Category Archives: Efficient Appliances

Everyday Items Are Earth Friendly and Effective

In recent years society focused their desires on disposable items but as efforts are being made to increase awareness to the condition of our planet, even companies who built their fortunes on this throw away attitude are revamping with an Earth conscious approach. The theory of use it once and throw it away has added to landfills so there are many people who have taken the old adage “they don’t build ‘em like they used to” and applied it to the products of today creating solid and stable items that are built to last for years to come. Some of the most prominent are items we use frequently such as mops, lawn mowers, appliances and make up applicators, just to name a few.

With the introduction of disposable dust collecting cloths that are said to attract the particulates often missed by other dusting solutions, tons of waste was added to our growing trash problem so Colorado based Bona (Corporate Headquarters are based in Sweden) devised the Earth friendly, Environmental Choice System™. Rather than throwing away the cleaning cloths, this nifty pole has a Velcro mop head so the microfiber cleaning pad or fluffy, washable dusting pads easily attach and detach. The pads can be washed in either a washing machine or simply rinsed and wrung by hand. Their cleaning solution is a waterborne formula with low VOC that was certified by Greenguard for indoor air quality.

When it comes to outdoor air quality there is no bigger offender than a gas powered lawn mower. With fifty four million Americans filling and running gas powered mowers every weekend, using upwards of 800 million gallons of gasoline annually, this piece of equipment is responsible for five percent of the air pollution in our country, not to mention the seventeen million gallons of fuel spilled while refueling the machine. A push reel mower is the most eco-friendly alternative but for those who are unable to use such equipment Neuton® Mowers might be the next best alternative. The Neuton mower utilizes a rechargeable battery as its source of power creating a quieter, zero emission alternative to gas mowers. Each battery has a life span of approximately 360 watt-hours which will cut through approximately one third of an acre prior to need for a recharge. Additional batteries can be purchased so when one runs out a new, fully charged one can be put right in saving time and energy.

Energy saving is certainly a concern on the mind of many home owners in recent years so it is common to find the Energy Star logo on household appliances that meet or exceed requirements for efficiency ratings, based on the governmental system of standards adopted in 1992. From refrigerators to cordless phones this stamp of approval is the gold standard in acquiring products that draw considerably less energy than their non-approved counterparts. One of the most common items used in the home is a television set. A TV can be held responsible for up to four percent of household electricity usage per year but a model rated with the Energy Star uses up to thirty percent less energy per year when not in use making it possible to save money even when utilizing an item of convenience.

Women are always searching for the quickest and easiest methods that assist in helping them feel great about them self and one of the most common ways to achieve this is through the use of make up. Amazing advancements have been made in this industry over the past couple decades to produce cruelty free products not tested on animals but when it came to application brushes many people were still using those constructed from natural animal hairs. These brushes are potentially hazardous as they can breed bacteria at the hair’s cuticle and they also offer less than superior performance as they tend to streak the product being applied, not to mention they are created from animals, which is hardly cruelty-free. Utilizing a make up applicator created from the synthetic fiber of Taklon allows for anti-bacterial properties, smooth finishing results and best of all a cruelty-free experience.

There are many companies beginning the transition to environmentally friendly alternatives of the every day items we use and this is just a small list of products we can replace over time in our efforts to become more eco-conscious consumers. A mop, lawn mower, appliance or make up brush are not the only products we use so look around and do some research into companies that provide Earth friendly alternatives to our most frequently used items. The more people who request a safer alternative the more mainstream it will become to care for our planet.

Websites Utilized for Reference Material (not hyperlinked)
Cleaner Air, 1998-2008, PPM,

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Artist Spotlight: Ron Ames, Decorative Wall Artist from Art Nous Faux

Ron Ames, Decorative Wall Artist located in Silver Springs, MD, has been completing specialty wall finishes for over twenty years, has had his work featured in numerous publications and teaches classes to students eager to learn about the world of decorative finishes and he does it all with a strong sense of our planet. When asked which photos from his website showcase an eco-friendly example of his beautiful work, Ron enthusiastically responded: “All of the work[s] shown on my site use only eco-friendly products”. With close to 100 images on his website, spanning the past twenty years of work, that is quite impressive.

Describe a day in your personal or professional life.

The night before, get materials ready for next day project. Wake up at six am, meditate till seven, make lunches and breakfast for my mamacita and adolescents, brew up some coffee, sit, chat, and watch the wildlife until we are ready to leave.

Is it your personal belief that creativity, and the ability to create art, is innate?

The ability to create is not only innate, but is who and what we are. How that creativity is expressed is an individual discovery.

Who or what inspired you to become a Decorative Painter and Finisher?

Back in the mid-80’s, when I was working for a painting company, I observed another member of the crew creating a faux marble effect and I felt such an excitement seeing how it was all coming together that the very fact that I was excited made me realize I should pursue this, so I asked him for info on where I could learn some more and he turned me on to a book which had Ina and Allan Marx’s school address in the back, so for two years I commuted from Washington DC to New York to take most of her classes.

What prompted your shift from use of oil paint to latex or other Earth friendly products?

In the late 80’s to the early 90’s, I began to experience physical symptoms such as red eyes, dry skin, runny nose and headaches. My wife works in the health field and suggested that I could be allergic to the petroleum solvents in the oil paints. It was then that I started to explore the water based products using Floetrol as a glazing medium.

How do you find that water soluble products hold up compared to their oil counterparts?
There are pros and cons to each, but as the demand for environmentally friendly products increases, the quality and durability of water soluble finishes will catch up to the standard reputation of oils, if it hasn’t already done so.
How did you approach your first client with green design concepts? How long ago was that and were they immediately receptive?

In the 90’s, I began to suggest to clients that they use water soluble products mainly because I was allergic to petroleum, but many were already unhappy with the off-gassing of oils, not to mention that, because of the long wet time of oils, brushing up against the finish leaves marks that have to be fixed.

When teaching classes, how much emphasis do you place on green concepts with your students?

100% emphasis

What are some of the important green issues you feel must be emphasized to your students?

Recycle water based paints by letting the cans dry out then take them to the recycling center or donate unused paints to shelters, high schools, etc.

Do you find more students have a focus on being ecologically responsible now than say ten years ago?
Can you tell me about your creative process?

For me, creativity is about being in a playful mood first. Ones’ attitude or approach to the creation of something is vital. Being tense inhibits the opportunity for creative ideas to flourish. Don’t be tentative which can only come from having expectations and with that comes the fear that you may not live up to those expectations and therefore you will judge yourself as a failure. The creative process is about tuning into an energy that can’t be described, but certainly felt. Tuning into it requires letting go of preconceptions of…whatever.

Were you influenced by the Green Movement?


What have you incorporated into your lifestyle to facilitate going green and conserving energy?

Recycling materials, using reusable bags for groceries, using recycled products for countertops, floors, cutting boards, kitchen cabinets, using energy star appliances, energy efficient light bulbs. We plan to purchase a hybrid vehicle in 2009.

What is important to you about conservation and preserving our environment?

Conservation and preservation of our environment begins with the understanding of conserving and preserving our selves. We can only conserve and preserve ourselves when we acknowledge that which is life giving, and when we are in touch with that, there is a natural extension of it in out external environment. As within so without.

What challenges have you had in your work?

Whatever challenges I have had in work has to do with the fundamental ability to relax and realize that there is a solution to all problems. Things get worse if my mind is in an agitated state. Solutions arise when the mind is quiet.

Do you feel that the Internet has a positive or negative influence on art? How does the Internet affect your work?

It depends on how one uses it for it to be positive or negative. For exposure, it has helped me tremendously.

What is your greatest ambition as an artist?

To keep on growing in knowledge and spread the joy that I experience from doing something that I love to do.

What are you currently working on? Can you tell us about it?

I am currently working on writing a book that has to do with wood graining. Nothing much to tell at this point.

Are there any historical or contemporary artists that you specifically admire?

For historical Trompe L’Oeil, definitely the Flemish Masters, the Impressionists, Joan Miro, Kandinsky, for contemporary Masters in my field, I would have to include the legendary Marx’s, William Cochran, Pascal Amblard, Pierre Finklestein, Sean Crosby, Nicole Vigini, Kaltoum Maroufi-Colle, and many more that are out there that I have not had the privilege of learning from.

What advice would you give a young artist just getting started?

Ask yourself: What do I want, how bad do I want it, what am I going to do to get it?

What “Green” Product would you recommend to our readers?

Benjamin Moore Aura, Milk paints, American Clay Plasters, Faux Effects products

What is your best “going green tip?
What we do today affects our tomorrow

How would your friends describe you?

Deep, eccentric, thinker

Do you have a website or online presence that showcases your work?
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