it consists of. It's pretty cool to see how many folks are starting to use these technologies quite feasibly! It gives me hope that our country can become more energy independent as well.

Solar and Wind Power - Renewable Energy Systems
Solar Thermal Energy and Photovoltaic Solar Panel and Wind Turbine systems. Complete Grid-Tie and Off-Grid Battery Backup Systems. Integrating Renewable Energy Systems since 1985 in Ontario Canada. Worldwide Sales of complete package Wind/Solar and B...

Home Energy Generation Resources:
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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Creating Efficient Home Energy Generation Systems

When you are tired of paying for your high home energy bill month after month and would like see some changes and feel some savings, there is one thing to do: invest on one or more alternative home energy generation systems.

Home energy generation is the solution if you want to cut down on those bills and utilize the natural energy sources all around you. A home energy generation system will provide you what is essentially home energy freedom. Sure, you have to invest first but for many it is worth every penny. You can spare yourself from the present costs of home energy and the future increases that may occur. And most of all, investing in a home energy generation system will also help the environment through the use of cleaner sources of energy.

Among the types of alternative energy that can be used in the home, wind energy and solar energy are the most common.

English: Schematic diagram of a modern horizon...
Schematic diagram of a modern horizontal-axis, three-bladed wind turbine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
1. Wind Energy

Wind is very abundant in many parts of the country; thus, many households can capitalize on the use of wind as a source of home energy. As the cost of energy production through fuel and oil grows increasingly high, clean, safe and free air appears to be the better choice for the future.

As a main source of power for your home, wind can provide substantial cost savings over the use of energy sourced from the expensive oil. However, wind speed varies on a daily basis. One day, the wind may blow hard all day long. The next day, the wind may not be able to even make your turbine spin. And even in the breeziest places in America, you can never tell when you're going to get a windy day. This is one disadvantage of using wind power, but wind patterns do exist. Assessing the wind patterns in your area can help you determine whether a wind turbine will be a useful source of energy for your household.

If you are planning to install wind turbines on your home, make sure that the local zoning allows wind turbines. You must also ensure that there is a good source of wind on most days. A wide and open space, at least 1 acre, is ideal for wind turbines. But, if you do live in a windy area, and are paying more than $150 on your monthly electric bill, then wind power may be a good option for you.

There are 5 main components of a wind power generation system.

1. The rotor is the set of rotating blades designed to capture the air.  The rotation brings power to the generator.

2. The turbine or the generator is attached to the rotor. It stores the energy that the home will use.

3. The tail is located opposite of the rotor. It tracks the direction of the wind.

4. The tower raises the turbine, rotor and tail up into the air to receive the most amount of wind possible.

5. The governor is the mechanism that controls the production of energy. This is like the transformer you can see on electric posts.

2. Solar Power

English: Solar panel on roof in Mariakerke, Gh...
Solar panel on roof in Mariakerke, Ghent, Belgium. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are 6 often-overlooked advantages to installing solar panels on your roof - over other energy generation methods.

1.  Solar panels are lightweight, safe, and usually easy to install.

2.  Roofs are susceptible to UV exposure. The solar panel eliminates this. Your roof will also be protected from weather.

3.  Solar panels contribute to keeping your house well insulated. They provide extra covering and enable you to save as much as 30% on heating expenses.

4.  Drilling holes in your roof to install a wind turbine or other generator is very risky. Interlocking solar panels eliminate this risk.

5.  Solar panel designs can work on almost any roof type and size. In other words, you can get the perfect solar panel no matter what the size and shape of your roof is.

6.  Solar panels are installed without requiring you to modify your roof.

Solar power can help you cut down the cost of your electric bill tremendously. If you live in a sunny climate (even if it's cold), solar power can be an excellent choice for a home energy generation system.
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Monday, November 26, 2012

4 Alternative Home Energy Sources: Then & Now

Home energy consumption is one of the main household expenses today. The fact is, we all need electricity to power our lives. We need the level of civilization that can be provided by electricity. However, most people think that the price they pay is just too much for the amount of electricity they get to consume.

In the true spirit of humanity, we've begun to do what what we always do whenever there’s something that does not completely satisfy us about life: we innovate.

Alternative home energy sources are becoming more popular every year, as prices increase and we become more aware of the impact of fossil fuels on the environment. (Ironically, many of the sources that people think of as "alternative energy" have actually been around even before electricity was discovered.)

Consider these types of alternative home energy:

English: Taken by Neutronic
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
1) Wind energy – Nowadays, windmills are often used in homes to run small generators. These generators produce and store electricity to be used in running small home appliances. However, windmills have been around for a long time. If you take a look at the word “windmill” you will realize that this type of alternative home energy device was originally used for a purpose other than producing electricity.

Yes, the windmill was indeed, used to mill grain. As you may well know, grinding grain my hand is very hard work. So in order to make life more convenient and the production of flour more efficient, windmills were used to turn the large grinders.

The wind is a free (and in some places abundant) resource, so I suppose it was inevitable that the windmill evolve into the 21st century to be used as a power source.

2) Solar energy – Many people think of this type of alternative home energy as something that’s technologically advanced. In a sense, harnessing the power of the sun to produce electricity is. But this "alternative" home energy source has already been in use for a long, long time.

Think about this word for a second: clothesline. Aha, you get it now, don’t you? Yes, we have been using solar energy to dry our clothes for God knows how long. Think about that spin dryer or hair dryer you have and think about how much electricity it uses to do a task that the sun has been able to do for years, albeit at a slower pace.

This alternative home energy source is harnessed nowadays for a variety of tasks. Some use it to heat their homes, others use solar power to heat water, and other people use solar cells to power small appliances and save a little on that electricity bill. The efficiency by which we are now able to convert solar power into electricity is of such a degree that it is very possible to power a whole house! It's pretty amazing if you think about it.

3) Hydropower – This type of alternative home energy makes use of water currents in order to turn turbines to run generators. Once again, this is not really a new technology. Like windmills, waterwheels were often used to harness the power of a nearby river in order to grind grain into flour - again, before we had electric pumps or grinders.

4) Biogas – This is another alternative home energy source. Biogas is produced naturally via the decomposition of different biological material. By using biogas instead of the common LPG, home owners can often cut back on their heating bills.

English: Renewable energy sources at Chattleho...
Renewable energy sources at homestead in Chattlehop. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As you can see, there are a lot of different types of alternative home energy. Those looking for more environmentally friendly and efficient choices for energy generation may wish to explore these options and discover which type is the best for you to use. We may have used many of these sources in the past, but recent innovations have made them more efficient and cost-effective as sources of electricity.

Unfortunately, some of the methods of harnessing these different alternative home energy types may yet seem impractical to the common homeowner. However, as technology continues to evolve, you can be sure that the use of alternative energy will become more and more efficient.

By using alternative home energy, you accomplish two things: you save on your expenses and you help create a better world. Using these alternative energy sources minimizes the impact on the environment, and by using these sources, in many cases you can harness relatively free energy. Some people may say that the devices used to harness these sources may be too expensive, but in the long run, you’ll end up saving so much more than you spend.

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Seven Easy Everyday Planet Saving Tips

Saving the planet, conserving and using sustainable products, has become more than a passing fad.  It has evolved into a way of life.  Being environmentally conscious often also means being financially conscious – it often saves money.  Let’s look at 7 things you can do every day to save the planet.

English: ENVITOTE’s superior design is a styli...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#1.  Buy and use reusable shopping bags.  Whenever you go shopping, whether it’s at the grocery store or clothing store, use reusable bags.  You can often purchase these durable cloth bags at your local market or home store but you can also order designer reusable shopping bags online.  You can even make your own.  The cost of a reusable bag bought at the market costs just a few dollars and you’re saving the earth from overfull landfills.  Plastic takes 1,000 years to decompose and paper bags use 14 million trees a year.

#2.  Turn it off.  Whether it’s lights or the water faucet, turn them off when you’re not using them.  Every day we leave the water running while we brush our teeth, wash our face, shave and shampoo our hair.  Turn it off when you’re not using it and save thousands of gallons of water each year.  And if you’re in the habit of leaving the lights on when you leave the room a simple change in habit, turning them off when you leave the room, will save energy and money. 

That goes for your computer too. When you’re not using it, rather than putting it into sleep mode, turn it off.

#3.  Adjust your thermostat.  This is an easy one. Simply lower your thermostat in the winter by 5 degrees and raise your thermostat 5 degrees in the summer and you’ll save both on your electric and gas utility bills, and you’ll save resources.

#4.  Walk when you can.  Walking is great exercise.  It allows you to get valuable fresh air and sunshine and of course walking conserves fuel.  If walking isn’t an option, consider a bicycle.  You can cover the same amount of distance in about half the time and biking is exceptional exercise.  You don’t have to be Lance Armstrong to get on a bike, and your bike doesn’t need to be fancy.  They’re making wonderful cruiser bikes which are comfortable and uncomplicated, no gears or disc brakes to worry about, and they’re good for holding baskets which you can fill with groceries or other items.

#5.  Reduce, reuse, and recycle.  We’re not just talking about the basics here.  Yes, it’s great to reuse that bag your last birthday present came in however what about reusing the same water glass throughout the day to save washing as many dishes.  You can also pour the stale water in your pet’s water dish into your plants.  You can use food containers to pack your lunch instead of plastic baggies and plastic wrap.  The options to reduce, reuse and recycle are endless.  Take a look around your home and see where you can conserve.

English: Compact fluorescent light bulb
Compact fluorescent light bulb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#6.  When your light bulbs burn out, instead of replacing them with another standard light bulb, replace them with compact fluorescent bulbs.  They’re energy smart and while they cost a touch more than a standard bulb, they last 10 times longer. 

#7.  As you run out of cleaning products in your home, replace them with natural or environmentally friendly cleaning products. Look for biodegradable products and if you’re unsure whether a product is environmentally safe, look for the health warnings.  If it’s warning-free, meaning nothing on the label says toxic, dangerous, warning or any other alarming notation, then you’re probably safe. (For some examples of eco-friendly cleaning products and more, visit

There are hundreds of small steps you can take every day to make the planet we live on a healthier and safer place to be.  Start with these everyday tips, integrate them into your daily routine.  Once they become a habit you can look for new eco-friendly habits to adopt.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

7 Green Ways to Unclog Your Toilet

Plugged toilets are disgusting, messy and a real pain in the neck - and something that we have to deal with more often around the holidays, often with extra family in town.  It’s so very tempting to grab a bottle of liquid drain cleaner and pour it down, hoping the clear the mess without getting your hands, or anything else, dirty. Yet that liquid drain unclogger is incredibly harmful to the environment.  The chemicals leach into our soil and taint our water supply.  Not to fret, there are easy and green ways to unclog your toilet.  Next time it becomes plugged, try one of these eight greener tricks.

English: toilet wc
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#1. If you’ve only flushed once and it’s apparent the toilet is plugged, turn the water off at the source so no more water can fill the tank or bowl and flush again.  Nine times out of ten this easy little trick will take care of basic toilet clogs.  Another option, if this doesn’t work, is to tap the backside of the bowl to jostle the clog. 

#2.  If step one doesn’t work then you can resort to the plunger.  Plungers release suction and like a tap to the backside of the bowl it’ll help jostle the clog.

#3.  A good old-fashioned plumber snake will also help drive a hole through the clog.  This may be especially useful with children around, as they have the uncanny ability to throw the strangest things into the toilet. A plumber snake can be purchased for about $15 to $20 dollars at the hardware store.  It’s an easy device to use - simply unwind the device using the reel type handle and let the snake work its way gradually through the clog.

#4.  Hot water.  Provided you have room in the toilet bowl, fill a bucket with very hot tap water and pour it quickly into the bowl.  This works in a number of ways.  The hot water sometimes dissolves enough of the clog to loosen it.  The change in water pressure in the tank may force the clog through, and the motion of pouring the water into the bowl may jostle the clog enough to force it through.

Non-Toxic Drain Cleaning
Non-Toxic Drain Cleaning (Photo credit: Chiot's Run)
#5.  Baking Soda.  Again, assuming the toilet bowl isn’t ready to overflow, pour one cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar into the bowl.  This can also be followed by a gallon of hot or boiling water.  The vinegar and baking soda cause a reaction, remember volcanoes in grade school?  The reaction may work to loosen the clog.

#6. Dish soap.  Another green toilet-unclogging remedy is to pour in a gallon of boiling water and a quarter to one-third cup of dish detergent.  You’ll want to make sure it’s environmentally safe and biodegradable dish detergent for this practice to be environmentally sound.  Dish detergent works to break down the clog, just like it breaks down the dirt on your dishes. You’ll probably need to let it set for a while before the clog breaks free.

#7.  When all else fails it may be time to put on a pair of very long rubber gloves.  Ick, right?  Well it’s better than pouring caustic drain cleaner into our water supply, not to mention the dangerous fumes drain cleaners give off that can pollute the air in your home. 

Unclogging a toilet is no fun and there’s really no way to make it enjoyable, unless you’re a plumber and charging $100/hour - and even then it's probably no picnic.  Fortunately, there are a number of tried and true green ways to unclog a toilet that shouldn't make a mess, for you or the environment.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

The Importance Of Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

Ever rush from the bathroom coughing and gasping from the cleaning fumes left behind after you clean the shower or tub?  Those fumes and chemicals aren’t just bad for your lungs, they’re bad for the environment.

Here’s why:

English: Lysol products on a Costco store shelf.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Long-term health effects.  The majority of cleaning products are full of toxins that have lasting health results.  In fact, according to data published by the Western Regional Pollution Prevention Network, six of every 100 janitorial workers injured on the job each year are hurt by the cleaning chemicals they use.

Environmental effects.  Cleaning products, we’re talking about everything from common dish soap used in your kitchen to laundry detergent to floor polish and bathroom milder removers, cause immense amounts of pollution.  Not just when we use these products in our homes but also when these products are manufactured and when they’re transported from the manufacturer to the stores. 

* Chemical-based cleaning products pollute the air with their toxic chemicals. 

* Cleaning products tossed into land fills pollute our soil having a detrimental effect on our plants and animals.

* Cleaning products pollute our water supply when they’re washed down the drain.  They end up in our lakes, rives and oceans having a negative effect on our health as well as the health of nearby wildlife.

* Cleaning products contribute to the depletion of the ozone causing global warming and a loss of resources. 

How to Get Started Using Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

Clean out your cupboards.  Get into your cleaning cupboards and pull out anything that is full of chemicals you cannot pronounce.  Set them aside in a box and call your hazardous waste pick up folks to get rid of them. 

Jenin Warehouse Hides Hundreds of Chemical Sub...
(Photo credit: Israel Defense Forces)
Now that your cleaning supplies are down to the bare bones it’s time to find eco-friendly replacements.  Look for cleaning products which are biodegradable and non-toxic.  Rather than try to memorize a list of acceptable ingredients, some of which are still unpronounceable, simply look for danger, poison, or toxic warnings on the label.  If the label is free from those, then you can reasonably assume it’s at least more eco-friendly than most. (Or try our favorite - Earth Friendly Products - they make everything from all-purpose cleaners to laundry detergents to furniture polish, and all of their products are reasonably priced, and contain only naturally sourced ingredients which are safe for you and the planet.)

You can make your own.  Many of the items in your pantry and refrigerator are excellent cleaning products.  You can use these common household items to make home made cleaning products which are not only safe for you and your family but also safe for your environment.  Common safe and effective household cleaning substances include:

* Baking soda
* Club soda
* White distilled vinegar
* Tea tree oil
* Lemon juice

Choosing eco-friendly cleaning products isn’t just good for your health and the health of your family - it's good for the environment.  And these products can also be good for your pocket book, particularly when you make them yourself.  Embrace eco-friendly cleaning products - you’ll be glad you did.

For some more ideas for safe and eco-friendly cleaning products, visit our website at

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Friday, November 16, 2012

How Safe Are Nail Polishes?

The safety of conventional nail polishes has come under scrutiny in recent years. In fact, it's been a matter of concern for some time. If you use nail polish or go into a professional salon, you'll know the strong smell that accompanies it. There's a reason for such strong odors - chemicals.

Nail polish
Nail polish (Photo credit: _windprincess)
While certainly not all chemicals are bad, many of the ones in nail polish are considered potentially toxic to human health. Among the most prominent chemicals in nail polish are formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl-phthalate (DBP).

DBP is what makes nail polish shiny and flexible. It is also added to the nail polish during manufacturing so that it will dissolve other ingredients in the polish. DBP has been linked to hormonal problems in newborn males, including long-term fertility problems. This is probably the most controversial of the three toxic ingredients in nail polish.

Formaldehyde helps harden the polish once on your nails. It is, however, a human carcinogen. In addition, it can cause upper respiratory irritation and a rash on the skin.

Toluene is an ingredient that helps diffuse the pigment through the nail polish. It helps the polish have a smooth, uniform look. Unfortunately, it also can affect the central nervous system. Headaches, dizziness, and fatigue are common symptoms of toluene exposure. Toluene may also affect the reproductive system.

Are There Non-Toxic Nail Polishes?

The good news is, there are alternatives. A good place to start is your local health food store. You can also look online to find out the toxicity of various brands. Here are some of the alternative non-toxic brands available.

* Knocked Up Nails is a nail polish brand that caters to expectant mothers. Because of the concerns over the fertility problems in newborn baby boys from DBP exposure, pregnant women are especially on the lookout for non-toxic polishes.

* SunCoat is a water-based nail polish. The label claims it is free of phthalates, parabens, and odors.

* Sante is a "high-safety" nail polish according to the label. Its label also says - in multiple languages - that it is free of toluene and formaldehyde.

* ManiPure is a non-toxic, vegan and "pregnancy-safe" polish free of the "Big 3" chemicals listed above, as well as camphor, and it also is cruelty-free. It comes in a variety of vibrant and lovely shades.

Remember, too, that a lot of nail products besides just polish contain dubious chemicals. Conventional nail polish removers, for example, contain acetone. Many of the companies listed above offer other natural nail products that are safer. You can have pretty nails, without the toxic chemicals. Check out the brands above, or see those listed below.

A Few Non-Toxic Nail Polish Options:
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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Review - Benefect Natural Hand Sanitizer

Several recent studies have shown that hot water and soap are the best way to keep your hands clean and to keep you safe from bacteria. But sometimes, especially when traveling, you might need an alternative to soap and water, such as a hand sanitizer. However, most hand sanitizers are pretty harsh on your skin. They contain chemicals and alcohol that kill germs but, at the same time, dry out your skin and might cause irritation.

Benefect Natural Hand Sanitizer is a gentle and non-alcoholic natural sanitizer that kills 99.9% of common bacteria, such as MRSA, Staph, E. coli and Salmonella. This very effective formula contains natural thyme, an anti-bacterial ingredient. Another great fact about this hand sanitizer is that it keeps your skin soft and healthy and should not cause any allergies.

In my opinion, it is always good to carry a hand sanitizer with you in your purse in case you need it, especially when out and about with children. It keeps your family's hands germ-free and therefore keeps bacteria-induced illnesses at bay while traveling.

Where to buy:
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