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Category: Living Green

Ways to Go Green in Your Yard

Ways to Go Green in Your YardWe typically spend more time outdoors during the summer months than the rest of the year. So, we’re taking a slight detour in our quest to make your home as environmentally efficient as it can be. This month we’ll be looking for ways to go green… in your yard!

Plant Something!

The first step to going green is probably the most obvious.

Grow Your Own Food

Having your own garden can be convenient, healthier, and more cost-effective. Plus, it also reduces greenhouse emissions, and reduces carbon monoxide in the immediate area. And thanks to our year-round growing season on the Gulf Coast of Florida, there’s never a time you can’t keep your kitchen and family stocked with fresh veggies. Summer in Florida is particularly good for sweet potatoes, peppers, lima beans and eggplants. Consider also planting a whole crop of cowpeas every few summers to help bring nitrogen and nutrients back to the soil. Organic seeds aren’t a must but can also add a healthier touch.

Cast a Little Shade

There’s an old saying that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago and the second best time is now. Until they get the time machine perfected, there’s no better time than now to do your part. Trees help purify the air, give wildlife a home, and offer shade to your home, reducing cooling costs in the summer. Of course, palm & citrus trees are popular here. But also consider Florida native trees that do well in our environment while minimizing water use. Acacia, red maples, strongbark, marlberry, and wild cinnamon (canella) trees are all good options.

Manage Your Water

And speaking of limiting water…

Timing is Everything

By watering your garden or lawn during the coolest part of the day, you’ll ensure that more of it is absorbed by the soil. That means less as well as more efficient watering. Be aware of any watering restrictions your community places on homes and follow those guidelines.

Not Just for Monkeys or Laughs!

Especially during our rainy season, collecting excess in a rain barrel allows you to spread out the natural progression of the water flow and conserve the water you have to pay to bring in. You can even build your own inexpensively. Just make sure that the barrel is properly sealed or you’ll end up with a nice mosquito breeding ground instead – another good reason to collect the rain rather than letting it sit around.

Alternative Fuels

Leftovers for Life

If you have the available space, consider creating a composting area. Your scraps of food and leftovers become ‘black gold,’ enriching our  sandy soil with more nutrients. You can even add pulled weeds and tree-fallen fruit to the mix.

Get ‘Reel’ Man-Power

This is a harder option to consider in our Florida heat and humidity and it’s not recommended for large acres of land. But if you just mow the ¼ acre most of us live on, consider going old school with your lawn mower – you know, without the motor! You’ll still get the exercise of a push mower with the added benefit of not using gas or oil to run and maintain it. Also, it’s easier to fix with fewer broken blades. And you can breathe easier too.

Xeriscape 

How about considering no lawn at all? Less watering, less mowing and these days you can use a variety of hardy, native Florida plants to make a fabulous looking yard without any grass to mow. You’ll also tend to see more butterflies, bees and other pollinators coming around. Sunshine Mimosas, Gaillardia, Silver Buttonwoods and Helianthus make for a beautiful setting. Use stone accents to compliment the floral or build a path through for a unique Florida yard.

Local Yokels are the Best

Instead of shopping for the commercially harvested fruit and veggies at Publix or Winn Dixie, look for a Local Farmer’s Market, Co-op, or Community Supported Agriculture Group.  That way, you’re getting the freshest foods and supporting your local farmers. There’s often opportunity for honey, sugar cane and a variety of homemade citrus edibles as well.

Organic Answers

The beauty of most of these tips is that they help eliminate the need for harsh chemical fertilizers and herbicides. If need be, look for natural, organic substitutes for chemical weed killers.

As for pesticides, Good News Pest Solutions is an industry leader in adopting 100% all natural solutions to common pest problems. We’ve found them to be far more effective as well as safe for your family and pets. Our clients from Bradenton to Port Charlotte can’t say enough about how happy they are with the service from our highly-trained staff. For more information, give us a call!

 

Going Green in Your Garage

Ways to Go Green in Your GarageRegardless whether you use your garage to park your car, as a toolshed and project site, as an oversize clutter closet, or some combination thereof, it probably isn’t the first place you think of when you consider transforming your home into a more energy efficient and environmentally safe place.

But there are actually several ways you can make even your garage greener.

Let There Be Light!

Of course, the easiest and cheapest step to going green in your garage is to simply swap out the existing light bulbs with longer-lasting, energy efficient CFL and LED bulbs.

If your home is older and you have the old hanging fluorescent tubes in your garage, invest in an LED panel or two. There are several options – even a way to retrofit your existing hanging fixture with LED’s that are bright, and use considerably less electricity, and generate less heat.

Most garages are built with one or fewer windows. But by adding a skylight, or a couple extra, energy efficient windows, you can cut down on the electric bill by letting more light into the room. Sure you could just open the garage door, but here in the Gulf Coast of Florida, we know that just leads to lots of mosquitoes and flies buzzing about.

Plus, even if your attached garage isn’t climate controlled (most aren’t), opening the door can pull some of the air from the house to compensate, causing the AC or heating unit to work harder and increase electric costs.

The Freon Freeze Out

Speaking of your AC unit… As of January 1, 2020, Refrigerant R-22, aka, FREON will no longer be produced or imported into the United States. Almost all AC units installed after 2010 don’t use R-22, but if you have an older system, you might want to look into having it replaced.

The average life for an AC unit is 11-12 years, but because we use our systems almost year round here in Florida, it could be shorter. Even if your current system isn’t using Freon, you might want to upgrade to a more efficient system anyways to save some money in the long run. Have a certified technician you trust check your system to see how it’s doing and what your options are.

Fill In the Gaps

Whether or not your garage is connected to the home AC unit, using caulk to seal any openings (like where your phone and cable used to come into the house, adding weatherstripping and threshold seals to the doors, including the big one, can keep the temperature under control and where it belongs. The seals also add an extra layer of protection against a lot of bugs and rodents that might try to squeeze in.

If you notice that the garage door doesn’t quite stand tight against the vinyl side seals, tightening loose screws inside the door can help.

If you’ve already got weatherstripping and seals installed, they need to be checked periodically to make sure they’ve still got the proper flexibility and no cracks.

Insulate Yourself

While the exterior walls on most garages are concrete block and won’t need it, all of the walls that are shared with your home should be properly insulated. Likely this was handled by the builders at the time of construction, but you should do your due diligence and check it yourself.

There are several ways to check for insulation in your walls with a little effort. You should also check your attic, since it covers your whole home, and what the building code requires is less than the recommended amount by the Department of Energy.

When replacing or replenishing insulation, we recommend our Thermal Acoustical Pest Control (TAP) blown insulation. It’s completely green, safe for everyone except certain insects you want to keep out of your home. It’s also fire-retardant, made of recycled newsprint, and more efficient than standard insulation.

A Few Other Tips

  • If you’ve got the extra cash, consider replacing your garage door with a triple-layer door to help maintain the temperature in the garage. You can even get one made from recycled goods!
  • Even if your community doesn’t offer separate containers for garbage, recycling, and yard waste, you can implement a system yourself, either inside or on the side of your garage.
  • Electric and hybrid vehicles are becoming more popular across the United States. If you own one, you can install a charging station in your garage. Lawmakers in Tallahassee are currently looking at funding grants to help encourage low-emission vehicle use.
  • If you’re considering building an additional detached garage, look for eco-friendly building material options, including non-Portland cement.

If you would like more information on TAP or any of the other environmentally friendly pest control options Good News Pest Solutions offers to homes and businesses from Bradenton Beach to Port Charlotte, give us a call and one of our knowledgeable technicians would be happy to help!

Going Green in Your Laundry Room

Ways to Go Green in Your Laundry RoomThe average family does about 8-10 loads of laundry every week. That adds up to 11-15 hours a week – if you’re using the dryer. It can be longer for items you hang or spread out on a rack to dry. So it makes sense that the next place we’ll stop on our year long quest to Go Green is… the Laundry Room.

Wash N Go

While mechanical clothes washers have been around since the late 1700’s, the first automatic washing machine was introduced in 1937 with home models appearing shortly thereafter. However, they have become much more efficient and better designed just in the last 10-20 years. And not just the WiFi enabled ones.

The earliest washing machines used between 40 and 50 gallons per load. Thankfully, in recent years that has been reduced to less than 13 gallons per load. But if you really want to conserve water, invest in a front load, high efficiency washing machine. It’ll cost a little more up front, but they use on average 5 gallons less per load (that’s 2000 gallons a year saved), get more of the water out of the clothes, so drying time is reduced, and use less detergent while getting clothes considerably cleaner.

Limit your detergent. You’ll note on most laundry detergent bottles, two fill lines. Use the highest one only when you’re doing a full load. Anything less, use the lower line, and never overfill – it can actually cause buildup that may lead to bacteria. Whenever possible, always do a full load.

Another recommendation you hear often is to wear jeans two or three times before you wash them. With the humidity and heat on the gulf coast of Florida, you can bet your clothes are probably building up more than the usual liter of sweat, 10 grams of salt, 40 grams of grease and sebum, and 10 grams of skin cells and flakes that the usual person leaves in their clothes every day. But you can make up your own mind.

Running Hot and Cold

Did you know most clothes can be washed in the cold cycle? Yet, the average family washes 50% percent of their clothes in warm water, 35% in cold and 15% in hot.

80-85% of the energy attributed to washing machines comes from the need to get and keep the water hot or warm. Yet cold water works well for all clothes, even whites. Although, once a month you should probably wash all your whites with hot water and bleach or some hydrogen peroxide to keep them white. Peroxide also helps get out stubborn stains.

You can toss everything in together. Sure the first couple of times you wash a new pair of jeans, or bright colored socks, towels or blouse, you should wash them alone, but once they’ve gotten past that bleeding stage, you’re good to go. No more pink everything anymore.

One caveat, a lot of laundry experts will say to do your denim separate. There’s a couple reasons, but mostly because heavier fabrics take longer to dry and the longer certain fabrics are exposed to heat, the more they’ll break down. So turn your jeans inside out and wash them separately to keep everything lasting a little longer.

The Dries Have It

As you can probably guess, there’s one big suggestion for going green with your laundry that some will resist. Instead of throwing everything in the dryer, hang everything out on a clothesline. It was good enough for our parents, right?

In truth, dryers in homes are a recent development. Until the mid 1960’s, electric dryers were far too expensive for most people to own. Now that they cost around $350 apiece, we toss 90% of our washer loads into the dryer.

With energy efficient dryers, the savings is less than it used to be to hang items out on the clothesline, but that also has the benefit of a little exercise, fresh air and even stimulates your creativity! If you usually take advantage of dryer sheets, add a quarter cup of vinegar to your wash and you’ll get the same softness, and your washer will stay cleaner too.

Whenever you DO use the dryer, make sure that the lint trap is cleaned. You’d be surprised how often people forget to do this simple task each time. Also, you can turn off your dryer when you’re not using it – just like your TV, it still draws power, even when it’s not running.

A New Wrinkle

When ironing, turn the iron up to the highest temperature you need, but start ironing items needing a cooler temp right away, so you use the heat as it’s building up, cutting down on both the electricity and the energy needed to cool everything down.

If you use dry cleaning to get fresh pressed shirts and jackets, you can bring them into the bathroom while you shower and they’ll absorb the moisture and smooth out the wrinkles naturally.

If you choose to go the dry cleaning route, you should invest in reusable, environmentally safe dry cleaning bags. Ask if your dry cleaner utilizes a hanger recycling program and you can also self-recycle by bringing the hangers back to your dry cleaner.

Even if the label says dry clean only, many items can be hand washed. Just be careful with delicate fabrics. You also avoid using the various chemicals that can cause environmental and health risks.

As part of our commitment to our customers and stewarding planet earth, we stopped using harmful chemicals for our pest control services a while back. And we’ve discovered that they often cost the same and are more effective than what other companies offer.

As we get closer to the rainy summer months, mosquitoes are soon going to be an issue across the Gulf Coast. Our customers from Punta Gorda to Lakewood Ranch have found that our exclusive No Bite Zones effectively stop mosquito bites by turning the Momma mosquitoes into vegans! If you’d like to see how it would work for your yard, give us a call!

Let’s Celebrate Earth Day!

Let's Celebrate Earth Day!On Sunday, April 22, we will celebrate the 48th annual Earth Day. The first organized celebration of our planet was the idea of two Congressmen – a Democrat from Wisconsin and a Republican from California – and was intended to be a nation-wide educational rally scheduled midway between Spring Break and final exams.

In the first year, 20-million Americans took part and it led to the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

As you might imagine, we’re big fans of Earth Day and pretty much all conservation efforts here at Good News Pest Solutions. It’s part of our ongoing commitment to going green and our belief that it’s our duty to take care of our planet and all of God’s creation.

Setting the Goal

The theme for this year’s Earth Day is ending plastic pollution – eliminating everything from the plastic soda and beer rings that still end up in our oceans to the grocery bags and water bottles that litter our landfills to microplastics – microscopic bits of plastic that infiltrate food, water, and our own bodies. Probably not the future they imagined in The Graduate.

But even more than pollution, the unexpected side effects of the popularity of plastics over the past 100+ years leads to numerous health issues. Plastic exposure contributes to reproductive issues, cardiovascular problems, impaired neurological functions, adult-onset diabetes, obesity, and even a resistance to chemotherapy.

Some of the same steps we’ve recommended in the past for going green work well for specifically reducing plastic pollution – reduce, reuse, and recycle. Additionally, the folks behind Earth Day recommend refusing and removing.

Refusing is simply turning down the option for plastic bags, straws in your drinks, or just requesting an alternative to plastic items. If you want to see the impact you can have, there’s an online calculator where you can see your current plastic footprint.

What Can One Person Do?

If you’re looking to eliminate plastic pollution in your life for Earth Day or every day, the folks at the Earth Day Network prepared a whole Guide, with plenty of resources, video links and actions you can take to make our planet a better, healthier place.

You can also make your corner of the planet healthier by joining our customers from Bradenton Beach to North Port in getting our 100% all natural, organic and safe pest control solutions. Our Go Green Plus 3 protects your home and perimeter from nasty bugs without all the dangerous chemicals you’ll encounter elsewhere. If you’d like to learn more, just give us a call!

Ways to Go Green in Your Bedroom

Ways to Go Green in Your BedroomAs we continue our expedition to “going green” in our houses this year, today’s journey takes us into a room that you typically spend between 6 and 8 hours a day in, although you’re generally not awake for most of it. But fear not, you can even go green while you’re counting sheep.

In fact, getting a good night’s sleep is one way you can get more refreshed, energized and healthier, so maybe it’s best we spend a little more time… in your bedroom.

Don’t Sleep On It!

Speaking of getting a good night’s sleep, one great move to more green in your bedroom is to start with that bed you’re sleeping on. Mattresses typically last between 5 and 7 years, so chances are you’re due for a new one anyways, so why not invest in something that’s both more sustainable and comfortable?

Look for mattresses that are environmentally friendly and made with natural latex, bamboo and organic cotton without some of the harsher flame-retardant chemicals. If they’re made in America, that’s even better, because the carbon footprint is reduced by not having to incur long distance transport emissions.

And don’t forget to recycle your old mattress. As long as it’s in good condition and doesn’t have any tears, holes, structural damage or stains, there are several non-profits, like the Salvation Army that will sanitize or completely recondition an old mattress for resale. Otherwise, they’ll end up taking up a huge amount of space in a landfill, waiting decades to fully decompose.

If you want to go all the way and replace your whole bed, look for wooden frames certified to come from sustainably managed forests. Plain wood or a non-toxic varnish is all you need. Just avoid paints and polishes that release chemicals into the atmosphere. Another fun alternative is to look for stylish secondhand furniture. The right piece can make you feel like your sleeping in a mansion without the cost or the further damage to the environment.

On top of the bed, grab an eco-friendly memory foam mattress topper, or boxsprings topped with natural wool. The wool wicks away moisture from the bed and air, giving you a better, deeper night of sleep and can sustain a lot longer.

Invest in organic cotton sheets and pillows. They are often even softer than the synthetic blends and less likely to melt if a fire happens. If your budget is a little tight, start with transitional cotton that hasn’t yet been fully organically certified, but still adheres to the organic growing practices.

And as we’ve suggested before, consider investing in a buckwheat pillow. Not only does the pillow not collapse under the weight of your head and neck, helping promote a more comfortable sleep, the buckwheat hulls also don’t hold onto heat – so both sides are the cool side!

Time to Come Out of the Closet!

Did you know that almost 40,000 gallons of water are spent each year just to replenish the clothing supply for one family in the United States? Yet how many of the items in our closets sit there for weeks, months, years, even decades without being worn. A lot of us hold onto things, just in case they come back into fashion.

Here’s the secret… It only comes back into fashion after you’ve finally given it away! So why not speed up the process, help a non-profit provide jobs and resources to people who are less fortunate and get a little more breathing room in that closet.

Pick out the several key items that are your typical go-to’s, along with a few specialty outfits. Let’s face it, you’re never going to wear that 90’s vintage bridesmaid dress you hated to wear in the first place. However, your Christmas party cocktail dress, or a classic tux – with or without top hat and tails – is something that you’ll likely use year after year, or at least every other.

Anything that isn’t key, start clearing out and donating. Keep enough that you don’t need to buy a bunch more to replace it. Of course, there are a few items you’ll always be buying new pairs of – like underwear and jeans that are not meant to last forever. But that blouse that is slightly different from the one you loved 2 years ago you never got around to wearing? You don’t need to buy it.

And hey, if bell bottoms do come back, you can always head down to the Goodwill and buy them back, for a fraction of the cost.

Catch Your Breath!

Instead of running the air conditioner all year long, consider opening the windows on cooler nights (yes, we have some in Florida!). Let the system rest and it will thank you by performing efficiently for longer.

Invest in an air purifier. You might have noticed, even with the AC on all the time, we accumulate a LOT of dust in our homes. Give your allergies some relief and clear the air of any toxic fumes that might have drifted in when the kids left the door hanging open.

Most of us here on the Gulf coast have plenty of humidity in the air, but if you find yourself having trouble breathing late at night, you might want to pick up a bedroom humidifier to moisten the air you sleep in.

Clean Up Your Act!

Whether you prefer wood floors or deep shag carpeting, there are safer, all-natural polishes and shampoos that will keep the floors looking bright and new without bringing more harmful toxins into your home.

If you get your clothes dry-cleaned, look for establishments that subscribe to all natural and/or organic dry cleaning practices. Save and return the hangers, or offer to provide your own, if they’ll let you. Instead of going through several of the single use plastic bags, invest in a reusable dry cleaning bag. A really nice one will work as a hamper for dirty clothes, make carrying and drop off at the cleaners easier, and of course, nicely carries the freshly pressed clothes home.

Like in the bathroom and the kitchen, there are plenty of organic, all-natural cleaning options for the bedroom that can do the job. Often the organic products smell, look and work better than their more traditional counterparts.

That’s something we’ve proved at Good News Pest Solutions for decades, with our 100% all-natural approach to insect and other pest control. And we’ve got customers all up and down the Gulf coast of Florida, from Bradenton to Port Charlotte that will attest to it. if you’re looking to keep your pest control as green as the rest of your house, give us a call!

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