Saturday, May 30, 2009

Reasons to adopt a green cleaning service - No. #2

Did you know?

Many cleaning companies in Singapore use standard all-purpose cleaners on the job. These may contain toxins that can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled. Synthetic solvents may cause hormone disruptions. Organic solvents such as butyl cellosolve are neurotoxins and nasal irritants. Another toxin, morpholine, can cause liver or kidney damage. They may also use standard Glass cleaners that contain ammonia, a poison that can irritate skin, eyes, and the respiratory system.

At Green Cleaners, all the products we use in your home or office are non toxic and environmentally friendly (and they clean just as well as their toxic peers! :) )

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

5 Plants You Can Grow In Your Home

For some of us gardening in a traditional garden just isn't a reality. In Singapore most of us are packed into large condos with little to no green space of our own to speak of. But that doesn't mean that you can't grow your own plants and some of your own food. I would also have to advise that if you’re interested in actually gardening in a large city that you get involved in a community garden so that you can get down and dirty with the planet to your heart's content. As a general rule, select as large a container as possible. Small containers dry out more quickly and need daily watering. If you have a balcony, or just some well lighted areas with space for potted plants.

Try these easy-to-grow potted plants:

Aloe Vera
Known for its ability to soothe burns and re-hydrate skin, and it's one of the easiest potted plants to care for especially if you're super busy. It requires several hours of direct sunlight and watering only twice per month to thrive. It is tolerant of climate change.

Pole Beans
Pole beans grow well in a large pot if they're trained on a trellis or tepee made from bamboo poles. Plant the seeds 2 to 3 inches apart. The pot should be at least 14 inches high and the temperature of the soil should be at least 60 degrees.

Plant seeds 1 to 2 inches apart in soil that's at least 55 degrees. The pot should be at least 14 inches high because carrots have long roots.

Companion Planted Herbs
Select herbs that grow well together like oregano and thyme. Because they are both from the same Mediterranean climate they require similar conditions. Plant them in a shallow pot so that the soil will remain warm throughout. Herbs grow fast and should begin to be harvested in about a month.

You truly don't even need to plant many varieties of lettuce in the ground at all and they often sprout all year round. They do need a lot of sun so move the pot around the house so that it's constantly getting sunlight.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

US Schools going Green

Environmentally friendly maintenance products and "green cleaning" practices will soon be mandatory in all Connecticut (US) public schools.

The state Senate unanimously approved a bill Tuesday requiring school districts to adopt "green cleaning" methods similar to those already in place in other States such as; Illinois and New York and individual districts in other states.

Connecticut's state House of Representatives approved the measure this month, and it now goes to Gov. M. Jodi Rell for her signature.

"This is another small step in making sure we can do things in a better way - not just for the environment, but I think also for public health," said state Sen. John McKinney, R-Fairfield.

The law takes effect July 1, 2011, and bars school districts from using cleaning products that contain various toxic substances. That deadline gives districts time to use the products already on hand rather than throwing them away. Supporters say the law will improve indoor air quality and help safeguard the health of students, teachers and custodians.

Connecticut already requires "green cleaning" practices for all state-owned buildings, including its universities and vocational-technical schools.

The measure requires cleaning products used in schools - including general purpose and glass cleaners, floor finishes and strippers, and hand cleansers and soaps - to carry the Green Seal or Eco Logo certifications as being environmentally friendly.

Supporters say the cost of "green" products has gone down and they're now about the same as traditional products, and that some districts say they have even saved money by making the switch.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Eco Everest Expedition

Dawa Steven Sherpa is leader of Eco Everest Expeditions, aiming to educate climbers about their impact on the Himalayas and highlight the affects of climate change on the region.

On May 21, his fellow climber Apa Sherpa broke the world record for successful summits of Mount Everest, standing on the top of the world's highest mountain for the 19th time.

"I want people to see that our mountains are really fragile and vulnerable to what we do as humans. As well as the impact of warming temperatures on the Himalayas there are more direct impacts from climbers." Dawa Steven said.

"There's a big problem with human waste on the mountain. Toilet bags have been introduced on expeditions in the last two years, so it can be transported back down the mountain again," he said.

Dawa Steven and Eco Everest are also encouraging mountaineers to bring down trash that they find on the mountain with a "Cash for Trash" program; Eco Everest offers 100 rupees for each kilo of trash brought back down.

Eco Everest expedition teams also use parabolic solar cookers harnessing the strong sunlight of the mountain region.

"They're really good, you just point it at the sun and about 30 minutes later you have a pot of boiling water," Dawa Steven said. "If I can use it in the harsh environment of base camp Everest then anyone can use it back home."

Friday, May 22, 2009

Singapore building a sustainable living environment

Singapore will step up its efforts to build a sustainable living environment. The Environment and Water Resources Ministry, which spelt out its plans in its addendum to the President's Address delivered on Monday, said its vision is to create a 'Sustainable Singapore' where people use limited resources efficiently and innovatively, and proactively develop capabilities to deal with emerging challenges.

On boosting resource efficiency, Environment and Water Resources Minister Yaacob Ibrahim said his ministry will encourage recycling and conservation efforts through public education and working with the community.

The government will also invest in new capabilities to reduce waste and control pollution, in addition to Singapore's expertise in clean water and energy.

Dr Yaacob said a high quality living environment is Singapore's pride and joy, and is also key to attracting investments and global talents.

It will expand the Active, Beautiful and Clean Waters Programme to transform more water bodies into new and aesthetically pleasing community spaces.

The ministry will also uphold high standards of public health by ensuring good hygiene at food outlets, and step up efforts to keep public spaces litter-free.

SINGAPORE'S clean and green environment helps attract international friends, investors and talent, Environment and Water Resources Minister Yaacob Ibrahim said yesterday.

In his ministry's addendum to the President's address in Parliament, he said the quality of the environment will always be 'our pride and joy', having taken years of careful, coordinated and consistent policies to achieve.

The environment will remain essential to the country's growth, so Singaporeans must use resources more efficiently, recycle more and waste less, he said.

'Doing so will not only see us play our role in the global issue of climate change, but will also help us reduce costs, improve our energy security and enhance our economic competitiveness.'

Dr Yaacob also said Singapore's 'robust and sustainable' water supply is sufficient to meet long-term needs. And to manage demand, 'we will sustain our efforts in water conservation through public education and working with community and businesses'.

The Active, Beautiful and Clean (ABC) Waters programme will be expanded to include more water bodies to add more vibrancy to the living environment, he said.

The government will also take steps to guard Singapore's air quality and control pollution from industry and vehicles to make sure air quality here 'remains among the best in Asia, and comparable with major cities around the world'.

To meet new and emerging environmental challenges, the government will invest in new capabilities to reduce waste and control pollution, Dr Yaacob said. 'As environmental and water issues come to the fore on the global agenda, such capabilities can help us position Singapore as a global hub for environment and water solutions, providing economic opportunities and jobs for Singaporeans and helping humanity beyond Singapore.

'Our vision is to create a sustainable Singapore where we use our limited resources efficiently and innovatively; pro-actively develop capabilities to deal with emerging challenges; uphold our high quality of life; and foster shared ownership of the environment.'

More focus on conserving water - Water appliances to get efficiency labels; other plans include reducing pollution, cutting waste....

THE decades-long 'save water' calls finally seem to be sinking in here.

Last year, each person in Singapore used 156 litres of water a day - 16 litres, or about two buckets, less a day than in 1995.

It has taken these 13 years for the figure to fall by nearly 10 per cent.

A few moves to kick in from July ought to cut it further.

From that month, taps and toilet flushing equipment sold here must bear labels stating how water efficient they are.

Also from July: Water appliances installed in new and renovated homes will have to have at least a 'one-tick' water- efficiency rating. Similar rules for energy efficiency already apply to electrical appliances sold here.

Where water consumption is concerned, the target is to have each person use no more than 147 litres a day by 2020, and 140 litres a day by 2030.

The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources said yesterday it would keep its eye on the ball for water conservation through public education.

In its addendum to the President's parliamentary address on Monday, the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Yaacob Ibrahim also committed his ministry to ensuring that Singapore uses its energy, water and other resources efficiently.

The addendum released yesterday also said the ministry would continue working to create a high-quality living environment here by, among other things:

# Cleaning up and beautifying reservoirs and waterways;

# Curbing air pollution;

# Maintaining hygienic eating places;

# Keeping public places litter-free, and

# Reducing mosquito breeding.

The ministry said that next month, it will release more details of its plans to invest money in technologies to reduce pollution levels.

As it stands now, the air quality in Singapore as measured by the Pollutant Standards Index is in the 'good' range for 350 days of the year.

Details will also be released on the efforts to cut waste, which amounted to 5.97 million tonnes last year.

With Singapore gearing up to be home to 6.5 million people, it will have to face up to more pollution and even bigger mounds of waste.

Already, waste disposal rates have grown sixfold in 30 years.

Dr Yaacob said initiatives to cut pollution and waste will bring down costs, improve energy security and enhance Singapore's economic competitiveness.

The Republic can thus be positioned as 'a global hub for environment and water solutions, providing economic opportunities and jobs for Singaporeans and helping humanity beyond Singapore', he said.

The clean technology sector is expected to create 18,000 more jobs and add $3.4 billion to the country's gross domestic product over the next six years.

Monday, May 18, 2009

7 Eco-Tips to Fight Diseases

With fears of swine flu spreading, sales of hand sanitizers and anti-bacterial soaps are soaring. But studies have shown that you don’t need all those chemicals and high-priced, individually-packaged cleaning products. The best steps you can take to prevent getting sick from swine flu – in addition to a host of other more serious infections, including salmonella, strep, staph, E. coli on down to the common cold — are far simpler and considerably more eco-friendly.

You can’t avoid exposure to these common disease-causing critters – they are simply present in the world around us. But you can take simple steps to keep yourself and your family safe from dangerous infectious viruses and bacteria.

1. Stop Shaking Hands
Unless you’re a politician, you can keep the hand-pumping to a minimum. Kissing hello and goodbye on the cheek may actually be even safer than a firm handshake – and a lot more fun. If you can pull it off, consider blowing kisses (though admittedly, this is a far cuter gesture when executed by a baby). Or perhaps you could single-handedly bring back the Eurotrash custom of air kissing — sure it’s been deservedly dissed as pretentious, but it’s oh-so-sanitary. We all must be brave when facing down epidemics.

2. Clean Your Computer Keyboard
Especially if you share your computer with the family or co-workers, it is vital to disinfect this gadget that your fingers come into contact with for hours every day. Use straight alcohol – no, do not spray it on the keyboard. Spray it on a clean cloth or paper towel and then wipe the keyboard several times.

3. Wash Your Hands – but you’re probably doing it wrong.
The Mayo Clinic and the Centers for Disease Control say that the single most important step you can take to stop the spread of infectious diseases is to wash your hands. Soap and water can be even more effective than some hand rubs with alcohol.

4. The best technique – rub, rub, rub and take your time.
You have to scrub both hands, inside, outside, interlacing fingers and then rubbing energetically, like a miser who has just discovered that his stock portfolio did not really drop 40% in the last four months – for as long as it takes to sing Happy Birthday to You twice.

5. Don’t touch the doorknob on your way out.
So you’ve just washed your hands, sung a heart-rending version of “I Did It My Way,” and you figure you’re clean as a whistle and safe from germs. Then you unlock the bathroom door, turn the door knob – and boom – you may as well not have bothered washing your hands.

Here’s how that scene should have gone. After washing, you wipe your hands with a recycled paper towel (yes, it is safer than blow-drying, as you’ll see if you just keep reading), and then use that towel to turn off the water faucet and to grab the door handle on your way out. Even in your very own bathroom at home, door locks, light switches and door handles are the hard-to-clean surfaces that play a large role in transmitting disease.

6. Do not touch your eyes or your nose with your hands.
Yes, this is a hard one. As soon as you even think about not touching your nose, it starts to itch. Especially when you are on the subway or train or plane and someone has just passed by coughing. Remember, the germs on your hands are not dangerous at all until you put them in contact with the vulnerable eyes and nasal passages. Solution: cover your face if someone nearby is coughing or sneezing, but do not actually touch your face. And as for rubbing your eyes or nose – just make sure you carry recycled tissues with you, and cover your fingers with the clean tissue before you (gently) dab your eye or scratch that itch.

7. Hand sanitizers work – but not all of them
It’s fine to buy hand sanitizers and schlep them around with you if you are spending a lot of time beyond the reach of a sink. They work – but only if they are at least 60% alcohol. Otherwise, soap and water work just as well.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

India awards Leela Palace best eco-friendly hotel in country...

The Government of India recently recognized The Leela Palace Kempinski Bangalore as the "best eco-friendly, five star deluxe hotel" in the country. The Union Home Minister, P. Chidambaram and Minister of Tourism, Ambika Soni, presented the National Tourism Award (2007-08) to Rajiv Kaul, Leela's Senior Vice President, at a ceremony in New Delhi in late February.

Located in the "Silicon Valley" of India, The Leela's flagship property is ISO14001 certified and set amidst nine acres of lush tropical gardens. For the last two decades, the visionary chairman of The Leela Palaces Hotels & Resorts, Capt. C. P. Krishnan Nair, has made it his personal passion to focus on beautifying the environment. His inspiration has made him a leading figure in the movement to conserve and protect the environment within the international hotel industry.

"This prestigious recognition from the government of my country is a
very special honor, which I will always cherish," Capt. Nair says. "When India recognizes my crusade to green mother earth, my wife Leela and I feel fulfilled, he says.

Capt. Nair was the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award given by the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences for his contribution as a visionary environmentalist. The Emperor of Japan bestowed on him the world's highest award for his environmental initiatives, the Global 500 Roll of Honor Award from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP.)

Leading by example, the Leela Palaces, Hotels & Resorts has a corporate philosophy of responsibility towards the environment in its operation and new development. The group is committed toward the prevention of pollution and the use of environmentally-friendly technologies including: eco-friendly herbal pesticides, recycling old flowers and leaves for compost and watering the gardens using treated waste water.

The Leela group has received many environmental awards including: The Green Hotelier Award from the International Hotel & Restaurant Association, Paris; the PATA Gold Award for excellence in Corporate Environmental Programme; the V.P. Menon award for environmental initiatives; Maharana Udai Singh Award for distinguished services in the field of environment, and the Corporate Environmental Achievement Award from the 6th World Wilderness Congress.

Drawing inspiration from the architectural style of the Royal Palace of Mysore and the palaces of the Vijayanagara empire, the award-winning Leela Palace Kempinski Bangalore has 357 rooms and suites. The property boasts the largest rooms in the city, with the average room measuring 575 square feet and Royal Club Suites measuring over 1,000 square feet. The palace hotel has four restaurants, Asia's premier urban spa, a fitness center and a swimming pool. With a total 16,360 square feet of meeting space, The Leela is popular with the many IT, software, aerospace and telecommunications companies that are based in Bangalore.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Drive Smart - 20 Tips

Service your engine - Did you know a poorly maintained engine can increase your fuel consumption by up to 50%? Just replacing dirty spark plugs can improve your fuel consumption by up to 5%.

Keep your tyres at the right pressure - If your tyres are under inflated by just 1psi, your fuel efficiency can be reduced by up to 3%. So pump up those tyres up once a week or whenever you fill up.

Avoid carrying excess weight - For every extra 100 lbs (45kg) you carry, your fuel efficiency can drop by 1-2%. So clear your car of unnecessary items that just add weight to your vehicle when you can.

Take the roof rack off - If you're not using your roof rack or your roof box, remove it. A roof rack can affect the aerodynamic efficiency of your vehicle, creating drag which can result in your car using up to 5% more fuel.

Check the air filters - Air filters keep impurities from damaging your engine. Replacing a clogged air filter can help improve your fuel economy by as much as 10% and can help protect your engine.

Use the correct oil - Using the manufacturer's recommended lubricant can help improve fuel efficiency by 1-2%. Higher quality motor oils can also help your engine operate more efficiently. If you're using Shell Fuel Economy, Shell Helix will help you squeeze even more out of every drop by helping your engine run extra smoothly.

Check the seal on your fuel cap - Fuel evaporates every time you open the fuel cap. Make sure your cap is properly screwed on every time after every fill up.

Plan your trips - Cutting down on the time spent in the car is the easiest way to conserve fuel. To reduce driving time, combine all your short trips and errands into a single journey or call ahead to avoid wasted journeys.

Keep hydrated - Don't forget to drink water. When you're well hydrated, you concentrate better. Keep a bottle to hand as you drive and make sure you drink to help keep yourself cool and focused when you drive. And remember, if you ever feel drowsy while driving, pull over and rest at the first opportunity.

Keep calm - That way you'll be able to drive smoothly and anticipate what's going on ahead of you. When you keep calm, you also drive with plenty of distance between your car and others.


Drive smoothly - If you drive aggressively, you'll burn up to a third more fuel than if you drive smoothly. Avoid accelerating or braking too hard and try to keep your steering as even as possible.

Use higher gears - When you drive slowly in a higher gear, you'll burn less fuel. Change up a gear whenever you can.

Keep the windows closed - Wind blowing through an open window slows you down. To compensate, you'll put your foot down harder, using more fuel. So instead of opening a window, try and use your car's internal ventilation system instead of the air conditioning.

Use cruise control - Change up whenever you can. Using cruise control on major roads helps you maintain a constant speed and helps you make all those drops count.

Avoid excess idling - Stuck in a jam? Idling gets you nowhere, but still burns fuel. Turn the engine off when you're in a queue until you need it. As a rule, if you've stopped for over 10 seconds, switch off your engine.

Avoid over-revving - Change gear in good time when you pull away or when you're accelerating. Never 'redline' the rev counter.

Avoid high speeds - The faster you go, the more wind resistance you'll encounter and the more fuel your vehicle will consume just to maintain speed. Driving just 5mph (12kmph) over the speed limit can affect fuel economy by up to 23%. So keep it slow.

Use air-conditioning sparingly - Sometimes it's hard to avoid using your air-conditioning, but remember that it does put added strain on your engine on hot or cold days. And, it increases your fuel consumption by up to 8%. On temperate days, you can always use your car's internal ventilation system instead.

Avoid rush hour - If you can travel outside of peak times, you'll spend less time stuck in traffic and use less fuel drops as a result.

Keep a constant speed - Instead of coasting when you reach a downward slope, maintain steady engine revs. This will mean you pick up speed, and if you've then got a hill to climb, it gives you considerable added momentum to help go up.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

10 Easy Ways to Eat Green

Everyone's heard the cliché "you are what you eat." And, it's true - your health is intimately connected to the foods and drinks you put in your mouth. But, have you ever stopped to consider what other impacts your food choices may have? Industrial farming practices can cause soil and water pollution. Over-packaged, single-size foods result in litter and plastic waste that will linger in landfills for hundreds of years. How far the meal has travelled to reach you? Probably a great distance; increasing air pollution and greenhouse gases. Human health is affected by what we eat, but planetary health is affected by how we eat.

Luckily, we don't have to sacrifice either health or the environment. And, you might even find that when you start considering both and making smarter choices, your foods are more flavorful and cooking is more enjoyable. But, let's not get ahead of ourselves. Start simple by trying the easy (and affordable) tips below.

1. Eat a healthier snack like a organic apple. Organic certification guarantees that the product has been grown, handled and processed without synthetic pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, artificial ingredients, preservatives and without using genetic modification or irradiation. Organic certification also means the farmer is promoting biological diversity by rotating crops, conserving and renewing the soil, and protecting water sources.

Organic foods are the best investment you can make for your health, but they can cost quite a bit more. According to the Environmental Working Group, you can lower your pesticide exposure by 90 per cent simply by avoiding the most contaminated conventionally grown produce: peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, imported grapes, carrots, and pears. If you're really craving one of these foods, opt for organic. Conventionally grown fruits and vegetables that have the lowest levels of pesticide residue include: onion, avocado, sweet corn, pineapple, mango, asparagus, sweet peas, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, papaya, watermelon, broccoli, tomato, and sweet potato.

2. Ease up on animal fats. Meat and dairy products are major sources of saturated fat in your diet, and contribute to higher risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Animal products can also contain hormones, antibiotics and organochlorine chemicals, such as dioxin, DDT and other pesticides, which concentrate in animal fat. Modern meat production also consumes water, energy and land. Animal waste produces air and water pollution. And red meat production creates about 3.5 times more greenhouse gases than that of grains.

When you do buy meat, poultry or dairy, look for low fat options (get the unsaturated fats your body needs from plant sources like walnuts, flax seeds, and avocados). You can also do a favor for your body and the planet by reducing how much meat you eat. Making even one vegetarian meal a week can make a big difference.

3. Ban the can. Canned foods and beverages are lined with a resin that contains bisphenol-A, a hormone-disrupting chemical that's building up in our environment and our bodies. Most manufacturers are beginning to explore safer alternatives, but in the meantime you should choose foods that are fresh, dried or frozen or packaged in glass jars or tetra packs.

4. Select safer seafood. Eating seafood is the primary way we are exposed to methylmercury, a potent neurotoxin. Fish can also be contaminated with PCBs, which the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the Environmental Protection Agency have declared a probable carcinogen. In addition, many commercial fishing practices damage the aquatic ecosystems by depleting fish stocks to dangerous levels. Worldwide about 90% of large predatory fish stocks are already gone. Use the Environmental Defense Fund's Safe Seafood Selector to find species that are lowest in chemical and heavy metal contamination, and that are fished in ways that are not harmful to our oceans.

5. Bulk up. It's common knowledge that buying in bulk saves money, but it also reduces waste because there's so much less packaging. In addition, bulk foods are often less processed so you reduce your exposure to questionable food additives. Bulk cook staples like beans and other legumes and store them in your freezer in serving sizes that are appropriate for your family size.

6. Turn on your tap. Plastic bottled water is over-priced, over packaged, and not necessarily cleaner than tap. In fact, municipal tap water is more regulated than bottled water and some bottled water is just tap water with a clever name. It's a waste of your money that creates enormous amounts of waste.

Make an investment in a water filter and reusable stainless steel water bottles. They quickly pay for themselves. While you're at it, skip the soda and other bottled drinks. Water's much better for you.

7. Purge plastic. Okay, it's almost impossible to eliminate plastic - and sometimes there's no better choice. Still, plastics are clogging our landfills, polluting our Oceans (check out the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, 100 million tons of debris that's essentially made a trash island in the ocean), and being petroleum-based products, they create a lot of pollution when they're manufactured. In regards to human health, studies are piling up showing how chemicals leach from many plastics and end up in our food and drinks. For your food, glass is the safest bet and extremely affordable. Most second-hand stores have loads of glassware and old spaghetti or jars are super for storing leftovers.

8. Read a food label - for real. Ever stop to read the ingredients label on packaged, processed foods? It's usually a mouthful of words most of us have a hard time pronouncing, so what exactly are you eating? You can learn which food additives are safe and which are not by visiting The Center for Science in the Public Interest's food safety guide, but it's even easier to simply choose whole foods. Whole foods are not processed, so they have all their natural nutritional gifts - and less processing means less pollution. Look for foods made from whole grains (think whole wheat bread, oatmeal and brown rice) - and it should say "whole" on the label. Make more foods from scratch (it's easier than you think). You'll end up saving money, eating healthier and reducing all the waste created from packaging and processing foods.

9. Look for local. Food from local farms is fresher and closer to ripeness, has used less energy for transport and is less likely to have been treated with post-harvest pesticides. Buying local products also supports regional farmers and preserves farmland. Ask for local produce, meat and dairy at your market and see what they show you. Better yet, visit your local farmer's market. You'll be supporting your community, saving money, protecting the planet, and eating healthier.

10. Savor your flavors! When was the last time you really experienced your food? Really took some time to appreciate what you're eating? From the crisp juiciness of a fresh apple to the creamy, cool sweetness of a spoonful of ice cream, are you really tasting what you put in your mouth or are you thoughtlessly inhaling? We've become so accustomed to fast food (whether at home or at the drive-thru), we've nearly lost the ability to appreciate our culinary bounty. When we eat without thinking, we're more apt to choose foods that are less healthy (for us and the Earth) and to overeat whatever we've slopped onto our plate (if it even made it on to a dish). Take a moment to savor the flavor, to think about where your food came from, and to feel a little gratitude.

Monday, May 11, 2009

5 Inexpensive Green Items Everyone Should Own!!

Let's keep this simple, and brief: if you're new to the green lifestyle, these 5 items are absolute musts. (If you're not, then you might already have most of them) And don't worry—these are some of the simplest, cheapest, and most readily available goods around. They just so happen to be green staples: they're some of the most important things you can buy to cut down on waste and save major energy.

So get your hands on these 5 cheap green goods: they'll make a world of difference in reining in your carbon footprint:

Thermos/Mug/Water Bottle: I told you this was going to be easy. Having a trusty water bottle, thermos, or mug that you can carry around and fill up with water or coffee at various establishments will cut down on phenomenal amounts of waste over the years.

Tote bag: Put an end to the paper or plastic eco conundrum once and for all—get yourself a reusable tote bag and don't let either pile up in landfills.

Clothesline: Our culture dictates that convenience and expedience come first—hence the clothes drier being ever presnet in our homes. But it shouldn't be. Why pay for and suck down electricity, when you can dry your clothes for free? Sure, it might take a bit longer, but using a clothesline is cheaper and greener.

Smart Strip: These handy surge protectors will stave off the effects of vampire power—how plugged in appliances drain electricity even when turned off. Smart strips vary in affordability, though the savings in electricity will more than make up for the cost. These are a must for any green home.

Water Filter: Combine this with numero uno, and you'll never have to buy bottled water again. This is one of the most important items every environmentally conscious soul should own—it turns your tap into an endless fountain of fresh tasting water, and cuts the waste out of your water.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Singapore's green pull

SPRUCING up and greening Singapore with trees all over the island was a key economic strategy from Day One, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said on Wednesday night.

In order to differentiate the country from its larger neighbours, one of his first tasks on becoming Prime Minister was to develop a Garden City with good infrastructure and telecommunications.

To woo investors from developed countries, 'we had to make this a First World oasis in a Third World region', he told some 600 guests from the public and private sectors, non-governmental organisations and the landscape and horticulture industry at a dinner marking the Botanic Gardens' 150th anniversary.

MM Lee took part in a dialogue at the event on the greening of Singapore, moderated by Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh.

Professor Koh asked him at the start of the hour-long dialogue why cleaning up 'dirty and smelly' Singapore was a priority when it faced numerous other challenges upon gaining independence in 1965.

'It was part of a bigger plan. After we were asked to leave Malaya, we had to work out a strategy which would allow a little island dependent on Malaya for its hinterland to survive,' MM Lee said.

What could be done immediately was 'to show investors that this was a well-organised place', he said of what was effectively Singapore's secret weapon.

Coming from the airport into town, they would pass by lush greenery, and when they visited him in the Istana, they would see well-maintained lawns and shrubs.

'So without having to tell anything to the chief executive officer, I knew he would understand that when I say we will deliver, he knows we can deliver; that this is a country where the administration works, where there is a system,' he said.

The fact is, he added with a laugh, 'you can't just plant a tree and walk away. The tree will die'.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

How Indoor Air Quality Affects Your Health

At Green Cleaners we're on a mission to improve your indoor air, and for good reason too. It is important to have fresh air circulating throughout your home/office. Although we may want to seal up our living/work place nice and tight, we have to do it in such a way that we are able to change old, stale air with new fresh air. But you don’t have to take my word for it.

But what are the health consequences of poor indoor air quality? The most common symptoms are irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, headaches, fatigue and dizziness. Usually, these symptoms go away when the person is no longer exposed to the irritants.

But it is also possible to develop long-term chronic conditions and diseases like asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis and humidifier fever. Other health effects won't even be noticeable till years after the exposure: Respiratory disease, heart disease and cancer. It is extremely important to keep your indoor air healthy.

The full health extent of the chemicals in our homes is unknown. For more information, visit the EPA's indoor air quality site.

Here are a few easy tips for keeping hazardous chemicals out of your home:

- Paint and caulk with low/no VOC products.
- Don't buy products made of particle board or other materials that outgas.
- Have your house tested for radon.
- have your home 'Green Clean'ed'!! :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

7 Reasons to Choose Honey....

There is great concern over an out break of Swine flu. Who knows how this is going to turn out? Hopefully, the illness will die out with a whimper the way bird flu and other hyped-up media illnesses have in the past. We can only hope.

With colds and flu in mind, it's a good time to raise the issue of honey as an alternative to dextromethorphan-based cough medicine. A study out of Penn State University in the US, found that that buckwheat honey works better as a cough suppressant than over-the-counter cough medicine.

Reasons Why You Should Choose Honey of Cough Medicine:

Honey has other applications, therefore, it is less likely to go to waste.

Honey is an organic product.

Dextromethorphan is considered dangerous for young children. Honey is not.

The side effects of Dextromethorphan include:

From Wikipedia

body rash/itching
blurred vision
dilated pupils
shallow respiration
urinary retention

Honey has none of these side effects. (unless you have a honey allergy)

Dextromethorphan can be abused as a drug and is habit-forming. Very few people have ruined their lives on honey-binges. Winnie the Pooh the exception :)

The World Health Organization recommends honey.

Honey has anitoxidant and antimicrobial properties.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Make Your Own Jewelry Cleaner

Everyone loves to see their jewelry shine like the afternoon sun! But as silver is exposed to the air, it oxidizes, which causes it to tarnish. Additionally, your precious gems can become clouded by oils on your hands. Many of us turn to chemical cleaners to keep our silver shinning and gems gleaming. However, making your jewelry sparkle can be way easier on the planet and even cheaper than many conventional jewelry cleaners.
Make your cleaner from all plant and mineral based cleaning products to ensure that your cleaner is eco-friendly and free of unnecessary packaging.

What you'll need for the jewelry cleaner:
A soft toothbrush
¼ cup (non-ammonia) eco-friendly window cleaner
1 tbsp natural toothpaste
A damp cloth


For gems, use the toothbrush and the window cleaner to gently polish your gems.
For silver jewelry, use the toothpaste and a damp cloth to clean the metal.
Scrub those precious babies until you can see yourself in them :)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Tips for elimating Mold from your bathroom

Keep it dry
Mold grows very well in tons of moisture so it's really important to keep the bathroom well ventilated, repair leaky faucets, don't leave wet towels balled up throughout, and clean the towels and bathroom rug regularly. Replace plastic shower curtains with hemp or organic cotton so that air can penetrate the curtain and dry it.

Control humidity
Just like you keep the room dry you need to keep the air somewhat dry. Try and keep the humidity to between 30 and 50 percent. You may need to put a dehumidifier in the room to keep it controlled.

Reduce clutter
Toiletries, shampoo, and shower gel bottles, etc are constantly in contact with water and are the perfect breeding ground for mold. The more of them there are in the bathroom, the longer it takes for the shower or bathroom to dry. Get rid of items that you don't use that often or put them where they will not collect water.

Test your mold
If the mold is really bad or you're just not sure, get it tested. You can get a mold remediator test kit or you can hire a certified mold remediator to come in and test.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Green Cleaning: By Numbers

17,000: the number of petrochemicals available for home use, only 30 percent of which have been tested for exposure to human health and the environment.

63: the number of synthetic chemical products found in the average American home, translating to roughly 10 gallons of harmful chemicals.

100: the number of times higher that indoor air pollution levels can be above outdoor air pollution levels, according to US EPA estimates.

275: the number of active ingredients in antimicrobials that the EPA classifies as pesticides because they are designed to kill microbes.

5 billion: the number of pounds of chemicals that the institutional cleaning industry uses each year.

23: the average gallons of chemicals (that's 87 liters) that a janitor uses each year, 25 percent of which are hazardous.