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10 Simple Hacks for an Eco-Friendly Bedroom

You might wake up every day with good intentions to take care of the planet. But are you an eco-warrior in your sleep? With some sustainable design choices, your sleep space can be healthy both for you and the environment. Here are 10 simple hacks for a more eco-friendly bedroom.

1. Choose organic bedding

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Pesticides aren?t just something to avoid on your food. It?s also ideal to look for bedding and other fabrics that are organic and produced in a sustainable manner. ?The cotton industry uses one quarter of all the pesticides that are consumed in the world,? Greg Snowden, founder of the Green Fusion Design Center, tells HGTV. ?For that reason alone, it’s important to support organic cotton sheets and bedding.? Opting for chemical-free bedding also means you won?t be absorbing toxins into your skin as you sleep. ?Be suspect when you see the words ?repellents? or ?proof? on bedding labels, which indicate the product has been treated with chemicals,? HGTV says.

2. Go green with your mattress

When it comes to furnishing a bedroom, your mattress is probably the most important choice you?ll make. After all, getting enough quality sleep is vital to your health and well-being. Your mattress should support you through a comfortable night?s sleep ? and it shouldn?t have any qualities that adversely affect your health. ?Choose a mattress that’s toxin-free and doesn’t contain polyurethane foam and fire-retardants such as PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers),? HGTV says. ?? Green options include organic wool- and cotton-filled mattresses that are just as comfortable as a chemical-filled mattress. The greenest option is latex.?

3. Avoid down filling

Although some companies are trying to source down feathers via slightly less horrifying methods (such as not plucking live birds), don?t be fooled into thinking down bedding is friendly to the environment or the animals. Buying a down product might mean you?re supporting ?the cruelty of the foie gras and meat industries because many farmers who raise birds for food make an extra profit by selling their feathers as well,? according to PETA. And we know the meat industry is a major contributor to climate change. So choose vegan fillings, such as cotton or buckwheat, for an all around friendlier option.

4. Give old furniture new life

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If you?re looking to refresh your bedroom decor, make something old new again. New furniture not only is typically more expensive, but it also takes more resources to produce and ship. So take inventory of what you already have if you?re doing a bedroom redesign. Even if you?re not that handy, there are many easy DIY tactics to give furniture a facelift. Or check local thrift stores and antique shops for pieces that meet your needs. ?You can often find old headboards to upholster or paint, giving a singular look to the bed for less,? according to HGTV. ?An old door turned on its side and wall mounted is another eco-friendly, and rustic, solution.? And try to keep any large furniture pieces on the neutral side, so you can continue to use them even if your decorating style changes.

5. Use low/no-VOC paints and stains

If you are going the DIY route, make sure any paints, stains and other products you use have little to no volatile organic compounds. VOCs are a major pollutant of indoor air and are found in many household products, including paints, solvents, wood preservatives and adhesives, according to the EPA. They can cause short- and long-term health effects, such as headaches, dizziness, breathing issues and cancer. And many of these products are considered hazardous waste that can pollute water and destroy ecosystems. So buy the greenest products possible for your projects. Use them according to label instructions, and dispose of them safely.

6. Reuse or recycle old fabric

It?s not just old furniture that you can repurpose for your eco-friendly bedroom. You also can take a green approach to your fabric choices. There?s a lot of fabric in bedrooms ? sheets, duvet covers, blankets, curtains, etc. And while buying organic bedding is a plus for the environment, don?t forget some other sustainable strategies. ?For inexpensive DIY pillows or curtain panels, visit fabric shops and ask for their leftover material scraps,? HGTV says. ?Or, repurpose old blankets and sheets for a comforter that’s completely your own.? And if you have old fabric items you?re not going to use, either donate them or bring them to a facility that takes textile recycling.

7. Open windows

For your best sleep, experts suggest your bedroom should be somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Sleep.org. But that doesn?t mean you always have to snooze in a climate-controlled environment. Open windows anytime the weather allows it to take advantage of the cool night air (and to chase out some of those indoor air toxins). If opening windows isn?t an option, opt for a fan in the bedroom. ?Buy a stylish ceiling fan to circulate hot and cool air, and save money on energy bills,? HGTV says.

8. Add insulating decor

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Speaking of windows, the bedroom is an ideal space to hang thicker, insulating window treatments that can block hot and cold outdoor air ? as well as light for those mornings when you want to sleep in. And this kind of insulating, energy-saving decor doesn?t stop at the windows. Adding rugs to the bedroom also can reduce your need for climate control, especially in the colder months. ?We all like the feel of soft rugs under our feet, but did you know that putting down layers of rugs will stop heat escaping from a room?? Ikea says. ?So turn up the rugs, and you could be turning down the thermostat.?

9. Choose dimmer bulbs

The bedroom probably isn?t a place where you need bright lighting. So an easy way to conserve some energy is by replacing all your bedroom lighting with dimmer LED bulbs. ?LED lights last for around 20 years, which significantly cuts down on the number of times you?ll have to change the bulbs,? Ikea says. ?Not only that, you?ll be cutting down your electricity bill too, as LED uses 85% less energy than incandescent bulbs.? And if you fall asleep with those LEDs still on, you won?t have to feel so bad about the energy you?ve wasted.

10. Make space to hang clothes

Clothing is a whole other category that impacts the environment. And one way you can make your bedroom more conducive to eco-friendly choices is by setting up an area to hang clothes you don?t want to put in your closet. This can be a spot for air-drying clothes. Or it can be a place to keep clothes that simply need to air out a little, rather than a full wash. ?Hang trousers or tops up on hooks overnight and you won?t need to wash them so often, saving water and time spent ironing,? Ikea says. Along those lines, aim to keep your closet decluttered. Know what you have in there, so you can shop your own closet instead of wasting resources on extraneous purchases.

Main image credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images

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10 Simple Hacks for an Eco-Friendly Bedroom

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15 Green Challenges Just in Time for Earth Day

April 22 is Earth Day ? a day of political and civic action focused on protecting our planet. Because every person counts when it comes to eco-friendly actions, here are 15 green challenges to try this Earth Day.

1. Take a shorter shower

Start your Earth Day on an eco-friendly note by taking a shorter shower than normal. Set a timer to really challenge yourself ? and bonus points if you keep the water on the colder side. ?Saving water reduces carbon pollution, too,? according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. ?That’s because it takes a lot of energy to pump, heat, and treat your water.? Be sure you also turn off the water while brushing your teeth. And if you have any leaky fixtures, make Earth Day the day you finally get them fixed.

2. Buy local

If you?re doing any shopping on Earth Day, make a point only to go to local establishments ? especially restaurants that serve food produced in the area. ?In North America, fruits and vegetables travel an average of 1,500 miles before reaching your plate,? according to the World Wildlife Fund. If you have a farmers market open near you, head over to stock up on fresh, local produce.

3. Green your commute

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Challenge yourself to a greener commute in the spirit of Earth Day by biking, walking or using public transit. ?If 25 percent of Americans today used mass transit or other alternatives to driving for their daily commute, annual transportation emissions nationwide would be slashed by up to 12 percent,? according to the NRDC. If ditching your car isn?t an option, at least see whether you can carpool with someone ? even if it?s just to run errands. Every little bit counts.

4. Take your car for a tuneup

Speaking of driving, Earth Day is a fitting day to take your car in for a tuneup. ?If all Americans kept their tires properly inflated, we could save 1.2 billion gallons of gas each year,? the NRDC says. ?A simple tune-up can boost miles per gallon anywhere from 4 percent to 40 percent, and a new air filter can get you a 10 percent boost.? So check your tires and schedule your car for other service if necessary to make sure you?re rolling as eco-friendly as possible.

5. Check for expiring food

Make Earth Day the day you finally clean out your refrigerator and pantry, checking for expired and almost-expired food. ?Approximately 10 percent of U.S. energy use goes into growing, processing, packaging, and shipping food ? about 40 percent of which just winds up in the landfill,? according to the NRDC. So if you find items that will expire soon, work them into your meal plan before they do.

6. Go vegan

If you eat a plant-based or mostly plant-based diet, you?ve already won this challenge. If not, at least make Earth Day a vegan day. ?Since livestock products are among the most resource-intensive to produce, eating meat-free meals can make a big difference,? the NRDC says. And who knows? You might discover some great vegan options to regularly incorporate into your meals.

7. Wash on the lowest settings possible

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If you have laundry to do, keep it as eco-friendly as possible. ?Using cold water can save up to 80 percent of the energy required to wash clothes,? according to the WWF. ?Choosing a low setting on the washing machine will also help save water.? Similarly, if you?re washing dishes, try to run a full load in the dishwasher instead of handwashing, which actually uses more water.

8. Switch off and unplug

You don?t have to go out on Earth Day and buy all new energy-efficient appliances (unless you really want to). But you can use the day to hunt for ?energy vampires? ? i.e., electronics and other appliances drawing power even when they?re not technically in use. Some examples include a computer sitting idle instead of fully shut down or even a coffee maker left plugged in just to keep that little clock functioning. Switch off and unplug what you don?t need to slay those vampires.

9. Green your lighting

Again, you probably won?t be purchasing new efficient appliances on Earth Day, but maybe you can pick up some more efficient lighting. If you haven?t already, make the switch to LED bulbs. ?LED lightbulbs use up to 80 percent less energy than conventional incandescents,? according to the NRDC. ?They?re also cheaper in the long run: A 10-watt LED that replaces your traditional 60-watt bulb will save you $125 over the lightbulb?s life.? Plus, instead of always using overhead lighting with multiple bulbs, try positioning some lamps around your home and even at work to lower your energy use.

10. Tweak the thermostat

Depending on where you live, you might be using the heat or the air-conditioning (or neither) when Earth Day rolls around. If you?re in a climate-controlled environment, tweak the thermostat just a little bit, so it kicks on less often. ?Moving your thermostat down just two degrees in winter and up two degrees in summer could save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year,? according to the WWF.

11. Look for air leaks

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Fixing air leaks in your home can potentially save around 10 percent to 20 percent on your energy bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Not only is that great for your wallet, but the environment will thank you, too. Some common places to look are around windows and doors, baseboards, vents and fans, fireplace dampers and the attic hatch. Plus, check your fridge to make sure its seal is still strong.

12. Broaden your recycling knowledge

If you already recycle, that?s great. Definitely don?t get lazy about it on Earth Day. But how well-versed are you in recycling protocol? Recycling rules sometimes vary by community, and there?s a chance you?re unwittingly recycling something that clogs the machines or otherwise just belongs in the trash. Find your local rules, and read through them to make sure you?re doing things correctly.

13. Take special recyclables to the correct facilities

As long as you?re thinking about recycling, use Earth Day to gather any special recyclables that can?t go in your normal recycling bins, and take them to the proper drop-off facilities. Often there are recycling events on Earth Day that accept items, such as old electronics and batteries. Check your community calendar, so you don?t miss events for any special recyclables you want to get rid of.

14. Sign up for e-bills

This Earth Day challenge should only take you a few minutes. If you?re still getting paper bills or other mailers you don?t need, change your settings to get the electronic versions instead. ?In the United States, paper products make up the largest percentage of municipal solid waste, and hard copy bills alone generate almost 2 million tons of CO2,? according to the WWF. Likewise, tell companies to take you off their mailing lists for advertisements (you can find all those online nowadays anyway), and ask for digital receipts and records whenever possible.

15. Ask for eco-friendly additions at work

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You might not have as much control at your office as you do at home in terms of making the place more eco-friendly. But you still can put in some requests. Ask for eco-friendly additions, such as recycling bins if you don?t already have them or 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper products. Challenge your colleagues to bring in reusable mugs and water bottles instead of using paper or (gasp) Styrofoam cups. And if you have an office coffee pot, try to get people on board with purchasing one of the more eco-friendly coffee brands (and definitely not the single-serve coffee pods).

Main image credit: sarayut/Getty Images

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.


15 Green Challenges Just in Time for Earth Day

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Shine On: 5 Green Lighting Tips

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Shine On: 5 Green Lighting Tips

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Earth Week Daily Action: Change 5 Light Bulbs to LEDs

One of the simplest steps you can take during Earth Week is to change out some lightbulbs. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends you switch out bulbs in the 5 lights you use the most. Usually, that means the lights in the kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom and on your porch.

Until recently, EPA mostly recommended that you shift from incandescents to compact fluorescents, or CFLS. CFLS are much more efficient than old-fashioned incandescents, but the downside is that they contain a minuscule amount of mercury. The only way this would be a problem would be if you broke one of the bulbs, and even then, vacuuming up the debris minimizes the risk (and you’re exposed to far more mercury inthe pollution that comes from coal-fired power plants).

Still, with LEDs, there’s no mercury involved. Plus LEDs last much longer than CFLs. That’s because LEDs don’t actually burn out or fail. Instead,they experience something called “lumen depreciation,” in which the amount of light produced decreases over time. Fortunately, this time period can be ten years or more. This is particularly advantageous for bulbs in hard-to-reach places like ceiling lights.

Another benefit of LEDs is that they don’t radiate heat the way incandescents or halogen bulbs do. In fact, about 90 percent of the energy an incandescent bulb uses is radiated in heat, which is one of the reasons why it’s so wasteful.

How to Buy the Right LEDs

Most lighting fixtures can easily use an LED in place of an incandescent. However, if you’re planning to use an LED in a fixture that operates on a dimmer switch, make sure to choose an LED designed specifically for dimmers.

Keep in mind you’re purchasing a bulb based on its lumens, not its watts. Most packages will give you the lumen equivalent so you can get the right amount of lighting to meet your needs. For example, if you want to replace a 60-watt incandescent, you’d buy a bulb that generates between 500 and 800 lumens and would only use 8-12 watts. Consumer Reports offers a good guide to choosing the right LED here.

You’ll also want to choose your light depending on whether you want bright light that is more like daylight, or “soft” or warm light, which is yellowish, like an incandescent.

One strong recommendation is to purchase LED bulbs and lights that are ENERGY STAR certified. ENERGY STAR sets standards to ensure that manufacturers produce products of high quality and performance, with long-term testing to evaluate the products over time and in ways that are similar to how you would use them.

Be prepared to pay a little more for LEDs upfront. The package will tell you how much money you will save on your electricity bill over timeusually it’s many times the cost of the bulb.

Some utility companies offer rebates to help their customers pay for the bulbs. Ace Hardware stores often send out coupons that discount LED purchases. If you have a home energy audit done, the auditors may install LEDs as well.

CFL vs. LED: What’s the Best Lightbulb Type?
What to Look for When You Make the Switch to LEDs

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Earth Week Daily Action: Change 5 Light Bulbs to LEDs

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All that light pollution is wasting energy AND making you sick

All that light pollution is wasting energy AND making you sick

23 Oct 2014 8:23 PM



All that light pollution is wasting energy AND making you sick


If you stood at the heart of Hong Kong in the middle of the night and looked up, the sky would be about 1,000 times brighter than it’d be in the countryside.

Not all of us are living in cities that huge, or that utterly blinding — Hong Kong has been dubbed “the most light-polluted city in the world.” Still, researchers claim “light pollution” is not only wasting a lot of energy, but it could also be impacting our health.

According to Harvard Medical School neuroscientist Steven Lockley, this whole life-after-dark habit we’ve got is really messing with our natural rhythms. “Every day we don’t go to bed at dusk, we experience what Lockley calls ‘mini jetlag,’” reports The Guardian. And prolonged mini jetlag could even be “carcinogenic;” one study found that female workers on the night shift are more likely to develop breast cancer.

To add insult to injury, a lot of the excess light is superfluous:

“As a society we need to think, do we really need some of these amenities that are putting light pollution into the environment?” Lockley says. “Do we need 24/7 garages, do we need 24/7 supermarkets, do we need 24/7 TV? It was only in 1997 that the BBC turned off and there was the national anthem and we all went to bed.”

OK, so maybe everything would be a lot more beautiful and a lot less cancer-causing if we didn’t live in these blazing urban centers and instead went to bed with the sun like our well-rested ancestors. But since most of us do live in cities, then perhaps more places should take a page from Los Angeles, whose fleet of LED street lamps save the city almost $10 million annually in energy and maintenance costs.

Because LED technology also makes it easier to install smart things like color-changing lights and motion sensors, it could both reduce our carbon footprint and make it a little less likely to have that annoying streetlamp flooding our bedroom window. But would it make us less likely to be up ’til the wee hours eating cookies and watching Netflix? Hmmmm.

Urban light pollution: why we’re all living with permanent ‘mini jetlag

, The Guardian.

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All that light pollution is wasting energy AND making you sick

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One Weird, Nobel Prize-Winning Trick That Could Halve America’s Lighting Bill

Mother Jones

On Tuesday, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced the winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics. In the first of the prestigious awards to be handed out this week, Japanese scientists Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura were honored for their invention of the blue light-emitting diode commonly known as an LED. The $8 million prize “rewards an invention of greatest benefit to mankind”—and LEDs have crossed the bar.

Invented just twenty years ago, blue LEDs paved the way for many now-common devices, like television LCD-screens, Blu-ray discs, and laser printers. But more importantly, they give off white light in a new, more efficient way, reducing energy consumption the world over.

Johan Jarnestad/The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

“I (was) not too sure whether I could win a Nobel Prize,” Shuji Nakamura said in a telephone interview after he was informed of the award. “Basically physics, it means that usually people was awarded for the invention of the basic theory. But in my case, not a basic theory. In my case just making the device, you know?”

In traditional electric lighting, most of the energy is lost when it is converted to heat. But LEDs convert electricity directly to light.

The invention was based on over three decades of work and research. And since their discovery in the early ’90s, the technology has rapidly improved: state of the art LEDs are now over four times more efficient than florescents and almost 20 times more efficient than regular light bulbs. Because they last so much longer, LEDs are also less wasteful.

Lighting accounts for about a quarter of the world’s energy consumption. The Climate Group, a nonprofit pushing LED use worldwide, reports that illumination is responsible for over 1,900 million tons of CO2 emissions every year. They calculate that number could be reduced by up to 70 percent, just by replacing traditional streetlamps with LED powered versions.

Created by The Climate Group

Last year, the US Department of Energy released a report saying LEDs could halve the country’s usage of electricity for lighting by 2030. The savings would equal the output of fifty 1,000 megawatt power plants, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions as much as taking 40 million cars off the road—not to mention cutting energy bills by $30 billion.

Of course there are still technical developments and obstacles to be overcome before this vision is realized. But it is not far fetched or far off, thanks to the latest Nobel laureates. To learn more about the science behind their world-changing invention (or to send them a quick congratulatory note!) you can head to the prizes’ site.

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One Weird, Nobel Prize-Winning Trick That Could Halve America’s Lighting Bill

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Cree 9.5-Watt (60W) Soft/Warm White (2700K) LED Light Bulb *6-Pack*


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Innoo Tech Purple 5M 50 Led Blossom Solar Fairy Lights for Gardens, Homes, Christmas, Partys, Weddings


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Innoo Tech 55ft/17m 100 LED white Solar Fairy String Lights for outdoor, gardens, homes, Christmas party


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Paradise GL23836BK2 Plastic Solar-Powered LED Spot Light, 2 Pack, Black


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