Eco-Smartshop

For the eco-friendly home

Eco-friendly gift giving

giving green giftsA few weekends ago, I was invited to a house warming party for a very close friend of mine. She and her husband had just purchased their first home together, and I couldn’t be happier for her! I often like to think outside the box when I’m buying a present for someone, so for this house warming I thought it would be a great idea to find a wonderful, eco-friendly gift.

I had been over to the house a few times already, which certainly helped craft a few gift ideas in my head. Though they love the whole house, my friend cannot stop raving about the home bar in their living room. Their previous home didn’t really have a place to entertain, and my friend loves throwing parties. Her husband had already bought a new record player for the bar from Rockit Record Players.

They had one problem though…no bar stools! I had bought a pair of eco-friendly bar stools for my own home over the last year, so I thought it would be a great idea to buy them some as well. Buying furniture that takes its environmental impact into account is incredibly important, due in large part to deforesting and illegal logging. I really liked the bar stools I had bought before from Boho Bar Stools, so I bought another pair for my friend. I was extremely excited to find a style that complimented their new home, and didn’t break the bank either.

wooden bar stools

When I brought them in (they weren’t the easiest to wrap so it was quite obvious what they were), my friend and her husband were elated. They wanted bar stools for the party but hadn’t gotten around to it yet…so I saved the day! Not only did they look great, but my friends were happy to know that they were eco-friendly too.

If you are in search of some environmentally responsible gifts, there are so many options to choose from. Most importantly, pay attention to the types of materials used. A high percentage of recycled materials is always an indication that a gift was made with the environment in mind. Try looking on the Internet for eco-friendly gifts, and you will probably come across a brand that makes a variety of gifts for any age or style. A lot of companies also have special certifications for more environmentally conscious products, so that’s a great indication as well.

green house warming gifts

Unless I have a very specific gift in mind, I love to take walks around the center of town where I live, and find something handmade. There are a few stores that carry a variety of handmade gifts by local artists and crafters. It’s a wonderful way to share your town’s talent and benefit your local community as well. A great rule of thumb for living in an eco-friendly way is to think local! This generally means that products will be made close to where you buy them from local businesses that put their heart and soul into their work. You don’t have to worry about the product being shipped a long way, giving it a giant carbon footprint.

Happy shopping!

Eco-friendly Tips for Your Kitchen

eco friendly productThe Kitchen is commonly high on the list of areas to be remodelled in the house. This is because the kitchen is the most frequented room in any house and this makes it susceptible to wear and tear therefore requiring regular remodelling. Kitchens are also places where a lot of environmentally friendly improvements are made in houses.

When you decide to remodel your kitchen it frequently appears a nice start until worries over issues such as environmental impact and toxins creep in. But it’s possible to make remodelling friendly both to the planet and your health. Today most people prefer to do environmentally friendly improvements on their houses because this is not just beneficial to the environment but saves a lot of money since they tend to cut on energy bills.

There are several environmentally friendly improvements you can make in your kitchen such as installing formaldehyde-free cabinetry so that you avoid the releasing of environmental toxins, or better you can opt for wood that is sustainably harvested. You can also buy yourself a water filter instead of using bottle water. The placing of your windows, skylights and sun tunnels, will enable you make the best use of natural light.

Buying Environmentally Friendly Products

Buying environmentally friendly products can sometimes prove challenging. But here are some tips that you can use.

  • If you’re buying a clock for your house, settle for one made from a material that’s friendly to environment. One good option is a bamboo clock. Products made from bamboo are environmentally friendly because bamboo is not an endangered wood species. You can find such clocks at a few boutique clock stores like this one.
  • Another good option would be to use cushions that have eco-friendly inserts on your kitchen seats. Some of these inserts include corn fibre and pet fibre. You buy cushions with such inserts an online store like Simply Cushions.

bamboo clock

Conserving Water in the Kitchen

conserve waterWater is an important source that has far-reaching ramifications on environment. People keen on protecting the environment are passionate about conserving water. One of the places where water is used most in the house is the kitchen. Of the total amount of water used in homes, 10 percent of it is used for cooking, cleaning, washing and drinking.  Most of these usages occur in the kitchen and many times much of it is wastage that could be saved. For example; a dripping tap can waste up to 50 litres of water in a day and most often taps that drip are in kitchens. To check on this runaway usage of water it’s important to conserve water in the kitchen and you can do this by:

  • Putting a plug into the sink when rinsing vegetables and fruits. You can then use a half filled sink instead of a running tap. This ensures that you use less water in rinsing.
  • Soaking your pots rather than rinsing them under a running tap.
  • Purchasing a water efficient dishwasher. And for you to reduce the amount of water you use in washing your dishes, fill the dishwasher before using it and utilize the economy setting.
  • Scrape your dishes rather than rinsing them under a running tap.
  • Fix any leakages and repair dripping taps.

Conserving Energy in the Kitchen

Apart from protecting the environment reducing your energy use is also one of the best ways to cut your domestic costs. The kind of appliances that you use are crucial in cutting down on your energy consumption. For instance households that use only one fridge save up to $190 a year in electricity bills and 8 tonnes of greenhouse gases.

To be able to conserve energy in your kitchen the following tips are useful:

  • Keep your refrigerator defrosted and at the right temperature.
  • Make sure that you keep your appliances well maintained because damaged appliances use more energy. For example, damaged fridge seals require more electricity to run.
  • Choose cooking methods that are energy saving. Pressure cookers, microwaves and electric frying pans are more energy efficient than, say, ovens. A microwave, for example, saves about 75 percent of energy used.
  • Completely fill your dishwasher before use.
  • Make sure your fridge is placed in a cool and well-ventilated area.

These tips will ensure that your kitchen is eco-friendly and you would be contributing in protecting this planet from effects of environmental degradation and at the same time save yourself some cash.

Eco-friendly Lighting for your Home

Mom always says, “don’t forget to turn the lights off!” Flipping a switch for instant light is one of the most taken for granted aspects of modern life. Because it’s so easy to illuminate your entire house, it’s just as easy to forget to turn them off. We’re all guilty of leaving the room with every intention to come back in a few minutes, only to return a few hours later, realizing that the lights have been on the entire time. Just as it’s wasteful to leave unused electronics plugged in, it’s incredibly wasteful to keep lights on when no one needs them. It doesn’t mean that you can’t keep certain lights on (especially for safety’s sake), but it does mean that you should evaluate what type of lighting decisions your family makes.

Turn light switch off

It might feel like reminding your family to turn off the lights is a constant battle, which can make the following alternatives much more appealing. Let’s start with the basics: the light bulb.

pendant lightingConventional incandescent (think Edison-style) light bulbs are outdated. Not only do they use way too much energy, but they don’t last nearly as long as newer, more technologically advanced light bulbs.  Though they are a bit pricier, compact fluorescents (CFLs) or LED lights are a better option. CFL’s can last up to 10 years, and LED’s up to 23. In addition to lasting way longer, they take much less energy to operate. There’s no denying that it’s hard to pay more for something when there’s a cheaper option, but trust me- you’ll save a lot of money in the long run. I recommend Pixie Pendant Lights for finding chic lighting fixtures that will accommodate your new sustainable light bulbs.

Next up: technology saves the day!

Skip nagging your kids to turn their lights off: sensors to the rescue! Ever been in a public toilet that doesn’t have the lights on when you open the door, but turn on once you walk in? Motion-sense lighting is a relatively new way to keep lights off when they aren’t in use, and on when you need them. As long as you aren’t sitting in the same place for too long, the lights will stay on for the duration of the time you are using certain spaces. They’re also great for outdoor lights, as they’ll illuminate your walkway while you go to and from your house. But before heading out to buy any eco-friendly product, be sure to read this article.

floor lampAnother way to use less energy, especially at nighttime, are dimmers. It’s often visually uncomfortable to have bright lights on at late hours, so dimmers are wonderful ways to tone down that abrasive lighting. They’re also great for safety’s sake- keeping lights on around the house in case you need to use the bathroom, or escape in an emergency. Find a great new LED floor lamp at http://www.flickitfloorlamps.com.au/.

If there’s something in your home that you need lights for at specific hours of the day, you can purchase an automatic on and off timer. This is a great (and inexpensive) way to avoid forgetting to turn an electronic on and off.

For those of you looking to renovate your house, there’s several ways to better light your house using (believe it or not…!) the Sun. Installing skylights and adding more windows is a wonderful way to harness free light for as long as the Sun’s out. This will also keep your house warmer in the winter time!

Tips for ‘Green Shopping’

We all know that the environment is suffering. It’s become quite evident that over the last century, humanity’s disregard for its effect on the environment has played a role in causing countless issues: polluted air, tainted waters, loss of habitat, extinctions, overflowing landfills… to name a few! Psychologically, it’s hard to stomach how each of us individually might be adding to the environment’s destruction.

Though you and I aren’t directly responsible for the way our species has evolved or treated our planet in the past, we are responsible for doing the best we can to live in harmony with it now. With that said- to live a carbon neutral life isn’t necessarily possible for a lot of people. Some may be able to convert homes into 100% renewable energy, grow all of their own organic food, or travel by electric car, but for the majority of society this is an ideal, not an immediate reality. You and I can do our part, even if it’s by making small changes. With so many ways to lead a greener life, it’s hard to know where to start. One good place to begin is putting more green thought towards how you spend your money. The good news is that most companies have heard society’s cry for environmentally friendly products, and have made it incredibly easy to find them.

Here are a few tips for shopping in a “green” way:

bring your own bag shopping

  1. Bring your own bag

Some stores offer discounts for using your own bag… and some don’t even provide bags anymore!

  1. Whenever possible, buy local

Towns all over the world have their own farmers markets and flea markets. When you purchase local foods and goods, you are supporting your community rather than a giant corporation that may not have a great environmental track record. 

  1. Food is nature’s medicine: eat organic and grass-fed
  • Smaller farms may not be able to afford organic certification, but a lot of them use organic farming methods. If you can buy your produce at farmers markets, just ask them- they’re always happy to speak with you.
  • Avoid industrially grown produce and industrially raised meats. I encourage you to go to your local library and pick up a book on the subject, or watch a documentary…there are plenty out there! It will truly transform your life…and you will probably learn things that shock you.
  1. Think seasonally

buy seasonally

  • The changing seasons bring a degree of excitement with them- the taste of pumpkins in the fall, fresh strawberries in summer…if every season provided the same feelings, life would be dull!
  •  It’s no lie that the concept of eating seasonally doesn’t really apply in a world in which grocery stores sell berries year-round. The truth is, foods taste better in the season that they naturally grow in. Learn what foods grow in your region each season, and make them exciting again!
  •  Not only do seasonally grown foods taste better, but they aren’t always shipped in from far-off regions in which they can still grow. This has a huge effect environmentally- it takes a lot of fuel to transport foods long distances.
  1. Recycle and Reuse

recycling electronics

  • Especially with electronics, raw materials are becoming more and more scarce. When you go to buy a new cell phone, computer, iPad, etc, ask how you can recycle your old one. Oftentimes the stores will either buy them from you or dispose of them on your behalf.
  • Before you decide to buy something, ask yourself if you have the means to repurpose what you might already have to do the job. Also, think about what you throw away or recycle- used jars can be extremely useful! Try looking on Pinterest for some interesting DIY projects with commonly recycled materials. Not only will it be rewarding…you’ll save money and have fun activities for your kids!
  •  Read the packaging: products made with recycled materials are much better for the environment.
  1. Strive to live more simply

For most people, a day doesn’t go by that you aren’t exposed to hundreds of advertisements for various things. We are constantly shown what we could buy to improve our lives. Though I’m a huge proponent of treating yourself to something out of the norm once in a while, try to adopt a mentality of simplicity. When you’re deciding to make a purchase, always ask yourself: “do I really need this?” Trust me- you’ll save money, make purchases that will more often enrich your life, and have less clutter in your home.

  1. Be a responsible shopper: do your research

Though a lot of companies use trustworthy advertising to promote their “green” product lines, this isn’t always the case. If you aren’t sure if a product’s claims are legitimate, try looking on their website for more information, or give them a call.

 

Welcome to Eco-Smart!  Our brand new website is under construction but soon you will be able to visit us for the best environmentally-friendly product recommendations. We love the environment and we love products which help to preserve the future that our kids will inherit. Stay tuned for lots of changes here.

 

In the meantime, watch this incredibly cute video about how to be eco-friendly. Catch you soon!

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