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Does your living room need some help? Guest contributor Joanna shares some eco-friendly tips on redecorating your living room.

Change of slipcovers and pillow covers

Easy touches like changing your sofa and pillow covers makes a big difference in your living room. The best thing is you can have multiple options throughout the year to change the look and wash the old covers in the mean time. Slip covers are one of the few accessories that doesn’t cost a fortune to give your room a complete face lift. The best options are always organic cotton covers as they are softer and contains no chemicals in the making of the material – perfect to be around small children in the home.

Repaint old cabinets & picture frames with Eco friendly paint/stains

Why throw away good furniture when all it needs is a new coat of paint? Every year, households throw away tons of furniture that ends up in the landfill, when they can be saved by re-using it with a different look or place it in a different room for a change. If you do intend to re-paint your old furniture, do use Eco friendly paint as it helps breathing easier when applying the paint, provide a chemical free surrounding and leaves behind a greener world when producing the paint. VOCs (volatile organic compounds) found in regular paint can be harmful to people, so look for a low or zero VOC when shopping for paint.

Shift furniture around the home to give a new look

Feel like you don’t have enough space in your home? Consider rearranging the existing furniture and even remove one or a few pieces to free up some space. Sometimes it just takes a new pair of eyes to place furniture properly. Think about where your lighting comes from and how your want your seating area to accommodate to that light. Try a few options and sit down to see if you actually like the setting. It’s a lot of muscles to make this work, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Change the lighting with different lampshades and drapes throughout the year

Believe it or not, when there’s more lighting in a room it feels and looks more spacious. Whether your increasing natural sunlight coming into the room or adding more lamp fixtures, a balance of both lights is necessary to have sufficient light during the day and night.

The more natural light you have available in your room during the day will also help reduce the use of electricity, going green and saving money all at the same time. And of course, it always helps to have different color selection when it comes to lampshades and drapes. The secret is to choose cool colors for the warm season, and warm colors for the cool season.

Add some seasonal plants / fresh cut flowers

Some plants are good throughout the year, but it’s also important to include seasonal plants to enjoy the specialties of each unique season. Fresh cut flowers are always good throughout the year, although most would buy more flowers during summer time when they are in season but the hot weather will make the flowers not last as long as they would in the winter time. The best option would be to have a back yard garden to clip your flowers from, that way it doesn’t take as much energy to transport flowers to your home when you can just easily access them right in your own backyard.

Clear up the clutter for a peaceful home

Don’t just leave till spring time to do your cleaning. Each season you should make an effort to clean out the clutter in your home. Donate all the items that are still in good condition if you haven’t used them in an entire year, and the rest should be recycled and only a minimum would go towards the trash. The more you re-use your old furniture or donate your old clothes, the less you’ll add towards the landfills each year.

Change up the accessories / displays

Even books can be accessories to place in your living room. Each different season can include different types of cooking books. For example, a barbecue cook book in the summer can be readily available in the living room for dinner ideas and for guests to have something interesting to read while they are over.

Other accessories can include a simple painting on your wall or ornament displays of whatever peaks your interest. However, if you do have a passion to collect a theme, let’s say cat ornaments, try not to go overboard with overwhelming your living room with excessive accessories. Remember, simplicity is the way to go with a touch of personal taste.

Photo by Danilo Nunez Jr. on Flickr

Written by guest contributor Joanna, a freelance writer that dotes on family values and environmental issues.


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Oil Spills and Oil Dependence

As you no doubt know, unless you have been living under a rock for the past several months, an oil rig called the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20. The explosion destroyed the rig, causing oil to spill from the wellhead into the Gulf. At this point oil has been spilling out for more than 2 months, defying all efforts at containment. The current plan is to drill two relief wells and then permanently close the existing well. The relief wells are expected to be completed in August.

Meanwhile, the largest offshore oil spill in US history continues.

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Can I just say that I think it is both harder and easier to be green in the summer?!

I can hang my clothes outside on the line to dry, but I am taking more showers due to being outside and sticky/dirty. Also? My hair is not nearly as fabulous post-baby and needs more washes. Boo.

I can keep more lights off inside since the sun shines brighter for longer, but I have all the fans going to try to circulate as much cool air as possible.

I can keep the doors and windows closed on the hottest days to keep the hot out and the cool in, but I’ll be darned if I’m turning off the AC!

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CREDO Mobile and the Solio Solar Charger; A Review

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a smidge excited when, a few weeks ago, Tim from CREDO Mobile contacted me about featuring their company on 5 Minutes for Going Green. You see, while I’m currently contractually obligated to one of the major U.S. cellular companies — and truth be told, even though CREDO offers a contract buy out option, I’m not entirely prepared to switch since my current company is one of only two carriers that offer my beloved Palm Pixi — CREDO doesn’t offer just phones. They also carry the Solio Solar Charger. A smart little device that I have been eying for quite sometime.

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Staying Warm in the Winter

One of the best ways to reduce our carbon footprint is to use less fossil fuels- pretty simple right? The complicated part is expanding our awareness so that we understand the ways that we are consuming.

In the winter I notice my energy use raising.  A few examples: I turn the lights on earlier in the day, I sneak the heat on, I tend to watch more TV, and I eat more cooked foods and less fresh out of the garden.  Some of the less obvious might be: I buy more stuff. Ever notice all the catalogues that show up in late October, early November?

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On Saving Energy. And Bats.

Bats are an ongoing issue in our horse barn. It’s old and as such has numerous nooks and crannies through which they find their way in. So much so that the hay loft may as well be officially dubbed a bat hotel. As much as I loathe their presence, shudder when I hear their high-pitched squeals from above when I do chores I also appreciate their service. And so far, their keeping themselves confined to the loft and the great out doors and not venturing into my tack room.

Bats, as creepy as they may be, are a vital component in insect population control and living near a river and flood plain in a state known for it’s killer mosquito population I can readily appreciate their value.

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May Is EcoDriving Month

May is EcoDriving Month!

It’s a great time to learn to change your driving habits. Just small changes in how you drive can help you get better gas mileage. Not all of us can run out and by an electric car or a hybrid, so learning to drive better can make a real difference.

Here are some basic tips that can help increase your gas mileage-
1.    Check your tire pressure. Properly inflated tires can increase fuel efficiency by around 3-10 percent.
2.    Have a lighter foot. Slowly accelerate and decelerate.
3.    Clean out your car. Extra weight will lower your mpg.

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Minimizing Your Plastic Footprint: Glass Dharma Giveaway

Keeping the Earth Week fun moving right along, today as promised we have more great green products for you to win, more Earth Day tips, and bonus links to keep you clicking green all week long.

David Leonhardt, a glassblower and the founder of Glass Dharma, the original hand-made glass drinking straw, created his own line of drinking straws to “contribute one solution to the misuse of plastics in our society.”

By now I think most of us understand the over-use of the very non eco-friendly plastic material is a huge environmental problem, one with no clear solution in sight.

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Let’s Get It Started In Here: The Naked Binder Giveaway

History of Earth Day

Most of you have probably heard by now that Earth Day is just around the proverbial corner, slated for this upcoming Wednesday, April 22nd.

I’m sure you’ve seen television spots, heard radio announcements, and read other green sites preparing to embrace the day, and the entire week, with wide open hearts and minds, in the hopes that together we can make a difference for our one and only planet.

Here at 5MinutesForGoingGreen we’re preparing for our own Earth Day shindig of sorts, gearing up to offer a slew of green products for you to read about and win ALL WEEK LONG, in addition to links galore, and helpful tips for how you can maximize your contribution to making our planet a greener place to be, five minutes at a time.

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Around The Greenosphere: Weekly Link Roundup

Here are some of our favorite posts from around the greenosphere this week, to help start your weekend a bit greener.

Monday Inhabitat announced that MIO will be releasing a new green outdoor line for Target, set to be available in stores April 12th. The product assortment includes eight outdoor items made from recycled and renewable materials including a watering can, trowel, cultivator, weeder, mini herb garden, solar lights, hammock and composter ranging in price from $7.99 – $99.99.

Tuesday Dot Earth ran an informative article on climate change and its immediate and long term effects on polar bears.

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