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  1. In the last couple of decades, people became more conscious of the different ways we affect the environment. Our interested in ecology opened up topics like what damages we've done up until now, can we reverse them and can we prevent them from happening in the future. With global warming, polluted waters and deforestation more people want to take part in protecting our planet, bringing the conversation to our homes. Now we do our research and make conscious purchases. Let's talk about cleaning for example. Some of the products we used to think are harmless, are now proven to be dangerous. They go down the sewer or into the ground on their way to disturb the natural eco-system. Some companies gained a bad reputation for using not-so-eco-friendly chemicals in their cleaning solutions. Behind the beautiful packages and expensive commercials stands something very ugly. The truth. "Kill all the germs!", "More powerful than ever!". What about when this solution goes into the sea? Nothing is lost, the poison just changes locations. Be sure, those chemicals are as bad for the fish, plants and you, as they are for the germs. Simply following the cycle of water, we can see how easily the dangerous chemicals find their way back into our homes. No wonder people have second thoughts about over-the-counter cleaning products. More people opt-in for professional cleaning services because they offer safe cleaning solutions. But beware! A lot of companies saw this demand as a possibility to break through the market, so they started labelling their products as "eco" and "organic". Some of them really are but most are just as bad as the previous ones. Their lie is hidden on the back of the labels. People often get discouraged, as they feel like an insignificant speck in the cosmos. But we should all remember that big changes happen with one step (person and household) at a time. We shouldn't wait for others to change. We should take care of ourselves first and set a good example for everybody else. The number of bad things we should watch out for seems to be growing. From where do you begin? The first step is conscious purchases. Be aware that mass production is in fact "mass" because consumers buy the stuff. Think about it this way – with every choice you make, for every product you buy, you claim what world you want to live in. If you buy products with heavy, harmful chemicals or made by industries that exploit their workers, it's like giving them thumbs up for it. You invest in it, you give it green light. Having this in mind, you can now start applying it in your everyday life – from grocery shopping to what kind of paint you use for your house. The second step is to swap disposable items with reusable ones. Why do you have to spend who-knows-how-much dollars in your lifetime on something that you use only once? Like wet wipes for example. They don't disappear into thin air or dissolve in water as lots of people seem to think. "But it's only one wipe," said a million people while flushing it down the toilet. They build up, causing problems for plumbers, as well as for nature. Simply washing with water and soap should do the trick. And they should be replaced with reusable cloths in our households. We can at least try to cut down the usage. Getting back to the chemicals in the domestic cleaning products. Some of them (actually a great deal of them) are labelled as dangerous to the environment picturing a real wasteland – with a dead fish and a dead tree. This is pretty straightforward. But other companies slip under the radar. Thanks to laws and policies, the businesses are not obligated to list all of the ingredients of the product if there is very little of the toxins in it. Okay, so they're harmless then? Well, no. Combining cleaning solutions can be dangerous and the toxic chemicals build up. Even those that are labelled as “toxic-free” and “green” can be misleading. Watch out for phonies, who use “eco” or words like this only to decorate their label. They should be certified, not just state it freely. People can start feeling discouraged as they seemingly cannot be sure about the trustworthiness of anything. But do we really need to use chemical-based products that much? There are ways to clean without any cleaning solutions. Like using a squeegee and purified water – for windows. Steam treatment technique – for carpets. Pressure cleaning – for outside walls. The later is effective even if the surface has graffiti on it. Those are maybe the best ways to do domestic (and corporate for that matter) cleaning. The equipment for these methods is professional and quite expensive so it's usually used by cleaning experts. If you are looking for service here's a list of what you should be looking for: Environmental Policy Energy Saving processes Responsible products Low energy usage equipment Recycling policy Even if we don't like it, we do have an effect on the world. Why don't we turn that into something positive and actually be the change in our choices? We try our hardest not only to repair the damages done by previous generations but to prevent any of them repeating in the future. And we can do it. Minimising the negative effect on nature has become more important than ever and every household counts. Are you in?
  2. While corporate measures and government initiatives do their part in limiting pollution, truly preserving the planet requires the help of every individual. Though it may seem small, doing your part to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle can have a profound impact on the environment. There are plenty of ways you and your household can easily reduce your carbon footprint. Proper Waste Disposal With waste disposal as simple as dragging a can to the curb, most households put little thought into where all that trash ends up. Unfortunately, even more fail to pay attention to the rules and recommendations set out by their local waste disposal service on how to separate waste items. While it’s perfectly fine for biodegradable items like food waste to safely decompose in a landfill, items like batteries or recyclables like plastic and aluminum should be separated so that they can be dealt with in a safe and sustainable way. Take the time to separate your household’s waste so that in can be disposed of properly. Use a Trash Compactor Plastic trash bags may be convenient, but they are one of the biggest contributors to pollution around the world. Plastics can take as long as 500 years to break down in a landfill, so considering that Americans alone use over 100 billion plastic bags a year, plastic recycling and reduction is one of the most vital ways your family can reduce its carbon footprint. A simple way of doing this is to install a trash compactor. By compressing trash through a company like Pro Star Roll Off Dumpsters, your family can dispose of its waste more efficiently by fitting more waste material per trash bag, drastically cutting down on your plastic use throughout the year. Insulate Your Home If you’d like to help the environment while also saving money, insulating your home is a simple way to accomplish both. While your home’s heater may feel like it’s doing a great job, poorly insulated homes leak much of the heat produced by their climate control system, effectively wasting energy and increasing their carbon footprint. Check your windows and door frames for gaps where heat can escape and use window fixtures that help to trap in heat. For smaller spaces, consider using a space heater occasionally instead of solely relying on your home heating system. Use a Water Filter Once again, plastics are a major contributor to pollution problems. Another major source of plastic is disposable drink bottles, which clutter landfills and recycling centers around the country. While recycling these bottles is helpful, a better choice is to reduce the number you use. Rather than relying on bottled water, purchase a filter system for your kitchen sink so that you can enjoy clean, delicious water year-round. Purchase a refillable travel bottle for when you’re on the go. Not only will it reduce your waste output, but you’ll also save on your grocery bill by no longer needing to buy cases of water. Shop In-Season Eating strawberries and other produce items year-round might be delicious and convenient, but the cost to the environment is astounding. Produce that is out-of-season in your region must be shipped from across the world in ships that put out massive quantities of carbon dioxide. Do your part by learning which food items are in-season, and if you can, try to purchase some of your grocery items from local growers. Every Bit Counts When it comes to saving the environment, every little bit counts. You can easily lower your family’s carbon footprint by making simple changes to how you shop and deal with waste. By adopting these habits you will not only lower your own family’s impact on the environment, but also inspire others in your community to take steps towards more sustainable living.
  3. Did your last energy bill take you by surprise? Yes? And you thought your home was energy efficient. So the best choice you have in order to avoid unpleasant surprises of that particular type is to singlehandedly assess your home's energy efficiency. You can run some tests and see for yourself what you have to do in order to make make your house more energy efficient. If you do, you'll not only save money on electricity bills, you'll also be ensuring your personal safety and the safety of your home. Look for Air LeaksSo to start with, first check your house for any air leaks (drafts). These drafty areas fail to keep warmth inside during the winter months and respectively, the cool air in the summer. Fixing these problems can help you save as much as 30 percent on energy bills each year and on top of that will make your home much more comfortable. Begin by checking for air leaks near windows, doors and vents. If you find any you can easily take care of them yourself by simply airsealing around doors and resealing the caulking on your windows. Make sure you check your flooring and vents as well as all outside areas where different materials meet. Replace Inefficient LightingMost people don't know that, but around 10 percent of your electricity bill is due to lighting charges. So if you still haven't replaced your old incandescent light bulbs, it's high time you did. You can opt for the spiral compact flourescent lamps (CFLs), or the so-called LEDs – light-emitting diodes. They are a bit more expensive than your ordinary bulbs, but are a much better investment because they last a lot longer. Something more, they also let off more delicate light and use less energy, which is another plus and significantly contributes to the return on your investment. Large Household Appliances InspectionAn important step towards making your home more energy efficient and reducing your electricity bills is inspecting your household appliances. The surest sign something's not right with a device would be the loud noises coming out of it and its impaired efficiency. To lighten the workload of some devices, prolong their lifespan and save up on energy, you might want to consider: Buying new and more energy-efficient home appliances with the Energy Star label. It might seem a bit on the expensive side but in the long run the investment will pay off, especially if you take good care of the new device.Switching off or unplugging items from the power grid when you aren't using them. Unplugging them will prevent the so-called vampire draw or phantom loads which refers to the consumed by your appliances electricity when they're in switched off.Regular Air Filter ReplacementReplacing your air filters can also go a long way towards making your home more energy efficient. Ultimately, you should replace the air filters of your ventilation on a monthly basis. Otherwise the debris and dust in the air system will impair the airflow and cause the system's capacity to go down. As a consequence, it will need more energy to heat/cool your house. The regular air filter maintenance also means that no dust and debris will fall out of the vents. So you're saving money on both energy and house cleaning services. Insulation CheckupIn the last few months Melbourne, and Australia as a whole, saw some scorching heats. So if you want to stay cool this summer you better check the insulation of your house. Otherwise, given today's energy prices, the cool loss during the hot summer and the heat loss in winter will make your energy bills skyrocket.
  4. Household odors can be a rather unpleasant phenomenon but lucky for us there are easy ways to get rid of them even if we refuse to employ commercially provided chemicals and products. Baking soda Most of the solutions you will be able to make yourself, and they will be located in your kitchen at this moment. One of the greatest weapons you can use against household odors of many kinds is baking soda. Its effectiveness and versatility are undeniable. Make a simple little solution of baking soda and water. You can use it to remove some odors from your carpet and even upholstery furniture, but you have to use very little, because otherwise you can damage them (check the labels first and don't do anything if they are dry clean only). You can also pour some soda down the drain and complement it with some warm water. The chemical reaction will take care of the rest. You can also use the solution for the garbage bin. White vinegar White vinegar is the green cleaner's strongest ally. You can use it for everything – from an all purpose cleaner, to window cleaner, to odor remover. Baking soda alone won't be enough to get rid of the tobacco smell in your living room, but placing a bowl of white vinegar and warm water sit there for the night will be able to help. That's one of the few things that help against the repulsive smell of tobacco. Also, you might want to stop this harmful habit altogether – that's the best solution to deal with the odor (or at least go and smoke outside). You can also use it in your microwave to both clean and deodorize it. It's really effective. Mint or lavender Now this one might seem a bit unconventional but it's really effective. The kitchen usually smells just like the meal you've cooked and as time passes, the different odors start to mix and it's not really something you want to expose your nose to. Having mint or lavender in a bowl of water and then throwing it on the stove (please, don't throw it literally) and then leaving it there until it boils will fill your kitchen with the scent of either one. Plants This may sound like a pretty obvious solution for battling household odors but it's one of the most effective ones you can possibly employ. Spread more live plants around your home and while making sure that you don't have many sources of unpleasant odors, you will be able to easily contain the situation within normal perimeters. Citrus Peals There are several ways in which citrus peals can be used, mostly in relation to the garbage can. After a nice meal, there are usually leftovers lying around and after a day or two, you throw them away, but since you can't take the trash out because it's not quite full yet. Throwing a few citrus peals in there should be able to mitigate the effects of bad odors. Dehumidifiers This is one of the more high-tech solutions. Some areas with high humidity concentrations, such as basements are the perfect environment in which a wide variety of bacteria and germs can thrive. That's why usually when you go to the basement it smells bad – because of the whole eco-system located there. One easy (although not as cheap) way to deal with the problem is purchasing a dehumidifier. By lowering the humidity in the area, it will change the conditions in the environment and will reduce the number of microorganisms located there. Author Bio: Connie Jameson loves to write about cleaning and hygiene. She currently works a part time job for a local oven cleaners and she loves her job because she has enough time for herself.