How to Be a Green Pet Owner

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Pets have a way of stealing our hearts. With their loyalty, affectionate demeanors, and silly antics, our animal companions easily make themselves a part of the family. When it comes to being a pet owner, we want to do everything that we can to ensure that our pets are living a long, healthy, and happy life.

While owning pets may be full of chaos and expenses that may consume your time, you should not have to eliminate your eco-friendly way of life to focus on your pets. In fact, we know of a few ways to still eliminate the planet’s waste while still giving your pets an amazing life! Here are a few tips to help maintain a green lifestyle for both you and your pets.

Adopt, Don’t Shop

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For those of you who are looking to get a pet in the near future, our biggest recommendation is to adopt a rescue from an animal shelter. There are so many sweet animals in shelters whom need a loving home, and won’t be adopted due to people purchasing puppies and kittens from breeders and puppy mills. This causes a lot of shelters to fill up with strays, which leads to many strays being euthanized. You can feel great about rescuing a sweet animal, spending less on adoption fees than on a puppy or kitten from a breeder or mill, and opening up more space for another rescue in the shelter instead of being euthanized!

Buy in Bulk

Buying bags of pet food is something that is consistently on our to-do lists. Unfortunately, our pets go through those bags of food rather quickly, and the bags are thrown away. This adds to landfills, which is terrible for our planet. Instead of buying a small bag of pet food every two weeks, why not buy a huge bag of food and save yourself some money? It will last longer, eliminates the amount of waste expended, and also gets rid of gas used to run to the pet store when your pet runs out of food. Your wallet and the planet will thank you!

Make Your Own Pet Food and Treats

If you like to cook and make your own recipes at home, you might enjoy preparing your pets meals instead of buying store-bought pet food. This would eliminate waste from pet food packaging, and gas used to run to the pet store. Just be sure to check with your veterinarian to make sure that this is safe for your pet; they may even have some recipes or advice on hand!

Switch Your Insulation 

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Does your home have fiberglass insulation? While any insulation can be dangerous to your pets if ingested, fiberglass can be even more hazardous. The small shards of fiberglass can be dangerous to the touch, and the dust is hazardous if inhaled. Instead, consider switching to a foam insulation that is both eco-friendly and affordable. Our PlastiSpan insulation is a great option, as it is available in various thicknesses and R-values to meet your needs, and can be applied to walls and roofs, and eliminates thermal bridging (which will save you some cash on your energy bills). Your pet will not be harmed by touching it, and your home will be better insulated!

Buy Eco-Friendly Supplies and Toys

Did you know that they make eco-friendly pet supplies? There are pet collars, toys, beds, and leashes that are made from recycled materials, as well as plant-based materials. You can look online for all of these commodities, and have them shipped to your home! This will save you gas, and also reduce the amount of packaging used for these supplies!

Use Biodegradable Bags and Litter

Instead of using plastic bags to pick up your pup’s poop, opt for biodegradable bags. They will offer the same use, but will break down naturally instead of depositing into landfills and oceans. If you own a cat, biodegradable litter is an option, and can even be used for compost! Less plastic used for your pet’s “waste” will make for a happier and cleaner planet!

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Having a Green Holiday Season

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Now that the fall season is coming to a close and snow has made its presence very well known, it’s everyone’s favorite time of year: holiday season! Whether you and your family celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, or any other winter holiday, the upcoming festivities bring plenty of joy for everyone. We are granted the opportunity to get together with our loved ones, share amazing home-cooked meals, and be grateful for all of the positive aspects that we have in our lives.

Now, just because we are all busy preparing for the wonderful holiday season doesn’t mean that we should forget about keeping our festivities eco-friendly. In fact, this time of year is the best time to make sustainable living a priority. We can work to eliminate waste, reduce energy used, and do our part to make the world greener while still having a ball with our loved ones with these few, simple tips.

Break Out the Fine China

 Holidays are a perfect time to use the fancy dishes, glasses, cloth napkins, and silverware that you have been saving for special occasions. They bring an air of elegance to the table, add to the festive décor, and lets your guests know that you put your whole heart into the table settings. On top of this, it is actually super eco-friendly to opt for your fine china over disposable dishes and napkins. Disposable plates and paper napkins cannot be recycled once they have food on them, which causes extra waste in landfills. It is easier to save yourself some money and time by just breaking out the fine china for the night.

Make Your Own Decorations

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 Decorations can really help put your guests into the holiday spirit with some festive flair! However, many store-bought decorations are pricey, and are made with materials that aren’t so great for the environment. Why not get crafty and make your own decorations at home? It’s a great way to make your home look festive, save some money, eliminate harmful materials from being used and wasted, and have the family bond over an activity they can do together!

If you want to go for a fun fall vibe, you can take leaves, pinecones, and acorns from outside and use those around the house. You can present them in vases, make art with them, or find some other crafty way to display them.

For both fall and winter decorations, we recommend using our Handi-Pac foam and cutting it into fun shapes! It is easy to cut and mold into whatever you want it to be. From there, you can paint it and add your own personal style, and adorn your house with it! Once you’re done making your decorations, you can save the excess foam for other projects and crafts you may want to work on later.

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If inspiration isn’t striking you, Pinterest is a great route to go. It’s full of great DIY projects that are simple and fun to make, and often have step-by-step directions that can guide you along the way.

Buy Local, Organic Food from Your Community

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 One of the best parts of holiday gatherings are definitely the fantastic feasts that are planned and organized. From the main dishes like turkey and ham, to the delicious sides and delectable desserts, dinner is one aspect of the holidays that should be taken very seriously and properly executed. So, why not help your community out and shop locally for fruits, veggies, and meats for the feast? Not only will the food be much more fresh and tasty than grocery-store bought, but you will assist in preserving farmland, building local jobs, and saving the environment by reducing the amount of fuel emissions expended from shipping in the products. Bonus: going to the farmer’s market with the family is a great way to bond, and to help plan out the holiday dinner together!

Cook Less Food for The Holiday Dinners

 Don’t get us wrong, we love having holiday leftovers to snack on once the holiday is over. However, often times we cook way too much food for our seasonal feasts, and end up throwing away a bunch of it once the night is over. Talk about food waste! Instead, why not cut down on the amount of side dishes available during dinner (or at least the portion sizes), and cook a smaller main course for everyone to share? There will be a lot less food going to waste, less time taken to prepare the food, and less cleanup afterwards for the dinner host!

Carpool to Holiday Dinners

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 Traveling is one aspect of the holidays that we can’t seem to avoid. Sometimes we live a bit of a distance from our loved ones, and have to make a long commute to make it to family get-togethers. While the driving is inevitable, we can still do our part to eliminate the amount of fuel burned into the environment. If you live near other family members who are traveling to the host’s home, why not carpool with them? You’ll have some company to make the commute more fun, and you’ll be doing the environment a favor. Bonus: everybody can split the cost of gas while carpooling, which will save more money than if everyone had driven separately.

Going Green for Halloween

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Halloween is just around the corner, and we know that people everywhere are getting prepped for the spooky holiday. Costumes are pieced together, scary decorations are adorned around the house, and candy bowls are ready for the youngsters to grab on Halloween night. However, if you’re like some of us, you’ve procrastinated on getting the house (and yourself) ready for spooky season, and you want to be as eco-friendly as possible with all aspects of the holiday. Never fear! We have plenty of tips to help you prepare for Halloween, from decorations to costumes and everything in between.

Reuse/ Build Your Own Halloween Costume

 Have you ever noticed how pricey pre-made Halloween costumes can be? Why pay so much money for a costume that you’ll wear once a year, and that comes with tons of packaging that will just add to the planet’s extensive amount of waste? Instead, consider getting creative by browsing through thrift shops to build your own unique costume, or borrowing a used costume from a friend! It’ll help eliminate some excess waste, while also saving you some extra cash. To go even further, you can donate your costume when you’re done with it, or let another friend or family member have it!

Reuse Trick-Or-Treat Bags

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 Trick-Or-Treat bags definitely do not need to be elaborate for your kids as they go strolling for candy. Instead of going out and buying a new one, why not reuse one that you’ve used in previous years? If you or someone you know doesn’t have a candy bucket or bag that you can reuse, think about using a pillow case. It can hold more candy, it’s easy to clean, and can be put right back on your pillow after Halloween! This will keep you from spending unnecessary money, while also reducing the amount of garbage thrown out after Halloween is over.

Buy Locally Grown Pumpkins and Produce

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 Planning on carving pumpkins this year? Maybe buying some apples or apple cider? We recommend buying locally grown pumpkins and apples this season. Consider checking out nearby apple orchards and pick apples yourself! It makes for a fun family outing or date idea, plus you’ll eliminate the amount of packaging that comes from store bought produce. To get the most use out of your pumpkins, you can roast the seeds and use insides to make some baked goods. You’ll be lowering emissions by buying locally grown produce, and still be able to make some tasty treats!

Hand Out Toys and Other Fun Treats Instead of Candy 

Did you know that candy wrappers are not recyclable? This means that, once Halloween is over, there will be an abundance of trash added to our planet’s already heaping pile. To avoid this, why not hand out fun little goodies that aren’t pre-packaged? You can give kids little Halloween toys, jewelry, pencils, stickers, temporary tattoos, and other fun ideas instead of candy. It will reduce the amount of garbage compiled, while still adding to the fun of Halloween. Bonus: it’s a much healthier alternative!

Make Your Own Halloween Decorations

 Lots of people opt to buy fancy Halloween décor to adorn their house with. While it looks great, it can be expensive, and not very eco-friendly due to all of the packaging used and wasted. Instead, why not try to make your own decorations?

One way to make some amazing Halloween decorations is with our PlastiSpan handi-pac insulation. Typically used as a foam, cushion packaging solution, these pieces can be cut and molded to create whatever shapes and designs you want! You can cut them and paint them to look like pumpkins, bats, or whatever other spooky design you please.

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For other DIY decoration ideas, we highly recommend you check out Pinterest. They have thousands of easy, fun ideas that anyone (crafty or not) can make!

Going Green Without Becoming Green: Eco-Friendly Ways to Handle Flu Season

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With autumn in full swing, people everywhere are getting excited about the beautiful weather changes, seasonal foods coming into play, and the spooky festivities that come with Halloween. However, many of us are already experiencing the downfalls of the season change: catching colds, flus, and everything in between. It’s no fun trying to ward off these pesky illnesses, and it’s even worse trying to get over them once we have caught them. To add to it, we have to try to keep the environment in mind and make decisions on how to take care of ourselves without harming the planet. Never fear though, it is easier than you would imagine. Here are a couple of tips to help fight off those yucky fall sicknesses, make the diseases bearable if you’ve already caught them, and to maintain your eco-friendly lifestyle all along the way!

Have a Healthy Diet Full of Organic Foods and Herbs

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Sure, this tip may seem like common sense, but many people overlook how helpful eating lots of fresh organic fruits and vegetables can be for their immune systems. The more nutrients and vitamins that you are taking in, the healthier your body will be and the harder your immune system will fight against unwanted bacteria. If you are already enduring a seasonal illness, adding certain herbs and spices to your diet can relieve your body of some of the symptoms. For example, ginger can alleviate symptoms of upper respiratory infections and bronchitis, and nutmeg can help you fall asleep when your ailments are making it difficult. Not to mention, adding these spices and herbs to your diet before you get sick can help fight off diseases, which your body will definitely thank you for.

Clean Your House Often

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In order to keep yourself from getting sick, you have to work to eliminate the harmful bacteria that could infect you. A lot of this bacteria can come into your household by other people spreading the germs and bringing them inside with them. So, to keep your home as clean as possible from all of these germs, be sure to clean your house regularly with all natural cleaners. Dusting, surface cleaning with hot water and soap, and washing all fabrics regularly will eliminate the amount of bacteria and mold in your home, which will help keep those pesky illnesses at bay!

Keep Your Home Comfortable and Cozy

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With the change of the season, the temperatures are guaranteed to drop and become much chillier. Lots of people struggle with this, as they aren’t completely willing to pay the extra money on their energy bills to turn up the heat in their homes. In turn, they either become sick, or adapt to the cool weather by constantly wearing layers in their home, which can be a tad annoying. Why not kill two birds with one stone and have a warm, comfortable home that won’t make your utility bills spike? The key to this is in your home’s insulation. With a great insulation system in place, your home can maintain thermal resistance and not lose its comfort to thermal bridging.

If your current insulation is not up to par, we recommend our PlastiSpan insulation. It can be applied in the walls and roof of your home, and the high r-value is guaranteed to eliminate thermal bridging, so that you won’t lose any of the heat you’re trying to keep locked inside. You will be spending less on your utility bills, and using less energy to keep your home cozy, which is a win-win for both your wallet and the environment!

Go Traditional: Use Handkerchiefs Instead of Tissues

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 It may seem somewhat outdated, but handkerchiefs may be the best way to keep your nose clean AND eliminate waste. By using a ton of tissues to blow your nose, just to throw them all away, a lot of paper is being wasted. So, why not keep a couple of handkerchiefs instead? It’s convenient, softer on your nose, and saves a few trees. Unsure about how hygienic it is to use a handkerchief? As long as you wash them regularly and don’t reuse the same one over and over, it’s just as sanitary as disposing of tissues.

6 Ways to Stay Sustainable with Food 

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Photo by Stokpic on Pexels.com

One of the largest, most pressing topics concerning global pollution is the fact that humans have created so much waste and have nowhere to put it. Trash is being drained out into the oceans, people are throwing away items that could easily be recycled, and landfills are piling up everywhere. Because of this large issue, the planet is suffering from some painful consequences.. There has been an abundance of cases of marine life dying or being injured due to trash floating in the water, as well as land animals who are inhaling harmful gases that are emitted into the air due to some types of manufacturing processes. All in all, it’s a dire situation that will take some time to fix.  

 Now, just because it cannot be fixed overnight does not mean that we should not take every step, no matter how small, to minimize the amount of materials that we waste and throw away. One initial step that can be taken includes looking at our daily life routines and analyzing what products we use that are unnecessary, or are not being taken care of properly. The first routine that comes to mind is one of pure necessity: eating. While the most ecofriendly practice for enjoying meals is by cooking and eating at home, we know that many people like to enjoy a night out at a nice restaurant. For those nights, we have a couple of suggestions to help eliminate the amount of waste used, and to make the planet a much healthier place for its inhabitants.  

 Refuse Plastic Straws  

 Many of you may already be aware of this, as Starbucks has recently dedicated their company to removing all plastic straws from their stores by 2020, but using plastic straws is incredibly dangerous to the environment. While these straws should never have made it into the ocean to begin with, we can do our part to make sure that any more chances of this occurring are eliminated. When eating out at a restaurant, you can politely ask your server to not bring a straw with your drink. If you feel that you need a straw to drink out of, or have a disability that requires you to use straws while drinking, there are plenty of reusable straw options online that are made of metal or glass. These are easy to clean, and sometimes even come with a keychain to make carrying it around easier! You can feel good about yourself by not adding to the amount of straws already in the ocean, while still enjoying your drink!  

Bring a Reusable Cup for Drinks 

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 If you are out at a fast food restaurant or diner that offers their beverages in paper or plastic cups, bring your own reusable cup. You will still be charged for the drink, but many establishments do not mind you bringing your own cup instead of theirs. You will be eliminating some excessive waste, while being able to get a drink and even refill it as much as you want!  

 Decline the Receipt 

 We know how convenient it is to have a copy of your receipt, but if we’re being honest with ourselves, we likely will throw it away once we leave the restaurant, and the paper that we asked for will be wasted. Do the planet’s trees a huge favor and opt out of a receipt if possible.  

 Keep the Leftovers 

 Feeling full after a large meal? Don’t let the rest of that food go to waste in a landfill! Ask your server to give you a to-go box, so that you can bring the leftovers home with you. You can save it for lunch the next day, feed it to your pets as a snack, use it for compost, or let another family member have it. (side note – considering we make and market Styrofoam (AKA EPS) we best not say it this way) 

 Take Home the Excess Paper Napkins  

 Ever go through the drive-thru at a fast food place and have a million napkins left over after finishing all of the food? Don’t let those napkins go to waste! Bring them home to use for later, or keep them in your car! We often make messes as we drive and are in need of something quick to clean them up, so why not have a backup of napkins hidden in your center console? You’ll be doing yourself, and the environment, a huge favor.  

 Take a Picnic Instead  

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Want to get a change of scenery for dinner without having to actually spend any money? Why not opt for a picnic instead of spending unnecessary cash at a restaurant? You can enjoy all of your food from home in a new, perhaps even beautiful, location and make an event out of it. Just be sure to bring reusable silverware, cups, and plates to make the experience incredibly ecofriendly.  

 The best way to travel with food would definitely be a cooler. However, you should be careful with which cooler you use. Have you ever experienced the coolers that not only crumble and fall apart but just don’t seem to keep your food cold? Not ours! Made of a molded EPS, they are stronger, sturdier, and thanks to the R-value, are more efficient at keeping your food and drinks the perfect temperature.  Try one of the EPS foam coolers that we produce! They are thick, come in a variety of sizes, and are reusable, so that you can go green while enjoying the great outdoors!

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Five Tips for an Eco-Friendly Fall Season

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Now that September is here and the summer season is fading away, the smell and essence of autumn lingers heavily in the air. Many stores are already releasing some spooky Halloween decorations, the leaves are beginning to faintly change in color, and Starbucks has begun selling their popular pumpkin spiced lattes again. While this season may be one full of changes, the nostalgia and traditions of autumn will never stray from our minds.

Now, just because the leaves are changing colors does not mean that we should lose our green, eco-friendly approach. In fact, the seasonal change is a great chance for everyone to get creative and explore the ways that they can live sustainably year-round. For those who need some guidance, here are some great tips for staying green this fall.

Enjoy the Great Outdoors

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 I think we all can agree that autumn is one of the most beautiful seasons. The crisp, cool air and the scenic color change of the trees are enough to make all of us feel warm and fuzzy inside. So, why not go outside and enjoy it while it lasts? Fall is the perfect time to go hiking in the woods, ride a bike, visit a pumpkin patch or apple orchard, or even get lost in a corn maize. Not only will these activities allow you to enjoy autumn in all of its glory, it will also keep you from using energy inside your house! Less electricity is being used to power your sources of entertainment at home, so less energy is being consumed and wasted. Not to mention, being outdoors and exercising will be much better for your mind and body!

Set Your Thermostat to a Lower Temp

 While the temperature may be getting colder outside due to the season change, that does not mean that the thermostat needs to be turned up. Rather, keeping your thermostat set to 68 or lower will lower your energy bills, plus conserve energy. It may be uncomfortable with it being a bit colder in your home, but it can easily be fixed by wearing layers, warmer clothing, laying out thicker blankets on your bed, and having extra throw blankets available around the house. Who doesn’t love cozying up with a plush, warm blanket?

Switch Out Your Current Insulation

Not many people are aware of the impact that their insulation has on their energy use, but the correlation is strong. By having an insulation in your walls that does not fight or eliminate thermal bridging, you are losing the heat that you are trying to contain within your household, and potentially wasting a lot of money on energy bills.

Consider switching your insulation to one that is energy-efficient, simple to use, and will save you money in the long run. A very good example of this is our PlastiSpan insulation. Using this in your walls and/or roof will ensure that thermal bridging is eliminated, energy is conserved, money will be saved, and your home will be cozier than ever!

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Check the Air Pressure in Your Cars Tires

 As the weather get cooler, the air pressure in your vehicle’s tires will inevitably get lower. This may not seem like much of an issue, but this lower air pressure actually lowers your car’s fuel efficiency. This will require you to fill up on gas more frequently, which is definitely NOT eco-friendly. Eliminate the amount of fossil fuel emissions into the air by checking your tire pressure frequently and filling up the tires when necessary. Your car and the environment will thank you.

Start Composting

 While the color-changing leaves are one of the most significant and beautiful parts of the autumn season, the leaves have to fall somewhere. Inevitably, the leaves will end up in your yard, and will have to be removed before winter. While some people opt to burn the leaves or gather them in yard waste bins, we would like to offer a different alternative. Burning the leaves emits carbon dioxide and other harmful gases into the air, and filling up a yard waste bin only adds to the amount of waste piling up in landfills. Instead, why not use the leaves for composting? Your garden will be satisfied by the nutrients that come from composting the leaves, and the environment will thank you.

Road Tripping: The Green Way

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Road tripping is one of the most unique adventures one can have in their life. While they may be long and tedious objectively, the freedom of the open road, the spontaneous stops made along the way to the main destination, and the unbelievable stories that are built all throughout the journey truly make road trips a worthwhile experience. However, there are a lot of factors that come into play when planning out a road trip: how much money should be saved up, how many hours can one drive before taking a break, how many stops should be taken along the way, etc. If you are like us, then you ask yourselves an extra question: how can I stay eco-friendly while on the road? Luckily for you, we have a couple of tips and tricks that will save you some cash while also living sustainably as you travel and explore to your heart’s content!

Buying a Reusable Water Bottle

While on the road, you will discover that stopping and paying for drinks becomes very expensive and inconvenient. Why not save yourself the trouble, and purchase a large reusable water bottle? Most rest stops have a water fountain, so refilling it every couple of hours is an easy, free task. Plus, you will be reducing the amount of trash that is polluting our planet, which is a bonus in our books.

Packing Food Instead of Eating Out

 Similar to our last tip, buying food on the road becomes very expensive very quickly. Not to mention, a lot of the food you are able to buy while traveling is limited to fast food, which will make your body feel less than 100% while driving or sitting in a car for hours. Do yourself a favor and bring a cooler full of food from home to satisfy your hunger. You could fill it with sandwich meats, cheese, veggies, and condiments to make sandwiches, along with some fruits to snack on. Outside of the cooler, you could bring snacks like chips or granola bars to munch on as well. Not only will this save you some cash, but it also will allow you to use food in your refrigerator that may otherwise go bad while you were traveling. Just make sure to actually throw away your garbage and recycle anything that can be recycled at rest stops along the way; don’t litter!

Try to Pack Light

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 We know how hard it is to pack only the essentials when going on a road trip. You want to account for all possibilities, weather conditions, and planned excursions for your travels. While that may seem smart, we advise you to try to pack as light as possible. Not only will it save you some sanity when you have to unpack after coming home, but it will also lessen the amount of carbon emissions in the air from the vehicle you are driving. The less weight in the car, the less fossil fuels burned to drive the car. Sure, it may not be as convenient to limit your packing, but you will be doing yourself and the planet a huge favor.

Try to Only Travel with One Vehicle

 Going on a road trip with friends? Try to only drive with one vehicle instead of two. Sure, it may get cramped, but it will definitely save you and everyone else traveling money for gas. Plus, it will decrease the amount of fossil fuels burned and emitted into the air, which is much more eco-friendly!

Take Care of Energy Sources at Home Before Leaving

 A lot of people forget about everything at home when they are leaving for vacation. They are so wrapped up in their travel plans, making sure that they packed everything necessary, and calculating all of the costs that will build up that they forget about one of the biggest costs at home: letting their energy sources run while they are gone.

For starters, make sure that you unplug all electronics before you leave. Even if those electronics are turned off, they still have the ability to “leach” power. By unplugging them, you are saving energy while also saving some money on your electric bill.

Next, be sure to turn down your thermostat. There is no need to heat or cool an empty house while you are gone, so why spend the extra money to do so? Conserve that energy, along with the cash in your wallet.

Another great way to save energy in your home while you are gone is actually through your home’s insulation. Having proper insulation in your walls and roof will make an enormous difference in conserving energy and saving money. A lot of heat and air are lost in homes due to thermal bridging. Having an insulation that is high in thermal resistance, or r-value, will help reduce thermal bridging, and will maintain the heat or air that you desire in your home.

A great product that we recommend for your home’s walls and roof would be our PlastiSpan. It is a cost-effective, rigid EPS foam insulation that is guaranteed to eliminate thermal bridging in your home and make it more energy efficient.

If you are planning to build a new home and want a superior insulation system that will provide energy-efficiency and cost savings overall, we definitely suggest our Advantage ICF System. Similarly to PlastiSpan, it is made of EPS foam. However, the system is made of foam block pieces that have interlocking webs inside of the pieces. Once shaped and set how the home owner desires, concrete is then poured inside of the foam block pieces to ensure that a solid, thick wall is created and can eliminate thermal bridging in the future house being built around it. The Advantage ICF System additionally adds resale value to your home, which helps bring you some money back in the long run.

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