Archive for the ‘Green Products’ Category

Reclaimed Hardwood Flooring – Keep it Green

Wood floors are the healthy choice; they require fewer chemicals to clean than other floor coverings, and they don’t trap dust and fumes in the fibers or grow mold in the grout. More and more people are choosing wood floors for anyone with allergies. Don’t be surprised if a doctor recommends a wood floor for your spine and joints. Wood is known to give a little and can be easier on your legs and feet.

Antique and Reclaimed wood floors are an ever popular trend in flooring. Wood that is reclaimed can provide the benefits of old growth timber with the added plus so that not a single living forest tree is sacrificed. This is where living green comes into play.

Reclaimed and Antique wood can be milled to look like new, or sometimes consumers look for wood with nail holes, bolt holes, and other fastener marks which make these characteristics part of the appeal. The old lumber will have rustic character marks from many years of use and exposure to the elements.

Many of the floors come out of buildings about to be demolished or in the process of being refurbished. Antique wood flooring can be reclaimed from lumber salvaged from dismantled old barns and buildings. Antique and Distressed wood floors are prized for their beauty, stability and patina. Antique and distressed wood is usually from salvaged vintage homes, barns and structures.

A rustic wood floor will have more of the natural character such as knots, distinct color variations, possible insect marks, surface checking and varying grain patterns. Reclaimed or Antique flooring usually comes from the old growth forests from our early American history. Today they can still be found in floors in old homes and historic structures in many parts of the country. This wood displays character unmatched by any artificial means. Wide Plank flooring can also come from newly sawn old growth lumber. The use of wider widths and longer lengths will reduce the number of end to end seams in the floor which creates a historical authentic look.

Much of this vintage recycled timber comes from old growth forest and was used to construct old buildings. This vintage lumber has unparalleled architectural quality and character, not to mention beauty.

Some antique wood flooring is sometimes called country hardwood flooring and is made from salvaged oak, maple, cherry, hickory, walnut, chestnut, white oak and other vintage reclaimed woods.

No two floors are exactly alike and usually can be found in random widths. Reclaimed hardwood flooring may contain characteristics inherent in aged wood, including cracked knots, slight surface checking, insect and nail holes, weather checking, and color variation.

Benefits of using Reclaimed and Antique wood flooring: A floor made from antique wood has Rrerrque beauty and defining character that cannot be found in newly sawn timber.

• Recycling wood is an alternative to cutting down trees. This is good for the environment.
• Reclaimed wood has been transformed by nature and time which is a link to our past. Having a piece of history in your home can be very satisfying.
• The character and patina of the wood cannot be duplicated.
• Older growth wood is denser and more dimensionally stable than new growth wood which are traits more desirable for wood flooring.
• Certain species such as American Chestnut can only be found through reclaimed wood suppliers.

What about Antique Wood over radiant heat?

The use of radiant heating systems is growing in popularity throughout the United States, especially under wood floors. Radiant heat is an excellent heating source. With proper acclimation and installation methods, Reclaimed and Antique wood is an exceptional choice over radiant heat.

Radiant heat is healthier for the wood than alternative heating systems. The heat is evenly distributed throughout the floor at a low temperature. Each board is exposed to the same amount of heat and does not encounter uneven drying.

Radiant heating actually replicates the natural process that antique wood has experienced. Wood that was used to support a factory, barn or building was exposed for decades to a regular increase and decrease in temperature and moisture. In some cases, the timbers from which the boards were cut have been slightly expanding and contracting for over a century in their previous installation. Radiant heat, with its low temperatures and even distribution affects the wood flooring the same way, but the impact is much less dramatic with Antique or Reclaimed wood than newly sawn wood because it has already been through this cycle for years!


Generally speaking, the price of reclaimed flooring is a bit higher. Pricing for uninstalled wood can start at $5.95 a square foot and can top the $22.00 mark. The price of recycled Antique and Reclaimed lumber will vary with the size, grade, length, quantity, and surface character of the material and whether the material is purchased in its existing condition or re-manufactured/milled to your specifications. The cost of recycled lumber is generally more expensive than new lumber of the like grade and size. If the lumber goes through the re-manufacturing process, it will add nominally to this cost base to offset the expense involved in cleaning, de-nailing, re-manufacturing and grading. The process of turning the reclaimed lumber into flooring can be lengthy and involves considerable time, money and expertise.

In conclusion, reclaimed wood floors are becoming increasingly popular due to some consumer interest in historic preservation and also to advance the green building design. These woods often offer superior quality from wood that grew slowly and is often more dense than faster grown wood.

Vintage and antique reclaimed wood adds to the warmth, character and atmosphere of a country home. This wood has character from abundant natural traits. Some planks are generally wider boards and have a character and charm that display an instinctive sense of harmony and spirit of country living. A feeling of history from a time when using solid wood flooring was the way a home was built.

If you already have a Reclaimed or Antique wood floor or are thinking about purchasing one, just think a little bit of American history is now or can be part of your home. What an exciting concept!

About The Author
Dave Barkstedt, NOFMA & NWFA Certified Floor Inspector

Bamboo has long been regarded as an eco-friendly material but how green are bamboo clothes

Bamboo has long been regarded as an eco-friendly material because of its amazing green attributes: It can grow with few pesticides and little water. This is the view of Lotus Organics, who in their usual full and frank style have investigated the industry and presented their finding on their informative Organic Clothing Blog. It is always a great read for anyone with an interest in the greening of the rag trade. None more so than their current peek at bamboo.
Michael Lackman of Lotus concludes, “The growing of bamboo is environmentally friendly but the manufacturing of bamboo into fabric raises environmental and health concerns because of the strong chemical solvents used to cook the bamboo plant into a viscose solution that is then reconstructed into cellulose fiber for weaving into yarn for fabric.”
We also admire them for bravely pointing out that the ISO 140001 and Oeko-Tex standards, while useful in their spheres of influence (management and human health respectively) do not, on their own, indicate sustainable textile practices
Along with palms, bamboos are one of the world’s most important building materials, particularly in areas where timber trees are in short supply. Large timber bamboos, including Dendrocalamus giganteus and Bambusa oldhamii are used for scaffolding, bridge-building, water pipes, storage vessels and to build houses. In fact, as a building material bamboo plays an important role in almost every country in which it occurs. In Burma and Bangladesh, about fifty percent of the houses are made almost entirely of bamboo. In Java, woven bamboo mats and screens are commonly used in timber house frames. With modern polymer glues and bonding cements, bamboos are made into plywood, matboard and laminated beams.

The wooden sword called a “shinai” used in the Japanese martial art of kendo is made from longitudinal strips of strong bamboo culms. Several strips are tightly bound together with string. There are many weapons made from bamboo, including bows and arrows and sharpened bamboo stakes. In Sumatra, native hunters fashion blowguns (blowpipes) from bamboo culms to shoot deadly poison darts.
Giant pandas are completely dependent on bamboo for food, and they require enormous quantities of it. Because of a rather inefficient digestive system compared with other herbivores, giant pandas may consume up to 85 pounds (38 kg) of bamboo per day. Pandas digest about twenty percent of the bamboo they consume, while cattle can digest sixty percent of their intake. Pandas will eat other species of bamboo but apparently prefer the kinds that grow wild in their native habitat, including Himalayacalamus, Fargesia, Drepanostachyum and Sinarundinaria, all native to Yunnan, Tibet, Nepal and northern India. Pandas once roamed over a wide range in southern China. Before the fertile valleys became farmland, they could move from one area to another to find a variety of bamboos. Now they are restricted to isolated mountain regions in which there are relatively few species of bamboo. This habitat isolation is a potentially serious problem when bamboo species that giant pandas depend on suddenly flower and die.
Bamboos are very important plants, both ecologically and economically. They are one of the most useful and valuable plants for people and provide the primary diet for giant pandas. Giant pandas are indigenous to mountain forests of small, cold-tolerant bamboos in the Yunnan province of southern China. Although they have a carnivorous ancestry and are members of the bear family (Ursidae), giant pandas have evolved a vegetarian diet of bamboos and eat the entire shoots, leaves and stems. The Himalayan red panda also feeds on bamboos along with a variety of other plants. It belongs to the family Procyonidae along with American racoons, coatimundis and ringtails.
Bamboos are very useful plants throughout the Old and New World tropics. It has been estimated that they are used by more than half of the world’s human population every day. According to A. Lewington , more than 1000 different products are made from bamboo. Bamboo shoots are edible and are a major component of Asian dishes. Since fresh shoots are more flavorful than canned, bamboo farms have been established in the United States. In Tanzania, “bamboo wine” is made from the fermented juice of the wine bamboo. Although bamboo shoots are tender and weak, they grow very rapidly. In fact, there are records of tropical bamboos growing 100 feet in three months, an astonishing 0.0002 miles per hour! When the shoots leaf out in sunlight they become very strong and woody.Some bamboos stems have the same tensile strength as certain types of steel and are used to reinforce concrete. After about ten years the stems begin to deteriorate in humid tropical regions. Bamboo canes are used to make cooking utensils, blow guns, toys and furniture. Bamboo pulp is used to make paper, and small, polished stem segments are sometimes used in necklaces.
Reeds and bamboos are very significant plants in the development and evolution of musical wind instruments. Different lengths and widths of the hollow culms produce the light airy sounds of small sikus or zampoñas and the deep bass notes of Bolivian toyos. Some of the world’s most beautiful music is produced by these relatively crude instruments. Panpipes have also been made in France and the Balkan countries, primarily from the reed Arudo donax collected in marshlands of the Danube delta.


Bidets were designed to help people freshen up without taking a shower or a bath. They were most likely invented in the early 1700’s, before a fully plumbed bathroom became common. Ladies loved the convenience of being able to rinse off after a visit to the chamber pot. Although the bidet is most commonly used to wash the genital region, some people also use this handy gadget to wash their feet.
Today, the bidet has evolved quite a bit. You can find a bidet attachment for your toilet that eliminates the need for a separate fixture in crowded bathrooms. Japan went a step further and actually made a toilet, bidet and dryer combination that eliminated the need for toilet paper. This toilet is very popular in many homes worldwide. In fact, actor Will Smith has proudly announced more than once that he has tossed out his toilet paper in favor of this Japanese innovation.
People who are trying to go green point out that using a bidet saves thousands of trees and millions of gallons of water a year. Even though the bidet uses water to rinse you off, it is much less water than the number of gallons needed to create toilet paper. In addition, eco-friendly bidets help you avoid the harsh chemicals that are needed to make toilet paper so white.
American Standard Bidet
The American Standard bidet comes in several styles and many colors. You can find wall mounting or floor mounting models made from vitreous china, which is quite durable. There are space saving rounded models and roomy rectangular models. If you want a really sleek and flashy bidet, you can shop for quite a few different fixture upgrades, such as a chrome and brass one piece faucet.
We use 36.5 billions rolls of toilet paper in the U.S. each year, this represents at least 15 million trees pulped. This also involves 473,587,500,000 gallons of water to produce the paper and 253,000 tons of chlorine for bleaching purposes. The manufacturing process requires about 17.3 terawatts of electricity annually. Also, there is the energy and materials involved in packaging and transporting the toilet paper to households across the country.
Toilet paper also constitutes a significant load on the city sewer systems, and water treatment plants. It is also often responsible for clogged pipes. In septic systems, the elimination of toilet paper would mean the septic tank would need to be emptied much less often.
Basically, the huge industry of producing toilet paper could be eliminated through the use of bidets(at least most of it). Instead of using toilet paper, a bidet sprayer cleans your posterior using a jet of water. You can use toilet paper to dry off with, which would be a fraction of your normal use, or you can use a towel which actually works even better.
Most of us can’t imagine living without toilet paper. The average American uses over 100 single rolls—about 21,000 sheets—each year.
Finally, do the math. How much would you save each week and then month if you stopped buying toilet paper completely? And this saving will just keep going on and on.“Bidet Toilet And Hand Bidet Sprayers”

Yokohama Tires Out of Orange Peels

Yokohama, a world renowned tire manufacturing company, has started selling non-petroleum based tires using orange oil as the main ingredient. Called the Super E-spec™, this tire is already recognized by Popular Mechanics as its Editor’s Choice Awardee. The tire will be available in the latest hybrid Toyota Prius.
Says Yokohama Vice President for Sales, Dan King — “The eco-focused dB Super E-spec mixes sustainable orange oil and natural rubber to drastically cut the use of petroleum, without compromising performance. It also helps consumers save money at the gas pump by improving fuel efficiency via a 20-percent reduction in rolling resistance.”
Orange oil is a renewable, sustainable raw material.
Here is a video from Yokohoma:

Energy Saving Products, Energy Saving Appliances

New Energy Saving Appliances Can Make Real Money For You.
The Old Saying goes “a dollar saved is a dollar earned”.

Check out these great new energy saving money ideas for your home or business.

Machines from the USA. Fully guaranteed when run on alternative energy power.
These Staber Washing Machines are the most efficient washers available based on energy, water and detergent usage claims the US distributor “Big Frog Mountain”. It operates similar to a front load washer except you maintain top loading convenience. Used in commercial environments such as Nursing Homes, Restaurants, Salons, Fire Stations and Dry Cleaners. Staber Washers can save the average family of three doing eight loads per week over $300 each year in water, energy and detergent costs ( which is around $0.70 less expensive per load than a traditional top load agitator washer).

The savings come from being a robust commercial design for longer life. The machines use less water, meaning less water heating costs. Tubs are shaped to create a passive pumping action to clean clothes more effectively and a high spin speed drying action dries your clothes using less electricity.

No Fuel Needed with the Energy Saving Products, Energy Saving Appliances. A FREE Energy Outdoor Appliance
(From Sun Oven International)

Slow cooking cycle produces the best tasting meals and you reduce your carbon footprint as a FREE bonus.

The Sun Oven bakes, boils or steams in the natural way. Anything that is cooked in a
Conventional Gas or Electric Oven can be cooked in a Sun Oven. Solar Oven cooking traps and retains all the natural flavors of food plus all those wonderful juices which get baked out using convention dry heat style ovens. The slow, even rise in temperature in a Sun Oven gives the complex carbohydrates time to break down into simple sugars allowing those incredible subtle natural flavors to emerge!! Sun baked foods stay moist. The natural internal juices do not bake out resulting in a superior moist taste with much less shrinkage. The Global Sun Oven is so versatile, so brilliantly designed and so easy to use.

Solar Hybrid Ovens Use Up To 75% Less Electricity. An Energy Miser that operates on FREE solar electricity or normal power after dark.

The low amperage infrared heaters make the Hybrid Solar Cooking Oven as safe and reliable to use as your own household Electric Oven. Hybrid energy efficient Infrared Heaters use 75% less electricity than your own electric Oven! This amazing outdoor appliance can be plugged into any standard electrical outlet to let you continue cooking on cloudy days or in the evening, 365 days a year and uses only 200 watts on low and 400 watts set on high when plugged in. Distributed by the Sun BD Corporation. Sun Oven

Do You Want a Refrigerator or Freezer that runs for FREE.

Sun Frost Refrigerators have the answer. – Available in 12V or 24V DC. Perfect for your Boat, home and runs off any Solar Powered System. Along with energy efficiency, the Sun Frost offers other advantages not found in the conventional Refrigerators including food-saving high humidity storage, quiet operation and an easy to clean interior. With it’s clean uninterrupted lines and choice of more than 100 colors and numerous natural wood finishes, the custom built Sun Frost Refrigerator adds elegance to every kitchen. For the past 19 years, the Sun Frost Refrigerators/Freezers have been used in over 50 countries and have an excellent track record. Sun Frost units are ruggedly constructed and will provide many years of reliable operation even in the harshest environments.

II – Power Saving Products

New Energy Saving, Brighter, Whiter Flood Light. (From Lifetronics)
A New Special Lens Reduces Yellow Light that lasts twice as long as standard Halogen Lamps. X-tra Life Halogen Lamp

Lower wattage Extra-Life lamps replace higher wattage Incandescent Lamps yielding energy savings that benefit you and our Planet. Standard Halogen Lamps last up to only 2,500 hours whereas Xtra-Life Halogen Lamps last twice as long (5,000 hours) giving significant savings on lamp and labor costs. It maintains a consistent light level throughout life and experience only minimal decreases in brightness.“green energy lights”

Solar Powered Attic Fans – Free Heat Removal From Your Loft Saves you Big Bucks on Air Conditioning.

A Solar Powered Attic Fan is an environmentally friendly way to cool and protect your attic and roof. The Solar Powered Attic Fan will save you up to 30% on your cooling costs. During the hot Summer months, the temperature in your Attic can exceed 160 degrees. Small passive Roof vents are often woefully inadequate at dissipating this heat. The attic acts like a giant radiator passing excess heat back into your living spaces, driving temperatures and cooling costs through the roof. In cold climates the heat trapped in your attic in the Winter months can even melt the snow that accumulates on your roof. As the water trickles down, it can re-freeze at the cooler eaves leading to destructive and costly ice-damming. Any good Attic Fan installation will improve your comfort level and should pay for itself within 3 years. “Solar Powered Attic Fans “

III – Water Saving Products

April Shower Heads –
Save water, Save energy and Develop a Richer soap and Shampoo Lather for Softer Hair and Reduced Dry Skin.

April Shower Filters use energy Saver Heads utilizing KDFTM Technology as the filtration media. KDFTM is a compound of granulated copper and zinc that removes chlorine, iron oxides, hydrogen sulfide and traces of heavy metals. It is a bacteriostatic media that inhibits the growth of e-coli, mould and other bacteria. In the presence of hot water, KDFTM literally becomes catalyzed to perform more efficiently therefore it is the most efficient state-of-the-art technology for shower and bath filtration.“April Shower Heads “

Do You Have Long Waits For Hot Water?
Combining an Instant Hot Water System with your normal system could be the answer.

Get Instant Hot Water and Save Water, Save Energy, Save Money.

An Instant Hot Water System (a high performance pump, integrated Controller and Electronic Zone Valve) requires no special plumbing.

It is designed for use with any hot water heating system to provide energy savings and water savings. It is easy to install in new or existing homes or businesses.

Enjoy savings of energy and water plus extend the life of water heaters. A local Instant Hot Water System gives you an excellent return on your investment.

Since eight out of ten homes have long waits for hot water at one or more fixtures, it is easy to see the added convenience and cost savings of local temperature controlled instant hot water delivery system to your hot taps & fixtures.
Some Other Energy Saving Products “Solar Powered Products”

ECO Tip – Disposable Biodegradable Tableware

As you are shopping for your Forth of July parties, think about buying disposable biodegradable tableware & cutlery.
Jaya Biodegradable has a great natural alternative for styrofoam and plastic silverware. Their forks, knifes, and spoons are made from sugar cane fiber that is a waste product of the sugar refining process. Their products are heat resistant to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, microwave safe, freezer safe and non-toxic. They also cut as well as any plastic fork.
EarthShell has an awesome alternative for styrofoam and plastic plates & bowls. Their dinnerware is made from renewable resources such as corn and potato starches and abundant limestone. Plus they are much sturdier than paper plates and microwave safe too.
Celebrate the Forth & the earth this July by buying biodegradable tableware.

Build an Eco-Friendly Deck

Decks are a great way to add defined space to an otherwise empty yard. They are more attractive and inviting than a plain old yard. Add a great new space to entertain or just kick back in the sun with this environmentally friendly deck.
Materials and Tools:
contractors marking paint
8 precast concrete piers
4-inch composite planks for decking
12-inch planks for deck facing
1-3/8-inch joist hanger nails
joist hangers
3-inch galvanized framing nails
2-1/2-inch composite deck screws
prefabricated stair risers
miter saw
chalk line
deck guide
1. Measure out and mark the outline of your deck. Then, measure out and mark where your concrete piers will sit. When laying each pier, make sure they are no more that 6 feet apart. (Check local building codes; they may require that you use more than just piers.)
2. If you have a grass yard, cut out the sod so that the pier will sit easily on solid ground. Wherever you will be placing a pier, use a tamper to compact the ground. This will make sure that the earth is solid to support the weight of the deck.
3. Once the piers are placed, lay the girders in the joist hangers on the concrete piers. Take a level and set each end on a separate girder to make sure they are both the same level. If they aren’t, tamp down the soil of the higher pier until it is level. If you cannot get the pier lower, place shims underneath the girder to raise it to the appropriate level. Make sure that all the joists are even by placing the level between each joist. Nail the joists into place.
4. Lay the cross beams out 16 inches from center over the girders. Since this deck has an angled side, our first four beams are 136 inches long; the fifth beam is 127-1/2 inches; the sixth beam is 111-1/2 inches; the seventh is 95-1/2 inches; the eighth is 79-1/2 inches; and the last beam is 63-1/2 inches. Attach the cross beams to the 4×6 beams with joists hangers.
5. Place 2x4s along the ends of the cross beams on each side of the deck and secure with framing nails. Then add joist hangers where the frame and the cross joist intersect. Because the deck will have an angled side, miter the ends of the two frame beams that will sit on either side of the angle to 45 degrees. Place the beam that runs along the angled side and attach with the framing nails.
6. Take a chainsaw and cut the end of the girders that extend past the edge of the frame. Start from the back of the deck and work your way to the front. Place your first beam 1-1/2 inches over the frame. It is usually recommended that you don’t leave more than an inch of overlay, but we will be adding a 1/2-inch facing to the side of the deck.
7. Use a deck guide when placing your decking. This will assure that each piece is uniformly spaced. For this project, we spaced the pieces 1/4 inch apart. The deck guide will also allow you to align the spaces for pre-drilling holes. With 2.5-inch deck screws, attach the beams to the frame. As you near the end, you can adjust the deck spacing so you end up with a 1-1/2-inch overhang on the opposite side.
8. Once your decking is placed, snap a chalk line across the outside ends of the boards. A chalk line is a great tool to always carry with you when building, giving you a dead on straight line when needed. Now take your circular saw and trim along the chalk line, making the jagged side of the deck nice and straight.
9. For the stairs, use pre-fabricated rises. Cut a section big enough for the cross beam to fit, starting at the base of the third step. If the riser is too big, trim the bottom. Make sure all the risers sit completely level. Once in place, drill 4-inch screws through the cross beam and into the portion of the riser behind it. For extra strength, add front and back 2x4s in for each level of stairs. Attach the rear 2x4s of the second step to the frame. Add the decking material to the stairs.
10. Finally, take your 12-inch deck facing and cut to measure (if needed) for each side of the deck. Miter the ends of each piece so they form clean corners. Place the facing on the outer side of the frame so it skirts around the deck. Attach it with 3-inch galvanized framing nails.
The Self-build Survival Guide – How to build or renovate your dream home – the eco-friendly way