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.
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.
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!
4. Bogo Brush Every year I stick a toothbrush in the holiday stocking – this year I will be stuffing a brush from Bogo Brush! Bogo Brush is another company that donates a product to a child in need – in this case, an eco-friendly toothbrush made from waste – because a healthy smile is a happy smile.
There are many ways to make your home more sustainable this spring and summer. You can remodel using eco-friendly materials and appliances, grow native plants, cook more food at home, cool your home without using the AC all the time, and upgrade appliances. Below are some ways to make these changes.
Remodel Using Eco-Friendly Options
Did you know that over 10 million kitchens are remodeled every year? When you decide to remodel your kitchen, look for Energy Star appliances rated for saving water and energy. Use sustainable materials for your cabinets, countertops, and backsplashes. Wood, stone, and tile are all materials that are natural and recyclable. Use wood materials free of toxic materials in your home. Install low-flow faucets in your sinks because they reduce water usage by about 30%. Paint your walls with paint and finishes that are low in VOC or harmful chemicals. These paints are safer for your whole family. Visit antique stores and salvage shops near you to find furniture, accessories, outdoor fixtures, crafts, and art you can put in your home.
Choose Native Plants To Grow in Your Garden
Native plants grow best and adapt to your geographic area better than other plants. They are often easy to care for and you can find them at your local garden center. You can purchase native flowers, vegetables, and herbs already growing and transplant them into your garden. Native plants will attract birds, butterflies, bees, and local wildlife. These plants provide food for local wildlife to help them survive. Finding out about native plants means visiting your local garden center or clubs to learn what is grown locally. These plants will save you money and are usually easier to maintain.
Make More Food Products at Home
Start by buying a sheet pan and parchment paper to cook more fresh vegetables for your meals. Wash and cut the carrots, potatoes, squash, peppers, cabbage, add olive oil and salt, and roast in the oven. Roast at 350 or higher for 20 to 30 minutes. The vegetables should be soft and slightly browned and you can roast them individually or mix them. Learn to saute greens, spinach, swiss chard, or cabbage. Look for recipes and follow instructions. Rice is easy to make in the microwave and is a great side dish with meats, seafood, stir fry, and stews. Learn to use beans in chili and soup recipes. They add protein, vitamins, and nutrients to meals. Try whole wheat or gluten-free pasta they have more nutrition than white pasta.
Prepare more food at home and skip frozen and prepared dinners. Over the last 7,000 years, people have fermented plants and grains to make alcohol. Learn to make healthier meals and cut down on alcohol, as too much is bad for your health. Other easy recipes to prepare at home are pasta dishes, homemade salad dressings, sandwiches, eggs, salads, and sauces. Start with simple recipes with fewer ingredients when learning to cook new dishes.
How to Cool Your Home Without AC
You might want to cut down on using your air conditioner and find ways to cool your house without it. Place box fans in the windows to run at night or a ceiling fan to make your air conditioner more efficient. Many evenings you will find the ceiling fan cools the room enough so you do not need air conditioning. Use cotton or bamboo sheets that breathe and do not trap heat and moisture. Open the window and slider door in the late evening and let some cool air come in. Shut shutters, blinds, and shades during the day to keep heat and the sun out. Wear comfortable lightweight clothing at home; shorts, tee shirts, and comfortable shoes. Try taking a cold bath or shower before going to bed. Cook meals outside on the grill or prepare early in the morning when it is cooler.
Update Older Appliances and Features
Did you know that 85% of the homes in the US were built before 1980 and need improvement and updates? Start slowly to replace old appliances with new models one at a time. Look for Energy Star appliances that save money on water and electricity. Buy a smaller-sized refrigerator or a dishwasher that saves on water when you wash dishes. Buy sustainable products for flooring or wood paneling or even recycled materials that can be reused. Install low-flow faucets and a shower head to save on water use or use LED lightbulbs to save energy. Paint your cabinets or stain them instead of installing new ones.
Finding ways to make your home more eco-friendly and sustainable will improve your health and make it more comfortable to live in.
When you want to improve the value of your home, making eco-friendly upgrades will increase the value and provide you with a healthier environment for family and friends. Below are some ideas to consider to help improve the resale value of your home.
Figure What Is In Your Budget
Figure out what is in your budget before you begin to remodel. Homeowners often spend between 5,000 to 10,000 dollars to make changes to their homes. This was the standard amount spent in 2018 by consumers. Even if you do not have thousands to spend you can make small improvements that will improve the sustainability of your home. Try to decide what you want to improve before tackling the project Do you want to install energy-efficient appliances, add a tank-less water heater, paint the inside walls with eco-friendly paint made from natural materials, landscaping, and energy-efficient exterior doors. For major upgrades, you should contact local contractors that specialize in eco-friendly remodeling and installation.
Install Energy-Efficient Exterior Doors
Replacing outdated exterior doors on the house will save you money on your energy bills. The doors that you enter or exit the house should be energy efficient. This can save you 10% on your heating and cooling bills. Energy-efficient outer doors made from fiberglass save the most energy. Fiberglass looks like real wood and is designed for cold climates and humidity. Steel doors are stronger and wear well in dry climates. Unless you are handy, it is better to hire a contractor to install them. Steel doors can be insulated to retain heat and stay cooler in the warm weather. Double glass panes are often installed to reduce heat flow and magnetic strips reduce leakage of air in the house.
Make Your Landscaping Eco-friendly
Investing in hiring a landscaper improves the value of your home. If you are an experienced gardener, you can do the work yourself. Native plants from a local garden center grow better and use less water. Invest in planting native flowers, herbs, and vegetables in a small rain garden. A rain garden collects runoff water from your yard. Rain gardens attract butterflies and reduce soil erosion. Planting native trees and shrubs can help with cooling your home in the summer. Installing a drip irrigation system to water plants in the yard and lawn will cut the water bill by 50 percent.
Permeable pavers instead of concrete driveways and walkways allow water to go into the ground. Reusing stones and bricks for borders and wall counts are considered eco-friendly landscaping too. You should reduce the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Test the soil it may just need organic compost that you can buy and the organic pesticide that uses natural substances and have a lower level of chemicals. Over 60% of potential home buyers say a well-landscaped property is one of the things they look for in a home.
Install A Tankless Water Heater
The benefit of installing a tankless water heater is it only will use water when you need it. It can save you 30 to 50 percent on fuel costs. This device works when you turn on the tap and sensors detect water coming into the heater that has to be heated. They range in price from about $200 to $2,000 depending on the size and are gas-fired or electric. They should be installed by a professional. The benefits are they produce instant hot water, some are Wi-Fi compatible, and in time save money on water and fuels. They are compact about the size of a suitcase and hang on the wall.
Upgrade to Green Appliances
Consider buying energy-efficient appliances when you replace older models. They are refrigerators, dishwashers, air conditioners, stoves, washers, and dryers. These Energy Star appliances will save you on water and electricity. They reduce pollution and create sustainability in the home. When you buy an energy-efficient dishwasher it uses less water and reduces your water bill by 25%. An Energy Star refrigerator will decrease your electric bill. Refrigerators are an appliance that uses more electricity than others appliances. Energy Star is a label that appliances get when they meet government regulations for energy efficiency and reducing the use of water and electricity. They can reduce utilities by about 30% in the home. A minor kitchen remodel will have an 82.7% return on your investment.
These are some ways to make the eco-friendly upgrade to your home for a healthier home environment.
Creating a residential place for your family does not necessarily aim so much at perfection but authenticity. With the current transformation and changes that have taken place in the global climate, individuals who wish to build a home should ensure the houses constructed do not make our environment worse. Moreover, embracing a natural lifestyle is very beneficial to the human body, spirit, and mind.
What is an Eco-Friendly Home?
Eco-friendly homes are those built using materials and technologies that do not harm the environment further. For instance, a home that relies on wind and solar energy falls into this category. The current trend is taking a positive turn, where we have seen many people going for environmentally-friendly houses. However, some lack the knowledge to create such buildings. This detailed article will inform you about the best ways to build an eco-friendly home, whether you are constructing from scratch or renovating an old one.
Choose Timeless Finishes
vYou don’t have to feel limited when it comes to the finish you apply to your home. You can use outstanding finishes without sacrificing the house’s aesthetics. Years back, people looked forward to warm and welcoming spaces. However, today, to achieve environmentally-friendly abodes, it is recommendable to yearn for safe spaces conscious of our lives on earth.
When it comes to the interior décor, choosing colors, styles, and designs that do not require regular changing is a wise idea. The finishes should have permanence for you. For instance, using a matte black tapware finish on your kitchen cabinets can help them last up to 50 years. Therefore, do not look at how classic the finish is as long as it is timeless to you and it will serve you for years to come.
Make Sure Everything is Built to Last
Choosing sustainable materials for your construction is not an option if you want to achieve an environmentally-responsible home. Besides the aesthetic appeal, cost and life cycle are the other considerations to make when choosing the materials. Additionally, consider how easy it is to reuse or recycle the material. If you cannot reuse it, then disposing of that material in the future should not negatively affect the environment.
Many factors dictate the durability of a particular material. If you plan on having an underground tank, for instance, you should know that its construction, installation, soil conditions, and maintenance affect its lifespan. However, it can typically last for 20 years or more. Besides sustainability and cost reduction, having suitable construction materials reduces your exposure to life-threatening organic compounds and pollutants significantly. Some wall coverings, paints, and carpeting release toxic compounds that tamper with the air quality inside a house.
Considering the many hours you will be spending at home, it is advisable to minimize toxins’ exposure by getting healthier material alternatives. Using construction materials sustainably means their present use will not interfere with future use by affecting the environment or running out. Very few materials meet this requirement, and they are the ones you should get if you want an eco-friendly home.
Focus on Smaller Projects to Be Green and On-Budget
Small houses are not only eco-friendly but also cost-effective. Besides occupying a small footprint, a smaller home can save you a lot on the materials required and the energy consumed to warm or cool it down. In 2018, a report showed that the average monthly housing cost was $1,566. That shows the more extensive the home, the more money you spend on it. Statistics show that the average number [of people in an American home has gone down from 3.8 to 2.6, yet the home sizes have ballooned over time.
People need to understand that these improper size-to-occupant ratios are bringing additional issues to our environment. If we desire to achieve green projects, we should be ready to adhere to a more solid square-footage-per-individual code. However, we also need to shift our focus from total house size to proper usage of resources and quality green projects.
With the cold winter weather here, you’re probably doing everything you can to keep the inside of your home warm and comfortable. Unfortunately, the winter months often mean an increase in energy consumption. So how can you go green this winter without feeling like you’re living in an igloo? Here are a few tips to help you be more energy-efficient during the winter months.
Unfortunately, the Department of Energy shows that about 56% of the energy used in U.S. homes is for heating and cooling. But the good news is that you don’t have to completely shut off your heat to save some energy. Turning down the thermostat even a degree or two can make a big difference in energy consumption. Getting a programmable thermostat can allow you to have the heat turn down when you’re asleep or not at home so you won’t even notice the difference. And you can always snuggle up in more blankets if you get too cold.
Another thing to keep in mind when considering your heat use is ensuring your home is properly insulated. If there is a lack of insulation or even cracks or drafts around windows and doors, you could be losing a lot of heat in your home. And when this heat is lost, your HVAC system has to work harder to replace it, using more energy. So consider installing weather stripping around windows and doors and sealing entry points for outside lines with proper insulation to avoid losing heat in your home.
With the winter days being shorter and darker, you probably have more lights on in your home than normal. This is another great opportunity for going green — did you know that LED lights use only 15% of the energy that a standard halogen light uses? Not only that, but LEDs offer up to 85% more light output too. So by switching out your halogen bulbs for LEDs, you’ll be reducing your energy consumption and getting more light in your home.
And lastly, consider going green when it comes to your diet as well. When it comes to buying fruits and vegetables, consider buying in-season options. While today’s modern world allows us to have access to fruits and vegetables all year no matter the season, out of season produce has to be shipped from far away. This uses tons of fuel, which is something you can help reduce. So try to make an effort to buy produce that is in season throughout the winter months.
Being more eco-friendly this winter doesn’t have to be difficult. So keep these simple tips in mind for a greener winter.