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More reason to de-clutter (and 15 tips to inspire you)

2013-02-25 Declutter - Green Living Tips - declutter your life - Feb. 25, 2013Recent news out of San Francisco has environmentalists cheering.

City leaders there approved plans for 220-square-foot “micro apartments,” complete with pull-down beds that double as dining tables and mini-kitchens.

Critics call them shoeboxes, dog houses and glorified prison cells.

But city officials and the developer call them “affordable.” By that, they mean $1,300 to $1,500 a month.

SF rents are among the highest in the nation.  Currently, the average studio in the City by the Bay rents for $2,075 monthly, according to real estate service RealFacts.

But San Francisco is hardly alone.  Smaller housing is a global trend, and the reason behind it is solid:  More people live in cities than in rural areas today, and smaller housing uses far fewer natural resources.

So while some throw stones at people who live in small houses, these folks are actually leading the way in preserving the planet.

Small quarters force them to live lightly upon the land.  The other silver lining is that often, they say life becomes easier because they have fewer “things” to store and worry about.

Which brings us to the point of today’s post:  tips on how to de-clutter your living space, for the sake of your planet and your peace of mind.

Our thanks to http://www.thedailygreegreen.com for the following:

Read more: http://www.thedailygreen.com/green-homes/latest/declutter-tips-47070206#ixzz2DLo9TlPM

1. Eliminate the estimated 850 pieces of junk mail you get each year by registering for the Mail Preference Service on the Direct Marketing Association Website. For $1, your name and address will be removed from prospective mailing lists, ending 75% of junk mail within about 90 days.

2. While you’re at it, opt out of home phone book delivery. Contact your local publisher, and/or try opting out by using www.YellowPagesGoesGreen.org or www.YellowPagesOptOut.com.

3.  Switch to paperless (e-mail) billing.  Saving paper means not only saving trees, but 171 pounds of greenhouse gases, 63 gallons of water, and 4.5 gallons of gasoline annually for the average paperless household, according to Pay It Green.

4. Get a Laptop. It uses as little as 10% as much energy a typical desktop computer uses, and it takes up alot less space on your desk.

5.  Download your software. Around the world, 1 billion discs are discarded every year, contributing to the e-waste problem and adding clutter.

6.  Lose the answering machine. It’s simply more efficient for a centralized facility to process all that data than to have each individual use his or her own desktop machine.  Plus it’s one less gadget cluttering up the desk.

7.  Recycle old electronics. Does that VCR from 1998 really need to be in the closet?

8. Buy a power strip.  Plug in your devices, and turn it on only when your devices are actually charging. That will prevent phantom loads.

9.  Go to the library instead of letting magazines pile up on your nightstand, or get your reading material via Apps.

10.  In the kitchen, replace all the paper and plastic bags with a few sturdy, reusable shopping bags.

11.  Get a reusable water bottle and a filter, and quit buying 2-liter soda bottles.

12.  Use reusable napkins and towels instead of space-sucking paper products.

13.  Eat fruit for snacks. It cuts way down on junk-food packaging.

14.  Sell or donate clothes you don’t wear.

15. Visit social swapping sites like Freecycle.org, which connect you to the legions of people willing to take free junk, er, items.


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Energy Efficiency Comes First

Meaningful Green Building Results Lies in the Company Culture

The program isn’t just about putting ENERGY STAR®  labeled appliances ENERGY STAR® for New Homes, lights and equipment in a building.  It starts at the studs.  Actually, it starts at the slab.  So it requires that field staff be trained in new, albeit quite simple, building practices – from framing and insulation details to the sealing of gaps and holes.

It’s a lot of little things that add up to a more air-tight, energy-efficient building envelope.  And if Project Managers and Site Superintendents don’t buy into it, and subcontractors and laborers aren’t trained and supervised to do it, it simply won’t happen.  Trying to meet the standards of the ENERGY STAR for New Homes program after the drywall is up can be extremely difficult, not to mention costly.

The key to delivering meaningful, cost-effective green building results lies in the company culture.  The development/construction team should be driven by a sense of pride in their work.  Whether mandated by governments or demanded by the market, green building will never be feasible if it is merely a specification.  It must start with the people who are in the trenches, making buildings happen every day.

Make the investment in your team – even your subcontractors – to learn more about green building techniques.

Did you know that the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program offers free online training to help you improve the energy performance of your organization. No travel, no lost time out of the office, and no cost. Here’s a link to their real estate workshop series: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=comm_real_estate.bus_comm_realestate_workshop

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) also offers online courses and webinars for everyone from beginners to people whose goal is to complete LEED credential requirements. Check it out here:  http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=2332

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Meet The Team: Tom Shoup

Tom Shoup

His first job was pumping gas at 19 cents per gallon, but today Tom Shoup is Director of Constuction for Wood Partners East and South. Find out more about Tom, including his favorite posession, his secret talent, and his bad habit.

Name: Tom Shoup
Title/Position: Director – Construction for WP East and South
Office Name/Location: Charlotte, but can be found in other offices about 50% of the time

– Fantasy career: Ski instructor (I plan to fulfill this fantasy too!)

– Favorite ethnic cuisine: Hard to choose but probably Thai

– Most exotic travel experience: Visiting my son in Ghana last year. He was in the Peace Corps

– Starbucks order: Medium (not grande) coffee of the day

– Most played song on iPod: Take the L train (to Brooklyn) by Brooklyn Funk Essentials

– A perfect day in would be: Deep powder in the back bowls of Vail

– Best advice you ever received: Stick to the facts – never give your opinion

– Your secret talent: I make an excellent blueberry pie

– What you like most about your work: Every day is a new challenge

– Favorite weekend activity: Riding motorcycles fast

– Worst subject in high school: Sociology – it just didn’t seem relevant

– What inspires you? Doing the right thing, treating people well

– Most productive time of day: 7:30 – 11 AM

– Reality show you’re embarrassed to admit you watch: I don’t watch much TV and certainly no reality shows

– Person you’d like to have dinner with: Barack Obama – I didn’t vote for him (either time) but would love to have an hour alone.
Plus I hear that the white house chef is really good.

– Your first job: Pumping gas for 19 cents a gallon

– What you’re most proud of: My kids who both turned out pretty darn well (so far)

– A business tool you can’t live without: MS Office

– Next travel destination: Vail in January

– What’s next for you: More of the same – always interesting though

– A bad habit: I think that my wife said that I am forgetful, but maybe I just wasn’t listening

– Favorite possession: The Ducati Monster 996 motorcycle that my wife gave me for my 50th birthday

– What book is on your nightstand now? I just finished The Racketeer by John Grisham

– A job you’d want if you weren’t doing this job: See fantasy career above

– Words you live by: Do the right thing

– First thing you do when you get to the office: Turn on computer

– Last thing you do before you leave your office: Turn it off

– Your favorite guilty pleasure: Perhaps I enjoy big red wine too much

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Carpet spots? Try a green clean

2013-02-04 Green Living Tip - Carpet Cleaning imageMany commercial spot and pet-stain removers work well on carpets and rugs, but they can come with risks.

Occasionally, they discolor or bleach carpets, and many are made from environmentally unfriendly chlorine- or petroleum-based solvents.

Often, a trip to the kitchen cabinet is often all you need to remove all traces of that little mishap on the rug.  Vinegar is a workhorse when it comes to green cleaning. Here are some common culprits and their solutions:

Catsup, chocolate, coffee and cola:  TLC’s “How Stuff Works” website http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/5-green-carpet-cleaning-tips5.htm advises the following:  Mix a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water. For catsup, blot liberally and repeatedly into the spot until it disappears. Chocolate stains should be treated in the same way, but it’s important to blot with a clean cloth, rather than rub, to avoid spreading the stain further. Again, rinse and wring out your sponge repeatedly until the water runs clear.  For fresh coffee and cola spills, use plain water. If the stain has set, use the vinegar and water solution.

Red wine:  Sprinkle immediately with salt and let sit for 15 minutes. The salt will absorb the spill and turn it pink, says TLC. Then vacuum or brush away the salt and clean the area with a solution of 1/3 cup vinegar and 2/3 cup water.

Dog urine:  According to the folks at Dog Chat, http://www.dogchatforum.com/dog_urine_odor.htm#.UP7cw7vChFE, here’s how to remove it: Absorb as much as possible with old towels, or if the area is already dry, use this same procedure: Mix a solution of half vinegar and half water. Work it into the carpet with a scrubbing brush to penetrate the fibers. Blot with towels or paper towels.  The vinegar will neutralize the ammonia in the urine. Use a wet vacuum if you have one to remove excess moisture.

When the area has dried, or almost dried, sprinkle a handful of baking soda over it. Then, mix a half cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide with a teaspoon of dishwashing detergent (not dishwasher detergent.) Do not use hydrogen peroxide that is stronger than 3% or stronger than 10 volume, to avoid possible bleachingA spot test in an inconspicuous area is advised.

Slowly pour the hydrogen peroxide and dishwashing detergent mixture over the baking soda, and work the liquid mixture and the soda into the carpet with your fingers or brush. Allow the area to dry completely. Once the area is thoroughly dry, vacuum up the baking soda. Use a hard bristled brush to loosen up the baking soda if necessary. Your carpet should smell fresh.