Taking a holiday offers you the opportunity to get away from the pressures of work, school or home life. It lets you spend quality time with friends and family members, so you can return to your daily life refreshed and relaxed. However, taking a holiday typically requires extensive travel, hotel stays and consumption of resources that contribute to environmental damage. Simple strategies can help you enjoy an ...
The ecologically interested traveler has no shortage of appealing destinations. The gorilla-roamed bamboo groves of the Virunga Volcanoes in Central Africa, the deserts and drylands of interior Australia, the sandstone wildernesses of America's Colorado Plateau -- countless ecosystems, species and cultures demand firsthand experience. To ensure your travels are environmentally and socially sustainable, thoroughly ...
Party planning can be overwhelming, but don’t let your environmentalism fall by the wayside in the interest of convenience. Your party can demonstrate your interest in all things green and convince others that going green doesn’t mean going without. From invitations to clean-up, with the right preparation your party can leave the smallest environmental footprint possible. You may be surprised at the ...
Buying a laundry hamper may seem to be a mundane task with no importance attached to it, but it can affect the environment and the health of people nationwide. Americans threw away 29.8 million tons of plastic in 2009, and we recycled only 7 percent of that waste, according to the EPA. The nonrecyclable plastics sit in landfills or get incinerated, which is environmentally hazardous if the plastic is polyvinyl ...
More Articles on Eco-Friendly Clothing
Approximately 13 percent of the average U.S. household's energy budget goes toward powering appliances, according to the U.S. government's Energy Star program (see References 1). With appliances from coffeemakers to refrigerators adding to your energy expenditures, making eco-friendly choices when purchasing and using appliances can trim your energy bills and reduce your impact on the planet.
Halloween costumes are a great way to foster a child's creativity, but a costume can quickly become excessively wasteful or costly for a single night's excitement. Instead of purchasing a ready-made Halloween costume, encourage your child to make part or all of her costume in an eco-friendly manner. While younger children will need help from their parents, encourage older children to make their own costumes using a set budget and some basic ground rules to ensure environmentally-sound choices. (See References 3)
Whether you're renovating your existing home or building from the ground up, your choice of roofing material is an important factor in construction. If you've decided upon shingles as opposed to tiles or metal, choose the environmentally-friendly option that suits your climate. If you are removing old shingles to make room for composites, solars, fiber cement or shake, check with your local solid waste authority to find out what recycling options exist, or sell or donate intact tiles and shingles for salvage.
Green renovation doesn't end when construction is finished. Your choice of paint matters, too. Traditional paint contains volatile organic compounds or VOCs, toxic pigments, fungicides and preservatives that can release toxic fumes into your home. As a result, the air in your home can have 100 times the pollution of the air outside, which can lead to irritation, headaches and fatigue, and may play a role in more serious diseases over time. Luckily, better options exist. Several alternative products are available for painting wood without sacrificing clean air.
There are more than 2,500 species of mosquitoes, approximately 200 in the United States. At best, these flying pests are annoying to both man and beast. Some mosquitoes, however, can transmit diseases, such as malaria, encephalitis, yellow fever and West Nile virus (see References 1). Although the application of pesticides on lawns will kill mosquitoes, these agents can pose risks to human health and the environment. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, listed biological pest controls are safer than conventional pesticides (see References 2).
As tempting as it can be to let it all hang loose and stop worrying while on vacation, you do want to be cognizant of your ecological impact. Without a little planning, you may be unaware of specific environmental and social issues in a given location --- a swath of critical habitat for an endangered species, for example, or the exploitation of a given group of people. You are also inherently reliant on transportation that may be better or worse in terms of greenhouse-gas emissions. The byword for the eco-savvy traveler is awareness.
Malden Mills --- now known as Polartec --- introduced the first synthetic fleece in 1979 (see References 5), and the fabric found a market among athletes and outdoors enthusiasts who favor warm, lightweight garments. "Time" magazine even listed Polartec's fleece in its "One Hundred Great Things" round-up of the most important designs of the 20th century (see References 1). One of synthetic fleece's drawbacks, though, comes from a green standpoint: manufacturing the material requires large amounts of new plastic. Eco-friendly fleece is made of recycled products, including plastic bottles, or from sustainably harvested wool. Both types of eco-fleece do less harm to the environment than standard synthetic fabrics.
Egg tempera paint has been used by artists since ancient times. It gradually lost popularity as oil paint came into vogue in the 15th century. Egg tempera paint, an eco-friendly alternative to more commonly used paints, consists of dry, finely powdered pigment mixed with egg yolk and water. Traditional artistic pigments, many of which are quite toxic, are generally based on metals such as cobalt, copper, manganese and zinc (see References 1). By using colored chalk as a pigment, you can make simple, brilliantly colored, environmentally safe egg tempera paint for art projects (see References 2).
Packaging is an important concern for consumers, particularly those who are interested in converting to environmentally-friendly buying behaviors. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), packaging is responsible for up to one-third of the nonindustrial waste in developed countries. (See References 1) While it is almost impossible to avoid packaging altogether, you can purchase products with wrapping that does limited damage. In doing so, you will support businesses that are making an effort to produce eco-friendly products.
There are eco-friendly and eco-"unfriendly" ways to visit any adventure destination. For example, you can hop in a helicopter -- what locals drolly label a "Kauai mosquito" --- to scope out that Hawaiian island's lush valleys and oceanside cliffs; in the process, you burn gallons of aviation fuel and subject the area to emissions and noise. Alternately, you can wander Kauai's Na Pali or Awa'awapuhi trails, smelling the damp earth and ducking under native rainforest foliage that arches over your path. (See References 1) Eco-friendly means "eco-fun" if you are in reasonable shape and have a curious outlook on the world.
Eco-friendly building incorporates a wide variety of concepts and strategies during the design and construction process. Eco-friendly materials, a vital component of sustainable building, come from renewable rather than nonrenewable resources. Such materials enhance the health and efficiency of homes, but they also promote conservation of dwindling nonrenewable resources worldwide and reduce the overall impact associated with resource extraction, including transportation, processing, fabrication and disposal of materials. (See References 1.)
From birth through toilet training, your baby will go through as many as 9,000 diapers (see References 1). It may seem logical to use disposable diapers, which are hassle-free, but their convenience comes at a high environmental price. Reusable cloth diapers are generally considered a more ecologically responsible choice, and they're also more cost-effective. When used correctly, they're completely safe for your baby.
Improvements in modern home-building methods are helping to reduce the impact humans have on the environment. Eco-friendly building techniques include using materials that take less energy or require fewer resources to produce; designing homes to be more energy-efficient; and incorporating alternative energy and waste water management into home designs.
Many eco-conscious consumers think they're doing their part for the environment by hand-washing their dishes, but a new eco-friendly dishwasher may do an even better job, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The trick is to choose an Energy Star dishwasher that has been certified to save energy and water --- up to 5,000 gallons a year, while using half the energy it takes to hand wash. You can also save up to $40 a year on your electric bill and up to 230 hours of time spent hand washing. (See References 1)
Offices and commercial buildings use about one-fifth of America's nationwide energy production (see References 1). Designing an office for energy efficiency should both reduce its environmental impact and improve the business's bottom line over time. Eco-friendly design includes a combination of location, equipment, building features and usage. Adopt energy-saving practices to make the smartest use of efficient equipment.
Self-directed travel is an excellent and adventurous option for delving into a particular landscape, but the very realities that make it stirring can be major challenges --- namely, being wholly unfamiliar with the local language, culture, geography and indigenous flora and fauna. For those seeking a strong educational component to their journey, an organized tour is often the way to go. But a commercial venture can easily exploit local peoples and ecosystems. The key to choosing a tour company that's as concerned with sustainability as it is with the bottom line is asking a lot of tough questions.
For the environmentally conscious bride, a traditional wedding dress represents the ultimate in waste. Most brides walk down the aisle in brand-new gowns they'll wear only once. Worse still, many synthetic fabrics used in formal wear are manufactured with polluting chemicals. With approximately 2.5 million weddings taking place in the United States each year, the dresses are making an impact that's anything but pretty. (See References 4) Eco-friendly wedding dresses help green-minded girls make a vow to save the planet by stopping the cycle of pollution and waste.
A green hotel tends to trumpet its environmental agenda proudly, so that all you have to do is look around the property to see signs of environmental friendliness. For example, the Fairfield Inn & Suites in downtown Baltimore features a green roof, a former beer storage tank that captures rainwater and bike racks for guest and staff (see References 1). As part of the Kimpton chain, 70 Park Avenue in New York participates in its EarthCare Program, in addition to repurposing its kitchen oil as biodiesel and offering discounts for hybrid drivers (see References 2). Many properties' environmental awareness is manifest in other ways as well.
Before you toss out clothing that is stained, doesn't fit or has gone out of style, consider ways to give it a new function. The "greenest" approach to old clothing is repurposing it as other items, but not just as rags. A bit of creativity is all that's needed to give old clothing new utility and value.
Travelers have a wealth of choices for eco-friendly lodging, notes Irene Lane, president of Greenloons, a company based in Washington, D.C., that advises families on eco-friendly travel. "The rates aren't going to be that much more expensive for eco-friendly lodging, whether it's corporate accommodation or a small B&B, if they are operating in a sustainable manner," she says. A plenitude of agencies that rate and certificate eco-friendly hotels can make finding your perfect accommodation somewhat confusing, but Lane has suggestions for ways to streamline your approach. (See References 1)
Eco-friendly baby carriers made of organic cotton or hemp have grown in popularity for families that want to avoid bulky carriers stuffed with polyurethane foam (see References 1, p. 139). While these baby slings are environmentally friendly, they have also caused infant deaths in the past. For this reason, it is extremely important that parents use proper safety techniques while using a baby sling. The health of the infant as well as the baby's age may also affect the suitability of this baby carrier (see References 2).
You've decided to green your wedding, so you've picked out recycled paper for the invitations, decided against cut flower centerpieces and planned a fully organic spread with a locavore caterer. Don't forget the dress. Wedding gowns do not have to be buy-and-use-once affairs, and they definitely do not have to involve questionable labor practices and petroleum-based fabric. Your wedding gown will appear in every picture of the bride taken at the wedding, so take the opportunity to reflect the principle of environmental stewardship.
In choosing siding for your home, you must factor in durability, maintenance and insulation as well as sourcing --- the most eco-friendly choice would garner high marks in all categories. The differences between brick, stone, cement and stucco are negligible, and the best one for you depends upon your location and your needs. All offer superior insulation over wood and vinyl siding, but some require nonrenewable resources for their manufacture.
Whether it's trekking far overseas to assist in the rehabilitation of endangered animals that have been orphaned, or planting native seedlings in a restored natural habitat in your neighborhood, eco-volunteering can be immensely rewarding. Finding opportunities is usually not difficult --- sorting through them and finding the best fit for you may be the bigger challenge.
Since the "eco-friendly" label debuted in the 1990s, environmentally-minded travel options have exploded exponentially (see References 1). Today, an eco-friendly tour means one mindful of conservation, with meaningful community participation and profitable enough to sustain itself, notes the Responsible Travel Guide published by Transitions Abroad (see References 2, page 8). Budget travelers often find themselves of necessity on an eco-friendly tour, visiting affordable, low-key, highly sustainable destinations, but an eco-friendly tour can be right for you whether your budget is large or small and your destination urban or remote (see Resources 1).
If you're expecting, or you have recently welcomed a new life into the world, the question of whether to use disposable or cloth diapers has likely surfaced. Before making a decision based solely on convenience and convention, also consider the environment, what's best for your baby and your budget. Biodegradable disposable diapers are available, but they are hard to find and even more expensive than their landfill-bound counterparts. In contrast, cloth diapers are economical because they're used repeatedly, and there are reasons to use them even beyond the obvious environmental benefits.
The dawning of the commercial jet age in 1958 revolutionized travel. But at the same time, it made journeys less eco-friendly than in the days of ships, propeller and piston-engine aircraft, and other less fuel-intensive means of getting around. (See References 1) If you want to be an eco-friendly travel planner, you can find ways to blend jet-age convenience with responsibility to the planet. You might be surprised at how many options you have to maintain your "home" values of eco-friendliness on the road.
Hollywood celebrity Joan Collins travels with 30 bags, comparing herself to a packhorse as she drags clothes, accessories and household goods between her residences in London and California. Skycaps groan under the trolleys of her Louis Vuitton luggage monogrammed "J.C." (See References 1) Packing eco-friendly baggage involves basically looking at how Joan approaches packing her bags and doing the opposite.
In recent years, terms like "going green" and "eco-friendly" have become buzz words on talk shows, commercials and product packaging. The term "eco-friendly" has been used for so many different products and practices, its meaning is in danger of being lost. By understanding the true meaning of eco-friendly, you can implement the practices that will lead to healthier living for the planet and its inhabitants, big and small.
Though many vacation plans start with the fantasy of being freed --- if only for a week --- from the multitude of gadgets that rule our lives, the truth is the modern traveler tends to carry a suite of electronic devices, from laptops to smartphones to MP3 players. These gadgets certainly have their place in any vacation: In a pinch, stranded in an unfamiliar city, you can call up a map online, or disoriented in a wilderness area, you can call for help on a cellphone. And with a little effort, you can shrink the carbon footprint of your journey by choosing --- and using --- your travel gadgets wisely.
If you're concerned about how your actions affect the environment, eco-friendly clothing is an attractive option. Environmentally friendly clothing is made from organic materials and natural dyes to reduce pesticide and chemical use. To make the most of your eco-friendly clothing, it is important to take care of it properly. Take steps to treat the natural materials gently and extend your garments' lives.
You've invested in the most energy-efficient washing machine you could find, yet you continue to pour in cup after cup of fluorescent, phosphate-laden and petroleum-based detergent loaded with artificial scents to make you feel like your clothes are clean (see References 3). They may be clean, but use the wrong detergent just once, and that all-over itchiness is enough to tell you a residue gets left behind (See References 4). Even if your skin isn't sensitive to substances in these detergents, the environment is very sensitive to the leftovers that get drained from the machine. Instead of resorting to chemicals, try making your own laundry detergent out of safe and gentle natural ingredients. It will cost less, and you can feel better about what your drain is draining.
Cruise ships pose a dilemma for the green traveler. They generate pollutants, with a large ship generating more than 200,000 gallons of human sewage and 1 million gallons of gray water a week from sinks, showers, laundry and galleys, according to Friends of the Earth. Ships can discharge the untreated raw sewage as close as three miles from shore, as well as gray water anywhere along the coast, with negative effects on reefs, especially in Florida and Jamaica. (See References 1) If your heart is set on joining one of these floating cities, look for ways to float more lightly on the Earth’s waters.
Making a home more eco-friendly should start with a quick inventory of your energy-guzzling appliances. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, residential use accounts for over one-fifth of all the energy consumed in the United States (see References 1). Windows, doors, insulation and the ways you use your appliances all contribute to your home's overall energy picture. Improvements in any of these areas will reduce energy bills and make your home "greener."
Beanbag chairs may seem a juvenile item for a bedroom or living room, but the comfortable bags are durable, easy to move and mold to fit your body. Best of all, the chairs are easy to create and provide a perfect opportunity for you to recycle materials. Using supplies that would otherwise end up in the trash means the do-it-yourself chair is eco-friendly and easy on your budget.
Drain cleaners contain ingredients that cause injury and damage if they come in contact with your skin or eyes (see References 1). Many types of drain cleaners are also not supposed to be used to unclog a toilet, as they can crack the porcelain bowl or aren't formulated to reach the source of the clog (see References 4). In most cases, all it takes to unclog a toilet is a bit of elbow grease and time.
Baby showers mark the occasion of welcoming a new life into the world, but often involve the use of a variety of plastics, including disposable cups, utensils and baby toys. According to the Environmental Working Group, many of these plastics contain a likely carcinogen: phthalates. As more people embrace a greener lifestyle, concerns over the health of the environment and future generations often come to the forefront when a child is about to be born. If you or the mother-to-be prefers a greener approach, throw an eco-friendly shower to raise awareness and help the new parents begin their baby's life in the healthiest and safest way possible.
Conventionally manufactured fabric softening aids impart freshly laundered duds with intoxicating scents and an irresistible feel, but that magical alchemy comes courtesy of a noxious cocktail of volatile organic compounds that are linked to cancer, endocrine and reproductive issues. (See Reference 2) Among the most problematic chemicals found in popular brands of dryer sheets and their liquid equivalents are camphor, ethyl acetate and chloroform, all of which pose greater risk when heated. (See References 1, 3 and 4) Fortunately, creating homemade chemical-free dryer sheets is a breeze, and an added bonus is that they can be rejuvenated and reused countless times.
Goodie bags are a fun addition to every birthday party but they pose several concerns. Many of the plastic items found inside the bags often contain phthalates, which are probable carcinogens. (See Reference 1) In addition, the bags and the goodies they hold often end up in the landfill, and don't degrade for hundreds of years. Rather than do away with this popular party tradition, create goodie bags that are eco-friendly by using containers and contents that are safe for the people receiving them, and filled with treats that are all-natural, meaningful, and reusable or recyclable.
Cleaning your laundry in a washing machine has become the go-to method for many people. Machine washing uses large volumes of water as well as energy, both to run the machine and heat the water. If you're looking for ways to be kind to the environment, there are eco-friendly ways to wash your clothes without a machine.
The U.S. Department of Energy reports that in 2008, Americans saved over $19 billion by employing energy saving measures and investing in energy efficient homes. (See Reference 1) Eco-friendly homes by definition stress energy efficiency by making use of renewable energy, having proper insulation, and including up-to-date appliances and HVAC systems; they also often employ water collection and recycling systems, which greatly reduces water usage. The particular features of your home will determine the total monthly savings on utility bills.
Slate floors are a potent lure for many a homebuyer or remodeler. The stone is available in a range of colors, from the traditional black and slate-gray to a variety of reds, greens, browns and tans. Like most stone flooring, slate is a durable and long-lasting surface, and when properly cared for it can retain its beauty for generations. However, slate is porous and is frequently finished with a protective sealant when used as flooring. Stripping the sealant and refinishing the flooring typically requires strong chemicals, but there are eco-friendly options.
There are few things more satisfying than plucking a perfectly ripened tomato from the vine, rich and warm from the summer sunshine, and biting into it. It's a simple pleasure that can be enjoyed anywhere, from a small planter on an apartment balcony to a lavish backyard garden. However, it's worth noting that vegetable gardens aren't just a private pleasure. They're also a powerfully eco-friendly activity.
Mining the metals used in cell phone components, producing the plastic or glass overlays, and fusing all of those materials together requires a lot of energy and water. Furthermore, extracting metals from the earth can damage ecosystems and pose a threat to human health, as some of the metals used to create cell phones, such as copper, nickel and selenium, are toxic. (See Reference 2, Page 4) Furthermore, cell phones have become extremely prominent throughout the world; 150 million mobile devices were sold in the U.S. in 2008, and these trendy objects are very vulnerable to turnover, which means a great deal of them end up in landfills after only a few years of use. (See Reference 3) Simply hanging on to your phone while it's useful instead of upgrading at every opportunity is an eco-friendly move, though there are other things you can do to minimize a cell phone's potentially negative effects.
There are many methods to determine a city's eco-friendly ranking, yet no single standard is a complete measurement of a region's environmental commitment. When you compare a city's performance in containing air pollution, utilizing renewable energy use or constructing sustainable buildings, you'll find that no single city ranks at the top of each. As a result, the best approach to assessing the most eco-friendly U.S. cities is to see which cities rate most highly in some key green measurements.
Some traditional sources for countertops, such as laminates, are not environmentally friendly. The resin material used to create laminates can be toxic and is not recyclable. Furthermore, the sealants used on traditional countertops may contain volatile organic compounds that contribute to indoor air pollution. Alternatively, countertops made of recycled, upcycled or salvaged materials are typically safer — they don't off-gas or leach chemicals — and they pull materials out of the waste stream. (See Reference 1)
Creating an eco-friendly bedroom for your teen will educate her about living green. As you design the bedroom, try to choose items your teen will use for years to come, rather than growing tired of them quickly. Work with her to find solutions that please you both, and use the EPA's database of environmentally preferable products to assist you when purchasing new items (see Resources 1).
Although paint is available in a rainbow of colors, not all paints are green. As a rule, it's easy to spot the difference between an eco-friendly paint and a conventional paint: just pop open the lid and take a whiff. The familiar fresh paint odor of a conventional paint consists of a variety of greenhouse gases and other environmentally harmful chemicals that are released to the atmosphere as the paint is applied. In contrast, eco-friendly paints emit little or no environmentally unsafe materials into the air.
Your purchases say a great deal about your environmental commitment, and selecting an eco-friendly wallet to hold your cash and credit cards can be an easy step in that process. While traditional virgin leather remains the popular choice, there are a wealth of attractive -- and creative -- eco-friendly options. You can choose wallets made from recycled materials, renewable resources, material with a very extendable lifespan or from all of the above.