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  1. 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.
  2. Keeping our homes clean on a regular basis can mean the difference in being healthy vs. being sick. Many homeowners realize this, however because so many people lead busy lives, rarely do they take the time needed to maintain a clean home. A recent study by the National Center for Healthy Housing found that a sizeable majority of those surveyed did not realize that living in a dirty environment can actually contribute to the development of certain illnesses, such as allergies, asthma or even cancer. The problem for many property owners is that they just do not know exactly what it takes to foster a clean, healthy home environment. Thankfully, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published a set of guidelines for attaining a healthy home. Here are the 7 steps that they suggested in their report: 1. Maintain a Dry and Mold-Free Home. • Clean and preserve gutters and downspouts on a routine basis. This helps to avoid any water buildup, while preventing mold growth. • Repair all water damage in walls and ceilings immediately. If you notice water gathering at the foundation, be sure to dry it immediately. • Routinely check all appliances and plumbing components for water leakages. Repair and dry them as quickly as possible. • Regularly inspect floor drains. 2. Maintain a Clean House. • Dust with a slightly moist cloth frequently. • After dusting, use a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner from a reputable company, such as Miele or Riccar. • Emphasize using non-toxic cleaners, such as baking soda, borax, lemon juice, and vinegar. • Do not use artificial fragrances. These release toxic chemicals and VOCs into the air, where they can cause health problems. • Regularly clean the oven, air-conditioning system, hot water heater, and heater according to manufacturer recommendations. • Routinely clean the refrigerator exhaust fan and drip pan. • Frequently clean the lint screen and clothes dryer vent. • Use floor mats at the inside and outside of all access points to the house. • Do not permit anyone to wear shoes inside the house. 3. Guarantee Optimal Indoor Air Quality. • Invest in a HEPA air cleaner from a reputable brand, such as Austin Air or Amaircare. • Remove all possible sources of contaminants. • Do not allow smoking in the home or near open doors and windows. 4. Maintain Proper Ventilation. • Guarantee that all appliances have proper ventilation (especially gas stoves). • All bathrooms with showers should have an exhaust fan to help reduce humidity levels. Every time you shower, make sure to turn on the fan. • Along with proper air filtration, open windows and doors when the air outdoors is clean. Ventilation helps disperse any contaminants, while introducing fresh air into the home. 5. Control Vermin. • Consistently examine the home for signs of cockroaches, mice, snakes, and other bugs and rodents. • Fill all foundation cracks and openings with caulk, foam, and cement. • Avoid pesticides. If need be, hire an expert that employs integrated pest management (IPM). Also, try to use non-toxic pesticides if and when possible. 6. Foster a Safe Environment. • Set the water heater temperature level to 120 degrees. • Install non-slip mats and grab bars at baths and showers. • Set up non-slip pads under movable rugs. • Use nightlights wherever it is dark. • Quickly replace damaged electrical cords and outlets. • Frequently examine smoke and carbon monoxide gas detectors. • Test for radon. Radon kills over 21,000 people in the U.S. alone each year. • Check the house for peeling paint. Strip and repaint immediately using non-toxic/low VOC paint. 7. Keep the Home Maintained on a Regular Basis • Have the home professionally inspected every year. • Repair all foundation cracks and holes quickly. • Replace broken windows promptly. • Keep the roof in optimal condition. • Change HEPA filters per the cleaner instructions • Replace heater filters every quarter. • Pump the sewage-disposal tank at least every 5 years. Enhancing Your Indoor Air Quality. As property owners, we want to believe that making sure ideal air quality is easy. The reality is that so many building and furnishing products on the market are actually some of the worst air contamination offenders. There is no doubt that this kind of contamination can impact health, particularly in children, the elderly and pets. The reason why certain HEPA air cleaner brands are so popular, such as Austin Air, is that they efficiently remove hazardous airborne contaminants and provide a clean, safe breathing environment. In fact, parents who are concerned with their family's health and well-being should give careful consideration to using a HEPA air cleaner in the home. In addition to following the recommended healthy home guidelines, consider investing in a HEPA air cleaner today and guarantee optimal air quality for years to come. Resource(s): A Healthy Home for Everyone: The Guide for Families and Individuals