Creating a room for your new baby is a very big part of getting ready for his or her arrival! But, picking the colors and prints for fabric and walls and finding the right furniture are only part of the picture. It is important to make sure that the materials and supplies you choose for the room support your child’s health and development as well! Babies and small children breathe in more air for their body weight than adults do – which means that their exposure to air pollution can actually be greater than for adults – at critical stages of development too.  In this blog post, we offer Green Depot solutions to reduce your child’s exposure to chemicals of concern in the nursery like Formaldehyde, PVC, Flame Retardants, and more.

Flooring
Flooring is one of the greatest sources of chemical off-gassing in a home – and since small children often spend a lot of time on the floor, their exposure to those chemicals can be greater. Choose flooring that is PVC-free, has no-added-urea-formaldehyde, a non-off-gassing finish or chemical treatments of other kinds.

- Wool Carpet is an excellent choice for a nursery. Naturally flame resistant and easy to clean, wool carpet does not need the stain treatments and flame retardants that can get added to synthetic carpeting. Wool feels great soft and cozy underfoot and is known for its durability too – so it should last well into (or past) your baby’s college years!

- Cork Flooring is a quiet and resilient flooring option. This beautiful flooring is available in planks that click together and “float” without the need for adhesives.

- Natural Fiber Area Rugs are a great way to add a pop of color or pattern to baby’s room! Put one down over your wood floor to quiet footfalls during naptime.


Paints & Finishes
People say that high contrast and colors are great for a baby’s nursery so go bold if you want to, but choose a zero-VOC paint! We have several paint lines that are high on performance and  low on toxins. Click here to see our full selection! The finishes that you choose for flooring and furniture are equally important. Look for wood finishes that are low-toxic and won’t off-gas into the room for months. OSMO’s Polyx Oil wood finish meets German regulations for safety on children’s toys; and Vermont Natural Coatings is made from whey – a by-product of Vermont’s cheese industry!

 

Clothes and Bedding
When choosing bedding and clothes for our child make sure that there are no chemical hazards lurking. Believe it or not, some baby bedding and even pajama’s can contain toxic flame retardants! These chemicals are added with good intentions, but scientists are beginning to tie them to serious health and developmental concerns. Fortunately, we have a full line of organic cotton clothing and bedding products that are free of chemical treatments.


Baby Care and Toys
When buying baby care items avoid plastics as much as possible as they can contain chemicals called pthalates, many of which are known endocrine disruptors. We have a full category of options here.

- Diapers: 60% natural materials, and chlorine free for when you need diapers on the run
- Baby Bottles: made from glass with silicone sleeves for grip
- Silicone nipples: latex, BPA, phthalate and PVC free

Latex, BPA, phrhalate and PVC free
Latex, BPA, phrhalate and PVC free


Laundry & Cleaning
It is a little ironic that many of the cleansers available on the market today can actually pollute our homes with toxic fragrances and dangerous anti-bacterials at the same time that they claim to be making homes cleaner. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s website to see how the cleaning products in your home rate for chemical safety. We’d like to highlight these healthy options for keeping your house cleaning as clean as possible:

- Charlies Laundry Soap: hypoallergenic, non-toxic, biodegradable and concentrated – use approx 1 oz per load!
- Green Depot All Purpose Cleaner: our house brand, biodegradable, non-toxic and refillable at our refill stations
- AFM SuperClean: super concentrated, tough enough for toilets and safe enough for dishes!


Green Depot Registry!
If you’re expecting, our online registry program makes it easy to share the products you’d like with your community! Click here to sign up!

 

Want to look deeper into chemical safety for kids?

+ The Center for Environmental Health has an excellent page on Children’s health at home here.
+ CHEJ is another informative resource for information about chemicals and child health.
+ The State of Minnesota also has some great information here.
+ Read what the American Lung Association says about Indoor Air Pollution here.
+ The Environmental Protection Agency has a very informative website about child health here.

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Sometimes the changes in our global climate seem like so large of a problem that it can be hard to imagine how one individual, family, or community can make a difference. Do not be discouraged! There are actions that you can take this month in your home, apartment and office that can make an impact.
“How?” you ask…
Through improvements in energy efficiency!

Before we dig into some action ideas, take a look at some of the points from the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2009 report Buildings and their Impact on the Environment: A Statistical Summary:

  • + Buildings in the United States contribute 38.9 percent of the nation’s total carbon dioxide emissions, including 20.8 percent from the residential sector and 18.0 percent from the commercial sector (2008).
  • + Buildings accounted for 72 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption in 2006…
  • + The annual mean air temperature of a city with 1 million people or more can be 1.8–5.4°F (1–3°C) warmer than its surroundings. In the evening, the difference can be as high as 22°F (12°C)… One study estimates that the heat island effect is responsible for 5–10% of peak electricity demand for cooling buildings in cities.
    (Italics are ours, not the EPA’s)

As illustrated above, buildings (both residential and commercial) contribute greatly to energy use and carbon dioxide emissions which contribute, in turn, to climate change. Therefore, increasing the efficiency of our buildings should help slow the changes we’re seeing. Anyone who lives and or works in a building (i.e.: most Americans) has a place where they can (through direct action or influence) make a difference. Actions taken to conserve energy in our built environment have the dual benefits of fighting climate change and saving you (or your landlord, or your company) money on the electric bill.

Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas both big and small:

Caulk The Cracks: Sometimes even the smallest gaps can make a big difference. Running a bead of caulk around window and door frames helps stop drafts and save energy. Cover the Fan: If small cracks make a difference, imagine what a 10″ hole can do! Stop unwanted energy loss through your exhaust fans. These magnetic covers are easy to put on and take off as needed.
Seal the Pulleys: Permanently stop cold drafts infiltrating your house through the pulley assemblies inside your casement window frames with easy to install Pulley Seals.

 

 

Paint the Roof White: The heat island effect of cities can be greatly reduced by painting roofs white – this reflects the sun’s rays rather than absorbing them so buildings stay cooler.  Get Double Pane Performance:
Indow Windows interior inserts give you energy saving performance equivalent to replacement windows without the cost, hassle and waste of replacement and allow you to keep the charm of your originals.
Blow in Some Insulation: With cellulose insulation, you can add significant R-value to your walls without taking the house apart!

 

Still more ideas…

 

1. Pipe insulation, shown above, keeps pipes from freezing, sweating, and losing heat.

2. Switch and outlet gaskets prevent drafts through places we might not consider particularly drafty, but are a source of energy loss.

3. Xtra-Foam seal drafty windows, doors, and leaks with this low expanding, multipurpose foam.

4. Air conditioner weatherseals seal the gaps around air conditioners and in windows

5.  Indoor window insulating kits seal windows airtight.

6. Water heater insulation jackets make home water heaters more efficient.  Handheld adhesive foam prevents leaks around doors and windows.

7. Bonded Logic Ultratouch Mini Rolls help to seal known gaps in insulation, reducing noise and energy loss.

8:  Air conditioner covers prevent winter air from entering through a window unit air conditioner.

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Renovating a basement can be a great way to add living space to your home without the expense of building up or out! Here at Green Depot we have several products that lend themselves so well to this kind of project, you could almost say they were made for it! Because they are usually at least partially underground (below-grade) basements are often cold and even a little damp feeling, but they don’t have to stay that way.

Insulating your basement:

   
Tyroc Underlayment:  Created for basement applicatons, this subfloor
paneling evens out small variances, acts as a vapor barrier and allows the cement under your flooring
to breathe. This subfloor is impervious to mold, mildew and moisture. Install your flooring of choice over it.
Nest Radiant Barrier Insulation:   This reflective insulation blanket adds an R value of 12.5 with just 1/4 inch of material. A water proof vapor barrier, moisture will not affect the insulating qualities. Reflects warmth back into your basement. Ultratouch Cotton Insulation:  Made from cotton, this insulation is pest, mold and fire resitant. Available in a range of R values Ultratouch adds a cozy cotton blanket to your basement without any fiberglass, or formaldehyde.

  

Finish your basement with products that bring warmth and coziness – and protect your Indoor Air Quality:

   
Cork Flooring:  Made from a rapidly renewable resource, cork floors are warm, resilient and comfortable underfoot.  This natural flooring is durable, quiet, and comes in a wide range of styles and applications. Wool Carpet:  Few materials invite you to take your shoes off and feel cozy like wall to wall carpeting can. Wool carpets bring warmth, style and comfort without the need for chemical stain masters and flame retardants that  can offgas, plus wool is a fast growing, renewable fiber! YOLO Colorhouse Paints:  Basements tend to be short on natural light, so the warmth and vibrance provided by their designer colors makes YOLO a great choice for a refinished basement. In addition to a harmonious palette, all YOLO paints are intrinsically mold and mildew resistant whatever color or sheen you choose.

 

Complete the job with a couple of essential appliances to maintain the comfort of your new living space:

   
BioSmart Heaters:  Infrared heat is perfect in a basement because it creates a much cozier feeling than more common heaters.  The unique shorter wavelength is a penetrating, direct source of heat, much like the sun. BioSmart heaters heat the space evenly from floor to ceiling – warming up the objects rather than simply the air.   Austin Air FIlters: Keep your new basement living space feeling clean and comfortable with a high quality air filter that will help control dust, mold spores, chemicals, pet dander, odors and more!

If you are thinking of finishing your basement – whether for extra guest space or craft space,  an office or a game room, the healthy and environmentally friendly materials above will contribute to making your space comfortable and inviting.  Work with a contractor to be sure that your basement is suitable for renovation (no leaks), and that you have the proper building permits as required in your area. A contractor will also know the proper tools for framing in a concrete setting – which can be a little tricky.

Click here for a helpful post about basement renovations on Diynetwork.com!   


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East Coast or West Coast many of us across the country will have had to deal with the trauma of water damage in our homes before this year is over. Unfortunately, many of the problems caused by flooding or leaks do not disappear with the water – and one of the most pernicious of these is mold.  Mold can create unpleasant odors, cause nasty stains, and in the worst cases mold can release toxins into the air and cause major health problems. If you are wondering how to prevent or eliminate mold in your home in a healthy and environmentally sound way, here are some of our recommendations. 
 
+ Be sure to protect yourself while dealing with mold and always wear gloves and a mask. We recommend using natural latex gloves.
 
+ Make sure that all water has been removed and the space is completely dried out. Running a space heater and/or a dehumidifier in the affected area will speed drying.
 
+ Softer materials like carpeting or ceiling tiles that got wet will likely have to be disposed of because they are typically too difficult to clean thoroughly enough. Be sure to remember that the subfloor underneath your carpeting or other flooring may need to be  addressed as well.
 
+ Remaining surfaces can be scrubbed with Moldex to kill and prevent mold. Surfaces can also be treated with Oxyboost to kill mold or mildew. Mix 2 to 3 ounces of Oxyboost into a gallon of hot water and scrub the area down, then rinse and repeat if necesary. Both Moldex and Oxyboost are free of dyes, bleach, and ammonia.
 
+ Once mold has been removed, dry the surfaces completely before repainting, or covering with flooring, insulation or drywall.  
  - If you are replacing the carpet or flooring in a basement, consider Tyroc Underlayment - it allows air-flow underneath flooring and is itself impervious to mold
  – If you have to replace drywall, we recommend Mold Tough Drywall – it will help prevent mold from taking hold in the walls
 
+ After drying, walls should be primed with AFM Transitional Primer (AFM 80190) and painted with Moldex Paint or YOLO Colorhouse  paints. (YOLO paint is mold and mildew resistant because it contains an antimicrobial ingredient – the same stuff used in dandruff shampoos)
 
+ Once a home has dried out, been cleaned thoroughly and refinished or repainted, we recommend using an Austin Air Purifer in the space on an ongoing basis. Austin Air units contain filters that are fine enough to trap lingering mold spores and other contaminants. Austin Air Purifiers are trusted by FEMA and the Red Cross.

 Recommended reading from the EPA:
 
Flood Cleanup: Avoiding Indoor Air Quality Problems
 
Mold Cleanup Guidelines
 
If mold covers more than 10 square feet, the EPA recommends that these guidelines are followed:
Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings

To see more Green Depot products related to storm cleanup please click here.

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Yolo's Scout Palette with Rais Stove

So, you’ve caulked around all your windows, you’ve checked the insulation in your attic, you’ve covered your air conditioner unit and all drafts in your home are now officially blocked. Q: What more can you do around the house to make your family feel warm and cozy this winter?  A: LOTS!

In Denmark, a part of the world known for its long, gloomy winters, they use the word Hygge (pronounced HOOG-uh)to describe that perfect, warm, cheerful, comfortable, bright feeling that  is desired indoors during the cold, dark and dreary winter months. Candles, warm colors, a wood fire, textiles and good friends can all contribute to the experience of hygge.

Here at Green Depot we have many offerings that evoke hygge without without hurting your indoor air quality (an especially important feature when stuck inside with the windows shut…) Even better, you can improve the coziness of your home without any major remodeling!

YOLO COLORHOUSE PAINT
Conceived by a pair of interior designers, the YOLO Colorhouse palette is created to be timeless and easy to live with. Each color is designed to be a rich backdrop for comfortable living, adding a sense of depth to interior spaces. Their colors are designed to work together to create harmonious spaces as seen above in their Scout Palette with tones inspired by nature. YOLO performs like a premium conventional paint, yet it has low odor, no harmful chemicals, and no added solvents and no VOCs while still boasting excellent hide and durability. 

RAIS STOVES
Carefully handcrafted in Denmark by skilled craftsmen, nothing brings the authentic experience of hygge to your home like a RAIS stove! Some of the most efficient and least polluting wood stoves on the market, they are engineered to burn so efficiently that they even burn up most of the particulate matter in the smoke before it gets released into the air! This works so well that burning wood in a RAIS stove releases no more CO2 than would be released if that wood were naturally decomposing on the forest floor. In addition to being great for Air Quality, their efficiency means that you can enjoy a hotter burning, longer lasting fire while using much less wood than most wood stoves!

TATINE TISANE CANDLES
The bright glow of a candle combined with a delicious aroma can bring comfort with just the strike of a match. The maker of Tatine Tisane candles considers scent as a story, meant to delight and move you with a sense of personal connection. ”Celebration Day,” as seen at left, features scents of orange and pine – perfect for the holidays! Completely paraffin-free these candles are made from beeswax, soy wax, and a mixture of essential oils and fine perfumes.

 

BIOSMART INFRARED HEATERS
BioSmart® Infrared Heaters represent the state of the art in space heaters. The far infrared waves they produce move quickly on the water molecules in the air and heat your home evenly from floor to ceiling. Infrared heat creates a much cozier feeling than more common heaters because the unique shorter wavelength is a more penetrating, direct source of heat, much like the sun. This is considered the region of infrared that is most harmonious with the human body and the most effective at producing heat. BioSmart far infrared heaters produce energy waves in this therapeutic far infrared range. They are so therapeutic and healthy that Far Infrared is the heat source of choice for infant incubators in hospitals.

AREA RUGS
A natural fiber area rug can instantaneously warm up a room with color and texture. In addition to tieing a room together visually and offering a splash of pattern, an area rug can also offer friends and family a warm and comfortable place to gather in front of a wood stove or fireplace. Green Depot area rugs are free of toxic flame retardants and stain blocking chemicals so you can feel even more comfortable stretching out on one with a good book.



These are just a few ideas to make your home feel welcoming and comfortable this season! If you are looking for more design ideas, please check out our profile on Houzz.com!  We hope your coming cold-weather months are very warm and hygge-filled!!

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The EcoDorm at Warren Wilson College

Imagine the state of your average college dorm room: lights left on, electronics left charging, garbage and recycling thrown together in the same bin. A dorm can seem like the last place a person would find any sort of concern for the environment. But, as it turns out, sustainability is now spreading to college campuses across the country! Programs such as The Sustainable Campus and others are working with universities to help them reduce their carbon footprint and provide eco-friendly housing to students. All over the country, schools are adjusting how they manage waste, protect indoor air quality, and save energy.

From instituting programs that encourage students to change their behavior (turning off lights, unplugging electronics, and sorting waste) to adopting responsible building practices, colleges and universities are making great strides towards sustainability while improving their bottom line. In 2009 The New York Times  reported that more than 600 U.S colleges and universities had already made a pledge to become carbon neutral; and more than 90 dorms across the country were LEED certified. For example, they cite the EcoDorm at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina that consumes two thirds less electricity than a conventional building of the same size. Another example of a green dorm is a LEED Certified student residence building at Harvard University that features renewable bamboo flooring, low VOC finishes, and regionally sourced siding with recycled content.

If you happen to know a student who is moving into a dormitory this fall, help them (and their roommates) go green in their dorm room with these Green Depot solutions!

Keep Warm With Wool
Help save energy by turning the thermostat down and using a comfy throw blanket while catching up on course work! The Eco-Wise Pendleton Throw is 100% wool and is machine washable. Wool is a naturally renewable fiber and the fabric in these blankets has been Cradle to Cradle certified.




Prevent Phantom Energy Use
For all your electronics, from your phone to your laptop, a TrickleStrip –Saving Surge Protector will greatly reduce the amount of vampire/standby energy consumed by dorm electronics. Be sure to flip it to “off” when going out!

  

  

Wake Up On Time and In Style
After a late night studying, it is important to have a high quality alarm clock. The bamboo-clad Vers Alarm Clock Radio is compact, and is also a dock for an iPod. Gorgeously hand crafted, this unit cuts down on plastic use and the company plants 100 trees for every tree they use in production.

 

  

Deodorize the Dorm with Plant Oils – Not Petro-Chemicals
It’s common for every college dorm room to have that smell every once in a while. Be it from people living in close quarters, or the resonance of that pizza from three days ago, or maybe you can’t put your finger on it. Whatever it may be, Airscense to the rescue! This room freshener doesn’t cover up odors; it neutralizes them using a petro-chemical-free formula.

 

Charge Electronics Anywhere on Campus
The Solar Back Pack, efficiently charges all hand-held electronics through built in solar panels even as it holds textbooks and a laptop in its spacious main compartment. On a cloudy day, the charger can also be powered up using a USB power cable.



Zoe Bloom contributed to this post.

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