Going Green is not just a trend. It’s a priority for all of us if we want to continue to live on a beautiful, life-giving planet. Thinking of ways of going green, however, is not always easy. Just because we buy organic food and recycle doesn’t necessarily mean we’re making much of a practical impact. We need to have a whole plan for Going Green. One element in that plan should be buying eco-friendly products or Virgil Village. But how do we find eco-friendly products? Well, one way is to buy products made from renewable resources.
Buying products made from renewable resources should be a priority for each of us when going green. These types of eco-friendly products insure that we don’t use earth’s resources too quickly. We need to let our planet replenish it’s natural resources at the same rate as we are consuming them.
So, what are good eco-friendly products– products made from renewable resources?
Here’s a list of 10 types of products made from renewable resources:
1. Paper products- while these should be used sparingly, they are better than plastic in that they are biodegradable and come from renewable trees
2. Cotton products
3. Spudware- biodegradable cutlery made from potatoes, corn, and soy oils
4. Solar energy- solar panels on your house, solar battery chargers, etc.
5. Bio-based tableware- for example, plates and bowls made by Earthshell
6. Bamboo products- bamboo furniture, bamboo cotton clothes, etc. (a good alternative to other tree products, as bamboo is highly renewable because of it’s fast rate of growth)
7. Digital products- Highly reproducible, long-lasting, only needing the support of electricity
8. Wind energy- support wind energy development in your city, county, and state; consider getting electricity from wind power at your home.
9. Bio-based fuels- while not always the most sustainable option, they are renewable
10. Plant-based cleaners- great products made from renewable resources to help you in going green and healthier for your body
Here are 5 products not made from renewable resources that should be avoided:
1. Plastics- while renewable plastics are being researched, currently plastics are made from petroleum a non-renewable resource
2. Many paper cups and plates- while the paper is renewable, the plastic coating is from petroleum and makes the product take about 500 years to biodegrade
3. Wood in furniture or other products from old-growth rainforests- while these are technically renewable, the amount of carbon released into the environment and the incredibly slow rate at which they replenish themselves makes them for all practical purposes non-renewable and definitely not eco-friendly products.
4. Energy from oil and coal- gasoline products and coal-based energy are highly non-renewable; unfortunately, much of our electricity currently comes from coal. Consider the switch to solar or wind energy in your home as your first big step in going green.
So continue on the path to going green by changing your purchasing habits. Decide to buy products made from renewable resources.
House Cleaning With Eco-Friendly Products and Virgil Village
Because toxicity has become a way of life, and we must breath and eat, we are continuously exposed to pesticides and pollutants, some stored right under our kitchen sinks, says a report from the Silent Spring Institute in Newton, Mass., and the Harvard University School of Public Health.
The study was published last October in Environmental Science & Technology, Sedona, Ariz., naturopath doctor Teresa Dale, Ph.D. says "demonstrates that we are exposed daily to a wide array of chemicals that affect our hormone systems." Chemicals like phthalates and alkyphenois may heighten the risk of hormone-linked diseases like breast cancer and testicular cancer.
To limit your exposure, "read labels carefully, use nontoxic cleaning products and avoid using indoor pesticides," says Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Dave Dergan. There are nontoxic cleaning products and pesticides right in your kitchen. If you have baking soda, white vinegar, borax, and rubbing alcohol in your pantry and bathroom, you have the basic ingredients to make your own cleaning products and pesticides that don't cost you an arm and a leg. I have included formulations for making your own products from these items and many more at the end of this article.
There are plenty of effective, earth-safe cleaners that you can buy or make. Using these alternatives will reduce the toxic burden in your house and environment. By switching to environmentally friendly cleaners protects your health and that of the community you live in while reducing air, water, and ground pollution.
I bet you are asking yourself, "So why isn't everybody doing it?" There are very few people who actually read the labels of the products they purchase and even fewer who know the impact these chemicals can have on our bodies. Most people do not take the time or have the time to research the chemicals that go into these products.
Not all "green" products are created equal, some have simply added essential oils to make it smell like the formula has changed. "You need to read the labels carefully to check for irritating chemicals, such as chlorine, ammonia and artificial fragrances and dyes," says Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D., a preventive-medicine specialist in Tucson, Arizona. "Buy cleaners from health-food stores or retailers specializing in environmentally friendly products."
"Eco-friendly cleaning and laundry products are the next frontier of environmentalism," says Marci Zaroff, former publisher of Macrocosm and CEO of Under the Canopy, an organic fabric clothing company. "It's an inexpensive, easy and effective way to protect our planet and commitment to life."
Here are some options to get you started onto the path of "thinking green":
* CITRUS OIL; sold in health-food stores and home improvement stores, fills rooms with the smell of oranges and is far more pleasing to your nose (unless you like the smell of hospitals).
To clean or polish wood floors, dilute 1 c. of citrus oil in one gallon of hot water, and mop with a sponge. For floors that are greasy, simply use a stronger solution. You can also clean kitchen counters and tabletops with this solution. Citrus doesn't strip the protective sealants. On porous surfaces like marble or granite, only use diluted oil and it should never be allowed to sit on a surface, always wipe it dry when finished.
* TEA TREE, THYME AND LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OILS: these have been proven to have more antiseptic in some studies than phenol, the most common chemical disinfectant. Many disinfectants contain chlorine, which reacts with organic matter in drinking water to produce potentially carcinogenic trihalomethane.
To make a natural disinfectant mix 20 drops of one of the above mentioned essential oils and 1 cup of water in a spray bottle. Apply and let sit for 15 min. or until dry.
* BAKING SODA: Baking soda (or bicarbonate of soda), an alkaline substance is used in fire extinguishers, antacids, and sparkling water.
You can use it to clean your tubs, sinks, countertops in the kitchen and bath. Combine 3/4 c. baking soda, 1/4 c. of borax and enough diswashing liquid to make a smooth paste or if you prefer a pleasant smell, add 1/4 t. lemon juice to the paste. Pour down your sink drain to deorderize and to unclog your drains you put 1/2 cup of baking soda in drain and add a cup of vinegar, wait 30min. and pour hot water down drain. I use this method once a month on all the drains in the house to keep them clear.
*BORAX: Borax, like it's close relative, boric acid, has relatively low toxicity levels, and is considered safe for general household use, but the powder can be harmful if ingested in sufficient quantities by young children or pets. Keep it out of their reach. Borax is toxic to plants, so in the yard be very careful when applying borax onto or near soil. It doesn't take much to leach into the ground to kill off nearby plants and prevent further growth.
But it is great for rubbing out heavy sink stains, even rust in your stainless steel or porcelain sinks. Make a paste of 1 cup of borax and 1/4 cup of lemon juice, put some of the paste on a cloth or sponge and rub it into the stain, then rinse with running warm water, the stain should wash away with the paste.
You can also remove mildew from upholstery and other fabric by soaking a sponge in a solution of 1/2 cup of borax dissolved in 2 cups of water, and rubbing it into the affected areas. Let it soak in for several hours until the stain disappears, then rinse well. To remove mildew from clothing, soak it in a solution of 2 cups of borax in 2 quarts of water.
Want a way to clean your toilet bowl and leave it sparkling white without those dangerous fumes? Use a stiff brush to scrub it using a solution of 1/2 cup of borax mixed with a gallon of water.
VINEGAR: Vinegar is known as nature's most practical liquid and is so versatile that you can use it in the kitchen and bath, laundry and garden, housecleaning and car cleaning, even pet care and personal care.
Damp mopping with a mild vinegar solution is widely recommended as a way to clean wood and no-wax vinyl or laminate flooring. Be sure to check with the manufacturer of the flooring because even when diluted vinegar's acidity can ruin some floor finishes, and too much water will damage most wooden floors. But if you want to try vinegar on your floors, use 1/2 cup white vinegar mixed in 1 gallon warm water. You may want to start with a trial application in an inconspicuous area. Before applying the solution, squeeze out the mop thoroughly (or just use a spray bottle to moisten the mop head).
To liven up dull wood paneling, mix 2 cups warm water, 4 tablespoons white or cider vinegar, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a container, give it a couple of shakes and apply with a clean cloth. Let it soak in for several minutes, then polish with a dry cloth.
To keep your computer, printer, and other home office gear clean and dust free, dampen a clean cloth in equal parts white vinegar and water, squeeze it out well and start wiping. Before you start, make sure that your equipment is shut off, and never use a spray bottle; you don't want to get liquid on the circuits inside. Have a few cotton swabs on hand for getting into tight spaces (like between the keys of your keyboard).
To make a scratch on a wooden tabletop much less noticeable, mix some distilled or cider vinegar and iodine in a small jar and paint over the scratch with a small artist's brush. Use more iodine for darker woods; more vinegar for lighter shades.
To remove white rings left by wet glasses on wood furniture, mix equal parts of vinegar and olive oil and apply it with a soft cloth while moving with the wood grain. Use another clean, soft cloth to shine it. To get white water rings off leather furniture, dab them with a sponge soaked in full-strength white vinegar.
For the great outdoors, vinegar can get rid of bugs and ants or you can use it as an insect repellent and clean you outdoor furniture and decks.
Pour equal parts white vinegar and water into a spray bottle and spray it on anthills and around areas where you see ants. Ants hate vinegar, and it won't take long for them to move on. Also, you can spray picnic and children's play areas to keep ants away. If you have lots of anthills, pour full strength vinegar over them.
Going camping or fishing? Here's an old army trick to keep away ticks and mosquitoes: About three days before you leave, start taking 1 tablespoon cider vinegar three times a day. Continue throughout your outing and you just might return home without a bite.
Before resorting to bleach to remove mildew on your deck or your patio furniture, try these milder vinegar-based solutions.
*Keep full-strength white vinegar in a spray bottle and use it wherever you see mildew. The stain will wipe right off must surfaces, and the vinegar will keep it from coming back for a while.
*Remove mildew from wood decks and wood patio furniture by sponging them off with a solution of 1 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup white vinegar, and 1/4 cup baking soda in 1 gallon water. Use an old toothbrush to work the solution into tight spaces.
*To deodorize and inhibit mildew growth on outdoor plastic mesh furniture and patio umbrellas, mix 2 cups white vinegar and 2 tablespoons dishwashing liquid in a bucket of hot water. Use a soft brush to work it into the grooves of the plastic and for scrubbing seat pads and umbrella fabric. Rinse with cold water; then dry in the sun.
RUBBING ALCOHOL: Be sure to not confuse denatured alcohol with rubbing alcohol. Denatured alcohol to ethanol (drinking alcohol) to which poisonous and foul-tasting chemicals have been added to render it unfit for drinking. Often, the chemicals used in denatured alcohol are not ones you should put on your skin. Rubbing alcohol is made of chemicals that are safe for skin contact, most often it's 70 percent isopropl alcohol and 30 percent water.
Ticks hate the taste of rubbing alcohol as much as they love the taste of your dog. Before you pull a tick off Fido, dab the critter with rubbing alcohol to make it loosen its grip. Then grab the tick as close to the dog's skin as you can and pull it straight out. Dab again with alcohol to disinfect the wound. This works on people too.
The problem with ice packs is they won't conform to the shape of the injured body part. Make a slushy conformable pack by nixing 1 part rubbing alcohol with 3 parts water in a self-closing plastic bag. The next time that sore knee acts up, wrap the bag of slush in a cloth and apply it to the area.
This is just the tip of iceberg of ways to use eco-friendly products that you can make yourself. I have used most of these recipes for the past 10 years. They cost next to nothing to make and the results are fabulous. I use olive oil and vinegar to clean my furniture and I don't have to dust again for a month. The solution seems to repel dust, just mix the olive oil and vinegar like you would for a salad dressing.
Eco-Friendly Technology - What is it, and What Good is It?
Greenwashing is prevalent. It is hard to discern what is really sustainable and eco-friendly in today's market place. This becomes extremely important when you are seeking to market your green janitorial cleaning service; select safe and green janitorial supplies for your operation; or developing green janitorial specifications for your service providers. To help you there are several reputable and reliable certifications available to help guide you.
Green certifications are not just a green colored label on the product. It is something that provides you with confidence that the product has undergone rigorous, scientific based, analysis and evaluation so you know you are using green janitorial supplies and chemicals that are safe for the planet and human health. Since we cannot (and likely do not want to) become a chemist, it is important to leverage valid green certifications. This way you can be confident that the chemicals are in janitorial chemicals, especially in green cleaning products and green janitorial supplies are safe, nontoxic and sustainable for our environment. It is for this reason that eco certification programs were developed and are closely followed. One of the oldest and most respected certification programs in the US is Green Seal.
Green Seal is dedicated to safeguarding the environment and transforming the marketplace by promoting the manufacture, purchase, and use of environmentally responsible products and services. In fact their mission is to use science-based programs to enable consumers, purchasers and companies to create a more sustainable world. They provide a third-party review and certification for you.
What does a third-party review mean to you? First, second, and third-party levels of review define the degree of separation between the reviewer and the company whose product is being reviewed. This is especially important when certifications are involved. Most marketing claims, material data safety sheets (MSDS), and product specifications that are provided by the company are considered first-party declarations and have not been independently tested or verified. Second-party review may be more credible because a trade association or outside consulting firm in the industry is presenting a verification of the company claims for you. One concern about a second-party review are the potential conflicts of interest (real or perceived). Whenever an independent third-party conducts the product testing and awards the certification the end-user, whether a residential or a commercial consumer, you can have the highest level of confidence in the claims.
Green Seal is a third-party reviewer. Since 1989 they have provided independent, objective, science-based guidance to the marketplace and to consumers. They are a (501(c)(3)) nonprofit organization that is funded from numerous sources, including contracts, grants, special projects, and revenue from certification and monitoring fees.
The Green Seal organization certifies everything from coffee filters to hotels. Standards that are issued to cover over 230 product and service categories. There are presently 8 standards for cleaning products for household and industrial / janitorial applications and 2 standards issued for cleaning services.
Green Seal Standards for Green Cleaning Products:
- GS-08 Cleaning Products for Household Use
- GS-21 Powdered Laundry Bleach
- GS-34 Cleaning and De-greasing Agents
- GS-37 Cleaning Products for Industrial and Institutional Use
- GS-40 Floor-Care Products for Industrial and Institutional Use
- GS-41 Hand Cleaners for Industrial and Institutional Use
- GS-52 Specialty Cleaning Products for Household Use
- GS-53 Specialty Cleaning Products for Industrial and Institutional Use
Green Seal Standards for Green Cleaning Services:
- GS-42 Commercial and Institutional Cleaning Services
- GS-49 Residential Cleaning Services
Any product displaying the Green Seal trademark means that it has passed stringent tests; demonstrated it works as well as or better than others in its class, and that it has been evaluated without bias or conflict of interest. Because of this rigor, Green Seal standards have been recognized and used by the US federal government, many state governments, and other key entities.
Products only become certified after rigorous science-based evaluation including a life cycle assessment that evaluates a product from the raw materials through the manufacturing process and ending with recycling or disposal. The Green Seal certification mark states the product has demonstrated the green janitorial supplies and green cleaning products have gone through a stringent process to show that it has less impact on the environment and human health.Â
Need more? Here are 6 More Reasons why Green Seal Environmental Certification is so strong. This will further expand your confidence the Green Seal certification program:
- The Green Seal mark represents compliance with a rigorous set of criteria designed to achieve leadership levels in sustainability, including on-site plant visits
- Some of the factors considered in evaluating the products are that they are: non-toxic, biodegradable, absent of any carcinogens, mutagens, and reproductive toxins, low-level of sensitivity with respect to eyes, skin, contains no heavy metals, phthalates or other prohibited ingredients, has minimal volatile organic compounds (VOC) or ozone depleting substances, and is non combustible.
- Green Seal is one of the largest eco labeling organizations in the US
- Green Seal is the U.S. member of GEN which consists of 26 of the world's leading eco labeling programs, including Germany's Blue Angel certification program and the Nordic swan.
- Green Seal meets the US EPA's Criteria for Third-Party Certifiers, the requirements of ISO 14020 and 14024, and the standards of the Global Eco Labeling Network.
- Green Seal certification is not just a "one-time deal". Companies establish an ongoing commitment to health and the environment through annual compliance monitoring and work towards continuous improvement.
Avoid greenwashing, seek products with one of the green certifications such as DfE, Ecologo, and/or Green Seal.
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