Meghan Belnap

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About Meghan Belnap

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  • Gender Female
  • Interests Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She also enjoys being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise as well as researching new topics to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure.

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  1. Green homes help reduce environmental damage and waste commonly caused by standard home construction and life habits. They also offer homeowners many additional benefits. They can lower utility and grocery bills, improve your home's value and make your overall life better. To reap these benefits and more, consider the following green home additions: Composting Room Composting bins turn plant-based waste materials from cooking and gardening into nutrient-rich fertilizer. A composting room is an extension of this idea designed to replace the traditional detached "garden shed" with a more efficient setup that allows you easy access to compost and garden supplies throughout the year even during cold weather. Since gases and odors are a byproduct of composting, you only need to run an attached ventilation duct from the enclosed bin to the outside through a wall or the ceiling to make this room work. Automatic Systems A lot of electricity and water loss occurs because homeowners often forget to turn off manual home systems like indoor and outdoor lights, sprinklers and thermostats. An automatic control system utilizes software and/or sensors to optimize usage. For example, an automatic system with light-detection sensors might turn on outdoor lights at night and then turn them off immediately in the morning or turn off indoor lights that you typically forget to turn off after a certain time at night. Green Roofing Homeowners can enjoy flower and vegetable gardens, safeguard the environment and save on heating, cooling and grocery costs without using up nearby land with green roofing. A "green" or "vegetative" roof turns an often unused home area into a garden paradise. The advantages of green roofing go beyond energy efficiency and fresh fruits and vegetables. You also receive greater roof and ceiling leak protection, higher local oxygen contribution and reduced chemical and noise pollution and government tax breaks. Nontoxic Materials Many standard home building and furniture materials, such as plastics, formaldehyde-containing fiberboard and adhesives, release toxic gases or break down into toxic dust over time that damage the environment and cause sick buildings syndrome. The "addition" of environmentally-friendly materials that release fewer harmful volatile organic chemicals after the removal of toxic ones can both improve your health and increase the value of your home. If your home is not already a green dwelling, it is time to do your part for the environment, yourself and your community. Start with one of these four green additions to improve your world and standard of living.
  2. Organic living goes way beyond the food you eat and cleaning products you buy. Organic living can and should play a role in every aspect of your life, from the clothes you wear to caring for your lawn. Yes, caring for your lawn. You don't have to be a slave to the chemical grass treatments, here are four ways organic fertilizer is better for your lawn. 1. Friability Friability is what science calls the breaking down of a solid. Soil friability is what happens when chemical fertilizers are used. The chemicals break down the natural rock that is in the soil causing the dirt to compact and become hard. This hardened and compact earth prevents rain water from soaking into the ground. So while chemical fertilizers have an immediate impact on your lawn, they also provide long term detriment. 2. Worms Earthworms are incredibly important to the health of the soil. According to a reference article by the University of Pennsylvania, the earthworm actually aerates the soil which allows air, water and nutrients to penetrate deep into the ground. Interestingly, the plants cannot directly consume these nutrients. The earthworms eat the dirt and their waste, or castings, is what the plants use to get the nutrients needed. The acidity found in chemical fertilizers can kill the earthworms that keep the soil alive. 3. Contamination of Groundwater Another study shows chemical fertilizer moves through the soil in a process called leaching, and contaminates the water. Once this contamination exceeds 10 parts per million nitrate-nitrogen, it can cause harm to fish and other inhabitants of the water, infants and children and cause the water to turn green and become odorous. 4. Greater Yield Today and Tomorrow Yes, chemical fertilizers act fast and you see instant gratification of a pretty lawn. At first that is. Over time, the use of chemical fertilizers kill the micro-organisms that live in the soil. These micro-organisms prevent diseases that would otherwise attack and kill your plants and grass. Overtime, chemical fertilizers not only stop working, but they prevent a long term and sustainable lawn. Chemical fertilizer companies have the market share on fast acting products but the organic market is coming up fast behind them. Companies like Nature Safe develop organic products and lawn care programs that not only promote healthy lawns but are yielding amazing results. The newer organic products hitting the market today are upping the stakes of the game by no longer using manure and creating fertilizers that increase the density and the stress tolerance of the grass, all while ensuring a long and healthy life for the lawn and the organisms that live in it.
  3. You may not be aware just how many different types of fertilizers there are. Ranging from chemical fertilizers to natural fertilizers and organic fertilizers. The choice you make can have a significant effect in a number of different ways. Of all fertilizer options, going organic will not only benefit your yard but it will have lasting effects on the betterment of the environment. Organic fertilizer is basically a carbon-based compound that increases the growth quality and productivity of plants and soil. Plant pundits state that organic fertilizers have various benefits that include: 1. Employment Opportunities Chemical fertilizers are manufactured in large plants that are highly mechanized and automated. The factories have a capacity of literally millions of tons. On the other hand, organic fertilizers are produced locally and on a significantly smaller scale. Therefore, the production of these organic fertilizers actually creates jobs, especially in rural locations. 2. Fertility Of The Soil Organic fertilizers can also keep ground fertile for hundreds of years. Research has revealed that the ancient ground in such places as China and India are actually still fertile despite the fact that it has been farmed for literally thousands of years. The ground remains fertile because those who used the land fertilized it with organic fertilizers. Chemical fertilizers can quickly make ground infertile and create an unbreakable chain of dependency on chemical fertilizers. 3. Low Capital Investment & On-Location Production Experts note that organic fertilizers also aid in increasing the nutrient-holding capacity and in managing the soil structure. Because of this, those who have practiced organic farming or otherwise regularly used organic fertilizer for several years will need a lot less fertilizer. The soil is already rich in numerous important nutrients. According to Nature Safe, many organic fertilizer contains a blend of various plant and animal meals that balance sugars, starches, carbohydrates, proteins and fats. This increases the number of natural microbes found in the soil. 4. Safe For The Environment Finally, all organic fertilizers are easily biodegradable. They do not cause any type of environmental pollution. Chemical fertilizers, however, can and sometimes do contaminate both the water and the land. This has been reported to be one of the major causes of diseases in human beings. In fact, various sources have concluded that chemical fertilizers are responsible for the extinction of several different animal, insect and plant species. It's simple. Organic fertilizers are the smart choice. They are inexpensive, effective and can even help small businesses. More importantly, organic fertilizers are great for the environment.
  4. Going green is both noble and mainstream in today’s market, but it might not necessarily be easy—or even have a positive impact on your environment. Fortunately you can take good steps with little need for concern and without causing further harm. Check out four ways to greenify your home with environmentally friendly measures below. Replenish Food and Water This goes beyond throwing recyclables in a green bin. Organic material, like banana peels and coffee grounds, give off the highly toxic methane when they decompose in landfills. Clean water is likewise lost when it’s flushed or used in cleaning. Consider converting that food into compost material for fertilizing your plants and garden. As for the water, recycling through treatment tanks like Econocycle systems render spent water clean again for home reuse. Try Solar Paneling If the initial cost isn’t a barrier, solar panels go a long way to save you money and supply clean energy to your home. Besides working from a completely sustainable and renewable source, panels operate with grids that store unused energy. Not only does this lower your bills, but it also reduces the carbon footprint left on the planet for roughly 30 years! You might not get much energy when the sun isn’t out, but solar panels are a great option on both the financial and environmental ends. Regulate Air Flow Whether it’s hot or cold outside, your air conditioning has a large effect on how much energy your home wastes. Cutting back on potential waste is simple, from sealing up any leaky holes to keeping filters clean, but there are more extensive options, as well. Installing an automatic thermostat to keep the temperature comfortable is one such route; buying a more energy-efficient AC unit is another. Buy Local Your farmer’s market can boost the local economy and provide access to homegrown natural or organic foods, but the benefits don’t stop there. You might decrease carbon emissions based on how far business owners would otherwise ship products, or you might help decrease packaging waste and production emissions. Chances are your hometown businesses want to keep their environment clean, too! When it comes to environmental consciousness, what’s most important is making good choices. It takes some commitment to do it well, but it isn’t difficult. With the four steps listed above, you will be well on your way to a cleaner, greener home.
  5. 5 Eco-friendly Uses for Waste Water

    According to the UN News Center, one of the world's most pressing issues is meeting water needs. Without changes in water consumption and conservation, the world will find it challenging to meet the water needs of the world's 2050 projected population of 9.6 billion. With extreme drought threatening areas including metropolitan California and southern Somalia, conserving water and reusing water will make what we have go further. Try these tips to make a difference. Use a Shower Bucket Collect the water that flows before the water heater gets the shower spray ready. You'll end up with plenty of clean, fresh water for another use, like filling your pets' water bowls. Cooking Water After cooking pasta, place a bowl under the colander and drain the pasta. After it cools, the pasta water you'd usually pour down the drain is perfect for watering indoor plants. The same goes for the water used to wash vegetables. If you find a partially drunk glass of water while gathering the dirty dishes, feed it to a plant. Take Baths Between 7 to 10 gallons of water goes down the drain in a shower. So, put your feet up in a relaxing bath instead. Reuse your bath water to wash the car, clean bathroom tiles, mop the floor, etc. You can have a plumber install a drain to an indoor or outdoor recycling system. Rethink Your Water System Reuse your sewage-free waste water to water the lawn, garden or crops. Gray water refers to reusable waste water from bathroom sinks, bath/shower drains and washing machine drains. It's commonly used for landscape irrigation. These systems simply divert your gray water using submersible pumps and pipes, such as those developed by PFC Equipment, Inc. The same systems used on construction sites and at mining operations can help your home or farm save water. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there have been no documented cases of human health issues from properly treated recycled water. Car Wash Park your vehicle near the lawn and shrubs when you wash it. Use soap and water to wash the car, then let the rinse water run onto the lawn. You'll accomplish two tasks at once and the soapy water won't hurt your lawn. Let these five simple ways to make your water go further kick start your conservation efforts. Not only will you help the environment, you'll likely see your water bill decrease. These tips may seem small, but if everybody in the world implemented these practices, imagine how much water and money could be saved.
  6. A lush, green yard starts with healthy soil, and that usually means using soil amendments to make sure that it's as nutrient-rich as it needs to be. With all of the different types of fertilizer on the market, it can be tough to make the best choice for you, your plants, and the surrounding environment. When it comes to organic fertilizer, there are some key advantages that shouldn't be overlooked. Long-term Improvement Most people don't really look past the nutrient boost that fertilizers give their soil, but a good organic fertilizer like Nature Safe has benefits above and beyond its nutrient content. As it breaks down, it can actually help improve the moisture-retaining capabilities and overall fertility of the soil itself over the long term. Better for the Environment Organic fertilizers are produced using the natural processes of decomposition, making them easily biodegradable. The production of conventional fertilizers relies on petrochemical byproducts, and is implicated in air, water, and soil pollution. Not only is it destructive to the environment to obtain the raw materials necessary to make it, its manufacturing process can actually damage vital ecosystems, drive out important plant and animal species, and spoil water sources. Wildlife Friendly Since they're so often hidden from view, it can be easy to forget just how much a yard depends on tiny creatures like earthworms and beneficial insects to stay healthy. While organic fertilizer has always been a part of nature, conventional fertilizers often end up adding nutrients to soil at the expense of the local fauna. Earthworms and other creatures have a harder time living in chemically amended soil, and the soil's overall quality suffers as a result. Slower Break Down This may not sound like a benefit, but it is. Conventional fertilizers deliver nutrients quickly, which is not the way plants or soil fauna have evolved to receive them. Organic fertilizers break down slowly, providing a sustained release of nutrients in a readily bioavailable form. Rather than having to cope with sudden gluts of nutrients, your yard can grow the way nature intended. When it comes to amending soil, organic fertilizers are far and away the superior choice. While it is possible to use them irresponsibly, organic fertilizers have far more benefits than risks even for novice gardeners. When used properly, the end result is a vibrant yard, healthy soil, and a cleaner environment.
  7. With so many cars, machines, and chemicals involved in our everyday lives it's no wonder that the earth is starting to show signs of distress. And not only is Earth sending up red flags, but our wallets are weeping in despair because our mechanized, chemical rich lifestyles are expensive. But what can be done about it? Here are some great tips to keep both your budget, and Mother Earth happy. Tip #1: Distilled Vinegar Common household cleaners are expensive and chocked full of harsh chemicals that destroy the earth. Distilled vinegar is an unsung hero in the cleaning world. It's cheap, natural and a powerful disinfectant. Put it in a spray bottle or soak a rag in it to clean glass, tile, counter tops, walls, grout and more. Improve its smell and cleaning effects by adding lemon juice, and/or baking soda. These natural products are, cheap, earth-friendly, hypoallergenic and totally safe to use around your kids and pets. Tip #2: Conserve Water There is only so much water in the world and your water bill could be draining your wallet every month. Cut down on water usage and expenses by either purchasing a low-water toilet or by simply filling a water bottle with rocks or sand and putting it in your toilet tank. This will cut back on how much water your tank uses to flush the toilet saving you money, and saving the world one flush at a time. Tip #3: Go Solar Power and gas bills are astronomically expensive and excessive usage damages the earth. With an upfront investment you can convert to solar power-- saving money in the long run and doing Mother Nature a little favor. Companies like Degree C Pty Ltd offer solar powered alternatives for hot water systems. These typically last longer than traditional designs. Cut your gas bill every month and reduce the amount of natural gas harvested by letting solar power your home. It’s easy to think the little changes you make won’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things, but it’s the simple steps that can often make the biggest impact. Going green can be the most cost effective change you make. Reduce waste, cut harsh chemicals, and lower your power and water bills by using these easy tips. You’ll watch your wallet get fatter as your carbon footprint gets smaller.
  8. Between global warming, pollution, and many other issues, our planet is in a state of crisis. Like most people, you're probably wondering what you can do to help. Not everyone can afford to purchase a hybrid vehicle or solar panels, but there are still inexpensive and effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint. 1. Buy Organic and Local Foods In America, the average meal travels nearly 1,500 from its source to your plate. Carbon footprint-wise, that's the equivalent of traveling 4,500 miles a day simply from eating. What's more, most of the food consumed in America is laden with pesticides, the use of which exacerbates global warming and greenhouse gas issues. Transporting food over such a large distance uses a substantial amount of fossil fuel, and emits more carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. Buying food at a local farmer’s market means that the food you eat travels substantially fewer miles, and is usually not sprayed with harmful pesticides. 2. Recycling Most people at least recycle aluminum, cardboard, and plastic goods, but did you know that you can recycle all sorts of appliances and electronics? It's true, and recycling these items protects the earth from the pollution that occurs during the production of plastic. Sites like City Auto Wreckers make it easy to recycle your old car and make the most of its parts and pieces. Many landfills and private businesses give people options to recycle most anything from old computers, to cell phones, to shoes. 3. Biking Even if your work commute is only 10 miles, things can get pricey. Driving that round-trip five days a week emits 1.3 tons of CO2 and uses 124 gallons of gas each year, even in a midsize car. Biking to work is a great way to cut your carbon footprint. Of course, this isn't an option for everyone, but biking to the grocery store, or to leisure activities is another way you can help the planet. 4. Unplug Appliances and Chargers Appliances and electronics still use energy when they’re powered down. This phenomenon is known as vampire energy; it drains your wallet and wastes fossil fuel. The way to avoid vampire energy is to unplug your appliances and electronics when not in use. It takes extra time and effort, but it cuts CO2 emissions significantly. Reducing your carbon footprint doesn't have to be expensive or become a big hassle. It's simply about being mindful of the energy and fossil fuel-based products you are using. If everybody makes some of these simple changes, we can leave a healthier planet for future generations.
  9. If you are a concerned eco-friendly entrepreneur, there are many inspiring and creative ways to make and keep your business “green” and help the environment in safe ways at the same time. Feel good about helping Mother Nature to maintain our natural resources for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. There is an extra benefit because it helps your reputation that consumers want to support a green business, and you can thus show customers that you care about the environment and are making strides for improvements within your business. Eco-friendly LandscapingProfessional landscaping for your business property lawn can be ordered that will save energy, water and money. Such inclusions can be drought-resistant plants, synthetic turf, strategically placed trees and more. Use All-natural, Organic and Recycled ProductsCleaning products and soaps can be purchased that use common organic materials that are much better for the environment. Office supplies including all types of paper, file folders, toilet paper, paper towels, cups, and plates can be purchased made from recycled products. Aerial Imagery and Conscience DiggingLearn from an oil company that uses the aerial photographic services of Terra Server to get imagery and the geography of areas to find appropriate places to dig where it will not harm the environment. You might have the type of business that needs to evaluate and analyze the working area landscape. Encourage Employees to RecycleKeep waste bins separate from recycling bins, and make sure they are clearly labeled to make their use easy. Explain to employees how good this is for the environment and how it cuts trash expenses. Also, ask the employees to make suggestions for ways the company can be made more eco-friendly. Cut Down on Wasted EnergyBe less wasteful and more energy-efficient by closing off unused rooms so they do not need to be heated and cooled, and setting the thermometer higher or lower depending on when you are open for business and when you are closed during non-business hours. Additionally, have employees shut off unused equipment including their computers at the end of the work day. By making your business more eco-friendly, or “going green”, the above measures will cut down on costs. By saving money in as many areas and ways as possible, you can spend more on important things such as marketing to grow your business.
  10. There are a number of different ways you can conserve energy in your home, but one of the most effective ways is to invest in Low-E windows and even different window treatments. Like many other energy conservation efforts, these changes require a bit of an investment upfront; however, the payoff down the road is well worth it. Low-E windows are an innovative product that just recently became available on the market while window treatments have always been an option for regulating the temperature of your home. Consider the benefits of these treatment options, and decide what works for you. Low-E GlassLow-E or Low-Emissive glass is a type of window glass that has been treated with a special coating to support energy conservation. The treatment is typically an invisible metal or metallic oxide coating that creates a surface that reflects heat but still allows light to pass through. To measure the energy efficiency of the window glass in your home, the heat that passes through is measured by the U-factor or ultraviolet light. The lower the U-factor is, the more energy-efficient the glass is. If too much of this ultraviolet heat enters your home, it heats it up and causes your air conditioning bill to go up. Conversely, Low-E glass reduces the heat lost through your windows during window. Loosing less heat means that you’ll pay less to keep your home warmer. To get the most out of your Low-E glass, you need to consider how the pains should be installed. If you live in a warmer climate, install the pane so that the Low-E coating is toward the outside of the window to block the sun. However, if you live in a colder climate, adjust the installation so that the Low-E coating is applied to the inside of the window and holds heat in. These installation techniques ensure that your windows will be as energy-efficient as possible. Window TreatmentsThere are additional options that can also contribute to the energy efficiency of your home. While most people consider window treatments and coverings strictly decorative, they can actually contribute a great deal to energy savings. As you consider your window treatments, be sure to carefully weight your options to select treatments that can reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. Some of the most effective custom window treatments include awnings, blinds, and draperies. Awnings can provide significant energy savings. Attached above south-facing windows, awnings can reduce solar heat gain by up to 65 percent. Used on west-facing windows, the gain reduction is roughly 77 percent. Consider installing an awning that covers one window or the entire side of your home to get the biggest benefit. Interior and exterior blinds are another great option for increasing energy efficiency. Interior blinds offer slightly less protection from heat loss; however, they reduce heat gain by nearly 45 percent. Use these systems to control light and ventilation and to block direct sunlight. Exterior blinds are also effective for reducing heat gain. You can manipulate this type of blind to block the amount of light flowing through to reduce additional heat. Draperies also offer protection against heat loss and gain. If this is a conservation effort you plan to implement, consider the type of fabric you select. Medium-colored draperies with a protective plastic backing can reduce heat gain by 33 percent and heat loss by up to 10 percent when drawn at the appropriate times. For maximum efficiency, attach the drapes so that they reach from ceiling to floor and overlap in the center. You may even consider attaching Velcro to the sides nearest the walls to create a seal. The type of windows you have as well as the window treatments you use can contribute significantly to the energy efficiency of your home. To reduce heat gain and loss, consider installing Low-E glass and selecting appropriate window treatment options for your area. Either way it will be an investment with a great payoff in the long run.
  11. Most people don't take the time to consider how their front or back yards are affecting the environment. While many property owners make investments in energy efficient products like solar panels or LED light bulbs, they hardly think of how the property beyond the walls of their home is being wasted when it could promote an efficient and sustainable environment. It's time to think beyond the staples of what we consider green living and maximize what the right type of landscaping can do for your environmental impact. Here are some ideas that will make your yard your neighborhood's beacon of sustainability: Raised/Green Gardens Long before pristine sprawls of useless grass became the standard use for a homeowner's plot of earth, the soil was used to feed the family and even make a profit. Now, fruits and vegetables are picked before they are ripe and are shipped half way around the world to arrive on grocery shelves with the right color but lacking the flavor of locally grown, ripe produce. Why buy bland, imported produce with a large carbon footprint when you can grow it just outside? Start by building a wooden box frame and filling it with top soil or hiring one of the best landscapers in Utah to help. This project can be as simple or complex as you like. Build the walls of the box and don't cover it: that's where your plants will grow. A bottom for the box is not necessary, but if you are concerned about old pollutants in your yard's dirt like motor oil or lead that might be leeched into the garden's top soil, you can lay out a plywood floor to build your box around. You can make this box frame as long and wide as you like, and you can build multiple frames with walking space of about three feet between them if you have the space for it and want to compartmentalize your garden. Once each box is filled with rich top soil from your gardening supply store, or better yet your own compost pile, you can begin planting seeds. A raised garden will benefit your wallet, your dinner table, and the world's climate when you stop feeding the beast of the global grocery supply chain and bring things back to your own yard. Composting Buying a compost bin is a great way to start taking the biodegradable food waste hauled to the dump and recycle it right at home. Garbage trucks need to pick up, haul, and bury your coffee grounds, food scraps, leaves, newspaper, ashes, and other biodegradable trash, but if you start putting it into a compost bin you can create a carbon and nitrogen rich fertilizer to put directly into your garden to nourish soil and feed plants. By buying a low cost compost bin (a plastic one will suffice), you can reduce waste production and turn your garden into a fertile paradise at the cost of an easy to set up bin and the time it takes for your food and yard waste to decompose inside it. Low Flow Watering System Lawn lovers can go green by limiting their water use. Some sprinklers are designed to maximize efficiency with water usage. Look for a "low flow" sprinkler or sprinkler kit, and do your part to protect our water reserves. Lawns are considered a luxury in a draught-prone area, so limiting your yard's water usage can help ensure water is there for it in the long run. With these simple green yard tips, you can be sure to make an impact on your local environment and neighborhood. The effort you put into your yard will not only help your wallet but the entire environment.
  12. Water seems like it is the one thing that we humans will never run out of but don't be so sure. With modernization of morer and more of the world, this precious resource is being polluted and used at an alarming rate. With water being one of the most necessary resources for the survival of all plants and animals it’s a very precious resource that needs to be preserved and protected from pollution. Thankfully, you can take steps to improve the quality of your water and conserve it at home. Why Water Conservation Matters The majority of the Earth may be covered by water. However, only a small fraction of that water is suitable for consumption by humans and animals. In certain areas, such as the western United States, droughts are a serious danger that can destroy ecosystems, put farmers out of business and devastate local communities. Wasting water can have a tangible and negative effect. Why Water Cleanliness Matters Water cleanliness is also a serious issue. For one, access to clean and unpolluted water is necessary for a long and healthy life. If someone drinks contaminated water, it could lead to death due to bacterial infection. Water that has been polluted by toxins and chemicals can also slowly deteriorate a person’s health and lead to an early demise. How to Conserve Water at Home Conserving water at home requires action. You should be reassessing how you use water in every part of your home during each part of the day. For example, showers waste gallons of water in a home each day. However, if you install a low-flow showerhead, you could prevent your family from wasting as much water. Installing low-flow faucet fixtures and toilets can also make a big difference. You can also make other changes in your home. For example, you could switch to hand washing your clothes and start collecting rain water for your plants. How to Maintain Water Cleanliness at Home Water cleanliness is also extremely important at home. Maintaining a high level of water quality means insuring your family stays healthy. Unless you are provided with city water that has already been thoroughly treated, you need to treat your water supply yourself to make sure it is safe to drink. A water softener from Anderson Water Systems, for example, can remove magnesium, calcium and iron from water. Installing filters on faucets used for drinking water can provide additional protection. A reverse osmosis filtration system could also make just about any water source safe for human consumption Overall, improving the cleanliness of your home’s water supply and lowering your home’s water consumption takes a bit of work. However, the benefit for your family as well as the environment is always worth the effort.
  13. Making energy efficient upgrades to your home not only is good for the environment, it also can save you lots of money when your bills are due. The only issue is that you might not know where to start. There are so many options to just throw money into but not all of them are as good as you would like to think. Here are some of the best energy efficient improvements to make. New Windows and Doors If you live in an older house with windows and doors that haven't been replaced in years, it's likely you are losing a considerable amount of money on your heating and cooling costs. Over the years, your house shifts and settles, and doors and windows no longer fit their frames the way they once did, leaving gaps and cracks for air to get through. Also, newer windows come with either double or triple panes, which are much better at keeping the air in that you want in and keeping the air out that you don't than older single-pane windows. Programmable Thermostat A programmable thermostat helps improve your energy efficiency by optimizing the use of your heating and cooling systems. During the summer, for example, you can set your thermostat to raise the temperature during the day when you aren't there and then gradually raise it in the hour or two before you arrive home. In the winter, you can set your thermostat to lower the temperature during the day and at night while you are sleeping. Being able to program your thermostat allows you to use less energy and save money. Adding Insulation Another way to be energy efficient in your home is to add or update your current insulation. Insulation in walls, floors and ceilings helps to keep warm air in in the winter and cold air out, while doing the reverse in the summer. Reitzel Insulation Co Ltd insulation also keeps pipes in walls and under floors warm during the winter so they don't freeze. If you can afford blown-in insulation, it works great for hard-to-reach areas. Low-flow Water Devices You'd be surprised how much water you waste in your home on a daily basis, but there's a way you can cut down on that. Installing flow-restricting devices on your toilet as well as a low-flow shower head can cut your water usage by hundreds of gallons a month. Though this won't save you a ton of money, it will give you the peace of mind that you are doing your part to help the environment. Having an energy efficient home is the dream of so many of us. There are many energy efficient upgrades you can make to your home, some simple and inexpensive, some that are complex and costly. Choose the ones that make the most sense for you. These upgrades might set you back but remember that you are going to make some of that money back over time due to lower bills at the end of the month.
  14. One of the most desirable attributes that many real estate shoppers are looking for these days is a neighborhood that is green. This includes neighborhoods that have a lot of green buildings as well as places that have a lot of green amenities that make living an eco-friendly lifestyle easier. If you are looking for a green place to call your home, here is a look at four of the greenest locations that you should consider. Mueller, Texas It probably comes as no surprise to most folks that one of the greenest neighborhoods in the United States is located in Austin. This neighborhood has ample public transportation and loads of open green spaces. All the roads comes with bike lanes to make zero-carbon commuting in the gorgeous Austin weather a breeze. Austin also has tons of farmers markets and green grocery stores. Madison Street, Tennessee This used to be one of the most rundown neighborhoods in Chattanooga. This all changed when a green initiative was launched to transform Madison Street into the location of Tennessee’s first LEED-certified homes. All the new buildings in the neighborhood are made from locally manufactured and harvested materials. It is now a community of artists that has all the eco-friendly attributes that you could wish for. Liberty Village, Ontario This Toronto neighborhood is a great place for people who want to live a green lifestyle. It is located next to several public transportation options to make commuting greenly a breeze. It also has a lot of green spaces to enjoy. There is also a lovely farmers market that allows shoppers access to locally grown foods. Learn more about this lovely place at Renters Guide. You can find a place to live in this progressive and stylish area. Northwest Crossing, Oregon While Portland gets a lot of press when it comes to green communities, this Bend neighborhood is actually the greenest place to live in the state of Oregon. It is surrounded by 32 acres of parks that give residents ample green space to enjoy. The neighborhood was designed to make it easy to walk or bike to everything that residents need like stores and entertainment. All the homes in the neighborhood have been certified organic by the prestigious Earth Advantage program. If you are looking to transform your lifestyle into an eco-friendly one, one of the most important steps to change it is to find someplace to live that offers green living. These four neighborhoods all allow residents to enjoy green living without sacrificing comfort. They are a great place to start for people looking for green spaces to live.
  15. Everyone wants to breathe clean air, drink clean water and protect the environment. Doing this does not require massive changes to your life. There are actually small things that you can do every day to make a difference. You should know about a few ways to be more eco-responsible in your daily life. Drive Less Driving in a typical car sends a significant amount of pollution into the air every day. Even highly efficient cars are releasing emissions every minute they run. Do what you can to drive less. Car pool, take public transportation or ride a bicycle. Consolidate your shopping trips. Try walking to nearby locations instead of taking the car out for just a few minutes. Turn Off Lights, Appliances and Electronics Leaving lights, appliances and electronics on for just a few extra minutes a day can add up by the end of the year. You will be using more electricity. This causes more harmful emissions to be released by power plants. Turn off anything you do not need immediately even if you are coming back in a few minutes. Unplug appliances and electronics you are not planning to use. Recycle Everything Possible Recycling helps to preserve energy and resources. Recycling reduces the demand for virgin materials that must be extensively transported and processed. You can help the environment by recycling everything possible. This includes glass, paper, and plastics and even scrap metal. Metal recycling from Federal Metals Inc can be one of the most lucrative, eco-friendly endeavors you pursue. Recycling reduces the need for landfills and protects the environment. Carry Your Own Reusable Bag The disposable plastic bags used at many retailers harm the environment. They require petroleum to create. Plastic bags can also end up in natural areas where they harm wildlife, contaminate soil and remain in the environment for decades or longer. Carry your own reusable bag around while shopping to be more eco-responsible. Stop Using Disposable Water Bottles A final step is to stop using disposable plastic water bottles. These water bottles end up in the ocean, landfills and other areas where they cause a range of problems. This is true even for disposable bottles made from recycled materials. You should start using a hard plastic, metal or glass bottle that can be refilled once it is empty. Helping the environment is often as simple as taking a few extra seconds to recycle something or turn off unnecessary lights. The cumulative effect of all your small changes will become significant over the course of a year or more. You can be more eco-responsible without having to change your entire lifestyle.