Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Take off Your Shoes and Breathe a Sigh of Relief

Many societies in the world consider it impolite to wear your shoes inside someone's home.  Well, they may be onto something!  When you think about all of the places your shoes have been during the course of a day (assuming you travel outside your house), and all of the crud that they can pick up, it seems only sensible that leaving your shoes at the door is a good thing to do.

Back in 1991, the EPA did something called a "Door Mat Study" to measure all of the bad nasties that we pick up on our shoes and bring home.

The bad news:   Their study found that we bring lead dust, chemicals, pesticides, animal dander and animal feces in from the outside.  That's pretty gross.  Of most concern was the lead dust and it's toxic effect on children.

The good news:  By doing a few simple things (like taking off our shoes at the door), we can dramatically reduce tracking all of these pollutants into our homes.  The Door Mat Study found that:

Using door mats cut toxic lead dust inside the home almost in half.
Taking shoes off at the door cut the lead dust by 60%, better than door mats.
Doing both actions — door mats and shoes off — over a five month period wiped away a stunning 98.5% of the toxic dust. Virtually eliminated all of it. 

So there you have it.  Get yourself a good door mat, take off your shoes and let your little piggies breathe cleaner air.   If you have pets that go outside, definitely go for the door mat!  And, the next time you feel weird about asking someone to remove their shoes at your house, don't.

Next up:  The Ugly Truth About Carpets (somewhat of a continuation of this post...)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Clean Your Air With House Plants

With the cooler weather upon us, most of us will be putting on our storm windows and battening down the hatches at home.  While that may bring nostalgic ideas of chestnuts roasting on an open fire and spending more time indoors,  it also brings up a far more unpleasant topic: Indoor Air Pollution.  Yuck!
On average, we spend 80-90% of our time inside buildings.  And the air we breathe inside is often more polluted than the air outside!  According to the American Lung Association, the air in our homes can contain molds, dust mites, pet dander, VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from carpets and glues used in furniture and paints, viruses and bacteria.  

What to do about it, you ask?  Plug in an air freshener?  NO!  Most commercial air fresheners and wax-based candles only cover up the smell-- and they actually ADD to the VOCs and bad nasties that you're breathing in.  Don't cover it up, clean it up-- with house plants.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fight Club - Make Your Own Laundry Soap

Yes, you can make your own laundry soap.  The formula is a bit different from the one in the movie, "Fight Club," and if you've seen it, you'll be glad that it is.  If you haven't, well, it's not for kids, but a good movie if you like Ed Norton and Brad Pitt.  I've been told it's a must-see for "intellectual hippies."

But I digress.  Back to the soap.  It's cheap, it's way easy, and it really works to get clothes clean.   I can't take credit for this recipe.  Credit goes to my cousin, Gen, who shared it with me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hey! Did Ya Know?

Interesting Factoids for a Tuesday:

The average American meal travels 2500 miles before it hits your table!
Try selecting locally grown food whenever possible.  

The average American throws out 4.5 lbs of garbage every day!

Reuse, Reuse, Reuse.  Then Recycle, Recycle, Recycle.

Americans consume more than 2.5 million bottles of water every hour, and only around 10% are recycled.
Tap water costs about $0.0015 per gallon vs. $2 for a 16-oz bottle at the convenience store!  ($16 per gallon!!)  Save yourself some money and do the planet some good by buying a good reusable and refillable drink container.

The average American is exposed to about 3000 advertising messages a day.

Think about that for a moment... (you just missed out on 2-5 ads while doing that...)

Children ages 8-12 see the most food ads on TV — an average of 21 a day, or 7,600 a year.

Many of those ads are not for healthy, nutritious foods.  Why are our kids unhealthier than ever?  Hmmm.....

Monday, October 12, 2009

Re-Run: Small Eco-Steps to Live Better, Preserve the Planet, Save Money and Be Happier

We hear it everyday: Reduce our carbon footprint, eat less meat, turn down the thermostat, put on a sweater, recycle, stop drinking bottled water. If we don't want to literally melt the Earth, we have to do all of these things, plus keep up with our jobs, our daily lives, running the kids here and there-- combining as many trips as possible to avoid emitting CO2. It can be overwhelming to mentally juggle all we already had on our daily plates, let alone throw some more "helpful" ideas to save our planet.

But does it need to be that hard? Well, in a nutshell, no. It does not. Let's face it, no matter where we fall on the "green" spectrum, there is always room for improvement! And that's where this Blog comes in. The objective here is to help people help themselves, help the planet and maybe get a little happier in doing so. So, here is a list of 10 small "eco" steps you can take to do your part for the environment. It's not long, and you can probably pick just one, maybe even two things for starters. But, if you're feeling bold, do them all. It can only help.