Aug 14, 2015

How To Be "Green"

I'm a lifestyle advocate for my clients.  While I create beautiful spaces in their homes, I design them so they're healthy and easy to maintain. All homes should be safe, free of toxic materials and products that off-gas, function efficiently, and be aesthetically fabulous.  I regularly post natural cleaning products and materials that are safe for you but especially your children and your parents as they age. As a design professional, I study all things used in the built environment; materials, products, life cycle, maintenance, and that enables me to optimize what goes into every project.  I provide environmentally friendly products so with the natural next step to set them up for an environmentally savvy lifestyle. Here are six things you can do to cooperate being eco-friendly into your daily life. 

1. Reduce Paper. When you pay bills online or by phone (many utilities have this option) you'll save a stamp and paper.  Since we often throw our statements out once paid, on line viewing gives you unlimited storage and access. Cancel unwanted catalogs and junk mail by visiting Direct Marketing Association's Web site or Did you know that online greeting cards are often free and you'll never miss a date because the mail is late? Take a look at, and  Read your magazines on a tablet or iPad. If that doesn't appeal to you, be sure to recycle them at the local library for people to enjoy once you're finished.

2. Container Recycling: It is rather unfortunate that only 31% of plastic water and soda bottles are recycled each year. I set up concealed recycling bins in cabinets and closets and if the client does not already have curbside recycling – which many municipalities  do – I encourage them to use their local grocery store for deposit bottles or head to a community recycling center for the rest.  Better yet, get a stainless or BPA free water bottle and fill it from a large container. Remember that your bathroom containers are also recyclable. Many people do a fabulous job in the kitchen, and forget that shampoo bottle toothpaste tubes and other bathroom items are recyclable.  Centers and curbside programs take glass bottles, shampoo containers, plastic food containers and food and soda cans.

3. Electronic and hazardous material recycling: Dell Computer has a fabulous exchange program with Goodwill called Dell Reconnect. Both Staples and Office Depot take cell phones, computers and equipment, ink cartridges, telephones, video/digital cameras, TVs,cables, etc.  Many local libraries recycle batteries. Home Depot accepts lithium batteries from all cordless tools.  In California, paint can be recycled right at the place of purchase. Each vendor must accept used or empty paint containers. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs are hazardous. Home Depot also recycle those.  Visit to find out where to recycle hazardous materials. For more on recycling, visit  

4. Save energy. Open windows and doors to take advantage of natural breezes, and practice passive solar heating/cooling and daylighting techniques.  With many inexpensive and fabulous drying racks available, you can save your clothing if you hang it to dry. Take a look at the fold down drying rack from and the adorable PulleyMaid, a ceiling mounted clothes dryer. If you set your thermostat slightly lower in the winter and slightly higher in the summer, the percentage of energy you save will be significant, and your bills for heating and cooling, respectively will be much lower.

With the cost of solar becoming more affordable, you can install a unit and get off the grid. IKEA launched a solar product in Europe, and it will be coming to the US. Think money savings all around!  With solar you can enjoy your air-conditioning and electronics worry free because the sun will power them. I also recommend that my clients swap to LED bulbs – light emittng diode – because they are safer and more energy efficient than compact florescent or incandescent.  You probably already know that some incandescents are no longer being manufactured as a result of EPA regulations. And that was never about losing our choice on what kind of lighting to have, but a way for earth's inhabitants to reduce carbon emissions and electric use. With the technology improving every single day, the output on the new bulbs can be as beautiful and soft or as bright and white as you like.

5. Maintain your car. Improve your fuel economy with routine checkups. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, replacing air filters can increase gas mileage up to 10 percent. When gas is over three dollars a gallon that's a smart move to save money long term. Using the right oil is important because it lasts longer so use the right weight for your vehicle. Discount Tire in California will properly inflate your tires every month. Not only will it increase the life of your tires, it will give you better gas mileage. For more information visit

6. Bag it right : Do not accept plastic bags from stores. I see so many people at Home Depot and Walmart put one already boxed product into a bag and take it home. It literally goes from the store to the car to their house. It's an enormous waste of plastic. Either don't use one or carry around and $.99 reusable bag available at most grocers, Trader Joe's, Home Goods, IKEA, and more. Heck, if you're purchasing one milk carton or a six pack of beer or  soda, it already has a handle. Keep one or two reusable grocery bags in your car. You'll always have at least one on hand for last-minute stops at the store.

Thinking that you are recycling a plastic  grocery sack by using it for dog poop is incorrect. One small poop in a giant bag? You are reusing it certainly, but not helping because it doesn't degenerate in the landfill once it's in there. There are so many inexpensive poop bags available on the market and often free at dog parks and most are manufactured to be rapidly biodegrade. Much better than using a grocery sack! 

6.  Grow a green thumb. Replace gas-powered lawn-care tools with electric equipment. Black & Decker offers a line of zero-emissions outdoor products including lawn mowers and hedge trimmers ( 

Start a compost pile. I have a vermicompost system - see prior blog for set up – which is started up with a few red earthworms and newspaper and now every  scrap of fruit & vegetable matter, coffee grinds and my husband's eggshells (I am vegan) goes into them and creates the most beautiful soil into which I plant vegetables. My garden is tiny. My vegetables are in containers suspended from the fence. They work beautifully, the earthworms are happy, we are happy eating fresh herbs, veggies without pesticides and it works well all the way around. 

Save water. It is a precious resource so avoid overwatering your lawn and garden. Place sprinklers away from the driveway and sidewalk to reduce overwatering, and consider an irrigation control system with drip irrigation or rain sensors. There are many DIY systems available at the big box hardware stores. You can also install a barrel to collect storm water for irrigation. Find efficient designs at, or

Don't stop here. Check out these Web sites for other tips and advice: