Friday, May 22, 2015

Smoking and Living Green

This month we've been focusing on clean air. Our first Change The World Wednesday challenge of May asked participants to stop smoking and/or not allow smoking in their homes.

So I wondered if "greenies" actually ban smoking from their lives. Here are the results of this month's survey:

Smoking and Living Green

Smoking and Living Green

Smoking and Living Green


  • I became a smoker when I was about 19 (my hubby at that time was too) but when I became pregnant at 20, I stopped cold turkey. He didn't smoke in the house but did think it was ok to smoke in the car if the window was open. My ex has stayed a smoker all these years while I never went back to the nasty habit. I had a few friends that smoked but no one ever did in our house. If they wanted to smoke, they were more than welcome to go in our garage or sit outside. It's always been the rule. No ifs or butts. Haha. I have two friends that use the e-cigs that I don't see very often but when they visit, they go outside, sit out on the porch, smoking the e-cigs while enjoyng the scenery and fresh air. ;)
  • When I was 18, I became a social smoker, as I called it. I smoked with my best friend, but that was it. Then I did start buying my own packs, but I'd only smoke 1 or 2 cigarettes & then throw the pack out. I'd always feel a huge amount of guilt, & I was also sick the next day after smoking a cigarette. I also have asthma - so this affected my breathing. I'd smoke once every month or two. Then in '94, when I was 24, I quit suddenly & haven't gone back to it since. I'm so very glad about that! It's a gross habit that makes everything smell & makes people ill. I can't even stand to be around cigarette smoke. I don't allow smoking anywhere near my doorway, although my friends can smoke elsewhere in the yard if they smoke. No one I spend any amount of time with smoke, but when I am with my smoking friends, they understand my need to not be with them when they smoke. :)
  • Although I've had cigarettes to my mouth when we were young and impressionable and thought it was cool, I can't say that I really inhaled--my lungs just didn't want to be bothered. I have an inordinate number of friends who smoke and they like nothing more than sitting in my yard, lighting up a few. I like hanging with my friends, but I always pay for it--the nicotine I breathe keeps me up at night, no question.
    My least favorite expeience with cigarette smoke has to be at restaurants with outdoor patios. I care not for the smell of smoke while I'm eating, or worse, having enjoyed a delightful meal in a restaurant, to be assaulted with smoke immediately upon exiting the establishment, as smoking is allowed out on the patio (and the only exit way).
    It's a habit I never acquired and surely don't understand. I am grateful that a couple of my friends are trying to quit and I know how hard that is for them. Now to work on the rest of them...
  • I was incredibly lucky - when I was about 15 and probably about to start trying cigarettes, my father was told to stop smoking for health reasons. I saw how difficult it was for him to stop, and so decided not to start. I'm glad I never did.
    I hate smoke, and won't have it anywhere near my home. I smell it a mile away.
    Plus, cigarettes contain formaldehyde - and who wants that around?
    Not to mention that the very same argument methods that were used to dispel the "myth" that smoking is bad for you and may cause cancer, are being used today against the dangers of climate change.

My Thoughts

100% of the 15 people who participated in this survey have banned smoking from their lives. That's great and I applaud them, especially since some of them tried smoking when they were younger and/or grew up in households where a parent smoked.

Are their responses typical of the green-living community? Maybe not!

I realized a flaw in these questions ... smokers probably didn't answer them. Since smoking is generally viewed as a "negative", there wasn't a motivation to participate in this survey. After all, no one is going to congratulate them for their actions and admitting their habit opens the door to a lot of bad "vibes".

In all fairness, the questions were one sided!

Not long ago, I met a man who was very involved in establishing alternative energy sources. He was passionate about the environment and cautioned everyone that "our" abuse of nature would cost us dearly. He admonished people to make changes now ... otherwise nature would fight back to our peril.

I learned that this person is a smoker. It boggled my mind that an environmentalist could be so passionate in one area but totally negligent in another.

My Conclusions

Living green is about educating ourselves and doing the best we can to protect the environment. Their are some grey areas. For example, many "greenies" struggle with buying Eco-friendly products which aren't made locally. And do we toss out a usable item because it isn't green and buy something new which is? Our choices aren't always clear cut.

In my opinion, however, smoking doesn't fall into the grey area. It's pollution ... period! And I further believe that true environmentalists embrace all green-living concepts ... not just the ones that suit them. Does that mean that we are perfect? Not at all! It means that as we learn about what does and doesn't hurt our world, we make every attempt to live by that knowledge.

Smoking hurts the environment. A true environmentalist will make every effort to ban the practice from his or her life!

Thanks to everyone who participated!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Deforestation

Welcome to Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)!

Wondering how to live greener? You've come to the right place. Each week we challenge ourselves to try a new task ... or "amp up" something we're already doing. We raise our awareness, learn from each other and develop Eco-friendly skills which will improve our lives and protect our planet. Doing so together gives us power ... the power to Change The World!

If this is your first visit, please click HERE for information and a complete list of all the challenges we've taken on so far.

This post contains great information and I encourage you to read through it at your leisure ... however, if you are short on time, you might find the following quick links helpful:

Last week's challenge was one of my favorites ... adding house plants to our indoor environment. Plants offer us so much ... they are beautiful, calming, and clean our air. While I don't use chemicals in my home, I learned something interesting this week ... citrus oils can contain approximately 90% limonene. Limonene is a terpene and terpenes react with ozone to form formaldehyde and other micro-particle pollutants. This seems more likely to happen during the warmer months. So, for those of us who like to add citrus essential oils to our cleaning solutions, it is possible that the oils may encourage the formation of toxins in our homes. This isn't something to be overly concerned about, especially since we probably use relatively low amounts of the oils. That said, it's a good practice to always open the windows when cleaning and add house plants to our homes.

The Honor Society are those people who help us spread the "green" word by writing an article about our challenges and/or leaving pertinent comments.

Lady JC joined us and shared this: "I have Mother in Law's tongue in our bedroom and I think I'll get a second air cleaning plant for the kitchen, which can produce harmful pollutants when cooking with gas. Thank you so much for the other plant suggestions. I didn't know about the Arecas or ferns! :) "

Even though Marla has house plants, she's ready to accept the challenge. Here are her comments: "I have about 4 spider plants in my home, 1 large piece lily, and a number of ivy plants, 2 aloe vera plants (which are also on NASA list as an air purifier). Gerber Daisy plants are a good air purifier but I don't have one but have wanted to buy one - so I will do that. Plants are also great to help your mood especially in the winter when the winter blues hit."

Andie stopped by and said this: "I used to have dozens of house plants before I had my own outdoor garden, but not for a number of years. Now I am inspired to fill my home with greenery again!"

Winsford Gardens brought us some interesting information: "A paper published last year in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, [Vol 20(3), Sep 2014] concluded that employees were 15% more productive when workplaces are filled with just a few houseplants. 15% more productive employees is something that managers can only dream of. The devise bonuses, employee incentives, benefits, rewards, perks and motivational programs to increase productivity when all they really needed to do was to buy a few indoor plants!!!"

cstocks shared some information which is valuable to people suffering with asthma: "Great inspiration for just feeling good. I had been told a long time ago that spider plants are good for asthmatics. When my son had respiratory problems, and lived back east, they were nearly mandatory in the house. They're harder to grow here--inside or out--in the desert southwest. Yet, I try. It's the time of year that I move the houseplants out to our patio spaces, but I have a sansevieria in the bedroom, always--it grows under just about any condition. I'll get another! Or something else. I'll never argue with an excuse to "have" to buy a plant! What fun! And I've been rooting cuttings of coleus. It's great to have a plant and they are so colorful."

Does Morag have a quest for us? She sure does: "As one of our World Changers said when he completed our "CATCHING FREE RADICAL" challenge it's wonderful that plants beat chemicals when it comes to air quality. If you have done this #ctww then you have also done level 1 of this quest: The second and third levels? To propagate more and then give them away! Go on - I know you know someone or somewhere (an office perhaps) that could do with more plants :) "

Alicia stopped by and shared this: "We have a five foot Ming Aralia and a seven foot ficus tree. Not only are they pretty but I know that they are helping our air quality. We had a really nice Phoenix Robellini palm that didn't do well inside winter before last. They are usually pretty hearty so I'm not sure what happened, After reading this I am sure ready for us to get a few more palms to have inside!"

Our Twitter friend, @GreenGymPenge, joined the conversation and shared the following:

-Plants in offices increase happiness and productivity via @shivmalik

The #CTWW Gang are those folks who tweet our challenges using the hashtag #CTWW. If you're a Twitter member, I recommend following them ... they share great things. Let's meet them:

@alisha1234m @beatepdx @biggreenpen
@blockmomnc @bstoneblog @collegegogreen
@eshuth455 @freshcleanersaz @ginavalley
@greenageworld @greengympenge @greenqueenofmod
@gronavra @groovygreenlivi @herbgir1972
@innervationfit @justanotherhat @kaitlingarder
@kayelleallen @laalicia @lady_bren
@ladyjcmuses @marjoriemcatee @mdgblogger
@mimibarbour @moha_doha @momfindsout
@msmoreau_guid @nolafusion @pooja_y_jain
@potnall @rckweddings @realityarts
@ronchatterjee7 @rose_rambles @rulesofgreen
@snickerdoo2 @spafloating @sustyq
@theworld4realz @tiffanywashko @timhemlin
@treesgroup @turkishtravel @wary12
@wencdj @wimpyvegetarian @worldchangingme

My Final Thoughts:

Adding a house plant to our indoor environment is an easy, effective way to clean our air. While one can spend a lot of money at a nursery, it isn't necessary. Plants can be propagated from cuttings, started from seeds, or shared from a mother plant which produces offspring. So ask a friend, or share with a friend. It's a fun way to ensure that we all improve the quality of our air.

Thanks, everyone! If you wrote an article, I Stumbled, Tweeted, Facebooked and posted it on Google +. You can help spread the "green" word by using the share features located below this post.

This Week's Challenge:

May's theme is: Clean Air

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Deforestation
Rainforests improve
global air quality
Trees absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), using it for plant structure and function. They then return oxygen to the environment.

Unfortunately, forests throughout the world are in jeopardy.

Farmers are slashing and burning forests to grow lucrative crops like soy or to graze herds of beef. The slash and burn process not only removes oxygen-producing trees, but further contaminates the air when the stored CO2 is released. Smoke from fires also pollutes the air.

Areas, rich in gold, copper, and aluminum, are being cleared for mining.

Old-growth timber and rare hardwoods are being harvested for the manufacture of furniture.

Here's your challenge ...

This week, avoid products which contribute to deforestation such as palm oil, non-organic soy, and beef. Read labels to ensure that these products are not in the food you purchase. Avoid virgin paper products and opt for products with 100% post consumer recycled content ... or better yet, go paperless. If you're planning to buy furniture, consider pieces made from rubber, bamboo, or recycled materials rather than wood ... or buy used items. Avoid any products containing gold, copper, or aluminum.

Are you ready to protect forests? I know that you are!

Until next time ...


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Guest Post - Linoleum Could Be the Best Flooring for an Environmentally Sustainable Home


As a home builder, I know that choosing your flooring can be one of the hardest parts of decorating the interior of your home. The first step is to choose what type of flooring that you want –tile, carpet, or a beautiful hardwood. Many home owners choose linoleum flooring for the desirable sustainable qualities and modern appeal.

Linoleum Could Be the Best Flooring for an Environmentally Sustainable Home

Linoleum is made from linseed oil, rosin (from pine trees), wood flour, limestone, pigments and jute. Linseed oil is obtained from flax, and is the most essential ingredient in linoleum. Rosin is a binding agent, and contributes to the flexibility of linoleum. Jute is used for the backing material. In residential housing, it can be seen in kitchens, bathrooms, utility rooms and mud rooms. It also is commonly used in commercial buildings, like schools and hospitals, for its durability and anti-bacterial qualities.

What makes linoleum environmentally friendly?

The most popular aspect of linoleum is how Eco-friendly it is:
  • Linoleum is made from renewable, natural materials
  • Pigments used do not contain heavy metals
  • Overall low toxicity levels
  • Can be installed with environmentally-friendly adhesives
  • Has a lifespan of typically 25-40 years, meaning less waste
  • When it comes time to replace your linoleum. it is easily recyclable, making it part of a closed-loop system

This is an impressive list of Eco-friendly qualities!

What are some other need-to-know facts about linoleum?

Linoleum has many other great qualities, aside from being green:
  • Low-maintenance
  • Through-body product, so it wears well and can be easily repaired with little expense
  • Contains natural anti-bacterial and anti-static properties
  • Comes in a variety of colors and patterns to fit many design styles
  • Can be installed in tiles, planks and sheets
  • Can be used for other applications besides flooring, such as counters and wall panels

Linoleum Could Be the Best Flooring for an Environmentally Sustainable Home

How does linoleum compare to vinyl flooring?

Each type of flooring surface has unique qualities and vary in their aesthetics, maintenance, and applications.

The words linoleum and vinyl are commonly used interchangeably, but these two products have major differences, even if not everyone knows them. In fact, these two products couldn’t be more different! Vinyl is a synthetic petroleum-based product, and does not contain the same environmental qualities as linoleum. Though vinyl is generally less expensive than linoleum, it typically isn’t as durable or long lasting.

Who makes linoleum?

Forbo Flooring Systems is one of the major producers of linoleum products.

You may have heard of Marmoleum. Marmoleum is part of the linoleum collection, which includes many patterns, such as marbled designs, concrete and solid colors. I love using Marmoleum when I am adding a modern appeal to an Eco-friendly design.

Other things to consider about linoleum:

  • Some people may find they are sensitive to the scent of linseed oil, especially after it is first installed.
  • Linoleum may develop a yellow hue on the surface from the oxidation of the linseed oil; this yellowing will disappear after exposure to light, however.
  • Generally, you will want to use a mild cleaning solution as linoleum is susceptible to alkalinity.
Linoleum is a great product. We love the look and, most importantly, the abundance of green qualities it offers!

This article was provided by Arbor Builders