Green Shopping Tips For The Holidays

Holiday gift giving has changed quite a bit over the last few years, people have less money to spend and consumers are much more aware of the impact their purchases have on both the environment and society. Let’s face it there are a heck of a lot of holidays to consider including Christmas, birthdays, secretary day, anniversaries, and Valentines. Gift giving doesn’t end there – when we are invited to a dinner, for instance, we often feel compelled to bring a long a gift.

The collective impact of these special days and events can be huge. Christmas alone is responsible for 25% more waste being sent to landfills. Halloween is actually responsible for more waste then Christmas. By recognizing the incredible waste that is generated, the urgency to do something becomes apparent. When purchasing gifts look for the most eco-friendly option available to you – such as whether it is made locally, uses recycled materials, the packaging is recyclable, the company uses solar or wind energy, etc. If you choose to purchase electronics, consider those powered by solar or rechargeable batteries.

Conscious shoppers tend to embrace practical, durable, ecological gifts that can provide some form convenience or financial benefit. At the same time, it is nice to find ways to alleviate the guilt felt during special days due to the high consumption, wrapping paper and travel activities. Here is a brief list of frugal and environmentally sound ideas to inspire your gift-giving purchases this year. If some of these seem too small, consider combining some of these items into an eco-gift basket. Most thrift and second-hand stores have piles of beautiful baskets just waiting for the creative shopper.

For the homeowner – A thermostat control that automatically turns the heat down at night, low flow showerhead attachment and tubes of caulking or weather stripping supplies. Dimmer switches, energy efficient lighting (CFL’s or LED’s); yellow bulbs are perfect for exterior lighting because they attract fewer insects. Hot water tank insulation kits and hot water pipe insulation kits are also excellent ideas. Consider tossing in a few electric socket and light switch insulation kits too (little foam inserts that go behind the plug and switch covers that are located on exterior walls).

For the gardener – A subscription to an organic gardening magazine, or save a seed variety from extinction in your friend’s name, or set up a membership to a seed organization. Bird, bat and butterfly houses, baths and feeders – or the patterns to build them – are a wonderful gift. Alternatively consider composting bins, worm bins, gift certificates to a nursery, or a membership with an environmental group.

Give Services – Rather than giving an item that must be wrapped, consider purchasing tickets to a performance, restaurant gift certificates or services such as lawn care, cleaning, music lessons, exercise or dance classes, tune-up or tire rotation services. Don’t forget to look at dog walking, babysitting, and massage, spas or gyms when looking at gift certificates. All of these ideas will help you support local businesses that you believe in while giving something that the recipient can truly benefit from.

Give Food – Home preserves such as dehydrated or canned foods make excellent gifts. There are a lot of people that find cooking cumbersome and they treasure ready-to-cook frozen meals like lasagne, pasta and casseroles. Snack foods and deserts are appreciated by most anyone. Fill reusable mason jars with all the dry ingredients for a recipe such as biscuits or brownies, and include the instructions for them to bake it at their convenience. Keep in mind that purchasing Brazil or cashew nuts supports tropical rainforests. Baskets of healthy foods are another wonderful idea to consider – especially if it contains samples from local producers.

Plants – living plants clean the air and provide a wonderful atmosphere. Perhaps you have plants, or know someone, that you could take slips or divisions from, root and pot up those new plants to share with your friends. Unique pots and containers can be found at most thrift and second hand stores.

Books – Most of us realize the benefits of literacy and supporting local businesses. You can do both by choosing to purchase books as gifts this year by supporting the local bookstore and local authors. However, you can also leave a legacy with your own book. This could be a journal, a collection of poetry, a family tree that you’ve researched or even a family recipe book. Perhaps you might consider including quotes from family members or people you admire and possibly a few favourite family photos.

Alternative gifts – A reusable coffee filter and whole organic coffee beans makes a nice gift for coffee lovers. Consider slippers and sweaters, as the recipient is less likely to turn up their thermostat. Choose toys and games with positive environmental or education values and those that emphasize cooperation, exploration or creative thinking.

Consider purchasing a set of sturdy, square bottomed, reusable, washable shopping bags. There are a lot of varieties to choose from, including those that are created from recycled plastic bottles, coffee sack material, renewable crops such as bamboo or hemp, and many other environmentally friendly options. Just how many bags per recipient? Typically 12 bags will likely cover most of the shopping activities for a family of 2-3, while 6-8 bags is appropriate for an individual.

Go a step further and purchase a set of mesh produce bags – this gift will reduce, or eliminate, the need to use the clear bags offered in the grocery store’s fresh produce department. These are washable, see-through and made of a very fine mesh material, weighing next to nothing, so they will not affect the cost when scaled at the checkout.

Want another option for reducing plastic waste? Consider giving a set of stainless-steel straws. These are dishwasher friendly and will eliminate the need for plastic straws.

The Tree: Give or purchase a living tree, or sponsor a non-profit that will plant one in honor of your friend. If you have purchased a live xmas tree, it can be donated to individuals with space on their land, the city, schools or parks when the season is over. Alternatively, plant it in your own yard for privacy, summer shade or soil and water erosion control. Trees are incredibly beneficial to pollinators and birds, and are very effective at removing carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, ammonia, ozone and nitrogen oxides from our air.

7 Tips to Help You Get Personalized Gifts for Your Loved Ones

Regardless of where you live in the world, you may be following the tradition of gift-giving. Generally, people purchase gifts for their loved ones to demonstrate how much they care about them. Apart from this, they are also used to show appreciation for someone. However, you cannot just purchase anything at your nearby store. As a matter of fact, most Americans don’t like store-bought gifts. Instead, they prefer personalized gifts. Therefore, in this article, we have shared some tips that will help you go for personalized gifts. Read on to find out more.

First of all, we are going to talk about things you need to consider to purchase a customized one. The following tips will help you make an informed decision.

1. Find out What you must Consider

Before you get started, we suggest that you consider some important factors to get your hands on the best Unit.

Occasion: If you are going to purchase something for the birthday of your loved one, you cannot just purchase whatever is available. You cannot buy something suitable for a wedding. The good news is that you can order a personalized one based on the type of occasion. This will help you make your shopping easier than before.

Gender: Another important factor to consider is the gender of the recipient. This factor is extremely important to consider. For example, if the recipient is a 10-year-old child, you cannot purchase something that is suitable for an adult. Therefore, we suggest that you consider gender and then go for something that they feel love.

Relationship: Apart from this, you may want to consider your relationship status with the recipient. If they are your girlfriend or boyfriend, you may want to look for something that can invoke feelings of intimacy. A good example can be lingerie or jewelry. In this case, you may want to consider your budget as well, especially if you want to buy jewelry for the first time.

Price range: Apart from the type, you may also want to consider the value of the gift you are going to purchase. This point is even more important if you want to buy something for someone who is not your spouse or boyfriend. Therefore, we suggest that you get something that is not cheap or inexpensive. In other words, the price tag should be reasonable.

2. Find out About the Interests of the Recipient

You may want to consider the interests and personal preferences of the recipient before making an informed decision. If the recipient is someone you know very well, you can easily make a list of things that they may be interested in.

But if you don’t know them very well, you can ask their friends or family members. If they work with you, you may ask their friends or colleagues. This will help you get a pretty good idea of their interests and personal preferences.

If they are your parent, you can purchase customized houseware or appliances for them. For an anniversary, you can purchase a champagne blend of their favorite flavor. The idea is to make sure they can celebrate this occasion and have tons of fun.

3. Put Together a List of Options

At times, you may find it much easier to come up with the perfect idea to purchase a customized gift, especially if you are going to buy one for someone you already know. But if you don’t know that person, we suggest that you make a list of available options. They can be one of your colleagues or acquaintances.

An easy way of solving this riddle is to put together a list of your available options. Once you have made a list of their interests, we suggest that you consider a couple of gifts that they may be interested in. With several options at your disposal, you may be able to make a better choice.

4. Decide on a Budget Figure

Another way to make a list of some good options is to consider your budget. The good thing about creating an alternative is to look for your desired personalized gift. Plus, it won’t make your wallet cry.

Apart from this, it is a great idea to use coupons, as this can help you look for the best deal without spending a lot of effort.

5. Don’t Compromise on Quality

Even if you don’t have a lot of money to spend, you may still look for some great gifts. Make sure that you don’t save money when it comes to the type of material that the gift is made of. After all, you don’t want to buy something that will not stand the test of time.

6. Think Ahead of the Big Day

Since personalized gifts can take a lot of time to be ready, we suggest that you decide on the name that will be displayed on the gift. For example, it can be the name of the recipient, employee, or boyfriend.

Alternatively, it can be a logo or brand name of something that they love. It all depends on their personal preferences. So, you may want to think ahead before deciding on this aspect of your purchase.

7. Check for Grammar and Spelling Errors

If you want to print the name of the recipient on the gift, don’t forget to recheck spelling and grammar errors. Therefore, you may want to save plenty of time by checking everything before the big day. Once the name is printed, you won’t be able to change it. So, you may want to consider this final step before placing your order.

Conclusion

Long story short, if you want to show your love or appreciation for someone, purchasing personalized gifts is a stroke of genius. If you have been looking for the perfect gift, we suggest that you consider all of the factors explained in this article.

Apart from their age, gender and profession, you may want to consider their interest as well. Once you have created a list of everything important, you can just go ahead and place your order. The idea is to make sure you will be able to get your hands on the best gift.

Home Improvement Tips: Ways to Increase the Value of Your Home

Reasons for A RedoHome improvement projects often begin with someone saying, “Wouldn’t it be nice if… ?” usually followed by a wish for a remodelled kitchen or a room addition for space to accommodate every family member’s needs. More often than not, reality and dreams don’t coincide, due to limited funds for realizing the dream, or limits on the available space. The trick: turning your dreams into reality. Begin with a realistic evaluation of your needs. Homeowners usually consider home improvements for one of the following reasons.You may feel the need to update something that is out-of-date. If your kitchen colour scheme was perfect a few decades ago but no longer works, now may a good time to update it.Some home improvement projects grow out of an immediate need to replace broken or inefficient fixtures. If a sink, tub, or toilet needs to be replaced, consider taking advantage of the opportunity to do a makeover on the entire bathroom.If you’re preparing to sell your home, you’ll want to be sure to get top dollar from the sale. That’s great motivation for some home improvement projects.You have decided that staying put and improving your home is a better option than moving.Your family has grown and you need more space.Improving to Move? or Improving to Stay?Evaluate your plans carefully if you’re improving your home to list it for sale. Cutting corners may hurt your prospects rather than helping them. But don’t go overboard either. Potential buyers may prefer not to pay for some of the extras, such as a hot tub or pool. You’re better off keeping the changes simple.And remember that buyers who view your home may not share your tastes and may not appreciate the care you took to find just the right shade of green paint for the walls.You’ll find that improving to sell is easier if you can think about it from the prospective buyer’s point of view: What is important to the home buyer? Here are a few remodelling projects buyers are likely to find valuable:Adding or remodelling a bathImproving the kitchenAdding a new roomLandscapingAdding a bedroomAdding or enclosing a garage.If you’re remodelling because you want to stay in your home, you should still avoid over-improving it. You’ll probably want to sell it someday, and even if your house is the best on the block, it may be difficult to convince potential buyers to pay for the things you considered important. And when you consider making improvements, keep in mind the value of other homes in the area. Your home’s value should not be more than 20% above the average, which means that a $10,000 kitchen improvement project well could be a better investment than a $10,000 hot tub, especially if yours will be the only home in the area with a hot tub.Home Maintenance versus Home ImprovementsIt’s unfortunate that some home improvement projects are undertaken because something has broken. Replacing a leaky bathtub may be the first step to a major bath remodeling: since the tub has to be replaced anyway, why not do the whole room?While that might be a legitimate reason to remodel, avoid basing your home improvement projects on immediate needs. You’ll be better off if you minimize problems with proper maintenance. Examine every part of your home at least once a year. Check the roof, the plumbing, electrical wiring, etc. As soon as become aware of a problem, fix it. Making repairs when you’re first aware of them will help you avoid larger expenses later on. Keep in mind that maintenance does not add to the value of your home. Usually repairs are not improvements; they are necessities.Hiring Professionals May Save You Time and MoneyIt should go without saying that home projects can be expensive, so you may be tempted to tackle them yourself as a way to save money. That may be a smart move for small projects. You won’t have to wait for someone to fit your house into their busy schedule, and you can boast about having done the work yourself.But unless you’re very versatile, major home improvements are better left to professionals. If you decide to remodel the kitchen and plan to do the work yourself, will you be able to handle the plumbing, electrical, and carpentry work on your own?. And don’t forget that you’ll need to finish it quickly, because you won’t have a kitchen as long as it’s a “work in process” and eating three meals a day in restaurants could get expensive. Keep in mind, do-it-yourself jobs generally take more time. And you’ll be responsible for getting all the necessary permits and inspections.Hiring people who have the required experience can save you money and time, too. For example, these professionals can help you get a custom look using stock products, and that can be a significant savings. Getting something done right the first time will give you value that lasts for years.To find qualified and dependable home improvement specialists, check with friends, business associates, and neighbours for recommendations. Always get at least three references, and check them out thoroughly. Also check with the local chapter of the Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce. Their numbers can be found in the community services section of your telephone book.Once you’ve located the necessary home improvement specialists, make sure everyone is in agreement about the design, the schedule, and the budget, and get the details down in writing in a signed contract.It’s also wise to check on professional certifications and licenses, where required, and be certain that the contractors you hire are fully insured and bonded. Your town or city Building Department can provide that information. And it’s very important that you make sure contractors carry workers’ compensation insurance: if workers are injured on the job, you won’t be liable if the contractor is covered. Request copies of their insurance certificates. And make sure that either you or your contractor have gotten any necessary permits before the work begins. Contact your local Planning and Zoning Commission for information.Here’s a quick overview of some of the professionals you may need to work with when you remodel your home:Architect: Architects design homes or additions from the foundation to the roof. If your project will require structural changes such as adding or removing walls, or if the design is complex, you will probably need an architect. Since architects may charge an hourly or a flat fee, make sure you get an estimate of the total cost: drawing up the plans for a major remodeling project can take 80 hours or more.Contractor: The contractor oversees the home improvement project, including hiring and supervising workers, getting the necessary permits, making sure inspections are done as needed, and providing insurance for work crews. It’s always a good idea to get proposals from one or more reputable contractors, based on the specific details of your project.Be sure each contractor bids on exactly the same plan so that you can compare their bids more easily. When you’ve chosen a contractor, make sure the contract specifies that you will pay in stages. You’ll usually pay one third when the contract is signed so that the contractor can buy supplies. The number and timing for making the remaining payments will depend on the size of the project. Do not make the final payment until all the work is successfully completed, inspected, and approved.Interior Designers: Interior designers are specialists who will provide advice on furnishings, wall coverings, colors, styles, and more. They help save you time by narrowing your selection, and save money because they usually receive professional discounts from their suppliers. When meeting with an interior designer, be sure to tell them about your personal style and preferences. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $150 per hour, or you may be able to negotiate a flat fee of approximately 25% of the total project cost.