Tag Archives | eco friendly

How You Can Make Your Coffee Use More Sustainable

Coffee is an ancient art. In the 16th century, it was being grown in places like Persia, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey. As far back as the 1600s, iced coffee and cold brew were being made in Japan; by the 1800s, Algeria also produced iced coffee and cold brew. In the 17th century, coffee finally made its way to Europe as well.

These days, coffee is everywhere and comes in many forms. But that is part of the problem. In modern times, we’ve become more aware of the impact of our disposable coffee cups, as well as the impact of certain planting and harvesting techniques for the coffee itself.

For those with an eye for sustainability, here are six tips to help make your morning coffee more environmentally-friendly.

1. Be Picky

Consider shaking up your routine by looking into coffee alternatives. Did you know 35% of people miss discovering a business because they don’t see their sign? It’s sort of the same with coffee. We can miss alternatives or more sustainable options simply because we’re not reading labels carefully.

Next time you are at the grocery store to buy coffee, take an extra minute to read the signs right before you. A lot of producers will include labels that indicate their coffee is produced more sustainably.

Look for indicative phrases like fair trade, rainforest alliance, organic, and bird-friendly. These are all certifications based on different criteria. For example, fair trade coffee tries to ensure growers and producers are treated fairly and helps protect land and waterways near where the coffee is grown. Decide what is important to you and find the labels that match that.

2. Find Local Sources

If you can get your coffee locally, that is always going to be a big step towards sustainability. The more your coffee has to travel to get to you, the more pollution and waste is involved in producing it.

Depending on where you live, you may be able to find local growers, independent farms, and regional roasters who can make you the perfect cup. As a bonus, you’ll be helping out a local small business.

3. Make Your Own At Home

Going out for coffee is always going to produce more waste than brewing at home, even if you’re buying coffee from a small local cafe. Brewing your own coffee at home is one of the best ways to reduce waste and it should save you some money too.

When making your own coffee at home, stay away from disposable, one-time-use cups. Instead, use a fair trade brew that you can scoop out of a bag. Those one-time-use cups are convenient, but incredibly wasteful.

And while you’re making coffee at home, use a mug! Invest in a great coffee mug that you can use every morning. By doing this, you will not only be reducing the waste from the coffee, but also from the disposable cups you tend to get at coffee shops.

4. Compost the Waste

One last tip for brewing at home: Compost. Tea leaves and coffee grounds are excellent compost. Coffee is actually a superb fertilizer because of the nitrogen content.

By composting leaves and grounds, you will keep waste out of landfills. You can even spread used coffee grounds directly on your garden if you don’t have a way to compost.

5. Reuse Your Filter

While you’re making your coffee at home, find ways to minimize your waste. You can not only reuse your mug and avoid single-use cups, but you can also get a reusable filter to cut down on wasteful paper filters.

Those paper filters aren’t just bad because they fill up landfills; they also sometimes contain things like dioxins that can get into watersheds. Reusable filters are much better for the environment.

However, if you do need to use paper filters, search for ones that are “total chlorine-free” or “processed chlorine-free.” This indicates that they won’t be full of dangerous dioxins that can get into water systems.

6. Tell a Friend

You don’t need to do this alone! Get a friend to go with you for your morning coffee run at a local restaurant or cafe. You could even buy mugs, reusable filters, and more sustainable and environmentally-friendly coffee together.

As you continue trying to change your coffee drinking habits, having a friend to commiserate with can be a huge help. Talk about the best brands or cafes you’ve found, what your long-term goals are, and tips you discover along the way. Sharing the experience can make it more like a fun challenge and less like a burden. You could even try some composting tips together.

A Better Routine for Everyone

No matter how you choose to go about having a more sustainable morning routine, even small changes can end up making a big difference. Don’t be afraid to start small before working on larger lifestyle changes to increase your positive impact.

Using Barn Doors As a Decorative Piece

Barn doors are an excellent way to introduce eye-catching decorative elements into your home’s decor. They come in different styles from a country look to a more modern feel and can be used for closets, bathrooms, or pantries. If you are limited on space, barn doors are an excellent way to manage the floor plan because there is almost zero clearance for them. They are also excellent substitutions for traditional cabinetry as they can be used to add style to a kitchen island or for cabinetry in a bathroom design. The charm and character they add to a home’s decor can be as unique as you choose. 

Beautiful barn doors can be installed flat to the wall or at a 90-degree angle to add even more interest. What’s more exciting about these beautiful design elements is they can be made with any material from environment-friendly reclaimed wood to metal materials. The hardware used to install barn doors can also create and contribute to the overall feature of the door. They can be applied to almost any space for functionality and add a unique character. The design options with barn doors are almost limitless.

The Design Element

The design element and functionality of barn doors work in a variety of different spaces. They can be constructed of reclaimed wood, metal materials, or even framed glass. You can create barn doors in any size you choose. For a more stately piece, you can design a one that is twice the size of a normal door and still be able to keep your floor plan spacing intact. For a more scaled-down model, you can create a barn door that is smaller in size. Regardless of the size of the doors, these beautiful design features add a unique character to a room that is aesthetically pleasing to the eyes.

Eco-friendly Materials

One of the many neat features of barn doors is that they can be created from eco-friendly materials. These environmentally friendly materials help to save you money and are good for the environment because they are made using renewable materials. Renewable materials can be found at deeply discounted prices from your local hardware stores or secondhand stores that specialize in recyclable materials. 

Just because a barn door is made from reclaimed or recycled materials, doesn’t mean that it would not be as attractive as a more custom made door. In fact, the opposite is true. Recycled materials can add such a unique aspect to your barn door design. More than likely the materials are left over from other projects, therefore, they are probably not readily available to other consumers.

Creating your Own Unique Barn Door Design

If you’re in the market for a barn door and not able to find what you want within your budget, you are able to create a timeless design piece using reclaimed materials. By designing your own barn door, the sky is truly the limit. The only limitation with this option is your imagination. This type of DIY project would take some time, but in the end, it would be worth it to know you have created a truly unique design piece customized just for your personal space. 

From the hardware selection to the choices of door materials, there is no limit to your design for your customized door. Even though this would be a customized piece for your home, this doesn’t mean that you would pay a higher price. The pricing to make your own barn door can be as low as $200 to $300. Depending on the material and the size, prices can increase significantly for a larger or heavier door. The choice, however, is totally up to you.

Adding a barn door design to your home can create a unique feeling by adding a touch of character to any space. Whether you plan to use them for your bedroom, bathroom or for the pantry in your kitchen, these functional design pieces can add a touch of style to any home. They are a cost-effective option for installing a traditional pocket door and are excellent if you are limited on floor space. The main goal for your home is to design a space that works for you.

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. And while almost 90% of us will be faced with our own body issues, all of us will be faced with how to go about pest control in an eco-friendly way. 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.

Helping Holidays: 4 Green Gifts That Give Back

The holidays are all about celebrating acts of giving, making it the perfect opportunity to make your gift giving smarter this season. There are so many amazing businesses out there that give back when you purchase one of their products. These companies are tied to doing good somewhere in the world every time a purchase is made. Read on for my 4 favorite gifts that give back – and if you hurry you can still get these goodies by Christmas.

1. Warby Parker Glasses
Eben and I both wear glasses and love the stylish, affordable frames from Warby Parker. For every pair of glasses that you buy, a pair is donated to a person in need. If you don’t wear glasses, that is alright – Warby Parker also offers fantastic sunglasses.

+ Warby Parker  

2. Feed Bags
I have been familiar with FEED Bags for a very long time – I remember first seeing them in Whole Foods back when we lived in Georgia! FEED Bags come in a huge selection of styles and sizes and with each purchase a portion of the proceeds go towards feeding the children of the world.

+ FEED Projects

3. TOMS Shoes
Most likely you are already familiar with TOMS shoes – for every pair you purchase a pair is donated to a child in need. With a great selection of shoes for everyone on your list, TOMS is the perfect holiday gift!

+ TOMS
4. Smile Squared
Every year I stick a toothbrush in the holiday stocking – this year I will be stuffing a brush from Smile Squared! Smile Squared is another company that donates a product to a child in need – in this case, an eco-friendly bamboo toothbrush – because a healthy smile is a happy smile.

+ Smile Squared

Do you have a favorite gift to give that gives back too?

These Portable Bluetooth Speakers Are Absolute Garbage (Literally)

For many of us, the allure of technology and convenience has caused us to ignore the preservation of the planet. But now, one startup is attempting to be more sustainable — without sacrificing connectivity.

Gomi, a UK-based design studio, has based its entire ethos on producing beautiful technology from things we throw away. Although plastic wasn’t even invented until the late 19th century and widespread use didn’t occur until approximately 1950, we’ve managed to do a lot of damage in that time. Data from 2017 revealed that 6.9 billion tons of plastic has become waste, with 6.3 billion tons of that waste never ending up in a recycling bin. Trash dumpsters are already serviced at 60% fullness or less, on average, meaning that we’re wasteful in a multitude of ways.

And then, of course, there’s the plastic that cannot even be recycled. In many countries, including the UK, many flexible plastic products are not accepted for recycling. As a result, plastic bags, bubble wrap, and other items end up in landfills — or worse, become beach pollution. That’s where Gomi’s idea really came from: the plastics that cannot be recycled. With the startup’s vision, they’re now being repurposed as stunning Bluetooth speakers.

Each one of these speakers is made from approximately 100 non-recyclable plastic bags in multiple hues. Therefore, they have a unique and modern visual appeal. Not only is today’s consumer drawn to sustainability, but they also tend to like modular options, which provide more versatility. Gomi designers kept this in mind when creating their speakers, as they’re meant to adapt to the customer’s needs. Modular construction reduces construction time by up to 50% while improving cash flow, but modular design isn’t limited to industrial structures or residential buildings, like Downtown Container Park in Las Vegas–which spans 19,000 square feet with a mix of 30 shipping containers and 41 multifunctional modular cubes forming its perimeter. You might have modular storage in your home, for example, which can be rearranged to adapt to your needs. Many of these plastic storage components are made via the reaction injection molding process, where two liquid components are mixed and injected into a mold to chemically react and cure.

Gomi’s speakers aren’t made in the exact same way, but they’re constructed by melting down the plastic bags, compressing the material, and then molding the plastic into its final shape. Gomi has partnered with local wholesalers to source the plastic waste that might otherwise end up as pollution. The internal components, unlike the speaker housings, are comprised of wireless streaming technology that provides 18 hours of superior listening on one battery charge — a successful hybrid of both old and new.

As Gomi co-founder Tom Meades noted in a statement, “We were inspired by the cradle-to-cradle design process, thinking about our products full-lifecycle right from the beginning of our design process… With our Bluetooth speakers, we want to intercept a waste stream that would otherwise be landfilled or incinerated. Flexible plastics/LDPE is widely regarded as non-recyclable by UK councils, and so we thought this would be the perfect material to harness and show that through innovative design this can be valuable, and does not have to end up as waste polluting our environment. Instead, we can craft this material into desirable objects.”

The team is also working on a portable charging brick comprised of the same plastic materials and plans to offer free repairs and free recycling returns. The unique Bluetooth speakers are currently part of a Kickstarter campaign that’s made $15,000 of its near-$60,000 goal. That said, Gomi won a substantial grant from the Environment Now Programme last year for its project and has also received funding from the Santander Big Ideas Competition. Although not everyone will agree that a unique Bluetooth speaker is a necessary home accessory, one would hope that consumers would lend their support to an idea that utilizes otherwise discarded plastics and turns them into something far more beneficial than garbage: music.