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Green Living Ideas provides ideas, tips, and information to help you improve the environmental sustainability of every aspect of your life: home energy, green building and remodeling, cars, food, waste recycling—and everything in between. Green Living Ideas is the most comprehensive green living website ever assembled, with information on how to live greener in over 200 different areas of life! We’ve assembled the world’s top green living authors and experts to bring you the latest info on green and sustainable living.
Updated: 22 hours 22 min ago

How To Spot A Dying Mobile Battery

Tue, 2014-07-29 19:22

As mobile phones get more complicated, problems with battery life become more prevalent. There are a number of pages online that speak of ways to improve battery life though how do you know when it needs replacing? Nowadays, phones are no longer limited to simple functions such as call and text. Phones have become a very handy companion whenever you’re bored, or when you have time to kill and it is important to take care of your battery so it lasts for the life of the phone. But as even the most careful user cannot prevent life’s wear and tear on your mobile’s battery, you should learn how to identify a dying battery. Here are some of the signs that your phone’s battery needs replacing:

Excessive Heat 

This may be the most obvious sign of a dying battery. Rechargeable batteries inevitably generate heat as they charge. However, if you notice that your gadget is excessively warm even on standby, it might be time to replace your battery.

Bloating or Swelling

Sometimes when a battery depletes, the internal cells rupture, causing a bulge to appear. To determine if your unit has been bloated, place it flat on a smooth, level surface. If it wobbles or doesn’t sit perfectly flat, a replacement battery is in order. If you neglect your battery and continue using it once bloated, your battery could explode so it’s best to have it looked at immediately by a professional.

Reduced Battery Life

The average lifespan of a mobile battery differs from one to two years, which equates to approximately 300 to 500 charges. Past the second year mark, your phone battery’s cycle may start to deteriorate. You may find yourself charging more frequently than you used to. Reduced battery life is a sign that you need to consider a replacement, dramatically decreased battery capacity is also a sign that you need a replacement immediately.

Phone shuts off automatically

When a unit’s capacity has shrunk, it will still register as full even if there’s very little power in it. This will cause the mobile to shut off unceremoniously. Although there are instances where the actual mobile phone is at fault, you can confirm it by using another battery in your device as a tester.

Visible corrosion or physical changes

Visible corrosion on or around your devices battery should should be taken as a serious call for a replacement battery, no matter how small the affected area is. Visible corrosion can be a sign of an internal issue that can cause permanent damage to your device if not looked at immediately.

Knowing where and how to get a proper replacement for your mobile battery is as important as taking care of your phone. With online shopping now at the touch of your fingertips, there are a number of reliable online retailers that can assist you with your battery needs. Look for options on online stores like A1 Battery Pro to familiarize yourself with the many options available on the market.

Photo courtesy of Digital Trends.

This post was generously sponsored by A1 Battery Pro.

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Categories: Green Living

How To Check The Seal On Your Fridge And Oven

Tue, 2014-07-29 18:07

There are several reasons you’ll want to make sure that the seals on both your fridge and oven are working properly. Among those are the money you’ll save on your energy bill, the reduction of carbon emissions and the piece of mind from knowing that you live in a healthy, energy efficient home. If you’ve noticed that your fridge isn’t staying as cold, your fruits and veggies are spoiling faster or that food is taking longer to bake, it’s time to check the seals. It only takes about a minute and costs virtually nothing to do. Not even the dollar bill you use for testing! Simply follow these steps to make sure the seals on your fridge and oven are working properly.

Things you’ll need for the job:

  • A Dollar Bill (larger denominations work as well, though it’s probably not worth the risk
Instructions: how to check the seal on your fridge or oven

1. Open the door and visually inspect the seal. Be sure to look over the entire seal and take note of any cracks, tears, holes or areas where the seal has come loose. Given the severity of any one of these, the seal may need to be replaced altogether. Otherwise, try massaging the seal back into place to make sure you have a good connection between it and the door.

2. Take your dollar bill and place it part way across the seal and close the door. Make sure you leave enough of the bill showing so you can get a good grip on it for the test.

3. Gently pull on the dollar bill. If the seal is working properly there should be a little resistance preventing the bill from sliding out completely. However, if when you pull on the bill you don’t feel anything, odds are you’ve found a weak spot in the seal.

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 around the entire seal. Check the entire seal to be sure that there aren’t multiple weak points. If so, it’s probably best to replace the seal all together.

It’s a good idea to perform the “dollar bill test” roughly once every 6 months. If you’re curious about other ways to save energy around your home, try looking for  and eliminating vampire power.

Photo courtesy of Purposely Frugal.

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Categories: Green Living

5 Nontoxic Alternatives to Polyurethane

Mon, 2014-07-28 17:28

Polyurethane is a very versatile material. It’s flexible, lasts a long time, and is used as an air sealant and for insulation in everything from mattresses to airplanes. Unfortunately it’s not great for your health, as it can cause skin and eye irritation, asthma, lung damage, other respiratory and breathing problems. The bad news it that it’s almost impossible to avoid polyurethane completely. The good news is that if you’re renovating your own home, into home repair or DIY, you can definitely make do without it. Here is a list of non-toxic alternatives to polyurethane.

1. Tung oil is made from the seeds of the nut of the tung tree. This tree is native to China and is named after for its heart-shaped leaves – ‘tung’ means ‘heart’ in Chinese. Tung oil is often used as a finisher and is said to improve the ‘character’ of the wood. Waterlox is a tung oil and resin mix that claims to ‘elevate the appearance of any wood floor’.

2. Linseed oil is obtained from the dried seeds of the flax plant and is often recommended for treating wood. It is available in various mixes, if you can’t get hold of it in pure form. Some tips on how to use linseed oil and other natural alternatives can be found here.

Eco House Hardwood Floor Oil contains Linseed standoil, Chinese wood oil, purified linseed oil, pine resin ester, microwax, # 115 Citrus Thinner, lead-free driers, and rosemary oil, and meets the criteria for being nontoxic. Bioshield Hard Oil is a linseed and tung mix that claims to be durable, water resistant and recommended for ‘high-moisture and high-traffic areas such as baths and kitchens’.

3.  Candelilla wax is derived from the leaves of the Candelilla shrub and its growth is monitored to ensure that it is sustainable, so it gets extra points for minimal environmental impact. Some vegans swear by it as a bee-free alternative to polyurethane, and it’s certainly non toxic as it’s often used in beauty products instead of beeswax.

4. Bio Paints claim to use environmentally-friendly, non-toxic materials in their products and they recommend Hard Varnish as an alternative to polyurethane because it ‘enhances timber floors and surfaces, and protects against water-marking and stains from spills’

5.  AFM Safecoat has a reputation for selling environmentally conscious ‘least toxic’ products, and it offers a range of varnishes and sealants. You can pick the one that best suits your needs through the catalog on their website.

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Categories: Green Living

Being an Eco Conscious Consumer

Mon, 2014-07-28 17:04

As much as we all wish to avoid rampant consumerism, we are in fact consumers and must engage in that behavior to meet our needs. Being a consumer does not mean we need to have blatant disregard for the environment and world we live in however. By being an informed consumer that is willing to take a few extra minutes to do the right thing rather than always in a rush to do the fastest thing, we can do our part to keep the world greener while at the same time meeting the needs of our family and keeping the budget in check.

Grocery Shopping for Health

The vast majority of us must purchase most of our food. The self-sustaining family farm disappeared from the landscape many years ago. While the convenience of processed boxed food took over large portions of the store shelves, you do not need to use that as your source of meals. Shopping in the organic food section and preparing meals will be far healthier for you and the environment we know, but what about the budget?

That depends on what you are going to compare costs of. While on the surface one might think organic foods are far more expensive than processed foods it really depends on what you are talking about buying. While the $3 TV Dinner seems like quite a bargain, if you took the weight of the meat and the vegetables off from additives, water added, the fact that the meat is processed byproduct, and the vegetables are culls that were not in good enough condition to be sold as produce without chopping and covering in a sauce then it is not much of a bargain at all.

Projects around the Home

Doing remodeling, repairs, and upgrades gives you an excellent opportunity to embrace a greener, more eco-conscious lifestyle. By choosing renewable and naturally sustainable materials in home projects it not only allows your vote to be cast on what products building materials should consist of, it can also make a cleaner and healthier environment for your family free from chemical toxins and pollutants that leach into the air inside your home.

To make an even bigger impact, do some research on the places you choose to hire to work around your home.  As an example, if building an addition or garage while choosing the natural materials to use in your addition is important, you also need to look at what you are doing to the environment when make this addition. Hire contractors or companies that share your commitment to the environment and make it clear as a company policy or at th every minimum ask the contractor what will be happening while they do the work.

A responsible construction outfit will be able to tell you how the debris from the project will be handled and recycled and have an environmental impact policy in place. If they are doing excavating as is a common step in many projects, ask not only where they will be getting the replacement gravel and topsoil they put in your yard (that your children and pets will be playing on for years), but where they will be dumping any excavated soil so you do not become an unintended participant in damaging the environment. When consumers care about the environment and make it known, so do the companies they hire and do business with.

Photo courtesy of Intellectual Revolution. This post was sponsored by Scot-JTB.

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Categories: Green Living

Recycling: The Resourceful Attitude Which is Saving the World

Mon, 2014-07-28 17:02

Recycling is rapidly becoming the most popular way to dispose of household and business waste. And with many reports now showing that recycling is more beneficial to the planet than our traditional ways of getting rid of rubbish, which include incineration and landfill, this trend is set to rise even further. 

There are now even businesses such as SCRAP Creative Reuse in Leeds who collect excess business waste and then sell it to art professionals at reduced rates for building and crafting materials. A resourceful re-use and re-purposing of rubbish that would otherwise go to landfill.

Community Input

Local communities are also starting to get involved with many online petitions being formed. Others have asked local councils for better access to quality recycling services either in the form of door to door collection or large recycling centres, that are conveniently located to ensure that they will be sued to the maximum potential. Construction contractors like JP Concrete are starting to recognise the demand for construction materials that will stand up to the demands of large and well used sites and are providing specialist services to ensure that the needs of the constructions staff, designers and service users are all being met. 

The Economic Influence

It is interesting that recycling has started taking off given the current economic climate we are living in. As wallets shrink, people become much more involved with the principals behind recycling such as reducing waste, reusing goods, re-purposing objects and recycling materials to create new from old. When times are tough the natural resourcefulness of human nature is what helps us prevail and get through the bad times successfully, and this time it seems like we might be interested in helping our planet too.

The Benefits of Recycling

Recycling is great for the planet for so many reasons, far too many to even list here let alone go into any detail. But the basics are that if we don’t stop stripping our planet of its natural resources without somehow replenishing its stores then eventually we are going to run out of these fossil fuels. Leaving us with potentially limited resources. As such, taking a proactive approach and developing ways of stretching natural resources through the ‘reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle’ ethos is key to ensuring our successful survival in the future. 

If you have a further interest in recycling, want to learn more and maybe even get involved then take the time to read this thorough explanation of why recycling is good and how to go about getting started by Friends of the Earth.

Photo courtesy of Keep Calm-o-Matic. This post was sponsored by JP Concrete.

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Categories: Green Living

8 Chemicals To Avoid While Doing The Dishes

Wed, 2014-07-23 16:15

Let’s face it, doing the dishes is a part of daily life and while that may be the case, exposure to some very common and toxic chemicals shouldn’t be. When was the last time you looked at the ingredients in your dish detergent? Can you not only pronounce, but understand what each one of them is and does? Odds are you’re like me and can maybe pronounce half of them, but that’s as far as I get. To help you live a greener and healthier lifestyle we’ve come up with a list of eight ingredients (aka chemicals) you should avoid in your dish detergents.

Phosphates - These are often used as a water-softening mineral and act as a fertilizer in water and are hazardous to consume for both ourselves and marine life. If concentrations of this type of chemical are too high in water, they can deplete oxygen levels and promote the growth of certain algae which are toxic to consume. Try switching to a brand that is phosphate free to avoid inadvertently raising the level of this chemical in our water supply.

Triclosan - This type of synthetic chemical is often added to dish detergents due to its antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral properties. This is the chemical that often qualifies a cleaner as “antibacterial”. However, this chemical is hazardous to our hormones and disrupts our body’s natural thyroid and endocrin systems. This chemical is also often attributed to the growth of “superbugs” since it bioaccumulates in the human body.

SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate)/SLES (sodium laureth sulfate) - This type of chemical is what gives your dish detergent its foamy property and allows it to cut through grease. While the bubbles are nice to see, they aren’t nice to absorb. This chemical absorbs through your skin and can lead to 1,4-dioxane contamination. It’s also been known to cause rashes and allergic reactions.

Fragrance: Any given fragrance mixture can contain up to 3,000 chemicals. Which, over time can coat themselves onto plates, forks, cups etc. and eventually be ingested. We recommend going with a dish detergent that gets its fragrance from natural essential oils.

DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine), TEA (triethanolamine) - These chemicals have been found to disrupt hormones in the human body and are known for creating nitrates and nitrosamines. There is also a risk of developing 1,4-dioxane contamination if you’re regularly exposed to these types of chemicals.

Chlorine - Also known as sodium dichloroisocyanurate, this chemical has ben listed on both the EPA’s Community Right-To-Know list and the 1990 Clean Air Act. It is extremely toxic to fish and releases chlorine into the air when it’s being used to clean your dishes. 

Formaldehyde - This chemical is a known carcinogen and might appear on your detergent label as methanol, methyl aldehyde and methylene oxide. It’s added to detergents along with preservatives so that overtime it is slowly released as a preventative to bacterial contamination. However, concentrations of this chemical are toxic within the human body.

Ammonia - This chemical is extremely toxic and should be avoided. Many people aren’t aware that ammonia, even if in “trace” amounts, is present in their dish detergents. If combined with bleach to create a cleaning solution, the two will release fumes that can cause damage to your eyes, respiratory tract and skin.

So, if you’re convinced that your current dish detergent just won’t work for you anymore, try switching to this at home recipe. You can also avoid adding chemicals to the water system by using this natural drain cleaner or skip the chemicals all together by using a sink plunger!

Photo courtesy of Matt’s Wisdom.

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Categories: Green Living

6 Natural Remedies for Eczema

Wed, 2014-07-23 07:00

Eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis. If you suffer from any of these skin conditions, you know that the words I’m thinking of are ‘inflammation’ and ‘itch’. Thankfully there are some natural remedies that have been found to help with these conditions by soothing, moisturising or healing the skin, or through tackling the root of the problem and reducing the symptoms of inflammation and itchiness. One person’s skin can be very different to another’s and because of this variation what works for one person may not work for another, so it’s always worth trying safe natural remedies at least once, starting with..

1. Coconut Oil

Today coconut oil is sold as healing everything from Alzheimer’s to thyroid complaints, and every manner of skin complaint whether applied topically or eaten raw. But is there really any chance that it might improve the health of your skin?

One study compared the effects of coconut oil and virgin olive oil on people with atopic dermatitis who are prone to problems from the presence of Staphylococcus aureus (SA). SA is bacteria that is often found in higher quantities on the skin of people with eczema and dermatitis. After 4 weeks of applying coconut oil on their skin, the participants who used virgin coconut oil on their skin had less SA and healthier skin in general.

There are so many proposed health benefits offered by coconut oil that it’s worth using it on your skin and adding it to your diet as well. As well as using coconut oil on your skin, there are many easy ways to add it to your diet here, but a favourite of mine is using it cooking instead of normal vegetable oil.

Buy organically-sourced coconut oil where possible and keep it in a cool place at home as it melts easily. If you find that the oil is hard when you open the tub, scoop some out and leave it in a dish to sit at room temperature for a while – this should soften it up for use.

2. Probiotics

For some time now people have believed that taking probiotics or ‘friendly bacteria’ has many health benefits, and some of these benefits are being demonstrated by science. One such claim is that taking probiotics will half the risk of eczema for children, so a study looked at the effect of early probiotic supplementation, ie taking it in pregnancy, until 6 months afterwards if the mother is breastfeeding.

Two types of probiotic bacteria were trialed – some of the pregnant women in the study were given Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and others took Bifidobacterium animalis subsp lactis. Their infants were then tested for allergies at 2 years of age. The results found that the infants receiving L rhamnosus had a significantly lower risk of eczema, but this was not the case for B animalis subsp lactis. The researchers concluded that supplementation with L rhamnosus, but not B animalis subsp lactis, helps to reduce cases of eczema by 2 years of age. Unfortunately results were less successful when one of the parents had eczema, ie the skin condition was inherited.

Buy your probiotics from a reputable company and store them in a cool place as heat can kill friendly bacteria. For the same reason, only take them with cold drinks. I suggest starting with a small dose and working your way up over time, if you don’t notice any effects after several weeks of use. If you don’t want to take them in capsule form, open up each capsule and mix the contents into a beverage or yogurt. Probiotics are generally recommended after a dose of antibiotics, too, to restore friendly bacteria that has been killed by the medication.

3. Vitamins E and D

A study found that participants who were given vitamins D and E for atopic dermatitis had significantly improved symptoms. These vitamins are essential for skin health and recommended daily amounts are usually placed at well below how much the human body actually needs, so you need to work out what your needs are. Before taking a supplement first look at your diet – are you getting enough of these vitamins? If not look at adding natural sources to your diet, such as wheatgerm oil, sunflower seeds, avocados, almonds, and a useful list of how much Vitamin E different foods contain is available here, For Vitamin D try to ensure enough exposure to sunlight every day and if you live in a climate that doesn’t allow that then you may need to consider occasional UV treatment from sunbeds, but only as an extreme measure. Fortified fat spreads and breakfast cereals are easier ways to add more Vitamin D to your diet. Vitamin D is also available in a pure spray form if you want to avoid taking too many tablets.

4. Aloe Vera Extract

A study found that an aloe vera extract of 0.5% helped to cure patients with psoriasis vulgaris. Patients between the ages of 18 and 50 years applied the cream to their skin at home 3 times a day for 5 days a week. The participants were then examined every week, and the results were that general skin health was improved over time. In fact, by the end of the study, the aloe vera extract cream had cured 25 out of 30 patients of this specific condition. Aloe vera extract is easy to get hold of in health food stores and I recommend seeking out a 0.5% dose in a standard base cream. As no side effects were reported with its use this is worth a try for all dry skin conditions, especially if you are prone to lesions, as the study found a reduction of lesions thanks to the extract.

5. Marshmallow

The herb marshmallow is not the same as the candy you roast over a campfire, but it may bring you just as much joy. The Arabs are thought to have once made poultices from Marshmallow herb leaves in order to reduce skin inflammation.

Research has also found that marshmallow is good for skin inflammation, so it might help with all manner of skin conditions. marshmallow is available to use as a tea, tincture, and in capsule form. If you’re feeling ambitious you can grow it at home and use the leaves as a poultice as well. As with all natural remedies, speak to a doctor before using marshmallow as it can interact with other medications, for example medicine prescribed for diabetes.

6. Epsom Salts

There is no scientific evidence that epsom salts help to heal skin conditions but some people have reported positive results and some actually swear by them, and there’s no harm in trying them. Epsom salts are said to be mineral-rich and to turn rough, dry skin into smooth, soft skin, through exfoliation dead skin cells and killing unwanted germs on the skin.

Epsom salts are best used in the bath, but it’s important not to stay in the water too long as this can dry out your skin even more. You also need to keep the water at a lukewarm temperature, not too hot as this can also be drying. After bathing in the salts for 10 to 15 minutes, gently dry your skin and apply a moisturizer. Your skin should feel refreshed and soothed.

Equally, a dip in the sea will have the same effect – so now you have another reason to visit the beach this summer!
Disclaimer: I am not a licensed doctor or herbalist. Please consult a doctor or medical provider for medical issues and before self-remedying, especially if you are taking prescription medication.

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Categories: Green Living

How to Clean Your Refrigerators Condenser Coils Or Fan

Tue, 2014-07-22 21:09

When it comes to making your home more energy efficient, cleaning your fridges condenser coils or fan might be one of the cheapest ways to accomplish just that. It’s a task that doesn’t require much in the way of technical equipment or know how, rather you just need to know where to look. By keeping your fridges condenser coils or fan clean, you could improve its energy efficiency by as much as 9kWh a month. While that may not seem like a lot, over the course of 10-15 years that could add up to as much as $500 or more.

Things you’ll need for the job:

  • Stiff Brush
  • Vacuum Cleaner with a Hose Attachment
  • Flashlight
  • Screwdriver
  • Dust Mask
Instructions: how to clean your fridges condenser coils or fan.

1. Unplug your fridge. If you’re going to be working near any sort of an electric motor, it’s best to make sure that there is no power running to it while your working in or around it. After all, safety first! To get to the power cord you might have to pull the fridge away from the wall. Once you’ve found the plug, simply unplug it.

2. Locate the fridges condenser coils or fan. Depending on the design of your fridge, its condenser coils or fan could be in one of two places. They will either be in the front or back of the fridge and will likely have some sort of grate or covering to help protect them from collecting dust and lint.

3. Remove the grate in front of the coils or fan. In some cases the protective grate simply snaps in and out of place. If this is true of your fridge, gently pull on the grate until it pops free. However, if your fridge’s protective grate is held in place by screws you’ll need to remove those first. After you’ve removed the screws with your screwdriver the grate should lift free.

4. Scrub both the protective grate and coils or fan. By now, it should be very apparent just what needs to be scrubbed. So take your stiff brush and remove any dust or other debris as best you can. Be sure to remove as much as you can, since any left over dust or debris will prevent the condenser coil from working as efficiently as possible. However, be careful not to dent or damage any coils in the process. It might also be a good idea to dawn your dust mask before starting this process.

5. Clean up. Now that you’ve likely created a giant dust bunny on your floor, take your vacuum and run it both on and around the condenser coils or fan. Be sure to suck up any debris that has fallen down onto the floor during the cleaning process. Remember, the idea is to remove as much of the debris as possible. After you’ve gone over the area once, take your flashlight and give your coils or fan a thorough visual inspection. You may have to go back and re-scrub any areas that were particularly dirty.

6. Replace the protective grate and move the fridge back into place. At this point your condenser coils or fan should be cleaned up and ready to go. Simply put the protective grate back in place, plug in the fridge, and push it back into it’s appropriate place in the kitchen.

If you’re looking for more ways to save energy in your home, try implementing some of these energy conservation tips.

Photo courtesy of Jim’s Projects.

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Categories: Green Living

TapNFlush Your Way To Savings

Tue, 2014-07-22 19:42

When someone mentions the phrase, “conserving water”, what comes to mind? For some people it might be images of tumble weeds blowing in the wind, cracks in the ground of a dried up lake or a harsh and unforgiving desert. How about your toilet? Did that happen to cross your mind? Thankfully for all of us it crossed the mind of Jeff Nasrallah.

10 years ago Jeff began toying with this idea of saving water and what he eventually came up with does not only that, it saves you money too! For Jeff and so many other people, conserving water is about more than just saving money, it’s an opportunity to make the world  a healthier place. And the best part, is that you don’t have to change any of your usage habits. By simply installing and using the TapNFlush you’ll save every time you flush.

His invention, The TapNFlush, is also a great way to  start helping those in need. Not everyone has access to clean drinking water, but with every TapNFlush purchased, they’ll donate part of the proceeds to help ensure more people have access to clean drinking water around the world.

Check out this video to see just how quick and easy it is to start saving and helping those in need.

Why not give the TapNFlush a try? If it doesn’t fit your toilet they guarantee a full refund, plus it’s free shipping! Frankly, I don’t see how you could really go wrong. If you want to find other ways to conserve water in your home, try reading this article on the top 5 water saving devices. Or, check out this list of 100 water conservation tips.

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Categories: Green Living

How To Install A Water Efficient Shower Head

Tue, 2014-07-22 19:09

Are you looking for an easy way to be more efficient with both your water and electricity use, but don’t want to drastically change your daily routines? If so, you’re in luck. By swapping out your old shower head for one that’s more efficient you’ll accomplish both of your savings goals, and the best part is you won’t have to change any of your daily usage habits. Every heated gallon of water used in your home contributes to both your water and electric bills, so by installing a more efficient shower head you’ll reduce the work load on both. Thus, you’ll be saving money on both of your monthly utility bills and eliminating CO2 emissions in process!

Things you’ll need for the job:

  • A Water Efficient Shower Head (rated from 1.25-2.5 gallons per minute)
  • Wrench
  • Teflon Tape
  • Scissors
  • Towel
Instructions: how to install a water efficient shower head

1. Remove your old shower head. To do this, simply turn the entire unit to the left. If the old shower head doesn’t move independently of the water line, try using your wrench to get it started. Once it’s loosened, continue unscrewing the old shower head till it comes off completely.

2. Apply a thin layer of teflon tape to the threaded end of the water line. Take your teflon tape and place a thin layer of it around all the threads in the water line. This will help to ensure a snug fit between your new shower head and water line. Once you’ve covered all the threads, take your scissors and remove any excess tape.

3. Attach your new, more efficient shower head. Simply take the new shower head and screw it onto the threaded end of the water line. It doesn’t need to be much more than finger tight, so take your wrench and give it a slight turn to be sure it’s attached securely. Remember, turning it to the right will tighten it.

4. Test your shower head to be sure it’s installed properly. Now that you’ve got the new shower head in place it’s time to test it. Turn on your shower as you would normally and watch to see if any water leaks from around the shower head. If so, you probably just need to tighten it. However, if your shower is working properly your good to go.

Now all you have to do is stick to your daily routine, and in doing so you’ll use less water and electricity in the process. If you’re curious about other ways that you can save, check out this article on saving energy by saving water.

Photo courtesy of Leduc and Dexter Plumbing.

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Categories: Green Living

How To Install A Shower Flow Valve Adapter

Tue, 2014-07-22 15:44

Water represents one of the biggest opportunities for savings in your home, and one of the best places to start is in your shower. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average american uses 100 gallons of water per day! With nearly a quarter of that being used in the shower alone. By installing a shower flow valve adapter you can reduce not only the amount of water you use, but you can save on your energy bill as well. Every gallon of water used in your shower taxes both your water and electric bill since the water needs to be heated. By reducing the amount of water you use during your shower, you’ll save on both bills and prevent CO2 emissions from being created. Just follow these easy steps to start saving on your bills today.

Things you’ll need for the job:

  • Shower Flow Valve Adapter
  • Teflon Tape
  • Wrench
  • Scissors
  • Towel
Instructions: how to install a shower flow valve adapter

1. Remove your shower head. In most cases the shower head should come off easily. Simply rotate the shower head to the left to loosen it. If your shower head doesn’t move, you might need to take the wrench and give it a slight turn to get it started. Once it’s loosed, continue turning it until the shower head comes off.

2.  Place teflon tape onto the threaded end of the water line. Take your teflon tape and put a thin layer around the threads on the end of the water line. This will help the shower flow valve adapter attach more securely and prevent water leaks while the shower is in use. Once you’ve covered all the threads, cut off any excess tape and make sure you’ve got a snug fit.

3. Attach the shower flow valve adapter. Simply take the shower flow valve adapter and screw it onto the grooved end of the water line. Remember, turn it to the right to tighten it. It doesn’t need to be much more than finger tight, so give it a slight turn with the wrench to make sure it’s attached firmly.

4. Cover the male end of the shower flow valve adapter with teflon tape. Repeat the same process as before and apply a thin layer to the threaded male end of the flow valve adapter. This will help to ensure a good fit between it and the shower head.

5. Attach the shower head to the shower flow valve adapter. Now take the shower head and screw it onto the threaded end of the flow valve adapter. Again, this only needs to be a little more than finger tight, so take your wrench and give the shower head a slight turn to attach it securely.

6. Turn on your shower and test the valve adapter. Simply turn on your shower as you normally would and watch to see if you have any leaks coming from either the valve adapter or shower head. If you do have a leak(s), turn off the water and use your wrench to snug up the fit. If you’re water is flowing properly, go ahead and turn the shut off valve to the off position. If installed properly, the water should stop flowing out of your shower head. Now, go ahead and turn it back to the on position and turn off your shower.

Now that you’ve got your new shower flow valve adapter installed and working you’re ready to start saving both water and energy! Every time you’re in the shower, use the valve adapter to shut off the flow of water while your applying soap to your hair or body. Once you’re done applying soap, simply reach up and turn the valve back on to rinse off. By eliminating the flow of water while you soap up you’ll use less water and energy. After all, every gallon saved will add up to big savings in the end!

If your curious about more ways to save water in your home, check out this article featuring our top 5 toilet water saving devices. Or try this article featuring indoor and outdoor water saving tips.

 

Photo courtesy of Life Hacker.

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Categories: Green Living

Water Leaks: A Silent Menace

Mon, 2014-07-21 20:21

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average american household wastes roughly 10,000 gallons of water a year through both known and unknown water leaks. That’s enough water to run an additional 270 loads of laundry! Worse yet, roughly 10 percent of US homes waste over 90 gallons of water per day. When you add all that up, it accounts to nearly 1 trillion gallons of wasted water by the US alone every year. Which is enough water to cover the annual usage of 11 million homes! But how can this be? Isn’t the average home owner smart enough to spot a dripping faucet or notice a dramatic spike in their water bill? In short yes, but most leaks are so small that they often go unnoticed. Especially given the relatively low cost of actual water usage on your monthly water bill.

The most common areas where you’ll find these little trouble makers in your home are the bathroom, kitchen and laundry rooms. Just knowing where to look is a great start to finding and fixing these water leaks, but sometimes it’s a little easier said than done. So to help you figure out if your home has sprung a leak, we’ve complied a few easy tips.

  • Check your water meter before and after a 2 hour period. During that time, try to refrain from using any water in your home. If the meter has gone up, then you’ve got a leak somewhere in the house.
  • Monitor your winter water usage. If a house hold of four is using more than 12,000 gallons per month, odds are there is a major water leak somewhere in the home.
  • Compare your bills. If you haven’t had a major shift in your water usage habits, but your bill has gone up, you might have a water leak. Be sure to look at the actual water “usage” when comparing your monthly water bills.
  • Look for water marks or discoloring in the paint on your ceilings. This is often caused by a leak from the floor above the water mark. Most likely a leaky sink, bathtub or drainage line is the culprit.

If any of these examples sound familiar it might be a good idea to check around your house for a water leak. The good news, is that if you know where to look they shouldn’t be too hard to find. Try reading this article on leaks in and around your various sinks to get yourself started. Also, check out this article for a homemade drain cleaner, keeping your drains clean and clear is a great way to prevent leaks from forming in the first place.

Photo courtesy of Painter Click.

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Categories: Green Living

Finding a leak in your Bathroom, Kitchen And Utility Sinks

Mon, 2014-07-21 19:23

Every home is bound to have at least one during its lifetime, and if gone un-checked, can cause serious damage to both your home and bank account. We’re talking about a leaky sink. Even if your sink is only dripping 10 times per minute, that can amount to more than 500 gallons per year! Not only that, it can be causing damage to your cabinets, floors and ceilings which could cost you even more money.  So, to help you save both time and money down the road, we’ve compiled some easy tips to help you identify and repair some common water leaks in your sink(s).

Things you’ll need for the job:

  • Flashlight
  • Sponge
  • Towel
  • Wrench (optional)
  • Caulking Solution (optional)
  • Caulking Gun (optional)
Identifying The Type Of Leak You Have

The first step to repairing any water leak is identifying the type of leak you have. There are three common areas where a leak can develop in and around your sink; leaks will occur around the rim, water supply and drain lines. Depending on both the severity and type of leak you have, you may or may not need to call a professional plumber to help you repair it.

Problem: The Rim Of The Sink - This type of leak is often caused by  either old/worn out caulking solution or a loose faucet base . To find out if this is the leak you have, take a sponge and soak it with water. Next, squeeze out the water from the sponge around the rim of the sink. Now, take your flashlight and look in the cabinet underneath the sink. If you see any drops or pools of water under the sink, you likely have a leak in the rim of your sink.

Solution: To fix this type of leak, all you have to do is either replace the bead of caulking solution or use a wrench tighten the faucet base.

Problem: The Water Supply Line - This type of leak is caused by a loose connection or hole somewhere in the supply line. Unless you’re a certified plumber, we’d recommend calling a professional to have it fixed. Though, you can always inspect the connections and supply line itself to see if that’s the issue. To do this all you will need is a dry towel. first, turn on the water to the sink and let it run for a minute or two. While the water is running take a dry towel and rub it along and around any connections in the water supply line. Inspect the towel after wiping each connection point to see if it’s at all damp. If so, you’ve likely spotted the loose connection in your water supply line.

Solution: Call your local plumber and have them inspect and determine just what needs to be done to repair the line.

Problem: The Drain - This leak is often attributed to a leaky joint, slip nut, ring nut or strainer under the sink. To test for this, fill up your sink with water. Now, open the drain and allow the water to drain out of the sink. As the water is draining take a dry towel and flashlight and wipe all the connections along the drain line. If at any point you find water on the outside of a connection, you’ve likely found a water leak.

Solution: Try taking a wrench and tightening any loose connections you may have. If this doesn’t stop the leak, you’ll need to contact a professional plumber for further assessment.

If you’re still looking for more ways to ensure that water is flowing efficiently and properly through your home check out this article on natural drain cleaner, or try implementing some of these water saving tips.

Photo courtesy of Isolated Existence, Bob Villa, Connor Plumbing and the Family Handyman.

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Categories: Green Living

Solar Energy: A Guiding Light To A Brighter Future

Wed, 2014-07-16 16:33

I was once told that the only constant in this world is change, and it would seem that the person who told me that was right. We can see the effects of this change in just about every facet of our lives; from fashion to technology, the world that we live in is in a constant state of change. However, the most promising change may just be in how we gather and generate energy.

Meet AGL Solar. AGL has been providing and meeting their customers energy needs for the last 175 years and that has required a great deal of flexibility and, you guessed it, change. However, it’s this change that has kept AGL on the cutting edge of the energy industry and allows them to address all your solar energy needs. With their extensive knowledge and background in solar energy they can come up with a solar powered solution for all sorts of customers in a variety of situations.

What’s not to love about converting to solar? Not only is it one of, if not the, cleanest forms of energy available on the market today, it’s the only one that can stand apposed the constant of change we face in our day to day lives. As long as the sun rises everyday, and my guess is that it will, you’ll be powering your life with clean energy that will help to minimize your carbon footprint and maximize all that your life has to offer.

If you want to know more about solar energy, and see if it’s something you can incorporate into your day to day life contact the folks at AGL Solar. Or you can use their online calculator to see what it might cost you to change over to solar energy. There are also a number of different incentives available for those who chose to purchase a solar system, including feed-in tariffs and rebates. Making the change to solar energy an affordable decision that will benefit both you and the planet for years to come.

This post was generously sponsored by AGL Solar.

Photo courtesy of The Telegraph.

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Categories: Green Living

8 Fracking Myths Debunked – Updated

Wed, 2014-07-16 07:00

Earlier this year I penned a popular mythbusting guide to hydraulic fracturing, also known as ‘fracking’, the process of extracting shale gas by drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a very high pressure. This process is intensive and potentially risky because the pressure is required to fracture the shale rocks and release the gas. Fracking is continuously undergoing scrutiny and research and there is still much that we don’t know about it, but we do know more now than we did six months ago when I wrote the original mythbusting article, so I’ve updated the information here.

The original article I wrote was also aimed at a primarily British audience, however several readers in the US contacted me to ask for a similar research-based overview of fracking that is relevant to Americans as well, so here it is.

Myth #1 – Flammable Water Caused by Fracking is a Hoax

In the UK

In the original article I mentioned the unlikelihood of general water supplies becoming contaminated with methane in the UK. However, since then the results of a major study on the link between fracking and drinking water contamination have been published. The British Geological Survey and the Environment Agency have mapped the locations of key aquifers in England and Wales and their proximity to proposed fracking sites, and the results show that nearly half of the areas considered for fracking are at risk of polluting aquifers – ie drinking water sources. This means that, contrary to what I wrote in the original article, the risk of methane being released into drinking water through the fracking process is high in these specific areas. If fracking gets underway in England, which Prime Minister David Cameron assures us it will, drinking water contaminated with methane may become a real scenario for people across the country, even if the water is not contaminated enough to be set on fire when exposed to a naked flame, as has been the case in the US.

In the US

Unfortunately for people in the US local fracking wells are very likely to contaminate their drinking water, as research by Duke University has found that water wells that are in close proximity to fracking sites in Pennsylvania had methane levels that were over six times higher than other wells.

Here’s a video showcasing the potential for water to catch on fire from fracking operations:

Myth #2 – Fracking Doesn’t Cause Earthquakes

In the US

If the fracking debate was to boil down to assessing which is the greater evil caused in the long-term – emissions contributing to climate change, vs earthquakes, the latter is probably the least of our problems. Still, earlier this month scientists linked hundreds of earthquakes across Oklahoma to a handful of fracking sites, and that is worrying news.

The research by three American universities and the US Geological Survey found that about one-fifth of the earthquakes in Oklahoma were caused by just four fracking wells, and that earthquakes could actually occur as far away as 30km away from a fracking site, which is a much larger distance than previously assumed by scientists.

In the UK

Although the news about seismic activity is bad for America, us Brits don’t have to worry about this one.. Or do we? The small earthquakes that occurred in Blackpool in 2011 were linked to Cuadrilla Resources Ltd’s drilling practices, however the British Geological Survey states that ‘both the tectonic history and the present-day stress regime in the British Isles is rather different to many of these areas of exploration and production. Also, it should be noted that many US shale gas plays are in relatively remote locations, with no monitoring networks in place.’

So, no need to worry, right? It depends on how trusting you are of the oil industry, as the report that addresses these concerns by estimating ‘future seismic hazard’ and ‘proposed recommendations for future operations to mitigate seismic risk’ was undertaken by the company at fault and whose operations were at stake – Cuadrilla. I’ll leave you with that fact.

Myth #3 – Fracking is a Sustainable Option

Fracking is in no way sustainable. It is a highly intensive process that increases emissions, causes methane leakage, creates low level ozone in some places in the world, and requires vast quantities of water and mass construction to create temporary fracking sites in green, typically countryside areas in both the UK and the US. Also, shale gas is still a finite resource, which means it’s going to run out one day.

Myth #4 – Fracking is Safe

In the original article I wrote that fracking is not strictly regulated, and this is still true despite immense pressure from concerned citizens and environmental organisations across the globe. To look at Oklahoma as an example, there are no rules for fracking companies to limit the pressure or volume of fracking waste that can be injected into the ground in the state, despite solid evidence that this pressure is what is triggering so many earthquakes.

In addition to this, the fracking process requires the use of toxic chemicals, which have been linked to instances of soil, livestock and wildlife contamination, and as with all methods of oil extraction there is the risk of spills. In February this year a fracking site in North Dakota suffered a major leak, and last year The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) was concerned that methane was ‘bubbling up’ on fracking sites that had been drilled to test for the gas in Scotland.

In the original article I reported that the Environmental Protection Agency was undertaking a large-scale study of the fracking industry, the results of which are due to be published later this year.

Finally, earlier this year ExxonMobil’s CEO Rex Tillerson objected to the construction of a fracking tower next to his home in Texas. Doesn’t fill you with trust for the process, does it?

Myth #5 – Fracking Sites Look Nicer Than Wind Farms

Nope, they’re still eyesores.

Whereas these are not.

Myth #6 – Fracking Will Boost the Economy

Unfortunately when people discuss economy they tend to focus on right now instead of the long-term, so people with vested interests in fracking are arguing that it is creating jobs, which is of course true. But how sustained this job creation might be is up for debate.

Ultimately, shale gas is a finite resource and therefore only a temporary solution to a long-term problem. It’s not doing our grandchildren any favours to frack the planet now, especially not through a difficult, high energy and environmentally destructive process.

Since I wrote the original article an interesting case study has hit in the news in the form of Germany’s renewable energy usage, as 31 percent of Germany’s electricity generation in the first half of 2014 came from renewable sources. Germany also set a solar power record in June of this year, and the country’s Energiewende or ‘energy transformation’ plan aims to shift from nuclear and fossil fuels to renewables and achieve 80 percent renewable energy generation by 2050. Two of the motivations driving energy transformation in Germany are that it will generate economic growth, and make the country more energy independent, and these are both things that are beneficial for the economy in the long-term. In the long-term, fracking can’t boast either of them.

Myth #7 – Fracking is a Popular Choice

In the UK

In May this year the BBC reported the results of a new poll that found that the number of people in favour of fracking in the UK has fallen below 50%. Last year Green Party MP Caroline Lucas was arrested at an anti-fracking protest in Balcombe, Sussex, and was cleared of all charges in April of this year.

In the US

Whether Americans are for or against fracking depends entirely on who you ask, as discovered by the Pew Research Centre survey undertaken last year. Although the survey looks at factors like age, gender, and political leanings, a regional survey might be more revealing, since Santa Cruz, CA has banned fracking, Los Angeles, CA passed a moratorium on fracking earlier this year, and in June this year the highest New York court ruled that its cities and towns can ban fracking within their borders.

Myth #8 – Fracking Can’t Be Stopped

As I wrote in the original article, the key to challenging the fracking industry is to act locally. Don’t just scare people about earthquakes and flammable water – watch the research, know your arguments, and tackle the other side of the argument which is reducing our dependence on oil and embracing energy alternatives in the meantime. Green energy is fracking’s nemesis.

Acting locally means that changes can be as simple as investing in a green energy supplier for electricity needs at home, which won’t necessarily cost more than a fossil fuel supplier. If fracking is happening in your area then write to your local MP, the newspaper, and join your local Greenpeace group to meet other people who want to keep the frackers away.

But most of all, keep up the discussion without spreading the myths. Because there’s really no need to exaggerate claims about what is clearly a dangerous, polluting, poorly regulated, and unsustainable practice, for all the reasons outlined above.

 

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Categories: Green Living

The Heart of the Home: Green Home Improvement Ideas for the Kitchen

Mon, 2014-07-14 20:06

Turn your kitchen into a space to be proud of!

Does your kitchen need updating? Now is the perfect time to undergo an eco-friendly remodeling project. Surprisingly, going green will not add a lot to your budget, and in many cases, doing so will even save you money over the long term. The following ideas are a great way to embrace your eco-friendly ideals while still creating the kitchen of your dreams.

Turn Old Items into New Treasures

Several items in the kitchen may not need to be replaced. Look closely at your cabinets, sinks, faucets, and even appliances. Make a decision about whether to reuse these items based on their age and condition. For example, any appliance that is more than ten years old should be replaced with an Energy Star model. The difference in the amount of energy the two appliances consume is amazing. Purchasing a new model refrigerator, for instance, instead of using one that is twenty years old, will save your family about $120 per year. However, be smart about what you buy new and what you choose to reuse. If you know anyone that is also going through a kitchen remodel, you may be able to turn their trash into your treasures.

Focus on Flooring

When it comes to eco-friendly flooring options, both cork and linoleum are solid, sustainable choices. They hold up well over time, and they also look nice in the kitchen area. The benefits of using linoleum include the fact that it is not affected by moisture, it is durable, and there are many options when it comes to design. There are also no harmful vapors associated with this flooring. However, linoleum can stain, so it is a good idea to add a protective coating.

Cork comes from tree bark, which grows back after it is used. Like linoleum, cork is not affected by moisture. Because cork has a textured surface, it is easy to walk on and it is not slippery. A sealant should be applied to cork flooring every four years to ensure it stays in the best shape possible.

Replace the Lighting

How many years has it been since your kitchen was updated? If the answer is “quite a while,” it is a good idea to replace your lighting with energy efficient options. Technology has come a long way in the past decade, and choosing eco-friendly products will save you money and improve the atmosphere in your kitchen space.

Support Local Vendors

Give back to the community by purchasing supplies from manufacturers in your area. Not only are you helping out your town or city by doing so, you are also helping the environment at the same time. Buying local goods means less fossil fuel is wasted, because the items do not have to travel a long distance to reach you.

Remodeling your kitchen can add a lot of value to your home. If you are interested in taking on a home improvement project, consider turning the process “green” using the tips above. The end result will be well worth any extra effort involved.

Image Credit: Some rights reserved by Nancy Hugo, CKD

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Categories: Green Living

Healthy Eating for the Family

Thu, 2014-07-03 13:14

 

There are a lot of things you can do to keep your children and family healthy, safe, and happy but none are likely to have a greater impact on a daily basis than the careful selection of the food they eat. While it remains bizarre how it became common place to consume processed, chemical laden foods with a list of ingredients that reads like a high school chemistry test, it takes little more than common sense to decide that they may not be the best choice when it comes to eating healthy foods.

Informed Shoppers Are Healthier Shoppers

Choosing to eat and live in a healthier more natural way is as simple as learning to read labels and see past advertising hype to get to the truth. If there was an accurate description of the way foods were grown, processed, and delivered to the grocery store or your table. There is little doubt most would choose the natural and organic methods automatically. Unfortunately, after years of overlooking labelling requirements people have learnt to not ask questions about foods. Now we simply consume them without thought. Healthier living starts with learning to ask questions again.

It is interesting that the average shopper is more interested in the details of the history of a used car than in the history of the food they will be giving their children to consume. When shopping for a used car we always ask: who owned it last, was it ever in an accident, do you have maintenance records to verity that all was as it was supposed to be before, and even check 3rd party sites for history reports. Yet many people pick up a can of baby formula with a label that reads –

Water, Non-fat Milk, Lactose, High Oleic Safflower Oil, Soy Oil, Coconut Oil, Galactooligosaccharides, Whey Protein Concentrate. Less than 0.5% of the Following: C. Cohnii Oil, M. Alpina Oil, Beta-Carotene, Lutein, Lycopene, Ascorbic Acid, Soy Lecithin, Monoglycerides, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Carrageenan, Ferrous Sulfate, Magnesium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Choline Bitartrate, Taurine, m-Inositol, Calcium Phosphate, Zinc Sulfate, Potassium Phosphate, d-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, Niacinamide, Calcium Pantothenate, L-Carnitine, Vitamin A Palmitate, Cupric Sulfate, Thiamine Chloride Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Manganese Sulfate, Phylloquinone, Biotin, Sodium Selenate, Vitamin D3, Cyanocobalamin, Salt, Potassium Hydroxide, and Nucleotides (Adenosine 5’-Monophosphate, Cytidine 5’-Monophosphate, Disodium Guanosine 5’-Monophosphate, Disodium Uridine 5’-Monophosphate).

(Similac advance nutrition formula)

Without as much as a question of why this formula contains so many ingredients and what exactly they are.

There are two things everybody can do to make healthier choices. Begin to read the labels and ask why is that in my food? If you do not have time to read every label every time then to consider shopping at places that do that for you and only carry organic food products. The immediate argument you will hear is that the quantities are so small that the ingredient does not matter (as the label points out less than .5% or ½ of 1%. So yes, it is a small amount, however in this case the label lists 42 separate ingredients in that area so in total even though it is a small amount of each by labelling, it could legally be over 20% in total.

Choosing to ask questions and shopping in places that ask questions for you is the key to finding healthier food products for your family. If stores that specialize in organic and natural food products are rare in your area then the internet is an excellent place to shop for organic and natural foods.

Another excellent resource for healthier safer foods are the locally produced organic farmers markets that are common in some areas. To decide whether to purchase local produce, look for certified organic producers. Simply choosing to buy fresh fruits and vegetables locally is not an indication of whether pesticides or chemical fertilizers were used unless they are certified as an organic grower.

This post was generously sponsored by

Photo courtesy of SLT2008.

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Categories: Green Living

8 Natural Remedies for Arthritis

Thu, 2014-07-03 00:16

The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The bad news is that both types of arthritis cause pain, inflammation and discomfort in the joints. The good news is that a lot of research is being done into treating and preventing arthritis, and there are a number of natural remedies available today that have been found to ease the symptoms of arthritis.

1. Devil’s Claw

Devil’s claw gets its name from the little hooks that cover its fruit, as they look a bit like claws. Several studies have found that devil’s claw reduces pain and inflammation in arthritis patients, but more research needs to be done to see whether the plant can help everyone who takes it. The general findings are that taking devil’s claw for 8-12 weeks reduces pain in people with osteoarthritis and also increases joint flexibility. It may also relieve joint pain and arthritic pain in the spine, hip, and knee. This remedy is therefore easy to get hold of and is stocked by most stores that sell herbal or natural supplements. As with all natural remedies, consult your doctor first to make sure you can take devil’s claw, as it can interact with some prescribed medications.

2. Turmeric

Turmeric has been used for many centuries in Ayurvedic culture, in cooking and as a medicine for treating inflammatory disorders including arthritis.

A study found that turmeric was useful for preventing arthritis, but there’s some debate about whether the turmeric extracts that are available to buy actually contain the active ingredients needed to help arthritis patients. If you can’t find a reputable source, opt for using more turmeric in your cooking instead, and increase the amount you consume slowly over time.

3. Ginger

I’ve talked about the benefits of treating gout with ginger before, but ginger is also great for other inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. A study found a reduction in knee pain in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee after the participants took ginger extract for 6 weeks. However, they also had a side effect of more gastrointestinal (GI) problems than the placebo group in the study, so it’s best to avoid this remedy if you suffer from stomach problems or GI complaints already.

Ginger is best used to treat arthritis of the knee, but there’s no harm in increasing how much you consume as a potential preventative measure as well. Either take a highly purified and standardized ginger extract for treatment, or for prevention I recommend adding more to your cooking and drinking herbal teas brewed using ginger root. I also recommend these useful tips for growing and using ginger at home.

4. Boswellia

A study found that Boswellia serrata Extract (BSE) helped to decrease pain in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, increased their knee flexibility and increased their ability to walk. Swelling around the affected joints was also reduced. Unfortunately it’s not that easy to get hold of this remedy, but if you do manage to get hold of Boswellia extract make sure it’s from a well-known and safe supplier.

5. Rosehip

Rosehip is the fruit of the rose plant and it grows wild in many parts of the world. Rosehips are high in vitamin C and can be eaten raw or made into jams, jellies, syrups, soups and drinks.

Research found that rosehip powder improved hip flexibility in patients with osteoarthritis of the hips, and reduced the pain that went with it after 3 months of use. Rosehip more impact on osteoarthritis patients and less on patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Although it is not one of the most effective natural remedies for treating arthritis, rosehip extract may be the easiest remedy for you to get hold of and use, as it is available to buy in capsules, tablets and as an oil that can be rubbed into your skin. The studies used 5g of rosehip a day, so you will want to build up to using a similar dose, but I also highly recommend making your own jellies and syrup out of foraged rosehips as well, as it has a mild fruity flavour and is such a good source of vitamin C.

6. Omega-3 fatty acids

It has been thought for a while that consuming more omega-3 fatty acids can be good for inflammatory arthritis, and now researchers think they understand why this is, but there’s still a lot of confusion about the best way to increase fatty acid intake. This is because omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids come in two forms, known as EPA and DHA, and large amounts of omega-3 are needed for the best effects.

Many people choose concentrated fish oil supplements to increase fatty acid intake, but omega-3 works together with omega-6 and omega-9 so if you increase your intake of one and not the other two, your body many not be able to use the extra oils you’re consuming anyway. The best option then is to buy a mixture of the three omegas in capsule form. The ingredients don’t necessarily have to come from fish oil but can be from a mixture of other fatty acids such as flaxseed oil and walnuts, although little research has been done into fish-free oils.

As well as taking capsules for treatment, as a preventative measure I recommend increasing the number of walnuts you eat and adding ground flaxseeds to your diet. It’s also worth noting here that increasing omega fatty acid intake can helpful if you have inflammatory arthritis, but not for treating gout.

7. Vitamin D

Since vitamin D deficiency is linked to arthritis, and slight vitamin D deficiency is quite common, especially in winter, it’s worth adding more to your diet, or taking a general multivitamin to make sure you’re getting the minimum amount that your body needs.

8. Selenium

Selenium is an essential mineral and micronutrient and selenium deficiency may make arthritis worse. Unless you have had blood tests done and know that you have a deficiency, I don’t recommend taking selenium in supplement form as minerals need to work together to work properly, so taking a high dose of a single mineral that you are not deficient in is a waste of money and resources. Instead, try adding natural sources of selenium to your diet, as it is found in many foods and is highest in Brazil nuts. As long as you’re not a nut allergy sufferer already, only good can come of increasing your general nut intake, as it will help you to ensure that you’re getting other trace vitamins and minerals as well. So tuck in!

Disclaimer: I am not a licensed doctor or herbalist. Please consult a doctor or medical provider for medical issues and before self-remedying, especially if you are taking prescription medication.

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Categories: Green Living

5 Common Myths Surrounding Nuclear Power

Fri, 2014-06-27 16:05

I must start off by saying that as you read this, bear in mind that I am a huge environmental supporter and things like nuclear waste do not bode well with me. However, there are common misconceptions about nuclear power I want to address.

Okay, so you may not be a nuclear engineer, but you’ve probably heard of nuclear power before. Nuclear power plants have been operational since the early 1950’s and since then we have seen catastrophes such as Three Mile Island, Chernobyl,  and Fukushima. The public has grown in their understanding of nuclear power over the years and, consequently, has grown very distrustful of both the technology and the politics behind it. Below are a few talking points that most would consider true statements:

1) Nuclear power is not clean technology.

2) Nuclear power is not safe technology.

3) Nuclear power is not sustainable.

4) Nuclear power promotes proliferation of nuclear weapons.

5)  Nuclear power is just an expensive way to boil water to generate electricity.

These are the facts about nuclear power, right? Most people would certainly say so. But it turns out most people are wrong. Now, before you start writing your hate mail, please allow me to explain.

There is much more to the story than you may realize. I say this because the word ‘nuclear’ now carries a negative stigmatism that it truly doesn’t deserve. Perhaps this is just an issue of semantics, but I believe we can gain insight by dissecting the words that are commonly used. The key here is the word ‘nuclear’. This refers to the energy stored within the nucleus of the atom. There are two ways to extract the energy out of the nucleus. The first is through fission and the second is through fusion.

Fission is the current method used by nuclear power plants. This approach is scientifically very different from fusion, an approach that is being researched to replace fission. In the talking points above, if you were to replace the word ‘nuclear power’ with ‘fission power’ the statements would all be true. However, if you replace ‘nuclear power’ with ‘fusion power’ all the statements actually become false. To put it simply, fission is bad and fusion is good. The word nuclear is a broad term that encompasses both fission and fusion technology. The result being that fusion is getting a bad rapport before it’s even shown up to the party. I think it’s important that we begin to disassociate fusion technology from fission technology within the nuclear arena.

Perhaps fusion energy currently is not being discussed in this way because many people think it is so far away. It feels very abstract, not real. Every time you have this thought, I want you to look up in the sky and marvel at the stars as a reminder that fusion is very real. Also note, fusion research has been advancing about as fast as Moore’s Law and there’s a long list of different approaches being explored, most of which are not covered by mass media. My point being that a huge break-through may be just around the corner. Some researchers are claiming we could have fusion power as early as 2020. Not only is it time to start the discussion, but it’s long overdue.

What’s the difference between fission and fusion? Nuclear fission is the splitting of atoms, while nuclear fusion is the joining of atoms. Now, fusion technology may not be competitive with other energy sources yet, but it certainly will be eventually. And it is this reason that I believe we need to better understand this nuclear technology. It is so easy for people to call all nuclear technology bad and it seriously undermines the admirable efforts of scientists working towards fusion energy technology.

Fusion has long been heralded as the holy grail of energy and rightfully so. It holds so much potential. The biggest hurdle facing scientists attempting this goal is obtaining net energy, or more power out than in. We’ve done this with fission already, but it has proven to be a less than desirable method because of it’s serious drawbacks. All of those drawbacks are the consequences of radioactive waste that can remain hazardous for hundreds or thousands of years. Presently, radioactive waste is a serious issue that is practically synonymous with nuclear power. But, one day that will change. In fact, it must change.

Nuclear fusion has greater energy potential than even fission.  But that’s far from it’s best selling point. Many different fuel sources can be used for fusion and they all result in less radioactive waste. But less radioactive waste is not good enough. The biggest misconception about nuclear power is the issue of radioactive waste. If there is one takeaway from this post to remember, it is that there are fusion fuel sources that will not lead to radioactive waste. This subset of fusion is called aneutronic fusion because it releases less than 1% of it’s energy in the form of neutrons. The importance of this is that radioactive waste is generated by neutrons. Therefore, this subset of nuclear fusion results in substantially less radioactivity. So much less, that it produces no radioactive waste. Of course, the lack of radioactive waste eliminates all the problems associated with recycling it. I believe it is important to help people understand that research into aneutronic fusion is an investment in the future of mankind. That’s how disruptive this technology will be once it is realized. It is the ultimate green energy and not enough people are even aware that it’s possible. Aneutronic fusion shatters the common myths surrounding nuclear power.

This post was generously sponsored by Kyle Haines. Photo courtesy of PSU.

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Categories: Green Living

Go Kin Packs – Always A Step In The Right Direction

Fri, 2014-06-20 08:06

For most of us, “getting off the grid” is viewed as a necessary part of life. It’s a chance for us to engage with the natural world, turn off our phones and enjoy some peace and quiet. However, there are times when being “plugged in” is just as vital. That ability to be connected at a moments notice could mean the difference between life and death. So how do we bridge this gap between want and need? Meet Bill Ostrom and the Go Kin Pack.

Bill has been designing and developing outdoor products and technology for over 26 years, and the Go Kin Pack is the latest in his long line of achievements. These packs seem to have more benefits than you can count. Not only is it a seemingly limitless power source, that has almost no carbon footprint; It could also be the mobile power source that makes an emergency stress call possible. With these packs you can stay both plugged into your online-self and the world around you. However this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The walking power technology pioneered by Go Kin Packs can have major implications for military, medical and emergency response professionals and more. So if you’re inspired by this eco-friendly technology that’s good for both peoples wallets and waistlines, make a donation to their Kickstarter Campaign.

 

Donations for Bill’s campaign start at $1 CAD and go as high as $12,000 CAD (which will get you a 12 day guided canoe trip, the Go Kin Pack system, a t-shirt and most likely a high five from Bill).  Regardless of how much you donate, you’ll definitely get some piece of mind in knowing that you’ve helped make the world a greener place.

Look to see if Bill, and his walking power technology, will be coming to a city near you. They’ll both be on the move to spread the word about the next step in green technology.

Photo courtesy of Kickstarter.com. This post was generously sponsored by Go Kin Packs.

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Categories: Green Living