The Green Gab Podcast helps you GET the value of green: for you, your family and your community. Whether its green homes, green living or the people who make it happen, join Marla Esser Cloos to learn how green and sustainability practices and products work for you.
The Green Gab Podcast helps you GET the value of green: for you, your family and your community. Whether its green homes, green living or the people who make it happen, join Marla Esser Cloos to learn how green and sustainability practices and products work for you.
The Truth About Green Product Labels
Living green, or sustainably, is about more than just saving on your electricity bill, and doing your bit to protect natural resources. It's about creating a safer and healthier lifestyle without having to compromise on style, quality, or budget.
Today, Tony Pratt joins Marla once again, to talk about green labels. They will be explaining what green labels are, what they mean, and how to use them.
What are green labels?
Green labels are there to show us that there has been third-party certification for a product, an assembly, or even an entire building. They are proof that something has been certified, and truly is what it claims to be. If the third-party was not there, anyone would be able to do or say whatever they wanted to, about any product.
The term 'greenwashing' was coined about ten years ago. It's used when someone thinks, or hopes, rather than knows, that a product is green. It is actually nothing more than marketing hype, or the misdirection of consumers because, although something is being claimed to be good for the environment, in reality, that may or may not be so.
The FCC and greenwashing
The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has put out rules about what you may say and claims that you may make, about a product. Also, there is a standard code of ethics for marketers, and the American Marketing Association has very specific rules that forbid marketers from making any unsubstantiated claims.
Using 'green' terms
Many people, even in the home-building industry, don't fully understand what green terms mean. Nor do they understand their value. And they often don't even know how to use the terms properly, so they tend to throw them around loosely, without understanding the consequences or the ramifications that are sure to follow. For example, a home that has Energy Star-certified, energy-efficient windows cannot be described as an energy-efficient home simply because it has an energy-efficient feature in it.
Certain terms have no real meaning to the FCC. Like the word 'natural', which is often used to describe food and personal care products.
There are some very specific rules for using the word 'organic' to describe products.
The goal of green labels is to be like the term 'organic' is, in the food industry, for products, materials, or even for entire homes. It is to give people something tangible, and reliable parameters, around that particular characteristic.
Why green labels?
Green labels are there to help us to better understand what we're buying or getting.
Having peace-of-mind around energy-efficiency
Many companies are doing things lately that are more sustainably-minded. It could be with the product itself, in the operations of the company, or both. So there are multiple levels on which we can choose to engage with companies that are doing things better.
The green labels give us all the necessary guidelines to make sure that we're doing something impactful, that will protect our families, ourselves, and our fellow human beings, without us having to do all the research.
There are a lot of boutique dry cleaners that have sustainable dry cleaning. They often use fuel-efficient, natural gas or electric vehicles.
Green labels for the home
A lot of the products that are being put out on Everyday Green Home- The Green Shop, have green labels on them. And for the products without the green labels, Marla has gone through the same vetting process that they used in the National Green Building standard, to ensure that those products meet the same requirements that they would have used in the Green Home certification.
Some smaller companies may not want to go through the certification process because it's costly and time-consuming.
Green labels for the home cover everything from energy-efficiency, to water-efficiency, to resource-effi
Automations to Green Your Home
There's a lot of talk about energy efficiency when it comes to green homes. Currently, there are many innovations available to make energy efficiency easier, controlled, or managed. Today, we're going to be looking at ways to gain efficiency through innovation with energy control systems, smart appliances, and renewables.
Energy control systems
Thermostats can be part of an energy control system. Right now, there are controllable thermostats available that you can put in place yourself, to replace your current one. These are linked to the wifi in your house and you can control them from anywhere in the world, using your phone.
There are also more advanced systems available, where you can control everything else in your house as well. With that kind of system, you can set your house up with certain parameters that relate to the scenario that will best suit your lifestyle.
Aspects of energy control
Get-up mode can:
⦁ Turn on the lights.
⦁ Adjust your thermostat.
⦁ Automate your coffee pot.
⦁ Turn on your music or TV.
⦁ Open your automated blinds. (It's easy to set your system up so that you can benefit from some "daylight harvesting" by using sensors to turn the lights on when they are needed.)
Customizing your controls
The settings for get-up mode could work either on a timer, with sensors, or with both.
You can also control the lights in your home by selecting a customized profile to give you the amount of light that would best meet your needs. This will save you from having to use energy that you do not need.
Customizing your controls will make you happy
If you can turn something on and off, you can control it.
You can create a customized experience that will increase your happiness and your satisfaction with your home. You can control your music and TVs for your entertainment, and use these things only when you need them.
You can enjoy some psychological and emotional benefits while you are saving energy and money on the cost of your utilities. So, you can make your home your happy place!
Energy efficiency is not about having less
Energy efficiency does not have to be about having less. It can be about having what you want when you want it, (or need it) and not having it when you don't need it. So you're not wasting anything if you're being smart about how you're using things.
Saving energy can be very simple
An energy control system can be anything from a simple DIY system up to a very elaborate, very elegantly programmed system. There is something available for everybody, and every budget.
More and more innovative energy-saving technology is becoming available
The whole world is moving towards everything being controlled by apps.
A lot of new energy-saving technology is showing up at building-industry and consumer electronics trade shows.
A big benefit of energy control systems
Energy control systems are part of a bigger system that can control all kinds of things in your home. One of the big benefits of energy control systems is that they could help us to overcome what we may lack in our behavior, and control it through technology and automation.
You may not be able to control the people in the house, but you can control how they use the house.
Starting with the simple things
You can start with something simple like a programmable, or wifi-enabled thermostat. Or with a motion detector sensor on your light switch, which you can insert in your existing switch plate, to turn the lights on and off. You can also install a dimmer switch for your lights. This can then be tied into your overall energy control system, to control a bigger scenario-based system.
Bathrooms are a great place to add motion detector sensors to the light switches.
Most basic ceiling fans can be contro
How to Create an Energy Efficient Home with Kim Owens
We have Kim Owens with us today. Kim is an energy auditor, so she goes to people's homes to give them an overview of ways to make their home more energy-efficient. Most of her suggestions are easy and economical to implement. And there are many benefits to creating an energy-efficient home.
The way Kim works
Typically, Kim contracts Precise Building Performance, the company that she works for, to create energy efficiency for her clients.
Precise Building Performance usually contracts with all the utility companies. because most people in the state of Oklahoma get their energy efficiency through their utility company.
Oklahoma is an energy state
Oklahoma is truly an energy state- and it's not all about drilling for it! Driving down the streets of Oklahoma, one can see oil pumps with all the wind turbines in the background. There are also solar farms, and people find it very interesting to see just how much the utilities in Oklahoma are into energy audits.
About energy audits
Many people don't know what energy audits are. Kim has a free newsletter to inform people about it because most Oklahoma utility companies offer free energy audits as a service to their members. Kim points out that the more energy-efficient you are, the more money you can save on your utility bill.
It's not just about saving energy
When we save energy, we don't only save money. There are always many benefits to practicing green sustainability.
We save carbon emissions. We save lots of other greenhouse gas emissions. We improve our health in our homes, in our communities, and the world at large.
Kim's background and her focal points
Kim has a background in counseling and physiology. And she has a holistic wellness coaching business. Everything in our lives ultimately impacts our health in one way or another and there is always a causal relationship with everything, so Kim's focus is on mental health, physical health, and the ways that people's homes are affecting their health.
People often have the wrong impression of energy auditing
People tend to think that their windows, air conditioning, and all the other big stuff will have to be replaced. Yet, windows are usually the last things that are recommended because they are expensive and it could take up to twenty-five years to recoup your investment.
What a basic audit entails
Kim starts from the outside and looks for things that are drawing heavily on your utility, like a pool, or a hot tub. She checks in the attic to see how much insulation is in there. She depressurizes the house with a vacuum tool to see how much air is being pulled in from the outside, through cracks and crevices. Then she checks the rooms for leaks. She checks the air conditioning unit. 55-6% of most utility bills is from the air conditioning unit
Kim likes to take the homeowner along with her as she checks their home so that she can educate them.
Sometimes it's necessary for a certain amount of pressure to come into a home. With new homes that are built to be very tight, there are ventilation strategies and equipment that allow for that. With existing homes, it is very challenging to make them completely tight.
Mold and mildew are not our friends. The exhaust fans in bathrooms take the humid air out so this helps prevent mold and mildew.
Remember to close the damper on your fireplace when you're not using it.
Why utility companies are paying people like Kim to do energy audits for their utility customers
There seems to be a misconception that energy companies are out to screw people because they charge for the utilities they provide. Yet, they authentically care about their members, and about being good stewards of the energy they're producing and supplying. And they want to do right by everybody, so if
Home Detectives Can Help Create Your Green Home with Kellye Markowski
Today’s guest, Kellye Markowski, is a residential and commercial energy audit provider and project manager with Energy Smart Homes. Kellye works independently, which allows her to have an unbiased approach to finding out how to get a home to perform well.
Kellye’s enthusiasm for helping clients and homeowners optimize the comfortability of their space, along with reducing costs, is genuine and powerful. She not only carries out a meticulous energy audit for each and every home but always delivers more than the client’s money’s worth. While every homeowner wants what’s best for their home and family, people often don’t know where to start, and that’s where Kellye comes in.
Taking the Best Course of Action
There are always multiple solutions to every problem. Kellye’s job is to help clients better understand and weight out the pros and cons to each method. Kellye’s go-to strategy consists of helping people recognize the benefits of each solution and what would make it a good option for their individual circumstances. With this in mind, clients are able to accurately weigh out options by acknowledging which strategy best reflects their needs.
Reducing Energy Cost and Optimizing Comfort in your Home
Often times, homes and commercial buildings are built with only one thing in mind; stability. Stability and protection from outside elements don’t ensure comfortability or optimal energy preservation, which is why having an energy audit prior to further construction is so necessary. Kellye has encountered a plethora of homes with inadequate insulation, uncapped holes, electric furnaces with misplaced ducts, and so much more. Her ability to find and solve large-scale problems hidden right under the noses of homeowners is unmatched.
Kellye implements her expertise in a way that will help homeowners divert further discomfort. Without an energy audit, homeowners often result in dealing with unresolved and easily avoidable problems. Kellye finds ways to address issues relatively inexpensively and as seamlessly as possible.
Understanding Construction for Energy Conservation
People tend to gravitate towards the prettier, more glamorous aspects of a home – lighting, countertops, extravagant bathtubs. While the mechanics of a living space may be the least fun aspect of maintenance, it may easily be named the most important. No matter how pretty your home is, if you’re uncomfortable, you won’t be able to enjoy anything else. Homeowners typically aren’t well educated in how to tell if a house is built to perform well, which is why energy audits are important.
Kellye’s experience as a construction estimator and large loss handler with an insurance company has qualified her with the expertise needed to properly evaluate a living space. Along with this, she has extensively submerged herself not only in her own education but as an educator. After 18 years as an art teacher, she transitioned to use the skills she acquired in creative thinking to support her passion for conserving and energy efficiency.
Assumptions Home Owners Make when Buying
Just as people often assume products are sustainable, people often make the same assumptions when purchasing a home. After all, why would people build something defective? Well, the truth is that homes are often built simply for protection, and little thought of comfortability is applied to the building process.
Kellye’s comprehensive knowledge of building functionality is applied when auditing each and every home. She helps clients understand what is needed for their home in order to integrate the necessary elements to improve their level of satisfaction.
Approaching Clients with Attainable Solutions
Kellye is able to achieve her goal to optimize comfortability by communicating with clients in a way that is easy to understand. Kellye
Create a Cozy Winter Home with Essential Oils
My guest on today's Green Gab is Rhonda Flint, a wellness advocate with Young Living Essential Oils. Essential oils have been an incredible tool for Rhonda and her family to have healthy bodies, and bring wellness into their home.
A new dimension with essential oils
Before discovering essential oils, Rhonda didn't realize that many of the things that she brought into her home were affecting her family's health, their cognitive abilities, and their endocrine systems. Since she replaced those things with essential oils and established some dietary changes, her children no longer frequent the doctor's office nearly as often as they used to.
Now, her goal is to help people to change their lifestyle and bring about healthier homes.
An incredible wellness tool
Essential oils are nothing new. People have been using them since biblical times. So, whether we ingest them, use them topically, or diffuse them, we're not introducing anything foreign to our bodies, and so our bodies know just what to do with them. Essential oils do an incredible job of boosting our immune systems and helping to fight off free radicals.
Essential oils are a potent tool
Herbs have their place as a tool for your wellness, but to utilize an herb, the plant has to be dead. Most essential oils, however, are extracted from the plants in the steam distillation process, while the plant is still alive. This means that essential oils capture the essence of the plant. So, when compared with herbs, the constituent rate of their anti-oxidant levels is much higher, making essential oils a more potent tool for wellness than herbs.
Essential oils as part of a lifestyle
Essential oils can be used every day, as part of your lifestyle. They help the endocrine system, the upper respiratory system, and the digestive system. You can use them for skin-care, as a deodorant, and as a nutritional supplement.
Healthy lifestyle changes
One of the biggest lifestyle-changes that Rhonda made was to remove all the unhealthy air-fresheners and perfumed candles from her home. We breathe these things into our lungs and we absorb them through our porous skin, so they affect every single organ in our body. Rhonda replaced the air-fresheners and candles with essential oil diffusers. She and her family have learned what it's like to breathe clean air again and many of the ailments they used to suffer from have disappeared.
The other change she made was to stop using drier sheets because they contain benzyl acetate and benzyl alcohol. To replace them she uses a drier ball with some essential oil on it. Drier balls reduce the drying time and they also remove the static from the clothes. If you don't have one, you can simply take a wash-cloth, put a couple of drops of essential oil on it, and place it in your drier.
Small steps towards creating a healthy environment
You don't have to change everything at once. It took Rhonda nine years of baby steps to do it. She started by replacing the air fresheners and candles in her home with diffusers. Then, two years later, when her daughter broke out in a rash on her face, she realized that the drier sheets were toxic, and she replaced them with drier balls and essential oils.
Cleaning up your laundry routine
Today, there are many more clean options available than there were twelve or thirteen years ago. Now, you can walk into any store and find several different kinds available. Many local manufacturers are also making products. Although these products don't always have all the certifications, you can look at the list of ingredients to feel assured that they are good. Or you find DIY recipes to make clean products at home to keep your laundry smelling rosy and fresh.
Rhonda has tons of DIY recipes available for making your home cozy, clean, and sweet-smelling. Her favorite is the Outd
Green Your Holiday Gift Giving
On today’s Green Gab, my guest is Kathy Curran. Kathy has been on an amazing journey to incrementally green her life, and now that the holidays are upon us, greening her gift-giving is her first order of business.
It’s really important to understand where what you buy comes from. Most of us don’t need more stuff. Our homes are already packed to the gills with stuff we don’t need or use. So, as you buy gifts for others, it’s important to make sure that you understand where the products you are buying are coming from. If items have to travel a long way to reach you, that’s not sustainable. If the company you are buying from employs child labor, well, that’s not what you want to endorse. If the company that you are purchasing products from has a record of environmental violations, that’s also not a green choice. When it doubt, look for companies that have achieved B Corporation status. B stands for “benefit”. So they are companies that exist to benefit mankind, not just to solely turn a profit.
It’s not just what you buy, but who you are buying it from and where is it coming from that should play into our gift choices.
Local and Organic are Pretty Safe Choices
We have found some really unique gifts that allow us to make good environmental choices by shopping at local food purveyors. Staying regional with your purchases reduces the carbon footprint of your purchase. Many local food purveyors also have minimal packaging, and many of their products will be all-natural, organic, and made from sustainable crops. They also generally are not packed with the chemicals and preservatives that factory foods have.
Many green gift choices also support your local community and the business owners that serve your local community. Green gifts keep dollars working within your communities.
Give Experiences and not Stuff
We all have that person on our list who is impossible to shop for. They already have everything, don’t need anything, and yet, you still need to give them a gift. The best types of gifts for people like this is to focus on giving experiences, rather than stuff.
Some of our favorite experiences to give are:
Local classes of workshops pertaining to a hobby - gardening, cooking, painting, writing, pottery, etc. Tickets to a favorite play or concert Yearly family passes to the State Parks in your state or a state nearby Memberships to a museum or local attraction Online memberships to heirloom seed clubs or other clubs that support hobbyists Gift certificates for Air BnB A tour of a local attraction that they’ve never been to Give apps like Story Corp to document family history and stories Green Your Gift Wrapping
Gift wrap and all the packaging that goes into giving gifts is a huge source of waste. The more gifts you give, the more important it is for you to make greener choices with your gift wrap.
Some of our favorite ways to make gift wrapping greener are:
Wrap in fabrics, not paper Use old maps, newspapers as gift wrap Buy recycled brown paper to as wrapping paper Save gift bags for re-use. Buy recycled wrapping paper. Recycle your wrapping paper. Use mason jars, buckets, clay pots or other items that go with a gift to “wrap” it.
Simplify, Don’t Accumulate
One of the biggest gifts we can leave our children is to simplify your life and unburden yourself of all the stuff. They won’t want most of it and it only creates more work and waste to deal with generations of the stuff that we have in our lives.
The next generation doesn’t want to drag Grandma’s china to their 6 apartments in 3 cities before they get married and settle into a tiny house! So, instead of leaving a ton of stuff, we thing it’s a great idea to identify one special heirloom piece - a teacup, painting, letter, etc. that you want to be meaningful to that child. Then write out the her
Customer ReviewsSee All
Green Education for FREE! Thank you!
I'm learning a lot and doing what I can to live greener. I got a copy of Living Green Effortlessly recently and it is super sharp with the Benjamin Franklin Award sticker. I'm glad I had listened to more than a few podcasts, because it made the book familiar and I could "hear" Marla's and Tony's voice while reading.
If I had money to spare I would buy and send political candidates (in any party) with Green messages and focuses (or jobs messages and local focuses) copies of the book (even if they already had one to show that it matters to constituents). Without getting too personal, it is remarkable that this podcast (and book) is so compassionate to all people. Even if that is good business, it is rare to be valued the same as, say, someone with Maroon's status and "purse" in addition to always getting an explanation of the technical language and a FREE! education without being condescended to as the audience because I just don't know or understand something.
For example, sadly, I have only used one super Green toilet at a Charter School in a New Orleans in 2013 or I would have had no idea what was being said without how Marla describes everything and links to pics.. On the other hand, my sister's HOA connected maitenance & repair in a Philly suburb replaced their old toilet with a green toilet! But she hates that it doesn't have a handle. Now I know they had more options so that green things don't get a bad rep from one experience and word of mouth! Likewise, I had a studio apt manager who dreamed of hot water heating by tankless (on demand). Now I want to go back and ask her if it was because a hot water heater in a studio is weird or if she was from Europe! I'm a dis- connected person, but I hope the podcasters are hashtagging or making stuff searchable and such. I always think of people when a city is mentioned in a podcast, like LA or Denver or Portland, but I don't know if I would be able to go back and find it by the podcast title. I have a decent memory, but I might still get which lighting guy is which and where messed up if I had to send someone their way. To my brain's credit, I think they have similar if not the same name. And YES, I really am listening to the Green Gab podcasts! ANYWAY...
Even if one topic or guest seems irrelevant to what you're interested in or doing yourself or your own specific work, I recommend listening anyway because it truly is inspirational! If the podcast host and guests weren't "custom"/ artists and passionate about Green living, I wouldn't have lasted more than one podcast, which is what I kind of expected to last. And now I'm listening to them all! GREEN GAB: GREEN SELF- HELP & LIFE COACHING. Who knew?! The approach Marla uses (and serious tone with generous humor of Marla and Tony and guests) is also super positive and encouraging when you learn like EVERYTHING has horrible fragrance/chemicals or most things are just garbage wrapped in garbage in a landfill no one thinks about ever. They are very positive about how many negatives this world has- I mean the "challenges" ;)
In the spirit of co- competition, or highlighting the great work of one sound engineer in St. Louis, the OK podcasts sound different? I don't know why. I thought it was my headphones or the laundrymat at first. But artists are always working things out! ! I saw a similar shared workspace showcased on the news way back in Seattle (I live in Syracuse now) and it didn't have a podcast studio. And now after learning about the space in OK, I think spaces like that should all have a podcast studio! How could they not?!
I'm looking forward to Green Gab involving people in your field and questions about disasters (like floods and tornadoes). I'm also looking forward to podcasts now about green in sports and stadiums and how the custom builder's world and the manufactured builder's world work together. I'm obviously "looking at the world differently". I'm a dis- connected person (like I don't use my cell phone like it's 2019 and I love paper books) but I now see where smart devices and connected homes and spaces matter. I thought of the Green Gab podcast during a Game 7! There was an Apple commercial where the man is using a sip-and-puff (SNP) assised device, the straw thing (I had to look it up)! Apple.com/accessibility He is going moutain biking but I think he could be doing so after programming a thermostat!!!
PS I had trouble writing a review/ giving stars and creating an account to do so (again, dis- connected) by clicking on "write a review" on the Green Gab page. I had to create an account from i tunes home page. It might just be me.
PPS. Be safe St. Louis! I'm thinking even Green people are all Blues there! Happy History!
-Amie St. Amour
Inspiring and educating podcast. The two hosts have great knowledge and great guests!
Inspiration for Change
Marla and Toni inspire people to do what they can. They bring diverse guests on to their show and illustrate a myriad of ways to make small changes that provide huge impact on the environment and our pocketbook