Green Ways to Beat the Summer Heat

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Does this summer seem exceptionally hot to you guys, or is it just us? All throughout the long winter, we were practically begging for a little warmth. Now that the relief of spring has passed and the sweltering summer heat has kicked into high gear, people are looking for any type of cool comfort. For our eco-friendly warriors out there, staying green while beating the heat is an even bigger challenge. Never fear though! Here are a couple of easy ways to stay cool this summer while still being kind to the environment!

Use Curtains to Cool Your Home

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Have you ever noticed just how hot it gets in your home when the bright light is shining through your windows all day long? Before reaching to crank up the thermostat to cool down your house, consider using some curtains to combat the heat. Using dark curtains during the day to keep out the light will naturally cool your home, and wastes zero energy!

Replace Your Air Conditioner

If you absolutely feel the need to blast the air conditioning, don’t worry: you’re not alone. It’s an instant relief, and cools the whole house rather than just one room like a fan would. To do the environmentally responsible thing, consider switching your current air conditioner out for with one that has a higher EER rating. It will be more energy-efficient, so it will conserve more energy than traditional ones. You can feel cool with no guilt!

Cool Your Body with Cold Food and Drinks

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 If you feel like getting creative and making some fun summer treats, crafting cold snacks and beverages is a great way to beat the heat this summer! This hot weather is a great excuse to eat lots of frozen yogurt, smoothies, ice cream, and popsicles. If you want to have a fun activity to do with kids, you can make your own fruit popsicles and smoothies. Consider it a bonus if you use organic, locally grown fruits!

Upgrade Your Insulation

 Few people know this, but there are energy-efficient insulation options that will maintain the cooling in your home, lower your utility bills, and conserve energy! If you think your home is losing a lot of  that conditioned air, consider upgrading your insulation with our EPS foam insulation products. DuroFoam is a great start, as it is a wall insulation that boasts a high R-value. The high R-value means that it has high thermal resistance, which maintains the heating/cooling you want in your home and doesn’t lose it in the walls like many insulations do. For something with an even higher R-value per inch, EnerSpan Insulation is another great choice. It’s made of Neopor, which is a graphite-enhanced material that reduces radiation heat transfer. It can be used in your foundation, exterior insulating sheathing, and under slab!

Using just these few tips can help you beat the heat and enjoy your home regardless of what mother nature has in store.

 

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Earth Day: A Day to Give Our Planet the TLC it Deserves

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Earth Day: an annual, secular holiday that gives society the opportunity to reflect on our beautiful planet in all its glory, its current state, the damage we’ve invoked upon it, and how we can redeem ourselves to protect the environment. The awareness that this holiday brings every year is astonishing. For a day, everyone takes a moment from their chaotic, busy lives to stop and smell the roses, so to speak. They take time to truly admire and cherish the refreshing greenery, vast oceans, and breathtaking mountains that Mother Nature has gifted us. For one singular day, Earth is showered in all of the love and admiration it deserves.

While we wish that everyone treated every day like Earth Day, we can still appreciate the awareness and education that this day brings every year. Celebrating Earth Day is something that should be taken seriously, and done in such a way that the environment will be made better by your celebration. There are many easy, fun ways to give the planet a little TLC. Here are a couple of ideas that can help restore the environment, while also educating us on its current condition.

Plant Trees

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Trees are vital for Earth’s production of oxygen. In their leaves, trees absorb the toxic CO2 that animals and humans breathe out. Along with CO2, the leaves also soak up sunlight, which is then combined with water absorbed at the tree’s roots to create oxygen. The oxygen is then released into the air for Earth’s living beings to breathe in. Unfortunately, deforestation all over the world is removing that source of oxygen for us, and causing an abundance of CO2 to remain in our atmosphere. To honor the environment and help get it back on its feet for Earth Day, why not help the replanting process by planting a tree or two in your yard? You can gain a sense of pride knowing that you are working towards creating a greener earth, while having a beautiful reminder growing right on your property. Just remember to water it once a day for the first two weeks, and then once a week for the rest of the year to help it grow healthy and strong.

Organize a Trash Cleanup

Litter and waste may not seem like much on a small scale, but it can cause a much greater impact than many people understand. Litter that is scattered throughout public places like parks, streets, or even around buildings can potentially enter storm water systems and travel to our freshwater sources (creeks, rivers, ponds, etc.). Even worse, they can travel through rivers to oceans, and cause pollution. The trash left on land can cause the same effect to land-dwellers. On top of this, runoff from litter and polluted water can get into our soils and poison the plants that grow from the soil with toxins. To do your part to reduce this issue, consider organizing a trash cleanup with some friends. It could be at a park, a beach, a river, or any public place that has litter scattered. Be sure to bring gloves, bags, durable shoes, and potentially a trash picker if you have one. The animals in these areas will be preserved, and the environment will be healthier thanks to you.

Bike or Walk Instead of Driving for a Day

As you likely know, a car needs gasoline to power it. When burned, gasoline releases carbon dioxide into the air, which contributes even more to global warming. To keep the air cleaner for a day and honor Earth Day, consider opting to bike or walk. You’ll be doing the planet a favor by eliminating carbon dioxide emissions while also giving yourself some exercise! If biking or walking is too slow for your Earth Day plans, consider at least using public transportation or carpooling to wherever you need to go. You will be burning less CO2 than if you had driven your own car, and that goes a long way.

Turn Off Appliances for the Day

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 In order to power your home’s appliances, you need to use electricity. Electricity is fueled by fossil fuels, which are burned and pollute the environment with CO2 emissions. So, energy conservation is a very important factor to consider when trying to make the planet cleaner and healthier. One great way to do this on Earth Day is to turn off and unplug your home appliances for the day. Less pollution will enter the atmosphere with this simple action, and you will give yourself the opportunity to get out the house and enjoy nature!

Switch Your Home’s Insulation to a Greener Option

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To continue with the topic of energy conservation, heating and cooling in your home require fossil fuels to be burned. The insulation in your home is supposed to retain the heating and cooling that you are burning energy for; however, many insulation products lose heating and cooling to thermal bridging in the walls. In order to increase thermal resistance to conserve energy and retain the heating/cooling you desire to make your home comfortable, consider giving Earth and yourself a gift by switching your insulation. For something cost-effective and basic, we have our PlastiSpan Insulation. With an r-value of 3.75/inch, this EPS foam insulation works to increase thermal resistance, which will retain your desired heating/cooling in your home, lower your utility bills, and conserve energy! To insulate other parts of your home with the same thermal resistance, such as exterior sheathing or your home’s foundation, the product we would recommend is EnerSpan. It does the same job as PlastiSpan, but with an even higher R-value to keep your home more comfortable and conserve more energy!

 

Staying Green While Enjoying Spring

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Now that spring has finally sprung, it is safe to assume that everyone wants to flock outdoors to enjoy the beautiful weather that has taken way too long to arrive! The long winter has given people plenty of time to inspire and woo those stuck indoors with tantalizing visions of gardens, cookouts, and breathing in the fresh air. Finally, everyone is free to embrace the warmth, get their kids out of the house, and seize the day with loads of fun outdoor activities.

Spring is also a great time to acknowledge the outdoors, and really be aware of our impact on the environment with our activities. We want to make the most out of this beautiful season without damaging the planet that sustains it all. To help preserve the planet and still have fun, here are a couple of ideas for staying green while enjoying spring!

Go Hiking

 Going hiking is a great activity for spring! It gets you out of the house, allows you to enjoy nature while you walk through it, and keeps you moving and exercising. Plus, it can be a fun family activity for everyone to enjoy. No matter where you live, there are plenty of beautiful parks and nature trails nearby. If you don’t know of any yourself, ask a friend, or check Google. You are sure to find tons of great options to choose from!

Biking Instead of Driving

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 Want to make an activity out of running errands? Opt out of driving, and go biking! It’s an excellent way to enjoy the gorgeous weather, knock out your errands, and to exercise while having fun. Not to mention, you will be doing the environment a huge favor by eliminating burning fossil fuels and using a bike.

Create Arts and Crafts on Rainy Days

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 Rainy days during spring are inevitable. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be inspired by spring and have fun! If you have kids and want to keep them entertained and away from the TV on a rainy day, try doing some fun arts and crafts with them. We suggest using our PlastiSpan EPS foam boards as a base, and cutting out fun spring shapes like flowers, bees, etc. From there, use glitter, paint, sequins, markers, or whatever else your creative heart desires to make beautiful spring masterpieces with your little ones! It’s a great boredom buster, and it conserves energy by keeping your kids away from electronics. We’ll call that a win!

Plant a Garden

A great way to get you and/or your kids involved in spring is by planting a garden! Whether it consists of vegetables, fruits, or flowers, planting a garden will help teach your children how to nurture plants, how they grow, and the importance of plants in our everyday lives and nature. Not to mention, it will keep them busy and out of the house, and it will add some liveliness to your yard!

Don’t have time to maintain a full garden? Opt to plant a tree in your yard instead. It will take less maintenance than a full garden, will help add oxygen back into the air, and still teach valuable lessons about the environment to you and/or your children.

Visit an Animal Shelter

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 Do you or your family love animals? Show that love by visiting an animal shelter this spring! Even if you do not want to adopt an animal, you can still visit to show those animals some love and affection, or even make a day out of it by volunteering! If you do want to adopt an animal, all the better! Adopting an animal gives that animal a second chance in a loving home, and eliminates the number of animals being bought by breeding mills. You will make that animal so incredibly happy by giving them a forever home, and be doing the shelter a service by giving them more room to take in more rescues. Bonus: you will be assisting in keeping more animals in need off of the streets and on their way to finding their “fur-ever” families!

Out with the Old, In with the Green: Spring Cleaning

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After what has seemed like an endless winter, we have finally reached a peak of warmer weather. Spring is upon us! Around this time of year, we often find ourselves going through everything in our lives and cleaning out what is no longer useful, relevant, or healthy for us. That way, we can make way for all of the new, wonderful things that the rest of the year will gift us with a “clean” slate.

With spring cleaning in mind, this is the perfect opportunity to ditch all of those cleaning tactics that harm the environment, and exchange them for more eco-friendly options. Here are a couple of green spring cleaning ideas!

Use Energy Efficient Lightbulbs

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 Do you have any lightbulbs around your home that need changing? Instead of replacing them with standard incandescent lightbulbs, replace them with CFLs or LEDs! They are way more energy efficient, and last much longer. The environment will thank you for the energy you conserved!

Hang Dry Laundry

 Want to conserve even more energy? Skip using the dryer this spring, and hang dry your clothes in the beautiful, warm weather! You will be using less electricity to power your dryer, save some cash on your energy bills, and have the opportunity to soak up the fresh air while taking care of your laundry. We’ll call that a win!

Use Cloth Towels Instead of Paper

 Using paper towels to clean your home are a huge waste. Trees are being cut, stripped, and destroyed to create these, only to be thrown into a landfill afterwards! To lessen the amount of paper towels used, consider cleaning with reusable, cloth towels. They’ll have the same cleaning effect, but can be washed and used again and again!

Recycle/Donate Old Clothes

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 If you’re going through your closet and find some pieces of your wardrobe that you no longer want, please do not throw them out! Consider donating them to Salvation Army, Planet Aid, or gifting them to a friend. The more kept out of landfills and the more being recycled, the happier and healthier the planet is!

Switch Your Insulation

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 Now that the cold weather is diminishing, it’s the perfect time to assess your current insulation situation, and consider changing it. Is your current insulation energy-efficient? Does it save you money on your energy bills, while also keeping your home cozy year-round? If you answered no to both of those questions, we have some solutions for you! One basic product that our company offers is our Enerspan insulation. It’s an EPS foam insulation that works to eliminate thermal bridging, so that your home can retain heating and cooling. That way, you won’t be losing any energy or money while keeping your home cozy, which kills two birds with one stone! If you want something a bit more extravagant, consider renovating your home with the Advantage ICF System! It’s an EPS foam insulation system that works even harder to trap in the cool and warm air, while also eliminating sound through walls. In the end, you’ll have a comfortable, cozy, and soundproof home that conserves energy!

Feel the Love with an Eco-Friendly Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day is a day that can be special for everyone. Whether you’re a single individual, a sappy spouse, or a child buying sweet candies and cards for friends at school, you can enjoy the sweet aspects of this Hallmark holiday. Represented by hearts, treats, and everything affectionate, Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to give your loved ones a little extra attention, and show them your appreciation with endearing gifts and gestures.

Now, just because the main colors of Valentine’s Day are red and pink, does not mean that we should ever forget to maintain a green outlook. You can still enjoy Valentine’s Day while being eco-friendly; you simply have to keep reducing waste and energy in mind. To give you some inspiration, here are some great ideas for having a green Valentine’s Day.

Handmade Cards Instead of Store-Bought

          Do your kids have to bring Valentine’s Day cards to class this year? If so, consider saving some cash by having them create personalized cards for their classmates instead of buying a box of them at the grocery store. All it takes is some paper, markers, crayons, colored pencils, glitter, or whatever else your child wishes to use to design the cards. The sentiment will be very present, your children can use their creativity while making the cards, and you will be conserving the packaging that comes with store-bought cards. We can call that a win-win! If you want to go above and beyond for some beautiful handmade cards, Pinterest is typically full of unique and simple DIY ideas!

Bake Goods Instead of Buying Them

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 Want to surprise your sweetheart with some chocolates and sweet treats? Instead of buying the generic chocolates at the store, why not bake some goodies at home? Sugar cookies, chocolate-covered strawberries, cupcakes, pies, and other delicious treats are not too challenging to make as long as you have the correct ingredients. Your wallet will thank you, and so will the environment with the amount of packaging, energy, and waste conserved by your efforts. Plus, your significant other will be touched by the fact that you took the time to make them something special instead of buying it, which is so much better!

Stay In and Make a Home-Cooked Meal

          Similar to the baked goods in the last tip, home-cooked meals go a long in terms of doing something special for your loved ones on Valentine’s Day. You can personalize a romantic meal for your sweetheart at home, cook with love, and give them the comfort and relaxation of staying in. On top of that, you can feel great about spending less money, not burning fossil fuels to drive to a fancy restaurant, and not contributing to the planet’s abundance of trash and waste. Just remember to properly recycle the packaging used for your food once you are done cooking, and you are set!

Buy Organic Flowers

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 If you are interested in buying flowers for your special someone, we suggest shopping at an organically-grown flower shop. Many cut flowers at other shops are coated in pesticides, which should not be endorsed. Help rid the environment and these beautiful plants of these toxic chemicals, and shop organic!

Make Homemade Valentine’s Decorations

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Want a fun, DIY Valentine’s Day project to work on with your kids? When you are not working on those cute classroom cards with them, consider making foam hearts and other Valentine’s decorations! Using EPS foam as the main material, you can cut the foam into fun shapes, and take whatever decorating tools you please to make them unique and fun! We recommend our PlastiSpan EPS foam insulation for your material, as it is durable, easy to cut, and safe for your kids to use. Once you and the kids are finished with your decorations, hang them up around the house and feel the love!

Starting the Year with a Green Outlook

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         2018 has finally come to an end, and the chance for a clean slate has arrived with 2019. We all now have the opportunity to build new goals, have a fresh outlook on what the New Year may offer us, and make some incredible changes. Our biggest New Year’s Resolution that we want to implement into this year is to help the public become more aware of how they impact the environment, apply this awareness to their daily lives, and have this awareness assist in developing an overall “green” outlook for people everywhere. To get started, here is some great information that will help readers (and society) become more conscious of their actions towards our planet.

Your Carbon Footprint

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To begin, it is essential for everyone to know how much their carbon footprint can impact the environment. A carbon footprint is the total amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels by humans to fuel their daily life activities. Every person has a carbon footprint, whether it is large or small. You may not think about it, but even the simplest actions that we take to live our lives contribute to our carbon footprint. Heating our homes, buying groceries, driving our cars, and so much more cause quite a bit of fossil fuel emission. Therefore, having an adverse effect on the planet.

In order to begin the process of making our individual carbon footprint smaller, it is necessary to work piece by piece. For starters, let’s tackle buildings. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings consume 70 % of the electricity load in the U.S., and 39% of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. These buildings include everything from our homes to grocery stores and everything in between. However, there are some simple solutions to this issue. Using energy-efficient products to assist in heating and cooling buildings can make a dramatic difference in energy use, and cut down on overall CO2 emissions. The product offerings of PFB work to reduce thermal bridging in walls, amongst other factors that cause an excess amount of energy to be used when it can be saved. These products have been tested in both passive and active houses, and have been proven to work profoundly in cutting down energy costs to create green, sustainable buildings. No matter the building or project, PFB has an eco-friendly solution.

The next piece to tackle is definitely transportation. Transportation contributes to 33% of CO2 emissions. While we all love our cars, trucks, and other motor vehicles, reducing or eliminating their use can absolutely lower the amount of CO2 that’s released into the environment, and therefore lower our carbon footprint. First, owning an electric car or a partial zero-emissions vehicle is a great place to start. However, we understand that not everyone has that luxury. A solution to this problem would simply be to use the car that you do own a bit less than usual. Ride your bike to travel to places, carpool to work with your fellow employees, or take public transportation. Taking these simple steps will assist in making your carbon footprint smaller, and making the world a bit greener.

Lastly, it’s important to acknowledge that sustainability is not just for individuals, but companies that manufacture products as well. To date, companies worldwide are working towards the 2030 Agenda. This initiative is a plan of action for people, the planet, and prosperity. It works to protect the planet from damage, use sustainable consumption and production, and taking serious action on climate change. Many manufacturers recognize the environmental impact of production, and many work to achieve and maintain sustainable manufacturing practices. PFB is one such company. To see our Environmental Stewardship and reporting data on sustainable manufacturing, visit: https://www.pfbsustainability.com/envdata.html.

All in all, knowing your carbon footprint and how it affects the environment is the best way to be aware of how you can make the world a greener place. On top of this, staying in the know about green topics will help develop a green outlook for you. Keep yourself informed, and you’ll surely see a difference in how you approach the environment.

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Creating Fun, Eco-Friendly Foam Christmas Decorations

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Have you all been smelling that holiday spirit that has been fragrant in the air? For weeks now, people everywhere have been preparing for the holidays: Hanukkah has been beautifully celebrated, people endured Black Friday to find the best deals on gifts for their friends and family, and Christmas festivities are being planned. Christmas is a gorgeous holiday for many reasons: the concept of giving gifts to the people you love and care for, making time for said people, and the dazzling holiday decorations that puts everyone in a cheerful mood. Without these amazing aspects, Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas!

With this in mind, it’s important to think about the cost of the holiday season. Christmas gifts aren’t cheap, preparing dinners for large groups is costly, and traveling for the holidays costs money as well. So, on top of all other expenses, why should we spend tons of cash on Christmas decorations? In addition, why should we do the environment damage by buying decorations that have packaging that will inevitably end up in landfills? We have a great solution for this: do-it-yourself decorations made out of our foam insulation products! They are safe for kids, easy to cut, and an easy canvas for all of your creative needs. Plus, crafting your own holiday décor is a great activity to do with kids! Here are a few fun Christmas decorations that you can make with foam insulation:

Christmas Trees

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If you’ve recently renovated your home with the Advantage ICF insulation system, and have a few extra ICF blocks lying around, we have a fun and easy DIY Christmas project for you. Making an ICF foam Christmas tree is simple: first, you will need to have five blocks available to create the tree. Treat it like it’s a pyramid, and stack the blocks from longest to shortest (you may need to cut them to shape them accordingly). From there, you can adorn your tree with whatever a typical Christmas tree would have: garland, lights, a star on top, and whatever else you feel like adding! Bonus: unlike a real Christmas tree, you won’t have any loose tree needles on the floor to clean up!

Snowflakes

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Using our Handi-Pac foam insulation, creating fun snowflakes is simple. Just take a piece of the foam, draw the outline and design of the snowflake on there, cut it out, and dress it up however you wish. You can add some paint, glitter, or anything else your heart desires! These little snowflakes are versatile enough to hang anywhere in your home, and can even be used to adorn the previously mentioned foam Christmas tree!

Wreaths

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Want to make some cool foam wreaths to add to your décor? All it takes is some more Handi-Pac insulation. Similarly to the foam snowflakes, you simply just outline the wreath in the foam, cut it out, and make it super festive with paint, glitter, or whatever else you may want to add.

Ornaments

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Creating your own ornaments is an extremely fun activity, but these ornaments often break due to the fragile materials used. To avoid this, try using Handi-Pac foam insulation instead! You can create both ball and shaped ornaments easily with the foam; just outline and cut it however you desire, and add some personality with paint, glitter, sharpies, or whatever else you feel your ornament needs. In the end, you’ll have a fun, stylish ornament that properly reflects your creativity, without breaking once it’s on the tree!

Fireplace

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Is your home without a fireplace and chimney for Santa to deliver presents through on Christmas Eve? No need to worry, because you can make one! While this project requires a bit more work than the previous ones, the result is much more intricate and worthwhile. There are many ways to create this fireplace, but we like this version by The Sorry Girls best. Here’s their tutorial for building a foam faux fireplace!. If you don’t like their version, feel free to Google another way, or find one on Pinterest that works better for you!