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Ways to Go Green In Your Kitchen

Ways to Go Green in Your KitchenMost of us agree that keeping our planet and ourselves healthy should be a priority. However, we know that to get started “Going Green” takes some dedication and a bit of an upfront investment. But it’s well worth it! And you don’t have to start all at once…

Our goal is to see as many people as possible taking the steps to make 2018 their greenest year yet. God gave us stewardship of this planet and we take that very seriously. So we’ve committed to help – for the next year, we’re going to sprinkle in a few tips every month to help you gradually transform your home (and your life!) into an energy efficient, eco-friendly castle.

And we’re starting… In the Kitchen.

The Refrigerator

The only appliance that works harder in Florida than your AC Unit is your refrigerator. Despite the origins of the name – RE-Fridge-rator, it’s meant to keep food cool pretty much all the time. Anything you can do to help it, is going to save energy use and your electric bill. So:

  • Keep it full – a fuller fridge means less air to continuously keep cool. And less of that air escapes when you open the door. Which reminds us…
  • Know what you want before you open the door. It’s not just your teenagers that stand there staring into the void. And that frigid gaze is costing you $30-75 per year.
  • Use the recommended factory settings, or slightly below. The companies do a lot of testing to determine energy efficiency. But there’s always a little wiggle room, and the lower the setting, the less the compressor will run, especially if you’re keeping it well-stocked.
  • Defrost food inside. This is actually healthier and safer than leaving it in the sink or on the counter, and it transfers the energy loss (cold to warm) and the moisture to the refrigerator, meaning it works a little bit less.
  • Make sure the seals work – loose seals can cost you countless dollars in higher power bills as the cool air seeps out. To test your seals, close the door on a dollar bill. If you can pull it out easily, or if it just slides out on its own, you’ve got a problem.
  • Give it room to breathe. Leaving space between the wall and the coils on the back means they generate less heat and can expend it easier, reducing your energy costs, and the increased airflow lets them operate easier.
  • As an added bonus, consider unplugging the automatic ice maker, water dispenser and cool electronic gadgets on the front. While these are all intended to reduce energy use and add convenience, they also add heat to the system that the fridge must compensate for. But we understand if you don’t want to go that far.

Shopping Green

Getting back to keeping that fridge full. A lot of us have already invested in washable, reusable bags to take grocery shopping. When we remember them, that is. But that’s just the beginning. Here are a few other shopping tips to help maximize the sustainability of your kitchen.

  • Plan ahead. Keeping your kitchen well-stocked means less trips to the grocery store, and less gas & time wasted. Do menus for each week so you know what you’ll need to buy and how much, so you only head to the store once, and keep that fridge full. And if you do come up short on an item, consider if it’s really needed, and if a substitution can be made from what you have on hand.
  • Buy products with less packaging – less packaging means less trash. Not only can you save trips out to the cans outside, you’ll be reducing the build-up in landfills. Experts say we generate about 4.6 pounds of trash per person each day, amounting to 230-Million TONS of trash each year, just in the United States. And only 25-30% of that is recycled.
  • Recycle everything you can. First, know what’s recyclable. Then know where you can take it. Most counties and communities on the Gulf Coast of Florida issue each household a recycling bin. Some are already transitioning to the large garbage can sized ones they use in other states. Use them, and fill them with paper, plastic, aluminum, glass, cardboard & milk jugs. Even soiled items. The more we recycle, the better it is for all of us.
  • Eat less red meat, less often. Yeah, this isn’t our favorite either, and trust us, we aren’t trying to convince you to go vegan. But consider this – cattle take up a lot of space, then generate both methane and nitrous oxide, contributing 18% of our greenhouse emissions – more than car exhaust. So maybe just cut back a little.

More Quick Tips

Dishwasher vs Dish Washers – running the electric dishwasher uses 37% less water than hand washing. But only if the dishwasher is full. If you only use a few dishes per day, fill up one sink with soapy water, one with clear, turn the faucet off and save the electricity. This also works great to help train your kids to be more responsible. If you don’t mind a few water spots, you can also turn off the heat dry option, or just wipe the dishes dry yourself as soon as the cycle finishes.

Which Oven When – if you’re a small family, or only preparing a small meal, instead of kicking on the big, heat-generating oven, you can use a toaster oven, slow cooker, convection oven, or, yes, the microwave. When you’re cooking on the stovetop, use the smallest size pan you can – and put it on the smallest burner it fits. Also, when baking, you really don’t need to preheat anymore. Just turn the oven on when you’re ready to start – it’ll add maybe 3-5 minutes to the baking time, but save hundreds in electric, gas and AC bills.

Put a Lid on it! Cooking without lids can use up to three times as much energy as covering the pan. If you find yourself short on lids, look for one-size fits all options that are ribbed to fit various sized pots and pans.

Go Chemical Free – you don’t have to throw everything away at once and start over, but as you run out of cleaning products, replace them with organic, natural alternatives for harsh chemicals. You’ll feel better and will often find they’re more effective than what you’re used to. It’s the same for pest control. We’ve shown your neighbors from Lakewood Ranch to North Port that 100% organic, all-natural pest solutions are more effective and more affordable in the long run. If you’d like to find out for yourselves, give us a call!

So it’s really not that difficult to go green, if you take it one step at a time. Next up in our series – Going Green in the Bathroom comes in a couple of weeks!

Grasshoppers and Van Gogh: A Little Buggy Art History

Bus as ArtDespite the fact he had no success and made almost no money off of his art before allegedly shooting himself in the gut at 37, we know quite a bit about the painter Vincent Van Gogh.

The Dutch painter was the son of a pastor, and actually pursued the ministry himself for several years before discovering his true calling. He was also a teacher and an art dealer before studying painting.

At age 27, with the financial support of his younger brother, he began teaching himself to draw and paint. The artwork he is best remembered for now though, came about after he moved to Paris and became friends with several Impressionist artists – Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Pissarro and Gauguin.

A Buggy Starry Night

But was he also an amateur entomologist?

Well, not really – or not by choice at least. As his style became brighter and more flowing, he began painting more and more outdoors, where insects would habitually harass him while working. In 1885, he mentioned to his brother that the four canvasses he was sending him (presumably to reduce his debt) had been almost disastrous work as he had to pick more than a hundred flies off them.

But, as meticulous as he tried to be, he missed a few. Recently, the conservator at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Missouri found a tiny grasshopper that had apparently gotten trapped in the brushstrokes as Van Gogh painted “Olive Trees” in 1889.

Is There a Bug in YOUR Brush?

We’d like to think things have gotten better since the 1880’s, and in many ways they have. But despite all the improvements in construction and yard care, somehow bugs still manage to get into our homes, often to be found in unusual places.

To this day, the only thing that keeps bugs truly at bay is the consistent, professional application of pest solutions on a periodic basis. But you’re never alone. Here at Good News Pest Solutions, our highly-trained, capable staff is available year round to get you started and maintain pest protection for your home and yard.

The Good News

And the one thing that has improved in the last 100 years? Whether you’re dealing with grasshoppers, roaches, termites, bedbugs or mosquitoes – we now have an all-natural, 100% organic treatment to deal with every single one of them. These pest control solutions are safe for your entire family – including your cats, dogs and goldfish. Plus, they’re more effective than the dangerous chemical fixes of the past.

The most popular solution we provide to most of our customers from Parrish to Punta Gorda, is our Go Green Plus 3. It offers year-round protection from the majority of creepy crawlies that try to invade your home and garden. And we’re happy to add on our warrantied Termite solution and/or No Bite Zones for small additional fees.

What are you waiting for? Do you want archaeologists finding ancient bugs in your home 100 years from now? Or would you rather get a handle on it today? Give us a call!

Let’s Celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day!

February 17th-Random Acts of Kindness DayWith everything going on in the world, it may seem like society is getting darker, it’s impossible to make a difference – there’s no hope. But that’s far from true, and it’s time to share the rest of the story… The Good News that each one of us can – and must make a difference!

In the 1930’s, anthropologist Margaret Mead conducted a study on cultural variation, trying to determine if differences in people’s emotional disposition – their attitudes – were the result of nature or nurture. Her final conclusion on her study has become a now famous quote:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead

Ms. Mead determined that the only way to change the world and create a more positive outlook was for people to take small steps – to be committed to improve attitudes and relationships through incremental favors done for others, known or unknown.

Random Acts of Kindness.

There are hundreds of stories of people whose lives were changed by one simple act by a stranger or friend who took the time. And how taking the time made the givers’ lives better too.

February 17 was Random Act of Kindness Day. Kicked off in Denver, CO, in 1995, the unofficial holiday has spread across the world. How can you participate? Here’s some ideas:

Start Small

  • Recognize the people who often get ignored. Learn and use the names of the people you see every day. The security guard at your office, apartment building, or bank. The receptionist at your office. The delivery people who always stop by. The barista who always serves your coffee with a smile.
  • When greeted with a smile and a hello, almost everyone on the street or in the elevator will respond with a smile and a hello back, no matter how bad a mood they’re in. And that might even be enough to change that mood for the day.
  • Let another car merge in front of you, or stop to let a pedestrian cross the street. I know, crazy, right?
  • Hold the elevator or a door for someone coming behind you. Nobody’s in that much of a hurry.
  • Here’s one most people don’t consider – let someone else help you. Give them the satisfaction of being kind as well.
  • The next time you go to a hospital, bring flowers with you – to give to the ladies and men at the nurses station!

Share Compliments

  • Giving compliments is almost a lost art in today’s critical society. But if you look, there’s almost always an opportunity to make someone’s day by complimenting their outfit, hair, work, or ability to deal with people. And tell them! It’s not enough just to think it, share the love. People don’t hear how special they are nearly often enough.
  • Go one step further – if you heard someone else get a compliment when they weren’t there, tell them, and add your own to it too!
  • Start with a smile – make your first email of the day a quick couple sentences to a friend, letting them know you’re thinking of them or thanking them for being a good friend. You’ll both start the day on a higher note.

Say Thank You

Speaking of thanks… There are few words in the English language more powerful than “Thank You,” yet we use them more infrequently than we should.

  • Make a point of saying thank you more often across the board.
  • Thank outside the box – make a point of thanking someone who works to make a difference every day – police officers, military, fire fighters, EMT’s and teachers. And maybe that harried waitress you always see at your favorite family dining establishment. You can do this verbally, or, even better, give them a small thank you card.
  • Create a culture of thankfulness – one company in Pennsylvania keeps a rack of thank you cards in their lobby – with stamps. They let anyone: employees, clients, or random visitors select a card to mail to anyone at any time. Look for ways you can make thankfulness a mindset not an afterthought at your workplace – or home.
  • You Matter Marathon will let you sign up to get 30 “You Matter” cards to pass out to people.

Postal Greetings

We know it’s easier to just click send on an email or text, but there’s a certain power in tactile connection – having in your hands a card or a piece of paper that was held in another person’s hand while they were thinking about you.

  • It doesn’t have to be a thank you. Or pages long. Think of the incredible people in your life and send them a hand-written letter telling them so.
  • Drop a quick note in the mail letting someone you love know how much you care.
  • When a newspaper or magazine article reminds you of someone, clip it out and mail it to them with a post-it note.
  • On significant family holidays, like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, remember any friends who have lost a parent, and the parents who have outlived their children. Getting an unexpected card can make their whole week.

Don’t Stop With People You Know

  • Take advantage of Soldiers’ Angels or Operation Gratitude to send a hand-written letter to a member of the armed services – both on active duty and wounded.
  • Love for the Elderly distributes letters to American seniors via senior centers and nonprofit organizations.
  • Are you a teacher? Love for the Elderly also connects senior centers with elementary classrooms, building relationships through exchanged letters. Wisdom is shared, and both kids and elders feel more purpose and connection.
  • Cards for Hospitalized Kids delivers cards to children in United States hospitals. You can also send postcards to sick kids, as well as their siblings through Send Kids the World. Other children often feel left out or neglected when their siblings is sick, and an encouraging post card makes their day too.
  • More Love Letters has a database of people, submitted by a friend or family member who could benefit from letters of encouragement. Stop by, read a story or two and take a few minutes to make a difference. While you’re there, add to the list anyone you know who could use the same.

You may never meet them, but know you’re making a difference.

And these ideas are JUST the beginning of the difference you can make in the world. Next week, we’ll talk about more ways you can impact others and ways to be kind to our planet.

Now, go and do something kind!


“Green” Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is coming up quick! And while we know that the day is traditionally celebrated by expressing your love for another human being, there’s no rule that says you can’t express your love for God’s creation at the same time. Especially if it means saving a few bucks too.

Now, we’re not recommending that you try these just because they’re cheap – they’re also creative, fun, and can be romantic. Don’t just buy your beau a box of chocolates and some flowers (emphasis on the word JUST), enjoy an out of the box Valentine’s experience they’ll always cherish.

Get In – or Out – to Nature!

Believe it or not, there is a world out there to explore that isn’t on your phone. Take a jaunt to one of our parks with a picnic basket and a camera and enjoy the great outdoors. Enjoy a traditional PB&J or egg salad sandwich, then take a hike or seek out some wildlife or exotic plants you can only find in Florida.

Visit one of our award-winning beaches – or better yet, visit one of the less well known beaches for a fun romantic stroll in the surf. Siesta Key, Lido Beach, Longboat Key, Nokomis and Manasota are always nice.

St. Armand’s Circle may be known for the shopping, but you don’t have to spend money to enjoy the old town Florida feel. Wander around the circle, check out their historic Lutheran church, and maybe even pop in to grab some Ben & Jerry’s.

Combine a road trip and a nature adventure! Check out one of the many historic park areas on the Gulf Coast of Florida like Spanish Point, Oscar Scherer State Park, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, or the Gamble Plantation,

It’s a little longer drive, so pack a lunch and zip down to Ding Darling to see the ancient mangroves, flocks of flamingos, other rarer birds, reptiles and amphibians. You might even catch Barbara Manatee! You could even linger long enough to take a stroll on one of the nice beaches they have nearby.

Go for Some Heavy Petting

A word of warning – this may lead to an unexpected new family member! Plan a trip to the local animal shelter or rescue and keep your idle hands busy with some new furry friends. Find a place where they let the dogs or cats roam around and share the loving. Some shelters will let volunteers walk the dogs.

We don’t have one of those fancy cat cafes they have in some cities, but here on the Gulf Coast of Florida, we did them one bigger – for under $20 per person, you can check out the Big Cat Habitat! Plus, they don’t just feature Florida mountain lions and tigers, but also bears, camels, and Chance the Chimp and his primate pals.

Artsy or Crafty

If you’ve got a shared interest in art or history, what better place to get closer than one of the Gulf Coast’s many varied museums? In addition to the outdoors historical sites, we’ve got the nautical Maritime Museum, the Railroad Museum in Parrish, Manatee Village, Art Center Manatee (which also offers classes) – or really immerse yourselves at the Village of the Arts! Not only can you visit Bradenton’s best art galleries, but because it’s an arts community, you can actually watch the art being created!

Sure, they made a movie about PT Barnum, but he’d be far less remembered if it weren’t for his late partners in the circus, John & Mabel Ringling. Check out the circus museum, as well as their palatial home right out of the Great Gatsby, Ca’ d’Zan.

If you like going hands-on, book a couple hours at Arts A Blaze, the Artful Giraffe or stop by the ‘open’ Craft Bar for some fun do-it-yourself-without-too-much-work pottery, painting and crafts galore. What better way to find out if you’re ready to tie the knot than by actually trying to?

Try Photo-Mining

You’ve heard of photo bombing? This activity takes a little more pre-planning, but can be great fun, especially if you want to do a group dating challenge. A photo scavenger hunt involves choosing specific items to look for, but rather than collecting them, you’re snapping pics. The more challenging a photo is to get, like having to interact with strangers, or work cooperatively, the higher points it’s worth. There are several places online to download hints and lists of ideas.

Or, as an alternative, simply pick a starting place and a final stop and grab random photos of interesting things – in alphabetical order. No cheating! The hardest part is remembering the proper order without resorting to reciting your Kindergarten training songs.

Having a fun romantic, and most importantly, memorable Valentine’s Day (or weekend) doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. When done right, it really is the thought that counts (although you really should keep the chocolates and flowers in the mix – trust us on this!).

If you’re planning to end your Valentine’s Day adventure in a, well, more adult fashion, you’ll want to keep your eyes out for bedbugs. Yep, they’re not just for hotels anymore! Luckily, Good News Pest Solutions is experienced in ridding your home of bedbugs and various other creepy crawlies that can put a damper on your romantic evening. Ask any of our happy customers from Lakewood Ranch to North Port, they’ll tell you the best thing they did to get rid of pests was to give us a call! And have a happy, romantic Valentine’s Day, however you choose to spend it.

Genetically-Modified Rats: Great Idea or Ecosystem Disaster?

Genetically Modified RatsNot too long ago, any type of genetic manipulation was the stuff of science fiction books and movies like Jurassic Park and Gattaca. And while we’re still decades away from the human genome being selected or edited, the same is not true for the lab rats of the world. That is to say, literally, the rats that are in the lab.

The experimental technology, known as Gene Driving, was first developed to try and eliminate malaria carrying mosquitoes.

If you remember your high school biology lessons, you’re familiar with the fact that there are two sets of genetic markers that make up each strand of DNA – one from the father and one from the mother. To simplify, when an egg is fertilized, the two strands of 23 alleles combine to form 23 pairs of chromosomes to form the DNA of every cell in a human being.

And the system works similarly for other mammals, just in different quantities.

Gene Driving interrupts the natural genetic process by overriding the natural biological processes with engineered genes that cause the rats to have, instead of shared genetics between their father and mother rats – they only have the mother’s genes.

If all rats were female, they couldn’t reproduce. And if this sounds familiar, it’s a variation on the method Michael Crichton proposed in his dinosaur novels. After 4 movies and a 5th on the way, I think we all know how that ended. (Hey, weren’t mosquitoes part of that too?)

Life Finds a Way?

And while no one is worried that rats are going to escape from their island and eat the humans, there are some in the scientific community that are concerned about other consequences when “Life finds a way.”

To put it more specifically, they’re concerned that such genetically engineered organisms could have an irreversible impact on the ecosystem. It’s not just about genetically engineering sterility or reducing aggression. It’s more that they’re concerned that we are fiddling with nature without fully comprehending what the consequences could be.

And while some are calling for a complete halt to all of the research related to gene driving, the researchers who developed the process point out that completely abandoning the research means that we may never understand it, and it could be a very effective way to cut down on several disease-carrying and crop-devouring insects and rodents.

Unlike the typical science fiction B movie plot, however, the original researchers are adamant that they need to better understand the animals and the ultimate result of their existence in nature before releasing them from the lab.

The next step in the process, they say, would be to develop an engineered gene drive that is self-limiting. Instead of taking out a whole species, it could temporarily slow generational growth – for example, stop rabbits from breeding, allowing the population to be more easily controlled.

The hope that these scientists in Scotland cling to is that we can find a better way to try and control the spread of harmful parasitic viruses and diseases that cause things like malaria and dengue and zika virus. It is becoming harder to develop vaccines and the diseases themselves mutate to be resistant to treatments, while at the same time their transmission partners (the mosquitoes) become more resilient to traditional pesticides.

Like it or not, and despite the moral implications, we might find ourselves having to develop mutations to fight nature’s mutations in order to survive.

Luckily, we have a solution – for the mosquito problem at least – that doesn’t require  potentially harmful pesticides. Our exclusive No Bite Zones have turned biting, blood-seeking female mosquitoes into vegans, from Punta Gorda to Lakewood Ranch, and lets them pass it on to their offspring. Suddenly your rainy season isn’t as buggy and the mosquitoes get to fulfill their God-given purpose of pollinating. Give us a call today to find out more!

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