May 2, 2011
With spring firmly established, and summer on its way, our thoughts turn to positive aspects of the new seasons. We look forward to the increased light which boosts our mood, think of picnics, leisurely walks outside and more time spent in the great outdoors.
Unfortunately, the onset of better weather also brings some negative traits – usually coming in the form of insects and pests which wake up and seem intent on sharing their joy of the great outdoors with you, at every available opportunity.
While some bugs and critters are welcome as part of the change in season, the majority can tend to wreak havoc in the home and garden, and can be highly unwelcome visitors. For those of us with pets or children, a colony of insects can not just be an annoyance, but pose a threat to the safety of our families and home life.
Most people approach pest control in the same way as they approach most aspects of their domestic environment, reaching for harsh chemicals to control the problem. However, these chemicals can be just as tough on the surrounding area as the bugs themselves, leaving us caught up in a hazardous environment which can quickly pose a threat to our homes and gardens. Despite this tendency, there are a number of great ways to control pests in the home and garden without resorting to the harsh chemicals which can have a negative impact on our surroundings.
Keeping ants under control
Ants are never welcome in the home. They seem to take great delight in colonizing domestic areas with great ease, becoming firmly established before you even notice they have moved in with you. To get rid of these pesky bugs in a safe and ecological way, the best way is to use neem seed oil, mixed up with a coconut oil soap solution. Neem seed oil is made up of a compound of azadirachin, which prevents the ants from reproducing. You can make the solution by mixing 1-tbsp of neem seed oil, 1-tbsp of coconut oil soap and 10 ounces of water together in a spray bottle. Shake the mixture and then spray it liberally around where you have an ant infestation.
Cockroaches are unwelcome visitors to any home, and they don’t choose a household based on whether it is clean or dirty, so don’t worry! They breed prolifically, and need to be eliminated as soon as possible through use of a number of natural baits, powders and traps. One of the most effective ways to get rid of cockroaches is by putting diatomaceous earth in the cracks and crevices where the cockroaches have been spotted. As long as this is placed out of the reach of pets and children, it should be safe. It works by dissolving their waxy outer covering, which leads to water loss, dehydration and eventual death.
Fleas can drive your pets to distraction, and are highly irritating when they move in with you. Because they are difficult to get rid of and have a tough breeding cycle, they can be resident in a household for far longer than they need to be, unless tough action is taken to get them to move on somewhere else. Chemical flea products can be nasty for children and animals, so it’s best to go for a natural deterrent if possible. Combing pets regularly with a flea comb, sprinkling baking soda and salt on carpets and thoroughly vacuuming are all great ways to keep them at bay, as is washing any pet or human bedding often to keep them away.
March 17, 2011
Creating a more eco-friendly office environment is a great way to reduce waste and save energy – and potentially, it could also help to influence the environmental behaviors and choices of your co-workers. But how do you get your boss to support a complete overhaul of your company’s environmental practices?
Well, once sure-fire way to any self-respecting boss’s heart is to talk about the impact on the bottom line. UK-based environmental agency, Envirowise, found that the average office worker prints off around 1584 sheets of paper per month – that mounts up to a heck of a lot of forest and even more in office stationery costs! They also found that office workers use over 3 billion plastic cups annually for hot beverages, and waste approximately £100m per year in unnecessary electricity bills by leaving their computers on overnight.
So even if your boss or colleagues are not sold on the bigger environmental picture, there’s still a lot to be said for the benefits of conducting an eco-audit of your office. Here are some top tips to turn your energy-guzzling colleagues into fellow eco-warriors:
1. Go paperless
We’re fortunate to have amazing digital technology at our fingertips which allows us to store and share information quickly and easily without the need for excessive printing. Alongside email and electronic filing systems, there are a growing number of smart software programs that allow staff to collaborate online, rather than printing and re-printing new document versions all day long. You can also take advantage of printer default settings to ensure eco-friendly printing. Getting staff to reduce their paper consumption and recycle the paper they do use can have a huge impact on both the office stationery budget and the planet.
2. Remove the trash cans
Most employees will have their very own trash can under their desks. The problem is that having a trash can so close to hand means it’s easy to dispose of everyday items without thinking twice about whether they can be recycled. It’s a radical move, but why not withdraw individual trash cans, and set up a bank of recycling bins instead? This will encourage staff to consider how they dispose of waste while recruiting new converts to your office recycling program.
3. Don’t be a mug – buy one instead
Plastic-fantastic vending machines and water coolers are a regular feature of most offices. But we all know that the millions of plastic cups and coffee stirrers simply end up in methane-generating landfill, causing havoc for the environment. There’s a simple answer: use a mug instead. The chances are, you’ll enjoy your beverage more too!
4. Turn down the heat!
Monitoring the use of heating and air conditioning in your office is a great way to save energy. How many of us have been in offices or meeting rooms with the heaters on full blast and people start opening windows to let some air in?! Encouraging staff to be aware and responsible for managing office heating and cooling systems can ensure that your office is using energy efficiently at all times.
5. Switch it off
Leaving PCs, lights, photocopiers and other electrical appliances on overnight wastes an incredible amount of energy and can send your office utility bills through the roof. Why not hold a staff briefing to show the amount of energy used currently by your office – and then set a target for reducing energy consumption which everyone can sign up to support. You can also issue stickers for individual PCs to remind users to switch off at the end of every day, and perhaps nominate an ‘energy champion’ to continue reminding and motivating staff to switch off. Be sure to hold another briefing in 3 or 6 months time to let staff know about how their behavior changes have helped to save energy – and encourage everyone to share in the success.
An eco-audit of your office is not just about doing the right thing, it’s about doing the smart thing, to reduce office overheads while protecting the planet. And who knows – perhaps the changes introduced during office hours will inspire your colleagues to change their behaviors in other areas of their lives too, which can only be a good thing, right?
March 14, 2011
As a person who always seems to have cardboard boxes around and no use for them except the recycling bin, it’s good to see people with better ideas than me.
Boxsmart is a company which offers a central place for companies to buy and sell used and surplus boxes.
Based in Arizona, Boxsmart has more than three million boxes in 800 different sizes (who knew there were that many?) and pays companies more than traditional recycling methods which bales the cardboard up and sends it abroad.
It’s also a socially responsible company. It provides work for more than 500 physically and mentally challenged people in its sorting, assembly and processing facilities.
Spotted via Springwise.
March 7, 2011
We all know by now how bad for the environment Styrofoam is, yet it’s still used by millions every day, often because there is little alternative.
But there is now and an environmentally-friendly version too. Called AreoClay and developed at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University, it’s roughly 95 to 99 percent air by volume and made from a blend of clay and polymer.
And as well as being able to be made into Styrofoam-like cups, it can also be used for insulation and packaging.
Spotted via Springwise.
February 24, 2011
Well maybe not green as such, but eBay has promoted its new Instant Sale service as being green.
Selling your old gadgets has always been a good way of being green and the Instant Sale service is really just the same old eBay but easier.
eBay acts as the middle man, taking an active role. Finding you a buying, giving you free shipping labels, taking your gadget and wiping all of your personal data before sending it on to the buyer.
And if it doesn’t sell? eBay will recycle it for you – so green all round then.
Only available in the US for now, you can find out more here.
January 28, 2011
Home improvement has been getting greener and greener over the years but this is the first time I’ve heard of a totally green DIY store.
Kbane, a store based in France, is a one stop shop for green home improvement. Every product in its store has a label explaining where it’s from and in-store experts offer expert advice, energy audits and even demonstrations.
The store focus on six areas: gardening, energy efficiency, healthy home interiors, air quality and water, insulation and eco-construction, and solar and new energies. Hopefully it’ll become more and more popular and Kbane’s plans to grow and open new stores comes to fruition.
January 21, 2011
Recycling is all well and good but it does take a lot of effort and energy and I’ve often wondered about something that was on Springwise recently – why aren’t companies more linked in together? One company’s waste is another’s raw product.
An American firm based in Houston is now doing just that – helping businesses get connected. RecycleMatch ains “to create an industrial ecosystem in which the use of energy and materials are optimized, waste is minimized, and there is an economically viable role for every product of a manufacturing process”. A noble goal.
Aimed at industrial-sized companies – fees are based on matching firms and then taking a cut of the cost per ton – it works more or less like a small ad in a newspaper or online. A company advertises its waste and someone else buys it. Simple.
According to the site three million pounds of waste materials have already been sold which would have otherwise ended up in landfill.