Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Paper Towels

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 a real "eye opener". We've had our furniture for a long time so it is, simply because of its age, Eco-friendly. When it was purchased, however, I didn't know about the chemicals used in foam cushions or that varnish contains pollutants. I never thought about the origin of the wood, whether the fabric was harmful to the planet, or where the pieces were manufactured. And, I bought brand new pieces rather than shop for second-hand items. Even though I am more Eco-conscious today, I haven't thought much about furniture. This challenge changed that and raised my awareness. I have no problem buying "used". For anything new, I'll definitely be thinking about the things I've learned this week and will shop accordingly.

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.

One of your articles, from our two-outfit challenge, got mentioned in The Ilona E Daily. Was it yours?

I'd like to welcome Eco Chic Sense to CTWW. She shares this comment: "I'm an eco-friendly interior designer located in NYC and I love your next challenge! If anyone needs help or further advice on how to furnish your home in an eco-friendly way.... feel free to reach out to me. Also, if your looking for further insight- check out my blog, Eco-Chic Sense, with great tips and techniques on how to design your home in an eco-friendly way."

Argentum Vulgaris (AV) recently bought two new items for his home. They are typically made with a lot of plastic but AV was able to search out more Eco-friendly versions. In Change the World Wednesday – 12th Mar, he talks about his purchases, where he stands on light bulbs, and shares an analysis of his home furnishings.

Welcome to DWhiteCreations. She says, "I had been on the fence about rayon, not any longer...thanks for the information".

Alicia joined us and shares this, "Well we have got the light bulb thing down really well but the home furnishings I am embarrassed to say we need improvement on. I am blessed that my husband has built us some tables and a cabinet from recycled wood. He even made us some tables from left over hardwood flooring that are really cute. We have a few pieces of furniture that was handed down from both sets of parents. Otherwise we have bought the rest of the furniture without thinking very Eco Friendly. I decided a few months ago that I am going to do my best to start buying lamps, tables and other furniture off of Craigs List. There is such a wide variety there that I think it is going to be easy to find the things I want. A lot of the things we use in the kitchen are Eco Friendly but I am making a real effort to change to more sustainable and recycled products throughout the house. This is a good challenge to make us all aware about what we are using in our homes!"

Those of you who know Lois know that she lives minimally and is a super-star in the upcycling arena. She's also constantly looking for ways to improve. In Change the World Wednesday, A Recap, she analyzes her decor. She points out what works, areas for improvement, and how she saves money in the process.

Why are second-hand furnishings Eco-friendly? Check out Aimee's (aka EcoGrrl's) comment: "Ha - never saw last week's post but couldn't have participated as I was in the garden so there's no way with how scrappy I get and having to visit clients :) This week - yes! I have a 10 year old leather (don't cringe!) sofa & chair that I am dying to replace that I'd bought at Z Gallerie as my divorce present to myself. Problem is that the cushions can't be removed so I can't restuff them, so will ultimately have to sell it on Craigslist or donate to Community Warehouse. As far as finding a replacement, to stay green and in a reasonable budget (all the eco sofas I've seen are $3-5K minimum, it's scary), I'll probably to go to a consignment store, so over 2014 I'll be checking out those stores instead. While a consignment or similar second-hand sofa won't necessarily be made of eco-materials, it'll have zero carbon footprint because no new materials will be made. As for the rest of my house, I'm a minimalist, so I don't have much else beyond the same bookshelves I've had for 15 years and the coffee table is one my fiance built for me out of a repurposed media cabinet :) "

Melanie joined us and shared this: "My husband and I have switched all of our lights to energy efficient bulbs. We've also taken time to insulate our house well to insure energy efficiency to reduce the amount our heater/ac runs. As for decor & furnishings, much of our house is filled with upcycled, reclaimed or repurposed items-- such as our tables, cabinets, and shelves just to name a few. A lot of our decor comes from eco-friendly handmade small businesses as well. We are doing what we can, and learning more, to be eco friendly!" By the way, Melanie is celebrating the 3-year anniversary of her shop, Violet's Buds, and on Thursday, March 20th, she'll be a hosting a wonderful giveaway. Prizes include Eco-friendly products from a bunch of great companies. So mark your calendars and check it out!

Clare accepted the challenge and said, "It took us a while with the light bulbs - we rent a rather quirky house and every light fitting seems to use a different bulb, aargh! Anyway, we finally finished that project last year. Home decor - hmmm, definitely not 100% on that! Our main lounge furniture is on its 3rd re-cover / refurb so that qualifies as "well-used" I think. But we have bought a couple of new things since moving here - when you're in a new country you don't know where to source things. Now we know where to buy 2nd hand, altho' very limited. Thanks Small for this challenge, you've got me working on this one! I've got a blog post with some tips on eco-friendly storage and even some really great-looking furniture made from - wait for it - cardboard! See it here:".

Mary stopped by our aerator challenge and said, "Great post! So thrilled to see people being responsible and taking action. Thanks for sharing."

Via Triberr, Alaiyo shared this comment: "This is a topic I've wondered about. Thanks for writing about it!"

Deborah and I have been chatting, this week, about how she could participate in CTWW. She embraced the concept and shared this about our last couple of challenges: " Hi All, Looking back at the last 7 days, I had no problem wearing two basic black items which are a loose black cotton knit top and black cotton knit harem pants. They are comfy and easy to keep fresh with a quick wash while I am showering at night. I am currently studying sustainable fashion design and ecofriendly textiles, so my next big challenge in the clothing arena is to research cost-effective sources for hemp clothing which is considered more environmentally-friendly than even organic cotton. I will be blogging about some of my favorite hemp clothing resources and options very soon. I also wrote a post about the topic of toxin fashion: Are You a Fashion Victim? "10 Healthy Reasons to Avoid the Toxic Side of Fashion & Wear Organic Clothing" --- which you might find of interest. With regards to the sustainable home decor challenge, we have switched to CFL bulbs in our home but I am now doing more research and considering replacing CFLs with LEDs as they burn out. LEDs have some significant advantages over CFLs are are considered safer. I will be writing more about the benefits of LEDs soon. The subject of eco friendly decor is one of my favorites. We are working on replacing old furnishings in our home with ecofriendly ones as they wear out. An eco friendly mattress is probably our most important next purchase so I plant to research the best options and write about that soon. We also need a new shower curtain so I have been researching eco friendly ones. It is amazing how expensive some of them are, so I am looking for the most cost-effective green options and may try to make my own hemp shower curtain. More to come on that project... It is critically important to reduce exposure to the harmful materials and toxins in many of our home furnishings and building materials. It is vital to our health that we improve our indoor air quality. I wrote a few blog posts about some eco friendly home furnishing options including: 8 Great Way's to Make Your Kitchen Greener" -; "Green Your Decor with CB2 Recycled Home Furnishings" -; and "AfroChic Ecofriendly Home Collection" I am trying to apply the green principles of reuse, repurpose and upcycle as much as possible so a number of green DIY projects are planned in the coming months. Thank you so much for sharing Reduce Footprints' valuable and inspiring green content and Change the World Wednesday Challenges on the Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural Blog Hop! I appreciate it!" Speaking of the Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural Blog Hop, Deborah gave CTWW a nice mention in this week's "hop". Check it out ... and add your posts to the list!

Sunflowers & Edibles gave CTWW a nice mention and included at least one of your tweets. Be sure to browse the rest of the paper ... some of our favorite "greenies" have been featured.

Mrs. Green stopped in and said, "I hope I'm in time SF; I had a lot of fun with this challenge and I invite you and your readers to come and sit on my (secondhand) sofa with me :)". I accepted Mrs. Green's invitation, took my shoes off at the door, left my glass of red wine in the kitchen, and entered Chez Green's lounge. It was a lovely visit and Mrs. Green was quite candid about the origins of her furniture. Her invitation includes you ... she's a delightful hostess ... so head over for a visit.

Our Twitter friends joined the conversation and shared the following:

From @GiveTreeGifts
- Guide to Buying Green Furniture
- Green Furniture
- Eco-Friendly Furniture - Demystifying Shopping for Sustainable Home Furnishings
- CHEMICAL-FREE FURNISHINGS: Being mindful of chemicals in the products you furnish your home with can...

From @laalicia
- love this use of old tires

From @pberk
- RT @SimpsonDoor Cool ideas for re-using everyday items for home decor @renovate_ideas:

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:

@2kidsandacoupon @a_kiasi @allnaturalkatie
@angelosurmelis @anitaadamsnc @aussierichluck
@barrydarrdixon @beakunz @beatepdx
@befeld13 @bg_garden @biggreenpen
@bike2power @billindursky @bstoneblog
@clothaddicts @collegegogreen @conservationm
@convetit @counselorholley @davidquickbooks
@debsmikdav1 @decor8yourlife2 @dehelen
@designlifenet @dieselelephants @ecoexpert1
@ecothrifty @etsnetworksinc @familybetty
@familyfocusblog @francisphyl @frederickbrooke
@ginavalley @givetreegifts @green_vibes
@greenforu @greeningforward @greensmart
@gregorspeaks @groovygreenlivi @guayaba
@halliegrace2 @healthfulmama @herbgir1972
@herbspecialist @janmoran @jnjgogreen
@johannamhaack @kaitlingarder @karensromance
@kayelleallen @kgimson @krmbalclothing
@laalicia @ladyjcmuses @ladyladuke
@larlegal @leslieveg @lorcadamon
@loridennisinc @lschreurs @lu_and_ed
@madeinusablog @mamapoolecooks @marcelajersey
@marikokoloco @marjoriemcatee @mimibarbour
@mindfulmomma @momfindsout @momgamerwriter
@monicapedersen9 @nikidanforth @nolafusion
@ourfavadventure @pamela_o_plays @pberk
@perithelabel @perkins0039 @phebeohyes
@pinkladyapril @proamusa @rckweddings
@realityarts @reginald_chan @rozdb
@rulesofgreen @sensuouspromos @sfcouncil
@shannongrissom @sophie2978 @soulfullab
@spafloating @storylinepr @tbasecomm
@tbaseedu @theurbannatura1 @theworld4realz
@treesgroup @turningclockbac @tweetpegasus
@vintagejunk_fm @violetsbuds @walruswinks
@wencdj @wheeliesmom @whopaysthepiper
@whywelovegreen @withinyourhands @yfnjman
@zaidabeauchesne @zenfarmz

My Final Thoughts:

I am reminded, once again, that everything has an environmental cost. Furnishing our homes is, for many people, about comfort and beauty. We enter a store with color schemes and styles in mind, looking for pieces which reflect our tastes and personalities. Each piece has a history. Perhaps the wood was sourced from the rainforest. Maybe the brilliant colors were created using harmful chemicals. And that comfortable, overstuffed chair has probably been treated with fire retardants. Knowing the environmental price of our decor changes the game. Our beautiful furnishings don't seem quite so comfortable when they have been created using non-Eco-friendly materials and methods. It is said that ignorance is bliss. I say that ignorance is dangerous. Let's make it a point to know the facts ... and live accordingly.

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:

Eliminate paper towels for Change The World Wednesday.
Can you give up paper towels?
We've had a couple of hard challenges, so let's tackle something a bit easier. Well ... easy for some! Here you go ...

This week, do not use or buy any paper towels or napkins. Instead, use cloth napkins and cleaning rags.

OR ...

If you never use paper towels or napkins, please review your paper use and determine if there are other ways for you to conserve. Can you use less toilet paper? Could you say "no" to printed receipts? What about printer paper, gift wrap, magazines and catalogs ... can you give them up? Choose at least one area where improvements could be made.

OR ...

If you've basically eliminated paper from your life, please share your tips and ideas for doing so.

Are you up for this challenge? I know that you are!!

Sneak Peek: Are you ready for Spring? It starts tomorrow!

Until then ...