Archive for the 'Eco-friendly' Category

December 2nd, 2013
By Marie-France Roger

It seems as though, no matter how “environmentally friendly” you are during the year, something seems to come over us during the holiday season that tends to diminish push all of these good intentions to the side.

The following are 10 of Marie France’s suggestions that will help you to remain “green” while enjoying this festive time of the year!

1. By re-using wrapping paper or gift bags you are extending the life of these items and helping to reduce the amount of waste that finds itself in landfill.

2. Instead of exchanging store bought gifts with your closest friends, why not agree to exchange clothes or accessories with each other. That electric blue pashmina that you just can’t seem to match with anything could be the perfect accent for your friend’s new winter coat!

3. How about vintage? What better a way to express your appreciation for someone than to spend time looking for a perfect, one of a kind find for a truly unique gift!

4. If you want to give a party but don’t want the hassle of washing all of those dishes, forget the disposable items and rent instead. You probably don’t have  48 champagne flutes and will only use them rarely so buying stemware could be prohibitively expensive and plastic just won’t do. You can probably find a local supplier who rents party ware such as dishes and stemware at a relatively reasonable rate (usually from $.50 to $2. for a wine glass) the cost of which often includes delivery, pick-up and washing (so you won’t even need to go to the trouble yourself)!

5. If you do opt for throw away dishes, look for those that are recyclable and/or bio-degradable.

6. Start a new tradition and plant a tree with your family! (in colder climates you may need to dig the hole before the ground freezes!)

7. Scavenge branches, flower pods, and other foliage that you have gathered locally to make-up the large part of your centerpiece, adding a few special touches to give it sparkle

8. Lower the thermostat and warm up by the fire, a cozy way to celebrate the season and even to recycle some of the abundance of the season’s endless supply of  junk mail!

9. Look for sustainable materials (such as bamboo) when purchasing new items, either for yourself or to give as gifts, and try to go for longevity with quality items that will not need to be so frequently replaced. L.E.D.s consume a fraction of the electricity required by traditional bulbs and come in an exciting variety of colors that will brighten your holidays for many seasons to come, why not take advantage of after Christmas sales to stock up for next year?

10. Recycle your tree instead of throwing it away. Most areas have a composting program and will pick up the trees according to a schedule so find out when to put your tree out to give it a second life in the spring!

Please feel free to share your holiday suggestions and have a wonderful holiday season.


May 27th, 2013
By Alexandre

When people think about environmentally respectful houses, they usually tend to picture very high-tech buildings whose components are way too expensive. Although it is true that green houses can cost a little more to build than regular houses, they also tend to sell for more: last year in California, for instance, their cost was 9% higher than regular homes. Yet, if your current home is not intrinsically green, there are easy ways to make it more environmentally friendly without spending an astronomical amount of money.

1. Program your house’s temperature

Space heating can represent up to about 45% of an American household’s utility bills. This is a huge proportion! But that is actually good news: if space heating makes up such a big fraction of your energy bills, it is likely that you can save a lot mot money if you come to grips with this issue and seek to reduce the amount of energy you use to heat (and cool) your living space!

One of the cheapest and most effective ways to cut down on the amount of energy that is necessary to make your home comfortable is to opt for programmable thermostats. This type of heating control system allows you to adjust your home temperature according to parameters, which you set yourself in order to have them meet your specific needs. You could, for instance, make sure that your home temperature is at 21 degrees when you get up in the morning, have it automatically go down to 17 when you leave for work and have it go back up to 21 when you come back at night. This could help you save significant amounts of energy.

2. Look for water leaks and wastes

Fresh water abounds in North America. Canada alone is home to about 20% of the world’s total fresh water resources – underground aquifers and glaciers included. This is no surprise, then, that Americans and Canadians respectively are the first and second greatest water consumers on earth. Yet, abundance of water on a given territory is no justification for careless consumption. One of the easiest ways to cut down on pointless water consumption is to look for leaks.

In the United States, it is estimated that about 10% of homes have leaks that waste at least 90 gallons of water every day! These wastes generally come from dripping faucets or leaking toilet flappers, for example. If all domestic leaks were fixed, about one trillion gallons of water could be saved yearly in the United States: this is equivalent to the yearly water consumption of Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami combined, according to the EPA! Reducing your water consumption by changing your toilet or by replacing your showerhead, for instance, is also easy and not too costly.

3. Plant trees around your house

Trees are not only soothing and beautiful: they represent an effective, yet unsuspected insulation device! In fact, having mature trees all around the house can help reduce your energy consumption: when strategically located, trees act as a barrier against the cold winds of the winter as well as against the warm sun rays of the summer. Tall trees planted on the east side of your house will keep the inside air cooler in the summer between about 7 and 11 a.m., while those located on the west side will have a similar effect in the afternoon. Their presence will therefore reduce your needs for air conditioning.

4. Progressively replace your appliances

We all know it: modern appliances tend to last a more limited number of years than they used to. Whether it is due to programmed obsolescence or to the public’s desire for constant change, this limited lifespan of home appliances is an environmental curse. Yet, the next time you absolutely must replace your refrigerator or your washing machine, think about opting for an energy-efficient one. The Energy Star certification is definitely one thing you ought to be looking for: if the upfront cost of buying a certified appliance may be a little higher than normal, the long-term savings will probably make up for it sooner than you think.

5. Use eco-friendly products

The kinds of dishwashing liquid, soap, clothes detergent or window cleaning products that you use can have an immediate impact on the environment. Think about it: you take a shower every day, you clean your dishes at least once a day too and you do the laundry a few times per week… Simply put, you end up rejecting considerable amounts of cleaning agents through your water consumption every day! Making a little effort to buy green cleaning products – which can easily be identified thanks to eco-labels – for just a few extra dollars every month can contribute to making all of the activities that are carried out in your house a lot more environmentally respectful.

About the author:
Alexandre is a blogger for Standard Life, a company that offers Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA).

May 2nd, 2013
By Deb Villeneuve

Another helpful guest post from Grace Bailey

The eco-friendly garden is not something that exists only in the magazines or on TV. It is so easy to have one, especially when you are starting from the beginning, probably after you have moved to a new house.
If once you have grown a garden, you are aware of the main principles and the needs of the plants, so it will be easy for you to understand, that the eco-friendly style will not harm your future plant growing in any way.So if you are inpatient to start creating your new garden, here is what to keep in mind, when you want to do it both beautiful and harmless for the environment and your health.
The protection of the planet is mostly connected with the wise organizing and usage of the sources. Besides the power of the soil, the flowers need much water to grow and to live. So be sure you have found the best way to collect and use water, as you not only count on the pipes of the house

Here is what you can do to make this aspect better for the environment. First try to install gallons to collect rain water if your garden is so big and you can put them in a way they do not make it look ugly or it is not uncomfortable for you to work there. Try to pick the flowers very carefully. You can combine some that need less water with those which have to have it daily. Having only some of the second type will increase your costs and will not be good for the environment. It is also essential to have plants that can live best with the conditions of your garden. Otherwise you will put too many efforts to changing the type of the soil, watering and others.
To keep it rational you have to make groups of flowers with similar needs of sun and water. Thus you will organize the water supply better and will take care of them easier.
As you organize your garden do not underestimate the influence of the compost. Choose only an organic one that will let you retain a great quantity of water in the soil, which is very good for the plants. It will also reduce the water that evaporates from the ground, so be sure you will only have benefits of the use of this compost.  Mulch will also fight the weeds and help with the nutrition of the soil for your garden. Read more tips on eco living and cleaning by visiting

April 24th, 2013
By Deb Villeneuve

A guest post by Grace Bailey

Living in a dirty or untidy house can really get you down in the dumps, without you even realizing it’s your living environment causing the unhappiness.

Cleaning on a regular basis is the best way to not only keep your house in pristine condition but also give you a bit of a physical and mental workout. It is very easy to allow cleaning chores to build, especially if you work long hours. Spending just a few hours every week can really make a huge impact on how presentable your house appears.

Have a cleaning schedule, this will help you keep track of what jobs you’ve completed and what jobs still need doing. Without this process, you may find yourself getting bogged down with ever mounting chores. Having them all laid out in front of you in black and white can assist you manage them and make the whole experience less stressful.

There are always common jobs most people will undertake, these are things like washing up, washing clothes, vacuuming and light dusting. This is fine until you realize most of the other pieces of furniture or carpets or ornaments are getting very grimy. It is a lot harder to clean something once it has months of dirt and dust covering it. If you are a smoker, smooth surfaces can become sticky and coated with fine tar grease and fabrics can absorb unpleasant odors.

When people describe their living conditions as chaotic, they generally mean there are many different items cluttering up their personal space. Having more possessions to make a house pretty is all well and good but it can mean there is more tidying and cleaning to be done. Whenever you use something around your house and get it out from its usual storage place, try to put it back as soon as you are finished with. The more items you forget to put away, the larger the tidying process will be once you decide to undertake it. Spending a couple of minutes storing an item after use can reduce the amount of stress further down the line.

On the market today you will find hundreds of different cleaning products, all offering something better than the last. It can be difficult to decide on what is the best product for your cleaning task. Don’t always assume that the most expensive it the obvious choice, shop around and ask store vendors their opinion on their products. Most vendors will be honest and steer you in the direction of the product which has received good feedback from previous customers. The internet is a good place to find bundle packs for all your cleaning needs at very competitive prices.

Most cleaning product will contain some kind of main ingredient that is responsible for the actual cleaning. For this reason, it is possible to make your own cleaning product using a mixture of water and bleach, or water and bicarbonated soda or baking soda. They help kill bacteria, clean surfaces and remove stains and bad odors  Be very careful to follow all manufacturers’ guidelines when diluting products.

It is important to share out household tasks, unless the other household members are too young or old or physically unable, there is no reason why they shouldn’t help. Even if someone is out all hours of the day at work, by doing small jobs when they get home, they can still contribute to the tidying process and ease the stress of others. Get your children involved as early as possible, getting an older child to start helping all of a sudden can be a tricky task but if you teach them as they are growing up to tidy up after themselves, they will grow up more independent and happy to help out.

Visit Grace at :

February 28th, 2013
By Deb Villeneuve

I hope that you enjoy this guest post, which is full of “green” tips that can be useful when it comes time to move into your new home, from Grace Bailey 

The utilization of used boxes can be something you’re doing for a variety of reasons, ranging from a love for eco-friendly ideals to purely economic reasons. This is where the used boxes come into the picture, a perfect choice for these times as they are reusable and easy to find. Here are some tips you can use when you work with them:

Where to find used boxes ?
One of your best bets is to try out the local retail stores. They usually have a nice range of good-quality boxes, often used to move heavy items. The best way to go about this is to talk to their manager if you can obtain boxes from them. Some store chains have policies in place limiting the number of boxes one can receive that way. In some other cases they’d be more than happy to provide you with boxes with no trouble attached. Wine stores on the other hand are also a great source of free moving boxes. They are great for books and since most of what they have there already has cell dividers you can use them for bottles, glasses and other breakables.
You can also obtain boxes through the use of bulletin boards, whether its online or offline. You can find their physical variety on laundromats, grocery stores, rec centers and telephone poles among other places. Online bulletin boards may vary from country to country, but each one will likely have an equivalent to Craig’s List or similar websites. You never know what you’ll get as in many of these cases people will gladly give away packing materials they can no longer keep around their homes. It is an excellent way to deal with this through a system of honest trade.
Is it alright to move with used boxes?
It would be wise to test out the durability of the boxes you have before you move. There should be no weak spots no matter where your boxes come from. Products may sometimes leak and this can quickly destroy the bottom of a box. Make sure you don’t stuff them too full so they can handle the weight.
What to do if you can’t find use boxes
You can talk to your friends, family or coworkers to lend you some plastic tote bins. They can do the same job, plus you can usually stack them inside one another. They are easy to use and you’ll have a chance to return them once you’re done with the move.
Will my moving company provide boxes?
Usually not, unless you buy them from the company itself. They will offer you a very nice choice of boxes that are even part of whole kits, but this will extremely rarely be part of the package. Some moving companies offer plastic bins for rent as part of their business, a nature-friendly way of utilizng reusable packing materials.
What can you do with the boxes after the move?
There is much you can do, for example following the same steps others are using when you obtained your boxes. You can put an ad on an online or offline bulletin board, offering the boxes for free. Alternately you can donate the boxes to non-profit organizations in your vicinity such as food banks or charities that deal with donations abroad.

Grace is an author keen on green living, home decoration and innovative design. Currently, she works on a behalf of Bow moving company in the UK

December 17th, 2012
By Vivian Martin

Looking to wrap up your Christmas gifts with a bit of nostalgia? Using kraft paper tied up with strings may be just the ticket. Easily recycled and easy to personalize, it is a charming and eco-friendly option for wrapping your Christmas gifts.

We’ve been collecting some images on a Pinterest Board with examples… Just a few:

Top a package with a bit of greenery and pine cones


Source: via Drummond on Pinterest


Let out your inner artist with patterns created with liquid paper and a Sharpie! 


Dress up your kraft paper packages with stamps and gingham ribbon for country charm!


I like how these small bands of graphic paper pop against the brown. A little paper goes a long way!


For more ideas, check out our Pinterest board and just to get you totally in the mood, let Julie Andrews take you down memory lane!


Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens

Brown paper packages tied up with strings

These are a few of my favorite things!

Happy wrapping and Merry Christmas!!!

November 1st, 2012
By Vivian Martin
Daily rituals ground our days with a predictable rhythm that can provide comfort. Although many of them are banal, why not take them from ordinary to extraordinary? Making my morning coffee, for example, is a ho-hum ritual that I perform bleary-eyed; shifting to something like an elegant Chemex coffeemaker could elevate this mundane routine.

In a similar vein, the daily ritual of bathing or showering should be special, taking place in a pleasurable and healthy environment that boosts our well-being. Consider surrounding yourself with one of these handsome and eco-conscious finishes.

Find eco-friendly inspiration (and beauty) in the following slideshow!

October 15th, 2012
By Vivian Martin

Sure, we’re called the “water planet,” but remarkably little of the blue stuff — less than 1 percent — is available to us as potential drinking water. The rest is tied up in saltwater, ice caps and other less-accessible sources. That scarcity isn’t obvious to most of us in the industrialized world, where water is cheap and easy to find, but there are a billion others who aren’t as lucky. And our time of easy water may be waning too, with the U.S. Government Accountability Office predicting water shortages in 36 states by 2013.

Being water wise can cut your utility bills, reduce the need for costly investments in water treatment and delivery systems, and contribute to a more sustainable water future. The bathroom is the place to start since it’s the water hog in your home, accounting for more than half of the indoor water you use. Check out these water-wise plumbing fixtures that don’t compromise style or function. 

September 27th, 2012
By Vivian Martin

This simple system for recovering heat from wastewater makes a lot of sense—especially for families and commercial buildings that produce a lot of hot water.

Power-Pipe drainline heat exchanger. Heat from the hot water going down the drain pipe is transferred to water passing through the smaller-diameter pipes.
Photo Credit: RenewABILITY Energy

The unfortunate reality is that even with the most efficient methods of generating hot water, we still lose the vast majority of that heat down the drain. Domestic hot water is a once-through product. I’ve seen estimates that 90% of the heat in hot water is lost down the drain. Dan Cautley, an energy engineer with the Energy Center of Wisconsin, says that drain water “may be one of our largest untapped resources.”

It turns out that we can do something about that. Im the right application, drainline heat exchangers allow a significant portion of the heat from hot water going down the drain to be recovered.

How a drainline heat exchanger works

The process is pretty simple. A special section of copper drainpipe is installed beneath a shower (typically the largest hot water use in a home) or other hot wastewater source. This section of drainpipe has smaller-diameter copper piping wrapped tightly around it. The cold-water supply pipe leading into the water heater is diverted so that it flows through the small-diameter copper pipe.

When hot water is being pulled from the water heater to supply the shower, the water going into the water heater is preheated by the wastewater going down the shower drain. If it’s a tankless—rather than storage—water heater, the incoming water temperature will be higher, so less energy will be required to get it up to the needed delivery temperature—thus saving energy (though the tankless water heater has to be thermostatically controlled and, thus, able to deal with inlet water of varying temperature.

The man who invented the drainwater heater exchanger, Carmine Vasile, called the product a GFX, for “gravity-film exchange,” recognizing that water going down a vertical pipe forms a film that clings to the inner walls of the pipe where the heat can effectively be transferred through the copper to the supply water.

Read full article to learn about different models of drainline heat exchangers…

September 13th, 2012
By Vivian Martin

You truly get what you pay for in regards to leather. High-quality pieces cost more, but their comfort and longevity make them a worthwhile investment. There are ways to save money without sacrificing style. If you’re simply looking for a display piece that won’t get much use, consider bonded leather or leather-look as a lower-cost option. Or consider “leather match”, in which some of the piece (like the back and sides, where physical contact is minimal) is made of dyed vinyl, and front-facing cushions and seats are made of high-quality leather. Research your options to find the best fit for your taste and budget.

Source: via Drummond on Pinterest




There are multiple types of leather to choose from, each with their own features and benefits. The options below are ranked in order of cost, from the most expensive to the least.

Genuine Leather – Genuine Leather is highly desired for its fashionable look and durable nature. There are several different types of genuine leather available:

  • Full Grain leather retains the imperfections of the hide for a more natural look.
  • Top Grain is the uppermost part of the hide, which is sanded and finished.
  • Semi-Corrected Top Grain is only corrected if there are major imperfections, like deep scratches.
  • Corrected Grain leather has all the imperfections removed and an artificial grain is applied.
  • Split Grain is the bottom part of the hide. This leather is corrected and embossed with a graining pattern.
  • Bycast Leather has embossed polyurethane applied to the surface.

Bonded Leather – A great alternative to genuine leather, bonded leather is made of hide fibres that are joined together with latex and stamped with a grain-like pattern.

Leather Match – Not every part of your furniture will be seen or touched. On leather match pieces, leather is reserved for visible areas, like the cushions and seats. Vinyl is dyed to match the leather and used on the sides and back.

Leather Look – Made without animal products, leather look furniture is just as stylish as cowhide. To achieve the desired aesthetic, polyurethane upholstery is made to look and feel like leather.


“Aniline” refers to the finish of the leather. There are two ways of finishing or colouring leather — through the use of dyes alone, or a combination of dyes and pigments. You can choose between “pure” or “full” aniline, which uses dye only, or semi-aniline, which uses dye and pigments.

Full Aniline – Full aniline (or unfinished) refers to full-grain leather, with few imperfections, that has been coloured only with dye (no pigments), and therefore contains no protective coating. Because no other coating or pigment is used, full aniline leather is superbly soft and supple with rich, penetrating colour. It also develops a rich patina with use. Only the best hides are used for full aniline leather; it is the most desirable, so therefore it is the most expensive. The downside to full aniline leather is that it is easier to stain and UV ray-exposed leather can fade quickly.

Semi-aniline – Semi-aniline (or finished) leather is of slightly less quality. It is initially coloured using the same dye as full aniline leather, with a top coat of pigment is added. A very small amount of coating or pigment is applied to even out the colour and give better protection from stains and fading. Finished leather may not feature the same softness and suppleness as unfinished leather, but this extra coating of pigment will make it more durable and less susceptible to staining. It’s ideal for large households with children or for anywhere that the leather will be getting a lot of use.

Information source: Sears. Learn about leather care on their site as well!


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