The Logmaker Eco Product Review

September 15, 2010

There is nothing better than having a roaring fire on the go during those cold winter months. Not only does an open fire warm a room quickly and effectively but the dancing flames and crackling sounds are soothing after a long day at work.

Cheap and cost effective logs

Keeping a fire going strong uses up many logs, which can be expensive and if not sourced naturally can be damaging to the environment. Step in the Logmaker a great little gadget that can save you money while at the same time reducing your household waste. In fact, the makers of the Logmaker claim that it can reduce your household waste by 30%.

Shredded junk mail, paper, newspaper, wrappings from food and household products, cardboard, tissue, nuts, tea bags, used coffee beans and all your burnable garden waste can be used as fuel for fire.

Depending on the materials used, your handmade logs could burn for up to one hour.

Easy to use

The Logmaker has a simple design, which makes it easy to load and use. It works on a plunger system whereby you line the Logmaker with some newspaper and seal the bottom end by pressing the plunger on the top. You then fill the Logmaker with your burnable household waste that you have collected; pressing on the plunger every now and then to compress the contents and keep it compacted.

To eject the recycled log you simply reverse the operation. The ends of the log are then twisted or slightly wetted to seal them and you have your first homemade free fuel supply. There is no waiting around for wood to dry, no seasoning, just instant useable logs.

Not only is the Logmaker great for use around the house but also because it is small and compact, it can be used when on camping trips or just for barbeques down the park.

Logmaker tip

Another great thing about the Logmaker is that while you are making your logs, instead of just putting in your recyclable items, why not add a stick of cinnamon or vanilla to create a beautiful smell while it burns. You can add any of your favorite spices as long as they will burn safely in an open fire.

The Logmaker is a great gift for someone who has an open fire in their house or just enjoys barbequing during the long hot summer days.

The Logmaker is available over the internet and retails at around $30. Delivery is fast and because it is small in size and weight, it does not cost the earth to ship.

CompoSphere – Garden waste composter

September 8, 2010

I don’t know if you are like me but don’t you find that the biggest problem with having a compost heap in your garden is that it is static! You pick a corner of your garden, probably hidden away behind some lovely bushes, throw all your garden waste in a pile and then spend most of your free time running to and from your compost heap. If you are like me, you tend to end up having mini-compost heaps all over the garden, which starts to look messy.

A ball of fun

Some clever person must have been experiencing the same problems because they went ahead and invented one of the coolest garden accessories that I have seen on the market in very long time.

The CompoSphere is a lightweight ball that made from 100% recycled plastic and designed to hold 312 liters of garden waste. At the top is an easy twist lid, which means no messing around with latches. The designers were clever enough to ensure that the loading opening is big enough to fit a spade so there is no need to struggle trying to fill the tumbler and big items are easy to place inside it. The tumbler can also be separated into two hemispheres for easy storage and transport.

Spinning around

The CompoSphere works on a very simple and effective principal, the more you turn your compost, the quicker it degrades. This tumbling is necessary to improve circulation and to disperse the rotting matter evenly thereby speeding up the process. It has been proven that regularly turned compost degrades much quicker than compost that is left stationary. With the CompoSphere this is done automatically whenever you roll the ball to where you are working in the garden.

The spherical shape is also great if you have back problems or just cannot lift heavy items. If you do not have a wheelbarrow or are unable to push one, the CompoSphere is just what you need. All you need to do it give your CompoSphere a gentle push in the right direction and off you go and because it is a ball, even when it is full it is easy to maneuver.

It is such fun even your kids will want to help!

The CompoSphere can be purchased from most online garden sites and retail for around $140. Originally only available in black they now come in green to match your garden.

Lastly, when your CompoSphere arrives and you have assembled it, jump in and have a roll around the garden before you start using it. There is no point in saving all the fun for just your potato peels and grass cuttings.

Eco-lawnmowers Product Review

July 7, 2010

It’s that time of year again, when the garden blooms in to life and all the plants and flowers grow faster than you can keep up with them. I love this time of year, but also know that my garden will take much more effort to maintain, to keep it looking good throughout the summer months.

In an effort to become more green this year, I’ve switched from a traditional lawnmower to a manual one, which may sound like hard work but is actually working out really well.

The advantages of eco-mowers

Manual lawnmowers have a number of benefits when compared with petrol or electric versions. Whereas with an electric mower you have to plug it in, get an extension lead, and make sure you don’t cut through the wire (as I have a habit of doing), you can simply get your manual mower out of the shed, and start cutting the grass. Petrol is bad for the environment and also creates odor and noise, whereas a good old-fashioned manual mower is a stress-free, green and quiet way of keeping your grass cut beautifully.

Despite what you may think, manual mowers actually give a better cut than most electric or petrol versions. Their cylinders are designed for clean cutting, which lets your grass heal quicker following a good mow. This makes your lawn more green, healthier, and much nicer to look at.

Manual mowers are easy to look after, as they have fewer parts which are susceptible to breakdowns so they are light on maintenance. They are usually very easy to use, being a little lighter in terms of weight than electric or petrol versions, and create no CO2 emissions to damage the environment. You don’t risk upsetting the neighbors when you mow late in to the evening, as they are silent. Finally, you get a little more exercise when you use a manual mower, which makes you feel smug, too.

Convinced, yet?

My mower of choice is the Brill Razorcut Premium 38 Eco Lawn Mower, which is lightweight, sturdy and does a superb job of my lawn. It has a contact-free mowing system which makes for a neat. Smooth finish, and is quietly effective.

You can buy the Brill Razorcut Premium 38 around £109 making it an investment for many years of lush green grass and eco-friendly mowing.

World’s Best Cat Litter Review

February 24, 2010

A review of something I haven’t personally test per-se, but my cat has. World’s Best Cat Litter has a great name, and has some claimed green credentials. Most normal cat litter is made from natural clay (or sodium bentonite), which is formed into pellets and dried. The clay is strip mined from the earth in a destructive process that leaves a indelible mark on our environment.

The corn used to produce the World’s Best Cat Litter are the same corn varieties approved by the USDA /EPA/FDA, and EU European Union for food use. This corn is also used to produce many ingredients, including corn sweeteners, food starches, corn oil, used in the production of high quality food and pharmaceutical products. This corn and/or its components are also used in the production of animal feeds.

Since the corn used is all natural and biodegradable, it is very safe for people, pets and the environment. There is no silica dust for you and your cat to breath in, if your pet ingests the litter it is digestible (so no need to be concerned about intestinal blockages), and over time the litter will naturally degrade and not be sitting in a landfill 100 years from now.

It claims to have unsurpassed odor control, and while it wasn’t the best in the world on that score, it wasn’t bad and not really noticeable as we clean the box regularly. Some people said their cats have not liked the texture, but ours didn’t seem bothered. It’s flushable but I didn’t try that as there’s no point (and I think it’s still not recommended in California at least).

Clumping was pretty good and scooping not a problem, overall it worked well. I would prefer to some degree that it wasn’t made of edible whole kernel corn that could be used for human food, rather than cat’s waste, perhaps looking at using some sort of inedible corn by-product.

You can buy it now from Amazon and pet stores of course!

EcoSMART Organic Insecticide Product Review

February 26, 2009

I’m not a big fan of the word insecticide, it conjures images of harsh chemicals sprayed onto the food I eat. However when asked to test Organic Ant & Roach Killer by EcoSMART, it was a good opportunity as I have an ant problem.

It’s listed as being non-toxic which is not quite true, it’s toxic to ants and roaches and certainly does kill them! It’s not toxic to your pets and kids (and you!), though as with anything I wouldn’t spray it in your eyes… It’s certainly less toxic than most commercial insecticides. The organic part refers to the treatment of the plant ingredients that are used, it’s classed as a Minimal-Risk pest control product, as all ingredients are “food-grade” and regarded as “Generally Recognized As Safe” by the USDA.

EcoSmart Organic insecticide

The ants that are invading my home certainly didn’t like it, I sprayed it around entry points in the hope they get the message that they’re not welcome. As far as I can tell it worked great. Technically it works when the plant oil gets inside of the insect’s exoskeleten and blocks the octopamine neuroreceptor sites, causing the little fellas to die. Well, it is called Organic Ant & Roach Killer.

They also make cool, safe, insect repellent without using harsh chemicals like DEET. While there are other home-made alternatives, such as vinegar or boric acid and sugar, if you’re wanting to buy an off-the-shelf product and aren’t looking to poison your family, then take a look at this.

EcoSMART will point you to the nearest store, but in my area places like Albertsons, Ralphs, Food4Less in the US have it, or you can get it from Amazon in a two pack.

Arena Flowers Bouquet Eco Product Review

June 13, 2008

Arena Flowers are the first florists in the UK to offer ethically sourced Fair Flowers Fair Plants (FFP) products. A bit about FFP was written by Arena Flowers’ marketing analyst, Adarsh Rangaswamy, on Green Girls Global. He says:

FFP logo

“Fair Flowers Fair Plants (FFP) is a European initiative which addresses historic shortcomings by creating a level playing field for all producers by setting uniform, global standards. One of the unique features of FFP is its emphasis on auditing the entire supply chain to regulate the use of pesticides, land, energy and the working environment. Furthermore, it also offers flexibility to florists to source their produce either from flower auctions or directly, through FFP compliant growers. This latter approach, favoured by ArenaFlowers.com where possible, guarantees fresher floral produce, reduced wastage and a happier customer (key!). In the longer term, FFP’s aim is to unify all existing standards to make it simple for growers, traders and consumers. We’re proud to say that we are the first UK florist to sell FFP-accredited products and have now launched an ethical category featuring all our whiter than white products.”

Flowers 1

While you can get Fair Trade Flowers too, FFP flowers are also ethical and as I normally only buy British blooms, I thought I’d give Arena Flowers a go and Adarsh was happy to oblige. Thankfully he included chocolates and wine as opposed to a balloon and cuddly toy but I was delighted with the results. I was sent the Bright and Cheery bouquet which was a visual delight.

Not only did it look great, but the smell of the roses is lovely and the lilies will open in a couple of days – I can’t wait. In the UK flowers are seen as more of a luxury item than in other countries, but receiving a bunch like this for the home reminded me why I get them. They brighten up the room, delight the girlfriend and coming with flower food, they’ll last a while. If you’re going to buy flowers anyway, why not make sure they’re ethical? It’s estimated that more than 18 million Fair Trade stems were sold in the UK in 2005 so there’s certainly a market for FFP-accredited flowers.

Flowers2

Arena Flowers has its own blog, a sister site in the Netherlands and you can send internationally too.

The Bright and Cheery selection costs £34.99 with the vase, wine and chocolates extra, but no delivery charge.

Stubby Pencil Studio Eco Stationery Review

April 30, 2008

My local Wal-Mart may spell it’s Stationery department “Stationary” (I’ve haven’t been in for a year until last week and it still hasn’t changed – or for that matter, moved), but I’m certain that stationery is the correct word for pens, pencils and paper.

Stubby Pencil Studio Green To The Letter Kit

Stubby Pencil Studio provide eco-friendly stationery and art supplies, 100% recycled cards and invitations and unique non-toxic gifts and kits. They sent us lots of great stuff for adults and kids alike.

Smencils (made by Smencil World) are gourmet scented pencils made from 100% recycled newspaper. They come in normal (#2 graphite) pencil versions and colored pencils. As you can see from the picture to the right they come in individual tubes, which does increase packaging (though is recyclable), but on the other hand stops you becoming overcome with fumes from the (environmentally friendly created) smell. The ones we got came with the following smells: chocolate, grape, orange, very berry, bubble gum, cherry, root beer, cotton candy, watermelon and tropical burst. And you know what? The kids love them. I mean LOVE them. The colored Smencils come in their own pencil case too (picture below), the color of the smell relating to the color of the pencil. I think I may be addicted to very berry flavor.

We also tested Prang Fun Pro Soybean Crayons that unlike traditional petroleum-based crayons, are crayons made from all natural pigments and soybean oil (AP certified non-toxic).It’s been a long while since I used a crayon last but apparently they’re great.

To test these products we were also given some fantastic color ‘n kids cards. These are eco-friendly cards for kids to color, trace the letters, and create their own greetings. Printed on heavy, 100% post consumer waste stock, they have cute black and white illustrations on the cards to encourage do-it-yourself card making for young children and grown ups alike. I didn’t feel at all embarrassed writing my age on the back! Interactive, educational, and green! There are ones for all occasions, thank yous, birthday greetings, get well cards, notes to teachers, valentines, Easter…. These were really fun too.

Stubby Pencil Studio Green To The Letter Kit

Another way of testing them was to color in a Made By Me™ kit, which is a do-it-yourself wooden toy kit. We had the bug, but they’re also available as a train or race car. The kit includes a 4″ long unfinished, sanded smooth pine shaped body, and 4 natural wheels and axles, all you need is some glue, a hammer, paints, crayons, markers, stickers and imagination (and to be over 3 years old).

Smencils cost $5 for 5, Colored Smencils $14 for 10, color n’ kids cards from $0.80 and sets for $7.95 and Made By Me™ kits only $4 from Stubby Pencil Studio. If you kids love using drawing and you want to do it in a green way, then give them a try. I’m off to try a watermelon smencil….

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