Adopting sustainable design practices is a key component in fighting climate change. Here’s how the average home¬owner can make their renovation projects greener.
What is sustainable design?
The guiding principle behind sustainable design is that the negative environmental impacts of erecting and maintaining modern buildings can be minimized by implementing certain practices. These include curtailing waste, reducing the consumption of non-renewable resources, conserving water and creating healthy, functional spaces.
Building an energy efficient home with recycled materials is a prime example of how sustainable design methods can be used to construct residential buildings.
How can I apply these principles?
Homeowners who are renovating can implement sustainable design practices in a number of ways. Here are some ideas:
• Flooring options. Reclaimed wood, such as from scaffolds, is a great way to revamp your floors. Plus, they’re pre-seasoned and won’t warp once installed.
• Paint options. Eco-friendly paints, which contain no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a good option. For an even greener choice, seek out retailers who sell recycled paint.
• Surface options. Countertops made from recycled materials are increasingly popular and vastly more sustainable than those made from man-made materials such as engineered stone. Some companies also offer ceramic tiles made from recycled television screens.
• Plumbing options. If updating a bathroom, opt for low-flow toilets, faucets and showers.
• Furniture options. Consider looking for reclaimed furniture, or furniture built from recycled and upcycled materials.
Where can I find sustainable materials?
Most hardware stores carry at least some of these materials. Low-flow fixtures, for instance, are readily available. In addition, there are suppliers and artisans who specialize in offering sustainable and recycled products.
Did you know?
North America produces nearly 600 million tons of construction waste per year, most of which ends up in landfills.
10 things you can rent for your wedding
If you’re planning a wedding, there’s no need to buy everything you’ll need for the event. Here are 10 things to consider renting instead.
1. Tables and chairs. Even if your venue offers them, you may prefer to choose different ones that better suit your theme.
2. Table linens and napkins. These come in a number of colors and styles and can be selected to complement your wedding esthetic.
3. Lighting. Add lights to create the precise ambiance you’re looking for.
4. Centerpieces. You’ll need to purchase the flowers, but many florists offer vases as rental items.
5. Tents. If you’re hosting an outdoor wedding, it’s important to have a plan in place in case it rains.
6. Lounge furniture. An area with comfortable chairs and couches is a great place to rest between dances.
7. Dancefloor. A space to cut the rug is a must at most weddings. If your venue doesn’t have one, rent it.
8. China, flatware and stemware. Your caterer or venue may have some that you can use, but you may wish to upgrade to nicer looking pieces.
9. Photo backdrop. Whether you’re planning a photobooth or not, a beautiful backdrop is sure to be a hit with selfie-loving guests.
10. Entertainment. If you want to make sure your guests have fun, rent some large scale games or even a bouncy castle to keep them talking.
To simplify your life, find a company that offers full rental services and can include everything you need in one package.
Should I sell my home?
Selling your home after retirement has certain advantages. You can move closer to your family, reduce your expenses, have access to better services, or find a home that is easier to maintain. However, moving isn’t for everyone. Life in a condo may not suit you and a smaller home may force you to get rid of some precious belongings.
Whatever your choice, never rush into a decision. Visit several neighborhoods or rent a condo for a few months to make sure that the lifestyle and the area suit you. Factor in all the routine expenses linked to your new surroundings, especially if you move away from your family or you decide to live abroad. In other words, you should take into consideration traveling costs to visit friends and family in addition to maintenance and property taxes.
Don’t make the mistake of believing yourself to be immune to poor health, either. Will you have easy access to healthcare? Does your health insurance cover care received abroad? And who will take care of you if you are far from your family?
Moving is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Whether you want to live in a smaller home or a condo, in a retirement community or abroad, it’s a good idea to consult a real estate broker and financial planner to find out what best suits your needs and if you can afford them in the long-term.
Selling your home has advantages and disadvantages; think twice before you make a choice.
Saving and investing: 3 advantages of automated plans
If you want to start saving but aren’t sure where to begin, then an automated plan might be what you need. Here’s why.
It makes saving easier
Saving small sums is easier than trying to put large chunks of money aside. You can start with a manageable amount like $50 a month, and then increase it as your situation allows. You can also reduce the amount if you need to.
It enforces good habits
By arranging for a pre-determined portion of your income to be deposited into a savings account, you’re creating a habit. And if you automate these payments, you won’t be tempted to spend the money you intend to save. In addition, many such accounts impose penalties for withdrawals or prevent them altogether. Even if you’re tempted to dip into your savings, you won’t be able to unless you jump through a few hoops first.
You can benefit from compound interest
Aside from your regular savings account, you should also put a portion of your money into an investment portfolio. This allows you to benefit from receiving compound interest. Your investment’s interests are periodically added to the invested capital, meaning that they’ll start accumulating interest as well. For instance, at an average yield of three percent, saving $150 a month for five years will net you $700 in compound interest.
To learn more about automated savings plans, talk to a representative at your bank or a financial planner.
Should I worry about my dog throwing up?
Like people, dogs may throw up from time to time. Usually, this isn’t cause for concern, but it can sometimes be a sign of a bigger problem. Here’s what dog owners should know.
Vomiting vs. regurgitation
It’s important not to confuse vomiting with regurgitation. Regurgitation involves undigested food coming up easily from the esophagus. This is often caused by eating or drinking too fast and isn’t usually anything to worry about.
Vomiting is typically preceded by drooling, shivering or swallowing excessively. The dog’s abdomen will also visibly heave repeatedly before they throw up. It’s most often caused by something they ate, but could also be due to motion sickness, stress or illness.
Signs of a health problem
In general, there’s no cause for concern if your dog throws up. However, the following may indicate a larger problem:
• The vomiting is accompanied by other symptoms, such as pale gums, lethargy, decreased appetite or sudden weight loss.
• You suspect the dog ate something toxic.
• The dog vomits more than twice a month.
• The vomit contains blood or a substance that looks like coffee grounds.
If you’re in doubt about your dog’s well-being, be sure to call a veterinarian. They’ll be able to answer your questions and provide you with a treatment plan if needed.
Why should I have my pet neutered or spayed?
The first goal of neutering and spaying is to prevent your pet from reproducing. However, it’s also beneficial for medical reasons. Females spayed before their first heat are less likely to suffer from mammary tumors, while males neutered before puberty are less likely to develop prostate problems as they age. Veterinarians recommend having your cat or dog sterilized when they are about five or six months old.
Sterilizing also helps prevent diseases of the uterus and ovaries as well as “phantom pregnancy” lactations in females. In males, it can prevent testicular tumors and anal growths related to hormones. The surgery also reduces or eliminates behaviors influenced by the reproductive hormones, such as the marking of territory and running away to mate; this, in turn, results in fewer fights and accidents. Last but not least, sterilizing your four-legged friend also helps reduce the problem of pet overpopulation. Feel free to ask your veterinarian for more information.
3 tips for choosing the perfect wedding jewelry
Are you wondering what kind of jewelry to wear on your wedding day? Here are three tips to help you match your accessories to your wedding attire.
1. Be yourself. If you never wear jewelry in your day-to-day life, you shouldn’t be dripping in jewels on your wedding day. However, if you love the way you look in big chunky earrings or long necklaces, go for it.
2. Match the metal to the dress. Pure white dresses look best with silver jewelry, while ivory or champagne fabrics pair well with gold. If you’ve chosen to wear a blush-hued gown, opt for rose gold.
3. Consider the neckline. High-necked or halter dresses look best with statement earrings and a simple bracelet. A V-neck is practically begging for a beautiful necklace to fill the space. And a sweetheart or strapless gown goes with anything, from a choker to a pendant or even just the right earrings.
On your wedding day, less is more. Your radiant face, your beautiful gown and your new wedding ring won’t need much embellishing.