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How to Safeguard Your Family Against Home Health Risks


January 16, 2017 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

How to Safeguard Your Family Against Home Health Risks

The last thing we want to think about is the danger our homes could pose to our health. Yet, studies find that hazards, pollutants, and dangers exist within our homes that can aggravate allergies, sinuses, skin, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems, and more. Worse still is the fact that so many people do not realize the ways in which our homes make us sick. To help you protect your family, we share some tips for safeguarding your family against home health risks here.

Take a Good Look at Your Household Cleaners

We think that our household cleaners are safe because they are marketed for home use. Unfortunately, studies show that 21 common household cleaners contain air contaminants, including 24 that are associated with serious health concerns and cancer. Even the fragrances in household cleaners are known to cause respiratory problems for people. If you have not looked at the ingredients and warning labels on your cleaners, do so immediately. At the very least, you should follow the directions for use to the letter and ensure that you run a fan and open a window when you clean.

Better yet, replace your household cleaners with organic or homemade, non-toxic products. For example, you can mix water with vinegar or lemon juice to clean glass. Use baking soda as a scouring agent and borax mixed with water as a multipurpose cleaner.

Get a Home Inspection

You may be familiar with home inspections as a task to complete when buying or selling a home, but you should consider getting a home inspection for peace of mind. Certified home inspectors carefully examine the interior and exterior of your home and can point out potential problems, safety hazards, defects, and other concerns to homeowners.

Be Aware of Carbon Monoxide Danger

Carbon monoxide poisonings can happen at any time, but the number of occurrences rises when the power goes out and people use generators, when people use gas ranges or fireplaces, or when people leave their cars running inside the garage. Other sources of carbon monoxide dangers in the home include unvented kerosene and gas space heaters, leaking chimneys and furnaces, furnace back-drafting, gas water heaters and woodstoves and fireplaces, and tobacco smoke.

Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, which makes it very dangerous. Initial symptoms include headache, weakness, dizziness, and nausea, but symptoms can worsen to include vomiting, shortness of breath, confusion, blurred vision, and loss of consciousness when the poisoning increases. If the carbon monoxide issues develop slowly, victims may mistakenly believe they have the flu.

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, install carbon monoxide alarms in hallways near areas used for sleeping. Make sure that your appliances are in good working order and have them repaired if they are not. Have your heating system professionally inspected and serviced once a year and make sure that professionals check and clean your chimneys and flues. Do not operate any gasoline-powered tools or generators in the house or any enclosed space. Should your carbon monoxide alarm sound, immediately go outside and call 911.

Prevent Leaks and Check for Mold

Mold often is the culprit behind homes that make people sick. The problem with mold is that it can grow any place where small amounts of water collect. This means mold may form in air ducts, overhead vents, windows that collect condensation, bathroom floors, bathtubs, kitchen sinks, and any other area where water collects. If your home is too humid, mold can begin to grow behind walls and above ceilings, so you may not even be aware of its presence.

If you do see mold growing, use bleach to kill it and prevent more growth. If you suspect that mold is growing in hidden places, contact a professional to come in and do an assessment of your home. Sometimes, people must hire professional cleaning services to remove mold from their homes. The best way to prevent mold is to reduce the amount of humidity in your home, run bathroom fans during and after a shower, and use dehumidifiers when and where necessary.

Of course, you want to do all you can to keep your family safe and healthy. That’s why you should be aware of the hidden dangers in your home and know how to safeguard your family against them.

Image via Flickr

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What Does the Election Mean for the Environmental Movement?

Hang onto your hat!

December 27, 2016 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

President – Elect Donald Trump has nominated some of the worst cabinet appointees in history!  His nominee for Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, the former Governor of Texas and two time Presidential candidate, promised to eliminate the Department of Energy during the 2012 Presidential Primary campaign and is a climate change skeptic.  His nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency has sued the EPA for doing its job and wants to eliminate it or make it a powerless shell.  His nominee for Secretary of State is the CEO of Exxon Mobil and was a climate change skeptic until very recently.

What does this mean for the environmental movement going forward?  First of all, as far a Green City Challenge is concerned, we will continue doing what we are doing.  Our mission is to educate New Yorkers about ways to live, work and eat green.  It doesn’t matter who the President is.  Our work continues regardless.

As far as the environmental movement in general is concerned, that is a different story entirely!

Environmentalists are in panic mode.  Based on what Mr. Trump said during the election season and his cabinet nominees, the environmental picture looks very bleak indeed!  However, we have to keep fighting for what we believe.  We know there will be many legal and legislative battles ahead so we have to get ready.  If you are not personally involved with any environmental organizations, this would be a good time to join one.  It doesn’t matter what organization you join, but find at least one to join and volunteer, donate, and do something!

There are many national organizations to choose from including the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Audubon, etc.  If you want to find a local organization to get involved with, you might consider Clearwater, the New York Restoration Project (founded by Bette Midler), Solar One, The Lower East Side Ecology Center, Green Home NYC and of course, Green City Challenge.

It goes without saying that if you would like to get involved with Green City Challenge, your assistance would be very welcome!  We are looking for new board members with fundraising, marketing or governance experience.  In addition, we are looking for volunteers to help us raise funds, create new games and challenges, conduct outreach, write articles for our blog, etc.  To inquire about volunteer opportunities, please call Les Judd at 718-530-5074 or send an e-mail to les@greencitychallenge.org

Whatever you do in 2017, hang onto your hat because it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

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Green City : Vancouver Passive House


December 19, 2016 | Posted in Live Green | By

With less than four years to go, the likelihood of Vancouver becoming the world’s greenest city by 2020 remains up in the air.

A recent development, however, may just be one of the city’s most important environmentally minded initiatives to date: the construction of Canada’s largest “passive house” building, a structure so energy-efficient that experts estimate residential utility bills will cost as little as $10 a month.

Dubbed the Heights, the six-storey, 85-unit mixed-use property at 388 Skeena Street is slated to be complete next spring.

It joins more than 10,000 residential, institutional, and commercial properties across Canada that have been built according to passive house, a voluntary standard forwarded by German researchers that emphasizes significant levels of insulation, airtight design, and the recycling of outgoing warm air in highly energy-efficient buildings.

“Up until now, a lot of the passive houses that we’ve seen have been single-family detached,” Karen Tam Wu, director of the Pembina Institute’s buildings and urban solutions program, explained by phone.

“And what this particular project signifies…is where Vancouver would like to go and what Vancouver is focused on in terms of the opportunity to greatly reduce our carbon pollution.”

Housing a combination of studios and one- to three-bedroom suites, the Heights is constructed with 35-centimetre-thick walls, multiple layers of locally sourced insulation, and triple-glazed windows.

This “envelope first” approach keeps warm air in and cold air out, while the installation of a heat-recovery ventilator (HRV) ensures that the fresh air that does enter is first warmed up by heated stale air on the way out.

The Heights will house a combination of 85 residential studios and one- to three-bedroom suites once complete.

The result is a resilient, healthy, and well-insulated home that makes cranked-up thermostats very much unnecessary, reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and decreasing energy bills.

In the summer, the warming stage in the HRV system may be bypassed, enabling cool air to enter each unit. Other details, such as windows that offer lower rates of thermal transmittance in south- and west-facing suites, help prevent overheating, too.

“The idea is that it actually moderates your climate much better than the typical building,” Scott Kennedy, principal of Cornerstone Architecture (one of three local firms collaborating on the Heights), noted during a recent media tour of the space.

As one of the first passive-house projects that will be available for rent in the city, the Heights represents an important step in establishing green buildings as the new norm in Vancouver and throughout B.C. and Canada.

Speaking alongside Kennedy, Ed Kolic, president of Eighth Avenue Development Group, revealed that he hopes to court similarly environmentally minded businesses—such as a Burnaby-based energy-efficient-retrofit retailer—into the ground floor of the East Vancouver premises.

Residential rent will hover at a blended average of $2.70 per square foot.

Tam Wu said that as more architects and builders hop onboard, the costs of constructing such properties will decrease significantly, making the proliferation of accessible, ecofriendly dwellings an even more tangible reality.

“If we can demonstrate that this type of low-carbon, low-energy building can be built using passive-house technology, then, right now, we’re already doing what Vancouver hopes will be the future of building.”


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Green living paves the way for better green and sustainable practices

December 5, 2016 | Posted in Living Green | By

Green Living, an annual eco lifestyle event positioned to meet the needs of eco-conscious consumers and businesses alike, returns for its second year from 9 to 11 September 2016 at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre. It is the first sustainable lifestyle event that aims to build a bridge between consumers and companies advocating green products.

This year’s exhibition is inspired by the themes from the book Cities of Loveauthored by Mr. Tai Lee Siang and Ms. Valerie Ang, which will be launched at Green Living 2016. The book focuses on 12 core ingredients that can make the city a better and sustainable place to live in; such as Family Oriented City, Edible City, Smart Device City, Garden City and more. These ingredients will be represented by the different zones of Green Living and visitors will be able to explore and experience them personally.

“The future of our human existence lies in our cities, by 2050 it is expected that two-thirds of the world’s population will live in them. So how can we shape the future for a better and brighter tomorrow?” said Mr. Tai Lee Siang, President of Design & Business Chamber Singapore. “Green Living and loving our cities is something that everyone can achieve.”

“As a thoughtfully curated and dedicated eco lifestyle event, Green Living 2016 encourages and reminds everyone to be responsible for our environment,” said Ms. Karen Leong, Project Director of Reed Exhibitions, organiser of Green Living 2016. “With a bigger event this year, the myriad of exhibitors and activities lined up will help visitors to better integrate green habits into their daily lives.”

Housing over a 100 brands of eco-friendly products covering Sustainable Home, Eco Parents, Health & Wellness, Transportation & Mobility and Smart Technology, Green Living seeks to encourage visitors to adopt a greener approach to their lifestyle.

Smart & Sustainable Home Showcase

Green Living will showcase two showrooms for sustainable home and smart technology with partners such as IKEA, Bosch and Lutron, offering an insight on the ease of creating eco-friendly and sustainable spaces for the whole family. This will also be IKEA’s first sustainable home exhibit out of the IKEA store in Singapore.

A tour within the showroom will be conducted to educate both family and kids on easy and simple solutions as well as tips on how to live a more sustainable life at home.

Interactive Workshops & Seminar Corner

Over 40 workshops and seminars will be available for the public throughout the 3 days.

Catering to various interest groups, the workshop and seminar schedule features a variety of interesting topics including:

  • Terrarium Making by Ecoponics, suitable for both adults and children
  • Chemical Free Skincare by Precious Oilers for making natural home-made products like deodorants with therapeutic grade essential oils.
  • Green Beauty. Where to Start? by Ayelli, teaching how to read beauty labels and what organic certifications to look out for
  • SuperEating for the Whole Family by Balanced Living, an interactive cooking demonstration that explains which nutrients are vital for your family’s needs
  • Organic Gardening at Home by Biomax on the dos and don’ts of organic gardening and how to convert a normal garden into an organic one
  • Low Carbon Tips by Singapore Environment Council (SEC), showing how to monitor household energy consumption and carbon emission
  • “Energize” Yoga conducted by Tara Stiles, founder of renowned global yoga brand Strala

The majority of the workshops and seminars are available free of charge for the public. For more information, visit www.green-living.com.sg

Over 100 eco-lifestyle products and services

Visitors can start their green lifestyle journey at Green Living 2016 with a wide selection of over 100 eco-lifestyle products and services brands that benefit the environment and meet their modern needs.

Beauty and wellness aficionados can look forward to organic skincare products and makeup made from natural ingredients, such as Ayelli’s pure organic Moroccan Argan Oil, Balm Kitchen’s botanical-based skin care and body care line, Flare Wellness’ organic beauty treatments as well as The Soap Haven’s range of soap bars suitable for all skin types, including for those with skin-conditions.

Parents can also look out for products for their little ones, such as Twinkle’s line of organic essential baby oil, Bebe Bamboo’s sustainably sourced bamboo clothes and many other eco-friendly clothes, baby products and toys brought to you by Mumpreneurs’, a collaboration between Gardenasia and Mums@Works.

Visitors will also be able to stock up on organic food products at the Green Café as well as try their hand at making their own DIY delicious smoothie on a pedal-powered smoothie bicycle.

Interior decorations and furnishings such as Reborn’s beautiful table lamps made from upcycled glass bottles, In-Vitro’s Botanicaire Air Detoxifier and Coriandoli’s soy wax candles will also be available at Green Living 2016.

An alternative mode of transport, Scootastic,will make an appearance showcasing their revolutionary e-scooter, K3 Fosjoas, along with a wide selection of Emarco’s Personal Mobility Transporter which offers comfort and safety in getting around the island while minimizing carbon footprint

GP Battery ‘Charge & Save’ campaign

As a champion for a better environment and e-waste reduction, GP Battery will be giving out 1,500 packs of rechargeable batteries to visitors who exchange their old alkaline batteries at Green Living 2016 under their ‘Charge & Save’ campaign.

World Wildlife Federation (WWF) Singapore reality-to-virtual display

Amongst the many key highlights of the event, World Wildlife Federation (WWF) Singapore will be putting together an immersive experiential show with Samsung’s Gear VR to raise awareness of park rangers. The reality-to-virtual display will showcase a day in the life of a park ranger and their roles and responsibilities in protecting national parks and animals in their natural habitat.

Singapore Sustainability Story II

Founded on government initiatives to make Singapore a sustainable city to live in, Singapore Sustainability Story is back for its second edition showcasing inspiring stories from agencies, corporates, communities and individuals to share their journey towards a greener lifestyle and city. The best 20 shortlisted stories will be showcased at Green Living 2016. Visitors will be asked to cast their votes for their favourite story and the top three stories will win shopping vouchers.

SEC Recycling Bin Design showcase

The Recycling Bin Design Competition 2016 organised by Singapore Environment Council (SEC), will be showcasing life-size prototypes of innovative and effective recycling bins designed by schools. These exhibits aim to educate the public on the many different ways to recycle.

Other highlights

Visitors will get to see the live sketching of a gigantic art canvas by Band of Doodlers that shows ‘What kind of earth will future generations inherit’. The canvas depicts a beautiful and contaminated earth, to educate the public on the importance of protecting the environment.

Visitors are called upon to show their love for the environment by recycling their plastic at Green Living’s Eco-Love Machine. In return they will be rewarded with eco-friendly gifts for their recycling effort. In addition, visitors will get a chance to participate in a Lucky Draw to win $16,000 worth of prizes and products including e-scooters, green home appliances and shopping vouchers.


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Catskill Animal Sanctuary by Devon Braunstein


November 28, 2016 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

It was one week before Labor Day weekend 2015 and my family and I had a last minute idea to take an end-of-summer trip. Not looking to take a flight nor leave behind our beloved Newfoundland mix, Oliver, we decided upon a quaint looking homestead in the Hudson Valley. Entranced by the rolling green farmlands and animal-friendly hosts, we booked it on the spot. To our pleasant surprise, we realized that the homestead was located at the top of a 110-acre sanctuary for rescued farm animals, called Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS).

Staying at CAS was particularly fitting, as my parents and I have been vegetarians since I was a young child. The combination of my love for animals and my mom’s realizations about climate change motivated us as a family to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle just as tofu began to hit the shelves of mainstream grocery stores. As proud animal lovers, veganism crossed our minds, but it always seemed too far-fetched to remove eggs, yogurt, and cheese from our diets.

Fast forward back to Labor Day weekend where CAS changed our way of life for good.

The homestead, supporting the mission of the sanctuary, is kept fully vegan. This means that no animal food products are allowed on the property. CAS encourages a plant-based diet by providing guests with a (delicious) vegan breakfast each morning.

Inspired by CAS’s values, my family decided to use our three days away as an opportunity to experiment. Why not take the no animal products rule one step further and follow a vegan diet the whole trip?

In addition to hiking the Hudson Valley with Oliver and challenging ourselves to stay away from eggs and dairy, we toured the sanctuary, met the resident animals of the farm, and learned about the realities of factory farming in an informative, yet non-intrusive manner. Spending the weekend with the animals as we listened to their rescue stories was enough for my family and I to commit to at least trying to bring our new vegan habits home.

And try we did. One week, then one month, then one year passed. Being vegan is now built into my lifestyle and identity, and I’m proud to reflect my values through my every day actions.

Catskill Animal Sanctuary rescues farmed animals and champions veganism. CAS is located two hours north of New York City in Saugerties, New York. To learn more, visit https://casanctuary.org
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