Natural Cleaners You Should Be Careful With

There are many advantages to using substances that are found naturally instead of chemically synthesized ones. Firstly they come at a lower cost, if any at all, since most of them are commonly-found household items. They are better for you where your health is concerned, because they are not toxic or poisonous like chemicals, some of them are even put in food. But despite all their advantages they are not a be all end all solution to everything.

Vinegar – a natural substance used widely from cleaning surfaces to cleaning the inside of espresso machines. While it has found its use in many a kitchen in some other places it is less than ideal. Vinegar is not suitable for cleaning natural stone. The acidity of vinegar may etch the stone surface and ruin it. This effect is not exclusive only to vinegar but to most acidic substances such a lemon juice. Vinegar is less than ideal for cleaning hardwood floors and some metal surfaces because of the aforementioned acidity that may burn beyond the stain and into the matter beneath it.

Baking soda is also a commonly used substance to clean with even by professionals like Finchley Efficient FlatClean . It is a base or alkaline, where as vinegar is acidic, meaning it has the opposite effect. While baking soda is greatly effective in removing stains from carpets and cleaning bathroom surfaces, its use on aluminium as a detergent is not recommended, as it diminishes the unreactive protective oxide layer of this metal. Furthermore continued exposure of bare skin to large amounts of baking soda changes the natural pH level of the skin, destroying its acid layer and disturbing the bacterial composition.

Some natural cleaners also should not be mixed, as they might react in an unpleasant manner. Vinegar and baking soda are on the opposite sides of the pH scale, one is an acid the other – a base, and when mixed in a closed container the vinegar may cause the baking soda to foam, which might lead to an explosion. Vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are excellent cleaners on their own, but when mixed create peracetic acid, the fumes of which can irritate the eye and skin and cause lung damage. Castile soap when mixed with vinegar causes the castile soap to become unsaponified. While not dangerous this substance accomplishes the exact opposite of the task it was probably meant for. It becomes a nasty paste that just takes more of your time to clean up. To get the full effect of both substances they should be used separately, one after the other.

Many products found in supermarkets are labeled as Green or Natural, but this is done only for marketing purposes. One need only look at the content description to get a real sense of what these products actually are made from. Most of the text you will read will make no sense to you unless you have a background in chemistry. Some natural cleaners have been found to contain cancerogenic substances such as benzene or 1,4 dioxane. The ‘Green’ label on the product may also stem from the possibility that the manufacturer uses biodegradable containers rather than ‘green’ cleaner. In fact the terms ‘Green’ and ‘Natural’ are only used as a marketing tactic and have no basis at all in science. If one wishes to avoid the dangers of synthetic substances and use truly natural cleaners, the prudent decision would be to stick to the classics baking soda, lemon juice and vinegar, where their use is applicable of course.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - April 20, 2017 at 7:52 am

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Looking to Green Your Office? Follow These 3 Easy Steps!

In any given time, there are two types of people who are reading this blog: the optimist and the sceptic. If you are one of the optimists, you are likely ready to invest your time and money to green your office. You are likely to know why you want this—in fact, you probably have read several other articles related to the topic. If this is you, go ahead and check out our carefully crafted steps and unique recommendations to make your green office one of a kind.

If you are a sceptic, however, you might not want to skip this part. Do you know that one of the most popular false mindsets in going green for businesses is that it costs an extraordinary amount of money? This could be what makes you be sceptical in the first place. If this is so, get ready to be blown away.

It’s true that environmentally friendly products can be more expensive than their regular counterparts, but what people often miss is the long term benefits. Companies, either big or small, can reduce their costs quite significantly by going green.  Governments give out tax credits and tax reliefs for businesses that implement energy-saving plan into their operations. But that is the indirect way of going about it. What about the direct way? What can a company do to save the environment and energy cost at the same time? Read the easy steps below.

#1. Sleep

Yes, sleep! Not for you, but for your electronics. Putting your PCs to sleep can reduce carbon emission by 300 lbs. per year[1]. Carbon emission is the release of carbon into the atmosphere, which can cause climate change, decreased water and food supply, and increased incidents of severe weather. Roughly 35% of energy usage in offices comes from lighting, so turn off lamps when not in use, as well as printers and copier machines.

To give you an idea what reducing carbon emission can do to your business, DuPont, a chemical manufacturer, saved approximately $3 billion in over two decades[2] by using this method.

#2. Get Intimate with the 5Rs

Have you heard of the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? That is so last season! Now there are five: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, and Recycle. The main point of this practice is to prioritise your company’s needs relating to items’ purchases and uses.

Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Refuse teaches you not to buy what your company doesn’t need, at all.
  2. Exercise Reduce by restraining the company’s overall consumption of supplies. This means you have to be smart in selecting your products. LED lights are more efficient and last longer than fluorescent bulbs. In the long term, they will reduce energy consumption by 35% in the commercial sector[3]. Another example is choosing AFRDI Green Certified ergonomic office chairs over regular chairs. Providing support and comfort to your employee will increase concentration and productivity, and you also improve nature’s sustainability by choosing a green product.
  3. Drop the disposable option and go for The simplest tip is to look at your company’s pantry or cafeteria. Are they using throwaway plastic plates, spoon, and fork? Minnetonka Middle School substituted their plastic wares with metal wares in the student cafeterias, and they reduced their cost by $3000 in just one year[4] without any significant increase in labour time and water consumption.
  4. Repurpose old office supplies and office waste. Got old cardboard boxes lying around? Convert it to DIY tissue holder or charger organiser. General Motors repurposed their office waste by donating them to other smaller businesses and organisations, effectively promoting sustainability.
  5. If all else fails, Recycle! The EPA states 82% of electronic waste today still ends up in a landfill. E-waste produces toxic chemicals such as cadmium and arsenic which can be deadly to people living in the vicinity. Recycling paper can help save water, trees, and oil—all of which were used in the production.

#3. Carpool or Stay at Home

Working from home help reduces auto and gas emissions, as well as energy consumption. It can also increase employee productivity up to 13%[5] while keeping them happy at the same time. Remote work also means a reduced budget for office space and supplies.

If you are in a kind of businesses that mandates your employee to come to the office, you can encourage your employees to carpool or you can provide a corporate shuttle. Aside from reducing carbon dioxide emission, this option may save money by eliminating the need to rent or build a car park.

So there you have it! These 3 easy steps are a great start to your green company. If by any chance, you are building a new office or are looking to change up the office to a greener version, you can build a virtual layout and get cost estimation before actually going through with it. This way, you can optimise and customise your green office.

Now, let’s say you follow all these steps religiously and you make all these green policies in the workplace. And yet, the annual evaluation doesn’t reflect this effort. Your company experiences no real benefit from going green. How could this be?

Employees are the human aspect—and an important aspect—of going green that are often overlooked. Research indicates only about 34% employees are aware of their company’s environmental targets[6]. About 64% of them admit that lack of empowerment and communication causes them to be less green at work. Awareness is important. A good employer wouldn’t just tell their employees what to do—they would give understanding and involve employees in the process.

With all these information, are you ready to go green? Design your green office layout, purchase the right, sustainable supplies, and turn off your electronics when you don’t use them. Get to know your 5Rs and apply them, and manage how your employees get to and from work. Do all those things, along with spreading awareness and providing support and motivation, and guaranteed—your company will see benefits, environmentally and monetarily, in no time!

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Posted by Eco Warrior - April 20, 2017 at 7:35 am

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The World’s Most Energy Efficient Countries

Climate change as a topic is high on the agenda at present. Of course we have seen a lot of talk from the Trump administration and President Trump's opinion of the concept of climate change is widely documented across the Internet.

Despite scepticism, there are still many bodies who actively seek out countries to improve their energy efficiencies and not only does this mean their emissions are lowered, it can also result in lower output costs too.

One such body is the ACEEE who on a yearly basis publish a table with a chart of the most energy efficient countries according to their measurement variables.

The ACEEE is an American body and stands for American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

The guys at Senator Windows have created this Infographic below which details the 2016 results; it also pinpoints the variables and criteria set out by the ACEEE and certainly makes for interesting reading. Check it all out below.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - April 14, 2017 at 6:03 am

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What’s Plaguing My Plants: An Organic Guide

Whether you’re gardening as a hobby or a necessity, pests always seem to find you. Using organic techniques in your garden is the healthiest way to keep the environment and the people around you protected. Keeping your garden toxin-free shouldn’t be a big task because the green way doesn’t necessarily have to be the hard way.

The problem with pesticides and synthetic solutions is that they have a faster turnaround and you see results quicker. Because of this, users tend to think these results are better than the alternative. However, although synthetic pesticides work quickly, in the long run they tend to wane, which will once again leave your garden unprotected. Organic solutions are slow to work, but are your goals short-term, or long-term? We always recommend using multiple organic combinations in your garden for the best results.

Your focus for keeping pests away should be constantly enhancing your soil. The soil in your garden will be your first line of defense again pests and other critters. Regardless of how fertile the soil starts out being, it will always deplete as time passes, since this is one of your plant’s main source of nutrients. That means if your soil’s nutrients are lessened, your plants will be unhealthy and will become a natural target for pests and diseases.

While your soil should be a point of focus in your garden, another organic solution would be to attract predatory insects. This may sound crazy, but the pests that are eating your garden are just as attractive as your plants, but to other creepy crawlies. So, how do you know which pest is good versus bad? And how can you attract the good critters? By growing specific plants in your garden, you will lure the good predators as well as pollinators and other small creatures like birds that would love to snack on those pesky garden pests. Check out the infographic below from eReplacementParts for more information on keeping your garden healthy, green, and toxin-free!

101 Organic Gardening Hacks: Eco-friendly Solutions to Improve Any Garden

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Posted by Eco Warrior - April 13, 2017 at 8:40 am

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10 Ways To Make Everyday Earth Day

Earth Day is an important event that takes place on April 22nd every year. As our world continues to grow, we are constantly using more of the resources that the Earth gives us. Do to this growth, we are now facing troubles of global warming and the need to push for clean energy resources.

Celebrating and acknowledging the Earth on Earth day is one small step we can take to greatly impacting our name. New Holland CDJR has put together a list of ways that we can strive to appreciate the Earth all 365 days a year. These little steps are extremely beneficial to the environment and are also a great way of saying thanks to the earth. Check them out below!

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Posted by Eco Warrior - April 11, 2017 at 6:19 am

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How To Solve The E-Waste Problem

By now, just about everyone is familiar with the “unboxing” video, that video posted to social media of someone excitedly opening up a new piece of tech and marveling at how it works. What you won’t see, however, is the video where someone takes the old tech that’s being replaced by the shiny new model and throws it in the trash. Disposing of old electronics doesn’t get the same attention the unwrapping of new technology gets, but it deserves that much attention and more because of how important it is for the environment.

Unwanted electronics, or e-waste, is a growing concern around the world because of the severe consequences associated with its disposal. Because of the harsh chemicals used in their manufacture, electronics can cause pollution of groundwater and soil if thrown into landfills. The majority of e-waste ends up in developing countries, where they are broken down into their valuable raw materials using methods that are extremely hazardous. This creates significant levels of pollution in the process. Even though e-waste is a serious problem, there are plenty of ways we can work to reduce it. The following guide from Digital Doc Repair, illustrates just how serious a problem e-waste is, as well as some simple steps you can take to make it better.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - April 7, 2017 at 3:29 pm

Categories: Recycling   Tags: , ,

Latest cosmetics & toiletries guides from Ethical Consumer

Another five product guides are now live online from Ethical Consumer's special report on the cosmetics and toiletries sector.

Each guide has ratings and rankings of over 25 brands, Best Buy advice and a summary of some of the main ethical issues in the market.

These newly added guides are:

They join the ones that were featured in the last issue of the magazine – make-up, shampoo and toothpaste.

The score cards, Best Buys advice and some of the company information on these guides is currently behind a paywall, so there is no better time to subscribe to access all of their data.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - April 7, 2017 at 9:24 am

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Madagascan Sapphire Haul Threatens Remote Rainforests

Dig beneath the surface of many a deforestation disaster and you'll find greed lurking. Madagascar is no different thanks to a recent sapphire rush that has generated worldwide interest from gem hunters, who are being blinded by the undoubted beauty and rarity of the country's brilliant blue, enormously precious stones.

Pressure groups are hoping for military intervention

Apparently tens of thousands of prospectors have already arrived in Madagascar's remote eastern rainforests in search of the costly gemstones, and they're busy disfiguring a region that is supposed to be officially  protected, an environmental no-go area. The situation is so bad that officials in the country are threatening military intervention.

The problem is the sheer, magical quality of the gemstones being found in the incredibly biodiverse area called the Corridor Ankeniheny-Zahamena. More have been dug up there during the past six months than have been found in the whole of the country in the past two decades, making this a gold rush-type event of legendary proportions. In fact it is being labelled the most important gemstone discovery in Madagascar for the past thirty years.

Thousands of acres of forest are being felled

The tiny village of Bemainty, once remote and quiet, is now teeming with miners and gem traders, who are busy felling thousands of acres of forest in the protected area. The environmental group Conservation International helps manage the region and they are horrified by the destruction of the forest, which is widely known as one of the island nation's most precious resources.

Madagascar already produces about half of the planet's high-end sapphires, around $150 million worth every year. But the latest rush is without precedent, a chaotic six month-long environmental tragedy that has already led the government over there to declare the protection of the region a national priority.

Officials are unable to control the sapphire rush

Sadly, so far local officials have been completely unable to control the ongoing rush, and have had very little help despite making numerous requests for military support. Some say it's because ‘too many influential people' are involved in trading the stones, another testament – as if one was needed – that human greed and short sightedness still holds sway over environmental concerns.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - April 7, 2017 at 7:56 am

Categories: Conservation   Tags:

The Cost Of Going Green

Business owners are often intimidated by going green when they think about what it could cost. True, sustainable business practices are an investment, and a hefty one depending on the route you choose! However, with upwards of 55% of consumers seeking eco-friendly brands, there is profit to be found in the going green frenzy.

The graphic below from Fundera, a small business loan marketplace, outlines how you can maximize the benefits from your sustainability strategy.  Whether you are starting from the ground up to build a LEED-certified office, or want to find small ways to make an impact, the options are boundless. Plus, grants like the SBIR program make it easy to fund your projects, so you can boast eco-friendly business without going deep into personal debt.

Cost of going green

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Posted by Eco Warrior - April 4, 2017 at 5:59 am

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Sustainable Construction

In construction, around half of non-renewable resources are used. That makes it one of the most damaging industries to the environment on the globe. And as the world races through the 21st century, more and more people are moving into urban areas that require constant development.

The answer?

Sustainable construction. New ideas and innovative technology that can transform the industry and the way it operates giving hope to the future. But what does sustainable construction really mean, where is it up to now, and what does the future hold?

Raised Floor Solutions take a look…

What is sustainable construction?

The term sustainable construction can be interpreted in a number of different ways, but at its core it is about harnessing the latest technology and methods to build much needed infrastructure without cost to the environment.

Developments often go forward with a focus and drive on one particular need. Like that of an areas requirement of new houses or a new hospital, without considering the wider implications on the environment. Sustainable construction asks now that we pivot and consider the impact our infrastructure is having on the world around us. It often takes into account three themes known as the ‘triple bottom line’ which are the environment, social stability, and economic accountability.

Where is it up to?

Currently worldwide there are a number of agencies and organisations that have developed rating systems and standard for green building. Some countries have varying rating systems such as the UK which uses BREEAM and the US that uses LEED. Going forward though, it’s looking like these standards may saturate towards one worldwide standard. The rewards are often credits that are given to buildings that support initiatives that include things like sustainable materials or water conservation.

The future of sustainable construction

As the urban population grows, so does the necessity of green building. But how will it change and what technologies will emerge to make it a viable way to build and protect our future?

In recent years, as well as seeing an increase in new-builds taking on green technologies, we’re seeing retrofit energy efficiency too. This indicates that home owners and offices are looking to adapt their current buildings and homes to put less strain on the environment.

In cities around the world we are also seeing big name, high profile buildings being constructed that are pioneering ‘green’ building tech. It’s these leading designs that are inspiring architects and construction companies across the globe. From the Bullitt Centre in Seattle that was designed to be the greenest building in the world to the Council House 2 that was the first purpose built office in Australia to achieve a Six Green Star rating – green building is now a popular trend.

The drawback

The biggest and most commonly cited drawback of sustainable building is cost. These new building methods, technologies, and materials don’t come cheap, and so many businesses are nervous to take their first steps into green construction. There is a saving to be made in the long run, however. Sustainable buildings cost much less to run and maintain, meaning that the initial offset is usually worth it.

Another common issue is the problem of actually sourcing sustainable materials, especially so on a large scale. In urban environments, the precedent is put on meeting a need, not caring for the environment, and so sourcing rarer more costly materials is never a priority.

As our greenhouse gases warm our Earth and start to see the damaging effects of the way we have lived we need to start considering new methods of creating infrastructure. Green methods. But change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, effort, and a conscious movement from the industries that make the biggest impact.

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Posted by Eco Warrior - April 3, 2017 at 10:32 am

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