Posts Tagged ‘Business’

Swiffer vs An Old-Fashioned Dust Mop

Below is a question from a reader about Swiffer.

Dear Betsy:

I just got the latest issue of Vermont Country Store catalog and inside is an old-fashioned wool dust mop, which up to 10 years ago I used and used to shake outside like my Mom used to do! 

This made me think about all the Swiffer products I use.  Hmmm – I’m wondering if anyone has compared cleaning efficiency of an old-fashioned dust mop vs Swiffer – certainly one is more economical.  The Swiffer products are expensive!  Thanks –

Jennifer M.

Winchester, MA

Hi Jennifer:

Great question!  I don’t know of any actual studies about the cleaning efficiency of an old-fashioned dust mop vs. Swiffer, but I know I prefer an old fashioned dust mop.  Swiffer disposable dry cloths are made of polyester and polypropylene and work well to pick up dust and grime from most surfaces, but so does an old-fashioned wool dust mop.  The natural lanolin in wool attracts and holds dust. Wool won’t scratch floors and gets better every time you wash it. I try to avoid single use products that go directly into the landfill, as well as petroleum-based products like polypropylene.

The Swiffer wet cloths are treated with propylene glycol and though categorized by the FDA as “generally regarded as safe”, that’s not assurance enough for me. According to Swiffer, the wet cloths may irritate skin and aggravate known skin conditions.” Considering that concentrations of toxic compounds are higher inside than outside, it’s best to avoid them when you can. Indoor air pollution, partially caused by the use of chemical based cleaners, is a much more serious problem than people realize and one of the reasons for increased cases of asthma and allergies.  Additionally, the chemically treated, single use wet cloths end up in the landfill leaching toxic chemicals into the soil and water table.

There is no question that Swiffer is easier than an old-fashioned mop, but what happened to cleaning with natural and safe ingredients like soap, water, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and borax?  All it takes is a little elbow grease and a good sponge mop.

If you insist on the convenience of a Swiffer, there are similar, more eco-friendly options.

  • Method Home floor cleaning mop with non-toxic compostable sweeping cloths.
  • Gaiam’s Spray Mop Kit where you add your own cleaner or nontoxic vinegar and water, spray the fine mist and mop up with a microfiber cleaning cloth (the eco-friendly cleaning rage today).  The set includes five washable MicroTech Cleaning Cloths.

    Gaiam’s Spray Mop

  • Amazon also sells a microfiber mop called E-cloth microfiber mop, as do Bed, Bath and Beyond and Whole Foods.

E-cloth Microfiber Mop

I hope this helps Jennifer– let me know what you decide.  Safe cleaning!

Betsy

Information compiled from www.treehugger.com, inhabitat.com, www.swiffer.com, vermontcountrystore.com, classic.akc.org

 

 

Boxed Water is Better!

photo-2This past weekend I attended a delicious local food truck festival and discovered boxed water!  Not luxury, specialty or flavored water, but plain, purified water in a boldly printed box that says, “Boxed Water is Better”.  What a great idea – in the fast-growing water bottle market, it’s hard to believe it hasn’t been boxed before.

Boxed Water is Better, LLC, started in 2009 in Grand Rapids, Michigan with the mission of creating a new water company with simple, sustainable packaging, one that gives back to foundations and one with a lower carbon footprint than traditional bottled water.

About 76% of the box is manufactured from trees grown in certified, well-managed forests where new ones are constantly grown to replace those harvested.  Using this renewable resource, trees, which also sequester carbon dioxide, makes it one of the most sustainable beverage packages available.

The water is carbon-filtered, purified drinking water from the municipal source in each of their major markets.  The boxes are shipped flat to the local filling company, a significantly more energy-efficient way to ship, where they are then filled.  The boxes are easily recycled and can be flattened to take up less space.

photo-1-2 I love the look of the boxed water.   The no-nonsense black and white printing on the box simply says what it is “Boxed Water is Better” with a water drop.  One panel on the box explains their environmentally friendly, sustainable, give back philosophy.  10% of their profits are donated to world water relief foundations and another 10% donated to reforestation foundations.

Boxed Water is Better is working on US and international distribution in both small and large retailers.  In the Boston area, Boxed Water is Better is carried at Bloomingdale’s.  You can also order a carton of 12 or 24 online.  One 500 ml box cost $1.00.  Cheap!!!

While I still think it is better to use a BPA-free, stainless steel water bottle, there are definitely times when you need to buy one.  This is the solution for me! I’d much rather drink out of a water box from a company with a socially responsible mission than a plastic water bottle.   Look for Boxed Water is Better in your area!

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

What Mass Save Can Do For You!

For my Massachusetts readers, I imagine many of you are familiar with Mass Save and their energy efficiency initiatives like the free energy audit program for your home or office.  For those of you who aren’t, Mass Save is a program you want to get to know! Mass Save is an initiative sponsored by Massachusetts’ gas and electric utilities and energy efficiency service providers to provide a wide range of services, incentives, trainings, and information promoting energy efficiency that help residents and businesses manage energy use.  In addition to the free energy audit of your home or office, they provide incentives, rebates, and information on products such as LED and CFL lightbulbs, room air cleaners, light fixtures, and advanced power strips.

One of their newer programs focuses on refrigerator recycling.  To encourage responsible recycling, they are offering a $50.00 rebate when you schedule a pick up of your second refrigerator or freezer. All you do is call or go on-line and make sure you meet the following requirements:

  •       Unit must be between 10 and 30 cubic feet using inside measurements.
  •       A second fridge and/or freezer – not your primary fridge or freezer.
  •       Clean, empty and in working order at the time of pick-up.
  •       Accessible with a clear path for removal by recycling contractor.

Like the EcoATM I wrote about a few weeks ago which pays you for recycling old cell phones, this incentive program is a smart way to keep appliances out of the landfill.  Sometimes a little financial perk gives us just the push we need to do the right thing.

Mass Save’s innovative programs are specific to Massachusetts, but most utility companies offer something similar. After all, they have the same objectives of saving energy, saving money and recycling.  To find programs in your area, check out these websites.

ENERGY STAR: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=recycle.pr_refrigerator_rec

ENERGY STAR – Rebate Finder: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=rebate.rebate_locator

DSIRE: http://www.dsireusa.org/

Interested in Saving Money, Saving Energy and Winning an Advanced Power Strip?  

Read on…….

Now that it’s back to school and more energy will be consumed with computers, printers, and other electronics in use, it’s a good idea to consider using an energy-saving power strip.  I will send out a brand new advanced power strip to two readers who send me their most creative energy efficiency tips.  What’s yours?

 

 

Be the Green Czar in Your Office!

A typical modern office

As you move towards a greener lifestyle, greening your office is important too.  Whether you work from home or away, follow the simple steps below.

  • When possible, use energy star equipment – computers, printers, copiers, fax machines, coffee makers, etc. – for maximum energy efficiency.
  • Recycle print cartridges at office supply stores and use soy ink cartridges, which require less oil to manufacture and emit fewer air pollutants.
  • Keep your screen saver blank instead of the energy hogging, hypnotic graphics ones.  They aren’t good for our eyes anyway!
  • Paper copies are less important these days, but if you do have to print something, print on both sides of the paper – most printers have a 2-sided property – and use recycled paper.  Also, set your printer to economy mode or eco-tone.  Most new printers have this setting, which uses less ink.
  • If your office is not already recycling used paper, set up a recycling center (for cans, bottles and plastic too) and organize a weekly or monthly pick up from a local recycling company. Or, reuse unwanted paper for scrap paper.

    Colorful Recycling Containers for Trash

    Colorful Recycling Containers for Trash (Photo credit: epSos.de)

  • For interoffice memos, use email rather than paper.  Most offices already do that and even email is becoming antiquated with Facebook messaging, google chatting and texting!
  • In your office kitchen, install a water filter system instead of using individual water bottles or big plastic water containers.
  • The average American goes through 500 disposable cups every year, so use ceramic mugs, not polystyrene (Styrofoam®) or plastic cups for coffee or water. Use real spoons instead of plastic stirrers. Set up a recycling center in the kitchen too.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with longer lasting, energy-efficient CFLs (compact fluorescents) or LED bulbs.
  • Clean your office with green cleaning supplies.
  • Reuse old packaging materials for shipping.
  • Houseplants are effective air cleaners, removing indoor air pollutants.  Place several plants near your printers, fax and photocopiers. They add beauty and tranquility as well.
  • When remodeling your office, use natural materials for furniture and carpet and low VOC paints instead of man-made laminates,  synthetic materials and conventional paints that outgas toxins.
  • When possible, ride public transportation, walk, bike or carpool to work.  You’ll save energy and start the day in a more relaxed way.

We spend most of our time at work, so setting up a green office is an important step to using less energy and leading a healthier lifestyle.  If your office isn’t as eco-friendly as it should be, take the lead and become the green czar in your office. A little initiative goes a long way!

Single Use Products

If you think about it, single use products make no sense at all. That’s part of the problem. In our throwaway society, we don’t think about it. Continuing the theme of my recent post about eliminating aluminum foil and plastic wrap, I’ve listed below other products you can try cutting out (or at least cutting back on).

English: Reusable shopping bag

English: Reusable shopping bag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Plastic bags – The movement to bring reusable bags food shopping is becoming well established. In fact, some cities and towns have eliminated them all together or charge for plastic bags. Start bringing reusable bags on your other errands as well. Make it a challenge to always bring them with you. Earmark some for food, some for clothes, etc. (Don’t forget to occasionally wash your reusable bags too.)

2. Plastic food baggies – They are hard to live without, but you can wash and reuse them a couple of times. Reusable cloth sandwich and biocompostable baggies are more available now as well.  Rule of thumb:  plastic and food don’t go together.

3. Paper Napkins – Cloth napkins are prettier, more durable, and certainly more eco-friendly than paper ones. Aim to use cloth napkins at most meals and keep recycled paper ones only as backup.

4. Paper Plates and Paper Cups – There is no doubt about their convenience, but they are totally wasteful, and plastic ones aren’t biodegradable.  For outdoor (or indoor) dining, consider dishwasher and oven safe enamelware. Lightweight and unbreakable, enamelware is perfect for camping or picnics too and comes in fun designs.

5. Plastic Water Bottles – There is no reason to buy plastic water bottles. They shouldn’t be reused and they don’t biodegrade. Use glasses at home and stainless steel or BPA-free water bottles for transporting.

6. Facial Tissues – This is one of those single use items you probably just want to cut back on rather than eliminate. I gave my husband some old-fashioned handkerchiefs and he loves them. Use them a few times, throw them in the wash and then reuse!

7. Dryer Sheets – There are lots of alternatives to conventional dryer sheets that aren’t made with chemical fabric softeners and soaked in toxic fragrances. Several natural brands use vegetable derived softening agents and essential oils instead. Reusable dryer balls made with PVC-free plastic or felt make the most sense to me – they soften clothes without chemicals, reduce drying time and save energy.

Cutting back on or eliminating single use products helps not only the earth, but your pocketbook as well. What single use products have you eliminated from your daily life? Email me – I’d love to know.

Milkshake

Forgive me while I brag a moment.  One of my favorite blogs, Milkshake.com, a “free daily email dedicated to finding the good in everything – companies, causes, people, places and products giving back and making a difference” featured my daughter’s vintage and upcycled fashion design company called Where!  She is a tireless worker and it’s starting to pay off!  I reblogged their write-up below – the lovely picture is of my younger daughter who models for her, making it a fun sisters collaboration.  I am an excited Mom!!!

Wherefore Art Thou?

Sep 21 2012

One-of-a-kind, Anthropologie-esque clothing made from vintage materials?  Yes, please!

Wherefore Art Thou?Let’s admit it: a lot of us love Anthropologie.  Sure, some of its catalogs feature things like women pretending to type on hundred-year-old typewriters that clearly don’t work, or having silent conversations with empty birdcages, but their stuff is just plain pretty.  There’s a poetic sensibility about their carefully-curated offerings, and that’s part of why we like them.

Those of us who just can’t get enough of our beloved Anthro’s goods need look no further thanWhere Designs for a more personal, partially vintage line of clothing sharing that same “what’s simple is true” aesthetic we adore so much.  Given the fact that the Richmond, Vermont-based brand run by Amy Wild calls itself “fashion for imaginative explorers of real and fantasy lands,” we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Wild’s wares found themselves on Anthro’s shelves someday.  An important component of Where is its insistence on remaining conscious of its environmental impact: instead of calling for the creation of new fabrics and notions to create the collection, Wild only uses vintage, antique and upcycled materials, steering clear of pollution and unfair labor practices.

A brand that has its head in the clouds but its feet on the ground it strives to protect?  Sign us up immediately.

Silica Gel Packets

Here is an unlikely green tip – reusing those silica gel packets found in the packaging of some processed foods, particularly organic ones, vitamin bottles, shoes, and electronics used to absorb moisture.  What you say? Why not simply throw them away?  They certainly don’t take up much space in the landfill!  If you think about the number of silica packets in your packaging, however, multiplied by all the packaging used around the world, then it’s a different story.

 

Silicia is an important drying agent where excessive moisture could encourage the growth of mold and spoilage.  Excess moisture can also damage electronics or break down the chemicals in vitamins. Silica is usually non-toxic to humans, pets and the environment. Some forms of silica gel have been proven to cause cancer in laboratory settings however, specifically the blue ones that contain the chemical cobalt chloride, often added to indicate the presence of humidity.  The packet that the silica is often encased in is made from high-density plastic that won’t tear or break and even keeps the smallest particulates from entering the packet.  While that is a really good thing, it is not biodegradable.

English: Silica gel Nederlands: Silicagel

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

So, what do you do with all those packets?  You use your imagination and reuse them to help preserve other things in your house.  For example, I tape one on the lid of my 50-pound tin of dog food to keep it fresh.  Other suggestions?  Put some in a box of old photos or important papers to keep them from molding.   Put some in your jewelry box or in with your flatware to help keep them from tarnishing so quickly.  Add them to your seed packets and seed jars you are storing for planting next year to keep them mold and moisture free.  And, you can use the packets over and over – simply “reactivate” them by placing them in a warm oven (176-200 degrees) for 15 minutes.

 

Reusing silica gel packets, now that’s a good eco-citizen!

 

Happy Labor Day, readers!  Make it an eco-safe holiday this year.  Click here for ideas….

 

 

 

Information compiled from Natural Health, September/October 2012, “Ask the Experts” by Mike Yukizky, public health education manager, North Texas Poison Center and www.ehow.com.