Saturday, June 26, 2010

Challenging the Idea of sustainability: Net Zero Buildings?

This is pretty cool!  I've been reading a lot of online material and some of the first things I've come across are ideas for sustainability presented by the EPA.  I just read the building section.

  • 80% of the pop live in urban communities/cities
  • 40% of energy consumed in the US is by buildings
Their solution?  Net zero energy buildings?  Read the pdf.

Picture from

In my research I am realizing that it will be necessary to tie all this info back into houses, cleaning, my life, your life, and why one should even bother reading this post.  I hope I will be able to do this.  I do think they are all connected, all necessary, all worthy of consideration, and all worthy of priority to varying degrees.  

These ideas that are being presented concerning the environment and people are not new ideas.  They are the tentacled evolving process of understanding ourselves, our lifestyles, and our atmospheres.  In that way, I see the connections between my work, my life and my research.   The power that you and I gain through this understanding is similar to the power that we suddenly realized we had when we played telephone as kids!  

Did you hear the info correctly?  Will you tell the next person exactly what you heard or decide to tell them something different?  Do you even remember what you were told?  

At the end of the day I think we are all just playing a big ol' game of telephone.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Challenging the Idea of Sustainability

My friend Caleb sent me a link for this group that creates forums, groups, and events to support sustainability measures.  I took a quick look at it and tried to understand what it was really about.  I realized that I don't really know what sustainability is and why we should implement it??

While I am tackling the task of researching various charities, green initiatives, cleaning methods, products, chemicals, why's and how's of everything business and internet involved, I wondered what is it that we are headed towards?  Where am I going?  Where am I leading people through the information that I present?

I am therefore going to share most if not all the info that I am currently reading so that we can at some point have a good and thorough discussion on our responsibility as humans to ourselves and the world, what we are doing now, and where do we see our future goals leading us.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Clutter REDUX: One Surface at a time

Its a long and laborious task to organize...

  • especially if you haven't done it in a while
  • don't have permanent homes for belongings
  • or you are a notorious tinkerer constantly unleashing a storm of projects upon your home space


One method I've been implementing lately is the "clean a surface a day" method.  It literally involves choosing a table, chair, corner, or shelf covered in stuff and minimizing it to several organized piles or putting things away all together.  It has been a big help and I've been doing it in the morning so that I feel like I've accomplished something for myself early on.   Here's an inspirational before and after picture set!


Here's a couple of thought provoking tips from  Read more on the site!
  • Don't keep things you don't like.
  • Don't keep things for other people.
  • Aim to reduce by a definite number.
  • When its in with the new, it's out with the old!
  • Prepare yourself mentally, never say never.

Mr. Potato Head Skillz

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The BIZZ: Adventures of Research and Gain

It strikes me, in my daily adventures, that nothing is more true than the statement "nothing is as it seems".  The constant flux that i experience between the plans that i've made and the execution of those plans is sometimes wildly unsettling.  The natural process of forecasting, troubleshooting, and accomplishing is at best an organic amalgamation of time, effort and luck...near as I can tell at least.

Here is a great list of tips to helps myself and my readers make the most of our time and energy when planning!

My favorite from the list is this one because most people know that they need help but don't know where to begin!  It's hard to get an idea of the things that you know you can do yourself vs. all the other options below for instance.

Learn to delegate by making a list of tasks that fit into the following categories:
    Tasks only you can do. Tasks you should do, but others could do. Tasks you could do, but others would if given the responsibility. Tasks others should do, but you can help with if necessary. Tasks only others can do.

Here's a great quote to lead you through your day!

"Enjoyment is not a good goal, it is a feeling that accompanies important ongoing activities."
-Paul Goodman

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Repurpose, Recycle, Reuse: Learning to make origami butterflies

I just thought I'd make a small demo video to teach anyone who might like to know how to make an origami butterfly. The cheesiness factor is intense but it's my first try at something like this so what can one really expect!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Repurpose, Recycle, Reuse: The Butterfly Campaign

I sat in my house one day with no money for materials, with boxes of tea in the cabinet, with a cup of tea in my hand, with a project due date pressing on my time, and a question in my mind.  How can I use the things that I have in abundance to make up for the things I lack?  I looked around the kitchen.  Nothing was more freely abundant than the trash that I produced through my constant tea drinking habits!  Drinking somewhere between 5 and 10 cups a day, I went through boxes of tea at a rate which probably only smokers understand.  I had tea bags and teabag sleeves, clogging my trash in a 2 to 1 ratio with any other material in the can!

Days earlier I had heard of an artist who had focused on using all his trash in a month period to make an installation that spoke to the creative use of waste and the massive amounts a person is able to produce!  I thought it was cool that he had simultaneously asked viewers to consider what materials are relevant in art while indirectly asking his audience to consider the amount of waste that they too produce in a month!

At the time I was getting into the art of origami and attempting to use it to modularly build large scale sculptures.  I had just learned that the western origami master, Robert Lang, had developed a type of paper called "foil paper".  I discovered that my tea bags were made of pretty much the same material, so I began to fold with them.  I saved box after box of tea, and fold butterfly after butterfly.  At the end of a year, I actually had more than 400 butterflies and I made an installation called "tea time migration:  365 days".  It was made of origami butterflies and the title referenced the migration of the monarch butterfly, the journey from one point to another, and my tea drinking habits.

Here are some other amazing artists and their trash inspired art!

  • Shrine - upcycled materials 

My own contribution now includes the butterflies from my previous project!  I am now using them to raise awareness about repurposing, recycling and reusing materials, to clean, to reduce waste, to create, and to inspire!  The butterflies will be all over Atlanta!  I hope you find one!  The next phase of the butterfly campaign is to sell a selected amount on etsy to raise money for a local charity!  The info for this next step will be in the next segment of this 4 part article!

The Butterfly campaign on repurpose recycle reuse with origami butterflies of Cleaning lady lifestyle

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Repurpose, Recycle, Reuse: What's the diff?

I get a little mixed up these days.  I keep hearing "re-this" and "re-that" associated with various green initiatives.  My head is swimming with environmental jargon and news media talking heads!  The hype has fever pitched due to some very rattling events in the last 20 years or so.

Even so, there are some people that just don't buy the whole save the earth effort.  They have their reasons and I can understand why they are skeptical!  Still, we are creating waste, and we are going to run out of places to put it.  And even if you don't think the world will end from co2 pollution or dying wildlife, or global warming, well then thats just one more reason to keep it clean if it's going to be around for a while!  From the cleaning lady's perspective, it's only logical to simplify our lives and maximize our possibilities through waste reduction and creativity!

So what is the diff?  Many countries around the world utilize a system called The Waste Hierarchy.  It is a waste management and education system that is best represented by the 3 R's:  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  The goal embedded in the system is one of reducing waste, reusing what we can, and recycling the rest so that we have less trash in our landfills and environment!
At some point, they also added "rethink" which was a plea to waste management authorities and citizens to prevent waste if possible and to reconsider other management techniques.  Repurposing was born around this time and I think it is fast becoming on of my favorite R's.

Say!  We've got a lot of R's piling up already!  Maybe its time to define some of these.
  • Rethink-  suggests that the current waste hierarchy is flawed.  See wikipedia for more details!
  • Reduce-   eliminating waste through the prevention or reduction of it's creation.
  • Reuse-  act of using an item more than once, either for the same purpose or a new purpose.
  • Repurpose-  to use or convert for use in another format or product.
  • Recycle-  processing used materials into new products.
  • Renew-  to become new or as new, to begin again, to restore to existence.
  • Regenerate-  reformed again and restored to a better, higher or more worthy state.
  • Replenish-  to fill or build up again, to supply fully

-------->Repurposing and reusing are some of the waste management options that I find most interesting and creative!  
This link supplies ideas on how to repurpose a lot of common house hold items!
 "Most Popular Repurposing Tricks of 2009".  My favorite was roof gutters used as trays under desks to hide cords and keep them off the floor!

Check out the next part in this series to see what artists are making and why!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Everything DUST

If you can be sure of anything it's death, taxes and dust.  Seriously, you live with dust all your life!  You, in fact, create dust constantly from your shedding skin cells which regenerate every 27 days or so.  Sure there are some people that will never worry about the accumulation of dust around them; they've given in to the natural phenomenon.  For the rest of us, young, old, allergic, asthmatic, sensitive, health conscious or phobic, we'd rather reduce our waste for a cleaner, more breathable, livable life!

Dust in homes, offices, and other human environments contains human skin cells, small amounts of plant pollen, human and animal hairs, textile fiberspaper fibres, minerals from outdoor soil, and many other materials which may be found in the local environment.[1]

This Cleaning Company, 1st Class Cleaning, in Manhattan, posted an article for their clients on dust accumulation!  In it, they cite various causes of accumulation that I am familiar with from my cleaning lady experiences.  They suggest using a HEPA filter, or air purifier to help reduce dust in an area.  Vacuuming and washing surfaces regularly is also suggested!

For the purposes of this article, I'll go ahead and outline a few elimination methods for you to try, besides cleaning!  The first is the use of an air purifier or air filters.  

Honeywell 17000 Permanent Pure HEPA QuietCare Air Purifier
Benefits include:
  • Elimination of dust particles and some odors.
  • Reduces necessity to clean as often.
  • Reduces allergens.
  • Improves air quality in your home.

These links will help you determine what products are a good match for you and your home!

- WIZE: reviews and prices for air filters and purifiers.
- AMAZON:  great deals on air purifiers and filters.
- CARE2:  article on how to choose an air purifier and why.

Guess you've got to clean!

If it's already gotten to the point that there's a thick layer covering most of your things, then there are a couple things that can be done but all of which involve taking time to clean!  Here are some products that I like to use to clean dust!

Swiffer Sweeper Dry Cloth Refill Unscented 48 Count Box


  • easy to use.
  • eliminate dust through static cling.
  • soft on surfaces.
  • great for walls, glass, and knick knacks.
  • do not remove bacteria.
  • do not clean build up stuck on surfaces.

Zwipes Microfiber 12-Pack of Cleaning Cloths

Microfiber Cleaning Clothes have the same pros with the added advantage of being able to clean a surface if necessary.  I'm sure I'll do a segment on these wondrous fabrics since they are all the rage these days!

Scotch-Brite Scrub Sponge Made With Walnut Shells (Pack of 12)

I like just using a sponge and cleaner myself.  I try to be earth friendly by buying the "walnut" sponges instead of the natural and unnatural sponges.  I will also be doing a segment on sponges soon as part of the BRUSH vs. SPONGE segment.  The main cons to sponges are:
  • may leave streaks on surfaces when sponge is too wet.
  • must rinse sponge more often.

Share your own dust battles below.  Awesome comments and suggestions will probably end up in future posts!

NOTE:  I tried very hard to only use legitimate, less biased resources, which is hard to do here on the internet!  My wish is that you are able to take this info and apply it positively to improve your life!  Thanks for reading!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

What's in The Cleaning Lady's Bucket?

Today's product is another one of my green cleaning favorites!  It is specifically the Clorox GREENWORKS concentrated solution.  I buy this for my clients and it literally lasts over a year and only costs 6 bucks!  What a friggin' deal!!

>   About GREENWORKS    <

Awesome things about this cleaner:

- You can use it on almost any surface! 
- Easy to mix and go!
- Environmentally friendly!
- Ingredient disclosure! 

This is the list of ingredients!  I love it when a company is willing to disclose important information to the consumer so that they can make the best choices determined by their individual circumstances!  Product info is a must!  I encourage consumers to speak up about their right to know what they are buying!!

Green Works natural all-purpose cleaner ingredients (99% natural)

lemon image
essential oils
green leaf image
contains no phosphorus or bleach
beaker image
coconut image
coconut-based cleaning agent
(nonionic surfactant: alkyl polyglucoside)
corn image
corn-based ethanol
water image
filtered water
molecule image
blue and yellow colorant
beaker image
biodegradable preservative

Alkyl Polyglucoside?  What is that?  Don't let these types of words pass your glance without some concern and questioning!  Here is the definition and a few websites to give you more info!

  • Alkyl polyglucosides (APG) are called new generation environmentally friendly surfactants. They have not been produced on the commercial scale until the nineties in the world. APGs are classified as nonionec surfactants. The feedstock of APG are based on fatty alcohol and glucose which are obtained from renewable native resources. Thus, APGs are completely biodegradable. Because of their non-toxicity, non-irritation and many excellent surface active performances, APGs are widely used in the fields of detergents, cosmetics, foods and medicines.

RUSBIZ - sells this ingredient and has information on its production and uses.

Wikipedia - explains the uses and history of surfactants, alkyl polyglucoside, and others.

DOW - is a major supplier of this ingredient and others to various companies.  Check out other types of ingredients on the menu to the right.  It's a great resource!


I normally go to Lowe's to pick up my cleaner.  However, if you wanted to go in with someone on a bulk order, this link will take you to amazon where they have 6 bottles for $36.77.  I think it just about equals out after shipping but if you can't find it in the stores around you, then it's totally worth it!

Here's the GREENWORKS website with other products and info!  

A note:  I use only this cleaner from clorox.  I don't find it necessary to buy the whole line because I can use the dilutable all purpose to clean bathrooms, kitchens, and most furniture.  I find that it leaves streaks on certain mirrored surfaces so I don't use it for mirrors in general.   

Please feel free to share your experiences with this product or ask any questions you may have concerning mixing or application in comments below or email me! 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Clutter REDUX: "Cluster @#*%"

It never fails.  Your house is clean and as the week begins, the first thing to disappear is your desk, dining table, or nightstand.   Everything you bring home, or get out of the closet, or receive from someone else goes to that spot.  As time progresses, the spot is overrun with clutter!  If you're lucky enough to deal with the pile or piles, you'll find that they are assembled rather chronologically exposing the nature of your schedule and habits.  If you don't get time to handle the piles, they start to appear all over the house, taking over and becoming more and more massively confusing!

Just reading that gives me chills!  But as you can see from the picture above, my bedroom is the perfect example of clutter craziness!  So I pose to you this venture, let us learn new ways to deter clutter and reform our clutter forming habits.  Let us renew the hope that we can create a more peaceful visual atmosphere in our houses.  We WILL take back our power to change our surroundings and we will defeat the oppression of the ever-constant flow of objects around us!

REDUX exercise no.1: 
Make it a point to avoid bringing home new items.  If you shop a lot, try to shop less and more wisely.  If you are in the habit of collecting, become more picky.  If people just like to give you things, old clothes, cards, knick knacks, etc., try not to accept them.  

This is the first rule to use when trying to dismantle the clutter flow to your house AND it's a great precautionary measure once you do get everything clean and well organized.  It's kind of hard to do, especially during this time of year!  With everyone having yard sales and de-cluttering their own homes, there's lots of opportunities to take on more stuff.  What deals!  What bargains!  I've always wanted a rice cooker, bread basket, ikea lamp, shoe stretcher, straw hat, book on elvis, but WAIT, I don't even know where I'm going to put the stuff I already have!....

Here's an eHow article on saying NO to clutter.

I hope this gives you a good start!  Stay tuned to future Clutter REDUX segments for more tips to reduce clutter, reuse old things, and reform old habits.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Cleaning Tip number 5: Brush vs. Sponge

You might think the two are interchangeable, brush or sponge, but there are jobs that are made easier by using one over the other.  Today we'll take a look at the mighty brush and talk about what jobs  are best tailored to its attributes!

There are many different types of brushes with long handles, flat heads, tough bristles, short bristles, etc.  Which one is good to use and for what?  Lets first discuss the types of jobs that brushes are better for and then we'll get into shapes, sizes, and bristles.

Here's a general list of things that are best cleaned by a brush.  If you think I've missed some things, please let me know in an email or my comments so that I can add it!

Brush are better for:
      soap scum
      rough flooring
      crevices and corners
      removing thick grease
      patios and porches

The type of brush you use will depend entirely on the job you use it for.  Jobs that are more geared toward dust and debris removal require longer bristles for instance.  Jobs that are scrub intensive will have short coarse bristles.  Some jobs will require the use of cleaning products so make sure your brush bristles are made to withstand various chemicals and cleaners.

Get one with a long enough handle!  It is incredibly important, especially for cleaning personnel, to keep your back straight and to alleviate as much stress as possible from your shoulders and back muscles.  Most cleaning methods involving a brush do require some scrubbing and cleaning at an odd angle or with your arms above your head will create lots of tension while simultaneously reducing your energy!

The main thing that I like a brush for is the bathroom.  I use a medium bristle length and medium bristle coarseness.  I prefer using a flat rectangular brush head from a brush broom which I can use with or without the handle.  Plastic bristles allow me to use all types of cleaners and work well on most surfaces. Here's an example of the type of broom brush that I am referring to:

This one is used for soft scrubbing and cleaning, for exteriors of cars, furniture, or anything requiring a good bath and gentle brushing.  Try going to Lowe's or home depot and taking a look at their cleaning product & equipment selection.  Note the types of jobs that you are doing and pick a brush best suited to those jobs.  If you follow these suggestions, you will be able to clean faster, better, and more efficiently!


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