Do Antiques Carry Environmental Health Risks?

One of the best and easiest ways to limit your impact on the environment is to reduce your overall waste and purchase used, recycled furniture rather than new products. Although it's nice to invest in environmentally friendly products, which we recommend doing when used products aren't available or won't suffice, purchasing recycled consumer goods ensures that they won't end up in a landfill.

This line of thinking may lead you to believe that filling your home with antiques not only gives it a classy, ageless vibe, but also helps the environment. To an extent, this is true. But it's important for consumers to understand that antique items can come with their own health risks. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a number of resources on its website that provide information about which types of antiques may present risks.

The EPA focuses heavily on the presence of radioactive elements in many antique products, including watches, clocks, ceramics and glass. Manufacturers of old timekeeping devices would coat the hands and numbers of the clock face with radium because it would give off a glow at night, but would also slowly contribute to the development of bone cancer in those who were heavily exposed. The glaze on tiles and pottery made before 1960 would sometimes contain uranium, thorium or potassium-40, which gave off gamma, beta and alpha radiation. Additionally, glaziers would occasionally add uranium to glass products to give them a greenish tint.

Before you go purchasing antiques for your sustainable home, make sure that the items you invest in are free of these materials so that you don't put you and your family at risk for serious illness.

For more information on eco friendly products, keep visiting LifeIsGreen.com.

Three Easy Green New Year’s Resolutions

Making New Year's resolutions is sometimes a futile task. We all plan to lose weight once the new year arrives, but then after a few months it becomes clear that working out is just as difficult in February as it was in November. But rather than giving up, try sticking with these green tips in 2014 that will lead to a healthier and environmentally friendly lifestyle:

  • Don't drink bottled water: Tap water is cheaper, cleaner and doesn't come in disposable bottles that riddle landfills. Keep reusable drinking containers around and simply refill them rather than purchasing bottled water at a store.
  • Eat less meat: The meat industry is an environmental catastrophe. Raising cattle, pigs and chickens requires massive amounts of energy and generates colossal amounts of waste. Antibiotics are overused, which leads to the creation of resistant bacteria strains that could cause an epidemic. If you're not up to the task of becoming a vegetarian, try limiting your meat consumption to once every two weeks and getting your protein needs from plant sources.
  • Take the bus: There's simply no reason anyone should make trips of less than two miles with their own vehicle (unless a bus route isn't available). Take public transit for trips where it is feasible, and encourage your friends to do the same. You'll use less gas and your carbon footprint will be much lower.

In fact, all three of these resolutions will be easier to stick with if your friends adopt these changes too, so try making your going green ideas a social activity!

Keep checking back with LifeIsGreen.com for more news and information about ways to save energy and live green!

Lead May Be Present In Places You Least Expect It

Recently we discussed the effects of lead on public health, particularly as it relates to violent crime. Something that you may not realize is that although the threat of leaded gasoline has largely been mitigated since it was phased out years ago, there are still consumer goods that could contain the metal, and shoppers should be vigilant about the origin of the products that they purchase.

Two types of goods that you should be careful about buying are jewelry and toys that are made abroad. The reason for this is that the paint process used to give these products their bright colors – particularly orange, red, yellow and green – may involve the use of lead salts. The New York Times reports that use of this substance for creating brightly colored paints dates to the Middle Ages, but only recently has it become clear how disastrous even low levels of lead exposure can be for the nervous system, cardiovascular health and kidneys.

Products such as low-cost purses and apparel sold to teenagers have been found to contain higher levels of lead. Wet Seal, a retailer that caters to these demographic groups, was forced to pay a $10,000 fine by the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland, California, which is tasked with monitoring lead levels in consumer products. The concern with these items is that microscopic particles of paint could scrape off onto the hands of owners and end up in their food and drink.

When shopping for holiday gifts for your family and friends, it is essential that you make sure the items you purchase come from reputable companies who specialize in selling non-toxic products made from naturally-procured alternatives to plastic and other materials. Doing so not only protects the health of your loved ones, but you as well.

LifeIsGreen.com will continue to provide news and information about green business stories.

What Are Some Natural Ways To Purify Indoor Air?

If you live in an older building, or your roommates aren't particularly clean people, you may be having problems with air quality in your home. While it's tempting to simply ignore the problem and continue living your life, it should be noted that poor air quality indoors can cause a number of long term health problems, including the development of allergies and even cancer. But purifying air in your house, apartment or room doesn't have to involve purchasing a bunch of expensive eco friendly products.

Instead, consider addressing the issue by trying the following approaches:

  • Dehumidify: Keeping your room below 50 percent humidity will prevent the collection of moisture, which can lead to mold and mildew gathering in corners.
  • Get some plants: Plants are good at removing certain toxins from the air, including ammonia and benzene. According to NASA, the five best plants for air purification include the areca palm, bamboo palm, lady palm, rubber plant and Janet Craig dracaena.​
  • Quit smoking and don't let others smoke inside: You've p​robably heard since you were a child how bad smoking is for your health, but it can't be overstated how disastrous it is for indoor air quality. Among other things, cigarettes contain formaldehyde, which can result in skin irritation, rashes, coughing and sore throat.
  • Ventilate your kitchen: Cooking produces a number of chemicals, including nitrogen dioxide, so it's a good idea to ventilate while you have the stove top or oven going.

Purifying the air in your home will help you achieve a healthier lifestyle without having to make a major investment or effort.

LifeIsGreen.com is your number one source on new ways to think green, so keep visiting!

10 Ways To Save Energy When Cooking

Cooking can be one of the most energy intensive tasks that you perform in your home. If you're looking to limit your carbon footprint and lower your utility bills, one of the areas where you can easily cut back is in the kitchen. If you're not sure how to achieve this, we've assembled a list of 10 ways to save energy when you're making your next meal:

  • Cook twice as much food as you need, and reheat it later, instead of cooking from scratch each time you make something.
  • Cover your pans while cooking to reduce heat loss.
  • Defrost meat in the refrigerator or in the open air, rather than on the stove or in the microwave.
  • Don't open your oven frequently to check how food is doing.
  • If you have a gas stove, make sure the flame on the burner is blue. Yellow flames indicate blockage and that it should be checked by your maintenance or warranty company.
  • Keep your burner pans clean, as this maximizes the amount of heat that is reflected back up to the pan.
  • Purchase flat-bottomed cookware. The more the pan touches your stove burners (or coils, if you have an electric stove), the less energy you lose to the air.
  • Turn the oven off a few minutes before your food is done baking. Ovens retain heat for quite some time, so whatever you're making will continue to cook even after the flame goes out.
  • Use a pressure cooker, which reduces cook time significantly.
  • When reheating food, it's best to use either a microwave oven, toaster oven or stovetop rather than putting it back in the conventional oven, which uses more energy.

LifeIsGreen.com is your number one source for green living advice, so keep checking back for more energy-saving advice!

Four Tips For Staying Energy Efficient This Holiday Season

Just because it's the holiday season doesn't mean you have to give up on being energy efficient and green living. There are plenty of ways for you and your family to cut back on energy usage and creating refuse by simply changing a few of your seasonal habits.

National Grid, a major utility in the Northeast, shared some information with WWLP-22, a Massachusetts news station, about how you can achieve these goals without affecting your enjoyment of the holidays:

  • Cook many dishes at a time in the oven. Rather than baking entrees and sides one at a time, try overlapping and cooking several at once. You should also try to use the smallest appliance possible. Smaller portions should be cooked in a microwave, as it uses about half the energy of a conventional oven. If you must use the oven, you should refrain from opening the door frequently, as this causes the temperature to drop and more gas is used.
  • If you live in a colder area, rather than having a second fridge, you may want to consider storing food items in the garage or basement, where it is typically cold enough to preserve them.
  • Use energy efficient light emitting diodes (LEDs) if you are decorating the outside of your house with Christmas lights. LEDs use 90 percent less energy than conventional bulbs.
  • When buying new electronics for your loved ones and friends, purchase only items that are labeled with the Energy Star certification. This ensures that they have a limited energy footprint.

Keep checking back with LifeIsGreen.com, your number one source for news and information about green technology and lifestyles.

Five Ways To Save Gas While Driving

Following the eco friendly cars industry can sometimes be frustrating. On the one hand, it's awesome to see the futuristic technology that is being included in cars like the Tesla S and BMW i3, but on the other hand, if you can't actually afford these cars, you'll simply have to salivate over them the next time one pulls up next to you on the freeway.

But you need not spend a lot of money on a brand new car in order to reduce your gasoline consumption. By adopting a few easy driving habits, you can significantly lower your gas bills and get more mileage out of one tank:

  • Coast into stops: Keeping your foot on the pedal and braking right before a stop is inefficient. Try to anticipate stops by taking your foot off the gas and letting the vehicle coast, then apply brakes after it has already slowed down some.
  • Don't exceed the speed limit: Your fuel economy goes down dramatically once you go above 65 mph. When you're on the highway, stay in the 55-65 range (traffic permitting) and you can increase your efficiency by 7 to 14 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Monitor your tire pressure: If you've ever tried riding a bike with flat tires, imagine how your engine feels when your car tires don't have enough air. Make sure you keep your tire pressure at about 30 PSI.
  • When driving above 60 mph, close your windows and use the air conditioner: Having your windows open creates drag, which makes your engine work harder than it does operating the AC unit.
  • Use cruise control: Keeping your car at a steady speed rather than accelerating and braking (and possibly changing gears, when at the right RPM) will raise your mileage.

Keep visiting LifeIsGreen.com for more advice on ways to save energy.

Should I Adjust My Thermostat Or Keep It At The Same Temperature All Day?

There are a lot of myths out there about ways to save energy and how you can live a greener lifestyle, so it's sometimes confusing for homeowners who hear conflicting advice. This happens most frequently when it comes to managing the temperature controls for your home. You'll often hear folk wisdom about how it's better to keep the heat at the same temperature all day because furnaces have to work harder to bring the heat back up after having cooled down while you're away.

It can't be said enough that this is simply not true. You will use much less energy, and consequently contribute less to manmade climate change, by setting your thermostat to lower temperatures at night when you're asleep and during the day when you're at work or school.

As environmental site Grist notes, the reason for this is physics. An enclosed space will cool down faster depending on the difference between its inside and outside temperatures. As your house cools, it will lose heat at a slower rate, whereas if it's kept at a constant temperature all day, it will continue losing the same amount of heat over time.

It's important to remember that the next time someone passes along advice about how you can reduce your energy consumption and limit your environmental impact, you should first research their claim on the internet to determine its veracity. It's often the case that this advice will lead some to adopt more harmful lifestyle practices, rather than mitigating their effect on the environment.

LifeIsGreen.com will continue to deliver information about green living and alternative energy articles, so keep visiting!

3 Ways To Make Your Tailgate Party Eco-Friendly

Football season is in full swing, which means that many American families and sports fans are heading out to stadiums every Sunday (or Saturday for college) to have tailgate parties before the big game. While green living may not be your priority when you're grilling up hot dogs and playing catch with your kids, there are some pretty easy ways to make these occasions more environmentally friendly.

Here are some tips for going green at the game, courtesy of Living Green Magazine:

  • Car Pool: Commuting to work isn't the only time when carpooling makes sense. Football stadiums are often many miles away from urban centers, which means most people drive long distances to attend. Rather than taking your car, try to hitch a ride with the other people you're attending the game with. This helps save gas and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
  • Don't use charcoal: Instead of using a traditional charcoal barbeque, invest in a propane grill. This produces a lot less CO2 emissions, as well as the particulate matter that can damage the lungs of anyone standing nearby.
  • Recycle cans and bottles: If you're throwing back a few beers or sodas, don't forget to recycle. Even if there isn't a receptacle near your tailgating location, you should still make an effort to collect empty containers in a bag, then bring them home and add them to your recycling bin.

Following green ideas doesn't mean you can't still have fun. These tips are effective, easy to adhere to and don't limit your enjoyment of the party or the game in any way.

Keep visiting LifeIsGreen.com for more energy conservation tips and ideas.

Green Ideas For College Students

Something that unites most college students is the fact that they don't have a lot of money. Being in school means you either need to work part-time, or in the case of some students, not at all. And tuition payments, along with buying books, living expenses and football game tickets, can be pretty high these days. As a result, most students are looking for ways to save money. Although green living is often associated with wealthier people who can afford special energy-efficient products, in fact there are many ways to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle without having to spend much.

Here are some tips for going green affordably, courtesy of environmental news site GreenFudge.org:

  • Get a bike: College campuses can be enormous, and sometimes you need to get across campus quickly to make your next class. Riding a bike in between your courses will give you some daily exercise, which is sometimes hard to accomplish with a busy college schedule. And it will allow you to travel much more quickly and efficiently than you would with a car or campus shuttle.
  • Grow your own food: It's really not very difficult to grow your own fruits and vegetables, even indoors. If you have some space, one of the best ways to accomplish this is to build your own hydroponics or aquaponics garden.
  • Take showers instead of baths: A long soak in a bath tub may feel nice at the end of a long day of tests, but showers are cleaner and use a lot less water.

Keep checking back with LifeIsGreen.com for more green living ideas.