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Seven Earth Conscious Tips for an Awesome Dorm Room

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  Every year students all across the country make the big move to college.  This move is often the first chance to live away from home.  Setting up a dorm is no small task, especially for the first semester.  It is important to make your dorm room a comfortable place to study, sleep and hang out.  Why not make your room into a more earth-friendly place by making conscious decisions?  All it takes is a little creativity, effort, and a few tips and tricks.

1. Moving

Use reusable packing materials.  Transport clothes and other items in laundry baskets, bags and suitcases.  Be sure to recycle any boxes you used for moving.

2. Electronics and Appliances

Dorm rooms are usually stuffed with all types of electronics and appliances: Computers, printers, TVs, DVD players, sound systems, alarm clocks, mini fridges, microwaves and more.  Talk to your roommate about who brings what so you aren’t doubling up.  When buying electronics or appliances look for higher ENERGY-STAR-Certified ratings.  ENERGY-STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy that rates electronics and the amount of energy that they use to help consumers purchase items that do not use excess amounts of electricity.  Be sure to turn off all electronics when not in use.  Also, plugging electronics into power strips is a great solution to easily turn off multiple electronics at once. Choose electronics that serve multiple purposes, such as an alarm clock that’s also a speaker and charger for an iPod or iPhone.  A laptop with a large screen that can act as not only a computer but a TV and DVD player, too.

3. Furniture

Most dorm rooms come furnished, but can often be lacking key pieces such as chairs or bookshelves.  If possible, look for second-hand or recycled products made from sustainable processes and materials.  The typical particleboard furniture found in dorms can contain formaldehyde and other chemicals that can offgas and pollute indoor air so steer clear of them when you can.

4. Lighting

Replace standard incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bubs or LED lights, which consume less energy and last longer than standard bulbs, as well as giving off better light to allow for the better studying.

5. Air Quality

Improve air quality in the dormand add some appeal by having a green plant or two.  The plants help to absorb unwanted airborne gases and brighten up your surroundings.  A trip to your local nursery can help you pick out a plant that will thrive indoors in low-light conditions.

6. Bed and Bedding

It is essential for students to have a good night’s sleep to help keep the brain fresh and ready to learn.  To make a good night’s sleep possible, be sure to have a comfortable and natural mattress and bedding that doesn’t offgas toxic chemicals.  We offer several economical options of organic mattresses, including the Midori – one of our classic mattresses – available in Twin XL, which fits most form beds.

OMI Midori

MSRP (mattress only): twin $1495• twin XL $1595• full $1895 • queen $2195 • king $3095

Foundation sold separately

If you can’t change out your mattress, invest in a Mattress Barrier Cover, which encases the entire mattress to protect from bed bugs and dust mites, reducing allergens.

OMI Mattress Barrier Covers starting at $220

 Bedding is just as important as a mattress, since it needs to be comfortable and made without the use of chemicals.  Pick soft and luxurious organic cotton sheets and all season wool comforters.  You can choose a duvet made with color grown cotton to add some color but make sure it is organic.

OMI Eco-Wool™ Comforter starting at $475

Click HERE for more information on OMI mattresses and bedding.

7. Decorations

Many students want to make their dorm rooms comfortable and homey.  Rather than buying all new decorations, choose items from your bedroom at home and revamp them to better fit the dorm.  Use material from a favorite shirt or old curtains to cover corkboards, creating an area to hang pictures, notes and other items and add color.  Coordinate with roommates to get complimentary organic duvet covers and cover you thrifted loveseat with matching sheets.

 

Find more tips and useful ideas by going to Teens Turning Green’s ‘Project Green Dorm’ website HERE.  Enter their challenge for a chance to win OMI products as well as many other fabulous and green prizes!

The Midori is Back!

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Welcome the Midori Back!

The Midori is a contemporary, low-profile mattress.  Measuring at 7” high, it is a two-sided, flat-surface mattress made from one-piece 6” core of medium-firm 100%-natural rubber latex, then covered with our signature OrganicPedic® knit quilting.  The Midori was designed in the style of a firm Japanese-style sleep system.  It makes a great option for sleepers looking for firm support, as well as for children.

Features and Benefits

  • Low-profile design
  • For those who favor a firmer sleeping surface
  • Motion-absorbing construction
  • Signature OrganicPedic® fully quilted cover
  • Eco-Wool fill naturally regulates body temperature
  • Naturally mold-, mildew-, and dust-mite resistant

MSRP (mattress only): twin $1495 • full $1895 • queen $2195 • king $3095 Foundation sold separately

For more information on OrganicPedic® mattresses, click HERE.

Make an “Egg-cellent” Organic Easter Basket

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Easter is a great time to celebrate Mother Nature, so skip the plastic grass and artificially sweetened candy and opt for organic treats and eco-friendly gifts.

Pick a Basket that can be Reused

Chose a reusable container that can be used again and again. Sand pails and toy toolboxes make for fun toys that can be played with later.

Recycle a basket and give it a fresh look with new ribbon.

Ditch the Fake Grass Filler

 Stay away from the dreaded and irritating plastic grass that finds a way to stick to everything in your house.  Use shredded fabric from old clothes or blankets to add color and texture.  Or go with shredded newspaper, magazines or printer paper.

Fill your Basket with Organic Treats and Earth-Friendly Toys

There are many different organic treats that can be put into the Easter basket; here is a list of a few great options:

Vegan Organic Easter Bunnies and Assorted Chocolates

Sjaak’s makes an all-natural, sweet dark chocolate bunny and assorted chocolate boxes. It’s 100% organic, Fair Trade Certified and completely vegan. Visit the SJaak’s website HERE for more information.

Surf Sweets Natural Jelly Beans

Their complete line of all natural, organic gummy candy and jellybeans is completely free of additives, dyes and preservatives. Surf Sweets stands by their motto of “If it doesn’t exist in nature, you won’t find it in Surf Sweets.”  Visit the Surf Sweets website HERE for more information.

Yummy Earth Organic Candy

No chemicals, no artificial flavors, and no corn syrup. The line includes many different candies from lollipops to sour jellybeans in 21 delicious flavors with real fruit extracts and delicious taste! They have something for everyone!  Visit the Yummy Earth website HERE for more information.

Lifekind Certified Organic Cotton Bunny

A cute, cuddly and healthy bunny for Easter that is sure to delight children of all ages. The huggable, floppy-eared, handmade bunny is a Lifekind® original. Made with safe, certified organic materials, it’s covered in super-soft terry fleece, the body is stuffed with organic buckwheat hulls, and the head, arms, and legs are filled with organic cotton. Visit the Lifekind  website HERE for more information.

Made by Me Wood Toys

Made by Me toys are beautiful wooden toys that are designed and crafted in Vermont, USA. All their products are made from local sustainable hardwood.  These toys are great as they are not only fun to play with but you get to build and decorate them too.  These toys come in many different designs such as trucks, racecars, trains and more.  Visit the Little Cool Toys website HERE for more information.

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

 You do not need to use harsh and toxic chemicals to dye your Easter eggs.  Chose the safer and healthier option by using organic products that can be found in your kitchen.

Boil eggs with all natural ingredients, such as brown onion skins for orange, red cabbage for sky blue or carrot tops for green. Or experiment and see what colors nature can give you!

Soak hard-boiled eggs in grape juice for lavender, beet juice for pink or strong brewed coffee for brown.

Have fun with all the organic possibilities out there, and here’s wishing you a happy, healthy Easter!

Have you met the Fusion?

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When customers ask us which mattresses we love, it’s hard to decide because there are so many wonderful choices.  So when the time came to buy a mattress for my 5-year-old daughter, I knew I had a tough decision to make.  I chose the Fusion, since it’s a great combination of both natural rubber and innersprings that can offer the support needed to accommodate my daughter for years to come.   The Fusion offers comfort at a wonderful price!

This 10”, two-sided mattress is the “best of both worlds,” combining a sturdy innerspring core with the supportive 100% natural rubber latex. The innerspring coil system is covered on both sides with certified organic cotton canvas and several layers of our sanitized certified organic cotton padding. The padding is covered with another layer of cotton canvas, then internally hand-tufted to keep the padding from shifting and to minimize body impressions. Finally, a luxurious 2” layer of 100%-natural rubber latex is added to the top and bottom surfaces, for increased cushioning, and it’s finished with our signature OrganicPedic® quilting.

MSRP (mattress only): twin $2595 • full $3195 • queen $3395 • king $4695

Keep Warm this Winter with our 10 Earth & Budget Friendly Tips

During winter, the main concern we have in our homes is warmth, and the amount of energy that it requires to heat them.  Heating and cooling use more energy and money than any other system in our homes, with almost half our energy bills used for that purpose. According to The Department of Energy, “The average American household spends around $2,000 on energy costs each year – and about 45 percent of those costs are heating-related.” More informative information from The Department of Energy is available HERE.

Here are a few tips that can help lower your heating bill, increase the temperature in your home, and lower the impact your heating has on the world.

1. Look out, drafts!

Look for any drafts in your house and seal them.  Light a candle or incense and hold it up to doors and window frames.  If the candle flame flickers or the smoke of the incense flows towards the window, there is a draft there.  Use caulk or weather stripping to seal the drafty areas. Use a draft stopper at the bottom of your doors to keep cold air from seeping under the door and into the house.

Also be sure to check any electrical outlets on walls that lead outside the house.  If there’s a draft, cover the outlet with felt or another thick material.

2. Install a programmable thermostat that increases the temperature when you’re home and lowers the temperature during the times when you don’t need higher temps, such as when you’re asleep or away.  Be sure to turn the thermostat down to 60 degrees for those times.

3.  Use heavy drapes or curtains in the winter.  A heavy material in front of the windows will block out the cold air that can come in through the glass.  If you already have drapes, consider sewing a heavy material to the backside for the winter months.

4. Invest in warm flannel or fleece sheets and comforters, like the OMI wool comforter.  Check out the OMI wool comforter and accessories HERE.

5. Install ceiling fans or place fans near heater vents to help circulate heat throughout the house.

Note:  Make sure ceiling fans are rotating in the right direction for each season.  In the winter the fan should rotate clockwise, which will push cold air up and pull the warmth down.

 6. Use only one door when coming and going from your home.  When you enter or exit each time the door is open, there is heat loss.  If you minimize the heat loss to one particular area it can limit the effect on the entire house.

7. Close doors to rooms you don’t use to concentrate the heat in main living areas.

8.To help save energy, set your water heater at or below 120 degrees. Typically, a 10-degree reduction can lower your heating bill by 5%.

9.  Be sure to insulate your water heater and insulate any exposed pipes. This can reduce heat losses by up to 45% and lower your heating bill up to 9%.

10. Don’t underestimate the power of warm clothing. Get out the cozy sweaters, slippers, and blankets. Dress in layers, wearing long underwear next to your skin. This will significantly help keep you warm and cozy.

 

Top Ten Ways to keep your Green Year’s Resolutions

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A lot of people resolve to be “more green” when the new year rolls around, but what exactly does that mean, and how can you implement the changes in your life without breaking the bank? We did a quick brainstorming session here at the OMI offices, and here’s what we came up with.  Without further ado, we present to you the Top Ten Ways to keep your Green Year’s Resolutions!

1. Recycle

Set up a recycling system or ensure your recycling is efficient and organized. This one seems like a no-brainer, and many towns and cities have made it even easier for you.  Call your local waste-collection company and find out what tools they have available to help you with your recycling.  Many cities offer free tubs for your use, will give you easy guides to tell you how to sort your recycling, and where you can take items that aren’t in your every day recycling (like e-waste and old appliances).

2. Stop buying water bottles.

Invest in reusable water bottles that you can carry with you and install a filter system for your home water. Not only is this a great way to help conserve the planet’s finite water supply, it will end up saving you tons of moolah in the end.  Get each member of your family a water bottle that matches their personality and encourage them to take it every where they go!

3. Swap first

Spend less on buying new items and try swapping or exchanging with neighbors and friends.  It’s a great way to get “new-to-you” stuff without having to spend the money on it, and no added burden to the planet.  You could even start a monthly swap in your neighborhood.  Some swapable ideas? Books, lawn equipment, shoes (yay!) kids’ clothing, exercise DVDs…. anything you have (or want).

4. Spend more time outdoors

From quality time with family to exercise… it is free and good for you and the environment. A day-trip to a local park can do wonders for your mental health, and you will feel even better knowing that pushing your kiddos in the swing isn’t taxing the environment.

5. Buy Local Produce

Find out in your community where you can buy locally grown and sustainable produce. Focus your meals around seasonal produce and you can save money, since out-of-season produce will be more expensive. Buying local not only helps sustain your local economy, it lessens the impact the shipping industry has on the environment. Plus, it’s really fun to be able to see where your food actually came from.

6. Plan meals

Thought meal planning went the way of the housewife wearing heels and pearls? Well, think again.  Planning meals for the entire week can help cut down the cost of your grocery bill and allow you to use leftovers in new meals, limiting excess and waste.  Added bonus: planned out menus mean fewer trips to the market, and who doesn’t love that?

7. Up the efficiency in your home

Unplug unused appliances, switch out old bulbs for longer lasting energy-efficient light bulbs, and install a new digital thermostat for more accuracy and to better regulate the temperature while using less energy (an easy task that even the most inexperienced DIYer can accomplish).  If your appliances need an upgrade, be sure to buy EnergyStar models that use less energy to run and lower your operating costs. If your old mattress is giving you problems, make sure you upgrade to a responsibly sourced and organic mattress (of course we suggest an OrganicPedic mattress by OMI).

 8. Compost

Put your food waste to work for you.  When you compost, not only do you cut down on the amount of garbage headed toward the landfills, you get some great soil out of it. A great tutorial on setting up your compost pile can be found here from John & Sherry at Young House Love.  Not sure what’s compostable? Click HERE for a list of 75 things you can compost, but thought you couldn’t.

9.  Use earth-friendly cleaners and household products

Back in the day, “earth-friendly cleaners” meant baking soda, vinegar, and a lot of good old-fashioned elbow grease.  We still love the ease of using items that are most likely already sitting in your cupboards, but we understand that isn’t an option for everyone.  When looking for household cleaners, be sure to pick brands that are environmentally friendly, preferably made with organic ingredients.  Our sister company, Lifekind, has a great line of Naturally Safer cleaning products, and earth-friendly products are popping up in retail stores across the country.  Just beware: not all companies have altruistic intent, and may try to trick you into purchasing their product with the implication of being “green” without actually offering an environmentally friendly product.

10. Go paperless

A lot of big companies are now offering incentives to customers who want to view their statements and pay their bills online.  If your local utility company doesn’t offer online bill pay, make sure you call and suggest it to them. Instead of sending printed cards, make use of online greeting cards and evites.   Just imagine how much paper and trees would be saved if everyone made this small change to their life.  If you absolutely must use paper (for your business, perhaps) be sure to buy paper from sustainably harvested trees.

 These ten ideas are just a the begining of  hundreds of different ways you can make your life more green.  What are your ideas and what has your family implemented to make your 2012 greener than your 2011? Let us know in the comments!

and a Happy Green Year to You!

Shopping Healthfully on a Budget

It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to be able to eat healthful, nonprocessed, or even organic foods.  Many people think that buying healthful and organic foods is an expensive luxury that we cannot afford.  But thanks to a wonderful blog titled “100 Days of Real Food,” we learn that this is not always true. (Visit the blog site HERE.) It offers information on many different topics, from recipes, meal planning, and tips for shopping for nonprocessed foods to how to stop eating processed foods, budgeting ideas, and more. The post I found most beneficial and inspiring was titled “12 Ways to Keep it Cheap” (to see the full blog post, go HERE.)

 

Here is an excerpt from the post, showing 12 ways to shop healthfully and stay on budget:

 

1. Set a specific budget. This tip may sound basic, but as I just said simply thinking about “not spending a lot of money” DOES NOT work! Here’s how to structure a budget…

  • Pick a realistic budget amount that you will adhere to each week or month. I personally think a weekly budget is easier to follow because you can’t go too far over budget before you realize you are in trouble.
  • Consider using cash in an envelope so going “over budget” isn’t even possible. (For those who’ve heard of Dave Ramsey, yes, we’ve both read his book!) Also, no matter what, make a commitment that if you do for some reason go over budget you will deduct that amount from the following week or month.
  • Define what will and will not be included in the budget. Will it just be for food or for household items too? What about alcohol, entertaining, and going out to eat?
  • Keep track of all your expenses on paper whether you use cash or not. It is important to see where your money goes.
  • Share and discuss the running budget total with the other adults in your household…accountability is what it’s all about!

2. Be organized and plan out your meals for the week. Last minute purchases that you haven’t put a lot of thought into can add up fast.

3. Minimize waste by saving all uneaten food instead of throwing anything away.

4. Know and use what you have on hand especially if it’s perishable. Even consider keeping an inventory list of food on your fridge or freezer so different family members can check off items as they use them. I know my husband is more likely to eat something in the fridge if I leave a note telling him it is there (don’t ask me why)!

5. Make substitutions in recipes to reduce how many things you have to buy…or even leave out a small ingredient all together.

6. Maximize “cheap” foods like bananas, beans, and pasta. Here are some of our favorite super cheap recipes:

7. When making inexpensive meals like soups and pasta dishes double the recipe and freeze the leftovers for when you have one of those days where you just don’t have time to plan out a good dinner.

8. Make sacrifices like drinking water instead of milk and skipping juice and other flavored beverages all together. If you really have trouble kicking the juice habit at least water it down a little so the juice lasts longer.

9. Reduce your consumption of meat and desserts. Meat can be a big-ticket item and while dessert is certainly a “nice to have” it is by no means a regular necessity (sorry)! Also experiment with “stretching” your meat dishes by mixing in veggies and/or beans.

10. Buy produce that’s in-season and if you like to frequent your local farmers’ market  try going just before closing time to get some great deals on items the vendors won’t want to haul back to the farm.

11. If you can’t afford the organic version of everything consult the dirty dozen list. 

12. Check your receipt after you get home to make sure your your money was spent wisely (most grocery stores accept returns!).

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