For Earth Day: 15 EASY household changes that do make a REAL difference

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Want to help save the environment, but don’t know where to start? What better place than in your home! You think one person can’t make a difference? Wrong! If one person recycles just one aluminum can, that one can saves enough energy to run your television for three hours, so now imagine if instead of one person we all recycled? A few changes can go a long way. Here are 15 easy household changes that can and will make a difference for our environment.

1.) Say no to plastic bags

Ditch plastic bags and opt for reusable bags when grocery shopping. Over 1 trillion plastic bags are used every year worldwide and 10% of those plastic bags usually end up in the ocean. If you can’t part ways with your plastic grocery bags then recycle!

2.) Unplug all appliances when not in use

Unplug all items that have a light on even when you have turned the item off, not only will you save energy but you’ll save money too.

Don’t forget to search online for “vampire appliance’s” to know which of your appliances suck up energy while you’re away or asleep.

3.) Buy local groceries when possible

In case you didn’t know, majority of the food in grocery stores come from faraway places, some travel up to 1,500 miles! Transporting these products sold in grocery stores burn up a lot of fossil fuels which then result to pollution.

So buy locally! Not only are you helping your local farmers but you are also getting the freshest food possible.

4.) Look for products that contain post-consumer material

What is a Post-consumer recycled product? It is a product made of materials such as paper or glass that were recycled after being used and where kept out of landfills.

Look for items that have high post-consumer material in them, the bigger the number the better it is for the environment. Nowadays you can buy from post-consumer toys to post-consumer toilet paper.

5.) Change your light bulbs to energy efficient.

Replace your incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs, they convert most of the energy they use into light rather than heat. Compact fluorescent bulbs consume about 75% less electricity and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent light bulbs.

6.) Turn off the lights when not in use.

Save yourself some money and just turn off the lights. During the day just open up the curtains and let that good old sunshine illuminate your home.

7.) Recycle everything you can

The typical categories of things you can recycle are; Metals, Paper, Cardboard, Glass, Plastics, Batteries, Bulbs and Electronics. It is best to check with your city for certain items you are not sure about. Styrofoam can be recycled but you must check if your city is currently accepting Styrofoam and if not go online and find a place that you can drop it off or send it to for recycling. You can also go to Earth911 to find locations that can take specific electronics, metals, batteries, etc.

Here is a list of things you can recycle

8.) Use Eco-friendly cleaners (save the water from toxic chemicals)

When we use harsh chemicals to clean up our homes we don’t realize we are polluting our soil and water, which can harm many animals and plants, we are also risking our own health by bringing in some pretty nasty toxic chemicals into our homes. Choose green, biodegradable, non-toxic cleaners or make up your own vinegar, water and baking soda formula.

9.) Cut up plastic soda can rings before throwing them out

It might seem tedious but cutting up those plastic soda can rings helps prevent any animals from getting stuck in them.

10.) Turn your computer / laptops off at night

Even in sleep mode your computer is still sucking up energy. Save all your material and turn off that computer!

11.) Hang dry your clothes (makes your clothes last longer as well)

Dryers consume more than 6% of your total household electricity usage, which can add up to $100 every year! Each dryer emits an excess of one ton of carbon dioxide per year!

So hang out your clothes to dry, it’s better for your clothes, cheaper for you and better for the environment.

12.) Lose the plastic bottle – use reusable water bottles instead.

Buy reusable water bottles instead of plastic water bottles. Last year, Americans used about 50 billion water bottles but only recycled about 23%, which means 38 billion water bottles are thrown away and end up in landfills each year.

13.) Adjust your thermostat by one degree (in summer & in winter)

By keeping your thermostat 68 degrees or below during the winter and 78 degrees during the warm summer you’ll save energy and money. For every degree below 68 degrees and above 78 degrees you are saving 3%-5% off your energy bill!

14.) Pay bills online

Save paper and time by paying your bills online. A lot of companies encourage their customers to go paperless and pay online by making it fast and easy on their websites.

15.) End bank statements

An environmentally friendly alternative is to opt for online bank statements. A lot of banks usually suggest you go paperless when you first start an account but if you decide not to in the beginning they also inform you, if you change your mind in the future, how to change the settings online so you can solely receive your statements online.

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Neptune’s Harvest- Gardening Video

Other useful uses for the seaweed & fish fertilizer.

Use seaweed fertilizer for:
Early frost
Fungus on plants:
Transplant shock / plant shock (results visible within 12 – 24hrs)

Use fish fertilizer for:
On plants that are more acidic where the seaweed/fish blend would not contain enough nutrition.

For more information: http://www.neptunesharvest.com/video.html

If you’re interested in purchasing Neptune’s Harvest Fertilizers visit our site.

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Chemicals In Your Cleaners

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Household cleaners are not usually your first concern when thinking about pollutants, since essentially you’re buying and using the cleaners to improve and keep your home clean and pest free. Many cleaners are effective in ridding our homes from dust, allergens and infectious agents but what are their side effects? A lot of chemicals in cleaners are harmful not only to ourselves but to our environment. The chemicals in our cleaners vary in the type of health hazard they can pose. Some chemicals can contribute to chemical burns, eye, skin, or respiratory irritation and if ingested they can burn your throat and esophagus, while others have a more long term effect like chronic illness or cancer.

Having harsh chemicals like nitrogen, phosphorus and ammonia in our waters is dangerous in large quantities. When we clean our sinks, bathtubs, and toilets we are unknowingly contaminating all the living organisms that swim or drink the untreated waters. Majority of the chemicals are treated and removed from the water in waste treatment facilities before they are reintroduced to the rivers, streams, lakes and other waterways but those 3 chemicals, they are not removed by the waste treatment process.You should never combine any bleach products with any cleaner containing ammonia because they can produce very toxic sometimes deadly gases.

Are there any alternative ways?

Of course! Buying greener, non-toxic, biodegradable, and made from renewable materials cleaners! Find cleaners that do not contain any petroleum-based chemicals, this is a non-renewable material. If you’re still in doubt in buying any household cleaner products use vinegar and baking soda, they can be used to clean almost anything! Just mix a little water with either the vinegar or baking soda and voilà, you have an all-purpose cleaner!

You can check out Earth911 for tips and mixing formulas.

Here are other sites that have great formulas and tips for having an Eco-friendly spring cleaning this year.

Vinegartips-  “White distilled vinegar is a popular household cleanser, effective for killing most mold, bacteria, and germs, due to its level of acidity. Cleaning with white distilled vinegar is a smart way to avoid using harsh chemicals. You’ll also be glad to know that it is environmentally friendly and very economical.”

Recyclebank-  Has tips from a professional green-home expert to refresh your home after a long winter.

GoodGuide- Rate products and companies on their health, environmental and social performance.

Don’t forget to check out Dolphin Blue’s wide selection of cleaning products.

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Chemical and Organic Fertilizers

Digging The Vegetable GardenWe use organic and inorganic fertilizers to grow and add nutrients to our gardens in order for our plants, fruits and vegetables to grow faster and more efficiently. The most common fertilizers are chemical, inorganic fertilizers because they are relatively cheaper than organic fertilizers. Is cheaper always better? Some fertilizers are not as healthy or environmentally friendly as you think they are, they can cause damage to your soil, garden and our groundwater.

Chemical Fertilizer

Chemical fertilizers are produced synthetically from inorganic materials. They provide plants with 3 essential nutrients; phosphorous, nitrogen and potassium. Nitrogen can break down into nitrate and easily travel and seep through the soil, because it’s water-soluble it can remain in our groundwater for a long time diminishing our quality of drinking water as well as the habitat and health of our aquatic animals.  Drinking contaminated groundwater can have serious health effects for us as well; some long term exposure of contaminated water can cause certain types of cancer.

Long term exposure of chemical fertilizers can cause soil dehydration and destruction of plant tissue. The longer you use chemical fertilizers the more you’ll end up needing in order to successfully grow crops.

Organic Fertilizer

Taking a more organic approach with your lawns and gardens. Organic fertilizers are made with remains or by products of organisms like fish extract, seaweed and manure and compost materials. Organic fertilizers can add nutrients to soil, increase soil organic matter, improves soil structures and water holding capacity. They can also reduce soil crusting and erosion from wind and water and slowly and consistently release nutrients to your soil and plants.

Some farmers using organic fertilizers like Neptune have even gone to hold world records for having the biggest vegetables.

Fun Fact- Sewer Sludge in fertilizers

Farmers in some countries use sewage sludge as fertilizers. You read that right. They apply human waste to crops and soils. Sewer sludge frequently tests positive for a host of heavy metals, flame retardants, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, pharmaceuticals, phthalates, dioxins, and a host of other chemicals and organisms. Out of all those and other thousands contaminants found in sludge, the U.S. government regulates exactly 10 of them. Sometimes the various contaminants in sewage are at low levels, some chemicals bind to the soil some don’t, some seep into groundwater others are insoluble in water.

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Fact Friday: Indoor Plants

flowersHere is a list of indoor plants that can help improve your air quality and remove harmful toxins:

  1. Peace Lily- Peace Lilies absorb benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and more.
  2. Spider Plant- Absorbs benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene.
  3. Golden Pothos- Indestructible and an effective indoor purifier in the world. 
  4. English Ivy- Can remove allergens such as mold and animal feces. 
  5. Areca Palm- The most effect indoor purifier and is an excellent air humidifier.
  6. Snake Plant- Also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, is one of the best plants for filtering out formaldehyde.
  7. Chrysanthemum- This plants blooms help filter out benzene.
  8. Azalea- Remove formaldehyde from plywood or foam isolation. 
  9. Dracaena- Eliminates formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, benzene and trichloroethylene.
  10. Chinese Evergreen- Filters out air pollutants and can begin to remove more toxins as time and exposure continues. 
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Vertical Gardens

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Living in the city is great and all but being constantly surrounded by noise, traffic and pollution is not good for your mental and physical health. Having limited yard space can be unsettling if you have an interest in gardening. Well do not fret for now there is a new trend (although it has been around since 1938) sprouting worldwide and it’s called Vertical Gardening (also known as BioWalls, EcoWalls, Living Walls or Green Walls). What is a Vertical garden you ask? Vertical gardens are panels of plants grown vertically using hydroponics, on structures that can either be free standing or attached to walls. Vertical Gardens also come with a lot of healthy benefits. Here are some of those benefits.

Improves Air Quality

Plants have been proven to filter and remove toxins, by introducing vertical gardens into your home or office you can remove harmful toxins that are common in modern buildings. There are different types of plants that can remove common indoor toxic chemicals and improve the air around you. Here are some examples; Peace Lily can remove Formaldehyde (CH2O), Spider Plant can remove Carbon Monoxide (CO), Devils Ivy can remove Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Mother-in-law’s Tongue can remove Trichloroethylene (TCE).

Increases Workplace Productivity

Studies have shown that simply having a green view in a workplace increases work productivity, happiness and motivation of employees. Not to mention the fact of having plants indoors reduces symptoms of discomfort and decreases the number of days off due to “sickness.”

Regulates Temperature

They help with the heating and cooling of your home or office by providing a living installation barrier to the outside of your space that will catch all the heat or cold from hot summers to the cold winters.  They also protect buildings and structures from extreme temperatures and help slow down the deterioration of buildings and structures.

No Back Pain

For people who have back issues but love gardening, growing vertical gardens is a lot easier because the times you bend and crouch for plants to harvest, weed or water is reduced.

If you’re interested in making your own Vertical Garden, there’s plenty of online tutorials to help you along with the process. It is highly recommended to do proper research if you want to make a Vertical Garden in your home or office.

 

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Fact Friday: Paper Recycling

newspaperDid you know?

  • Recycling a single run of the Sunday New York Times would save 75,000 trees.
  • If all our newspaper was recycled, we could save about 250,000,000 trees each year!
  • The average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made from trees.
  • The amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years.
  • Approximately 1 billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year in the U.S.
  • Americans use 85,000,000 tons of paper a year; about 680 pounds per person.
  • The average household throws away 13,000 separate pieces of paper each year. Most is packaging and junk mail.
  • Every day, Americans buy about 62 million newspapers and throw out around 44 million of them. If we recycled just half our newsprint every year, we would need 3,200 fewer garage trucks to collect our trash.
  • Americans throw away the equivalent of more than 30 million trees in newsprint each year.
  • For every 15,000 tons of old newspaper recycled annually, 30 jobs are created to collect the paper, and 40 jobs are created to process the paper.
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It’s Not Plastic, It’s Not Paper but it takes up 21% of our Landfills

foodchartLet’s face it, we are all guilty of throwing away food. Whether you accidentally cooked too much last week and never got around to reheating it or maybe that unlucky item that was pushed to the back of your pantry expired, we all have had a reason to discard unused or unwanted food. It’s just food right? What harm can food possibly do? Well, all that food has to go somewhere. Food waste goes directly to landfills and incinerators with only 4% being diverted for composting. Every year around 36 million tons of food waste reaches our landfills. Although food waste does decompose, it produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas when it breaks down in landfills. Here are some tips on what we can do to reduce our carbon footprint and divert food waste from our landfills.

Reduce over-purchasing

Purchase only the food that will be used. Avoid large quantities of an item; even if it’s on sale think about if you’re really going to eat it all. It also helps to have a list or guideline on hand when you go grocery shopping. Keep yourself on track and avoid buying things on impulse.

Compost

Composting transforms your kitchen waste into valuable nutrients for your garden. There’s a difference when food waste decomposes in a landfill and when it decomposes on the ground at your home. In landfills air cannot get to the organic waste and so when food waste breaks down it produces methane, which is bad. On the other hand at home it decomposes aerobically which means oxygen helps the waste break down and so hardly any methane is produced.

Donate fresh food to those in need

Donate any non-perishable and unspoiled perishable food to your local food banks, soup kitchens pantries and shelters. Check with them to find out what items they will and will not accept.

Check out 21 frightening U.S Facts and Statistics about Food Waste  

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