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Green Living Tip: Flea Market Shopping


Retail stores are awash with environmentally friendly furnishings and household goods—and that’s great news. But don’t overlook an option that’s even greener than recycled plastic and natural materials. Reuse is always the greenest way to go, and flea markets can be an environmentally minded homeowner’s paradise.

Summertime is flea market and garage sale season, so whether you’re traveling to another town or spending a staycation in your own, it’s a great time to hit the resale shops and bring home some treasures.

Finding pieces with history and character that also serve your needs can be a challenge.  Don’t be afraid to dig through piles of musty old junk or buckets of rusty hardware – the good stuff may be hiding underneath. Like cuisine, flea markets and resale shops have their own distinctive flavor. And even if you leave empty handed, it’s a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Flea market success requires agility, flexibility and dedication. There’s an antique mall, thrift store or flea market of some sort in every city of any size across the United States. When you find one, it’s good to be prepared.

—Make a plan to help guide your search, but don’t be attached to it. The beauty of flea markets is their unpredictability, so go with an open mind.

—Bring a list of items you want or need, along with specific sizes and room measurements.

—Know the market value of the items you’re after. (An online source is www.kovels.com.)

—Bring paint samples, fabric swatches and photos of the rooms you’re decorating.

—Bring a tape measure, a notebook, tote bags and cash. Some merchants don’t accept credit cards. Plus, a cash offer could help in bargaining on price.

—Be prepared to haggle. Antique dealers and flea market sellers say a 20 percent price cut isn’t unusual.

—The best selection can be found early in the day; the best bargains at day’s end.

—If you love it, buy it—but remember, most purchases are final.

One beauty of flea market finds is that they don’t have to be put to their original use. A lidless teapot can become a flowerpot, an old window frame can hold a mirror, jelly jars can be spoon holders, old picnic baskets and suitcases make great side tables  and old scarves are great for hiding sofa stains.

And finally, follow your instincts. If you fall in love with a Shaker chair, don’t worry about how it will fit in with your mid-century modern décor. There’s nothing wrong with mixing and matching decades and styles. All that really matters it that the items appeal to you.

“It’s about finding a piece that you love,” says Wendy Lubovich, a consultant for Dayton’s Paris Flea Market in Minneapolis. “You’ll find that if you love everything in the room, it will somehow go together.”


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Meet The Team: Jessica Bennett

Jessica Bennet

Before Jessica Bennett worked in accounting in our Atlanta office, she worked for her parents at a baseball card store. Learn about her favorite weekend activity, the reality show she she is embarrassed to watch, and what she loves most about her work.

Name: Jessica Bennett
Title/Position: Currently transitioning from Senior Accountant to WRS Accounting Manager
Office Name/Location: Atlanta, GA

Favorite ethnic cuisine: Mexican – I could eat it every day

Most exotic travel experience: I studied abroad in Fiji

Starbucks (or other coffee shop) order: Orange juice and a pastry (I’m not really a coffee drinker)

A perfect day in would be: Curling up on the couch and clearing out the DVR.

Best advice you ever received: Do what makes you happy

What you like most about your work: Definitely my co-workers

Favorite weekend activity: Tailgating for a Georgia football game.

Your first job: Working for my parents at a baseball card store

Worst subject in high school: Physics

Most productive time of day: First thing in the morning

Reality show you’re embarrassed to admit you watch: Top Shot

A business tool you can’t live without: Bright colored pens and my calculator

Next travel destination: Denver for a wedding

What’s next for you: I’m currently transitioning to be the WRS Accounting Manager and am very excited to start this role!

A bad habit: I bounce my leg way too much

Favorite possession: My iPhone. I was one of the last people to convert from the Blackberry, but now I couldn’t imagine going back.

What book is on your nightstand now? A historical novel about Nefertiti

First thing you do when you get to the office: Put my snacks in the fridge

Your favorite guilty pleasure: People magazine

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These plants will clear the air

House Plant Photo Spider PlantThe pictures on up, the furniture is arranged and now it’s time to bring a bit of the outside inside.

Houseplants are a punctuation mark for your décor, adding a natural touch to your home.  They have few needs other than watering, pruning and a dose of fertilizer from time to time.

But decorative plants are more than just a pretty face.  They actually help clear the air in your home.

A 2009 study by a research team from Pennsylvania State University looked at how certain houseplants can reduce ozone levels in a simulated indoor environment.  For this study the team used three common indoor varieties: snake plant, spider plant and golden pothos.

From the Science Daily website:  “The researchers set up chambers in a greenhouse equipped with a charcoal filtration air supply system in which ozone concentrations could be measured and regulated. Ozone was then injected into the chambers, and the chambers were checked every 5 to 6 minutes. The data revealed that ozone depletion rates were higher in the chambers that contained plants than in the control chambers without plants, but there were no differences in effectiveness among the three plants.”

The authors concluded, “Because indoor air pollution extensively affects developing countries, using plants as a mitigation method could serve as a cost-effective tool in the developing world where expensive pollution mitigation technology may not be economically feasible.”

NASA has studied ways to purify the air in space stations. The space agency recommendeds using “15 to 18 good-sized houseplants in 6 to 8-inch diameter containers to improve air quality in an average 1,800 square foot house,” according to the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

The website Mother Nature Network has a slide show of  “15 houseplants for improving indoor air quality.”  On the list are snake plants, spider plants and golden pothos.

But other plants, including Aloe (helps clear formaldehyde and benzene), Red-edged dracaena  ( combats xylene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde, which can be introduced to indoor air through lacquers, varnishes and gasoline) and Bamboo palm (“It tops the list of plants best for filtering out both benzene and trichloroethylene.”)

So, head down to your favorite nursery or big-box story and pick up a few plants for your house.

You’ll breathe easier.


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Dry Times: Drought Renews Interest in Water Conservation

???????????????????????????????????????Everyone has at least a little bit of green in them.  It might be as simple as switching off a light to save electricity or as committed as recycling every scrap of paper, plastic or aluminum foil that comes your way.

But what about water? Are you as careful about using only what you need as you are about, say, turning off the iron when you leave your apartment? (Or going back to make sure you did.)

As author Charles Fishman notes in his book, “The Big Thirst,” water is the most familiar natural resource and the most important substance in our lives.  But we often take it for granted.  It’s cheap, safe and always there when we turn on the faucet.

“The ease with which water enters and leaves our lives allows us an indifference to our water supply,” he writes. “We are utterly ignorant of our own water-mark, of the amount of water required to float us through the day, and we are utterly indifferent to the mark our daily life leaves on the water supply.”

But the images of cracked fields and withered crops resulting from the drought that still grips a good deal of the country has nudged water – or more precisely the lack of it – into the national conversation.  And the word that keeps popping up in that conversation is conservation.

Let’s begin with one way we all use water. The typical American, on average, flushes the toilet five times a day at home, using 18.5 gallons, Fishman says. Every day as a nation 5.7 billion gallons of clean water is flushed down the toilet, according to Fishman.

Now consider what happens if you place a filled plastic water bottle in a conventional toilet water tank, one that uses three to seven gallons per flush. That simple act will displace enough water to save half a gallon to a gallon each use – and that’s no drop in the bucket (sorry).

Here are a few more tips from Water – Use it Wisely that every apartment dweller can employ to save H2O:

  • Run your washing machine and dishwasher only when they are full. You can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
  • Collect the water you use for rinsing fruits and vegetables, and then reuse it to water houseplants.
  • Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you’ll save up to 150 gallons per month.
  • Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and save 25 gallons a month. Turn off the water while you shave and save up to 300 gallons a month.
  • Drop your tissue in the trash instead of flushing it.
  • For hanging baskets, planters and pots, place ice cubes under the moss or dirt to give your plants a cool drink of water and help eliminate water overflow.

The freshwater initiative of National Geographic has plenty of information and tips and an eye-opening water footprint calculator.