Spotlight on Creativity: Saturday Etsy Series

If you are going to be doing any holiday entertaining in the upcoming months, my etsy pick of the week, hopejohnson, would be a perfect shop to browse for some unique colorful ceramic dishes for your table.
Hope Johnson’s shop has bright one of kind pieces that range from dipping dishes to bowls. Everything is handmade in her home and ready to ship to yours.
This California designer has a background in graphic design and photography and is inspired by plant forms and organic shapes. Hope’s etsy profile says “functional pottery is a passion of mine, and I want my pieces to be used and enjoyed in the daily lives of my customers and friends”.
My favorite piece in her shop is this one – a plate perfectly sized for desserts or appetizers.  It measures 3/4″ tall, 6″ in diameter and is decorated with chartresuse and white matte glazes and a chocolate gloss glaze. The big bright leaves against the white plate will make any dish you are serving look great…maybe even mine.
Posted by: Becca / follow my Etsy shop on Twitter
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How to Clean Up After a Flood

Since RI is presently still trying to asses the depth and breadth of damage cause by the historical flooding we all just faced, I though I’d look up and provide some tips on how to deal with the clean up after flooding. Across RI and surrounding states, homeowners are presently faced with one of the worst floods many of us have ever seen. When your house floods, the water can wreak havoc on the structure of the house, your personal belongings, and the health of the environment inside your home now and into the future. Faced with no flood insurance and lacking resources, many do not even know where to start.

Here are some tips on cleanup that may help you and I wish you the best in your burdensome and painful mess. Before you start any clean up, and even if you don’t insurance, document everything.  If your insurance covers the damage, your agent will tell you when an adjuster will contact you. List damage and take photos or videotape as you clean. You’ll need complete records for insurance claims, applications for disaster assistance and income tax deductions.  Apply for the federal money coming into the state. If they tell you to wait to clean up, then wait, but once you have the clearance to clean, here’s a list of common techniques for sanitizing and cleaning flooded items compiled from various expert sources:

Contaminated mud
Flood waters are contaminated and considering the sewage treatment overlfows we’ve had throughout the state, the mud is load with bacteria. Shovel out as much mud as possible, then use a garden sprayer or hose to wash away mud from hard surfaces.

Pump out the basement
If your basement is full or nearly full of water, pump out just 2 or 3 feet of water each day. If you drain the basement too quickly, the pressure outside the walls will be greater than the pressure inside the walls. That may make the walls and floor crack and collapse. Help the drying process by using fans, air conditioning units, and dehumidifiers.

Clean and disinfect every surface. Scrub surfaces with hot water and a heavy-duty cleaner. Then disinfect with a solution of 1/4 cup chlorine bleach per gallon of water or a product that is labeled as a disinfectant to kill germs.

Remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected (such as, mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings, and most paper products).

In the kitchen

  • Immerse glass, porcelain, china, plastic dinnerware and enamelware for 10 minutes in a disinfecting solution of 2 tablespoons of chlorine bleach per gallon of hot water. Air-dry dishes. Do not use a towel.
  • Disinfect silverware, metal utensils, and pots and pans by boiling in water for 10 minutes. Chlorine bleach should not be used in this case because it reacts with many metals and causes them to darken.
  • Cupboards and counters need to be cleaned and rinsed with a chlorine bleach solution before storing dishes.

Furniture and household items

  • Take furniture, rugs, bedding and clothing outside to dry as soon as possible. Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to remove moisture or open at least two windows to ventilate with outdoor air. Use fans to circulate air in the house. If mold and mildew have already developed, brush off items outdoors to prevent scattering spores in the house. Vacuum floors, ceilings and walls to remove mildew, then wash with disinfectant. Wear a two-strap protective mask to prevent breathing mold spores.
  • Mattresses should be thrown away.
  • Upholstered furniture soaks up contaminants from floodwaters and should be cleaned only by a professional.
  • Wood veneered furniture is usually not worth the cost and effort of repair. Solid wood furniture can usually be restored, unless damage is severe.
  • Toys and stuffed animals may have to be thrown away if they’ve been contaminated by floodwaters.
  • Photographs, books and important papers can be frozen and cleaned later. They should be dried carefully and slowly. Wash the mud off and store the articles in plastic bags and put them in a frost-free freezer to protect from mildew and further damage until you have time to thaw and clean them or take them to a professional.

Ceilings and walls

  • Wallboard acts like a sponge when wet. Remove wallboard, plaster and paneling to at least the flood level. If soaked by contaminated floodwater, it can be a permanent health hazard and should be removed. If most of the wallboard was soaked by clean rainwater, consider cutting a 4- to 12-inch-high section from the bottom and top of walls. This creates a “chimney effect” of air movement for faster drying. A reciprocating saw with a metal cutting blade works well, but use only the tip of the blade and watch out for pipes, ductwork and wiring.
  • Plaster and paneling can often be saved, but air must be circulated in the wall cavities to dry the studs and sills.
  • The three kinds of insulation must be treated differently. Styrofoam might only need to be hosed off. Fiberglass batts should be thrown out if muddy but may be reused if dried thoroughly. Loose or blown-in cellulose should be replaced since it holds water for a long time and can lose its antifungal and fire retardant abilities.

Electrical system
The system must be shut off and repaired and inspected by an electrician before it can be turned back on. Wiring must be completely dried out- even behind walls. Switches, convenience outlets, light outlets, entrance panel, and junction boxes that have been under water may be filled with mud.

Heating and cooling systems and ducts
Will need inspection and cleaning. Flood-soaked insulation should be replaced.

Appliances
Appliances will get stains, odors, silt deposits, and gritty deposits and need to be serviced, cleaned and sanitized. Running equipment before it is properly cleaned could seriously damage it and/or shock you. Professional cleaning is recommended for electronics, TVs and radios, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, and vacuum cleaners. The hard exterior can be hand cleaned. All metallic appliances that have been flooded should be properly grounded to prevent electric shock. Mud or dirt in a grounded outlet or adapter may prevent the grounding system from working, and you could be electrocuted.

Floors
With wood subflooring, the floor covering (vinyl, linoleum, carpet) must be removed so the subflooring can dry thoroughly which may take several months. Open windows and doors to expose the boards to as much air as possible.

Carpeting
Clean and dry carpets and rugs as quickly as possible. If sewage-contaminated floodwater covered your carpeting, discard it for health safety reasons. Also discard if the carpet was under water for 24 hours or more. To clean, drape carpets and rugs outdoors and hose them down. Work a disinfecting carpet cleaner into soiled spots with a broom. To discourage mildew and odors, rinse with a solution of 2 tablespoons bleach to 1 gallon water, but don’t use this solution on wool or nylon carpets. Dry the carpet and floor thoroughly before replacing the carpet. Padding is nearly impossible to clean so should be replaced. If the carpet can’t be removed, dry it as quickly as possible using a wet/dry vacuum and dehumidifier. Use a fan to circulate air above the carpet, and if possible, lift the carpet and ventilate with fans underneath.

Vinyl flooring and floor tile may need to be removed to allow drying of subfloor.

Wood floors
Wooden floors should be dried gradually. Sudden drying could cause cracking or splitting. Some restoration companies can accelerate drying time by forcing air through the fluted underside of hardwood floorboards. Remove hardwood floor boards to prevent buckling. Remove a board every few feet to reduce buckling caused by swelling. Clean and dry wood before attempting repairs.

Roof damage and leaks

  • Defective flashing– Flashing is the sheet metal used in waterproofing roof valleys, hips and the angle between a chimney and a roof. Wet spots near a chimney or outside wall may mean the leak is caused by defective flashing, narrow flashing or loose mortar joints. Look for corroded, loose or displaced flashing on sloping roof valleys and at junctions of dormers and roof.
  • Clogged downspouts or eaves– Check for choked downspouts. Accumulated water or snow on the roof above the flashing may cause a leak. Ice accumulations on eaves sometimes form ridges, which cause melting snow to back up under the shingles.
  • Cracks and deterioration– Roofing (especially wood or composition shingles) usually deteriorates first on southern exposures. Check southern slopes for cracking or deterioration.
  • Holes– Missing shingles or holes in the roofing may be causing wet spots. To find holes, check for a drip trail or spot of light coming through in the attic. Stick a nail, straw or wire through the hole to mark the spot on the outside.

Private sewage systems
Flooding of a private sewage system can be a hazardous situation for homeowners. It may lead to a back-up of sewage in the home, contaminated drinking water and lack of sanitation until the system is fixed. When flooding or saturated soil conditions persist, a private sewage system cannot function properly. Soil treatment systems for wastewater rely on aerobic (with oxygen) regions to reduce the amounts of chemicals and living organisms (viruses, bacteria and protozoa). When the soil is saturated or flooded, those hazardous materials can enter the groundwater and your drinking water supply.

As you prepare for the clean up remember to keep children and pets out of the affected area until cleanup has been completed. For yourself, please wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles during cleanup of affected area. After completing the cleanup, wash your hands with soap and warm water. Use water that has been boiled for 1 minute (allow the water to cool before washing your hands). Wash all clothes worn during the cleanup in hot water and detergent. These clothes should be washed separately from uncontaminated clothes and linens. And remember, seek immediate medical attention if you become injured or ill during or after a clean up.

Good luck

posted by Kimberly Lancaster |  Twitter

Healthy Furniture is the Future in a Green Home

The new rage in interior design is eco friendly and healthy fabrics, surfaces, textures and finishes.   People are finding the importance to using local woods and organic material, they are making a change to their carbon footprint, and making changes in order to “green” their lives.  Switching to organic foods, cleaners and even the way they care for their pets and lawn.  Many people have started looking further into organic living and have started to purchase organic materials for their clothing as well as taking a step back and looking at the furniture including their beds which they spend almost half their lives lounging on. 

The things that make a couch structurally sound and comfortable may actually be harmful to humans and their pets.  According to research done by Building Green there is evidence that the flame halogenated retardants used on most couches can be very harmful to animals as well as humans.  Buying a couch that is made with Wool Linings is much safer.

BiOH polyols are a soy based ingredient used in upholstered furniture, bedding, carpet backing and even automobile seats.  The reason the switch to BiOH is such a great choice is because they are made from soy bean oil which is a renewable source unlike traditional foam which is made from petroleum-based products.  It is a comparable product without having such a large environmental footprint.  It is a responsible choice for those looking for an environmentally friendly product. 

Using locally harvested wood for furniture is another important factor when consumers think about green furniture purchases.  The amount of time, money, energy and fuel it costs to ship a piece of wood from one place to another is costly and damaging to the environment.  This is why so many consumers are looking for local manufacturers to purchase their furniture from. 

When we went furniture hunting we wanted a company that had a solid green mission and offered a range of products including natural local woods, natural fabrics, and sourced from local companies.

We fell in love with New England based Circle Furniture, who works with manufacturers that have a commitment to the environment.  Most of the wood products made for Circle are made by people in New England including one of my favorites Maine Cottage which is where we got the bunk beds and bookshelves (picutred below) for Max’s room, Abby’s desk, and the bed and side tables for the guest room. They are locally made with low-VOC paints and finishes and have beautiful natural fabric choices as well. Paints and finishes are one of the leading causes for polluted indoor air according to the EPA.  Paints and finishes allow low level toxic emissions into the air over time.  Volatile Organic Compounds were once important to the performance of the paint, but now low VOC and zero-VOC paints and finishes are available and are becoming very popular and in some cases required by new environmental regulations. 

The same goes for mattresses, we even bought new organic mattresses for the new beds.  Circle also uses Copeland which is a manufacturer that uses woods from forests that are not threatened and do not contain genetically modified trees, making them part of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).  Copeland was recently awarded the 2009 Sage Award for reducing the industry’s environmental footprint. We chose this gorgeous Milford “cuddle couch” in a super soft corduroy fabric.

There are so many ways to decorate your home in sustainable style; it is getting much easier every year to find companies that construct attractive furniture using solid woods (FSC certified in some cases), natural fibers and low or no VOC finishes and varnishes. 

Furniture is an investment. As we have moved several times over the years, we’ve actually sold furniture with our house and it was fun to get to buy a number of new eco-friendly furniture pieces for the new house. It is important to note that inexpensive furniture is often made using composite woods that are made from glues that can contain formaldehyde—a known carcinogen!   Furniture treated for stain resistance contains chemicals that can pollute the air in your home.  So though we left off the stain protection we selected pieces with highly durable fabrics and finishes yet didn’t forgo style or comfort to bring green furniture into our home.

Kimberly Lancaster | follow me on Twitter

The Eco Chick Guide to Life: How to Be Fabulously Green

The Eco Chick Guide to Life: How to be fabulously Green is a great read for anyone looking to green up there life!   It is available on the Kindle and also printed on recycled paper for those of us who like to read old school style.  And to be more eco-fabulous you can order a used copy off Amazon! 

The author Starre Vartan does a great job making looking like an eco chick, easy!  She gives tons of ideas on how to eco friendly and still stay stylish.  Vartan shows us where to shop for vintage and recycled jewelry, where to find shoes made from recycled materials, and how important it is to wear organic and vintage clothing. 

Another great find in this book for those of us who like to have a good time is being able to throw and eco chic party.  Buying organic drinks and shopping the farmers market for food and flowers!

This book is insightful as well as fun to read.  Vartan shares with her readers some great recipes, she even tries to convince you to switch back to your grandmothers cast iron pans for their health benefits.  Making your own cleaners out of baking soda and other products already in your cupboards, she even tells you how to make your own toothpaste! 

Posted by Kate Kiselka, follow me on twitter

Energy Efficient Window Treatments

 

When people are choosing window treatments for their homes, most often times their primary concern is decoration or privacy. But window treatments can be a major factor in how energy efficient your home is. Selecting the right treatment can help you lower energy consumption in your home which is not only good for the earth, but good for your wallet as well.

Window shades can be very effective at preventing heat loss in the winter if they are installed correctly. Shades should be mounted as close to the glass as possible and the sides should be held close to the wall. This will create a sealed air space that will make it difficult for heat to escape. Raising the shades on sunlit windows during the day and then lowering them at night will help make the shades as energy efficient as possible. Also, consider dual shades as they are highly reflective (white) on one side and heat absorbent (black) on the other.

To prevent heat gain in the summer, blinds may be your best option. Blinds don’t do very much good when trying to prevent heat loss as the numerous openings between the slats   make it difficult to control how much heat you lose. However, when it comes to reducing heat gain, blinds have an advantage over shades because these slats can be adjusted to control ventilation and light. Highly reflective blinds can reduce heat gain by around 45% when completely closed and lowered on a sunny window.

The material is also very important when selecting an energy efficient window treatment. The best way to check a treatment’s energy efficiency is to look at the R-Value and Shading Coefficient. The R-Value will tell you the material’s effectiveness in preventing heat loss while the Shading Coefficient tells you how much heat is coming through the window. So, for example, if you are more concerned with heat loss than you are with heat gain, you would want to choose a material with a high R-Value and a low Shading Coefficient.

No one treatment is the most energy efficient for every situation. It mostly depends on the region you live in and what your primary insulation needs are. But as long as you keep all of these things in mind, you’ll be able to choose a treatment that looks great and is energy efficient as well.

Richard Moyle is the Internet Marketing Coordinator for Horizon Window Treatments.

Horizon is the largest and most trusted retailer of window treatments in New York City. 

How to Realign Your Lifestyle Using Eco-Principles

With our global emphasis on green and sustainable living, many people are actively doing their part to engage in “green acts”. Whether it’s recycling, toting reusable grocery bags, there are a number of ways to engage yourself in balanced living

Seeing Differently

Step 1 to realigning your lifestyle using eco-principles is to begin seeing differently. See your entire existence as emerged within eco-living, rather than you as an individual acting out green acts.

 Stuart Haygarth would have taken this advice literally, inventing a sustainable eye glass chandelier that uses 620 pairs of discarded lenses to form a globe-like chandelier. For the designer, perhaps his living art is not only an example of using creativity to craft lifestyle choices, but also symbolic of what visionary work we can accomplish if we begin to see a little differently.

 Turning a Domestic Green Leaf

Turning over a green leaf begins with ourselves, in how we think and then in how we carry out those thoughts. Once we have internal balance, our focus can shift smoothly to an external balance. And while you may not be able to go save the rain forest, you can begin by changing how you view your home.

 View your home as an eco-habitat in itself, and once you perceive your home this way, you’ll treat it with more green care. The simplest way to begin thinking this way is to look at what toxic elements could be in your home – perhaps in your vacuum cleaner, carpet, paint, whether you have energy-efficient appliances, or even checking to see if the plastics you use to cook and eat with are made with toxic chemicals. It’s really very simple and just takes a small effort in reprogramming how you think. Once you shift how you think, your new thought patterns become healthy lifestyle habits.

 The Mind Body Equation

 Equally as important as your home is another vessel that you inhabit daily – your mind and body. These two are just as relevant in your eco thinking as your actions. When it comes to eco thinking, your habits aren’t just about what products you use or what daily habits you have that save that extra little bit of energy or water. It’s about how you think.

 Eco thinking is about harmony with one’s environment. And one of the most important things that should be in a harmonious state is our central selves. If we cannot achieve this, then in essence our eco habits are just frustrated (but not natural) extensions of ourselves. Achieving an eco balance internally through meditation, exercise, and intellectual stimulation is the simple solution to turning a truly balanced green leaf.

Shireen Qudosi

GREENER PRODUCT approves 3rd party certifications for green building products

NEWS RELEASE

GREENER PRODUCT approves 3rd party certifications for green building products

CHARLESTON, SC – January 20, 2009 – According to a recent published report by the BBMG Conscious Consumer Report: Redefining Value in a New Economy nearly one in four U.S. consumers (23%) say they have “no way of knowing” if a product is green or actually does what it claims, signaling a lack of confidence in green marketing and revealing a widespread “green trust gap,”.

“There is a lot of green-washing in sustainable building today” according to Peter Rundle, Greener Product LLC. “As architects, designers and contractors develop more LEED certified buildings there is a growing need for an easy, fast and inexpensive method to find qualified “green” building products manufactured by environmentally responsible producers. We believe the Greener Product search engine provides a solution” stated Rundle.

The Greener Product platform utilizes the most successful method ever developed to connect the manufacturer directly to the end buyer. The recently introduced search tool, powered by the Greener Product proprietary software is an online service that allows building product manufacturers to “tell their green story” directly to 100,000 LEED APs, 200,000 architects and 5,000 of the most influential architectural companies. “Manufacturers can easily demonstrate how their products contribute to a green building project, help in providing valuable environmental answers and make it easy for their sales force to more clearly define their commitment to green building and customer service” stated Mr. Rundle.

Approved 3rd Party Certifications for LEED and NAHB rating standards

Forest Stewardship Council – FSC is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests. Established in 1993 as a response to concerns over global deforestation, FSC is widely regarded as one of the most important initiatives of the last decade to promote responsible forest management worldwide.

Sustainable Forest Initiative – SFI Inc. is an independent, non-profit organization responsible for maintaining, overseeing and improving a sustainable forestry certification program that is internationally recognized and is the largest single forest standard in the world.

Green Guard Institute – The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) is an industry-independent, non-profit organization that oversees the GREENGUARD Certification Program SM. As an ANSI Authorized Standards Developer, GEI establishes acceptable indoor air standards for indoor products, environments, and buildings.

Blue Angel – Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2008, The Blue Angel is the first and oldest environmental label for products and services in the world. Since 1978 it has set the standard for eco-friendly products and services selected by an independent jury and approved by the German Government. This standard requires that the product contains no carcinogenic or halogenated organic compounds, no presence organic compounds or formaldehyde, and a low-level of hazardous flame-retardants and moth repellents

Scientific Certification Systems – SCS is a global leader in independent certification of environmental, sustainability, food quality and food purity claims. Over two decades, SCS has developed internationally recognized standards and certification programs aimed at spurring the highest level of environmental improvements, social accountability and product performance.

Composite Panel Association Testing and Certification Center – CPA was the first Third Party Certifier (TPC) in the world to be approved by CARB. Since May 14, 2008, CPA has been certifying manufacturers to the CARB rule. CPA is now certifying North American manufacturers of particleboard, MDF, and hardwood plywood for CARB.

NSF International – NSF is one of the most widely-respected and recognized global third-party certification providers. As such, NSF is uniquely qualified to evaluate your products and systems.

Floor Score – The FloorScore® program, developed by the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) in conjunction with Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), tests and certifies flooring products for compliance with indoor air quality emission requirements adopted nation-wide.

Green Label – In 1992, CRI launched its Green Label program to test carpet, cushions and adhesives to help specifiers identify products with very low emissions of VOCs. CRI has recently launched its next series of improvements called Green Label Plus for carpet and adhesives.

About Greener Product LLC

Greener Product has developed the world’s first online platform that creates a marketplace for the analysis of green building materials. Greener Product, LLC provides architects, builders and the public a quick and easy online platform for searching and evaluating “green” products according to the internationally recognized United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) rating standards.

For further information please contact

Greener Product Team

info@greenerproduct.com

Tel: 843 576 0112 x 121

http://www.greenerproduct.com