Archive for April, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

Dear Friends of GHE,

Happy Earth Day!  Today, like many other days lately, is a first for me and for Green Home Experts.  That’s because it’s the first Earth Day that we’ve been open for!

I just wanted to take a minute to thank all of my wonderful customers, suppliers, friends and family for your tremendous support these past 2.5 months.  I know we still have many kinks to iron out–updating the website, expanding our product line, finishing kitchen & bath gallery, hiring more employees (just to name a few)–yet I am so proud of the success that we have had so far.

Why am I pleased?  Of course I want to see this business take off.  But more importantly, I am just thrilled to see area homeowners and businesses who are going green.  Every time you shop at GHE, you are making a good decision for the earth, yourself, and your family.

I hope you all got to celebrate Earth Day in some small way.  Thank you for making every day Earth Day at Green Home Experts.

Fondly,
Maria Onesto Moran
President
Green Home Experts

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My Starbucks Idea

Thanks to In Women We Trust for this entry.  (By the way, if you haven’t checked out that blog, you must!  I read it often for inspiration and new ideas, like this one.)

Starbucks has set up My Starbucks Idea so that you can make suggestions on how they can improve.  The writer from IWWT was asking for a better, more consistent variety of fair trade, shade grown, organic coffees.  Here are my suggestions:

  • Use compostable cups and lids
  • Offer reusable plates and mugs for people not on the go
  • Charge customers to use one-use mugs as a means to encourage them to bring their own reusables.
  • Publicize your coffee ground composting program better.

What are your suggestions?  Let them be heard!

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Save Your Trash

Today I highly suggest you check out www.saveyourtrash.typepad.com. I’ve seen this guy on tv and in a few magazines and newspapers, but never read his blog.

What Ari set out to do was to collect all of the waste that he created for a year and keep it in his apartment.  Thus began his study of where our garbage comes from, where it goes to, and how to cut down waste.

Since then, he’s expanded his horizons to include opening an organic restaurant!  Truly an inspirational story about a man with unconventional ideas who is making a difference in the world, and helping us ask ourselves difficult questions about the consequences of our decisions.

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Dollars and Sense of Going Green

Here are a few numbers that make it easy to see why going green is good for your wallet:Energy Star estimates a 3.5-year payback period for the $200 premium on an Energy Star-rated electric clothes washer costing $500.

They estimate a 3.1-year payback for the $30 premium on an Energy Star side-by-side refrigerator costing $1,100.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs pay back their extra cost in about four months!

And who said going green was too expensive? 

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How to Have a Green Picnic

Spring has sprung!  So it’s time to think about packing your first picnic of 2008.  Here are tips to help you make sure your picnic is friendly to the earth.  They are brought to us by Sheryl Eisenberg from the Natural Resources Defense Council:
•    Stick around: Choose a picnic site you can get to without a car — by walking, biking, hiking, or taking public transportation.

•    Eat locally, too: For your menu, choose fresh, local foods, ideally ones grown organically or with minimal processing.

•    Reuse it: Use washable and reusable utensils, tablecloths, napkins, thermoses, and food containers

•    Recycle it: Make it a waste-free event by recycling bottles, cans, and other materials.

•    Burn it clean: Instead of using lighter fluid, which contributes to air pollution, use a metal charcoal chimney (available at most hardware stores).

•    Be a savvy weather-watcher: Watch the clouds and learn about what they say about weather.

•    Stay on trails: Don’t disturb plants and animals by going off trails. Make sure kids play in designated areas.

•    Bug off, naturally: Use less-toxic insecticides, such as a citrus candle or incense, to keep bugs away.

•    Stop and look around: Take time to enjoy and explore the scenery. Bring field guides, binoculars, or a nature journal.

Write to us in the comments section if you have other ideas for a green picnic!

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5 Ways to Stop Standby Power Loss

These are small steps from Natural Home Magazine that will make a big difference on your electric bills.

1.  Next time you’re on the market for any of these items, buy Energy Star computers, appliances and power adaptors, which can consume half the electricity of standard models.  For a list of products, visit www.EnergyStar.gov.  Please note: not all Energy Star products are alike!  Their energy (and water) usages vary widely, so be sure to read the fine print.

2.  Fully shut down your printer and computer when not in use.  “Sleep” mode still uses standby energy.  Plug them into an easy-to-reach power strip so you only have to do it once.  P.S. Laptops are much more energy efficient than desktop computers.

3.  Reduce how many phones, chargers, and remote controls you have in your house.

4.  Unplug stuff you don’t use.  For instance, I don’t use my coffeemaker, microwave, or toaster oven every day, so they stay unplugged until they’re used.

5.  Unplug the charger.  Remove battery -powered rechargeable devices from their docks when fully charged.

Why does this matter? Consider this: The average U.S. household contains two TV’s, a VCR, a DVD player and three telephones.  If all Americans exchanged these for Energy Star models, greenhouse gas emissions would decrease by 25 billion pounds.  That’s like taking 3 million cars off the road!

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Tax Incentives for Going Green

Every year around this time, I’m filled with much wonder, regret and worry.  Did I save all my receipts?  Can I write off my cell phone?  Did I pay enough payroll taxes during the year?  And, of course, what will I do with my big fat tax return?!

While I’ll be the first one to say that our government doesn’t offer enough incentives to homeowners and businesses for going green (incentives would, after all, be contradictory to the huge energy subsidies they dole out), there are a few programs you might be eligible for:

Energytaxincentives.org makes it pretty easy to navigate the different options that are out there.

Also, specifically pertaining to the state of Ilinois, this link: http://www.keepwarm.illinois.gov/TaxIncentives.cfm has information for energy efficiency-related tax incentives.  They expired at the end of 2007, but I believe you can still get the write-off on your 2007 tax return.

Lastly, DSIRE gives information specific to your state (this link goes right to the Illinois page).  It encompasses homeowners and businesses, and is related specifically to alternative energy as well as incentives for businesses to go green.

Happy reading!

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