What Is Environment California?

Environment California is a not for profit organization with a political base. The organization lobbies on a national level for California’s environmental legislation. It was formed in 2003 by the California Public Interest Research Group to field environmental work within the state. Since its inception, the organization has lobbied for things like keeping state parks from closing and an increase in federal funding for national parks. It also supported the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2007 and the Million Solar Roofs Bill of 2006.

The main goal of the organization is to promote cleaner air and water as well as more open spaces. The focus of Environment California is to protect California’s air and water environments. It spends time focused on the issue of global warming and how this issue can be solved. The organization supports greener cars and capping carbon emissions.

Current support is focused on the One Million Green Cars project and the organization works with California Governor Brown to cut global warming pollution and to help reduce smog by making a switch to cars that run on cleaner energy. The preference is for cars that do not release carbon emissions which would eliminate much of the state’s overhead pollution.

Environment California also supports cleaner and more sustainable energy with a strong focus on wind and sun energy. They hope to get political leaders on board with various energy programs such as those that would put solar power into schools. Schools with solar panels could help to produce their own energy and make that energy much more sustainable. Studies have shown that installing these panels in schools would greatly cut down on energy costs throughout the state and avoid the rise in future costs as well. Proposition 30 passed which shows that most consumers in the state are strongly in favor of finding cleaner energy sources. This proposition created a fund of $550 million that will help to put cleaner energy programs into work in California.

Environment California also supports the ban of fracking. Fracking is a drilling process that uses clean water and creates contaminated water. The organization is currently supporting legislation that would completely ban this practice throughout California. In addition, they are working to expand Yosemite Park and to develop funding for a number of different state parks.

One of the main focuses of the group is to protect the Pacific Ocean. They are working with legislators to preserve California’s ocean by banning plastic bags in in the state in an attempt to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean. The ban would also include Styrofoam that is used in restaurants for carry out orders as well as plastic water bottles that are designed for one time use. Reducing plastic pollution would help to protect the ocean and ensure that ocean life is kept safe.

Environment California also supports greener chemistry and greener agriculture. Green chemistry involves using products that do not contain hazardous ingredients. Cleaning products for instance normally contain dangerous levels of toxic chemicals and there are greener alternatives that are more natural and less hazardous to human life. The group supports banning chemicals that are considered to be really dangerous such as flame retardant materials in furniture. This goes along with their green agriculture focus as well. They hope to have the use of certain pesticides banned or at least reduced and to have them completely banned for use around schools. The organization works on a number of environmental issues in an attempt to clean up California and to ensure that its citizens are kept safe and free from many toxins and harmful agents.

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San Diego’s Air Quality Grade and Its Effects on Residents

Emissions from vehicles are a major source of concern for those looking for a healthier environment. Studies are done every year in various cities to determine if tailpipe emissions are causing unhealthy living conditions. The American Lung Association recently gave San Diego failing marks for air quality and this comes in spite of the city achieving very steady declines in air pollution over the past few years.

Based on the stringent federal ozone standards that were put into place in 2008, San Diego received 10 violations for air quality in 2012. California in general has some of the worst air pollution problems in the nation and because of this, the state serves as a model for the regulations that promote lower pollution and cleaner air. In order to improve the grade that San Diego has received, the region will need to push consumers more toward using vehicles that have cleaner diesel engines and even electric models that use very little gasoline at all.

While the failing grade that the city received does not really show mass improvement over the years, the long term outlook for cleaner air in the region looks good. There is always work to be done when it comes to cleaning up the environment and San Diego is just slightly under the regulations for achieving passing marks. Studies published recently do show that air pollutants have decreased by more than 50 percent since the early 1980s, which is a massive improvement itself. There is simply more work to be done in order to provide a much cleaner environment for future generations.

The American Lung Association has developed an application for smartphone users that will allow those users to determine if the air that they are breathing is safe. The app is available for both Android and Apple iPhone users and can be a very helpful resource for those who are living with certain pulmonary diseases like COPD or asthma. Older adults and young children as well as those who have diabetes and heart disease will find the app useful as well and it can come in quite handy when planning outdoor adventures such as running or hiking.

Because many communities still have unhealthy levels of pollution in the air, it is essential that consumers themselves learn ways of protecting themselves and their families from this pollution. There are currently more than 125 million people in the United States who live in areas that have dangerous particle pollution in the air. This app for smartphones will enable those people to ensure that they are not actively breathing in those harmful particles when they are outdoors.

The app is called State of the Air and will enable smartphone owners to input their zip code to get the current conditions of the air in their region. There is also a geo-locator that can be used to determine air quality. The application will track the levels of particle and ozone pollution and alert the user if the air quality is considered to be unhealthy.

The application will also give health recommendations, depending on just how severe the pollution quality is for that particular day. It may recommend that the user remain indoors for that day or limit their outdoor activities to certain times of the day. The app is designed to help those with sensitive lung issues to better plan their outdoor activities and to ensure that they are breathing the best air possible, which is essential during times of high air pollution. San Diego continues to work on cleaning up the air in the city’s region and this along with the smartphone application can be very helpful to those who have certain lung diseases or other health issues.

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San Diego’s Green Port Program and How You Can Help to Preserve the Environment

Formed in 1962, the Port of San Diego manages the environmental as well as the economic and social assets of the San Diego Bay. The Bay is a natural resource that provides a better quality of life for the regional economy. The Green Port program was developed in 2008 in an attempt to reduce waste and pollution in the Bay and to support conservation of natural resources in the area.

The Green Port Program focuses on six key aspects of environmental support in the Bay. One of those focuses is on energy conservation. Working alongside the San Diego Gas and Electric Company, Green Port helps to ensure that the operational energy used by the San Diego Bay is lowered by no less than 170,000 kilowatt hours every single year. The program also conducts a lighting pilot project that is designed to assess the various energy technologies available and to see how they may help to improve energy conservation in the Bay Area.

A main objective is to investigate further opportunities for renewable energy projects and to implement those projects. The Port of San Diego actively works with this and other projects in an attempt to lower energy usage and find more alternative methods for producing the energy that is needed. In future years, the Port will work with consumers and businesses as well as other environmental groups in the area to identify more ways that energy efficiency can be obtained.

Consumers can also contribute to the efforts of The Green Port Program by learning more efficient ways in which to consume energy. San Diego residents can work with the San Diego Gas and Electric Company to ensure that their homes are energy efficient. The SDG&E offers a number of programs to help educate consumers on energy efficiency which ultimately helps them to save money while protecting the environment. Consumers can learn more about rebate programs, bill credit for energy savings, recycling programs for appliances and other topics by visiting the SDG&E in person or online.

Smart meters are available for consumers who want to work more closely with the SDG&E in an attempt to lower energy usage. These meters provide two-way communication between consumers and the utility company that will record energy usage, which allows consumers to learn more about how much energy they use and what they can do to lower that usage. The meters also help the utility company to better manage the energy needs of consumers and detect when power outages occur. They are the first step in enabling smarter homes in the future that will help consumers to better lower their energy usage and ultimately, their energy cost.

Consumers can also inquire about the Sustainable Communities program which is designed to promote the use of cleaner energy technologies. The program integrates certain technologies such as wind power and fuel cells and uses them with sustainable building projects in order to provide cleaner energy to the grid. The SDG&E installs, operates and maintains these programs.

Those who wish to obtain more information about the programs offered by the San Diego Gas and Electric Company or who want to learn more about the Green Port Program can find this information by visiting the appropriate websites for these organizations. Keeping the San Diego Port clean and energy efficient is just one step in helping to provide a cleaner and safer environment for future generations.

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Avoiding Chemical Products for a Safer Environment

There are literally tens of thousands of chemicals that are found in cleaning products as well as general products today. It comes as no surprise that many consumers are a bit overwhelmed at the thought of the chemicals that they may be coming into contact with on a daily basis. Many consumers are ready for a change and want to choose products that are safer not only for the environment but for themselves as well. The problem comes in not knowing exactly what chemicals are used in which products and which ones are considered to be toxic in nature.

In 2010 alone, nearly 10 percent of toxic exposure in the United States came from cleaning products. The United States Poison Control Center reported over 200,000 calls for toxicity and nearly 130,000 of those calls involved young children. Cleaning products that contain chemicals are found in nearly every home in the nation and this is a potential hazard for those with smaller children who could potentially spill or even swallow those toxins.

Consumers should note that the ingredients found in these cleaning products will vary regarding how hazardous they are. Many may cause immediate danger such as respiratory issues or chemical burns. Others may cause long term issues like cancer. Keep in mind that this is only regarding chemicals found in cleaning products. There are a number of other products, foods and other items that contain chemicals as well. It is very easy to see why many consumers become overwhelmed at the thought of ridding their home of toxins.

Working toward a cleaner and safer environment means taking steps to avoid using products that contain harsh or hazardous chemicals. These products need to have labels that allow consumers to see exactly what it is that they are bringing into their homes and there are a number of environment projects currently ongoing that address this issue. San Francisco is working with the Safer Nail Salon Program which is designed to inform customers of which nail salons offer toxin free polishes and other products.

Green Chemistry is an ongoing project as well and one that is working toward finding a permanent solution to the toxic chemical issue involving many household items. The project seeks to find non-toxic substances that will be completely biodegradable and safer for the environment and consumers. California is also developing a program that when executed will require that all conventional chemical products have a green replacement. This will eliminate many of the hazardous chemicals that are found in most homes today. Several laws have been passed in California over the past ten years that help to protect consumers from many toxins found in certain products.

Green Chemistry is still a fairly new program but as it grows it promises to be very helpful in keeping toxins away from homes and out of products that many consumers use every day. While the chemical industry itself may be doing what they can to stop this initiative, many consumers have already gotten onboard with Green Chemistry and are working to find solutions to the toxic chemical issues at hand. Consumers who want to become more involved in a better environment should contact their legislators and let them know how they feel. Being a bit more responsible when it comes to choosing products will also help. Consumers can spend a bit more time researching various products, particularly cleaning supplies, to ensure that these products do not contain harmful chemicals. There are a number of green products currently on the market and choosing these products which are safer is one step in helping to keep the environment and consumer homes free from harmful toxins.

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What Is Ecotourism and Why Does It Matter?

With the current shape of the environment, it is not at all surprising that there are projects everywhere geared toward protecting our Earth and making it more sustainable for future generations. One such project is ecotourism. Tourism is the largest industry in the world and the environmental aspects of this industry have changed substantially over the past few years. Natural tourism or ecotourism is a quickly growing industry in itself.

It is important to understand what ecotourism is and what it entails. Generally speaking, ecotourism is simply traveling to natural areas to enjoy nature in its finest and doing so with environmental protection in mind. Many natural areas promote conservation and have a very low impact with regards to visitors. Ecotourism promotes a more sustainable travel aspect with regards to these natural areas. It is distinguished by its focus on the education, responsibility by travelers and the conservation of these areas.

Natural areas that are part of ecotourism projects focus on lower impact by visitors and in providing sustainability for local communities. Support is granted for the conservation efforts made by these areas and education is provided to better inform travelers of the area in question and the effects that ecotourism and environmental responsibility can have on a global scale.

The International Ecotourism Society is set up to better provide support for areas that are focused on this industry and to offer education and assistance to consumers who want to be a bit more responsible when they visit natural areas. This organization assists natural areas that are located all over the world and Visit California is one of those sub-organizations involved in protecting natural resources. Visit California partners with California’s tourism and travel industry to help keep the state considered as a major tourist destination while ensuring that natural areas remain protected. Tourism in California in 2010 topped more than $95 billion and supported nearly 1 million jobs. Billions of dollars in local and state tax revenues are gained from tourism within the state as well. Visit California, a not for profit organization, is designed to support this heavily growing industry but do so with an environmentally safe focus.

Increasing tourism to natural areas that remain sensitive to visitor impact is not without its issues. Those areas have to be properly prepared and much planning is involved in the process. Not planning and managing the process carefully could result in a threat to the integrity of the ecosystem in that area. Increasing visitor impact can eventually lead to degradation of the environmental system in that area if planning and management are not strictly enforced.

Ecotourism provides revenue that helps to protect natural areas such as national parks and major tourist destinations. This is revenue that may not be available from any other source. Communities that are within these natural areas can see benefits from ecotourism as well because it can provide additional revenue where there are few options available otherwise. In addition, ecotourism helps to better educate travelers and ensure that they fully understand the impact of their travel and what they can do to better protect their environment as well as the environment that they are visiting.

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Understanding California’s Coastal Wetlands

There are a number of coastal wetlands in California and they include various natural communities of terrestrial, semi-aquatic and aquatic habitats resulting from flooding. Flooding is caused by rainfall as well as runoff and tidal waters and these wetlands provide a home for many endangered species and other wildlife.

During times of migration there are literally hundreds of thousands of different birds that migrate along the Pacific Flyway. They land in coastal wetland areas to search for food and shelter. In addition to the importance of the wetlands for wildlife, they also provide a link between the sea and land as they allow organic material to be transported from one to the other. Water flow throughout coastal wetlands circulates waste as well as food and nutrients and wetlands provide a buffer for storms that can ultimately reduce the amount of shoreline erosion that is experienced. To say that wetlands are important would be quite an understatement and it is essential that citizens understand just how important these areas are to the environment in general.

Most of the wetlands located in California are estuaries or the end of a river where it meets the sea. These estuaries contain very salty water and develop salt marshes. Freshwater marshes are much less common on the California shoreline although they do form in slower moving streams and ponds. Freshwater marshes are typically inhabited by herbaceous plants and various other vegetation. They have mineral soils that are not as fertile as the soils found in salt marshes.

Studies have shown that healthy salt marshes can produce up to ten times more oxygen and carbohydrate biomass for each acre than a wheat field of the same size. The plants in marshes capture energy from the sun and fungi and bacteria help to break down animal and plant matter and recycle nutrients found in them. The material formed by this breakdown is then transported throughout the waterway which causes mudflats to become rich in organic foods and inorganic nutrients. This helps to support the food chain of the marsh.

The percentage of wetlands along the coastline in California has diminished significantly since the mid 1800’s. Nearly 90 percent of the those wetlands are now gone and the ones that are left are in extreme danger of being destroyed due to things like pollution, landfills, disturbance by humans and other events. There is however, a growing awareness of the importance of these wetlands and the habitat that is found there and this is leading to efforts by many to restore wetlands that have previously been depleted and to protect those that are still in existence.

There are several fish species, including the killifish, striped bass and various others that make their home in these wetlands. Many insects are also found in the wetlands and they serve as a nesting ground for various species of birds. Protecting them is essential in keeping this wildlife safe from extinction. The Pacific Flyway includes the California coast and this is one of the four main migration routes for birds in North America. Protecting and restoring coastal wetlands helps to keep these birds as well as the other wildlife found in the wetlands, safe. Many organizations are beginning cleanup and restore events to help raise awareness of the issues affecting the wetlands and inform consumers on just what needs to be done in order to protect these areas in the future.

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Growing Algae as a Source of Biofuel

Recent research has shown that common algae could possibly be used as a renewable fuel source. There are still questions however about just how to grow enough algae to make this scenario completely possible. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has been conducting research on just how sustainable algae can be and how it can be used as a source of fuel. Questions have been raised as to how much algae can actually be grown in freshwater so alternative sources are being researched. PNNL is currently studying the possibility of seawater as a water source as well as what nutrients are needed to effectively grow algae and what the actual cost of transportation would be to refineries.

Studies have so far shown that marine algae can be genetically engineered for use in producing biofuels. Researchers from the University of California in San Diego feel that the yield of this genetically engineered algae could actually match the petroleum-like compounds of fresh water algae which makes it very possible to produce it on a larger scale.

Researchers feel that the ability to genetically transform seawater algae is essential because it helps to expand the growth potential for algae that can be used in the production of biofuel. Studies have shown that the same quality of algae, that which is good for producing biofuels, can be obtain with seawater algae as opposed to only using freshwater species. Studies have also shown that there are more than 10 million acres throughout the United States that can be used to grow algae for biofuel production and using marine algae could help to make this type of biofuel a viable solution for transportation fuels in future years.

Open pond water is the most natural method for growing algae but again, freshwater has its limitations. Using ocean water allows those restraints to be completely removed and offers a wider base of production. Open ponds grow algae naturally and using these ponds in hot and sunny regions will allow for maximum production. Bad weather however, can stunt the growth of algae which would mean that lower crop yields would be experienced. Contamination from certain strains of bacteria can also hinder production.

Being able to genetically modify seawater algae for use in biofuel production would open up a completely new playing field for researchers. Given the vastness of ocean water, it would make it completely possible to produce biofuel and without the constraints that freshwater algae can have.

Vertical growth is often used by biofuel companies in order to produce algae much faster than their natural growth rate. Algae being grown in this method are put into clear plastic bags and exposed to sunlight on both sides. The bags can be stacked to save space and are protected by rain. The extra exposure to sunlight can help to significantly increase the productivity rate which will help to increase the rate of oil production.

Another method of growing algae is by using closed tank plants that will help to increase growth rates even further. Indoor plants will contain large drums where algae are permitted to grow under the most ideal conditions. Algae can be manipulated into growth at optimal levels and can be harvested daily. This method can yield very large outputs of algae which again, produces higher yields of fuel.

These growing methods, along with the genetically engineered seawater algae could mean great developments in the biofuel industry. Using algae as a source of fuel is still being researched but all studies to date show that this promises to be a very successful venture. Between freshwater algae that is being grown specifically for biofuel production and genetically altered seawater algae, it is not completely impossible to believe that algae could prove to be a very effective source of renewable fuel in the very near future.

Sources:
http://www.upi.com
http://www.greenenvironmentnews.com

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Are Corn Cobs to Become the Next Biofuel?

Many consumers are searching for a more efficient and cleaner burning source of fuel for heating their homes. Conventional fuels are not environmentally friendly and they can be very costly. Many homeowners have begun to experiment over the years to find a way to heat their homes without the cost of gas and electric and without the worries of deforestation when burning wood.

What have they come up with? Many are turning to corn or more specifically, corn cobs. Corn itself, as in the kernels, has been tried as a biofuel and has shown to be a bit more effective in creating a greener fuel source than other methods. Corn kernels however, are used for other means. Corn is eaten by humans and many animals alike. Burning corn kernels seems as if it would take away from food sources and given the concerns over the global food crisis, it simply makes sense to find a more efficient biofuel that does not take away from other needs.

Corn cobs may just be the answer.

When you consider the actual benefits of biofuel, you get a picture of why many scientists are trying to fit corn cobs into this equation. Biofuels are chosen because they offer a more cost effective way to heat. Corn can easily be grown by most households so essentially, every homeowner who wanted to heat his or her home in this manner could grow their own fuel. Corn is certainly renewable. It can be grown year after year, provided soil is kept healthy and because corn can be grown on a local scale, it helps to support local farmers so this helps to lessen the dependence on foreign energy for the entire nation as a whole.

Of course, no fuel source can offer only positive results. There are going to be pros and cons for using corn cobs just as there for using any other source of heating. Consumers may simply need to think about these pros and cons and decide for themselves whether they feel that this is a better way to heat their homes. The cost of heating would certainly be lower than paying for electric or gas heat so those who are looking to lower costs may find corn cobs beneficial.

Scientists are currently studying to determine whether these corn cobs and other residue that is left after corn is harvested could possibly be used to produce cellulosic ethanol. The USDA is performing research today that could potentially change how homes are heated tomorrow. The main concern by the USDA was that taking this debris and residue away from harvested corn fields would ultimately harm the soil. Residue is typically left on fields after harvest to protect the quality of the soil. Removing corn cobs and other debris would mean that nutrients would not be added back into the ground after harvesting.

The research that has been done however, suggests that the quality of the soil will not suffer if those corn cobs are removed and used to produce fuel. This could be a major breakthrough for environmentalists as they work to find cleaner and more efficient ways of producing fuel needed for heating.

During the studies, agriculturists studied the runoff rate from fields that were harvested. Part of the fields contained the residue left over after harvesting and part did not. The results conclusively show that removing corn cobs from the fields post-harvest did not have any effect whatsoever on runoff. Fields drained basically the same in both scenarios. In both cases, residue did help to prevent some of the runoff but the removal of the corn cobs themselves made no change whatsoever in the experiment.
So what does this mean for consumers? It means that there may soon be a much cleaner and less expensive way to heat your home. Many homeowners have chosen to have corn burning stoves installed that are a bit less expensive to burn and can provide sufficient heat. With the studies done on corn cobs however, there may be a way to provide the same heating benefits without actually having to use the corn kernels. This helps to ensure that corn itself is used in the manner for which it is intended and that greener sources of heat are also available. It may simply be a win-win all the way around.

Sources:

http://domesticfuel.com/2013/02/03/taking-corn-cobs-for-biofuels-wont-hurt-soil-quality/
http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2013/01/31/Corncobs-seen-as-possible-biofuel-source/UPI-98341359666451/?spt=hs&or=sn

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Vinegar though smelly does have some other more pleasant attributes like its ability to clean.

Oh the bathroom, that magical place where germs go for vacation-and decide to never leave. They are especially persistent when you have a full time job, a couple of little ones running around the house, or a husband who doesn’t like to turn the light on in the bathroom to see at night. I know I personally cringe a little when I’ve only had time to wipe off the counters and sweep once or twice during the week. And the thought of that weekend cleaning just makes you want to get out the strongest chemicals you can possibly find to sterilize the place. But those strong chemicals can be expensive, harmful for the environment and your health. And when you have kids running around, those chemicals are the last things you want to be using. So what are some strong, safe cleaning replacements?

Vinegar:
Talk about an all-purpose germ killer. I know some of you can’t stand the smell of it-it is pretty strong. But once it dries, the smell disappears. Wipe down that toilet and mop the floor with it and those smelly accident areas will be smelly no more. Wipe off your sink and counter-tops and using either a dry cloth or crumpled up newspaper, wipe down mirrors with equal parts vinegar and water.

Baking soda:
To clean the inside of that toilet bowl, just dump in a ¼ cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar and let it sit inside for fifteen minutes, or more if it’s needed, then scrub and flush.

Kosher Salt:
That darn soap scum. Wet the area, sprinkle the kosher salt over it and scrub. You can also use baking soda for this or vinegar.
By arming yourself with these environment and human friendly cleaning replacements, you can safely send those persistent germs packing… at least for a couple days.

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Green Cleaning Tips to Keep Your Home Beautiful and Healthy

Many traditional cleaning products today contain chemicals that are certainly not what you would consider healthy. If you are looking to get out from under the chemical fog in your household cleaning, there are some great tips that can help you to get started. Green cleaning seems to be a hot topic these days and many households are searching for ways to eliminate the harsh chemicals in their cleaning and replace them with a more natural approach to getting the dirt out. Here are a few tips for you that will help you to keep your home beautifully clean and healthier as well.

 You have to have cleaning products but this does not mean that those products have to be harmful to the environment or your family. Think about products that are more natural. Vinegar is the number one cleaning agent and tops all of the green cleaning lists. Vinegar can be used to remove odors from your laundry, kill germs on your kitchen countertops and it even does windows. Mixing a bit of vinegar with water is a completely natural solution for cleaning windows and mirrors and when you toss in a bit of baking soda you get a great mixture for cleaning greasy pots and pans. You can add vinegar to laundry to help keep whites whiter and remove smells.

 Keep the Dirt out of your home by simply leaving it outside where it belongs. You may not notice the toxins that you bring into your home on the bottom of your shoes every day and if you did, you would certainly not like what you saw. Pollution, animal waste, oils, antifreeze and a host of other toxins are carried into homes every single day without anyone seeing them. These toxins build up in your home and can make cleaning quite a hassle. Instead of having to vacuum and mop repeatedly, simply take off your shoes at the door. When you stop allowing outdoor shoes indoors you can effectively remove up to 99 percent of the toxins that are coming inside with you. This also helps you to avoid having to repeatedly mop, sweep and clean because there is less dirt to deal with.

Probably the best green cleaning tip in the world involves air quality. In order to promote healthier air in your home, you need to allow fresh air indoors. Leaving a window open in just one room in your home, during appropriate weather of course, can eliminate many of the smells in your home and will help to replace air that has toxins with fresh and cleaner air. Instead of lighting those candles or spraying chemicals to cover odors, simply open up a window and let the fresh air naturally clean your indoor space. Your home will smell much better and your family will be healthier as well. If you insist on certain smells, keep them natural. Skip those air fresheners that contain chemicals and just boil a pan of cinnamon and water or add cloves for a spicier scent. Boiling orange or lemon peels is also a good way to give your home a nice scent without having to spray air fresheners

If you are completely at a loss for green cleaning, you can also employ the services of Ecoclean Services. For those of you who just do not have the time or the patience to green clean their own homes, we will do it for you and ensure that everything is sparkling clean and fresh.

 

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