Power Sale for Earth Week 2014

Earth Day sale.jpg

We are celebrating Earth Day this week with a 4-day power sale. For Earth Day 2014 everything at EcoSmart Products is on sale for 20% off! If you already use EcoSmart’s dry-erase markers, you know about the incredible cost savings by using refillable markers. Our customers estimate that they save approximately 70% off their marker budget. Now our Earth Day sale, which runs until Friday April 25 2014, will add to your savings. Go green with your markers this Earth Day (or black, blue, purple, red or orange).
Don’t miss your chance to stock up on EcoSmart’s

Use Promo Code: EarthDay2014 when you order online at www.ecosmartworld.com

or by calling our office toll-free at 1 866 328-7736.

Purple with Refill 2

Refillable Markers and Other Inventions You Didn’t Think Of

Now why didn't I think of thatEcoSmart customers and our friends often lament: Refillable Markers! Now why didn’t I think of that? It seems so obvious, right? Dry-erase markers keep running out. Why not invent a refillable marker? And while you’re at it, why not make the ink non-toxic so there will be no more marker headaches. Well, this little marker is solving the problem that so many whiteboard users never really knew they had. Isn’t that the way with inventions? We never know there’s a better alternative until one enters our life and then we can’t live without it (think: remote control, Velcro shoe fasteners for kids, and the cordless phone). Here are some green products that we wish we had thought of around here at EcoSmart Products.

1. Any device that eliminates the need for batteries! Solar powered chargers, water powered clocks and hand-pumped flashlights. Oh the waste, money and frustration saved!

Things that save batteries

2. Fabric that is made of bamboo. Bamboo is so soft, and that is the single reason I wear my bamboo p.j.s way later into the day/earlier in the evening than I should. Bamboo is a vastly more sustainable crop than cotton: it grows quickly, maintains healthy soil, retains water in the ecosystem, and it doesn’t require chemical pesticides or fertilizers. Bamboo takes in nearly 5 times the amount of greenhouse gasses, and produces 35% more oxygen than an equivalent stand of trees. And it’s panda-friendly.

bamboo

3. We also wish we had invented the entire line of Melissa & Doug toys and products. Like so many other entrepreneurs, Melissa and Doug started their company of educational and creative toys out of their parents’ basement. They were producing wooden toys at a time when you could almost only ever find plastic ones. Now, 25 years later, Melissa & Doug products can be found in virtually any toy store.

Melissa and Doug

Earth Day Ideas to Go Green at the Office or School

One of the best party favors we ever did for our kids’ birthday parties was giving them no loot bag at all. Instead, we hid $5 bills around the house. After the kids had rounded up the cash, they then got to shop an online charitable website and decide how they would spend their loot. They ended up buying mosquito nets, which would help prevent the spread of malaria for at least one family. Using this same participatory approach, why not gather your co-workers, students or family members to make an Earth Day purchase that will provide a long-lasting eco-friendly benefit for your office, classroom or home. While Earth Day is about reducing our consumption patterns, these purchases are aimed at reducing waste and resources. Here are some Earth Day ideas to help you go green for under $30.

IMG_7806 (2)1. Make a selection of refillable dry-erase markers and refill inks for your whiteboard.

  • a 6-pack of EcoSmart Markers and 3 Refill Inks will cost less than $30, but will save at least 75 disposable plastic markers from being used and sent to the landfill!
  • The markers also use non-toxic ink and are made of recycled aluminum. This protects your health and greatly reduces the use of plastic.
  • Visit www.ecosmartworld.com

09-10512. Get a countertop composter to save food scraps from the garbage.

  • Food scraps don’t need to go into the garbage… and we sure create a lot of food waste in North America! 
  • This ceramic composter, on sale for $25, looks modern, and has a carbon filter to keep odors at bay.
  • Visit www.gaiam.com

 

 

power bar with timer.jpeg3. Power down even when electronics are off with a power bar with digital timer.

  • Avoid the ‘phantom load’ of energy being wasted on electronics that are plugged in, even though they are turned off. Energy consumption is one area that every office, school and home can improve!
  • This EcoSeries 8 outlet power bar allows you to set a timer to power down at quiet times of  the night or weekends, for just under $30.
  • Visit Walmart online, here.

Have fun with your Earth Day consultation on how to reduce your environmental footprint at the office, school or home!

Refillable Markers: 5 Benefits to a Refillable Marker

How to Refill“Refillable markers – what an interesting idea,” a university purchaser wrote to us at EcoSmart Products. “We go through more dry-erase markers than you would think possible for 50 instructors.” If you are new to the idea of refillable markers for the whiteboard, or if you are wondering why refillable markers are trending, here are 5 benefits to switching away from disposable markers in favor of re-usable ones. But don’t just take our word for it; we thought we’d let our customers do the talking for us.

#1. “We are saving $600/semester in our department alone by using EcoSmart’s refillable markers.”

-Carlos F., Instructor, Cabrillo College

By using refillable markers, you will spend about 70% less on your marker budget. EcoSmart’s refillable markers cost about the same (or less) than regular, disposable markers, but then refilling them costs a fraction of the price, at about 24 cents per marker. Some schools and businesses are re-investing the savings in other green initiatives. Others are simply saving money, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

#2. “These markers are the solution I was looking for. It is unpleasant creating so much waste (at such a cost). When EcoSmart Markers begin to fade, refilling is easy. At this point I really see no advantage to the disposables.”

-Ben J., Instructor, Fullerton, California

The waste savings created by refillable markers is significant, especially in places where whiteboards are used daily. Plastic markers cannot be recycled, so when they run dry, they make their way to the local landfill. But schools that have switched to refillable markers are saving a few hundred pounds of the toxic, plastic markers from being thrown out per year. A lighter eco footprint feels very good.

#3. “I guess you would hear from me more often, but your marker refills seem to last forever.”

-Eric A., Oakton, Virginia

Longevity and the convenience of having markers that work at your fingertips. We would venture a guess that every whiteboard ledge in North America is home to some dead and dieing markers. How often have you seen teachers, or yourself, launch dry markers across the room into the wastepaper basket? Using refillable markers means that you can keep your markers topped up so they write like new at all times. No more basketball practice, ever.

[Note: At EcoSmart Products, we do wish we would hear from our customers on a more frequent basis!]

#4. “Using refillable markers helps me to follow my philosophy of wasting as little as possible in my professional life.”

-Indrani K., Teacher, Calgary, Alberta

If your company, school, or just simply yourself as a professional, holds a certain environmental ideal, then the products that you purchase are an important manifestation of that commitment. A ‘green’ school or office stocked with single-use plastic markers does not reflect the volition to make more eco-friendly choices. Using a refillable marker says that simple acts of green make a difference.

#5. I have been using the same set of EcoSmart’s markers for 3 years or maybe 4! The colors are vibrant and the students think they’re awesome.”

-Amy K, Teacher, Hanover, New Hampshire

Markers that are made of recycled aluminum are built to last and last. An EcoSmart marker is made to go the distance, with Refill Ink and Replacement Nibs extending its life for a long time. Fewer marker purchases equals less resource consumption, especially when the markers you do purchase are made from a recycled source.

Bonus Benefit:

#6. “I teach high school and community college mathematics and I go through ink like no one’s business.  I like the fact that your product does not make me sick and give me headaches. You have a great product. No smell and eco friendly.  What a combo!”

-Chuck W, High School/College Instructor, Arizona

EcoSmart’s markers are non-toxic, an important feature that deserves its own list of top 5 benefits. For now, we include it here as an added benefit to using refillable markers. Light upon light.

 

Rainbow Looms Weaves Wonders, But What About Its Environmental Impact?

Rainbow LoomIt’s a touching story of a dad sitting down to craft with his daughters who were weaving bracelets out of rubber bands. Cheong Choon Ng hoped he could impress his girls, then 9 and 12 years old, with the weaving skills he had learned in Malaysia as a boy twisting and linking rubber bands into skipping ropes. But his fingers were too big to weave little hair elastics, so his engineering brain kicked in. After 28 iterations of a plastic weaving loom, the Nissan crash safety engineer had invented the Rainbow Loom. Kids everywhere go crazy. Sales go through the roof. DIY dad quits his day job. With no end in sight to this crafting tool and craze, we ask: Is the Rainbow Loom, its elastic bands and its plastic accessories, any good for the environment?

It’s a fair question. This toy is flying off shelves – it’s the second best selling toy or game on Amazon, with over 3.5 million units sold – so its materials and manufacturing process will have an impact on the environment. As far as new toys go, it seems like a pretty wholesome one. Remember when we used fingers for toys, and not just our thumbs? Most parents of children and tweens who are ‘hooked’ on the Rainbow Loom are enthusiastic about the product: it gets them off of their electronic devices, it calls for imagination, develops patience, and can be used as a social activity. Pinterest and Instagrams show reams of weaving designs and ideas; You Tube how-to videos are generating a gazillion hits. But we really must ask, Where will all these non-latex rubber bands and plastic looms end up? Rainbow Loom 2

A writer in the Washington Post suggests that these brightly colored elastics could pose a hazard to wildlife, choking and suffocating small animals and birds, just like plastic bags.

We can also ask ourselves what has happened to the scores of Silly Bandz from every kid’s wrists, fingers and top drawers. They disappeared almost as quickly as they hit the market. Gone. My son sold his 2-year collection for 50 cents at a garage sale. So, while the Rainbow Loom mega trend is something that most youngsters and parents can get behind, there is a conversation to be had, an awareness to develop, a resolve to gain. To use resources wisely, to dispose of materials properly, to brainstorm for eco-friendly solutions. Ng describes his entrepreneurial success “a dream come true”, and while we can’t argue with that, we look forward to a generation of ever greener, less wasteful inventions and toys.

 

Natural, Non-Toxic Recipes for Spring Cleaning

It’s that time of year when the dust, dirt and junk that has accumulated over the winter months has got to go. Spring cleaning is as much a practice of getting the house in order as it is a chance to bid farewell to the cold and hello to the outdoors. But not all cleaning is equal. So many cleaning products on the market have toxic ingredients that we know to avoid: phosphates, petrochemical dyes, phenols, chlorine and sulphonates, to name a few. The Canadian Health Food Association has just released this short video on toxic hotspots in spring cleaning, and gives recipes for natural, non-toxic cleaning products. At EcoSmart Products, we were happy to have our eco-friendly markers at work behind the scenes in their video, showing script cues in a colorful, non-toxic way!

We are all for natural cleaners! Our EcoSmart markers themselves do not contain xylene, toluene or other harsh chemicals, nor do they require nasty chemical sprays for cleaning the boards. Here are some great natural cleaning recipes for your spring cleaning, put together by CHFA. Happy cleaning!

Spring-Cleaning-Recipes

For more natural recipes, infographics and resources about healthy cleaning and green living, visit www.chfa.ca.

 

 

Reduce Classroom Waste One Drawer at a Time

What's in your top drawer

Psst… what’s in your top drawer? An instructor at a community college once told us about his aha moment about the wasteful impact of one little product. “There was a drawer in one of the classrooms that had hundreds of used, dried markers. That drawer was the real thing for me in realizing the amount of waste. Just imagine what this is doing nationwide.” With one Refill Ink bottle and an EcoSmart marker replacing about 30 disposable markers, it’s hard to ignore the waste and cost savings of refillable markers.

The instructor’s students, after he made the switch to refillable markers, called it a no-brainer.

Join the no-brainer movement to reduce marker waste with EcoSmart’s non-toxic, refillable markers for the whiteboard.

Valentines Ideas with your Dry-Erase Markers

Last year for Valentine’s Day we blogged about toxic chemicals that could kill the mood on Valentine’s Day. Common products that we use can leave us feeling headachy, depressed, fatigued or ‘not in the mood’ – not a great setup for Valentine’s Day fun. You can read all about it here. But this year, we are taking a more playful approach, and giving you some fun activities to do with your EcoSmart Markers. For the kids, for romance, for your students: here are some fun and creative things to do with your dry-erase markers for Valentines!

For someone special:

I love you becauseThis idea has been popping up all over Pinterest as a great on-going activity to show someone special not only that you love them, but also why! Frame a phrase such as “I love you because” and print it on nice paper. Then use your EcoSmart markers to complete the sentence as you are inspired! Or you can write any message that can be completed, such as “We go together like _______ & ________”. Since our unique EcoSmart ink solution wipes clean off of glass, there is no end to the reasons you can write on this love message board!

Not sure how to make your message look decorative? Check out Font Squirrel for artistic fonts that you can download for free.

For your kids:

Drawing on windowsWindow doodles. But don’t stop at drawing hearts and Cupid arrows all over the bathroom windows! Use your EcoSmart markers to draw whatever scene you can imagine (or that you have the skills for) on a living room or patio door window. Your kids will never forget when mom or dad wrote all over the windows, making you the world’s most fun parent.

 

For your students:

Plate MathLet the kids explore fractions using smooth plastic plates, their EcoSmart markers, and candy hearts. The candy hearts can be organized into fractions on the plate, or they can demonstrate math equations depending on the grade level. The best part of plastic plates is that the marker can be erased, and the plates can be used over and over again for more dry-erase work with math.

 

This Valentine’s Day, we hope you explore all the fun ways you can creatively use your non-toxic markers. Go for it… they are refillable after all! Send us a picture of your Valentine’s activities to info@ecosmartworld.com.

Happy Valentine’s Day

How to Reduce Office Waste

MH900423101Offices can be awfully wasteful places. And while so many companies are positioning themselves as eco-conscious, going green is a continuum with total wastefulness at one end and innovative resourcefulness at the other. Where does your office stand? The good news is that any office, no matter how focused or accomplished in its eco pursuits can advance along the continuum in small but meaningful steps. For yesterday’s innovative act of green, such as recycling paper, will be the norm tomorrow. Falling behind on best green practices just may leave your company looking out of touch with the times. Here are some ways to reduce office waste and keep moving forward, toward greener pastures.

1. Use refillable dry-erase markers for the whiteboard

How to RefillMost offices make frequent use of the whiteboard for strategizing, mapping and note-taking. But along most whiteboard ledges lie a smattering of half-dried markers destined for the landfill. The waste from discarded dry-erase markers adds up, and can measure in the tens to hundreds of pounds of toxic plastic waste per year. Try EcoSmart Markers, a dry-erase marker that is made of recycled aluminum and that is refillable. The bonus is that the ink is non-toxic, and refilling markers costs about 70% less than buying new disposable markers.

2. Get a whiteboard surface without the waste

Image from www.ideapaint.com

Image from www.ideapaint.com

Speaking of whiteboards, many offices find they have to install new whiteboards or replace their old ones over time. Whiteboards are another source of enduring waste once they are discarded, adding non-biodegradable materials to the landfill and harmful toxins. (Incidentally, according to the EPA, only 18% of electronics are discarded properly so look for e-waste centers.) Idea Paint offers high quality whiteboard paint that can be used on walls or any smooth surface such as existing boards. In addition to saving the waste of whiteboards, it just feels more fun and creative to write on walls.

3. Give hard copies the heave-ho

MH900422458In meetings, use the projector for presentations, and send your co-workers electronic copies. The practice of handing out printed copies is a mindset that can be changed by getting into the habit of viewing and storing documents electronically. Documents that do need to be printed out should be done so on double-sided, 30% post-consumer recycled paper. There are great document-sharing sites such as theonlinecabinet.com and efilecabinet.com to make life easier.

4. Reduce the energy drain from electronics

MH900448671Even electronics that are plugged in and not being used are drawing energy. It’s called the phantom load, and it’s scary for a good reason. Desktop computers and monitors suck the most amount of energy, followed by printers, then coffee makers, then desk lamps. Make sure that computers are set to ‘energy-saving’ modes, and when they are not in use, turn them off. CFL lightbulbs use 66% less energy and last up to 13 times longer than incandescent bulbs. A great solution to the energy drain is to plug electronics into a power bar, and when not in use i.e. at the end of the day or on lunch hour, turn off the power bar.

5. Compost, recycle and reduce food waste

Recycling bins is a must at the office, but are you also looking at what is going on in the kitchen? Food waste is a great source of office waste. Invest in a compost bin and check with cleaning services for how a composting program can be implemented. Once awareness is brought to the issue, less food will invariably find its way into the trash.

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Compost bin from www.uncommongoods.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions to Trash Toxic Items

Toxic LegacySometimes the kids at science fair projects ask some pretty decent questions. For my son’s part, he asked whether music has an effect on the growth of plants. He witnessed that both classical and heavy metal music have seriously great (and almost equal) effects on the growth of bean plants compared to plants that enjoy the sounds of silence. At EcoSmart Products, we just received an email from a young science-fair-scientist asking about the difference between dry-erase markers with and without the aromatic solvent, xylene. What are the advantages to using markers with xylene, a chemical often found in regular dry-erase markers, and the reason so many people feel unwell or downright sick when they are in rooms with these markers? I have no idea. Really. Why would one choose a product that is based in a harsh petrochemical compound that is also found in gasoline, airplane fuel and wood tar? It seems like New Year’s is a good time to rethink our everyday products.

We tend to trust that industry knows best. For example, most of our upholstered furniture such as couches, as well as baby items like sleepers, have been doused with flame retardants to prevent loss of life in house fires. But mounting evidence over the last decade has proven these toxic products to be ineffective. They did not slow down fires, as intended. Worse yet, studies implicate flame retardants in cancers, impaired fertility, and neurological and reproductive disorders. We now breathe this chemical in the dust within our homes and give birth to babies with flame retardants already in their systems. This week, California’s new Technical Bulletin 117 removed the requirement that flame retardants be included in the filling of upholstered furniture.

Now the question remains: What do we do with all those toxic couches and baby items that will soon be discarded in favor of non-toxic ones? We will pile them up in landfills. According to this Huffington Post article, it is a sad toxic legacy.

But let’s get back to toxic versus non-toxic markers. There are non-toxic markers on the market, so why are we still using markers that have potentially harmful chemicals and whose constant disposal mounts to yet another toxic legacy? Wherever there is a whiteboard, you’ll find a ledge full of half-dead, soon-to-be-discarded toxic markers. Not only are their chemical ingredients potentially harmful, but the millions of discarded plastic markers add up in the landfill, where they will remain just short of forever.

EcoSmart Refillable MarkersWe ask: Why perpetuate a toxic product when an alternative exists? EcoSmart markers contain no xylene or toluene, and they are made of recycled aluminum, to be refilled over and over again. It’s a pretty decent question, if you ask us.