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37 posts from October 2011

October 06, 2011

Green Your Remodeling Project: Solar Panels

Harness the sun with solar Whether you're planning a complete home makeover or just moderately tweaking your living space, this week's tips will help you choose eco-friendly materials for your remodeling project.

Tip #4: Rethink your roof.

If you live in a sunny area and are renovating your home with efficiency in mind, consider adding solar panels to your roof. Sierra Club members who live in California can get a special deal on solar through a partnership with Sungevity and SunRun. For every home that goes solar through this program, the companies will donate $1,000 toward the Club's conservation efforts.

Tell us: Is solar an option in your region?

Photo by iStock/R-J-Seymour

October 05, 2011

Green Your Remodeling Project: Wall Coverings

Use low VOC paint Whether you're planning a complete home makeover or just moderately tweaking your living space, this week's tips will help you choose eco-friendly materials for your remodeling project.

Tip #3: Spruce up walls with nontoxic paper and paint.

Transform bare walls with a splash of zero- or low-VOC paint. If you want more texture, go for eco-friendly wallpaper: Look for recyclable, low-VOC paper printed with water-based inks. Commercial wallpaper paste may contain pesticides, so check out Care2's do-it-yourself recipe for nontoxic wallpaper paste.

Tell us: How do you refresh your walls?

Image by iStock/Kameel

October 04, 2011

Brazilian Blowout Under Investigation

IStock_000012573499XSmallThe federal government is investigating at least two hair-straightening products alleged to release unsafe amounts of formaldehyde into the air. A hazard alert issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) explained that the agency is investigating certain items made by the Brazilian Blowout company. The FDA also sent the company a warning letter in August of this year, asserting that selling these products violates the laws against “adulterated cosmetics” and “misbranded” products.

Based on the FDA’s sample analysis, Brazilian Blowout products contain liquid formaldehyde (methylene glycol), which releases formaldehyde into the air when heated with a blow dryer or flat iron, as the label instructs to do. OSHA performed air tests in hair salons; the results revealed levels of formaldehyde above OSHA limits. Both OSHA and the FDA also cited the products as being misbranded because labels say that the products are free of formaldehyde. The agencies began investigating when hair-salon owners and workers submitted questions and complaints.

Brazilian Blowout continues to assert that the levels of formaldehyde in its products do not rise to the level that these agencies claim, and counters that OSHA tests actually show results below OSHA levels. The company states on its website that it is communicating this to the FDA in response to the warning letter, and that its products do comply with all air-monitoring guidelines.

--Carolyn Cotney

Hey Mr. Green: Glass Recycling

Hey Mr. Green,

 Where I live, there is NO glass recycling. So is buying beverages in recyclable aluminum "greener" than buying non-recyclable glass? —Gerry, in New Orleans

Recycling glass is not easy in the Big Easy, because handling and transporting glass is not economically feasible, according to recycling contractors there. But take heart: It is indeed much greener to recycle aluminum containers than to send glass to the landfill. Although mining and manufacturing aluminum from scratch probably requires more energy than making glass (comparative studies on the subject disagree), recycling aluminum reduces aluminum’s energy use by a whopping 95 percent. Therefore, you come out way ahead when you recycle aluminum instead of dumping glass, in terms of energy conservation and greenhouse gas emission. Also, mining bauxite (aluminum ore) can be a dirty process, so recycling the metal helps reduce the environmental burden of mining.

You can also take solace in the fact that we now recycle more than 50 percent of the aluminum beverage containers in the United States, but then we throw away around 50 billion a year, or more than 700,000 tons of aluminum—enough, says the Container Recycling Institute, to build about 8,000 Boeing 747s. Progress or staggering waste? It depends on whether your proverbial beverage container is half full or half empty.

Continue reading "Hey Mr. Green: Glass Recycling" »

Green Your Remodeling Project: Windows

Window Whether you're planning a complete home makeover or just moderately tweaking your living space, this week's tips will help you choose eco-friendly materials for your remodeling project.

Tip #2: Opt for efficient windows.

Upgrade old windows with new panes that bear the Energy Star seal of approval, which could help you reduce energy bills by 15%. Then dress your windows to weather all seasons: Prepare for summer heat by installing awnings on south-facing windows. Keep winter chills at bay by caulking window-frame leaks and hanging heavy curtains to reduce drafts.

Share your tips: How do you weatherize your windows?

photo by iStock/sturti

October 03, 2011

Green Your Remodeling Project: Reclaimed Wood

Antique pine flooring from 1901 Whether you're planning a complete home makeover or just moderately tweaking your living space, this week's tips will help you choose eco-friendly materials for your remodeling project.

Tip #1: Choose wood with history.

Reclaimed hardwood floors create a warm, natural look without contributing to deforestation. Find a recycled lumber dealer in your region to locate sustainable wood for your building project. You might visit local salvage yards or even broker your own deal at a nearby demolition site. Be wary, however, of wood that's been tinted with toxic lead paint.

Tip #2: Opt for efficient windows.

Tip #3: Spruce up your wall coverings.

Tip #4: Rethink your roof.

Tell us: How have you greened a remodeling project?

Veggie Dating Site Filled with Carnivores

Not vegetarian Vegetarian singles have plenty of options when searching for a like-minded soul mate online, but at least one dating site — the UK-based Veggie Dates — uses the term "vegetarian" very loosely.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently cracked down on Veggie Dates after learning that most of the people in its database were actually meat eaters. Apparently, the non-vegetarian members were funneled into Veggie Dates by way of its parent company, Global Personals, which maintains more than 6,000 dating sites. According the Guardian, Veggie Dates claimed the phrase "meet single vegetarian men and women" wasn't misleading because they never used the word "only."

Unimpressed by this sneaky wordplay, the ASA ordered Veggie Dates to amend its misleading language. The site now caters to people who "lead a healthy lifestyle" and the homepage admits that site's operators  "cannot guarantee that non-vegetarians won't join the site."

--Della Watson


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