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.
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.
Hygge is a design and lifestyle concept from Denmark which is becoming increasingly popular. Associated with pale neutral colour schemes, especially white, Hygge homes focus on happiness and well-being.
n this infographic we take a look at ways to make your home Hygge. It's not difficult to achieve and doesn't cost a fortune, in fact Hygge is not about extravagance and the cost of things. It's about enjoying and sharing experiences with loved ones along with quality, meaningful ‘me' time. Drinking your favourite coffee, wearing relaxing, non-restricting lounge-wear or relaxing in a warm bubble bath are examples of how Hygge lifestyles work.
In the home décor and soft furnishings focus on warmth and cosy comfort. Fluffy statement rugs placed on wooden flooring, cushions with textural elements, such as thick knits, and snugly throws are used in living rooms and bedrooms.
Candles play a huge role in Hygge living. They're used to create a relaxing ambience with their warm soft glow and scents that evoke good memories. Open fires and wood burners are used extensively in Danish décor, so, if you're fortunate enough to have either they're a great place to sit in front of with family and friends.
Hygge isn't solely for inside your home, it embraces the outdoors too. Walks or simple outdoor activities are great for helping to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Hygge is forecast to be this biggest trend this year. Find out more on How To Make A Hygge Home by taking a look at the piece below.
Did you know that even your choice of roofing can have a significant impact on the environment? Many of us are aware that 25% of buildings’ heat being lost through uninsulated roofs, and that good insulation makes our homes more energy efficient. However, there’s still a lot more we can do to improve our environmental footprint. For those wanting to take a step forward and invest in the most sustainable and environmentally friendly roofing technology available, EPDM rubber roofing might just be the answer. Here are some of the properties that make EPDM so eco-friendly.
EPDM rubber roofs are one of the most durable types of roofing available. They have been proven to last for at least 40 or 50 years and sometimes even longer, if proper maintenance is carried out. Other flat roofing materials such as fibreglass usually last between 20-25 years, and British Standard Mastic Asphalt (one of the most common roofing materials) for at least ten years. EPDM is an especially long-lasting material, meaning your roof will not need replacing as frequently. Therefore, it requires fewer resources, which makes it a more environmentally friendly roofing choice.
2. Environmental impact
The materials used in manufacturing and installing EPDM also have a very low environmental impact. Most importantly, there are no toxic substances released from the rubber material, minimising the impact on the local environment. Importantly, run-off water from the roof will not be harmful to animals and wildlife. This also means there’s the potential for rainwater harvesting from an EPDM roof. This is when surface water on the flat roof can be drained for use in the home. For example, to flush toilets, use in washing machines or drain into water storage tanks used for watering plants. EPDM roofing is particularly suited for rainwater harvesting, as its smooth and flat rubber surface allows for the quick and easy drainage of water. It’s a completely waterproof system when correctly installed, so it doesn’t damage the building structure underneath.
3. Flood Solutions
There’s an additional benefit to EPDM’s suitability, as it can also be used to help manage flood risks. Small amounts of rainwater can actually be stored on EPDM coated roofs and allowed to drain over the course of a few hours. This could help certain parts of the world to cope with intense rainfall, as the volume of water to drain is significantly reduced and staggered over a larger timespan.
4. Green, black and white roof technologies
EPDM is particularly suited to green roof technologies (the growing of vegetation on roofs). EPDM is a popular choice for the membrane that sits underneath the layer of growing vegetation because it’s resilient and completely waterproof.
Green roofs provide a new habitat for plants and animals, help to absorb water and carbon emissions, reduce heat lost through the roof whilst also offering a more natural and aesthetically pleasing surface, especially for very built-up areas.
What’s more, black EPDM can be installed in colder climates, such as the UK, to absorb more heat from the sun. This can help reduce the amount of heating required within the property. Similarly, in hot climates, white EPDM surfaces reflect some of the sun’s heat and actually have a cooling effect on buildings.
The rubber material can be reused and recycled after its life as a roof has finished. EPDM recycling technologies have improved drastically in recent years and are no longer holding the construction material back in its environmentally-friendly status. After it has been removed from a roof, it can be ground down into a variety of different sized rubber pieces. It has been estimated that recycling EPDM materials is 30% cheaper than sending the materials to landfill sites. The reprocessed rubber can then be re-installed on another flat roof, or used in paving materials for footpaths and playground surfaces.
6. Solar panel technology
Whilst solar panels can be installed on any roof – whether flat or pitched – this eco-friendly technology is perfect for rubber flat roofs, as their flat gradient makes it easier to install and access the technology. The solar panels do not need to be installed into the flat roof membrane, but can simply be weighted down on the surface with watertight frames or fixed directly onto the flat roof.
As you can see, EPDM is pioneering the way in sustainable roofing. In North America, EPDM is now the leading recycled commercial roof membrane material! It’s the perfect eco-friendly roofing choice for both residential and commercial properties.
Guest post by Waterproof Systems.
Over the years, paving, decking, patios and outside garden improvements of this ilk have become a more and more common component of the home. As driveways have become a must for many around the world, a notable decline of front gardens has been observed. This trend shows no signs of abating and everybody seems to be trying to find a balance between greenery and paving. So, why?
Paving is indisputably a practical and efficient home improvement. The popularity of paving, decking and installing patios should not come as a surprise as it benefits a property in several ways. They’re cleaner looking, require less all-round maintenance, provide easy access to and from the house and can look stunning in the process. But paving isn’t always the right decision and what is in the best interest for your home and the surrounding areas needs to be considered beforehand. There is, however, one outstanding paving system that comes with only positives. Permeable paving is the future and here is why.
Permeable Paving – What is it?
Permeable paving is a paving system designed to enable the passage of water through the surface and out below. It has larger gaps between blocks than traditional block paving so that water does not get clogged and instead finds its way into the soil or a specially constructed sub-base underneath where it is then slowly released.
Permeable paving is otherwise like all other driveway or garden paving systems, it doesn’t sacrifice stability or durability but additionally provides natural drainage which some paving systems do not have. It comes in a range of paving options for whether you want the appearance of traditional paved stone driveway but the pros of permeable paving. Alternatively, you may prefer to keep the green aesthetics of a garden but require the stability of a driveway. Either way, permeable paving is the solution.
A Safe Paving Option – Reducing the Risks of Flooding
Whilst paving can be a wonderful feature, some paving systems prohibit water from soaking up naturally like a traditional lawn. Solid, watertight surfaces are fantastically secure and durable but they instigate water build up due to their impenetrability. This means that water doesn’t drain but instead builds up in surrounding roads and gorges and thereby provoking flash flooding. Existing drainage systems are unable to cope and excess water either builds up around your home or is directed elsewhere potentially damaging a neighbor's home.
Of course, with cars and parking spaces a necessity for many, driveways are an inevitable requirement. A front lawn just sometimes isn’t the most practical option for homeowners around the world. But this isn’t a one or the other situation. Permeable paving offers a paving system that has the benefit of both a driveway and the sustainable permeability of a front lawn.
A Sustainable Paving Option – Environmentally Friendly
Letting excess water drain away naturally to be soaked up by the soil in a controlled manner makes permeable paving by far the most environmentally friendly and sustainable paving choice to the extent that some flood-prone countries now insist on this home improvement.
Homes and areas that are unprepared can be bad for the environment. Rain that gathers doesn’t just present a problem for drainage but it is often being directed back to rivers and streams that are unable to cope with such an excess. Consequently, these streams are damaged and river banks collapse. Even if drains look to be doing a good job, often your drainage system is carrying rainwater towards the sewers which then sometimes overflow into rivers and have the same negative impact.
Urban heat island effect is another problem caused by ill-equipped houses. Local temperatures rise because less water evaporates. All of these problems find their solution in permeable paving. It is environmentally friendly, safer for urban areas and as practical and efficient.
The massive impact of fossil fuel heating systems on the environment continually draws a lot of worldwide attention. Considering that heating is one of the world’s highest energy consumption sources, there is more focus on making positive, sustainable changes to how it is produced. Green boiler technology is fast becoming a great solution for those seeking to reduce their carbon footprint.
With the options for green boilers increasing daily, questions are also being raised about their environmental impact. While green boilers are more energy efficient and acceptable as an alternative option for heating, they still contribute to global warming.
Different Types of Green Boilers
Today, there are two main types of green boilers used in homes and businesses: biomass boilers and condensing boilers. Each of these operates in completely different ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
Biomass boilers operate by burning wood and other renewable organic materials to produce heat. Unlike old wood burning stoves and fireplaces, modern biomass burning stoves are more efficient for water heating needs. There are automatic biomass boilers that control the amount of air and fuel that is used, making them even more efficient. To keep this boiler running, owners will need ample space to store the boiler, along with wood or logs for heating purposes.
Condensing boilers are fuelled by gas or oil. What makes these boilers different, is that they reuse heat from the initial burning process to preheat the water entering the boiler. Heat is recovered from the combustion process as water vapor is condensed into liquid, making the process more efficient. Unlike standard boilers, they come in various sizes that can fit into different locales and only require regular maintenance. Many buildings are switching from old gas boilers to condensing boilers due to their practicality.
Environmental Impact of Biomass Boilers
The burning of wood and other biomass fuels produces carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions (CO2 and NO2). The carbon produced is usually the same amount as what is absorbed by a plant during its entire lifetime. While these emissions may be negligible, a faulty burning process in your boiler or a wrong setup may result in more emissions of carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic gases, benzene, and other toxic substances.
With proper use of biomass boilers, the ash waste is usually harmless and can be used as compost. Ensuring that green boilers are serviced regularly and operate under the manufacturer's guidelines is crucial, so that emissions remain harmless and the boiler operates at optimal capacity.
Environmental Impact of Condensing Boilers
Considering that heating oil and natural gas from condensing boilers are fossil fuels, they still contribute to environmental pollution. Although the CO2 emissions are most common with gas boilers, a faulty heating system may further produce carbon monoxide and present a major health hazard. For oil boilers, there is potential water contamination with leakages as well as gas emissions. In recent years, heating oil used in green boilers has been blended with other biofuels, like biodiesel, to create a cleaner energy source.
Making the Switch to Green Boiler Technology
There is a lot that goes into deciding what type of boiler is needed in a building. When making a switch, different factors have to be considered, like the size of the boiler, its cost, energy efficiency rating, availability of heating fuel, and its impact on the environment. There is no doubt that green boiler technology saves energy and leaves a smaller environmental footprint than older boilers.
Why Is Green Boiler Technology Better?
Experts in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning industry (HVAC) have to deal with constantly changing technology. With green technology popularity higher than ever, it's important to understand how new options are changing the industry and why this technology is the better option for heating.
- Reduced emissions—Green boilers make it easier for HVAC experts to abide by emission guidelines. These boilers are engineered under strict energy efficiency measures to protect both the end user and the environment.
- Highly efficient—Modern technology used for manufacturing green boilers helps minimize heat loss and improve heat transfer. That ensures that businesses get the most out of their boiler systems.
- Maximum fuel-cost savings—Green boilers use less fuel to do the same amount of work as old boilers; this is of huge benefit to many businesses. Eco-friendly boilers produce the same power while reducing spending on fuel over the long term.
- Smart design and innovation—With great improvements in design and engineering, modern boilers are produced smaller in size and developed with green technology in mind. That means less installation space in facilities and streamlined operation.
Is Green Boiler Technology Sustainable?
Just like other sustainable technologies, green boilers will remain a sustainable heating option. As more businesses opt for this technology, ensuring the reliability and efficiency of installed systems is a major priority for HVAC professionals. The boilers have to be regularly inspected and checked at least annually to ensure optimal efficiency.
The HVAC industry has quickly adapted to green technology, leading to the production of more efficient equipment that uses less energy. This is a major step for sustainable energy that helps protect the environment.
Kathleen Williams is an HVAC repair and installation expert and freelance writer from Orange County, CA. She has gained extensive experience and skills offering sustainable heating solutions to households and businesses in the area, working with one of the premier industrial boiler repair companies around.
Green home building is no longer just a trend. More than half of all U.S. builders report implementing green construction in a significant percentage of their new homes. It is projected that by 2020 more than 51 percent of builders expect at least 60 percent of their new homes to qualify as green. Eco-friendly home building is rapidly approaching the tipping point toward being mainstream. The following infographic shows eco-friendly building features.
The many benefits of a sauna provide great motivation for having one built into your home. Saunas relieve stress, relax muscles, flush toxins, and cleanse the skin. Additionally, they can be a great way to start or end your day. What is even better is that there are steps that can be taken to build an environmentally friendly sauna bath. The key to building such a sauna is to maximize energy efficiency. This will minimize the eco-print left by your sauna. The foundation will be laid by how the sauna is built. Which heater is selected and proper maintenance will also ensure that your sauna is environmentally friendly for years to come!
Building The Sauna
How the sauna is built is the first key to an environmentally friendly sauna bath. This includes insulation, ventilation, materials, and the size of the sauna. The higher quality of insulation used, the less energy output that will be required to heat the sauna. This will also keep your home in good condition. Good ventilation will keep the sauna itself, especially any wood work, in better condition. The ventilation will also provide sauna bathers with fresh air that breathes easy. Done correctly, a good ventilation system will maximize energy efficiency.
It is worth taking a little time to discuss the materials used to build the sauna. There are different wood species and other materials that can be used in your sauna. Stones have the tendency to hold more heat so they can be a great way to maximize energy efficiency. Not only should you pay attention to moisture resistance, heating properties, and other qualities, but the materials also play a significant role in how your sauna looks. Enjoy the process of selecting great looking materials for your new sauna!
Lastly, consider the size of the sauna. The more people that may use the sauna at once will require a larger sauna. The larger the sauna the more space that will be required and the larger the space the more energy that will be required to heat the sauna. All these factors should be considered while building an environmentally friendly sauna.
The next key to an eco-friendly sauna is the heater. First, the decision must be made between an electric heater or fire. Which one will fit your sauna needs better and which one would you enjoy more? Next, the size of your heater will be crucial to heating your space and meeting the necessary energy output. Also, depending on what materials you chose to build your sauna could influence how much energy the heater needs to put out. Lastly, be sure that the heater will be able to handle its workload well. For example, if you intend to use the sauna often be sure the heater can always be ready to be used for bathing.
When actually taking a sauna bath it will be more efficient if more than one person baths at the same time. This way the heater is not left on as people cycle through the sauna. Be sure to keep the heat at a reasonable level not only for health and safety reasons but also to keep energy use in check. If you build a sauna with a window be sure to keep it closed while the sauna is running, otherwise the heat will escape requiring more energy to heat the sauna. Finally, if you use wood in your sauna be sure that the wood dries properly after each bath. This will extend the life of the wood. It is usually not necessary to keep the heater on after the bath. The after-heat from the bath is usually enough to dry the wood and the room.
Keep in mind what it will take maintain your sauna to maximize energy efficiency. If wood is used in the sauna, oils will be needed to take care of the wood. If stones were placed in the sauna, the stones may need to be rearranged periodically as they tend to settle over time. Also, be sure to read about how to take care of your heater. Does anything need replaced periodically? When does the heater need to be replaced? These tasks and questions should be taken care of to ensure a long life for your sauna and continued energy efficiency to maximize your enjoyment with the sauna while minimizing its impact on the environment.
A Green Sauna
Saunas can be great ways to relax and take care of your body. There are even ways to minimize its effect on the wonderful world we live in. By building the sauna efficiently, selecting an appropriate heater, and with good maintenance, you can make sure that your sauna will last and provide a great accessory to your home!
This article was written by Sam Socorro from Steam And Shower UK. She has over 10 years’ experience in writing health related topics and specializes in the health benefits of saunas and hydrotherapy.
More than 150 chemicals found in your home are connected to allergies, birth defects, cancer and physiological disorders. A majority of these chemicals are used in everyday bathroom cleaning. There are many DIY “recipes” that combine natural household ingredients to create a natural cleaning solution. For example you can combine a grapefruit and salt to create a tub cleaner. The following slideshow displays different recipes and methods for cleaning your bathroom without using harmful chemicals. Try these methods to help clean your house without harming your health or the environment.
Making the switch from regular standard light bulbs to LEDS could save you a whopping 80% of the energy used per bulb. It’s a simple yet highly effective item to tackle if you are looking to make savings on your utility bills.
Around the home, looking at small ways to save can also help. For example, setting the hot water temperature in your bathroom at 50°C and no higher, as well as using a microwave oven in the kitchen to cook instead of a conventional oven.
With conserving energy now at the forefront of our minds, as consumers we are more eco-conscious than ever. When shopping for a home appliance or looking to upgrade an old one, it is best to look for items that carry the ‘Energy Star’. Products that have this label fall within the top 25% of the most energy efficient appliances that are available to buy.
For a snapshot on how to conserve more energy while at home, see the below infographic produced by NJP Electrical.