Posts Tagged ‘Green Products’

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A Blissmo Bonanza!

April 14, 2012

Once again I have been single-handedly stimulating the economy and keeping FedEx, UPS, and the postal service in business.

It has been a Blissmo kind of week.  I talked about Blissmo here. Long story short, I get a monthly box of eco-friendly goodies and e-mail offers on other good stuff. DSCF0212

I’m a born and bred middle class American with the culturally instilled propensity to buy things.  I also tend toward the cheap side, so I really don’t spend liberally and we do live modestly (really, we do).  Still, I also believe that the only way to convince corporate America that it is worth their while to produce environmentally healthy products is by purchasing them.

I love getting my monthly blissmo box and I always check out the offers, although I often don’t buy.  Still, the voucher offers are always a good deal (often something like $40 worth of products for $20 or thereabouts) and I had accumulated a few last fall.  I didn’t see anything I wanted to buy for gifts (not that there weren’t plenty of gift-worthy items, I was just done there) so I stashed them away in my blissmo e-mail folder until spring when I wouldn’t feel guilty about buying for myself.

And now its spring.  Over the last couple of days my selections have arrived.

Thursday was my big haul.DSCF0232  My blissmobox arrived as well as packages from United by Blue and Green Cupboards.

I bought Burt’s Bees products from Green Cupboards.  The local selection for these products has been limited of late for some reason. DSCF0231

United by Blue is an organization committed to cleaning up waterways.  I bought a citrine and silver pendant from them.  They sent me the cool blue marble gratis.DSCF0220

On Friday my last package arrived.  It was from Zhena’s Gypsy TeaDSCF0238I am enjoying a cup of Caramel Chair as I type this. Ahhh.

Oh, and in the blissmo box.  So far I’ve scarfed down the dried apples.  So sweet I had to check, but really no additional sweeteners.  My husband and I also DSCF0233made quick business of the roasted almonds with wild rosemary. WeDSCF0213 are going to have to track these down again!

I probably should mention that no one has paid me in anyway for my opinions.  I’m just really happy with this week’s green take.  When it rains, it pours.

 

Time for more tea.

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Bathroom Renovation: Green paint–green job?

April 8, 2012

The bathroom renovation is done – nearly – as I type this the door is off and still not painted.  But I think doors on bathrooms are overrated.  Actually, I just think that given I have no time now but will have more in about a month that the door may have to wait a month.  Until then we’ll either all continue to use the downstairs bathroom as we have for the past two and a half months, or I’ll put up a curtain in the doorway. [I haven’t yet because I’m afraid that if I put up the curtain we might get used to it and I might end up with a bathroom with a curtained doorway forever.]

Meanwhile, I thought I’d consider the re-do with a critical eye toward its environmentally friendliness. In some ways we did great, in others, we missed the mark.DSCF0207

Reusing: On the plus side we found a medicine cabinet at an antique mall.  We also reused our bathtub and toilet. On the other hand, we took out the old sink, and while I had intended to donate it to our local education foundation to be sold at their auction (the faucet set was worth a few pennies at least), my husband told the plumbers to take it.  I don’t know if they trashed it, saved the faucet or what.  We did donate the hardware and sell that at the auction.  Someone bought it too.

Landfill fodder: Also on the negative side was all the wall, floor, and ceiling material that was sent to the landfill.  The room was gutted.  The floor truly did need to be replaced, and frankly the ceiling tiles were in pretty bad shape also, at least some of them were.  I think to be up to code the walls around the tub would have had to have been replaced also – and now that’s 75% of the room.  I think one wall did stay intact though.  The carpenters built a second wall out a few inches from the original to make room for the plumbing.  Which reminds me.  All the old plumbing and any other metal was recycled.

Insulation: The exterior walls needed to be insulated.  On one hand insulation is an eco-friendly plus.  On the other, I put absolutely no thought into insulation and so the typical bats of fiberglass were installed.  In hindsight I should have considered something along the lines of recycled denim or sheep’s wool

Flooring: A plus, however, was the flooring.  No way was I having DSCF0210a vinyl floor.  Eco-friendly alternatives included linoleum, wood, tile, and bamboo.  Linoleum turned out to be impossible to find in our neck of the woods.  Wood and bamboo would require vigilance and lots of polyurethane to keep it protected from moisture – no easy feat in a bathroom. So that left us with tile.  We ended up with tile that looks remarkably like hardwood.

The paint:  We lucked out there, which suggests that green consciousness is going mainstream.  I just went to Menards and bought paint, Dutchboy Platinum, semi-gloss.  I kicked myself for not going down the road to Sherwin Williams and buying their low or zero VOC paint, such as Harmony.  But, it turns out that Dutchboy Platinum is not so bad.  I noticed that it was not especially smelly, and a little research shows that it is designated a GreenCert product.  GreenCert products are “designed and manufactured taking steps to reduce environmental impact and to meet or exceed the most stringent regulatory requirements.”  Perhaps it is greenwashing, perhaps it is a truly eco-friendly step forward. It certainly makes me feel less guilty.

Painting Tools: I did pick up some green paintbrushes and roller covers called Earth Tones. They are made from recycled and renewable resources, such as recycled polyester fibers and bamboo.  We probably already had enough paintbrushes around the house, but I like to pretend that my purchase is a vote for green products.  The roller covers we needed and I’m tickled they were from recycled materials.

Now, according to Amazon, the painters tape I used, Painter’s Mate Green, (it is green colored) is actually environmentally friendly because of its water and rubber based adhesive.  Other companies use some percentage of recycled paper in their masking tape.  I don’t know that the definitive comparison has been done among masking tapes.  But once again I’m encouraged that anyone is paying attention to the environmental impact of painter’s tape.

Paint Stripper: As I mentioned, the door is not up yet.  It was in pretty bad shape, especially on the bathroom side, and so I’m stripping it of its many coats of paint and repainting it (with the probably relatively green Dutchboy Platinum paint).  Stripping could be truly environmentally evil, but strippers are going green also.  My husband was instructed to get as environmentally friendly a stripper as he could find and he found Ready Strip.  From all evidence it’s a non-toxic, environmentally friendly paint stripper.  Of course the paint and old finishes your remove with it aren’t environmentally friendly… Still, it’s better than buying a new door.

Miscellaneous Odds and Ends: It is nearly inhabitable.  It is kind of hard to put the old towels in the new cupboard – but I’ve been pricing new organic cotton towels and the old ones will have to due for awhile.  A shower curtain was a necessity.  The rod is metal and the curtain is cloth.  Not the organic linen I was considering, in fact, it’s polyester, but it is at least fabric and not stinky vinyl.DSCF0201DSCF0197DSCF0196[I love the handheld shower and glass block wall. I don’t know that they are especially eco-friendly, but I don’t think there is anything eco-unfriendly about them either, and I just wanted to show them off.  By the way, see the fancy strip of diagonal tiling – the carpenter and I came up with that, it actually serves a purpose.  The bullnose tiles were slightly narrower than the regular tiles so the joints weren’t going to match up in the corners, therefore, we needed a decorative strip to separate the two sections.  I like it.]

Overall, I’d give the bathroom a B on environmental friendliness.  Given the last time we redid a bathroom, 10 years ago, I didn’t give eco-friendliness a moment of consideration (i.e. vinyl floor, fiberglass shower, and your basic high VOC paint), it is a definite move in the right direction.  And now that I know you can buy environmentally friendly painter’s tape, well, my projects are bound to get greener and greener.

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More pictures because people have been asking for pictures.  See the cabinet at the far end of the room – the carpenters made it for me.DSCF0195 It’s plenty roomy.

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Even though the room is much bigger now, there isn’t much open wall space near the tub and it seemed silly to hang towels clear on the other end of the room.  So we hung one towel bar above the other.  My son and husband get the top bar; my daughter and I get the bottom (it’s a height thing).

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My husband and I got this marble topped cabinet at an auction when we first moved to town.  It is perfect in the bathroom.

The only thing I haven’t taken a picture of is the toilet – in this picture of the table the toilet would be where I’m typing.  You’ve seen toilets.  It’s white. 

And a final p.s. – since I started this post I have put a coat of paint on the door and while the family was away I took shower.  Love It!

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Bliss with Blissmo

October 26, 2011

Somewhere I stumbled over blissmo and blissmoboxblissmo_logo_hp.

Blissmo offers organic and eco-friendly products at substantial discount (there is a special every couple of weeks).  I’ve ordered a couple of items.  One I can’t talk about because it’ll be someone’s Christmas present, the other was a %50 discount for purchases of $40 or more from Abe’s Market.  Yummy goods.

The blissmobox is a different deal altogether.  It is a monthly box filled with organic and/or environmentally friendly items.  You buy a subscription and for roughly $20 a box of goodies gets shipped to you.  There are a couple of themes to choose from (and they change each month), so your box is likely to have items you want or need.

blissmobox oct11Last month I chose the tea and snacks box. It came just as I was running out of my favorite teas at home – and now I’m a happy little camper.  I received three boxes of teas by Zena’s gypsy tea – Vanilla Orchid Darjeeling black tea, Peach Blossom oolong, and Tropical Garden green tea.  The tea’s are  organic, fair trade, and delicious.

Along with the teas were some granola bars, chocolate covered espresso beans,  a cookie, and dark chocolate.  Dark chocolate with cocoa nibs – if the teas weren’t blissful enough the chocolate pushed me right into nirvana.  The chocolate is from sweetriot and I enjoyed every nibble.  As for the other items, my assorted food allergies kept me from eating them, but not my husband – they seem to be gone now.

My next box will be shipped soon and this time it is the Bath and Body Bliss box.  I can only imagine what will be in it, but I can imagine a blissful bath with a cup of tea.

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Bowl Me Over

February 15, 2011

I have a thing for bowls.  They’re sturdy (generally) and keep things together and from falling on the floor.  You can eat anything in a bowl, not true of plates; try to eat soup off a plate.  Bowls come in all shapes and sizes and have a million and one uses besides holding soup.  One of my favorite wedding presents is a silver bowl that looks lovely at Christmas filled with ornaments.  I have numerous small bowls for small portions of ice cream, cereal, or yogurt so I don’t overeat.  I have tiny bowls to hold my used teabags; a large flat bowl that has been a serving dish at one time and a mail catcher at another.  I probably have a 1/2 dozen large salad bowls and several bowls I’ve picked up at auctions and antique stores.  We won’t talk about how many mixing bowls we own including a very large stainless steel bowl my husband uses for mixing bread dough. A local artist makes beautiful mixing bowls with a marvelous ornate decoration on the outside.  Someday I hope to have a full set, I have given my husband two so far for his birthdays and such (one of those presents I buy for him because I want it).  My favorite oatmeal bowl is Polish porcelain; not cheap and why I only have one.  My university’s pottery club has an ice cream sundae sale where you buy a bowl and have a sundae in it for some ridiculously reasonable price.  Local artists make bowls to buy and eat from during a silent auction for other art.  And I rarely come home from the local art sale without another bowl.  I didn’t really notice before, but apparently I love bowls.  Apparently my husband noticed though and gave me bowls for Valentine’s Day.

These are Melaboo bowls by Reducemelaboo bowlsAccording to their website:

Melaboo™ is made from 100% biodegradable bamboo fibers. Great for your eco-friendly kitchen.
• Soup Bowl measures 7.5” in diameter.
• These bowls can be used for salad and soup.
• Bamboo materials are biodegradable and sustainable.
• Biodegradable, sustainable and non-toxic.
• Available in five colors.

They feel like plastic, but apparently aren’t.  The owner of the store where my husband bought them told him not to put them in the dishwasher; I suppose that much water under pressure might accelerate the biodegrading of the bowl.  Don’t really want my oatmeal bowl to go all soggy on me. 

I don’t think we’ll put them in the microwave either.  Nothing is mentioned about the microwave, including no indication that they are microwave safe.  So we’ll assume they are not.  I can’t imagine that bamboo would be oven safe either.  I have no desire to burn up my bowls.

So perhaps they don’t score super high on the convenience scale.  They have other advantages.  They are  very attractive.  My husband bought one of each color but blue. And these bowls will be great during the summer when we eat outside.  There is always the risk of a ceramic bowl hitting the patio bricks and breaking into smithereens.  These bowls are lightweight and do not seem readily breakable. And of course, their number one advantage is they are made of fast growing, biodegradable, bamboo.

I suppose not everyone would be tickled by a set of bowls as a Valentine’s Day present.  And I did also get Fair Trade chocolate and dates from Palestine.  But I must admit, the dishes bowled me over.

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All wrapped up

November 13, 2009

 

box_reindeer box_christmastrees

Last year as gift giving approached I tried in vain to find wrapping paper made from recycled paper.  My friend Guinnah took her wrapping a greener step last year by wrapping in repurposed fabrics – napkins, pillowcases, even a dress from a thrift store.  Maybe I’ll do that next year (or maybe not), but this year, it looks like I have committed to wrapping in paper.

Last May, when I went to the Chicago Green Festival I met Julie who’s company, EarthPresents, makes and sells recycled paper gift wrap.  I told her I would blog about her paper – – and now, 6 months later, I’m finally making good on the promise.  Her gift wrap designs are inspired by the artwork of students with special needs and 5% of gross sales goes to WVSA, School for Arts in Learning.  I chose two designs, the reindeer and the trees with snow (pictured above).  I also ordered ribbon, but alas and alack, the ribbon is backordered, so Julie refunded me my ribbon money and put in two cards of bows for free.  They are made from recycled plastic bottles (they feel and look like satin).  I’ll have to make sure they go to someone who will reuse them.

Two 12 square foot sheets of wrapping paper aren’t going to meet my wrapping needs I’m afraid [CORRECTION – 2 sheets per package – so 4 sheets.]  Besides presents for my 2 children and husband there are 4 parents, 12 nieces and nephews, 3 sisters and brothers-in-law, a couple of adults on my husband’s side, assorted friends, and and me, don’t forget presents for me to wrap. To that end, when wandering through the town-wide garage sale this summer I picked up about 4 rolls of Christmas paper.  I think I paid about 50 cents.  But that’s not all!  I donate to a number of organizations that then spend some of that donation money on “gifts” to entice me to give more.  If I didn’t support their causes so much I’d balk more at the “gifts”.  But at this time of year I will admit to appreciating the gift of gift wrap.  This was a bonanza year for gift wrap too – – I believe that thus far I’ve been gifted with 17 sheets of wrapping paper.  Some of which is actually printed in soy ink on recycled paper. 

So, the good news is I will not be buying any new non-recycled wrapping paper this season.  That is not perfect of course… and what exactly would be perfect wrapping?  Wrapping in something totally reusable and useful I suppose – such as organic cotton, unbleached, naturally dyed pillow cases.  I’ll aim for that one next year.

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Win Green

October 27, 2009

A blogger friend (Retro Housewife Goes Green – – we’ve never met, but we seem to share some values) is having a giveaway.  I haven’t gotten into/figured out how to get items to review and to get businesses to provide products to give away – – but then again, I don’t really have time either, so I’ll leave that to others.  But I don’t at all mind passing on the word about products that seem to fit the bill.  In this case it is a green lunch bag and food container by New Wave Enviro Products.

First go to New Wave and identify your favorite product.  Mine happens to be the stainless steel food container. stainless steel food container It looks like the perfect thing for my lunch.  Actually, I think I need 4 since we all take our lunches to school and work.

After you choose your favorite product then go to Retro Housewife Goes Green’s blog and leave a comment about what the product is.  Don’t forget to leave your e-mail address so she can contact you if you win!

When I went to the New Wave site I used their store locator to find places I could purchase their products.  One is a natural food store I often visit, but then I found another I didn’t even know existed – how cool is that!  It’s even closer than the first one – I’ll have to go check them out.

Be sure to enter the giveaway – it would be neat if a reader wins (let me know if you do!).  Of course, it would be neat if I won too.

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Eco-friendly and Innovative – Sometimes.

October 24, 2009

Check out this video (click this title): All-In-One Innovative Pizza Box: Four Plates And Leftover Box

source: http://www.greenboxny.com/ecoincorporated.com/Home.html

For those who don’t want to go look – as the title suggests – it’s a pizza box, like any other pizza box – but it is perforated and creased such that you that you tear off the lid and tear it into 4 square plates – and then the bottom creases and folds into a 1/2 sized box for leftover pizza, and it is all recyclable.  Brilliant, and one of those “duh, why didn’t I think of that” kind of obvious innovations.  I can’t imagine why these boxes won’t be all over by this time next year. 

After seeing this marvelous pizza box I wondered what other eco-friendly inventions are out there.  Beware.  If you Google “eco-friendly innovative” you get over 2 million sites to search.  So I started adding random nouns after “eco-friendly innovative”

Want an eco-friendly, innovative door?  Look at these made from salvaged materials.

Here are some eco-friendly, innovative shoes by Acorn – but there are many more where they came from, about 311,000 more in fact in the Google search list.

What about an eco-friendly toy? Well, there are over 142,000 listings to peruse, but why not just stop at number two on the list – the placenta teddy bear.  Yes, a teddy bear from your child’s placenta.  The placenta is specially treated with sea salt to dry it and then tannin and egg yolk to make it soft and pliable.  After that all you have to do is cut and sew and stuff for your child’s own leather-ish teddy bear.  Oh – ick. 

Which just goes to show – one person’s eco-friendly and innovative may not meet the standards of the other.  (OK – the last one is definitely innovative, but not necessarily in a good way).

Actually, that leads to a serious topic – the pseudo-green industry line.  Sometimes an industry will claim eco-friendly based on the flimsiest of excuses.  A steel door – the foam interior does not deplete the ozone.  ….perhaps because it is encased in steel?  At least the steel is probably recyclable.  Or vinyl siding, because you never have to paint it – – – we’ll just ignore the toxic by-products caused by it’s production. 

So, caveat emptor – and educated.  Meanwhile – let’s start producing that pizza box!