Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Time to say Goodbye

Recently, writers of several television programs have announced the end of the series. When asked why, they replied that "it was time".

That is how I feel about Reduce Footprints ... it's time for me to end the series.

It's been a terrific run. Since 2008, generous readers have shared their knowledge and experiences with me. In turn, I've tried to research various issues and open them up for discussion. Together we've done our best to live a green life and encourage others to do the same.

We have much to be proud of.

While there is, and will always be, more to say about the environment and green living, I've chosen to step back.

So what's next for me and Reduce Footprints?

The Reduce Footprints blog will stay right here. There are reviews, recipes, guest posts, and many other articles which will always be available. I won't, however, be publishing any new content. In the future, should I find that I want to start a new blog or start writing again, I'll announce it here. But in all honesty, I don't see that happening.

For my part, I'm going to get away from the computer and head outdoors. Becoming a home owner and having over one hectare of land has breathed new enthusiasm into my life. I want to garden and forage for edible foods. I want to be close to the land and discover nature in all it's glory. And that takes time ... time which, until today, has generally been spent on research, words, and maintaining an online presence.

I'll occasionally be online, visiting your sites, and will always be open to emails from you should you have a question or just want to say "hi".

So this is goodbye!

Thank you all for a fabulous seven years!

I wish you happiness, joy, and wonderful "green" surprises around every corner!

Reduce Footprints says Goodbye!

Affectionately yours,


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Guest Post - Comparing the renewable energy markets in the UK and US

In the UK renewable energy appears to be progressing in leaps and bounds. In the beautiful countryside solar farms are popping up on an almost weekly basis. Companies are embracing the need for and cost efficiency of renewable technology. The European Union Renewable Energy Directive has pushed Europe to making 20% of all its energy consumption from renewables by 2020.

But how fair things across the pond? And are the renewable energy appetites being shared between the US and UK?

With these questions in mind I thought I’d delve a little into renewable energy progress in the UK and the US – to see what lessons can be learned.

The US Renewable Energy Program

US capacity for renewable energy generation currently sits at roughly 10GW – nearly 2 million homes worth of electricity.

At the end of 2013 the US government claimed it would outgrow Germany in terms of new solar project deployment. Sadly these targets were not met and in fact China was the only country to outpace Germany in terms of solar deployment.

One of the biggest hampering’s of US renewable energy development is undoubtedly the over-reliance of bio-mass. In the US The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 set a target of 36 Billion Gallons annually of biofuel production by 2022.

However, in 2014 the UN released research that showed that biofuel production was harming the environment and driving up food prices. Clearly this situation isn’t a significant step towards sustainable and truly renewable energy systems.

Sadly the UK and Europe have also been pushing an overreliance on BioFuel. In 2013 nearly 50 Million Tons of Oil Equivalent was being created by biofuels. However, across Europe the push now is firmly towards solar and wind as the core mechanism for renewable energy. After a 2013 EU research program concluded that biofuel production often completely offsets any carbon saving gains and increases competition for food new legislation was brought in disfavouring biofuel research, development and tariffs.

Contrariwise, and despite the evidence, the US government has failed to reverse biofuel policies. Possibly this is due to their focus on post-petroleum fuels rather than any environmental concerns. The problem seems to have become that renewable energy isn’t just about the environment and climate change – it is about the future direction of the human race; consumerism or sustainability.

The UK Renewable Energy Program

Thanks to the Kyoto agreement and EU Energy Policies the renewable energy sector in the UK is booming. The government has introduced feed in tariffs that currently mean solar energy is one of the most lucrative investments available nationwide (with average return on investments of a staggering 6%). The feed in tariff has been coupled with thousands of grants and new regulations on building and installing solar energy and renewable energy systems.

One of the most interesting changes is the consumer market where customers are now expecting renewable energy. Companies like OvoEnergy are now offering 100% renewable energy schemes to their customers and people are more likely to choose a provider with green fingers.

The bad news is that the UK is still not on target to meet its EU directive targets. Currently we only have less than 5% of our energy coming from renewable energy sources. This is due to a mixture of issues -–most notably public opposition to solar farms and poor business incentives (the UK’s planning system makes progress painfully slow for many). That said the UK achieved a 20% growth rate in solar energy last year – not as impressive as the US’s 34% growth rate.

What does it all mean for Us?

There are clearly lessons to be learnt here. The US needs to ditch biofuels almost completely if it really wants to push renewable energy. It needs to implement stronger national and corporate standards of practice to drive renewable policy. The UK needs to make it easier for developers to create renewable projects and needs to push to meet EU objectives. We as advocates and supporters of more sustainable living need to raise public awareness and push governments, companies and the public towards truly renewable energy.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Review - Stress-Free Sustainability by Adam Hammes

Those of us who live green tend to be passionate about the environment. We share what we know, we blog, we want to convert the world because, to us, it just makes sense to live the way we do.

The trouble is, not everyone agrees.

In fact, there are a fair number of people who don't believe there's any cause for concern. There are others who choose to ignore the warnings because it affects their bottom line. Governments won't take necessary steps to improve conditions and even experts debate whether or not we can make a difference.

Green living can be very stressful!

Review - Stress-Free Sustainability by Adam Hammes

I was invited to read Stress-Free Sustainability: Leverage Your Emotions, Avoid Burnout and Influence Anyone by Adam Hammes.

This book is different from most books on sustainability. This one deals with the stress and burnout of trying to save the earth.

Using stories from his experience, the author teaches us how to identify and accept our emotions. He goes on to address several common frustrations which many in the green-living community face. For example, do you feel that you are a failure if you can't influence your friends and family? Or, when you hear someone talking about green-living, do you feel you must jump in and influence the conversation? Mr. Hammes shows readers that those kinds of limiting thoughts really don't serve us well and he teaches us how to overcome them.

One of the most interesting parts of the book is the section on influencing people. When I first read the chapter title, I thought I wouldn't like the information. After all, "influencing" seems to be the realm of politicians and those who are trying to sell us something. Instead, I found the chapter to be enjoyable and interesting. It talks about listening to others and addressing their core concerns. Basically, it's a lesson in respect.

This book is for anyone who has ever felt frustrated or stressed about the environment ... or, for that matter, stressed about anything. It is easy to read and will leave you with a sense of power ... power to control the emotional turmoil of living a passionate, green life; power to share information in appropriate, effective ways; power to continue on as the earth's advocate.

If you'd like to have your own copy of this book, buy it HERE.

For more about Adam Hammes, visit his site, ecofluence.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Open Your Windows

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 was all about deforestation. It was an interesting challenge because it encouraged us to look at the origins of a product. For example, when folks dig into a juicy steak, they probably don't think about the acres of forested land which were cleared to open up grazing fields for cattle. Body care products, containing palm oil, don't come with information about the small farmer who cut down part of the rainforest in order to grow profitable palms. June's bride surely doesn't give a thought to the mining operations that provided her gold wedding band or the number of trees which were destroyed to make way for the mine. Here's the thing ... every product we buy has a beginning and when that beginning involves cutting down forests, we create a huge environmental problem. The solution is to avoid those items which contribute to deforestation. Once again, we see the power of our purchases.

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.

Avoiding Palm Oil seems easy enough ... just read the label, right? But are you aware of all the names it "hides" behind? Check out Protect the world’s tropical forests, a fabulous post by Vicality!

Lois joined us and shared this: "Fantastic challenge this week. I avoid as much of these products as I can. The only paper product left in my house is toilet paper which I buy 100% recycled. I don't buy beef, avoid all products with palm oil and the only soy product I eat is organic edamame."

Alicia accepted the challenge and, as she was in the market for furniture, completed the task beautifully. Here's what she had to say: "We have been looking for a few pieces of furniture for several specific places in our home. After looking at new furniture we discussed it and decided to go the Craig's list way. We got better quality, only had to drive just a few miles to get the pieces and really felt good about purchasing used instead of new. We have to buy paper for the labels on our products but buy recycled. Pretty much only buy beef a few times a year!"

Suzanne stopped by and shared this: "This is a wonderful challenge and I hope more people take part in it. Thank you for providing this information, and challenging all of us to rethink our air quality in our homes and how it got there. I'm going to pin this to my Pinterest board to show more people!"

Cheryl is feeling a little guilty. Why? Read on: "I've been spying a new sofa to replace one that is hand-me-down ugly (in my mind). The new one is at a thrift shop in town, which will get the old one, so that's a win-win for everybody (especially since they can deliver and pick-up all at once and their charity makes money on TWO sofas!) I feel guilty for having some steak for dinner last night. Arizona is beef country and it was two ounces leftover from a dinner last week. And we totally fall down on the aluminum part of this challenge. Diet coke is nearly mandatory in this household--Gil is diabetic, type 1. Every can goes to a recycler (depending on the market, $1 or more a pound--thirty cans worth). Yes, we could buy cola in plastic bottles, but those get recycled into grocery sacks which eventually can only get tossed into landfills while aluminum cans get recycled into same. Great challenge on all levels. Cheryl"

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 @aussiemoose @authors_secret
@beatepdx @biggreenpen @blockmomnc
@brokeblokeblogs @bstoneblog @collegegogreen
@croydongardener @dieselelephants @eco_novice
@eshuth455 @freshcleanersaz @ginavalley
@greenageworld @greengympenge @greenqueenofmod
@gronavra @groovygreenlivi @herbgir1972
@innervationfit @justanotherhat @kaitlingarder
@kayelleallen @laalicia @lady_bren
@ladyjcmuses @littlewing_13 @mamasmoney
@marjoriemcatee @mdgblogger @mimibarbour
@moha_doha @momfindsout @msmoreau_guid
@nolafusion @pooja_y_jain @potnall
@rainyofthedark @rckweddings @realityarts
@rochelleforrest @ronchatterjee7 @rose_rambles
@rulesofgreen @snickerdoo2 @spafloating
@sustyq @theworld4realz @tiffanywashko
@timhemlin @treesgroup @turkishtravel
@wary12 @wencdj @wimpyvegetarian

My Final Thoughts:

Deforestation is a complex issue. While it may seem that it's simply about big corporate profit, there is a human side to the story. Whether it's the small farmer who grows profitable crops in order to feed his family or the miner who risks his health to make a living, the fact is that people benefit from deforestation. That human factor adds an emotional aspect to the situation. While we do need to find alternate ways for people to sustain themselves, we can't waiver on protecting the environment. After all, making a living won't mean much if we don't have clean air to breathe.

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) - Open Your Windows
Let the fresh air in!

Sometimes, green living is as easy as opening a window!

Here's your challenge ...

This week, open your windows and let fresh air in. Doing this blows out toxins and refreshes your environment.

OR ...

Visit AirNow to find out the quality of air in your community. Then, browse the site and review their tips for reducing pollution. If you live outside the US, check out the international link or search for your country's air quality database.

Are you ready to breathe deep? I know that you are!

Please join me in our mantra ...


Monday, May 25, 2015

Specially For You

We, as consumers, have great power. Our purchases send a clear message to manufacturers about what we want ... and they, wishing to prosper, provide the products which we are willing to spend money on.

So if we support Eco-friendly products and companies, we encourage the market to provide more of the same ... and that's good for us and the earth!

Today I'd like to introduce you to the companies currently listed on our Special Offers Page. I don't receive any compensation for their listing, or this post ... I simply feel that it's important to support companies who are doing their best to protect the environment.

Of course, the most green option is not to buy. But when we need something, it's important to choose earth friendly items.

Even if you're not in the market for something new right now, I encourage you to visit these vendors and let them know that we appreciate their efforts.

ecolissa - eco friendly and vegan woman’s clothing and accessories
La Francesca Eco-Resort
La Francesca
Gina Jordan's Soft Cloth Shop - Reusable Paperless Towels, Baby Wipes, Cloth Napkins
Gina Jordan


Specializing in eco friendly and vegan woman’s clothing and accessories. Until December 31, 2015, you can get 20% off any purchase. Use code rf20 at checkout.

Visit the Special Offers Page for more details.

La Francesca Eco-Resort

Specializing in Eco-friendly vacations in Italy. Get a 5-15% discount until December 31, 2015, with discount code FOOTPRINTS.

Visit the Special Offers Page for more details.

Gina Jordan's Soft Cloth Shop

Specializing in reusable paperless towels, baby wipes, and cloth napkins. Use code ReduceFootprints until December 31, 2015, to get 10% off any purchase.

Visit the Special Offers Page for more details.

LustOrganic, Organic & Natural Bath & Body Products
Sow True Seed
Sow True Seed
Funnest - Eco-Friendly Wall Decor


Specializing in organic, natural bath and body products. Until January 1, 2015, use code ReduceFootPrints to enjoy 20% off any purchase.

Visit the Special Offers Page for more details.

Sow True Seed

Specializing in open-pollinated seeds. Use code REDUCE10, until December 31, 2015, to get 10% off all seed packets.

Visit the Special Offers Page for more details.


Specializing in Eco-friendly wall decor. Until September 1, 2015, you can get an additional 20% off any order (can be combined with other sales to get a maximum of 40% off), and free shipping on orders over $35, by using code footprints20.

Visit the Special Offers Page for more details.

Violet's Buds - Handmade Accessories For You & Your Little Flower
Violet's Buds
Nubila Services - Elegant, Unique Solutions For A Mindful Community Compostable Dinnerware
Nubila Services
Celadon Road by, Amanda Arkans
Celadon Road

Violet's Buds

Specializing in handmade accessories for you and your little flower. Save 20% on any purchase in the shop by using code ECO20. This offer expires on June 20, 2015.

Visit the Special Offers Page for more details.

Nubila Services

Specializing in elegant, unique solutions for a mindful community - compostable dinnerware. Enjoy a storewide 10% discount until May 31, 2015, using code SAVE10%.

Visit the Special Offers Page for more details.

Celadon Road by Amanda Arkans

Specializing in Eco-friendly body care and home products. Mention Small Footprints when enrolling in Amanda Arkans' team and get a personalized party-pack worth over $50. This business opportunity ends on June 30, 2015.

Visit the Special Offers Page for more details.

Specializing in a litter-free society. Between now and August 31, 2015, use code KAB to get $5 off any T-shirt in the shop.

Visit the Special Offers Page for more details.


Specializing in sustainability studies in Costa Rica. Save $100 off the program fee by using code REDUCE2015 through April, 2016.

Visit the Special Offers Page for more details.

I'd like to thank all of these vendors for their generosity and for their efforts to operate in an earth-friendly manner. We need more companies like them!

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

Monday, May 18, 2015

Review - "We Are The Destroyers" by D.K.Lindler

A good story can entertain while delivering an important lesson. Unlike instructional books, fiction often reaches us on an emotional level and, when that happens, we tend to remember both the book and the message.

Review - "We Are The Destroyers" by D.K.Lindler
I was invited to read We Are The Destroyers by D.K.Lindler.

The Scenario

This is the story of a dying planet. Over consumption and environmental abuse have caused food shortages; so, to feed a rapidly growing population, synthetic foods are created. While these fake foods solve the hunger problem, they cause serious changes in the human body and mind. In short, they turn people into degenerated mutants who can be easily manipulated by their leaders.

Children, by the age of 10, are started on a synthetic diet so that they will look and act like everyone else.

There are a few people who refuse to eat synthetic foods and continue an organic lifestyle. They are persecuted and, of course, no one heeds their warnings. One of them, Bel'lar, escapes the planet with a hand-selected crew. They search for a semi-mythical place which can sustain life ... a planet where humanity can begin anew.

There's a twist, though ... Bel'lar is given a vision which is, at the same time, confusing and familiar. It seems to indicate that history is repeating itself ... and he has played some role in both events. If that's true, can he save the planet from repeating past mistakes ... and destruction?

My Thoughts

The story draws many parallels to our world and the environmental problems we now face. Where we can only worry about possible consequences to our actions, the author had leave to develop plausible conclusions. And they are scary! She used some of our worst nightmares to paint a desperate situation.

There are many layers to the book. It is fantasy, romance, science fiction, mystery, and spirituality. It's also a strong environmental and political warning. Each aspect is well developed, making the story interesting and compelling. I was "hooked" on the first page.

It was fun to read a fiction with an environmental spin.

If you'd like to read We Are The Destroyers by D.K.Lindler, you can buy it HERE.

I received a copy of "We Are The Destroyers" in order to write this review. I received no other compensation. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone and reflect my honest opinion of the material reviewed.

Book cover image published with permission from The Cadence Group.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Guest Post - Why Electric Radiators Are Essential For Eco-Friendly Living

For years night storage heaters have been the most globally popular technology for heating homes around the world. This has been largely due to home and business owners taking advantage of the low running costs they offer, even though there has always been a concern over the harmful carbon release resulting from such usage.

Why Electric Radiators Are Essential For Eco-Friendly Living

But now thanks to 21st century technology, night storage heaters no longer have any benefits that modern eco-friendly electric radiators don't. On the contrary, there are many extra capabilities that an electric radiator can offer. The greatest benefit of electric radiators lies in their environmentally friendly system.

Home heating has come a long way from the clunky old storage heating designs of yesteryear. Here we will explore in detail how and why the technology of contemporary radiators makes for a better heating option in any home.

Free from carbon emission

Quite possibly the greatest benefit of owning a modern radiator is eliminating the carbon emission that night storage heaters generate. This is due to the fact that modern electric radiators don't release the type of dry burning heat of a storage heater, which has long been responsible for releasing harmful carbon elements into the atmosphere.

Pure carbon has a low degree of toxicity but still poses a threat to human beings. Inhaling carbon dust can cause health problems such as an inflammation of the lungs. This is particularly harmful to asthma sufferers, whose condition is likely to make them more susceptible to the carbon release.

Magmatic Heat Retention tablets (MHR)

Greater insulation is one of the key attributes of modern systems, and Magmatic Heat Retention tablets (MHR) tablets are a part of many modern designs. This is a particularly impressive technology thanks to its ability to generate heat from the coldest of temperatures in less than 30 minutes; much faster than a storage heater.

The extra benefit of a MHR design is that after the radiator automatically switches off once its pre-set temperature is reached, it can continue omitting heat for a further 40 minutes due to the heat collected inside the tablets.

The amount of energy that MHR radiators save makes them one of the most important, and sought after, home heating technologies in the world.

Multi Fin Designed radiators

Another technology with a massively beneficial green aesthetic is Multi Fin Designed (MFD) radiators, which work via a series of small fins that circulate heat in order to distribute it around a room evenly. This allows the heat to spread quicker; thereby reducing the levels of energy consumed by longer periods of use.

The combined effect of both MHR and MFD technology means that half of the hot air produced by the radiator is radiated heat, while the other half consists of convected heat.

When both these kinds of heat are produced together the radiator is able to generate an ideal temperature that requires lower amounts of energy while providing the different heating benefits that radiated and convected heat offer.

The energy consumption of an electric radiator is actually just a third of the amount used by night storage heaters.

Digital Time and Temperature Thermostats

Thanks to major international progress within the heating industry, modern radiators build upon the capability of night storage heaters whilst avoiding the energy wasting problems of those old models. German electric radiators are particularly innovative, and are increasingly in demand by homes and businesses worldwide.

One technology that has improved upon night storage heater design is the invention of Digital Time and Temperature Thermostats (TDI), which allow the radiator to activate at a required time, ensuring convenience while preventing wasted energy.

This development renders the night storage heater approach of encompassing heat at night and then releasing it gradually throughout the day an outdated benefit with only limited environmental assistance.

Are they different to regular radiators?

Why Electric Radiators Are Essential For Eco-Friendly Living

Electric radiators work in a similar vein to traditional radiators in the sense that they are fixed structures rather than free-standing ones, but they differ as they don't require pipes to function, making installation a much simpler process.

There has never been a better time to make the change to an environmentally friendly electric radiator system, both for the sake of our planet and for the health of your family.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Indoor plants

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 we jumped right into our month of clean air by asking that everyone stop smoking. I don't smoke, have never smoked, and don't allow smoking in my home. So I took on the second half of the challenge and looked through my home for possible pollutants. We use natural cleaners, avoid air fresheners, have no carpet, and use a cloth shower curtain. The one area which has concerned me is that our temporary home is equipped with a kerosene heater. It is possibly the dirtiest heater I've ever used. It emits a fine dust throughout our home which we breathe. Not good! Luckily, with the nicer weather, we aren't using it any longer and our new home will have radiant heat.

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.

Andie's comment shows the importance of this challenge. She said, "THANK YOU for this post. I am 60 and grew up on the east coast with a chain-smoking mother. It was bad at home, but worse confined in a car with all the windows rolled up. I was constantly ill with URIs—while in high school, my doctor believed I was a smoker though I never smoked and hated it. They had no clue about second-hand smoke in 1972. Once I moved out, I started to get better, but I have always had diminished lung capacity because of it. Even at the peak of fitness (speed walked 3+ miles a day, ideal wight, etc.) my lung capacity was not great. Today, it's not good at all; I worry about getting COPD. Second-hand smoke is damaging to everyone around. I am glad I live in a non-smoking city—Seattle. I have to do all I can to restrain myself from accosting people when I see them smoking in a car with children in it! We cannot spread this word enough!"

Morag accepted the challenge and offers several quests to help. Here are her comments: "Stopping smoking is sooo difficult (so difficult we made it into a 6 part quest!) but you can do it. It is possible to quit and stay being a non-smoker. If you are going to do the alternative #ctww challenge we have some possible quests you can do here: choose one or more off that list or if you want to up the anti challenge yourself to complete the World Changing Me Fresh Air Collection: 6 quests, one goal = fresh air :) " By the way, you'll find the "no smoking" quests here:

Marla joined us and shared this: "Smoking is something that I hate. First I am very allergic to cigarettes and reaction immediately to them but I also hate the idea that they not only affect the person smoking health but all those around you. I had a brother-in-law who died very young because smoking destroyed his lungs or he would probably be alive today. Smoking is so bad for children. I just encourage any one who smokes to please stop for your own sake and all those around you. As far as other changes I never use commercial air fresheners. I use baking soda with essential oils to purify odors. Don't have carpet any more in my house just a few rugs in front of doors to catch dirt. Most of my cleaners are DIY homemade from baking soda, peroxide, vinegar, orange peels. I never send anything to the dry cleaner. If I can't wash it I don't buy it. It a way of life for me because having MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities) you learn fast as to what has toxic chemicals in it and you change everything around you as much as possible. Live healthy. Live green!"

Alicia stopped by and said this: "I was reading not to long ago that the air quality in homes a lot of times is worse that the the air quality outside! This is mostly from the products we use inside our homes and the chemicals we bring in on the bottoms of our shoes. One awesome thing to do is to take your shoes off before coming inside or leave them right inside the door. Pretty much get rid of anything that has fragrance listed in the ingredients and use products that contain essential oils instead.Web MD says that air fresheners emit 20 different VOC's including several that are listed as hazardous under U.S. federal laws! Lemons, soda, and vinegar are awesome cleaners and leave a fresh natural scent behind. It is not as hard as you might think to pretty much eliminate harmful chemicals from your home and improve your air quality DRAMATICALLY!! Just takes a little research and label reading."

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:

@aussiemoose @authors_secret @beatepdx
@collegegogreen @debsmikdav1 @dehelen
@familyfocusblog @freshcleanersaz @garioncoyote
@greenageworld @greengympenge @greenqueenofmod
@gronavra @groovygreenlivi @herbgir1972
@justanotherhat @kaitlingarder @laalicia
@lady_bren @ladyjcmuses @london_020
@mamasmoney @marbaird @marjoriemcatee
@mdgblogger @mimibarbour @moha_doha
@momfindsout @msmoreau_guid @nolafusion
@rckweddings @realityarts @ronchatterjee7
@rulesofgreen @snickerdoo2 @spafloating
@spookymrsgreen @sustyq @taralain
@thefreckledrose @theworld4realz @tiffanywashko
@timhemlin @wary12 @wencdj
@wimpyvegetarian @worldchangingme

My Final Thoughts:

Smoking is polluting. There's no way to get around it ... no justification ... plain and simple, it's pollution! It hurts everyone. Stopping can be tough but if we are truly concerned about our environment, then we need to stop polluting.

Thanks, everyone!

This Week's Challenge:

May's theme is: Clean Air

House plants purify air.
Aloe Vera helps remove
formaldehyde from indoor air
All plants help purify our air. Some, however, are super stars!

According to NASA's research, the Areca Palm Tree is the best air purifying plant. Boston Ferns remove formaldehyde, and English Ivy removes air-based mold. Chrysanthemums remove benzene, a harmful VOC compound.

Here's your challenge ...

This week, add one house plant to your living space. Try a Peace Lily, Rubber Plant, or Palm. Perhaps a spider plant or "Mother-In Law's Tongue". Any plant will improve indoor air quality so choose your favorite and breathe easy!

Are you ready to clean up your indoor air? I know that you are!

Until next time ...


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Guest Post - Keep Cool & Save Cash with the Right Window Treatments

With summer just around the corner, now is a good time to start thinking about buttoning up your home for maximum efficiency! This is especially true for those in areas of the country that experience extreme heat, which results in frequent overexertion of air conditioners.

Air conditioning units consume energy in the form of electricity. When a home has a significant amount of solar heat gain with uncovered windows, this puts a greater strain on the unit resulting in more energy consumption. These exposed windows act almost like an oven, and literally heat up the inside of your home!

How do you reduce solar heat gain and consume less electricity during the summer?

There’s a simple solution that’s often overlooked: a set of the right window treatments. Honeycomb and cellular shades (among other available window treatments) act as a barrier between your home and the sun’s powerful UV rays (Source:

Keep Cool & Save Cash with the Right Window Treatments

The shade sits at the bottom of the sill and keeps your home’s cool air (that costs you money!) from escaping. In addition to providing you with a more energy efficient home, honeycomb shades have some other noteworthy features in the summertime. If you have furniture or art in your home, over time the sun’s rays can damage it. When you pick the right window treatments to cover these windows, you reduce the exposure to UV rays and keep the integrity of these items intact!

Keep Cool & Save Cash with the Right Window Treatments

As you’re making the last preparations for your home this summer, add honeycomb window treatments to the list! They’ll keep you and your home cool and save of your hard-earned cash during the process!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Meet & Greet (#MtaGt) - May - My Eco 20s & World Changing Me

Welcome to Meet & Greet, a regular series designed to grow our green community.

A monthly link-up party for green blogs on Reduce Footprints

Grab our banner for your site:

For 2015, Meet & Greet will operate a bit differently than previous years. This year, I'll be featuring blogs which I find via my Internet travels or blogs which you recommend via the link-up widget below. Please visit the Meet & Greet Page for all the details.

This month I'm featuring two fabulous sites. Ready to get acquainted? Let's go ...

Meet & Greet featuring Emily of My Eco 20s
Please meet Emily, the creative owner and author of My Eco 20s.

Emily recently graduated college with an environmental science degree. Like many college graduates, she left school filled with enthusiasm, a desire for adventure, and ... debt.

She also had questions. She wondered about the line between affordable and ethical, and if one meant sacrificing the other. She also wondered about how to balance the actions she feels obligated to take with those that make her happy.

To answer those questions, discover what may be next in her life, and even (perhaps) find a new place to live, Emily is taking a road trip across the United States in a hand-made tear-drop trailer.

My Eco 20s documents her travels and discoveries. I've been fascinated by her posts.

Meet & Greet featuring My Eco 20s
Near Asheville, NC, Emily visited an EcoVillage. In Virginia she went to a farm. Austin, Texas, appealed to her as a possible new home because of parks and natural running trails. New Orleans brought about new insights as she realized that "No city ever stays the same, but when we make it a landmark in history, we threaten it’s authenticity."

Each post is entertaining and feels like an interesting letter from a friend. Emily's honest approach to life makes me think about my own perceptions and beliefs, and question things which I've long taken for granted.

Emily's perspective is unique. She has the innocence of youth and yet is as environmentally dedicated as any seasoned "greenie". She is a fresh, new voice in the effort to protect the environment.

I enjoy My Eco 20s and think you will, too!

Meet & Greet featuring Morag of World Changing Me
Next up, I'd like to introduce you to Morag, Co-Founder, CEO and Creative Director of World Changing Me.

Morag, a dedicated "greenie", has done a lot of thinking, and research, about how and why we make changes. She discovered that most people respond well to games. So, she and her husband, Craig, created World Changing Me, a game-type site with an environmental "spin".

Once signed up, a person can take on various quests ... actions designed to help us live a bit greener. Some are easy, like a "Back to the Wild" quest which asks people to get outside and identify two new trees. Some are more difficult. For example, the "Banking Ethically" quests suggest that you research your financial institution to ensure that they are doing business in an ethical way. What's ethical? Well, deciding that is part of the task.

There are ways to track your progress and here's where the game part comes in ... for every action you take, you get points, coins, and badges. These items don't have any monetary value ... they are simply fun ways to reward participants for taking a step. To make the game even more fun, you can challenge your friends and family to join in and see who can get the most points.

Meet & Greet featuring World Changing Me
What I really enjoy about the quests is that each one gives us ideas (aka the Toolkit) on how to complete the activity. For example, I accepted a quest to weigh my landfill waste. Under the Toolkit tab, I found inspiration (by none other than our very own Mrs. Green), answers to frequently asked questions, and things to beware of when trying to complete the task. So, if you're struggling with a green-living activity, find a related quest and check out the toolkit tab, and it'll give you some great advice for stepping up your green game.

There is a real sense of community at World Changing Me. The sidebar shows what quests others are working on and lets us know that our actions count. The front page lists the number of total quests taken ... and as that number grows, we truly realize our power. Check it out ... and if you want to have some fun ... let's race. I've got 272 points. Want to see who has the most points by the end of the year? I challenge you!!

I encourage you to visit each of these sites ... you won't be sorry!

Now it's your turn! Please use the following widget to list your blog and/or recommend a blog.

For previous features, please click HERE.