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Green Dry Cleaning?

Over the past few years, I've seen many local dry cleaners claim to be eco-friendly.  I rarely have to use dry cleaners, but I've gotten curious over whether or not such a thing exists.

As of 2007, 85% of all dry cleaners in the US used perchloroethylene (perc) as a solvent when dry cleaning. Perc is a synthetic, volatile organic compound (VOC) that is both a health risk to humans and it's dangers to the environment. Even minor exposure to it can cause dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, nausea, skin and respiratory irritation. What's worse is that prolonged exposure has been linked to liver damage, kidney damage, and cancer. Perchloroethylene was identified as a "probable" human carcinogen by California’s Proposition 65 in 1986.

Even dry cleaning methods that claim to be green, are often not.  Ask them what their methods are before dropping your clothes off.  Some use hydrocarbon, which is petroleum based. Some use liquid CO2, but that will sometimes require a Solvair machine.  The Carbon Dioxide Dry Cleaner Alliance does not allow dry cleaners using Solvair to become members.  Solvair replaces perc with glycol ether as a solvent, and according to the EPA, glycol is a suspected toxin and hormone disrupter.  ... read more

Emily Golding

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The Green Office Guide

Offices can be incredibly wasteful.  Disposable cups in the break room, paper being wasted, electronics running 24/7, etc.  Here are some ways to help reduce wasting energy and resources:

Computers:  ... read more

  • Shut off your monitors and put computer into standby or hibernate mode when you know you're going to be gone for more than a few minutes. 
  •  Turn your computer off every night.  I used to hear that shutting your computer down regularly wasted more energy than turning it off and on, but I've since learned that it saves energy to shut it down.
  • Set printers, copiers, etc. to go on sleep mode after even a brief period of inactivity.
  • Buy printer paper made of recycled paper and urge employees to print on both sides.  And don't print things too frequently, unless it's very necessary.

Hair Dryers and Energy Consumption

I generally only blow dry my hair in the winter (I live in the Northeast, and in the summertime blow drying my frizz in the humidity is totally useless!) and blow drying my hair is something that I had never really thought much about in terms of energy consumption.  Until recently, that is.  

When it comes to going green, I try to ask myself if things that I do or use are necessary.  For instance...paper napkins, paper towels?  Unnecessary.  It suddenly dawned on me that blow drying my hair is really an unnecessary use of energy.  My hair will dry on its own. ... read more

Turn off that Pilot Light

If you have not done so, now is a great time to turn off the pilot light on your furnace or fireplace.  It is easy to do, and will save you money (like $30 or more according to some sources.) ... read more

Reusing Floppy Disks

Hey, remember floppy disks?  I recently came across some old ones in our house (along with some old blank cassette tapes and those annoying AOL CDs...but that's for another entry!)

GreenDisk.com takes old floppy disks, but what if you can reuse them in a really cool way?  Some perfect ideas for the eco-minded craftmaker!... read more

Green House Hunting

You live an eco-friendly life. You compost, you garden, you dry your clothes on a clothesline, you use cloth napkins and cloth diapers...but, have you considered moving into a “green” home? And if you have, how do you even begin to find such a thing?

First off, find a a green real estate agent. They do exist! Ecobroker has a database of green real estate agents who are educated and certified in the area of green real estate. Ecobroker's site also a search function where you can find green properties in your area. You can check off green features in your search, such as just looking for properties with energy-efficient appliances, green building materials like bamboo or cork floors, and more.

Another resource is Listed Green. They list green, energy efficient LEED homes.

If you want to do the research on your own, think about what types of green features you want your home to have. Energy efficient home design? Solar panels? Built using recycled materials? Keep yourself up-to-date on green home terminology. EcoHearth has a great glossary to help you out.

When house hunting, also consider size. Look for a house with only the space you need. Does a family of four need a McMansion with 6 giant bedrooms, a family room and a living room, a dining room and an eat-in kitchen? Probably not. All of those rooms that you rarely need just use more energy.... read more

What Organic Labels Mean

Shopping for organic food can be very confusing, especially when it comes to reading labels.  What do the different certifications really mean?  

100% Organic - The product must contain 100% organic ingredients.

Organic - At least 95% of the ingredients are organic.

Made with Organic Ingredients - At least 70% of ingredients are organic. 

Natural and All-Natural - This type of labeling drives me crazy.  They mean nothing.  There are no government standards to dictate what can be labeled Natural or All-Natural.  I wrote a more in-depth article about this back in August.  ... read more

Green Summer Tips

Summertime is the easiest time to go green and stay green!  I have some green summer tips that I've rounded up...anyone have anything to add?

 

  1. Instead of driving hundreds of miles, discover local attractions. Take a “staycation!”

  2. If you still want to take a vacation, there are plenty of green vacation options these days. From green hotels to green restaurants, there are plenty of places to go. And consider ditching the car and seek out some public transportation options. If you must take a plane, offset your carbon footprint!

  3. Go camping instead of taking a vacation in a hotel. Usually, you won't need to travel too far to find beautiful campgrounds, especially if you look for state parks! Camping can be so refreshing...no TV, internet, cell phones...enjoy a few days of simplicity!... read more

What's Greener: Flying or Driving?

A few months ago, we were planning to go from Boston to Washington DC.  We had to make the choice:  drive or fly?  Flying was clearly the quicker choice, but what about the eco-friendliness of it?

After some research, driving was the greener choice for us.  If you drive a car that gets over 25 miles per gallon, driving generates fewer greenhouse gases than on a plane.  We drive a hybrid, so there was no question about what was the more environmentally-friendly choice.  So off we drove, from Boston to DC!

On TheDailyGreen, it says that flying from San Francisco to Boston would generate roughly 1,300 kilograms of greenhouse gases per passenger one way, as opposed to driving, which would account for only 930 kilograms per vehicle.  Of course, driving cross country isn't usually doable, but for shorter distances (i.e, San Francisco to LA or Boston to Philadelphia) it makes more sense to drive.  Grist also says that short-haul flights are particularly bad because take-off and landing use the most fuel in a flight.... read more