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If you're looking for a place read everything and more about eco-friendly furniture and environmentally friendly buildings then you're in the right place!

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maya

Growing concerns for the environment has caused many to seek out green solutions, but some of the approaches to being more eco-friendly, such as urinals that pipe pee into the garden for use as fertilizer, simply aren’t all that appealing. What’s really needed is innovative ideas that meet or exceed LEED standards while creating a beautiful 'wow’ factor.

For those working on an apartment building renovation project, the benefits of truly innovative green design include lower project costs, an increased ease of attracting potential tenants, and even the ability to charge higher rents. Read on to learn about a few novel and ecologically sound renovation concepts.

Green Walls and Vertical Gardening

Back in 1938, a professor of landscape architecture at the University of Illinois named Stanley Hart White, who just happens to be the brother of famed author E. B. White, created an invention called botanical bricks, which could be used to create plant-covered vertical surfaces of any height. About fifty years later came French botanist Patrick Blanc, who took the idea and modernized it, coming up with the green wall.

Still, it wasn’t until the new millennium that the idea of vertical gardening truly caught on. Of all the green walls and vertical gardens known to be in existence today, a whopping 93 percent of them only date back as far as 2007.

Those who would incorporate vertical gardening into their renovation projects can help to offset society’s carbon footprint. The building’s exterior and interior walls can be covered with beautiful, luscious, even edible plants.

When used as exterior surfaces, green walls reduce smog and produce cleaner air while insulating the building and protecting it from the elements. On the interior, these eco-friendly walls can improve indoor air quality significantly, and can even be used as part of a wastewater system that’s very innovative, making the gardens virtually maintenance-free.

Cork Covered Bathrooms

A significant part of green construction focuses on the type of building material used. Many go the recycling route by using post-consumer products in their renovation designs while others look to materials that are biodegradable and have less of an environmental impact. Then, there’s the option of using pre-owned building materials, and even reclaimed wood, but few have yet learn to consider cork as one of their options.

It’s amazing what can be done with cork. One of the reasons many wouldn’t dare consider it is because the material has a reputation of being soft and breakable. They worry that it would be high maintenance and need frequent replacement, but that’s hardly the case.

Today, cork is becoming more commonly found in bathrooms, but it’s being used only by those on the cutting edge of innovation and who want to make sure they do their part in protecting the environment. Some of the surprising elements that can be made of cork include floor tiles, toilet seats, and even bathroom sinks.

The benefits are that cork is recyclable, fire resistant, and waterproof. Since the extraction of cork does no harm to trees, it’s a very eco-friendly, sustainable material. This is not to mention how attractive it looks. Using cork in the bathrooms of multi level apartments (like these) definitely produces a 'wow’ factor.

maya
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In order to be eco-friendly in your home, there might be a lot of things you do, like using filtered water instead of water bottles and recycling everything that you can. While those things are great, are you being eco-friendly when it comes to your decor and style? A lot of people don't think about their footprint on the earth when they are buying furniture and decor, but it is something that can be done in a sustainable way. So, if you want to find some sustainable styles that you can be proud to have in your home, then keep reading! In no time you'll have some awesome pieces that you can be proud of.

1. DIY Decor

Instead of going out and purchasing brand new decor, why not make your own with sustainable materials? Materials like drift wood and timber are great for making everything from tables to candle holders, and will look great with any decor. You can also use things you have that would otherwise go in the garbage in creative ways. For example, you could create a mosaic piece out of that broken window you have had in your garage for a while. Another option is to use old jars to plant your own spices and herbs.

Homemade Eco-Friendly Decor Ideas:

- Bike Chain Bowl

- Planters made with Concrete Blocks

- Plastic Bottle Lights

- Wine Bottle Candle Holders

2. Furniture

Are you tired of the look of your couch? Or do you have an antique chair that just doesn't make sense in your bedroom? If so, you might want to consider changing them! You can re-upholster (with hemp material), paint, refinish and stain any pieces of furniture that you want to change for a very low cost. The biggest benefit of doing this, besides the money saved, is that you won't have to dump bulky pieces into landfills.

Another option is to purchase eco-friendly furniture from manufacturers that use sustainable materials. You can find these at specialty stores and online, so make sure you take the time to look around for them. These are going to cost more, but that's likely because they are made by hand with quality materials that aren't mass produced. They will be unique pieces that nobody else has, so they are definitely great options. There are even replica furniture pieces you can find (like these) that are more eco-friendly than their similar counterparts.

3. Lighting

If possible, get any many skylights and windows in your home that you can. These will allow more natural sunlight into your home, and will even save you money on your monthly energy bills. You should also invest in LED lights, which are much more energy-efficient than typical light bulbs.

4. Paint

Do you have a lot of dark paint colors in your home? Change these to lighter colors, and the natural light that comes in during the day will be reflected on them! This can reduce your energy bills and make your place look more cheery as well.

5. Know Your Products

Any time you shop for products for your home, read the materials they are made out of and do your research. For example, organic soy candles are great, as are blankets and sheets that are made from organic cotton. Hemp fabric is another material you should become familiar with, as it is sustainable and can be made into everything from a rug to a chair cushion!

maya
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Going green is becoming a popular trend in the world today, as more and more homes and businesses are installing solar panels, recycling and using energy efficient materials and supplies in their premises, as a way of preserving the environment. Owners of storage facilities have not been left out, and a growing number of facilitates have started to adopt these environmentally friendly strategies. One of the most commonly embraced strategies is the use of solar power. This article details the main reasons why storage facilities should go solar:

Energy Savings

How much energy does your storage facility currently use? How do seasonal climate changes affect energy usage? How many climate controlled mobile self-storage units do you have? Are you required to provide energy for the live-in manager? Naturally, storage facilities utilize minimal amounts of energy, and connecting solar power could make them totally self-sufficient. Due to the fact that most storage facilities are usually accessed at night, facilities that are connected with solar power place no demand on the power grid at peak usage times. The size of the solar power system will be determined by the current energy usage of the storage facility in order to offset the current energy costs. And since these facilities will be spending less on energy, you can therefore lower your rental prices further and attract more clients.

Potential Earnings

Owners of storage facilities can earn some additional income by selling the surplus energy back to their utility companies. Owners should check with their local providers to establish if there are any limits on how much electricity the utility company will buy back. This way, you can calculate how much income your storage facility can earn.

Competitive Edge

Installing solar power can give your storage business a competitive edge, particularly with the younger crowds and the environmentally-conscious. According to statistics given by Earthshare.org, 35% of population is more willing to pay for services from businesses that are environmentally friendly. Your renewable efforts and efficiency can give you an edge over your rivals, even when you are competing against the bigger brands.

Press – Free Publicity

Your storage facility will receive a wide range of coverage for its green efforts, with mentions in the mainstream media and other publications. You can send out press releases to the right channels and by so doing, you can position your brand as an energy efficient business and draw a lot of publicity towards your storage facility.

Return on Investment

Installing and maintaining solar power can be an unaffordable venture for most businesses. However, investing in this form of renewable energy pays for itself in the long run because, ultimately, the amount you will save in energy costs will outweigh the upfront costs of investment. It will take approximately five and a half years for the facility to recoup its investment via reduced tax credits, energy bills and rebates.

Tax Credits

Many localities, cities, states and countries around the world offer tax credits to businesses that practice energy efficiency and renewable energy strategies. Check with your local authority or government to see what kind of benefits you will enjoy in your area. Some governments, such the federal government in the United States, offer attractive benefits to businesses which save energy and produce their own; for instance, a 30% corporate tax credit is given for solar panels. For a detailed list of energy saving strategies, you can visit the website EnergyStar.gov.

Social Responsibility – Giving Back to the Community

The process of installing solar power for the storage facility will require professionals with the right kind of expertise. You can hire contractors from your locality to install and maintain the solar panels for you, thereby creating job opportunities for them. Furthermore, the energy generated from the project can be used to power the homes that surround the storage facility, as a way of appreciating the support they show to your business.

Diversify your Business

Some storage facility operators shy away from integrating climate control or refrigeration systems due to the high electricity costs involved. But thanks to solar power, these facilities can now provide power to run these systems at considerably lower prices. With these systems available, the storage facility can diversify its business and start handling frozen foodstuffs such as meat, chicken, prepared foods, strawberries and other products. Other operators are now turning into seasonal climate control, whereby the climate control option is available only during summer (when there is adequate sunlight to supply power for the cooling and refrigeration systems). Clients can sign up for these seasonal agreements so they too can help conserve energy and the environment.

Prestige

By connecting solar power to the storage facilities, the buildings can qualify for LEED certification. This is a prestigious standing awarded to businesses constructed with efficient and recycled materials. Such an award can immensely boost the reputation of your business, and also allows you to take advantage of state and local incentives.

Set the Trend

As a trendsetter, your business can assume the role of being the chief campaigner for green energy strategies in your local community. You may as well restructure your mobile self-storage unit (for more info on mobile self-storage unit go to http://www.taxiboxmobileselfstorage.com.au/) so that it becomes the first self-sustained “green” business in your locality. Taking a higher moral ground can go a long way in building trust and confidence amongst your targeted clients.

Suitability – Ease of Installation

The design of storage facilities makes them perfect for solar energy panels. Rooftop solar power installations are the most practicable options, because of the dense structure of the storage facilities, where units are compact and buildings are simple – most of these buildings are single-storied structures with flat roofs, allowing easy installation of high-density arrays of photovoltaic cells.

Conclusion

The storage industry is gradually positioning itself as responsible environmental stewards and leaders in the communities that they serve. Currently, more and more storage facilities are exploiting solar energy for their businesses, as they seek to play an influential role in environmental management and conservation. Governments and non-governmental organizations around the world have also a put a lot of money into reversing the degradation of the ozone layer through legislation and by encouraging business enterprises to embrace ecologically friendly alternatives, such as solar power.

Photo courtesy of

maya

With more than forty million Americans moving each year, often downsizing or temporarily leaving behind some of their possessions, the storage facilities business is booming. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reports that storage facility stocks gained more than any other type of stock in real estate investment trusts. The foreclosure crisis has also led to a boom in building new storage facilities. With all this in mind, it is important to access the environmental impact of these storage facilities and come up with solutions to reduce their environmental footprint.

Relatively speaking, storage facilities take up a large parcel of land. Therefore, investors in these types of properties often look for land they can buy cheap. This often means they end up being built in a wetland area or another environmentally sensitive area. In fact, some nature focused land trusts have made deals with storage facilities who have agreed not to expand further into an environmentally sensitive area and/or choose to locate elsewhere. If you will be renting a storage unit (like this one in Melbourne), you may want to consider this as a factor in your decision as to which one to rent and let the companies you shop know this is important to you. This will put them on alert that choosing a more eco-friendly location can be good for their bottom line.

Eco-friendly buildings use one-third less energy on average than traditionally built buildings and they use less toxic materials. Rows of storage units happen to be one of the easiest types of buildings to build as an eco-friendly building. This is because the style of building is exceedingly simple compared to most houses and business buildings. With the governmental incentives in place to build eco-friendly buildings, it usually makes clear economic sense to build a new storage facility as a green building. It is also quite easy to use recycled materials in the building of a storage facility since aesthetic appearance is not the top concern.

Although storage facilities usually use less energy than most similarly sized business, many modern storage facilities are heated and all come with lights. Solar panels can be installed as an eco-friendly solution. With their low flat roofs, it is actually much easier to install solar panels on storage facilities than on most other types of buildings. Additionally, there is almost never anything blocking the full radiation of the sun at a storage facility. Solar panels also send an obvious signal to all who pass by that they are attempting to be more eco-friendly. This draws business into the facility and sends a great message to the community. Putting a storage facility on a solar tour is a way to show pride in this effort and to drum up more business. Of course, storage facilities can also install energy efficient fluorescent bulbs in each unit to conserve energy.

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Another environmental issue associated with storage facilities is the fact that so many people throw away so much at these facilities. You have probably noticed that a storage facilities' dumpster is often brimming full and this is all taken to the landfill. A eco-friendly way to handle this problem is to set up an easy to follow recycling program right beside the garbage dumpsters. When designing it, it must be kept in mind that the easier it is for the patrons to use the recycling program, the more they will use it.

While traditional storage facilities are hard on the environment, it is comforting to know that they are also one of the easiest businesses to make substantially more eco-friendly. You can do your part by simply talking with the owners of your local storage facilities or with anyone proposing to build a new one. Let them know the eco-friendly options available to them and why it would be good for their profitability as well. Good luck!

maya
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Furnishing children's rooms are always a delightful activity, as they are the best rooms of the house to let your creative juices flow. If you are looking to decorate and furnish your child's room in an eco-friendly manner, here are five tips that will help you in doing so:

1. Use toxic free paints

Isn't it rather ridiculous to see people holding their breaths when painting their walls? If it's toxic then, imagine when you are sleeping at night, inhaling those chemicals! Look for paints that are free from VOCs (volatile organic compounds), as they are known to be carcinogens. Now there is even such a thing as milk paint (created with materials such as milk protein, limestone, clay and natural pigments), which is organic, free of VOCs and biodegradable -- the perfect eco-friendly combination! As a decor tip, stay away from darker colors for your child's room, and instead opt for pastels or light and fun colors. You can always get extra creative and paint designs, prints and landscapes on the walls to actualize their fantasy worlds!

2. Let the sun shine!

What is more eco-friendly to the Earth than appreciating and respecting nature's splendor? Having numerous windows in your child's bedroom will not only brighten it up but lessen the need to have the lights constantly on. Less electricity usage is not only eco-friendly but a good way to keep your electric bill from going over the edge. Decorate the window frames with lighter colors such as the traditional white or light blue. Windows will also incite your child's excitement to play outside with nature rather than be indoors all day, so it's a win-win situation.

3. Invest in organic sheets and bedding

The bed (along with the rest of the bedroom) should be the zone of comfort, so invest in top quality, organic bedding. Bamboo sheets are becoming increasingly popular for their high color retention, resilience and softness. If you choose to go with cotton sheets, make sure you choose organic ones, as the cotton crop is considered to be the most toxic crop on the planet due to its high levels of insecticides and pesticides (except the organic crops, obviously). Pixel Organics is just one of the many brands out there that ensures 100% pure organic cotton sheets with cute animal prints to liven up kids beds. Of course, do your research and make sure that the sheets your purchase come from sustainable sources!

4. Purchase recycled furniture

Many of us are vintage thrift shoppers when it comes to clothes and accessories, so why not for furniture? Not only will it leave less of a dent in your wallet, but you'll be saving perfectly fine, unique pieces of children’s furniture from the chipper. Recycled furniture is a definite eco-friendly investment because you are not encouraging more industrial production with your money. Start rummaging through yard sales, antique shops and salvage yards. A good coat of paint is magical (especially if you use VOC free paints!), so don't worry about the furniture pieces not being of the same color when you first choose them.

5. Pick sustainable, environmentally friendly materials for furniture, flooring and doors

In a world where so much of what we use is made of (or wrapped in) plastic, it's important to invest in renewable resources (such as wood) that are biodegradable to toxic clutter. If you want to build your child's furniture yourself, look for wood that has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, the international organization that has developed sustainable standards for forest management. You'll be getting top-notch materials while making environmentally sound decisions. Don't forget that pictures and posters (as well as anything else you want to hang up on the wall) should also be made from as much natural material as possible. If you are extremely devoted to having an eco-kid's bedroom, find companies that print their posters with soy ink rather than the more common petroleum-based inks.

There you have it! 5 essential, eco-friendly tips for transforming your child's bedroom into their healthy and sustainable playroom.

Photo courtesy of Swiftorchids.com

maya

Eco-friendly Moving Tips

According to the United States Census Bureau, more the forty million Americans move each year. Moreover, this is a growing trend since the American population is becoming increasingly mobile. Unfortunately, each move has a significant environmental impact. However, if we each do our part, we can also reduce this impact substantially. Below, you will find six eco-friendly moving tips on how to reduce your environmental footprint when you move.

Use Eco-friendly Moving Boxes

Instead of buying cardboard moving boxes that you'll use only once, you can buy reusable boxes made from 100% recycled plastic. There are also several companies who specialize in renting these types of eco-friendly boxes. Besides being kind to the environment, there are many other advantages to using recycled plastic boxes. They're easily stackable, have tight fitting lids, and have sturdy handles making them easier to carry. They're also much stronger than cardboard boxes meaning your stuff won't get crushed or fall out the bottom.

Recycle Cardboard Boxes

If you do use cardboard moving boxes, you can keep them out of the landfill. Many movers toss their cardboard boxes in the trash after they unload them at their new place. Instead, you can save them for future use if you have the storage space. If you are renting a storage unit (in Auckland, for example) to store some of your belongings, you can always store your moving cardboard boxes on top of your other stuff as they are lightweight when empty. You can also advertise on CraigsList to give away free moving boxes. Other movers will often be glad to get them so they don't have to scrounge around desperately hunting for boxes. As a last resort, you can take the cardboard boxes to a recycling center.

Use Recycled Bubble Wrap and Packaging Peanuts

Instead of buying new bubble wrap and packaging peanuts, try to hunt down used packing materials and recycle it. As soon as you anticipate moving, ask your friends, family, neighbors, and local businesses to place save these materials for you. In the process of doing this, it will encourage others to save and recycle packaging materials too.

Don't Toss Usable Items In the Trash

Moving is usually a time we finally clean out our closets. Many movers will simply toss old clothes, bedding, household plants, and other items into the trash. These items end up in the landfill. Avoid this tragedy by donating your unwanted items to Goodwill, Salvation Army, and other thrift stores that support causes like help for battered women, the homeless, and habitat for humanity. There is also a free category on CraigsList where you can give your items to people who really want and need them. You can also let your neighbors take what they want.

Give Away Your Perishable Food

Instead of tossing perishable food and other food you don't want to take with you, take the time to give this food away to your friends and neighbors. Homeless shelters would also be glad to get this food. You could even make up some lunches and pass them out to homeless people on the street.

Use Bio-diesel Moving Trucks

Some moving companies offer moving trucks that run on biodegradable biodiesel. Biodiesel is a renewable resource, unlike gasoline, made from plant sources like soybeans, canola, and sunflowers. Burning biodiesel is also far less toxic to the environment than burning gasoline. It releases fewer particulates, sulfates, and carbon monoxide into the air.

Good luck with your move and please help us spread the word about the importance of eco-friendly moving.

Photo courtesy of http://www.moversblog123.com

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