What Do You Really Know About Your Furniture?
Posted by December 04, 2017 at 5:18 PM under Environment Home Living Tips

So, you have attractive furniture, and it is soft and comfortable. But what lies below the surface? The bottom line is that couches and chairs can be stuffed with almost anything. Unfortunately, usually, soft furniture is stuffed with the cheapest material possible, which typically means cheap chemical based foam or stuffing that has been impregnated with a variety of chemicals.

 

Is Comfort Really Everything?

 

If your couch is comfortable, that comfort may come at a high price in the form of exposure to various chemicals that have been linked to cancer, respiratory problems, weakened immune systems, learning disabilities in children, fertility problems and more. Of course, it is true that chemicals, including petroleum based chemicals, are everywhere, but that only means that one should be extra vigilant about reducing exposure whenever possible.

While it is true that there is no way to completely eliminate chemical exposure, it is also true that there are many steps that you can take to reduce your overall exposure and, in the process, boost your odds of maintaining or improving your health. Let’s take a closer look at the chemicals found in non-wood furniture and what you as a consumer can realistically do to avoid those chemicals.

 

As it turns out, simple choices can have a big impact on both your health and the environment. What you choose to purchase, and not purchase, has big ramifications in terms of what products will and will not be produced. When you say “no” to a dangerous or potentially toxic product, such as furniture, you are sending a powerful message to manufacturers around the globe.

 

Understanding Formaldehyde

 

Formaldehyde is one of the most common chemicals found in non-wood furniture. Formaldehyde (yes, the same chemical used to embalm bodies!) degasses from many kinds of furniture, from chairs and couches to even tables and dressers. Formaldehyde can degas from furniture not for months, but rather shockingly for years. Sofas, chairs and even bedding can constantly release formaldehyde, which has clearly been linked to cancer, into your air for years.

Considering the amount of time that most of us spend indoor around our furniture this is a huge problem. So, what should you do?

 

The clearest way to avoid formaldehyde exposure is to simply not buy foam or stuffed furniture unless it is made from safe materials. Before you buy, do your research.

 

Choosing wood furniture is a great way to improve your indoor air quality and reduce your exposure to formaldehyde. Another step is to invest in air cleaning plants. Air cleaning plants, such Boston ferns, snake plants and peace lilies, are all excellent at cleaning and protecting the air that you and your family breathe each and every day. These plants are great whether regardless of whether or not you already have foam based furniture.

 

Snake plants, in particular, are remarkably robust and do a great job with low levels of care and light. Many have stated that snake plants are practically indestructible, which, of course, isn’t true. But these tough little plants are a must if you are worried about your indoor air quality. Snake plants are particularly good at breaking down harmful chemicals, such as formaldehyde.

 

Understanding Flame Retardant Chemicals

 

When it comes to dangerous chemicals found in non-wood furniture few are more concerning than flame retardant chemicals. Flame retardant chemicals are put into everything from furniture to bedding, baby products and even electronics. In fact, flame retardant chemicals are a fixture in electronic products, and many fear that they are being overused.

In recent years there has been a push to do away with laws that require furniture manufacturers to put flame retardant chemicals into furniture. However, the lobbies that benefit from the sale of flame retardant chemicals are in no rush to say goodbye to what has been a remarkably profitable and consistent cash cow.

 

Research into flame retardant chemicals in furniture has yielded two findings: first, flame retardant chemicals are usually of minimal value and secondly, the chemicals used can cause cancer and other diseases.

 

Many experts have stated that flame retardant chemicals don’t actually stop fires from spreading. Other studies have pointed to the fact that some flame retardants work to mimic estrogen which can lead to a range of health problems including increased weight, hormone disruption and learning delays in children.

 

However, one fact is certain, furniture containing flame retardant chemicals will serve to produce smoke that is more toxic than it would otherwise be, potentially endangering both occupants as well as fire fighters and first responders.

 

Taking Steps To Protect Your Home

 

There are many steps you can take if you are concerned about the chemicals in your furniture. First, you can replace your furniture with as much wood furniture as possible. Or look for furniture that is specifically designed to be low VOC , flame retardant free, and eco-friendly. For most people, this will take time, as furniture expenses tend to be quite expensive, especially when you’re buying quality furniture.

Secondly, don’t assume that your furniture that looks like wood furniture actually is wood. Many consumers think they are buying wood furniture only to discover that they are buying MDF wood products which are essentially a mixture of sawdust, glues and chemicals. Such furniture is not real wood furniture. As a result, it will degas for years and it won’t last for too long either. This is not what you want.

 

Other steps can be taken to improve your indoor air quality such as buying air cleaning plants and even air purifiers; however, it is important to note that air quality isn’t the only problem with non-wood furniture. The harmful chemicals found in the majority of non-wood furniture also escapes into the environment where it mixes with dust and can be inhaled or most dangerously of all consumed by small children. The safest way to deal with non-wood furniture is to simply avoid having it in your house in the first place.

The Top 3 Eco-Friendly Toothpaste and Mouthwash Options
Posted by November 19, 2017 at 5:55 PM under Home Living Tips

Not all toothpastes are created equally. Many people like the idea of having greater control over their toothpaste and mouthwash options. The old days of having two or three different toothpaste and mouthwash options is over. Today, there are dozens of different toothpastes and mouthwashes on the market. Many of these oral health products offer surprisingly large benefits. In this article, we’ll look at a few of the best options for improving your overall oral health in a safe and environmentally friendly way!

 

Top Eco-Friendly Oral Health Option #1 Xylitol

If you haven’t heard of xylitol, you are certainly not alone. Until the last few years, xylitol was keeping a pretty low profile. But now, entire books have been written on xylitol and its diverse and interesting properties.

 

Part of what makes xylitol such a potentially great product is that it has been widely tested, is all-natural and comes with an array of health benefits. Used as a sugar substitute due to its low glycemic number, xylitol has long been the friend of diabetics and others looking for a sugar substitute. Unlike other sugar substitutes which are chemical based, xylitol comes from natural sources, such as birch trees.

 

Xylitol almost seems tailor made for inclusion in toothpaste and mouthwash. The reason is that xylitol actually works to inhibit the bacteria responsible for cavities. Xylitol’s ability to stop the bacteria that causes cavities has led to it being used in everything from mouthwashes and toothpastes to gums and even candy.

Since xylitol is safe for human consumption, it can even be added to coffee, tea and baked sweets. In addition to reducing one’s risk of developing cavities, xylitol consumption has also been linked to a lower incidence of ear infections in children. One word o

f note, however, xylitol is toxic for dogs, so if you use it as an ingredient in your food, be sure to not allow your pups to eat any of your leftovers.

If you are looking for an all-natural way to reduce your cavity, risk then it is tough to beat what xylitol offers. Look for this ingredient in a very wide range of oral health care products.

 

Top Eco-Friendly Oral Health Option #2 Propolis

Our second eco-friendly toothpaste and mouthwash option believe it or not comes to us from bees. Propolis is literally the glue that bees use to build their hives. It forms a type of sealant and is used in areas where there are small gaps.

 

Scientists who studied propolis discovered that it was something of a wonder. There are many different types of propolis and its properties can vary by region and season.

Propolis is being studied for its ability to help reduce mouth pain and it is even being used in cough drops. Studies are being done into propolis’ ability to help heal wounds, fight bacteria, cold sores and even for its ability to accelerate wound healing after oral surgery. Propolis may be an anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory compound that is particularly useful for protecting oral health.

 

A natural antibiotic, propolis is a great addition to oral health care products and does not have a strong taste especially in the amounts used in toothpaste and mouthwashes. There are products on the market that incorporate both propolis and xylitol into the same toothpaste. One good example is Tom of Maine’s Propolis and Myrrh toothpaste which contains propolis, xylitol and myrrh.

 

Top Eco-Friendly Oral Health Option #3 Manuka Honey

 

Manuka honey has much in common with propolis. Grown in New Zealand, Manuka honey has been studied for its antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Manuka honey has been used extensively, and with good results, for the treatment of serious burns.

 

Manuka honey comes in different grades which correlate to its potential healing power. The UMF rating which stands for Unique Manuka Factor indicates the strength of the honey’s antibacterial properties. The higher the number the higher the potential healing benefits.

 

What some scientist believe is that there are components found in Manuka honey that may stimulate the production of special cells responsible for repairing tissue damage. Hydrogen peroxide is naturally found in honey, and there is evidence that Manuka honey could play a role in decrease plaque. In short, Manuka honey is very impressive and a welcomed addition to toothpaste, especially for those looking for an eco-friendly toothpaste option.

 

Manuka Health’s Manuka and Propolis Toothpaste was designed to reduce plaque and fight tooth decay. It used 400+ Manuka honey as well as high strength propolis and contains no fluoride or sodium lauryl sulfates. Due to the high demand for Manuka honey products, it is important to note that there has been a surge of fake Manuka honey products. It is important to choose reliable, well-known brands and sources of distribution.

Those looking for an alternative to traditional toothpaste and mouthwash options will discover that there are more options than ever. The typical toothpaste and mouthwash options tend to use a variety of chemicals, colorings and additives that many consumers will wish to avoid.

 

Toothpastes and mouthwashes containing xylitol, propolis, Manuka honey or a combination of the three offer a different way to protect teeth and gums. Importantly, many dentists recommend products containing xylitol and even sell them. When you are looking for eco-friendly dental options you’ll definitely want to check out not just what toothpastes and mouthwashes are on the market but also what gums, mints and candies are available. There is a well-built up industry around xylitol in particular and that means lots of products to try.

Incorporating xylitol and Manuka honey into your meals is another easy way to boost overall oral health. Manuka honey in order to be effective should not be heated, but this is really its only limitation. Just remember that if you stir it into hot tea, you will not receive the full benefits of this wonderful ingredient. Combined with regular flossing and dental visits, xylitol, propolis and Manuka honey can help you maintain and improve your oral health.

Seven Often Overlooked Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Posted by November 05, 2017 at 4:31 PM under Environment Home Living Tips

Many people feel that the “whole carbon footprint thing” is mysterious and confusing. While there is no doubt that the topic can become someone complex, at the core reducing our carbon footprint can be surprisingly simple.

 

How much energy you use, especially from polluting and non-renewable sources, determines in part, how much of an impact you are having on the world. Climate change is real, and the consequences of climate change will become ever more evident in the years to come.

 

Recently, studies have shown that the insect population has dropped by as much as 75%. While those of us who are not biologists or environmental scientists don’t think about the importance of insects in the food chain, they play a simply enormous role. Climate change is really slowly evolving into more of a story of environmental devastation and destruction. Yes, that is bleak, but there are small steps you can take to help the environment.

 

Lowering your carbon footprint doesn’t have to be mysterious or complex. Let’s take a look at a few of the ways that you might have missed that you can do to easily lower your carbon footprint.

 

Idea #1 – Fly Less Often

Flying is one of the single biggest and quickest ways to send your carbon print through the ceiling! This should come as no surprise as it takes a lot of energy to get a plane off the ground and fly it through the air at roughly 500 miles per hour with a couple of hundred people on board. Commercial aircraft are true energy hogs and the less you can use them the better.

 

If you are trying to go a relatively short distance, consider driving or taking a train. After all, you’ll get to see the sights from the ground. When you subtract the time it takes to drive to the airport, park, go through security and deal with possible delays, you may very well find the time difference is not as dramatic as you think.

 

Idea #2 – Buy an Electric Car and Solar Roof as Soon as Possible

This tip is definitely looking into the future. Electric cars are not just yet for everyone, and solar roofs are still cost prohibitive. However, the future is changing and fast. Soon electric car performance will exceed that of traditional gasoline powered cars in every way, and solar roofs and solar power systems are poised to drop dramatically in price.

 

Once solar roofs are cheap enough the day could come when you could say goodbye to your gasoline powered car, which is definitely harming the environment, and opt for an electrical power car that is solar fueled. Making this big switch will serve to dramatically lower your carbon footprint and excitingly enough this change is closer than many may believe!

 

Idea #3 – Never or Rarely Drink Bottled Water

Bottled water isn’t just expensive, but it is also very wasteful. In fact, most bottled water is really just slightly purified tape water. Investing in your own water purifier and a rubberized glass bottle is a great way to save money while lowering your carbon footprint.

 

Idea #4 – Eat Local Food

 

Where one lives can play a factor in how much local food one can consume. For example, it is much easier to “eat locally” if you live in Oregon or California than it is if you live in Hawaii. Yet, for most people in most markets it is possible to eat at least some locally grown food. Remember that the longer food has to travel the greater its carbon footprint.

 

Idea #5 – Eat Less Animal Protein

It takes a lot of energy and a lot of water to grow beef, pork and chicken. Simply cutting back on animal protein and getting more of your animal protein from free-range eggs, will help you cut your carbon footprint. Again, anything you do to interact with the environment will have an impact.

 

No one is saying that you have to trade in your hamburgers for cricket paddies, which may be a food of the future, but going vegetarian or vegan for one meal a day or one day a week will help you lower your carbon footprint.

 

Idea #6 – Buy Local Products

Buying local products may be one of the easiest ways to lower your carbon footprints. Just as eating local foods lowers your carbon footprint the same holds true for buying local products. When you opt to buy a local product, you are not just helping to stimulate the local economy but are also reducing carbon emissions.

 

Idea #7 – Eliminate One Bath or Shower a Week

 

If you go to the gym every single day, then this tip might not work for you. But most people don’t work out quite so much and they really may not need as many showers as they take. The simple fact is that showering uses considerable water and, unless you are taking cold showers, a lot of energy as well. Eliminating just one shower a week, or 52 showers a year could really help lower both your carbon footprint and your water bill too!

Of course, in addition to these overlooked ideas, there are the obvious ones as well. For example, bring a canvas bag when you go grocery shopping and try to walk and/or bike as much as possible.

 

 

Biking and walking are not just good for the planet, but they are also good for your health as well. Scientific studies have shown a clear link between walking and improved brain health. If you want to be smarter, more alter and feel better then walking is an easy, safe and low-impact way of achieving this goal.

You can be sure that there are plenty of other ways to lower your carbon footprint as well. Whenever you use energy, you are increasingly your carbon footprint. There are many exciting technologies on the horizon, such as carbon sequestering that can remove carbon from the air, but we can’t rely on these still unproven technologies which may or may not be profitable and scalable. Instead, we all have to find ways to help take the pressure off the planet we live on and love.

The Top Six Overlooked Common Household Dangers
Posted by October 15, 2017 at 1:51 PM under Environment Home Living Tips

People are spending more and more time in their homes, as such there is an increased risk for something to go wrong that is actually quite unexpected. While virtually everyone knows of the importance of fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, there are many other overlooked household dangers that aren’t given as much attention.

 

Let’s take a look at some of the most problematic household dangers that you might not be thinking about on a day to day basis. Overlooking these dangers could increase your risk of disease and even death! That is why this might be the most important article you read all day.

 

Overlooked Danger #1 Toxic Carpeting

Carpeting may be comfortable, especially on a cold winter morning, but carpeting is also a potential breeding ground for bacteria, mold and a warehouse storing a variety of allergens. Making matters even worse is the fact that carpeting can degas toxic chemicals for years.

 

The simple fact is that carpeting is a fixture in most homes. If you can’t remove your carpeting, then consider buying a rug cleaner and using it frequently. Soap and hot water will usually do the trick, so there is no need to buy a chemical rug cleaning solution. Carpet, since it is built into the house, tends to fade into the background like the walls themselves. But keeping your carpet as clean as possible and even replacing it every few years is a prudent move, especially if you have small children and/or pets!

 

Overlooked Danger #2 Air Quality

In general, indoor air quality gets overlooked by most people. The same people that will invest heavily in buying the very best food and exercise equipment and gym memberships will often completely, or almost completely, ignore indoor air quality. Recent medical studies have shown that there is a link between air pollution and diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

 

Air quality plays a role in health and while you can’t do much about outdoor air pollution, you can do a great deal about the indoor quality of your air. Investing in air purification systems such as those made by IQAir, which have been proven to trap airborne particles, bacteria and viruses is a prudent step.

 

Likewise, frequently changing your home’s HVAC filters, buying air cleaning plants, such as the durable and low maintenance snake plant, and opening windows when you burn food during cooking are all steps you can take to improve your indoor air quality. Additionally, purchasing an air quality monitor such as those made by Dylos, which measure the number of air particles in an area, is another good step. Inexpensive air quality monitors don’t reveal the specifics types of particles in the air but they will serve to give you a general idea of your indoor air quality. The importance of protecting your indoor air quality is difficult to overstate.

 

Overlooked Danger #3 Electromagnetic Fields

Just as indoor air quality is often overlooked, the same holds true for electromagnetic fields. This is definitely something most people never consider. But with the increased amount of gadgets and technology in our homes, the EM fields can actually get rather out of control.

 

Further, homes with old wiring or homes with poorly installed wiring (in which wires are coiled up within the walls), can produce dangerously high electromagnetic fields. Exposure to high powered electromagnetic fields can be dangerous to one’s health and may pose a potentially strong danger to young children.

 

The first step in addressing this problem is to buy an electromagnetic field detector. These detectors will tell you where you have the strongest electromagnetic fields. All homes have areas that have higher EM fields, such as the area immediately around your refrigerator for example, but the key is to know where those areas are and to check them. It is especially important to check areas where you spend a good deal of time, such as around your bed, home office, favorite chair or child’s bedroom. Like poor air quality, EM fields may be invisible. But powerful EM fields, especially with prolonged exposure, are not a good idea.

 

Overlooked Danger #4 Unlocked Cabinets

Unlocked cabinets can pose a significant danger for children and even animals. Kitchen cabinets can store everything from knives to medicine to cleaning products. Properly locking your kitchen cabinets so that children and pets are unable to enter is a smart move and one you are not likely to regret.

 

Overlooked Danger #5 Using Space Heaters Wisely

 

Space heaters are a popular way to heat areas not effectively reached by a heating system, but they can also be dangerous. Not only are space heaters a potential source of high EM fields, but they are also fire hazards.

 

One of the best ways to safeguard against a space heater related fire is to purchase a high-quality space heater. Dyson’s Cold+Hot Fan has many built in safety features that help make it a good space heater choice.

 

Overlooked Danger #6 Radon-Odorless, Tasteless and Potentially Deadly

As radon is tested at the time of a purchase of a home, this danger may be something you have considered. But what if you live in a rental unit or it has been decades since you bought your house? You should never assume that you don’t have radon. Until you perform an actual radon test, you simply can’t know whether or not you have a radon issue. Radon is colorless, odorless and over time it can damage lungs. If you do have a radon issue there are many ways that it can be addressed including a radon mitigation system which pulls radon out of your home and releases it outside.

 

The best way to avoid problems is to tackle them head on and in advance. Thinking about what you eat and drink and making sure that you get enough exercise are all great ways to protect your health, but the fact is that this is only the start. Living a healthy life and being healthy means protecting you and your family from threats seen and unseen. While this isn’t always easy it is, of course, worth the time.

The Six Best Non-Dairy Ice Cream Alternatives
Posted by September 30, 2017 at 6:11 PM under Environment Home Living Tips

If you have been wanting to go vegan or are allergic to dairy, perhaps you’ve worried that you’ll never be able to have delicious ice cream again. But then there is good news. The same holds true for those wanting to reduce their dairy consumption or just add a little variety to their dessert choices. You will be happy to hear that there are now more ice cream alternatives than ever before! And we’re not just talking about ice cream parlors, we’re talking about products you can make or buy and eat in the comfort of your own home.

 

The old days of ice crystal filled tasteless soy ice cream is long gone. In its place, we now have an array of excellent non-dairy ice cream alternatives that are sure to please. Perhaps most surprising about today’s new wave of ice cream alternatives is the sheer variety and quality that they represent. Now, explore a few of the highest-quality and tastiest ice cream alternatives on the market. (Trust us, after this article you will definitely want to put down the laundry and grab a pint of ice cream.)

 

Option #1 Avocado Ice Cream

Whomever it was who first thought of making avocado ice cream is, in fact, a genius. There are plenty of online recipes for avocado ice cream. The Food Network even has a tasty avocado ice cream recipe that is easy to make and serve to your family. What makes this recipe amazing is that there is zero churning required.

 

If you’ve ever made your own ice cream then you know all too well that the churning part of making your own ice cream serves to take out some of the joy. Simply puree your avocado, add milk, lemon juice and salt and put it in a blender. Then add whipped cream and put everything in a pan and let it freeze overnight. Another great avocado ice cream recipe can be found over at Kawaling Pinoy.

If you don’t want to make your own avocado ice cream, there are companies eager to help you out. One avocado ice cream company is Organic Cado. Organic Cado has three great flavors: Mint Chocolate Chip, Deep Dark Chocolate and Simply Lemon. Organic Cado uses great ingredients. For example, their Mint Chocolate Chip flavor contains just organic avocado, organic cane sugar, organic chocolate chip, organic vanilla extract, organic guar gum and organic peppermint oil.

 

Option #2 Coconut Ice Cream

 

Coconut ice cream has become a very popular option with vegetarians, vegans and lots of others who love the creamy taste of coconut. Companies such as Coconut Bliss and Nada Moo have jumped into the coconut ice cream market with both feet. Coconut Bliss and Nada Moo both feature a mindboggling number of great flavors. Nada Moo’s organic flavors include Chocolate Peanut Butter, Birthday Cake (yes, birthday cake), Rockiest Road, That Snickerdoodle Dough, Salted Caramel, Chocolate Cherry Fudge Brownie, Pistachio Nut, Lotta Mint Chip, Vanilla, Gotta Do Chocolate, Cookies and Cream, Maple Pecan, Chocolate Almond Chip, Creamy Coconut and even Java Crunch!

 

There are many coconut ice creams on the market, but you can also make your own with a few easy ingredients including canned coconut milk. Eat Healthy and Eat Happy has a great recipe for Coconut Milk Cinnamon Ice Cream.

 

Option #3 Cashew Ice Cream

Cashewtopia is a cashew based ice cream from Organic Nectars. They have several flavors currently available: Cherry Chocolate Swirl, Chocolate, Chocolate Hazelnut, Mint Chocolate Swirl, Pistachio and Vanilla Bean. Cashewtopia’s ingredients are organic, and the ice creams are generally low in sugar, using organic agave inulin and organic evaporated coconut palm nectar. Every Cashewtopia pint is made with 100% raw organic cashews and is free of unprocessed sugar.

 

Option #4 Soy Ice Cream

Soy ice cream is often thought of as the only ice cream alternative, but obviously, the non-dairy ice cream landscape has really changed in the last few years. One soy ice cream that really delivers is So Delicious.

 

So Delicious makes soymilk ice creams that include Chocolate Velvet, Creamy Vanilla, Peanut Butter Zig Zag and others. What helps make So Delicious stand out is the fact that the company makes ice creams from almond milk, coconut milk and cashew milk, meaning that So Delicious is tackling non-dairy ice cream from every angle. Clearly, they have experience.

 

Option #5 Almond Ice Cream with Ben & Jerry’s

So Delicious isn’t the only company that is making an almond based ice cream. The famous Ben & Jerry’s ice cream company also makes a vegan, almond milk based ice cream. Currently, they have seven different flavors: Caramel Almond Brittle, Cherry Garcia (of course), Coconut Seven Layer Bar, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Chunky Monkey, Coffee Carmel Fudge and P.B. & Cookies.

 

Option #6 A Hybrid-Coconut and Cashew Ice Cream

 

We are currently living in what many have called the “Golden Age” of non-dairy ice creams. One company had the bright idea of making their ice cream out of a combination of organic coconut and organic cashews. The Raw Ice Cream Company offers a range of flavors including Chocolate, Vanilla, Chocolate Hazelnut, Chocolate Cookie, Chocolate Fudge, Vanilla Fudge Swirl, Mint and Mint Chip. Currently, the Raw Ice Cream Company is only available in New York. But with a little luck, soon it will be in stores everywhere.

 

The Bright Future of the Non-Dairy Ice Cream Market

 

Whether you decide to choose coconut, avocado, almond, soy, cashew or even a mixture of ingredients, customers looking to avoid dairy now have the more options than ever. Vegans, individuals who are lactose intolerant and people are simply looking for something interesting, new and, of course, tasty, will find that they have no shortage of incredible options. Companies both large and small have jumped into the lucrative ice cream market. In the process, there now is pretty much no excuse not to eat ice cream.

The Top 3 Water Purifier Options and Why You Need Them
Posted by September 17, 2017 at 5:51 PM under Environment Home Living Tips

Water quality doesn’t just vary around the world, but can actually vary from state to state, city to city and even neighborhood to neighborhood. Recently high profile water problem news stories, such as the problems with the water supply in Flint, Michigan, help to underscore just how important it is to purify and safeguard one’s own water. The bottom line is that water is simply too important to your overall health to not take proactive measures.

 

Like air contamination, water contamination is often overlooked when it comes to health and safety, which is a shame. Water contamination stories are becoming more and more common. Industrial and agricultural runoff, ineffective sewer treatment facilities that were not designed to remove drugs excreted into the water supply and other sources of contamination do find their way into the water and food supply.

 

While there are many reasons that local water supplies are being contaminated, ranging from aging infrastructure to fracking, industrial and agricultural runoff and more, what can’t be denied is that the average person needs to purify their water, especially their drinking water.

In this article, we’ll examine a few of the best water purification options on the market. We will go beyond the simple water pitcher purification options that so many people rely upon for their clean water. While often better than no water purification option, these water pitchers unfortunately often fail to provide truly effective water purification. This is especially true in problematic regions of the world. Water purification systems can be extremely expensive, however, our look at water purifiers focuses on easy to install, easy to use and maintain and relatively affordable options.

 

Option One- Water from Air Systems

 

The priciest option on the list is the water from air system, also known as an atmospheric water generator or AWG. These systems extra moisture from the air, purify it and turn it into drinking water. This option can be a good fit for those living in areas with questionable water supplies or water supplies that have experienced problems in the past. There are several options on the market with some options featuring reverse osmosis and even UV sterilization.

Once purchased the per gallon cost is low, usually around just $0.20. If you are looking for a way to avoid ground water contaminants, fluoride, lead from old pipes and other water contamination issues, then a water from air system is definitely something worth considering.

What can make this option problematic to implement is that there are many options on the market, using many different, often patented, technologies. Some opt for ozone purification and others do not. That stated, an AWG has the sizeable benefit of always providing a consistent water source. The systems not only allow users to bypass heavy metals and fluoride but also viruses and bacteria as well. Atmospheric water generations can cost several thousand dollars.

 

Option Two – Countertop Water Purifiers

On the other end of the pricing spectrum is the vastly more affordable countertop water purifier. One of the best countertop water purifiers, priced around $100, is the New Wave Enviro 10 Stage Water Filter System. The unit is far from perfect, however, the price point, ease of use and quality of water help to make this unit a standout. Whereas, AWG units can cost $3,000 or more, the New Wave Enviro 10 can usually be found for under $100, but there are drawbacks to this approach. Countertop units means that you can see the unit. With some effort, the New Wave Enviro 10 can be mounted under the sink, as can other countertop units.

 

Another problem is that the New Wave Enviro 10 doesn’t always attach to the faucet with ease and filter replacement can be difficult, as filters are not easily labeled to indicate which direction is down and should interface with the main unit. With that fact stated, however, the unit is an overall winner due to its price and effectiveness.

 

While it will never win any beauty contest and the hose-faucet design can be cumbersome and probably even irritating, this low cost, high results solution is worth investigating. The ten stage filter can remove everything from heavy metals to bacteria, virus, pesticides, cancer causing chemicals and more. Best of all, no new plumbing is necessary, and the unit can filter about 1,500 gallons of water annually depending on the level of contamination in your water. However, it is very important to note that this unit will not filter out fluoride.

 

Option 3 – Berkey Water Filters

Another, slightly more expensive, bulkier and more cumbersome water purification option is the Big Berkey Water Filter System. The Big Berkey usually costs around $300, is a little on the large side and sits on top of the counter. Water is poured into the top of the stainless-steel unit, is purified slowly and then comes out of a spout at the bottom.

 

While the Berkey units aren’t super streamlined or easy to use, they have undergone considerable testing, and the results have been good. Also, if you are looking to remove fluoride from your water, then you’ll want to consider this option.

 

Berkey water filters have been shown to remove VOCs, heavy metals, chemicals, pesticides and more. The units are portable and can be taken on camping trips which helps add to their value. Units can produce several gallons per day and provide hundreds of gallons before filters must be replaced.

 

These three options vary in price and approach. Ultimately, where water is concerned, one of the most important steps one can take is to test one’s water and the water purification system that you choose.

When it comes to water, it is essential to think about more than just taste. Some harmful elements are completely tasteless and odorless. Also just because your water has never made you sick in the past doesn’t mean that it couldn’t potentially have long term consequences. The best approach is to stay proactive and make sure your family’s water supply is protected.

What are the Top Air Purifiers on the Market and Why Do You Need Them?
Posted by September 02, 2017 at 2:55 PM under Environment Home Living Tips

 

The indoor air of the typical home is polluted. But just how polluted is a given home’s indoor air quality?  It all depends on factors, such as the home’s location and how it was built. Living close to a busy street or highway can translate to air quality issues. Likewise, living in close proximity to factories can also present significant air quality problems.

 

Many people believe that outdoor air quality in cities is mostly due to road traffic, but this is not always the case. Recently, residents of what many felt was one of the world’s “greenest cities,” Portland, Oregon discovered that the city had substantial air quality issues. A unique program that analyzed moss in the city discovered that there were oddly high levels of dangerous heavy metals such as lead and cadmium.

Residents were confused as you might imagine, and eventually it was discovered that two glass making facilities both located in the heart of city were pumping out large levels of toxic heavy metals. As you can see, you truly never can take your neighborhood’s air quality for granted.

 

The issue is still not completely resolved, and the story of Portland’s recent air quality woes serves to underscore the tremendous importance of cleaning one’s indoor air. One of the single best ways to protect your indoor air quality is to have an air purifier in your home.

 

Air Pollution Has Many Sources

 

Outdoor air quality is clearly a problem when it comes to maintaining indoor air quality, but it is far from the only problem. Two other factors are contributing to poor indoor air quality. The first is the building materials used in construction.

Building materials are often made with or impregnated with a range of chemicals. These chemicals are constantly degassing and in the process degrading indoor air quality. However, it isn’t just your home’s insulation, drywall, glues and adhesives and other materials that contribute to poor air quality. Household furniture, such as couches and chairs, are often made using a complex mixture of chemicals. Indoor air pollution when combined with outdoor air pollution serve to create a powerful one-two punch. The bottom line is that most homes need indoor air quality help.

 

Let’s take a look at some of the best air purifiers on the market.

 

IQAir

IQAir is tough to beat in the air purifier space. Constructed in Switzerland, these air purifiers use multiple stages and truly do achieve impressive results. No doubt IQAir, air purifiers tend to be more expensive than other options but they also deliver outstanding results.

 

During the 2003 SARS outbreak in Hong Kong, IQAir units were installed in hospitals and many believe they played a role in slowing down or even stopping the outbreak. Medical authorities in Hong Kong did not make their choice lightly as they first tested many different systems before ultimately opting for IQAir. In the end, IQAir systems were installed in 150 hospitals and other health care facilities throughout Hong Kong.

 

The American Lung Association has also partnered with IQAir as part of an educational campaign and in 2008, the U.S. Olympic Committee teamed with IQAir to provide clean air at the Beijing games. Part of the IQAir “magic” resides in the company’s use of HyperHEPA fiters.

 

HyperHEPA filters can capture virus and bacteria as well as other particles. The HyperHEPA filters used by IQAir allow for extremely small particles to be captures. The simple fact is that IQAir, air purifiers work and they even have a whole house version that can clean the air moving through a home’s HVAC system. However, IQAir units and their replacement filters are expensive. Yet, that stated, there is no arguing with IQAir’s impressive track record and proven results. If you are interested in seriously upgrading your indoor air quality, you’ll want to check out IQAir.

 

Wynd

On the other end of the cost spectrum is Wynd. Wynd sounds a little like science fiction. Wynd is a portable air purifier that is only about the size of a moderately sized flashlight that actually works. While it looks too small to yield results, the Wynd portable air purifier does a fine job cleaning a small area. For those living in small apartments or looking for a way to purifier the air in their car, bedroom or any other small area the Wynd has a lot to offer. The Wynd also features low cost filter replacements averaging around $10 and units costs a fraction of both IQAir and Molekule units.

 

Molekule

No doubt about it, the Molekule, air purifier uses some pretty advanced technology. Over 20 years of research and development went into the creation of the Molekule, and all this hard work definitely shows. The Molekule doesn’t capture viruses, bacteria, mold and pollutants like the other two air purifiers on our list. Instead, the Molekule literally destroys them, literally! This isn’t a marketing slogan.

 

The nanoparticle-coated filter dissembles and converts pollutants into harmless elements. The end result are molecules that are safe to breathe instead of potentially harmful ones. In terms of pricing, the Molekule is comparable to the most basic IQAir model and the replacement filters are cheaper as well. To date, there has been nothing on the market like Molekule. In fact, Molekule might be our first look at the future of air purifiers.

 

Reclaim Your Healthy Air

In today’s world, if you have the budget available to buy an air purifier, you should. Even if you aren’t tackling outside air conditions like pollution from factories, highways or natural occurrences like forest fires, there are still toxic issues from indoor items like degassing new furniture or cigarette smoke. All of these can have a negative impact on your health and the health of your family.

 

All three of the air purifiers featured in this article have their respective benefits. Diet, exercise and even water filtering receive great attention, but often overlooked in the process is purifying one’s indoor air. Improving your indoor air quality is one of the most important steps you can take towards safeguarding your health.

The Health, Energy and Money Saving Benefits of an HRV
Posted by August 10, 2017 at 3:31 PM under Home Living Tips

An HRV, or a heat recovery ventilator, is a home add-on that may be new for many people. When it comes to HVAC systems, most only are familiar with the common options like air conditioners, furnaces and heat pumps. However, the benefits of having an HRV in your home can be tremendous. Whether you are concerned with indoor air quality, saving energy or lowering your carbon footprint, an HRV could be exactly what you need.

 

How Does It Work?

Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRV) is designed to accomplish two main functions. The first is to assist with energy recovery and the second is to act as an air exchanger. An HRV can be connected to an existing HVAC system or built as a standalone unit.

 

Many homeowners find that HRVs work very well in spaces such as converted attics and other tight spaces, which may not be properly ventilated. HRVs are thus designed to either be connected directly to a HVAC system or can be installed completely independent from a home’s HVAC system.

 

A cross plate heat exchanger works to recover some of the heat that passes through the device. When combined with the HRV’s overall low energy requirement, there can be significant heating cost savings. The HRV also works to cycle in fresh air while pumping out old potentially polluted air. The one-two punch that HRVs provide help to make it an increasingly interesting device for home owners.

 

HRV and Indoor Air Quality

Buildings are getting tighter and tighter every single year. As regulations require homes to be better insulated and homeowners want to save on energy, homes are becoming increasingly well sealed as a result. Insulation, weather stripping and building codes are all combining to improve home energy efficiency but often at a cost; this is where an HRV can be a valuable home improvement choice.

 

Tighter homes may be more energy efficient, but that efficiency often produces a considerable drop in indoor air quality. Indoor air quality is usually several times worse than outdoor air quality. In the past, the traditional leaky homes, while not as energy efficient as many of today’s homes, may have been drafty but that issue did allow for more natural air flow.

 

One of the key benefits of an HRV is that can help bring fresh air from outdoors into the home and pump out polluted air. Of course, that isn’t the entire picture. HRVs use filters, such as HEPA filters, to clean the outdoor air that is being brought into the house before it is circulated throughout the home. Without this feature, HRVs would essentially just be pulling in outdoor air.

 

The Radon Factor

The fact of the matter is that HRVs can do more than provide cleaner air in tighter homes. As an HRV is venting indoor air, it is also possible for HRVs to help reduce radon levels. Radon is a colorless, odorless noble gas that has been linked to diseases like cancer when exposure lasts for a long duration.

 

Of course, this is not to state that an HRV should always be used as a replacement for a radon remediation system when warranted; however, an HRV can be a valuable tool for helping to reduce radon levels since indoor air is constantly removed from the home and fresh air is pumped in.

Improving indoor air quality can have a range of health benefits. When selecting an HRV it is prudent to look for one that incorporates a HEPA filter.

 

HEPA filters remove more than particulate matter as they also trap bacteria and even viruses. Improving your indoor air quality can lead to fewer colds, flus and potentially other illnesses. Recent studies have shown that there may be a link between Alzheimer’s and poor air quality. Other studies have linked air pollution and lower I.Q.s. If you start to connect the dots it quickly becomes obvious that we should do all that we can to ensure that our families enjoy the best air quality possible.

 

HRV and Energy Savings

 

HRVs can save homeowners a great deal of money, especially in cold climates. If you live in a climate that is cold for a large percentage of the year then an HRV may very well be a device worth considering. Since HRVs recover a considerable percentage of the heat that passes through them those living in cold climates may see a marked drop in heating costs. Additionally, many HRVs are designed to consume very little energy.

 

There are models that use as little operational energy as a 40-watt light bulb. The cost savings an HRV represents when factored over the lifetime of a home can be considerable, especially in colder climates.

 

Additional Benefits and Features

HRVs can also be used to control humidity, thus helping to reduce the chances of developing mold. Many HRV units come with a variety of features such as an air circulation mode that strictly takes advantage of the HRV’s ability to purify air and a high-power mode that increases the amount of air being circulated from outside.

 

Operating an HRV isn’t a “set-it-and-forget-it” situation. Filters have to be changed and cleaned and a moderate degree of annual maintenance is required. It is important to remember that an HRV brings in potentially polluted air and cleans it. For this reason, filters may become dirtier quicker than expected. How long filters last partially depends on the pollution in the home’s area. That stated, HRVs do have great value, especially for homeowners in colder climates and for those living in well insulated homes. Homeowners with converted attics that receive poor air circulation should consider an HRV for the reasons outlined in this article.

 

One argument against HRVs is the price and there is no doubt that a good unit can be pricey. However, for those who put a premium on their indoor air quality or those living in very well insulated homes, an HRV could be seen as a welcome addition to one’s home.

The Top 7 Eco-Friendly Shoes on the Market
Posted by July 31, 2017 at 6:38 PM under Environment

 

Finding a good pair of eco-friendly shoes is a little trickier than it might initially seem. Just because a shoe isn’t made from leather doesn’t mean that it is necessarily eco-friendly. It could also have an ingredient derived from wool, fur, pearls, shells or silk. Frequently, vegan shoes are also made from plastics which, of course, means that they are derived from oil. Truth be told, a “vegan shoe” may actually not be so eco-friendly. That’s why you have to do your research.

 

The good news is that you can find a surprising variety of eco-friendly shoes in a range of styles. Those looking to step out in a true eco-friendly fashion will find that they now have plenty of great options of they look around enough.

 

Neuaura

When it comes to eco-friendly footwear, Neuaura really deserves some recognition.  Like Beyond Skin, Neuaura is a vegan shoe company that doesn’t use any animal products in the creation of its shoes. At no point in the creation of their shoes do they use any leather, wool, silk, pearls, fur or shells.

 

If it is an animal product, then it won’t make its way into Neuaura. Neuaura considers itself to be an “Eco-Conscious Animal-Free” shoe company and they definitely deliver. Currently, Neuaura sells everything from boots and flats to heels and wedges.

 

Noharm

Noharm’s mission to combine great shoes with “ethical consumerism.” Their vegan footwear is
“high fashion and cruelty free.” Like Neuaura, absolutely no animal products are used in the creation of their shoes.

 

Additionally, Noharm, whose shoes are handmade in Italy, have taken a firm stance against worker exploitation making them people friendly as well. The diversity and styling of Noharm helps make Noharm truly stand out in an increasingly crowded eco-friendly shoe crowd. They have shoes ranging from loafers and boots to moccasins and vegan suede shoes. You can learn more about Noharm by clicking here.

 

Vegan Chic

Vegan Chic’s motto is “where fashion meets compassion.” Vegan Chic focuses on helping consumers lower their carbon footprints in a variety of ways. They ship in recycled and re-usable shoe bags and in the case of their pinatex shoes, use material such as fibers that come from pineapple harvesting. Many of their shoes are made in Portugal and all their shoes are vegan and environmentally friendly. Vegan Chic’s handmade, cruelty-free vegan shoes can be found here.

 

Keep Shoes

For those looking for a vegan shoe that is really different, check out what Keep Shoes has to offer. They take pride in creating innovative, cool and cruelty-free shoe options. All of their shoes and products use organic and sustainably-grown materials. They work with artisans in locations such as Guatemala, Japan and North America.

 

Also, Keep works with non-profits who monitor their work locations to ensure that all work conditions are ethical, and a Keep representative is on the line of each and every production. If you want to feel good about your shoes, then Keep is a good place to start. In addition to shoes, Keep also manufacturers clothing including t-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, scarves, bags and more. Learn more about Keep by visiting their website.

 

Beyond Skin

Beyond Skin is a U.K. based vegan shoe company that features both men’s and women’s shoes. Part of what helps Beyond Skin stand out is the fact that they have a tremendous variety of shoes. Created in 2001, the goal of Beyond Skin was to create vegan and ethical footwear. Their shoes are made in Spain and from eco-friendly materials. They use recycled polyurethane instead of PVC which breaks down into estrogen-mimicking chemicals and causes other health problems.

 

Additionally, many of their shoes use 100% recycled PET plastics and feature insoles that are 70% post-consumer cardboard. In short, Beyond Skin looks for innovative and clever ways to replace the components and materials commonly used in shoe manufacturing with those that are more people and planet friendly. See all that Beyond Skin has to offer here.

 

 

Vegetarian Shoes

Vegetarian Shoes take their mission very seriously. If you are looking for eco-friendly and vegan shoes, boots and more then you’ll definitely want to check out this option.

 

Vegetarian Shoes has everything from hiking boots, hemp boots and shoes and casual shoes to sandals, belts, bags and more. Their products are made in England and other parts of Europe and can be shipped worldwide. Vegetarian Shoes are definitely not a newcomer to the shoe scene as the company was founded in 1990. The great looks and styling of Vegetarian Shoes is part of what helps them stand out. Shoes are frequently made in such location as Portugal, long known for their tradition of creating high-quality footwear. Click here to learn more about Vegetarian Shoes.

 

Eco-Friendly Shoes on Etsy

When it comes to finding something truly unique and interesting in the world of shoes and fashion, Etsy is hard to top. The simple fact is that Etsy offers an array of small shoe manufacturers that are making vegan and eco-friendly shoes. No matter what kind of footwear you are looking for the odds are excellent that Etsy has something for you.

 

Everything from handmade wool and felt shoes to cork shoes are all available. Cork is a durable, lightweight and eco-friendly, which helps to explain why this material is gaining in popularity. Cork is generally viewed as being sustainable as the cork tree is not cut down instead the cork is simply harvested. Now cork is not just being used in flooring but in everything from shoes to bags and more. Check out these stunning cork offerings made in Portugal by clicking here.

 

Vegan shoes have evolved into a tremendous option for consumers. Today’s eco-friendly footwear is diverse both in the materials used and in design. The end result are fashionable and long lasting footwear options that rival footwear made using traditional materials such as leather. Eco-friendly shoes have never been more diverse or more interesting than they are now. Consider supporting one of these companies and, in the process, you’ll lower your carbon footprint and keep walking in style.

The Top 6 Most Entertaining Laundromats
Posted by June 30, 2017 at 5:40 PM under Clotheslines and Laundry

 

Doing your laundry has to be boring, right? Around the world many savvy entrepreneurs decided to look at one of society’s oldest and most boring tasks, doing laundry, with new eyes. The end result is a new take on a very old concept.

 

If you think that laundry day has to be a boring day, then think again. Each of these laundromats has a lot of character and class. Patrons actually look forward to the day each week when they get to go do their laundry because delicious food, socializing or unique entertainment goes right along with their clean clothing.

 

Whether you’re looking to grab a bite to eat while doing your laundry or maybe even want to play a little pinball, this eclectic bunch of hip, cool and fun laundromats have something to offer everyone. Let’s jump in and take a look at 5 of the world’s coolest and most interesting laundromats.

 

Fun Laundromat #1-Brainwash Café & Laundromat

The Brainwash Café & Laundromat hasn’t reinvented either concept of the café or the laundromat, but by combining both together in one fun package Brainwash Café & Laundromat has created a memorable experience.

 

Located at 1122 Folsom Street in San Francisco, Brainwash features a café that is fully loaded. There is everything from salads and breakfast items to soups, finger foods and burgers. Brainwash certainly lives up to its café title as there are plenty of hot drinks from coffee and expresso and even cold beer and even wine.

 

Brainwash is not the typical laundromat. Not only does Brainwash provide ample washers and dryers but the facility also has a wash and fold service and professional laundry and dry cleaning. If you are in the San Francisco area or are traveling and need to do a little laundry, you should check out Brainwash.

 

Fun Laundromat #2-Café Laundromat Oslo

Norway has a great deal to offer and its capital, Oslo is considered one of the world’s leading cities. Café Laundromat has built an impressive global reputation by changing up the laundromat experience in a major way. It is built around three core ideas “Eat. Read. Wash.”

 

Café Laundromat has a huge and tasty menu, hundreds of books to read and plenty of space for doing your laundry. In short, this destination is a true travelers delight! Breakfast and lunch options are plentiful, there is a kid’s menu and a wide array of burgers and pizzas available well into the night. The book shelves at Café Laundromat are very well stocked and stacked high.

 

The odds are excellent that you’ll find something that you’ll like at Café Laundromat as book offerings range from comics to encyclopedias. Somewhat surprisingly, Café Laundromat sports one of the largest private libraries in the city with over 4000 books! Comfy chairs abound at this Oslo gem.

 

Fun Laundromat #3-Laundromat Café, Copenhagen

Another Scandinavian country, Denmark has also reinvented the humble laundromat, and in the process elevated it to something unique, interesting and rather inviting. Copenhagen’s Laundromat Café is quirky, charming, expertly decorated and unforgettable.

 

The Laundromat Café concept has worked so well that since opening in 2004 that there are now 3 locations in Copenhagen and a location in Reykjavik, Iceland which opened in 2011. The Laundromat Café concept works for a variety of reasons. The décor is excellent, there are plenty of machines and there are many different kind of homemade food options. Drink options include everything from coffee and tea to milkshakes and beer. When in Copenhagen or Reykjavik be sure to vest Laundromat Café.

 

Fun Laundromat #4-Sunshine Laundromat

When it comes to scoring points for creative, you have to take your hat off to Sunshine Laundromat & Pinball, yes pinball, in Brooklyn, New York. It is one part laundromat, one part arcade and one part art museum, Sunshine Laundromat and Pinball infuses laundry day with some much-needed fun!

 

The beer flows freely and there are a range of special events including New Year’s Eve and Halloween parties. Sunshine customers have commented that the both the pinball and beer selections at amazing. Night owls will want to take note that Sunshine stays open late, often as late as 4am. So, if you have some laundry that simply can’t wait until the next morning then Sunshine Laundromat & Pinball is the place for you.

 

Fun Laundromat #5-Wasbar

Located in Gent, Belgium, Wasbar like the other four fun laundromats we’ve featured has much to offer. The décor is very pleasant and there is a variety of food and drink options including delicious bagel sandwiches and a brunch buffet.

 

Wasbar is one of those places that instantly makes you feel as though you are home, with plenty of homemade foods and soups. There is also plenty of room to work at Wasbar so consider bringing your laptop! Wasbar’s greatest charm is that it just feels right and cultivates a warm and friendly environment.

 

Fun Laundromat #6-Spin Laundry Lounge

Portland is well-known for its focus on sustainability and its various eco-friendly offerings. The laundromat Spin Laundry Lounge is no exception, calling itself “Portland’s Eco-Focused Laundromat, Bar & Café.” The facility has LED lightbulbs and over 50% of the staff bikes to work. Spin Laundry Lounge also makes its water and energy usage transparent, providing numbers on its website. They also make it a point to donate all the lost laundry that comes through the doors to people in need.

 

As far as the fun part, this cool place offers coffee, beers and local snacks for people while they wait for their clothes to dry. There are also pinball games and sports showing on projectors so people don’t miss their favorite games.

 

 

Changing the Old Laundromat Game and Doing It with Style

 

While we’ve covered five interesting and fun laundromats around the world, there are many more waiting to be discovered. Cologne, Germany’s Cleanicum, Splash Laundrette and Barcelona, Spain and Wash and Coffee in Amsterdam are just three of many additional fun laundromats that could have easily made our list.

 

Laundromats are changing and adapting to keep step with busier and more demanding lifestyles. In the past, doing laundry at a laundromat was usually a dull or even depressing experience, but thinks to trailblazers like Wasbar, Sunshine, Café Laundromat, Laundromat Café and Brainwash, laundry time is looking up for the first time in, well, just about forever.