Category Archives: Green Living Tip

Renovation Day!

Healthy-n-Green Bedroom Makeover Part 2: Renovation Day!!

Watch how we transform this bedroom into a healthy-n-green area. Lots of help from local and national community sponsors along with empowering the kids to help in their bedroom renovation.

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Healthy-n-Green Bedroom Makeover: Part 2: Renovation Day!

Healthy-n-Green Bedroom Makeover:Before Video

Check out this video of the “before” walk-thru of the bedroom which will be receiving a Healthy-n-Green Makeover
You will see common problem areas which may trigger an asthmatic/allergic person.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjuqTvQRyfo

A bedroom should be one which promotes wellness!

Follow me for more tips on creating healthy-n-green interiors:  Facebook Group:  Denise Robinette – HealthyLiving Interiors – Healthy-n-Green

Meet the Healthy-n-Green Bedroom Winner!

Happy Winner!

Meet Merkiyah – the Happy Winner of the Healthy-n-Green Bedroom Makeover!  She won this bedroom makeover through the Florida Broward County Schools Asthma Management Program – AIM Program.

What a wonderful way to educate students on how to make their bedrooms a healthy safe-haven than to show them?   This was the intended mission of my partnership with Adella Earle, the Asthma Program Coordinator and the Broward Schools.  Educating and empowering our youth through real-life problem solving gives not only a long-lasting impression – but the tools to make healthier choices.

Merkiyah created a wonderful poster which showed the different triggers that a typical asthmatic faces in their daily life.   What better way to reward her efforts than a healthy bedroom?   When I met Merkiyah, she was very shy – and a little nervous about exactly what her room would look like.  I got to meet her sisters, whom she shares the bedroom with – and got their input on what they wanted to see.  No more pink and purple – but a fresh new look!

Being a Licensed Interior Designer – I look at the room from many viewpoints.  Here are a few design dilema’s we would be facing:

1. Space planning: The key to a truly functional space. The size of the bedroom was typical of a South Florida bedroom – approx.  12′ x 11′ with a window on two walls.  I would need to figure out how to spaceplan to give the girls more useable floor space – which they presently did not have.  Their bedroom is more than a sleeping space, it is place to study, read and hang out with friends.
2.  Ventilation in the room is a primary concern for asthmatics. When a space has high relative humidity (moisture) it will increase allergens such as dust mites, bacteria and off-gassing of chemicals which could be coming from furnishings, personal care products etc.   I noticed an old A/C actually see through holes in the A/C unit to the  outside!  This would be a big priority in sealing up the bedroom – which would help in electric bills as well.
3.  Choosing healthy-n-green products for the finishes would be very important to this room. Most asthmatics are triggered by harsh chemicals which sometimes off-gas for long periods of time.  Green choices in paints, flooring, window treatments, beds/bedding and furnishings would be selected.   Once  the design of the room was established – we then looked for sponsors of these products.
4. Reduction in dust mite exposure was also imperative.  90% of  asthmatics are allergic to dust mites.  Beds and pillows would be wrapped in dust mite covers and  removal of  stuffed toys would be important.
5. Natural daylighting is a very important aspect for many reasons.  Studies have shown an increase in test scores in schools which have improved their natural daylighting. It also gives a feeling of well-being.
6.  Teaching the family about healthy habits was also part of our mission.  Green cleaning was reviewed and  some green cleaners and recipes were left for the family to use.  We also discussed other behaviors which could add to asthma triggers such as using personal care products with fragrances  - so typical of girls at this age.   Copies of the educational coloring book ”Healthy-n-Green is….Healthy Indoor Air” were given to all siblings who could color!
6.  Lastly, it was very important for me as an Interior Designer to involve Merkiyah and her sisters.  Empowering them to be part of the process would teach much more than a simple re-decoration of the
room.
In the coming blogs, I will post pictures of each item above with further discussion.  I hope you join me in the journey of this Healthy-n-Green Bedroom Makeover!
Next: Spaceplanning – how did we get MORE furniture in this room?  Smart spaceplanning is key.
www.healthylivinginteriors.com           healthy-n-green.com


Healthy-n-Green Bedroom Makeover

When I was asked if I would provide a “Healthy-n-Green Bedroom Makeover” to the winner of an asthma poster contest for the Broward County Public Schools Asthma Program I answered with an emphatic “YES”! Then, when I was asked how much I would charge….. I had a choice to make – give a price and possibly risk losing this opportunity to educate the community on the growing problem of asthma. So….. I said I would do it “for nothing”; they would have no reason to say no! My only condition would be that I could take pictures and video, and use this information to educate others on some very simple easy solutions to make a bedroom healthy AND green. My plan was to get sponsors who would gladly support this project. I believe you get what you give – so how hard would it be to get donations to one bedroom?

I am writing this in “past tense” because I had to devote all my energy and focus into getting this room done. After committing myself – I realized I only had a few months to make it happen. This was the first project I would be doing with the Broward Schools in an asthma program funded by the Center for Disease Control Division of Adolescent and School Health on managing asthma… I knew it was a project that had to be successful – from many different angels.

First, from the aspect of a “healthy” interior – it had to be an example of an asthma-friendly room. That is, after all the reason for the project = to educate and inform on how we can make our children’s bedrooms asthma friendly. This in turn would promote wellness and show easy and effective ways of allergen and chemical controls; imperative to managing asthma. I knew the room had to do several things: eliminate and minimize asthma triggers which may include: Control the moisture to control the mold – Reducing dust mite exposure – Renovate with healthy products – Use proper maintenance – eliminate scented products and change behaviors which may contribute to problems.

Then, the room choices had to be “green” since this is fundamental in my design philosophy. To have the opportunity to promote green choices to help protect our health and the health of the planet is very important to the overall message of a Healthy-n-Green Bedroom. It was and is my mission to show how important our choices are in products and lifestyle and most importantly that it is easy, inexpensive and empowering.

And, lastly the project needed to be successful using fundamental principles of good Interior Design. After all, I am a licensed Interior Designer, who not only wants to create healthy-n-green interiors, but ones which are functional, efficient and of course beautiful. Everyone wants to love the spaces where they spend their time, and it can be done with some planning. A child spends more than 1/3rd of their life in their bedroom and this should be a safe haven that promotes wellness, inspires creativity and is a sanctuary to reinvigorate while sleeping.

I had no idea what was to come in the weeks and months to come. What child would get selected? What would the specific needs of the space be? Who would sponsor this project?

This is the first blog of a series to take you through the process: to show you how I got sponsors, the problems and solutions of asthma management, design dilemmas and my choices from my perspective being a child environmental health advocate and mother of two asthmatics.   I knew this would test my abilities as a negotiator in attaining sponsors who had never worked with me before on a project that had never been done before. My attitude was (and still is) “hey, it is only one bedroom…..how hard can it be?” I just had time – and the economy – working a little against me.

Next: Meet the winner of the bedroom; see before pictures and review of room

From Oil-Washing to Green-Washing

From Oil-washing to Green-washing

Watching the life-changing environmental disaster in our Gulf makes me angry and in disbelief as a sense of helplessness and hopelessness overcomes me.  How can such a catastrophic accident happen?  Where were the safeguards?  Why hasn’t our government taken control?   It is obvious that no one expected anything like this would or could occur.  They were wrong.  And, they were wrong not to have a plan in the event the unexpected did happen.  Hindsight is 20/20.

 I can’t even imagine how those who live on the coast in the Gulf region are coping.  This catastrophe has no end in sight, and will affect many generations to come.  The effect will not only be in environmental damage, but in a collapse of their economy in an already depressed state. I live in South Florida where the beaches are many times taken for granted.  They have always been there, looking beautiful and giving surfers, fisherman and beachgoers a lifestyle that is now in jeopardy like the rest of the coastlines.

I have heard many say “stop driving, ride bikes; use public transportation….it is OUR fault for depending on the oil companies.”    I do agree we are dependent and need to make changes, but, we need leadership to help make those changes a reality.  “Greening America” is not a trend anymore – it is a movement, and we all need to do our part in making this a reality.  Did you know that oil is used in many other products besides gasoline?  To name a few:  Plastics, Personal Care Products, Cleaning Products, Pesticides, Pharmaceutical Drugs, Paints, Etc. Etc.   Being dependent on oil is far-reaching to many industries who do not want to change.  Bottom line, change affects their profits.

Clean Water to our ocean life is like clean air is to our human life

We spend 90% of our lives inside bubbles we call our homes/offices/schools and public buildings.  The health effects we have by being exposed to petrochemical products on a daily basis are linked to increases in cancers, endocrine disruption, asthma and environmental illness.  The catastrophic death we are witnessing on the marine life is from an extreme one time event.  On the other hand, our daily exposure to low-levels of petrochemicals and other toxic agents has been well documented. We are being poisoned in our own homes every day by using products which have little if any testing.   

The fox is watching the henhouse 

Most of us have a false sense of security believing that corporations and our government is doing what is in the best interest of society to protect our health and the environment.  Many times, greed and money is a common motivator – not your health or mine.  The lack of planning and using the precautionary principle are thrown by the wayside in the mindset of “don’t fix it till it’s broke” –  “why re-invent the wheel, we have been doing it this way for years”  or “we’ll figure it out later”.

Precautionary Principle

Public policy using the Precautionary Principle protects us and the environment from harm:        

When an activity or product raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause-and-effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.  In this context the proponents of an activity (the product manufacturer), rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof  (to prove a product is safe).  The process of applying the Precautionary Principle must be open, informed, and democratic and must include potentially affected parties (the public and consumers).   (www.ecologycenter.com)

From Green Black                                                                                                                                                                         Did you notice that BP recently changed their logo and claims to be “green”?  Since green has become the new “black” – all companies are GOING GREEN.  But, just what does that mean? There are many companies who will tout this self-appointed designation; leaving you with the impression their products are healthy and safe.  While energy consumption, water consumption and waste management are all extremely important green features, many times the health and safety feature is ignored.  Uses a little recycled paper and call yourself green.  Put some plastic bottles in a recycle bin, call yourself green.   Until there are real standards, it is hard to know who to trust which is why third party non-profits or advocates who do not have a financial interest in a product or service are good sources of information.  

Education is key to change                                                                                                                                                     We do have the power to make positive change that will green our nation forward.   As we watch the oil spill disaster play out to our future generations, let’s become educated and empowered where we can.  You’re your home healthy and green.  Purchase products that are truly green and safe for your family and the environment.   Do not use plastics.  Change your personal care products to natural alternatives.   Practice green cleaning and integrated pest management.    As the Native Americans call their 7th Generation Law: 

“In our every thought and deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.”   

 

We can make change, we can make a difference, it is up to us to fix what we have left our next seven generations.

Resources for further study:                                                                                                                                                 www.healthylivinginteriors.com   make your home healthy-n-green         

www.healthy-n-green.com   educational books for kids, downloadable CD about healthy indoor air     

www.ewg.org    safety guides on personal care products                       

www.greenguide.com  list cleaners, personal care products, home & garden products   

www.buildinggreen.com  green building products

World Asthma Day May 4, 2010

May 4, 2010 World Asthma Day

The one element which we all share, we all need to live and is the single most important thing is AIR. We all breathe. Most of us don’t ever “think” about breathing – unless we have asthma or some type of lung disease.

Our lungs act as a “filter” to unhealthy toxins and allergens – with every breathe we take; we are inhaling these particulates into our lungs. Someone with asthma has a much harder time, as their “filter” is not as healthy as the rest of us. This is why it is so important to educate others about the sources of indoor (and outdoor) air pollution and its effects on our health.

Asthma is the most chronic serious childhood disease and number one reason for school absenteeism. One in ten children presently has asthma which is expected to rise to one in five by the year 2020. The annual cost to society for health and lost productivity is over twenty billion dollars.

We are finding that daily low-level exposures to toxins are predisposing us to developing asthma. According to Physicians for Social Responsibility, “Researchers are increasingly focusing on indoor air pollution as a leading contributor to asthma particularly among poor inner-city populations.” The EPA states that indoor air quality is in the top five environmental health risks to public health. These are just a few studies linking indoor air quality to the increase in asthma.

On May 8, in honor of World Asthma Day I will be speaking at a Parent Asthma Workshop for the Broward Public Schools about how to create healthy indoor air in a home. As a licensed Interior Designer, I will be giving tips on how to make affordable and easy design changes within a home. These tips will include what makes a product healthy, how to find sources of indoor air pollution and ways to create a healthy interior.

Please join me in honoring all those who have asthma, as well as educating others to create and maintain healthy indoor air.

www.healthylivinginteriors.com                                                                                                                                    facebook: Denise Robinette – HealthyLiving Interiors – Healthy-n-Green

Birds, Bees & Bunnies… Happy Earth Day!

 

Birds, Bees & Bunnies…  Happy Earth Day!

Birds , Bees & Bunnies…

Hummingbirds,  Snakes,  & Earthworms? Spiders, Frogs, Lizards and of course Ladybugs?  These are signs of life – these are signs of a healthy yard.

If you don’t see any of these insects or critters it is a sure sign that you are using fertilizers and chemicals which are killing these essential pieces in the puzzle we call EARTH.  I have spoken to people who live in communities where there are no birds chirping outside, no lizards running for cover as you walk across the sidewalk.  In fact, I have been told that they have witnessed dead birds in their communities, possibly from over spraying of chemicals.

As we celebrate 40 years of Earth Day, it brings me back to the Native Americans 7th Generation Law:

 “In our every thought  and deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.” 

 

Native Americans understand that we are all connected to each other and to the Earth.  When we our choices harm the earth, we in turn are harming ourselves and many generations to come.  It is truly self-centered to care about the earth, as without a healthy planet we will not be healthy.

Every day we make thousands of choices that affect the earth and our lives.  All of these choices impact our life and our world.  Small changes can have huge impacts.  We are just beginning to understand these impacts with the increase in chronic diseases we suffer. 

“There is virtually no major chronic disease to which environmental factors do not contribute, directly or indirectly.”        (1979-Surgeon General Report)

Over thirty years ago our Surgeon General noted the link between our health and our environment.  Asthma, Autism, ADD/ADHD, Allergies and Cancer are in epidemic numbers.  These chronic illnesses have been directly linked to our living environment – the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat.  It is not rocket science.

As I look outside in my yard, I see the rabbits (more by the dayJ) hopping around, slithering snakes in the grass and earthworms on my driveway after a rain.  I see birds, bees, butterflies – and at the right time of year, an occasional hummingbird.  My grass is green, but not manicured – it has what many would consider full of weeds.  The tradeoff?  I get to see the beauty of nature – and chemicals don’t end up inside my house which in turn affects my family’s health.  It is well worth it. 

The choices we make outside our homes affect the inside of our homes.  Studies have shown more outdoor chemicals inside the average carpet than outside in the yard.  The reason?  It doesn’t rain inside to dilute and wash away.  It sits in the carpet, some studies showing for over a year after the one-time application outside.    Our shoes are taxis for these toxins which get parked in the long-term parking garage called our carpet.  And who crawls and plays on our floors? – our kids and our pets.  They are the innocent casualties of our decisions.

What do you see when you look outside in your yard? 

Happy Earth Day and many more to come….

www.healthylivinginteriors.com      www.healthy-n-green.com  www.healthylivingfoundation.org

Create a Healthy-n-Green Bedroom Makeover – Help One Child – Educate the Community

 

 Create a Healthy-n-Green Bedroom Makeover     

Help One Child – Educate the Community

I write to you to ask for your support in sponsoring a project I am working on with the Broward County Public Schools.

I am co-founder of a non-profit, HealthyLiving Foundation as well as a licensed Interior Designer (Palm Beach County). I got involved with designing healthy interiors because I have two children with asthma. Through the years with my advocacy, I have partnered with others to educate about indoor air quality issues and the impact to our health. I was asked to be part of Broward County Schools Parent Asthma Workshop in giving a lecture on how to create and maintain healthy indoor air on May 8, 2010. I was also asked if I could give the winner of their Asthma Poster Contest a “healthy-n-green bedroom makeover” which will take place mid-June.

Asthma Facts:
Asthma is the number one serious chronic illness in children today. One in ten children presently has asthma, which is expected to rise to one in five by the year 2020. There are more missed school days because of asthma, and it is said to be cost 20 billion dollars to society in health and lost productivity. We spend up to 90% of our time indoors, and typically it is three to five times more polluted than outside air.

“Researchers are increasingly focusing on indoor air pollution as a leading contributor to asthma, particularly among poor inner-city populations.”
(Physicians for Social Responsibility)
Our children are more at risk because their bodies are still developing, they breathe more air per pound than an adult; their airways are narrower than an adults and they are closer to the ground where concentration of toxins is higher. Children are twelve times more affected than adults to toxic chemicals in dust. And, we are learning that daily exposure to even low-levels of toxins and allergens may actually help develop asthma.

Benefits of Sponsorship:
Creating awareness to asthma – Empowering our youth to be solution-oriented – Education on the health impacts and benefits – Social impact
• On site signage at the Parent Asthma Workshop.
• Recognition in media including BECON ITV.
• Listing of sponsorship level or donation on website link. This website will be used in media, partners and for continuing education.
• Platinum sponsor will have name on educational coloring books “Healthy-n-Green is…. Healthy Indoor Air” to be given to students at
workshop. They will also receive 100 educational coloring books to use in their own events.
• Gold and Silver sponsor to receive educational coloring books to use at their own events.
• More details of the marketing and media are available in the sponsorship package.

Overview of Bedroom Makeover
Listed below are the essentials to transform the bedroom to be healthy-n-green. These are suggestions, and the final makeover will depend on the needs of the winners’ room, as well as the contributions received. We appreciate all input and levels of sponsorship.
• Hard Surface Flooring – bamboo, cork, marloleum SPONSOR: FORBO, INC. LABOR: ECO-SIMPLISTA
• Painting of walls – SPONSOR: ECO-SIMPLISTA
• Furnishings – headboard, nightstand, dresser and possibly desk – no formaldehyde – environmentally friendly materials
• Bedding – new mattress and pillows encased in dust-mite protectors. All bedding to be organic and washable.
• Window treatments – simple, limited fabric
• Lighting – energy efficient
• Air Cleaning machine to show that proper maintenance is key to the overall long-term benefits
• Green Cleaners will eliminate exposure to VOC (volatile organic compounds)

This will be a great event to educate the entire community on the benefits of a healthy bedroom and educate about how easy it can be to make it “green” for our planet. We appreciate all donations, sponsoring, labor or other means. Thank you for your consideration and help in this event.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to contact me. I have a complete sponsor package I can e-mail you to review.

Thank you for your commitment in the healthy and green movement.

Denise Robinette
561-743-1412 www.healthylivinginteriors www.healthylivingfoundation www.healthy-n-green.com

Abalone Shell – One shells ‘trash’ is a jewel for your home to treasure

                        One shell’s ‘trash’ is a jewel for  your home to treasure.  

 

 This could be said for the abalone shell, which is a by-product of the abalone sea snails.

 The inside layer of the shell is made up of mother of pearl, which are in a variety of beautiful iridescent changing colors. This material is used in many decorative objects. The meat inside is considered a delicacy, and the shells are a by-product of catching paua for their meat. The paua fishery is managed with a quota system in order for the sustainability of this natural resource. Paua fisher’s free-dive and pry the mollusks from the rocks. This beautiful by-product has been adored for centuries.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          As a designer, the sky is the limit in using this material. Use it on the walls, floors or anywhere you want a special detail. I have used it as an accent inlay in floors and it is stronger than most man ceramics and/or granite. The photo above shows it being used to frame out a mirror in a stairwell. Be creative and have fun using this unique material – it will reward you with its iridescent qualities that change like the skyline.

check out other uses at  www.healthylivinginteriors.com    Gallery Photos

Green Renovations Get Tax Credits

                       Green Renovations  =  Green Tax Credits       

             Green stimulus bill saves money in green home renovations. 

Now is the time to get going on that renovation you have been dreaming of.  Tax credits which were effective for  2009 have been extended to 2010 and have been raised from 10% to 30%. The maximum credit has tripled from $ 500.00 to $ 1,500.00 for 2009 – 2010. Some larger ticket items like solar, and geothermal have higher maximums.

Have a home built before 1983? A 2008 California study revealed that retrofitting older homes can have four to eight times more cost savings and carbon savings compared to new home energy efficiency options. Also noted was “homes built before 1983 are to blame for 70 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions related to single-family energy consumption in California”. An investment of $ 10,000.00 in retrofitting a 1960’s home for energy efficiency could save 8.5 tons of carbon.                 

Here are a few Green Tips for Tax Credits:

 
1. Use no- VOC paint. Painting is the fastest, least expensive design trick in the book. You can help save the planet and your health by using no-VOC paint. Traditional paints contain VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) which make our indoor air polluted.
2. Environmentally-friendly flooring is beautiful and healthful. Bamboo, a grass which matures in 3 to 5 years, is a renewable resource. It is very resilient and has a variety of colors available. Cork is also a sustainable product, as it is peeled from the cork tree. It has also been used commercially because of its superior acoustical properties as well as durability and ease of maintenance. Marmoleum flooring is a type of linoleum flooring. It is extremely durable, and is made from natural raw materials such as linseed oil, flax, wood flour and rosins. These floors are stain resistant, biodegradable at the end of its useful life, and even resistant to bacteria growth. Remember to use green adhesives and maintain with green cleaners.
3. Energy Star Ceiling Fans 50% are more efficient than conventional fans and use less energy to operate. Programmable thermostats allow you to control the cooling/heating needs up to 4 settings a day. Why cool/heat a home when you aren’t there?
4. There is a home-shell improvement credit for insulation, windows, doors and sealing. Studies have shown about 1/3rd of energy loss could be stopped by preventing air leaks by caulking and insulating. By installing double-pane windows offer insulation as well as soundproofing from the outside noise. By installing skylights, you may also reduce your need to use artificial lighting.
5. HVAC (home heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) investment in renewable energy systems is eligible for credit until Dec. 31, 2016. We spend 50 – 70% of energy in heating and cooling our homes. Efficient air-conditioners and furnaces will save you money in energy costs.
6. Energy-star appliances will help reduce your energy and water costs. The refrigerator is one of the homes highest consumers of energy. Front load washers will help reduce water consumption as well as reduce the amount of detergent you need to use.
7. Alternative energy: A nonrefundable tax credit will also be for installing a solar hot water heater and geothermal heat pumps.

Always consult your tax advisor to get the current rules.  For more information:
Energy Star – www.energystar.gov/taxcredits
IRS – http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=206871,00.html

March:  Healthy-n-Green Tip – Laws that affect our health and wallets