Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hot Reclaimed and Recycled Materials!

If you have a weak spot for reused, reclaimed, and recycled in architecture and interior design, you have to check these out!

  • The M + E Collection from EcoDomo is made entirely with recycled materials, blending stones, glass and recycled leather - the Recycled Leather is made from leather scraps taken from tanneries which produce leather for car seats and others.
  • The free form, organic design of each Bear Creek Glass handcrafted ocean bowl makes it a spectacular focal point for any bath. 100% recycled glass.
  • A warm, rustic and very hip way to serve up a compact fluorescent (or incandescent, your choice). Laser cut steel over mica. Made by Eleek from recycled steel square bar stem and 100% recycled cast aluminum canopy, shade rings.

  • Mirai collection was designed by Matteo Leoni for Warisan. Fully built in Recycled Teak wood, derived from demolished old houses, bridges, phone posts, etc. The line features 2 beds, nighstands, drawer's chest, as well as desks, bookshelf, sofas , coffee tables & outdoor items.
  • These Asian Art Imports palm lamps are made from recycled palmwood. The heights range from 4' to 7' tall. Each piece possesses an individual character.

  • The Debris Series Recycled Ceramic Tile features over 112 glaze colors, contains over 60% recycled materials, and is made by Fireclay in their U.S. Northern California sustainable factory, creating one of the most beautiful, sustainable ceramic products on the market.

  • Custom made lighting by Function + Art - variable options: size, finish, glass drop length, ceiling or wall mount. Made from recycled steel and glass.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

DIY Eco Storage Ideas

You might have scoured the internet for Eco-friendly storage options only to find that they are scarce and often pricey. Fear not, if you are handy you can reuse some common 'useless' items to make your own storage containers. Of course, these are just a few ideas - use your imagination and your local salvage yard to come up with even more creative options!

Large Capacity Recycling: Are your recycling containers so small you have to empty them nearly every day? If you have the space, make a container out of some used burlap bags. You can get some free or at very low cost from your local coffee roaster. Just make a frame out of 2x4s and place the bag in the middle, roll the edges over the frame and secure them with large tacks.

Under Bed Storage: I have come across many old dressers that are just too ugly to be placed in a visible space in the house. Often though, they are very well made. Sometimes out of sturdy and high quality hardwood. Find a new use for old dresser drawers by attaching some casters to the bottom and "voila!" - you've got yourself plenty of under bed storage. Great for dorm rooms by the way!

Bedding Storage: Use an old wine barrel with lots of character to create a unique storage space for extra pillows, comforters, and bedding. Just make sure it is clean and use an old sheet to make a liner bag. Easy as that!

General Organization: Give new life to old wooden crates by creating a fabric liner that will prevent things from falling out. A myriad of things can be stored in these. Organize your craft room, your kids' art supplies, or the glass jar collection (you know, the ones you don't want to recycle just yet because you keep thinking you'll find a use for them).

Storage for the Small Things: You know what I am talking about. The small things you find all over your house that do not have a place of their own. The greeting cards from friends, the tape and scissors, pens and pencils... Just use some old shoe boxes and cover them in fabric, there is no end to the possibilities!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Germ Guardian UV-C Room Air Sanitizer Review

Just in time for flu season! No, I don't have germaphobia, you would know that if you came to my house. It isn't exactly sparkling clean. I was looking for a way to clean the air though now that winter is here and I can't air out the house everyday with a baby at home. Never mind that it is below zero most nights and even during the day. There are many air cleaning gadgets out there but how many can claim that they kill 99% of viruses and airborne bacteria? How many use technology that hospitals rely on to sanitize their air? The Germ Guardian Air Sanitizer uses UV-C light to do just that. Thanks to Germ Guardian we were able to test their product and write this review.

DESIGN: The Germ Guardian UV-C Room Air Sanitizer has a modern, futuristic design. The stainless steel construction is both durable and will look good in any interior environment. It really looks great in any room in my house, be it the bathroom or the bedroom. There are also other colors on the market if you want a different look (red, blue, orange, black). It has two openings, one that takes air in and one that disperses clean air. It emits some light and can double as a night light. My only complaint is that the operation is louder than I expected. Though to put it in perspective, yesterday my daughter and I fell asleep with it on! So I guess you can call it white noise if you will.

EFFICACY: There are many gadgets on the market that claim to do something but have nothing to show for it. This Room Air Sanitizer has been tested by the Harvard School of Public Health and by independent third party laboratories. So you can rest assured you are paying for something that actually works and can live up to its claims.

In terms of our experience with Germ Guardian UV-C Room Air Sanitizer, it also lives up to its claims in my unscientific way. So what does it do? In our experience the air in the room where it has been on for a minimum of 24 hours has more resemblance to fresh outdoor air. It does kill odors as well, but you have to have it continuously running. My real hope for it was our moldy bathroom. Unfortunately I did not have the time to leave it on in that room for more than 12 hours. Even in that amount of time the air changed for the better. But the mold needs some major remedy that an air sanitizer can't offer. I am also looking forward to seeing what it can do for us this season in terms of getting sick less or shortening the duration of sickness (our friends that used it had a great experience with it in that aspect).

VALUE: The Germ Guardian UV-C Room Air Sanitizer costs anywhere from $100 to $200 depending on where you buy it and what model you choose. A refurbished one costs $70. If you think about it in terms of health, it is a great investment. It can possibly help you avoid or minimize time off from work due to colds, flu, and other viruses.

If you are looking to sanitize surfaces (such as door knobs, cutting boards, toys, toilets, countertops, etc), Germ Guardian has you covered as well with UV-C light wands. Take a look at their website for more information.

  • Baby Nursery
  • Daycare
  • Homes with children (especially those in public schools and daycare)
  • Home or business office
  • Libraries, museums, and archives
  • Elderly homes
  • Classrooms
  • Public places such as banks, post offices, and stores

Disclaimer: I did not receive payment for this review. I did receive a sample of the product or service for testing and review purposes. This will in no way sway my opinion of the product or service. The review is in my own words and is my own opinion. Your results and opinion may differ.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Last Day for Build Boston 2009!

Friday November 20th is the last day to sprint to Build Boston and not miss a thing. I'll have to admit that last year Greenbuild was the talk of the town, but now that they are in Phoenix - Build Boston is the place to be if you are local. The exhibit hall is open from 9 am to 1 pm tomorrow and you shouldn't miss over 250 booths if you have been putting it off. With long waiting lists for Greenbuild, many green companies are flocking to other industry tradeshows such as Build Boston. Regardless, now that 'green' is heading in the mainstream direction, sustainability is a priority for nearly all exhibitors. Here are some Build Boston highlights for Friday, November 20th:

Inventor and innovator Dean Kamen, keynote speech. He’s creative, he’s fearless and his passion for “fixing things” is infectious. Yes, design, science and technology can unite us and inspire us to change the world we live in. How to start? Find out at Dean Kamen’s keynote address, 8:30–10:00 am.

Sustainability case studies. Find out why the challenge for us in New England is not to design new sustainable buildings, but to work with the old, historic ones we’ve already got! Hear how energy tax credits (and historic rehabilitation tax credits and new market tax credits) are helping to fund real projects. Learn how (and why) green building is done differently in Europe – using modular construction.

Economic stimulus through public art. Leading architecture, landscape architecture and public art professionals from New England and beyond gather for a one-day symposium on design excellence in public places.

How to design and build a perfect career... in a single afternoon! Launching a career is tough – roadblocks and pitfalls abound. This four-hour conference session offers fresh insights and practical advice from industry leaders tailored to young architects and others looking for their next opportunity. Writers with an interest in the economic realities designers are facing right now: this is a must-attend for you, too!

Yes, recycling has tangible benefits! Just ask the founders of Containers2Clinics. This Dover, MA company retrofits unused shipping containers and transforms them into health clinics for the developing world. Stop by this remarkable prototype at booth 1035 on the tradeshow floor.

Photo by John De Boer

Friday, October 30, 2009

Day-Timer Review

In the age of iPhones, Blackberries, and Palm Pres, it is odd to be excited about a pen and paper planner. I am one of those people though that likes to see my whole week and month planned out right in front of me without having to turn on an electronic device. Among other things, I also get migraines from wireless devices - so no iPhone for me. I even find that I'm not comfortable with a calendar displayed on a computer screen, I just need it all on paper. It is because of people like me (well, and teachers, lawyers, professionals, etc...) that Day-Timer is still in business. Sometimes you just need something bigger than a 2 x 4 inch screen to envision your plans for the month or week.

Day-Timer was generous enough to send me a Schedule Master Monthly/Weekly Wall Calendar and the Biscayne Bonded Leather Zippered Journal Cover with a 2-page-per-week refill. These are for 2010, but I played around with it to get a feel for how I will use it. I also read all the reference pages in the zippered planner ;)Schedule Master Monthly/Weekly Wall Calendar: This is a neat calendar for keeping your household organized. It can be either hung on the wall with the metal grommet or on the fridge since it has a magnetic back. Since I am at the fridge twenty times a day anyway - that works perfectly! The neat thing is that you can track multiple schedules for each person in the household. While we only have three people (plus an occasional kitchen centipede), this can be very helpful for households with multiple school age children. That way you can see all the appointments, practices, and sleepovers in one place. Everything is color coded, so each person gets one color, you can even give one to your dog. It has sticky notes of the same color that you can put on the calendar to designate chores. It also has two loops for pens and pencils so you would not have to go hunting for one like I always do. The big board is 16 x 16.5 inches and the calendar itself is about 7 x 12, the detailed weekly calendar is 4 x 12. It sells for $29.99.

Constructive criticism: The board broke at one corner. I am not sure if it cracked in transit or when I was exploring it. But in any case, maybe it wouldn't hurt to have cardboard corner protectors to keep it from cracking in shipping. Even better, perhaps some permanent metal corners, like the grommet.

Biscayne Bonded Leather Zippered Journal Cover: This is not your average journal cover. What is bonded leather? It is composed of 75% recycled leather fibers and is mixed with a natural latex bonding agent. So why does that matter? Because otherwise these leather scraps would end up in a landfill, that's why. Latex comes from the rubber tree, so that is a great way to bond the scraps without using some toxic gluing agent. The bonded leather is actually made in a tannery in Spain, it really does look and smell like real leather.

This Journal Cover makes me look very professional. Moms take note - it is not purse or diaper bag size, but Day-Timer does carry a lot of smaller organizers. I like that it is zippered, so it can keep my organized mess in. There is also a 'leather' pocket inside as well as some nylon ones for loose papers and concept sketches on napkins, great for interior designers and architects! It is 1" thick and 7.5 x 10 inches big. The Biscayne Bonded Leather Cover in journal size is $39.99.

The Journal Refill I chose is the two-page-per-week format. It reminds me of school agendas and for me personally is the easiest way to keep track of things. It has a whole month page as well so you can see the big picture. My favorite feature, though very simple, is the perforated corners that you rip off so you always know exactly where you are in the year. There are also pages for taking notes and keeping numbered lists within each month. There are three separate booklets as well for addresses and phones, a monthly advance planning calendar through the year 2016, and a memo work organizer for more lists. This particular set costs $23.99. They do have the same thing in recycled paper that is only $2 more, next time I would opt for that.

The Verdict:
If it wasn't for three part time jobs, I would do fine without this. But I need to keep track of my interior design job, Lunch.com to do list, and blogging ventures (oh the reviews to write and the giveaways to host!). If you are a busy mom or just busy, these Day-Timer products are great for keeping you sane and putting all your plans on paper. It is really relieving to see everything written out in front of you and not have to keep it all in your head. These are high quality products and a very good investment for a smooth year ahead. Great gift as well!

Check out the Day-Timer Website
Day-Timer BLOG
Twitter Page
Facebook Page


I did not receive payment in any form for this review.

I did receive a sample of the product or service for testing and review purposes. This will in no way sway my opinion of the product or service. The review is in my own words and is my own opinion. Your results and opinion may differ.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mythic Paint Review

My affair with Mythic Paint goes back about a year and a half ago. I was pregnant with our first child and browsing through a pregnancy magazine I spotted an eye catching advertisement. Naturally I went online to find out more about them. I was excited to find non-toxic paint to say the least. In January of 2009, being nine months pregnant, I invited Mythic to host a Lunch 'n Learn in our office at Rob Bramhall Architects. I was more than impressed and decided that I will never paint with anything else in my life, period.

After our daughter was born we put off painting our living room for a long time because of finances. This past August though Mythic was kind enough to send us some paint to try and I present to you my account of the truly legendary Mythic Paint.



The Buzz: So what makes Mythic so special and how come it stands apart from other paints? If you are new to the 'indoor air quality' scene, I'll fill you in. Your average paint contains a multitude of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). Yes, they also contain known carcinogens. Why would anyone make paint that causes cancer you ask? I honestly don't know - but the same question can be applied to everything these days. Like why do they use pesticides on our food if it causes cancer? Or why are most cleaning supplies cancerous as well?

Anyhow, VOCs off-gas for years after you paint your walls. I am sure you are all familiar with that 'new paint' smell as well. It can be a trigger for asthma and other ailments. With Mythic you don't need to worry about any of that. My daughter was contently watching daddy paint in her highchair. I was nearby working on my laptop, no headaches involved. Safe for pets, save for babies, and good for the Earth as a bonus. It is a major step toward better indoor air quality - which at the moment the EPA labels as one of the top five health risks in the US.

and After

If you don't believe me that it performs better than SW and BM paint, you can try it yourself! They now sell 4 oz sample jars to feed your curiosity. I wasn't the one painting, my husband was, but he said that it is better than other paint he used before and has much better coverage. For me though, I was sold at the non-toxic part and would have used it even if the performance was average. Not sure if you want to commit? Two words for you: sample jar.

You see, Mythic Paint doesn't just take out the toxic stuff out of regular paint, which is what other 'green paint' manufacturers do. It is the result of over six years of intensive polymer research conducted by the University of Southern Mississippi. It is completely redesigned in its makeup from the ground up, resulting in something you will not find on the market.

As a latex paint it is very easy to deal with. It washes off tools nicely (if you don't let it dry of course!). We had a drop or two on our laminate flooring, it just peeled off with no issues. Third party performance testing? Sure:
"In 2007 an industry leading independent consulting and testing laboratory service, performed side-by-side comparative tests between Mythic Paint and all other leading paint brands – both their Eco-friendly and premium lines. Tests focused on subjective performance including thickness, sheen, sag resistance, flow and leveling and gloss. Mythic Paint proved to be equal if not better than all competitors. Resistance and durability was analyzed through the industry‟s gold standard in paint performance testing – the „scrub test‟. Mythic Paint substantially outperformed by 1.5 to 8 times the durability of their competitors."

Value: I know what you are thinking, if this paint is so great, am I going to pay more for it too? Yes, it does cost more than your average toxic paint (about $50 a gallon for interior paint). Here is the deal though, in my experience and that of other people who have used it, the coverage of Mythic is superior to that of other paints. This means that you will need less to cover more. For most colors, even one coat is sufficient. You can't put a price on your health though, so this beats the value of all other paints in that aspect. They also have exterior paint. In which case you will be doing the Earth a favor by having one less house painted with toxic exterior paint.

Love their commercials, take a look!


I did not receive payment in any form for this review.

I did receive a sample of the product or service for testing and review purposes. This will in no way sway my opinion of the product or service. The review is in my own words and is my own opinion. Your results and opinion may differ.