Monday, May 16, 2011

10 Free Green iPhone Smart Phone Apps - Ms. Green-Clean NYC, "Best Cleaning Service" - New York Magazine

It's definitely smart to use our smart phones to guide and keep us on the green path. Having clever eco-resources at our fingertips is increasingly important as our daily choices become more numbered and nuanced.

Because I'm a great fan of my Apple iPhone I will feature ten of my favorite green-conscious, earth loving iPhone apps, and all of them FREE! Some of these work on droids, too.

Here goes (They're presented in no particular order)...

1. iRecycle from earth 911 - Makes it easy to find recycling locations, even for items such as cell phones, paint, motor oil, plastics and more, anywhere in the U.S.

2. Carticipate - Save money on gas while helping the environment by carticipating with friends, family, groups, or co-workers. Coordinate driving plans, carpool, or a ride share by indicating where you are going, when, and post your ride. We will match you to local carticipants going your way.

3. Whole Foods Market Recipes - Even if you're not shopping at Whole Foods, this is a priceless resource for coming up with easy, healthy meals for you and your family.
4. Wild Lab Bird - My current favorite. It lets you be a citizen scientist, allowing you to learn about, engage with nature and identify the birds around you.

5. Seafood Watch - The Monterey Bay Aquarium puts out this very important and useful app. that provides up-to-date recommendations for ocean-friendly seafood and sushi.

6. Greenpeace's Recycled Tissue Guide - Saving our trees is easier with this app that makes it quick and easy to determine which paper products are easy on the Earth and which are not.

7. Green Gas Saver - A remarkable application that lets you monitor your fuel effiency and warns you if you are driving too fast or turning too hard.

8. Good Guide - Makes it fast and easy to find safe, healthy, and green products, instantly delivering the information you need, when you need it most—in a store and on the go.

9. Twavel - Ed Begley, Jr. loves this app. that makes it fun for you to make green travel choices and shows how even little differences you make soon add up to a significant benefit to our environment.

10. iLocavore - Based on your current location this app supplies information from the database to find area producers, independent retailers featuring local and domestic goods, and restaurants featuring local foods.

*Bonus App - iCarbonCalc - Helps you determine your contribution to global warming and further helps you understand the composition of your carbon footprint and to identify potential carbon savings.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ask Ms. Green-Clean: How To Clean Painted Rattan Or Wicker Outdoor Furniture The Eco-friendly Way

I've been thinking for awhile of launching a series of blog entries dedicated to green home care and cleaning questions, so when I received a client question this week in my email box it seemed a perfect opportunity to launch this first in the "Ask Ms. Green-Clean" series.

Ronnie asked:

"I know you're the expert on this, so I was wondering if you could offer a suggestion as to how I could clean white tables and chairs that I leave out on our terrace. I already tried Clorox and bleach, but that didn't seem to make much of a difference."

When I first asked Ronnie what the white material was he replied that it was leather woven around metal. But I thought it was strange that outdoor furniture was made from leather since it's not a material that fares well in nature's elements. I thought perhaps he was mistaking a good textured vinyl knock-off for leather, and a few emails later he seemed pretty confident that the material woven around the painted metal frames was rattan, which made sense. It's commonly used for outdoor furniture.

I'm assuming the black he speaks of on the white painted rattan is a fine, but obstinate mildew or mold and maybe some dirt mixed in if the pieces weren't covered or stored inside during the cold weather months.

Ronnie will be happy to learn that his furniture can be restored to its former white easily with a bit of eco-friendly dish soap like Ecover's, a mild abrasive like Bon Ami or baking soda, a microfiber cloth, and a healthy serving of elbow grease.

This is how to approach it. Fill a bucket with warm water. Soak and wring out your microfiber cloth well. Rattan is a natural fiber and even though the furniture in question is painted, there are always chips and cracks where water can seep in, so you don't want to use a lot of water. Put a dollop, dime- to quarter-size, of dish soap on the cloth. Sprinkle a little bit of the Bon Ami or baking soda and gently but firmly scrub in back and forth motions, going with the weave of the rattan or wicker. The black mildew and dirt should begin to lift. Continue this on all the black parts, rinsing and wringing the cloth, and reapplying dish soap and abrasive as needed.

Once you're finished scrubbing a piece, with a clean, wet microfiber wipe the entire piece down to remove the soapy, gritty gray residue. You may have to repeat a few times and move the cloth in different directions to get all the residue from in between the strips. There's also a chance you'll have to quickly hose the piece down to entirely remove the residue. In this case, hose it quickly to minimize possible water uptake, then quickly dry thoroughly with as many clean and dry microfibers as necessary, making sure to get underneath. It's probably best to do the cleaning on a warm, sunny day, so the pieces can further dry and air out.

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