Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 24: Reusing Textiles

What do you normally when your clothes or linens get too worn out and are no longer givable, either? Throw them out, right? Well, here are a few ideas on how you can reuse all sorts of textiles, like clothes and household linens, once they are past their prime.



Did you know clothing is recyclable (as opposed to reusable)? Yup, I wasn't sure until I googled it, but it is! Finding somewhere to bring your clothing for recycling, though, is the main challenge. I've found companies that recycle textiles, but I'm having lots of trouble figuring out where, and even if, I can bring my used textiles to them.

For U.S. Residents, I found Recycle Now that you can enter your postcode and see if there's somewhere near you where you can recycle clothing and household textiles. But I've had no such luck for Canadians :( Which encourages me even more to find a way to reuse my old worn out clothing.

Of course you can make useful rags, to help get your house clean. Seems like most of my rags are made of clothes!! But I wanted to find more creative ways to reuse old textiles. Here's some of what I've found.

I've recently been amazed at stuff people crochet out of t-shirt yarn. Of course, the first thing you need to do is make the actual t-shirt yarn.

Craft Passion

You can also turn an old bedsheet into yarn! It's a little different than with tshirts, Kara of Petals To Picots shows you how in this tutorial:


And these, THESE are why I need to learn to crochet!!! You can crochet just about anything with t-shirt yarn.

You can follow just about any crocheted basket tutorial to make a t-shirt yarn basket. For example:

Instructables

How about making some pom-poms, to decorate gifts, or to use in crafts!

Craftaholics Anonymous

Or how about making your space a new spiffy rug? Like this crocheted t-shirt yarn rug.

One Dog Woof

Of course you can just make a braided rug too, out of strips of linens.

Craft Passion

While I'm on rugs, how about a shaggy rug made from old cut-up towels and using a gridded matting?

Fine Craft Guild

There are plenty of other things you can do with used clothing and other household textiles to give them a second life.

There's the ever so popular sweater pillows as of late. I think I might convert a few sweaters once their time is up, but I still want to use them a bit longer.

Brassy Apple

Remember when we talked about not-paper towels? How about using some shirts to make napkins, like these plaid ones!

Whole Living

Here's one I really love! Make a stuffed animal out of old denim, like this denim whale!

Valaan Villapaita

Once again, this time with printed t-shirts, make some pillows!

Uncommon Designs


I hope I got your wheels turning with these ideas to reuse textiles! You are only limited by your imagination, and creativeness :)

Check out all the posts in the series (must be on blog to see):








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Friday, October 26, 2012

Day 23: Eco-Friendly Periods

Guys (as in men), you'll want to skip this post, unless you're curious and want to know more about our time-of-the-month, or send your woman to read it ;)

Between being in diapers and being a woman, a girl sure goes through a lot of disposable sanitary stuff! The thing is, it wasn't always like this, there was a time when reusable sanitary supplies were the only option. I think it's time we explore this option once again!



One option that was not available 100 years ago (but that has been around longer than you would think) is the reusable menstruation cup, such as the Diva Cup, which seems to be the best known brand. There is also: the Femmecup, Keeper, Lady Cup (available in many different colors), Lunette, Miacup, and Mooncup (UK).

I learned about the DivaCup when one of my best friends, and oldest friend (we've known each other since we were 4!), told me about it. I was still very skeptical about it, and not ready for it. But now, I'm gonna try it out, soon, very soon. In the mean time, I asked her to come and talk to you guys about the DivaCup, and her experience using it.

Hi there,

My name is Isabelle, I am a childhood friend of Gen’s. I was kindly asked by my great friend to share my opinion and experience with one of my favorite products of all time – the DIVA Cup.


(source)

A few years back I developed an interest towards the importance of caring for the environment and in reducing my carbon foot print. While researching environmentally friendly products online, I eventually stumbled upon the DivaCup.

This product consists essentially of a silicone menstrual cup that you insert when you get your period and can be reused for years. The price ranges between 36$ and 40$ depending on the store. It might seem pricy but for the duration of the product, you save money as you will no longer need to purchase tampons nor pads. It’s also fantastic as you have no waste to dispose of except of course the period discharge.

My first experience with the Diva Cup: I went to the Market Organics Store in my city and purchased it
(Gen adds: you can find a store that sells it near you through the DivaCup website Store Locator, or you can buy online). They had two sizes available: one was for women who have never given birth and the other is for women having given birth as it is slightly bigger. I purchased the first option.




I also bought the soap meant to clean this product. I still have it in fact 3 years later – it’s a good sized bottle that cost me 10$. Although the soap is great and can be used to clean your entire body, any mild soap will do to clean your Diva cup.

Prior to using the cup, I read all the instructions provided and visited their website which is really useful. To insert the Diva cup you have many options which are described in the manual as well as online. I found great YouTube videos where women demonstrate how to fold the cup prior to inserting.

I found myself placing the Diva cup under water to lubricate it, folded it and gently inserted it. Once in, you must seal it. To do so, you must rotate it 360 degrees to ensure it expands and creates a seal which will ensure there are no leaks. Rest assured, even if the seal is not fully done the leaks are minimal – I’ve never had a problem.




You can leave the Diva cup in all day. I normally empty it, clean it and re-insert it in the morning and repeat the process at night when I take my shower. This means you have no worries all day and night like you would with pads or tampons. I love it.

At the end of your period, all you must do is boil water and insert the Diva cup in the water for 10 minutes. This will disinfect it. Once completely dry, simply place the cup in the pouch provided and store it until your next period.

It’s truly an amazing product that I would recommend to anyone. The company suggests it be used for a year but I honestly believe you can keep it much longer it you care for your Diva cup properly.
(Gen adds: I've seen you can use it for 5-10 years)I hope this will inspire some of you to try this fantastic invention and I would gladly provide more information to anyone who has questions.

Thank you!
Isabelle


What really had me hesitating in getting it was that I had first read that it was only good for a year. So the cost of the Cup did not justify me getting it for a year when it would cost me more than pads. But now that I've read it can be good for up to 10 years, I've changed my mind. It's definitely worth a try now! I've actually JUST bought it online, I never hesitate doing that when it's free shipping. So I'll definitely be doing an update once I've been using it for a few months and got used to it.


(source)

If you need more reasons to consider this option (completely unrelated to being green), here are some: you don't need to run to the drugstore to get more feminine products cuz you've run out; you'll save some money; you don't need to change it/empty it as much, only twice a day, so no worries during the night either; you can swim with it! and do sports no problem; if properly inserted, there is no leakage; it doesn't smell as it's not in contact with the air and so doesn't ferment; no bad chemicals stuck inside your body; no toxic shock syndrome like you may get with tampons; some women have even reported less cramping with the menstrual cup.



But if are still wary of the reusable menstrual cups, or for your daughters when the time comes, then maybe I can interest you in reusable pads?

LunaPads seem to be the big company that sells them. You have your normal maxi pads, for your periods, (light or heavy), post-partum pads, or pantyliners.

I've also seen them sell on Etsy. If I weren't getting a Diva Cup, I would totally get some of these, they are so cute! Actually, at the disclosure of proving too much information... I might still get some reusable panty liners.

There are a lot of options out there! Different thickness for different flows, different sizes and shapes, and some are one piece or changeable inserts. Here are 3 different types I've seen, click any of the shops here (or the Etsy link above) to explore what else they have and find the one that would be most suitable for your needs, and wallet.


from TrojacekFarms on Etsy; these specific ones are made from minky, but they have other choices too


Pleat on Etsy, have a TON of different types, mostly made from flannel; this one is a set of 3: overnight, regular and pantyliner.


These ones have a removable insert, Lili's Cameleon on Etsy)

Now I'm sure you're all asking how you wash these things, and carry them around, which is a very valid question!!

First, when you change out a used pad for a new one, you can roll them up like this to take home. You can also get a cute little bag to put them in. No mess! And they are so cute and pretty that it doesn't matter if you come out of the bathroom with it in your hand.

Pantyliners from MyPoshPads on Etsy)

You also need to prep new pads so they absorb well, much like you would cloth diapers. Then when it comes to washing the pads, there is generally 2 methods: either keep them wet until you wash them or dry them out. Eco Crazy Mom has a great post about all that stuff, so I'll just send you there ;)

So, are you gonna join me and change your period experience?? Or what would it take for you to do it? I really want to convince you!

Catch up with the 31 Days to Greener Sustainable Living series (must be on blog to see):






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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Day 22: Cloth Diapering

I've got my friend Sarah guest posting today (very first guest post on Color Me Domestic, woot woot!). She blogs at Glimmersnaps, where she shares everyday life moments with her son. When she offered to write about cloth diapers for me, telling me she even worked at a store that sells them, I totally jumped at the occasion! I knew she would do a much better job than I ever could!! Here she is!



Hello! I’m Sarah from Glimmersnaps. I’m so excited to share what I know about cloth diapering with you all today. My son is currently 20 months old and we’ve cloth diapered since he was a newborn. I also work at a natural baby boutique that sells most every kind of cloth diaper out there.



Environmental

The first thing that jumps to most people’s mind when considering cloth is the environmentally friendly aspect. Disposables take far more energy and resources to produce. Cloth is not only more efficient to produce but it can be reused for years and years. My son still wears some of the same diapers he wore when he was a week old. After he potty learns, the diapers will be used again on any children we may have in the future. Used diapers can also be donated or sold or used as rags around the house. Disposables? They sit in a landfill after just one use.





What strikes me is that we don’t even know how long it takes for a disposable to decompose. Estimates say it might be between 250 and 500 years! That means that if you weren’t cloth diapered, your diapers are still out there somewhere. And they will still be there when your great grandchildren are having children.




Some point out that cloth diapering still uses electricity and water for washing. They argue that disposables take more energy to produce but that cloth takes energy to maintain. While it is true that cloth must be washed and dried 2-3 times a week for 2-3 years, cloth users can take steps like maintaining efficient washing schedules, using high efficiency washers, and low heat or air drying to reduce the energy usage. If you have at least 24-30 diapers, you won’t have to wash but twice per week. This really isn’t much more water than a person would use flushing the toilet. The truth is that having a baby will cost energy—after all, you’ve added a new human to the community—but as parents we can help to balance that by using the least amount as possible and cutting back in other areas.



Another environmental concern is the chemicals used to produce disposables and the chemicals that are in them—next to your baby—that make them absorbent. Polyacrylic acid, dyes, Ethylbenzene, Styrene, and Trichloroethyleneare just a few of the chemical additives found in diapers. (To read more about the toxicity of disposables, go here.) So not only are these agents dangerously close to your dear child, but they eventually end up in landfills along with the diapers and the untreated waste inside.



Budgetary

Many people opt for cloth because it’s more economical. Disposables cost about $70 USD a month. This is $1680 USD for two years and—let’s be honest—many kids don’t potty learn right at age 2. And disposable training pants cost even more than the diapers do! Cloth is a bigger initial investment. However, it can be done for $200 USD if you choose the more basic styles. Even if you want high-quality convenient styles, you can get an entire stash for around $600 USD, which is still far less than disposables. Not to mention, you can re-sell your diapers as long as they are in decent condition and recoup some of your investment.



Cuteness

I’ve often said that people start researching cloth for environmental or budget reasons, but they get hooked by their cuteness. Need I say more?




Want to know more?

Perhaps you’re interested in cloth, but you don’t know where to begin. The market is flooded with different brands, styles, sizing options and fabric choices. Here’s a post I wrote last week with more details about your options. You can also check out online diaper forums like the Diaper Pin or DiaperSwappers to get more information or ask questions. If you are fortunate enough to have a store that sells cloth in your area, go! It’s best to be able to touch and feel the different materials and ask questions so you can pick out what’s best for your baby.



Many stores have newborn rental programs that can help get you started. Newborn sized diapers will fit well for the first few weeks, but babies quickly grow out of them. Renting a newborn stash is a great way to begin with cloth.



If you are concerned with washing, some areas have laundry services, but what’s available varies. Be aware that some services may use chemicals like bleach. Ask details about their wash process to make sure you are comfortable with what is offered. Washing at home really isn’t that difficult. It’s best to do a cold soak (I usually do this overnight) and then a hot wash followed by a cold rinse. I use a cloth diaper friendly detergent and half a cup of vinegar. I air-dry some diapers and tumble dry others depending on the fabric. (My stash, like most peoples, is not comprised entirely on one style or brand.)



I hope you will consider using cloth diapers for you little one. My husband was skeptical at first, but now we are so glad we did it. I’ll be happy to answer any other questions you might have in the comments section.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Thank you so much Sarah for sharing your wisdom! I've known for some time that I wanted to do cloth diapering (some day, not soon) when we have kids, but have always been a little intimidated, so this reassures me some! Isn't it easier when it's all laid out for you, no?! Be sure to check out Sarah's very complete guide to choosing the right cloth diapers for your baby on her blog for even more information! And she will also have a post up next week about washing and taking good care of your cloth diapers! I will link to that when it's up.

Catch up with the 31 days series:






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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 21: Reducing Electricity Usage

You knew it was coming! Either because I mentioned it in the previous post, or because it's such a fundamental way to be greener, reducing our electricity needs can greatly impact the environment.



Like water conservation, I could write a 31 days series just on this topic, so I'll do a bullet list for ya.

General

~ Close the lights when you're not in a room.

~ That goes for your computers too! Close them when you leave them, or at the very least put them in standby.

~ Unplug unused appliances and electronics. Did you know they use a bit of electricity even when they are turned off? Yup, that little on you monitor, on your TV, etc, consumes some energy uselessly. It's called phantom load, or vampire lights. Read more here. All you need to do is unplug, or turn off a powerbar that has everything plugged to it.


(picture source)

~ Change lightbulbs to energy efficient ones. They are so much better than incandescent lights, and they last soooo much longer! But you must be careful when disposing of them, because they have mercury in them, which iis only harmful if the bulb breaks. You can easily recycle them by bringing them to Home Depot or IKEA, to name a couple stores.

~ Wrap your water heater with a thermal blanket. If it's hot to the touch, then you should really consider this. You could save 9% of its operating costs by doing this.

~ Insulate any hot water pipes that are exposed. Those pipe insulators aren't just for crafting!! haha!

Heating and Cooling

~ Winterize your home. Make sure the seals on your windows are still air tight, and that your weather strips on your doors are also sealing properly. Consider adding an other air pocket with window insulation kit.

~ Stop drafts with draft blockers. They can really be cute! And you could use some old socks or whatnot to stuff them!


Family Fun

~ Turn the heat or A/C down during the winter and summer, respectively. Or forgo the A/C all together and just use ventilators and open your windows! We're too cheap for A/C right now, and I grew up without it until I was like 19 or something, so I'm ok without it. But we don't have unbearable summers here, either.

~ You can wear comfy bathrobe to keep you warm, knit sweaters, and use blankets.

~ Use hot water bottles to help keep you warm at night. I need one of these bad! I've heard good things. Just for those nights I go to bed without my boyfriend and I can't warm up my feet!

~ Heat your house in the winter with a wood fireplace. This is one of my fondest feelings of home, the fireplace. My parents burn logs from old rotten trees, big branches, but mostly pallet wood which we get for free! My dad just cuts it down to size with the chain saw, doesn't even remove the nails.

Kitchen

~ Use the toaster oven instead of conventional oven. We cook everything in there, but then again we're just 2. I know when we have a family that won't be always possible, but we'll try and use it as much as possible.

This is the one we have, it's really quite big, we can do frozen pizzas in it.

Oster Toaster Oven

~ Use the right size burner for the job. You lose a lot of heat when you use the big burner for a little pan!

~ Exchange your appliances for energy efficient ones : refrigerators, oven, stove tops, dishwashers. If you're current one is still in good order and you want to switch out, don't throw it out but sell it.

~ Speaking of dishwashers, choose the air dry option instead of the heat dry option.

~ Make your appliances run as smooth as possible. That means cleaning your fridge's coils. But also your air filters, and A/C filters need some cleaning every once in a while.

Laundry Room

~ Exchange your appliances, again, for energy efficient ones. They use both less electricity and/or and less water.

~ Wash with cold water as much as possible.

~ Do full loads as much as possible, so you don't have to do as many.

~ Air dry your laundry instead of drying in the dryer. I live in an apartment that has the "laundry room" together with the kitchen and I made this work. So can you!


I can hang about 30 pieces of clothing on hangers to air dry on the rod attached to my laundry shelves! It's really awesome!

Outdoor

~ Have spot lights that turn on when there is movement only instead off always being on.

~ Don't have too many outdoor lighting, or at the least have some LED lights, like for Christmas.

Activities

~ Make a night a month where you have fun with the family and turn off all electricity in the house. Light some candles, tell stories, play a game, whatever!

Now, I'll say this: I think reducing our electricity needs at home is just part of the solution. Commercial properties and work places need to get on board too. I suppose that's the same for recycling and buying too needlessly, as well. Still you should do your part at home.

I know I didn't cover everything, so if you've got more to add, I'd love it if you'd leave me a comment!!

And just a little note, but the rest of the series might be spaced out more. I need to give my apartment a little TLC, it's looking really bad. And things are really going well (knock on wood) at the lab so I'm quite busier. I just don't have the time for this every single day. I'll still try my best to finish the series as soon as possible, though! Thanks for your understanding :)



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Monday, October 22, 2012

Day 20: Renewable Energy

When I say renewable energy, what do you think of? Wind power and solar power are the first that come to my mind, but there is also low-impact hydro (as opposed to high impact large facilities), and 100% green natural gas. They are green because they are naturally replenished.



The way we currently mainly generate electricity is very harmful for the environment. Extracting energy from coal, oil or gas creates lots of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas linked to climate changes. And that's only the beginning, there are a lot of other problems with this way of generating electricity.

Wind power is the cleanest energy source, generating no air pollution.

Green Energy is a growing market. 12.7% of the U.S.'s energy came from renewable resources in 2011. The more you demand for it, the more they will invest in constructing new plants, windfields, etc.

Want to support green renewable energy? BullFrog is a Canadian company that promotes green energy. Basically, when you sign up with them, they put as much green energy into the system as you consume. So essentially you are using green energy. There's also Just Energy that is across North America.

The U.S. Depertment of Energy's website can help you determine how you can get green energy where you live.

Of course you can also simply lower your electricity and heating consumption. We'll cover that in the next post.

But I also wanted to give you some feasible green energy solutions you can do yourself at home. Again, I'm no expert, so I won't go into very much details, I don't want to give you false information. I just want to show that there are options out there!

Solar energy seems to be the most common and practical renewable energy used for ones home, though.

How about installing some solar panels on your roof, or car port? The energy created from this can be used for electricity, lighting, heating and cooling. Yes, it's a big investment, and needs a lot of research, so this option might be for the more hardcore eco-friendly people. But you never know until you look into it.

Solar Energy at Home is a great website to get you started, or to get you thinking about implementing this for your home!

source

Similarly, you can have a solar water heater. They are black tubes where the water passes and the sun heats it up.


source

Then there's the solar oven, or solar cooker. There are 3 types you can choose from, all of which concentrate sun rays on the pot or box oven to heat up food. Thought they were pretty cool, but then you can't cook on a cloudy day :( So it's not sustainable to use.


source

Would solar energy be something you would consider for your home? Why or why not?! I'd really like to have solar panels when we get our own home someday!

P.S. I know I'm behind, and I have no excuse, other than I really wasn't motivated this weekend... sorry :( Will be catching up this week hopefully.

Catch up with the series:





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