December 16, 2011

Great Ideas for a GREEN Holiday:

Posted in GREEN Living at 6:31 pm by ritutza

Want to be a bit greener this holiday season and don’t know where to start? Here are a few cool ideas to dive right into:

1. Get a Pesticide-Free Tree – there are a lot of tree farms that sell pesticide-free trees.

2. Recycle your Christmas Tree: 98% of trees come from farms, grown for the purpose of becoming a Christmas tree; however most of them end up in landfills. Check out www.earth911.org to find tree-recycling options.

3. Donate your Time/Money to an Environmental Cause

4. Shop Local for your Holiday Feast

5. Create your own Ornaments: origami birds and flowers, snowflakes, etc. Martha Stewart has a big collection of Do-It-Yourself projects www.marthastewart.com

6. Cards: this holiday season why not consider e-cards or a good old-fashioned phone call?! They’re free and much more personal.

7. Gift Wrapping: try to use scarves, handkerchiefs, newspapers, a present in a present (a hat wrapped in a scarf), reusable bags.

8. Nature Traditions: this year steal some of your gift shopping time and replace it with a family tradition in nature, such as ice skating, hot cocoa under the stars, trim a tree outside, etc.

9. Gifts: give a gift that supports wilderness, such as a membership to a green organization or a home energy assessment to help raise awareness and help reduce energy costs.

10. Recycle any holiday waste from your home and don’t forget you may use some of it next holiday season!

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October 29, 2011

Have a GREEN Halloween ;-)

Posted in GREEN Living tagged , , , , , , , , , at 5:33 pm by ritutza

I’ve been thinking about my new blogpost and what I should write about… Halloween is here and I love it as much as all kids out there 🙂 yeah, I know it’s the kid in me.
I started researching and came across a great program called Green Halloween (www.greenhalloween.org). I quickly realized what a great program this would be for the community I live in! A healthier, greener Halloween is the message. How do they do it? Here are a few tips I really liked:

1. Make Halloween art/ décor only from recycled goods or things found in nature.
2. Have a Green Halloween inspired door decorating contest.
3. Make “treat & treasure” bags from recycled goods or old pillow cases.
4. Have your party at a local organic pumpkin farm.
5. Have an eco-themed costume contest.
6. Make a treasure out of trash. Send the kids on a mission to collect litter in fall colors: orange, black, red, brown or gold. Use the pieces to make a fall collage. (Covering recycled soup cans make for great pencil holders, too!)
7. Host a “zero” waste party where everything must be consumed, reused/ repurposed.
8. Host a post-Halloween candy exchange and composting party.
9. Look at Green Halloween’s list of treats and treasures and choose what will work for you.
10. Consider using mostly décor from nature – pumpkins, gourds, apples, hay, etc.
11. Compost all food scraps and natural décor items. Even candy (unwrapped) can be composted or put in the yard waste bin. Pizza boxes and other food contaminated paper/ cardboard items may also be composted/ included in yard waste.
12. Recycle anything that can be: aluminum cans, water bottles, cups, food containers, etc.
Use healthier cleaning supplies – vinegar and water works wonders!

For more great ideas on making your Halloween greener, bringing your community closer together and getting your local school involved, check out their site! It’s quite extensive 😉

Happy Ghouling everyone…. Mwahahaha

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September 21, 2011

Green before White – prepare your home for winter!

Posted in GREEN Living at 3:05 pm by ritutza

How can you lower your bills once heating kicks in? Here are a few tips to prepare you for keeping costs low:

1. Invest in a programmable thermostat (Con Ed even gives them out free)

2. Lower your water heater temperature

3. There is really no need to do laundry with warm water. Unless you have to use hot water for heavily soiled clothes, use cold water.

4. Use the dryer at night-time. Turn it on before you go to bed. Better yet, air dry clothes for a day, then throw them in the dryer for 10 minutes to fluff them up. It will also keep the air in your home moist!

5. Check the trim of your windows and doors and make sure they are properly insulated. If not, seal them properly to stop air leaks.

6. Insulate your water heater with proper insulation or a blanket will do. It will keep water warm longer, therefore not using as much energy to reheat.

7. Check your attic for insulation. Add to it, if it’s not enough. Heat escapes through the attic.

8. Weatherize all windows. You can purchase a DIY kit from Home Depot or just use clear cellophane and tape.

9. This is a great time to check your roof and gutters. Especially if you have a flat roof. When it snows, snow builds up and just melts on the roof; also make sure your gutters are clean.

10. And don’t forget: gift season is approaching, so think green! Especially when shopping for electronics. You just might inspire the next person to be more environmentally responsible too 🙂

September 7, 2011

Green and Real Estate Values!

Posted in GREEN Living at 4:13 pm by ritutza

#1: Spring for a Sunroom

Anytime you can add square footage and living space to your home, it’s a winner. Build a sunroom in the back of the house where you have less tree cover and more privacy. The result? A stunning addition that transforms the entire house. During the day, the room attracts sunlight, and in the evenings, it attracts guests.

#2: Get a New Roof

If the neighbors talk about your roof — and not in a good way — fix it! A shabby roof leaves a first impression that the current homeowners do not take good care of the place. If the roof is plain, flat and turning green in the corners, people will look at it and see major problems that could be showing inside the house. Replace the old, three-tab flat shingles with architectural shingles (pictured) that provide a lot more texture and depth. It can really change the character and feel of the house, and the cost can be easy on the pocket. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, a new roof that is architecturally interesting can only be a plus.

#3: Liven Up the Landscaping

Your yard may be thirsty for a makeover. Dirt and old, dead grass does not constitute a yard. Turn your desert landscape into a destination hot spot with plenty of seating, elegant water features and lush plants. You could even add extra square footage for entertaining. Even if you’re not in a warm climate, glamming up a not-so-hot yard is a good way to go!

#4: Install New Windows

Installing new windows can be beneficial for more than one reason. On an average house, 30 percent of energy is lost through windows. They are not only important in terms of energy issues, but they are also a signal to a future buyer that the current homeowners have really taken good care of the house.

#5: Add a Deck

There’s nothing like relaxing on a deck in the summertime with a cool drink in your hand. If you don’t already have one, build one! On average, when a homeowner adds a deck to a home, they are likely to recoup approximately 76 percent return on their investment. However, you don’t want your deck to be too big or too small — it shouldn’t be more than a third of your house. Most decks cost about $10,000, give or take. An appraiser’s No. 1 rule is finding homes that are very similar within a mile away of your home, so matching your improvements to the homes in your neighborhood is very important.

#6: Keep Rooms Flexible

Does your home have a unique specialty room like this relaxing plant sanctuary/lounge room? No one’s saying you need to give up your “special place,” but it’s important to hold back a little. Too much customization can be a problem if you ever plan to sell your home, so try not to overdo it. Things like hardwood floors, wiring for cable, phone and DSL, and plenty of windows are good ways to customize while keeping the room versatile. Another idea is to make the space one that can easily be converted into a guest suite, studio, family room or a den.

From www.hgtv.com

July 22, 2011

Green Shopping Westchester!

Posted in GREEN Living at 1:50 pm by ritutza

So you want to support local green businesses, but where are they? What do they provide? Well here’s a list of the most commonly used products and services:

1. Blue Hill at Stone Barns: a working four season farm and educational center with a mission to create consciousness about the effect of everyday food choices.

2. Clean Ridge Soap Company: manufactures and distributes natural soap.

3. Eco Cab: provides taxi and airport service to all Westchester and local airports plus courier service for all local businesses. Westchester’s First Environmentally Friendly Cab Service!

4. EVENTually Green: provides green event/party planning for individuals and organizations. Create an economical and unforgettable event.

5. Go Green Dry Cleaners: provides chemical free cleaning for your clothes.

6. Mrs. Green’s Natural Market: organic, fresh and natural shopping.

7. Deja Vu: new and gently worn designer items, such as clothing, bags and jewelery.

8. Deep Contracting: a full service contracting and building company that strives to provide quality workmanship and unsurpassed customer service.

 

 

June 28, 2011

Ready, Set, Green Summer :)

Posted in GREEN Living at 1:20 pm by ritutza

And so summer has started. How to you plan on keeping your energy costs low this summer? Or do you even have a plan? Well, here are a few tips that may help get you on track or at least give you an idea of your options:

1. Service your Air Conditioner: remember that you should periodically check and change your air filter to make sure proper air flow occurs and your unit doesn’t have to work extra hard to cool your home.

2. Use a Water Pitcher: a great idea is to use a water pitcher and keep it in the fridge for cold water consumption, rather than run the faucet water until it cools down.

3. Close the Shades: don’t forget to close the shades before it gets hot outside. This way you won’t have to cool the house down from the day’s heat.

4. Cook Outside: this is a great time to grill outside or fix a salad and watch that figure, rather than generate extra heat in the house by turning on an oven or the stove.

5. Use CFL bulbs: remember that CFL bulbs use 90% of the energy for lighting, rather than generate the kind of heat an incandescent bulb does. This is a great time to get that App (Bulb Finder) and see how much money you’ll save by replacing your lightbulbs.

6. Reusable Dishes: use reusable dishes rather than foam or paper plates and cups to cut down on the waste.

7. Breeze it Up: when using an air conditioner or in the evening, when it cools down, use a ceiling fan to circulate the air and cool off the house faster. It will save you 12-15% on your energy bill!

8. Greener Laundry: hang your laundry out to dry rather than use the dryer. It will automatically save you money on electricity (or gas) and won’t create unnecessary heat in your home.

9. De-clutter: this is also a great time to remove some rugs, carpets, extra pillows/padding to make your surfaces cooler. Your body will appreciate it.

10. Have a Local Vacation: rather than travel this summer, opt for a local vacation to save money and curb your carbon footprint. Trade homes with your friend for a change of place, have a picnic at a local park or just go camping nearby.

June 16, 2011

Green in your Business?!

Posted in GREEN Living at 10:46 am by ritutza

Is the environment you work in green? We spend most of our time at work these days, don’t we? Yet here we are implementing all of these changes for greener living in our home; what about our office though? How can we make things greener there? Here are a few key points we can change and/or help implement:

1. Saving Energy: does your work environment have windows to let light in? Consider turning lights off, when not necessary, especially in areas you don’t spend too much time in. And for hallways and common spaces such as bathrooms, why not install sensor lights? Is the heating and cooling in your office controlled by a programmable thermostat? If not, did you know that ConEdison gives you one for free? All you have to do is get someone to install it for you. Also if you check your energy bill, you may discover that using a fan/space heater in just the areas used constantly may make more sense for you.

2. Greener Cleaner: what are the “chemicals” you use these days? From hand soap to cleaning products. Why not try out some of the greener options out there? Some companies, such as Shaklee and WowGreen, would love to give you some samples to try to see if you’d like them.

3. Eco Products: what percentage of the office products you use is recycled? Even Staples carries recycled products these days from paper to pens to garbage bags, etc There are great options out there for recycled business cards as well, such as www.moo.com and www.greenerprinter.com

4. Recycling: if you’re in an area like mine, where the only thing they recycle in businesses is cardboard, it may be a bit challenging to recycle anything else. However, it’s not impossible. Remember to recycle your electronics. There are companies out there that will pick them up from you and even more than that, they can assign you as a drop-off location of the month and your neighborhood can drop their electronics off at your place of business. Great exposure and a good deed! www.Cartridgeworld.com is another ally to have. They pick up your empty toner cartridges and reuse them.

5. Educate: any small change that you help implement, why not leave a note/plaque behind and explain what and why you did it to educate your fellow co-workers/employees on how easy it is for everyone to pitch in on being green?

6. Green Business Challenge: if you live in Westchester, NY you can enroll your business into a program that after deep analysis will recommend steps you can take in making a bigger difference. 

7. Networking: try finding some networking groups that have a similar green mission as you, such as GreenDrinks. You may learn a thing or two and be able to better your business and/or take it to the next level.

8. Advertising: if your business entails advertising (most of them do), why not try going completely paperless or at least advertise in papers that support the green concept?

June 7, 2011

Greening your Utility Bill

Posted in GREEN Living at 10:39 pm by ritutza

Where does most of the money spent on energy go to? That’s right; your gas and electric bill. Have you ever thought that you could do anything about it? Anything to lower it just one bit? How about 30%?

I probably sound like one of those competitive energy providers, but the truth is that most of us just habitually pay or utility bill and don’t question it much, unless we see a huge price difference.

Did you know that there is a way to find out your average basic spending through taking the heating and cooling away? Did you know that by changing your old-fashioned light bulbs, you will save 75% of the energy consumption through lighting?

Have you checked your attic insulation lately? How about using your window shades correctly? Their purpose in the summer time is to keep heat out, so don’t raise your shades during the day. It will make your air conditioning unit work a lot harder.

One thing you definitely didn’t know is that Con Edison offers energy assessment inspections, installs free programmable thermostats and gives you lots of small improvement ideas to make your home greener thus more energy-efficient. Just look up their “green initiative”.

May 25, 2011

A Perfect Landscape!

Posted in GREEN Living at 5:19 pm by ritutza

We’re moving into the hot summer months quickly here in New York. This means higher water bills for all of you gardeners out there. I say “you” since I don’t consider myself a gardener. I merely have a green thumb, however I do find it somewhat of a relaxing hobby…

One of the things I had learned about was Xeriscaping. It’s basically landscaping with plants specific to your region to avoid high water consumption. It was originally used in climates, where irrigation was scarce, but has quickly become popular all over.

There is a whole science from the purpose of your landscape, to the soil you use, to the way you water your new work of art. Who knew?!

You should carefully consider what the primary use of your front/back/side yard will be. Is it for gardening, playing with the kids, letting the dog loose? Once you’ve figured this out, next you can work on the configuration. What needs to be fenced in? Where do you have more shade and where is it very hot and sunny?

You should also carefully select the soil for your plants. Most of them will benefit from compost, which will help the soil retain water.

For a great selection of the right plants for your region, visit your local Botanical Garden and steal some ideas from there.

A last but very important tip is the way you water your greenery. Make sure you water infrequently and thoroughly to help plants develop deep roots. Use sprinklers close to the ground with large droplets to avoid wasted water through wind. Try watering after sundown to avoid evaporation from the sun and if using a sprinkler, go for one with a rain sensor, so it will stop when it rains.

What have you been doing with your landscaping lately? Any tips or photos?

May 9, 2011

GREEN IPhone Apps

Posted in GREEN Living at 1:56 pm by ritutza

Yes, going green has made its’ way into the app world as well my friends. And they have some pretty cool ones that you can download for free.

Here’s what made my list:

1. Go Green: displays green tips, whenever you launch the app

2. Green Tips: also has numerous green tips, which you can then post to Facebook or email to friends with the click of a button. Beware though, sometimes the tip you read is not the one you share. I once thought I was posting a green tip on lightbulbs and it turned out to be “refreshing your clothes with vodka”. Although very entertaining to my Facebook community, I prefer having control over my posts 🙂

3. GTM: gives you the latest news on the newest inventions and discoveries on going green

4. IRecycle: a pretty cool app here. You can find recycling locations closest to you, depending on what you want to recycle.

5. Treehugger: tries to be a one stop shop for all green news, solutions and product information.

Try them out for yourself and see if you find them useful or you think they’re just companies being eco-chic 😉

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