Author Archive | Tim Werth

Eco-Friendly Ways to Keep Household Pests at Bay

If you own a home, you’ve probably invested a lot of time (and money!) to ensure that your prized belongings and loved ones are protected. But no matter how much you paid for your home — even if your Manhattan condo cost $1.9 million, like the average unit in an existing building did during 2017 — there’s no guarantee that your domicile won’t be invaded by unwanted guests. And we’re not talking about distant family members who want a place to crash during the holidays.

No, we’re talking about pests. You may love all creatures great and small, but that doesn’t mean you should allow certain insects or rodents to take permanent refuge in your abode. On the other hand, you may not want to hire an exterminator, either. Although 68% of all pest control service revenue in the U.S. came from residential services in 2015, the majority of pest control companies will use methods that could harm the environment (as well as cause undue harm to the animals in question). So what’s the alternative? If you want to eliminate pests in a way that supports environmental sustainability, there are a few methods to keep in mind.

DIY Repellants

If you’re trying to keep bugs out of your garden or out of the house, there are natural ingredients you can use to achieve your goals. Make a safer pesticide to keep away small insects by combining vegetable oil and a mild soap (or just soap and water in a spray bottle). Garlic and water can be combined to keep away slugs and snails, while a chili pepper spray can deter all kinds of garden pests and predators.

In the home, try making your own ant traps by combining water, sugar, and Borax. Cayenne, citrus oil, mint, cloves, lemon juice, and coffee grounds will also keep ants away. Catnip and boric acid will stop cockroaches in their tracks, as will diatomaceous earth (which will also get rid of fleas, ants, silverfish, ticks, bed bugs, spiders, house flies, and a whole assortment of other bugs). If you’re tired of dealing with mosquitoes, herbs like sage, rosemary, and Thai lemongrass can work wonders, as can Neem oil. For flies, try cloves, eucalyptus, bay leaves, or basil, as well as a DIY flypaper made from syrup, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and craft paper. Dried lemon peels or sachets made from cinnamon sticks, cloves, bay leaves, eucalyptus leaves, lavender, peppercorns, or wormwood will repel moths, while ingredients like citronella oil, peppermint oil, castor oil, or crushed onions will drive rodents away.

Creative Landscaping

In addition to cooking up solutions in your kitchen, you might also want to consider making changes to your landscaping. Not only can landscaping add up as much as 14% to your home’s resale value, but it can also discourage pest activity in certain cases. If you’re worried that your garden could be overtaken by unwelcome creatures, floating row covers can protect your plants from harm. You might also want to invite the presence of other animals — like ladybugs, praying mantises, or nematodes — to ensure your garden thrives. Some plant species can also keep pests away. Marigolds and nasturtiums, for example, can act as natural insect repellants. Daffodils, sweet pea, lavender, grape hyacinth, amaryllis, catnip, wormwood, and mint are just some of the plants that can repel mice and rats.

Keep in mind that large shrubs and thick vegetation provide both food and shelter for pests. Overgrown branches and other plants that are located close to your home can provide a way for pests to get inside. Be sure to keep up with pruning and other forms of landscaping maintenance to minimize opportunities for pests to find their way in. If you use mulch in your landscaping, be sure to start fresh every year; otherwise, this provides a welcome habitat for pests. Remember to remove all standing water to minimize the likelihood of mosquitoes and other creatures hanging around.

Regular Cleaning

Another good way to discourage pests is to make thorough house cleaning part of your regular routine. Vacuuming, decluttering, and washing linens at higher temperatures can be highly effective. Even mattresses and pillows should be vacuumed regularly. Steam cleaning can act as a safe alternative that will get rid of bugs without exposing your family to harsh (and potentially toxic) cleaning agents. Frequent cleaning and tidying up will minimize how much food pests can find to live off of and can allow you to zero in on vulnerabilities in your home to ensure pests never come in.

Even if you’re eco-conscious, no one should have to deal with the potential health risks posed by certain pests. With these tips in mind, you can alleviate the need for conventional and harmful pest control and use tried-and-true methods that will protect both your loved ones and the environment.

How to Reduce Your Waste and Start Living a Greener Life in 2020

Whether you like it or not, it’s become apparent that Americans really need to embrace going green. And while U.S. businesses are starting to embrace eco-friendly methods as a means of appealing to consumers and keeping up with the competition, protecting the planet typically starts at home. In fact, Americans threw out over 258 million tons of municipal solid waste (or discarded trash) in 2014. A separate study estimates that Americans throw out seven pounds of trash per person every day — or 2,555 pounds of materials per person every year.

But unnecessary waste doesn’t merely refer to garbage. We also regularly waste electricity, water, and heating energy without a second thought. Whatever your green goals, there’s no better time to tackle them than the new year. If you want to make good on your environmental resolutions in 2020, here are some simple ways to reduce waste and start living a greener life.

Let There Be (LED) Light

Reducing waste doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. Start by switching out your traditional lightbulbs for LED ones. The U.S. Department of Energy maintains that LED lighting has the potential to reduce nationwide energy usage by nearly 50%. By using LED bulbs, you’ll need less energy to light your home, lower your monthly bills, and end up saving money in the long run (as LED bulbs last longer than incandescent bulbs).

Of course, you should still make an effort to turn off lights when you leave a room or go out of the house. If you’re going away, invest in a timer so you don’t waste too much energy while you’re gone. Be sure to unplug electronics and appliances while you’re at it, as these can drain energy sources even when they’re not in use. These steps are simple enough once you make them a habit — and since you’ll be financially benefitting at the same time, they’ll be easy to remember.

Pay Attention to H2O

We tend to take water for granted, but this precious resource needs to be protected. For one thing, you should make an effort to locate and fix any leaks. If an undetected leak continues for a year, you could waste thousands of gallons and approximately $164.50 (or more, in some cases). Even if your home doesn’t have any plumbing leaks, you’ll still want to be more cognizant of your water usage. Be sure to run the washing machine or dishwasher only when full, as this will save water. Keep in mind that washing in hot water will require more energy, so washing your clothing in cold water is a good idea when possible. Of course, you’ll need to use hot water when washing dishes, but make sure to shut off the faucet when washing by hand. You should also consider taking shorter showers and turning down the temperature on your water heater. Data shows that 15% to 25% of all energy consumed within a home is due to a running water heater. You can probably stand to lower the temperature (it should be no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit) to save energy without sacrificing your comfort.

Get Ready For Winter

Winter has only just begun, but you’ve probably started feeling the effects in your home. You might already be cranking up the heat — and if your home has leaks or cracks, your HVAC system is probably working harder than necessary. It’s a good idea to keep your thermostat on the lower end in order to save energy. But if heat is escaping, you’ll have a hard time being comfortable. If you haven’t already, make an effort to seal any vulnerabilities to keep the warm air inside. You might also consider adding extra insulation or upgrading your windows. And while the winter isn’t an ideal time to get a new roof, choosing the right roofing material can help you save as much as 30% on your home’s energy needs. In other words, you might want to get started on the process now and at least schedule an upgrade to prioritize greener living in 2020. You might also want to take this opportunity to have your HVAC system serviced, as you may be able to avoid problems this season if you’re proactive.

Be Smart When Shopping

Water and energy waste are big problems, but food waste should also be a major concern. The USDA estimates that 30% to 40% of the nation’s food supply is wasted. That means most Americans need to be more intentional in how they shop, how they cook, and how they eat. Organic is typically best in most cases; in SEO, it’s over five times better than paid search ads, and it’s usually the higher-quality option in the grocery store, too. But if you’re not using that organic food and end up throwing it away, that’s a huge waste.

It’s a good idea to stick to a list and buy only what you need. If you plan out your meals in advance, this can help you to prevent impulse buys and make sure you use everything possible in the fridge. Try to stick to multi-purpose items that can be used in a variety of ways throughout the week, rather than specialty ones that might be allowed to go bad. Whether you prep your meals each Sunday or cook every night, mapping out how you’ll shop and eat can help your family reduce food waste next year. While you’re at it, bring your own reusable grocery bags to go plastic-free and make sure to invest in reusable food storage containers. In general, cut down on single use plastics at home to reduce the other items you’ll throw away.

Repair or Buy Used

Another good way to reduce waste is to take stock of what you already have. If you have a piece of furniture that’s seen better days but is structurally sound, you might consider having it professionally cleaned or repaired. It’s recommended that you have upholstery cleaned once a year anyway (though you should try to ensure the cleaning methods used are eco-friendly!), but you might even consider having a piece reupholstered with vintage fabric or fixed using reclaimed wood. Appliances and electronics may also be repairable, so don’t be so quick to throw them out and buy new. Shoes and clothing can often be fixed, as well, particularly if the problem is something like a zipper or a heal. By having these items repaired, you’ll be able to keep them out of landfills, save money, and support local businesses.

While it might not be realistic for your family to get your waste production to zero, it’s simpler than you think to reduce it. By keeping these tips in mind, you can go a lot greener in 2020 without much effort.

Green Gatherings: Tips For Planning A More Sustainable Thanksgiving

This time of year is all about gathering with loved ones and expressing gratitude. And in the U.S., gratitude is best expressed in the form of food. Thanksgiving is the embodiment of this tradition, and this time of year is full of more friends, family, and food than most people know what to do with.

Even the most well-intentioned holidays can lead to excess, and this excess likely goes against your sustainability goals. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal while keeping it green and eco-friendly. The following are some of the many ways to throw a sustainable Thanksgiving dinner.

Buy organic meat and produce.
Whenever possible, purchase locally-grown organic produce for your delicious Thanksgiving dishes. As for the meat, grass-fed is generally best. This may be tough if your committed to turkey, but there are lots of sustainable meats to choose from. Beef from grass-fed cows has higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as vitamins A and E. As for the turkey, opt for a free-range bird.

Use reusable plates and utensils.
While paper plates and plastic utensils offer convenience, these items are a significant source of waste. Instead, serve food on reusable or ceramic plates. Whoever didn’t help with the cooking can clean them. Easy, right?

Decorate with natural materials.
Store-bought Thanksgiving decorations tend to adorn the table for one day before landing in the garbage. This year, try decorating with natural materials instead. One of the best decorating tricks is to choose three colors for the event theme and then use them for all of the decor items. The oranges, browns, and greens found in nature are perfect for your entire Thanksgiving color scheme and centerpieces.

Cook outdoors.
In a recent study, the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association found that 60% of grillers cook outside throughout the entire year. This can be a great way to cook more sustainability, as long as you stay away from gas-powered grills. Instead, try cooking over a fire or woodstove. Food tends to taste better when it was cooked outdoors, so your taste buds and the environment will win.

Compost any cooking scraps.
The simple act of cooking is one of the most significant sources of Thanksgiving waste. When cooking a big meal, food scraps pile up. Instead of throwing them in the garbage, compost them instead. If you don’t already compost at home, contact your local compost companies about pickup and dropoff services.

Remember to say thanks.
Gratitude does not produce any waste. Take the time this year to pull the focus off of material items and onto the act of giving thanks and cherishing the people you love.

“If distance or circumstances prevent you from spending Thanksgiving with some of the people you love, call, email or write them a letter (on recycled paper) to tell them why they mean so much to you and how they make your world a better place,” Larry West writes in ThoughtCo.

By spreading the love to both your dear ones and the planet, you will have a wonderfully nourishing Thanksgiving Day.

How to Make Your Workplace a Little Greener By 2020

Given the growing number of consumers who care about sustainability, it’s no wonder that many businesses are at least making an effort to go green. Not only can your actions help to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change, but you can also prove to customers that you care about the planet — and appeal to their inclinations in the process. What’s more, creating a more eco-friendly workplace doesn’t have to translate to a large sacrifice. In many cases, it can allow you to save some money without ever noticing a real difference during the workday. In others, it can bring your team together and make your business that much more profitable. But how exactly should you get started? Here are some basic tips that will make your work environment — and the environment at-large — a little greener by 2020.

Go Paperless When Possible

Did you know that China, Japan, and the United States account for 50% of the world’s total paper production? Although we depend largely on our technological devices, many offices still use a lot of paper in unnecessary ways. You might already be using shared drives and store files in the cloud, but if you’re printing out packets for a meeting or hanging memos up in the break room, you’re still not as eco-friendly as you could be. What’s more, you’re probably spending a lot on office supplies like paper, ink, paperclips, and staples. Encourage employees to think before printing and consider donating at least some of your printers and copiers to organizations in need. If you haven’t already, adopt digital sharing and storage measures that will allow you to cut down on paper usage overall. This minimal change might have less of an impact on your day than you might think; you’ll just need to create new habits to ensure everyone’s on the same (virtual) page.

Conserve Your Energy

Offices come with a lot of necessary overhead. Keeping the lights and the HVAC system running can translate to high costs for business owners. But you can mitigate those costs and reduce unnecessary waste by being smarter about how you use your energy. Switching to LED bulbs and unplugging lights, small appliances, and computers at the end of the day can do wonders for your energy expenditures. You’ll also want to pay close attention to the thermostat. While studies have found that productivity levels are highest when temperatures average 71.6 degrees, that’s a high level to reach during the winter. Be willing to compromise a bit with temperature settings and consider installing a smart thermostat to ensure that the building isn’t being heated or cooled after work is done for the day. Having employees bring in a sweater or a portable, handheld fan may be a sacrifice they’re willing to make to have a greener office in the long run.

Offer Remote Work Options

Telecommuting is becoming a more popular option for businesses across the country. Employees enjoy the flexibility of being able to work from home or from a nearby coffee shop, while employers benefit from decreased overhead. Workers are more productive, fewer work days are missed, and everyone obtains a more balanced life as a result. It’s also an excellent way to support green initiatives. Not only can you keep heating and electricity needs to a minimum with fewer people in the office on a given day, but you can also have a direct impact on emission reduction from commuting vehicles. In other words, you can brag about your sustainability and your employee perks — both of which may make you one of the top employers to beat in your area.

Eliminate Single Use Items

During company events, picking up paper plates and plastic utensils is an easy way to ensure everyone can join in. But this practice is incredibly wasteful, which puts a damper on the fun. Instead, invest in some communal mugs, cups, plates, and cutlery and recommend that employees bring some of these items in, too. Since Americans produce 4.4 pounds of trash every single day, eliminating at least some of these disposable items will cut down on your company’s waste (and need for trash collection!). If you really want to go the extra mile, float around the idea of starting a composting program. At the very least, make an effort to purchase disposable items (like coffee filters) that are made from recycled materials and ensure that your own recyclables don’t end up in landfills.

If it seems like these changes are too small to make a difference, remember that there are nearly 28 million small businesses in the U.S. alone. By making minimal adjustments, you can be part of a bigger impact and show your community how serious you are about protecting the planet. With your help, we can make the earth a little bit greener by the time the new year rolls around.

The FAQs About CBD: What You Need To Know

The FAQs About CBD: What You Need To Know

In recent months, CBD use among the general population has skyrocketed, with many claiming their use of the supplement as medical. Almost 62% of CBD users reported using CBD to treat a medical condition, with the top three medical conditions as pain, anxiety, and depression. Many claim that this one compound found in industrial hemp can treat a wide variety of conditions, but how true are those claims? What is the evidence supporting the use of CBD to treat chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and more?

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD, is a compound naturally found in hemp. While hemp that is used for its CBD is technically related to marijuana and comes from the same plant family, the two are separated based on their THC levels. THC is the psychoactive chemical typically associated with marijuana; however, CBD products are under regulation that keeps THC levels under 0.3%. This prevents CBD products from having many of the undesirable effects associated with marijuana use. While hemp has been used historically to treat many medical conditions, nowadays research is underway to prove just how effective CBD is as modern-day medicine.

Is CBD organic?

As CBD comes from a natural plant, CBD products can be organic if created correctly. To determine whether or not CBD products are organic, we have to look at two steps of their production. The first is the growth of the hemp plant. In order to be considered organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) standards, the hemp needs to be grown without the use of genetically modified organisms, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, ionizing radiation, or sewage sludge.

CBD products then need to be extracted and processed from organically grown hemp without the use of any synthetic chemical additives. As an increasing number of farmers in the U.S. are realizing the value of growing organic hemp, producers of CBD oil are ensuring their part of the process is organic as well. When you purchase CBD products, be sure to look for a “U.S.D.A certified organic” label that indicates the product meets organic standards. By using organic CBD, you can treat various medical conditions with a natural solution, rather than synthetic medications.

What can CBD treat?

While the overwhelming enthusiasm for CBD can make it seem like another new snake oil “miracle cure,” it’s actually been proven to have some success in medical trials. CBD has been shown to be helpful with some forms of chronic pain treatment, which will likely be highly beneficial for an aging Baby Boomer generation. By 2030, six out of 10 Baby Boomers will be managing a chronic condition, and for many, CBD will be a helpful supplement to other treatment plans. It won’t treat your case of the flu, but it has been proven an effective treatment for other ailments. Because CBD can be effective in some cases for pain management, it can also be involved in recovery from other procedures. For example, in Follicular Unit Strip Surgery, a strip of scalp from a non-balding area is surgically removed, and placed in incisions in balding area. While this is generally a lower-pain procedure, CBD can help during surgery recovery to limit pain.

CBD has also been shown to be effective as treatment options for some mental health conditions. Those suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, and schizophrenia may find relief through treatments involving CBD as part of a broader treatment plan. CBD has also found its strongest evidence in the treatment of several epileptic disorders, offering relief to many.

What can’t CBD treat?

Unfortunately, despite CBD’s many proven uses, there are those who claim the compound can treat more conditions than it’s been shown to. CBD does have many anti-inflammatory effects, as well as helping to potentially regulate blood pressure; however, that does not mean it’s approved for treating conditions that involve these issues. CBD is still being tested for use in a variety of conditions, so be sure to do your research before looking to use CBD oil as a treatment. For example, many claim that CBD has been helpful in regulating blood sugar. While this may sound like good news for the 4.1 million adults in the U.S. with pre-diabetes, there is no proof as of yet that CBD can be used in this manner.

CBD is a treatment option that’s rapidly growing in popularity, leading many people to praise the compound’s benefits. However, much research still needs to be done on the full extent of its healing capabilities. Before you add CBD oil to your daily routine, do some extra research to see if it will help your specific conditions.