5 Things You Should Stop Throwing Away

Jun 24, 16 • Advice

5 Things You Should Stop Throwing Away 


Wastefulness has increased in modern times because consumers can find low-cost, disposable products made from inexpensive, easy-to-manufacture materials. These products harm the environment in a variety of ways:


– Waste causes the destruction of forests and fields to create larger landfills.

– Biodegradable items in landfills decompose to create methane and other greenhouse gases.

– Burning trash creates harmful smoke that pollutes clean air.

– Animals eat plastics and plastic breakdown releases toxic chemicals into the ground and water supplies.


Garbage bags, waste disposal trucks and landfills often contain items that people can effortlessly recycle, upcycle or reuse. You simply need to rethink how you deal with trash:


Fruit and Vegetable Waste


Moldy or damaged fruit and vegetable waste is 100 percent biodegradable. In nature, waste plants feed microorganisms, insects and animals and decompose into plant soil nutrients. Instead of tossing whole fruits and vegetables or cuttings into the trash, make nutrient-rich composted fertilizer for your potted plants and garden. Drill a few out-gassing holes into the sides of a sturdy lidded container and then fill the container with starter soil, earthworms and leaves. Shred fruit and vegetable waste into small pieces and then add it to the container.


Tip: Collect seeds before you add the waste to the compost bin.


Cardboard Rolls


Instead of throwing the rolls used for packaging toilet paper, paper towel, wax paper, plastic film and other materials into the trash, shred the cardboard into small pieces to add to a compost container or fold some rolls, fill them with dirt and use them as seed starter containers that you can later cut away and compost when you’re ready to plant. Cardboard rolls can also replace some plastic storage containers. Fold and tape one end of a roll and then fill it. For example, use a paper towel roll as a makeshift medical kit or utensil holder when camping.


Tip: You can also recycle cardboard rolls at your local municipal or waste paper recycling area with cardboard boxes.


Grocery Bags


Most grocery stores have outdoor bins for recycling plastic bags. These bins also accept other types of plastic bags, including shipping and frozen food bags. Turn boxed cereal and raisin bags into snack storage or an extra layer of protection around wrapped frozen meats. Never again pay for plastic “shake” style food preparation bags. These bags are the perfect alternative for coating meats and vegetables with flour, sauces and seasonings.


Tip: Use cereal and raisin bags as countertop food preparation mats to reduce cleanup.


Broken Electronics


Old TVs, remote controls, phones, music players, tools and other electronics contain hazardous materials like arsenic, barium, cadmium, lead and mercury. Harvest screws, bolts and wires to use elsewhere. Power cords often contain copper wires that you can reuse in craft projects or recycle with metal containers to make a little side cash. If you just want to toss your electronics, take them to an e-waste recycling facility.


Tip: Find a repair and resale shop that pays cash for broken electronics.


Disposable Masks


You can lessen the level of waste that comes from disposable face masks that you use to stop dirt, dust and other small particles from entering your nose during indoor and outdoor repair and craft projects by breaking them down into smaller reusable parts. Remove the nose bridge metal wire and recycle it with metal recycling or reuse it in craft projects. Cut off the stretchy ear loops to reuse as ties in your home.


Tip: Always wear gloves when harvesting these parts if dealing with a face mask worn in public during cold and flu season.


Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes for Econoheat., the world’s #1 leading waste oil boiler manufacturer.

This Doesn’t Add Up

May 18, 16 • News

This article from the Texas Realtor magazine explains apparent discrepancies in property measurements.

This Doesn’t Add Up Article

Fade-Proof Paint Coming Soon

Apr 27, 16 • News

Fade-Proof Paint Coming

Building Your New House

Mar 11, 16 • News

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As a home builder and inspector for 40 years I cringe whenever I hear a person say that he or she is building a new house. While I can certainly appreciate the fact that your money may be financing the project, you are not actually building anything but a large future mortgage payment project. (The only exception here is the daredevil who intends to act as his own general contractor which I will address in a future article.) Let’s face it, your college degree ill prepared you to mix and pour concrete, saw lumber, and hammer nails. Regardless how often you shake your butt at the fitness center you would surely perish after a mere 2 hours of carrying 12-foot panels of sheetrock upstairs or bundles of laminated shingles up a ladder.


Professional tradesmen who have been plying their trades for years or decades make the work look easy. And, let’s not forget HGTV where everything is built by professional actors in compressed TV time over just the few minutes between commercials while never breaking a sweat.


So we can agree that you are not really building your new house. That does not mean that you should just kick back and let the process roll unguided by you. In fact, that is the last thing you should do. Every person having a new home constructed needs to take an active role in overseeing the construction from the before the model and sales office all the way to the moving van.


If you are a professional such as a doctor, engineer, attorney, etc., you understand the need to rely upon experts in fields outside of your realm of expertise. Specialists can make one’s life much easier by filling in the gaps in your knowledge about processes that are foreign to you – like building a house. Your builder is already doing this by hiring subcontractors in every field to construct your house because he is not sufficiently knowledgeable or competent to perform all or even any of these tasks himself.


You should consider employing the assistance of at least three specialists during the construction of your new home; an attorney, a real estate broker, and a professional 3rd-party building code inspector. An attorney can help you to understand to what extent your rights are being violated by your builder’s contract and what you can do to mitigate some of this. A broker can guide you through the maze of locations, choices, upgrades, school districts, etc., so that you do not end up in Podunk with a house full of unaffordable upgrades and a 2-hour commute to endure just to pay for them. Finally, an ICC-certified residential inspector can insure that you understand the building process as much as any layperson can, see to it that your home is constructed in strict accordance with the building codes, and assist you in dealing with both your builder and the municipal inspectors.


It is important here to note that you must not hire just any lawyer, Realtor or inspector. Your lawyer should be well versed in residential construction contracts and defects litigation. Your broker should be a seasoned professional who is not tied at the hip to any builders and is experienced in dealing with new home sales. Your inspector must be, at a minimum, certified by the International Code Council as a Combination Residential Inspector (R-5).


Many builders will not even accept an inspection report from an inspector who is not R-5 certified; and with good reason. This certification proves your inspector’s knowledge of the codes to which your builder must conform. Lacking this, you inspector can be compared to an attorney who has not attended law school or an unlicensed broker who has never sold a house.


Take control. Build your new house with the confidence you will gain by hiring the right support team.

Movies about Houses

Feb 9, 16 • News

I am building a list of movies about houses or house building. If you have any suggestions, please send them to me.


Still Mine

Life as a House

The Money Pit

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream Home

Are We Done Yet?



The Last House on the Left

The Amityville Horror

Rose Red



Winchester Mystery House

Monticello: Home of Thomas Jefferson

Frank Loyd Wright’s Fallingwater

The Whitehouse Documentary (History Channel)

The Queen of Versailles

America’s Castles: Biltmore Estates

America’s Castles: Newport Mansions

America’s Castles: The Astors

America’s Castles: The Vanderbilts Abroad

America’s Castles: Andrew Carnegie



The Most Common Residential Building Code Violations

Feb 7, 16 • News

Here is a recent article from the Journal of Light Construction based upon a 2013 joint study by the International Code Council and the National Association of Homebuilders titled, Common Code Violations Survey.

Top Ten Code Violations

This is a national survey and reflects a lot of what I see on a day to day basis. I would like to add a few issues that were not mentioned, perhaps due to their being a localized problem in the North Central Texas area.

  1. Lot Grading and Drainage. This is found on nearly every house I inspect. In the expansive soils we have in this area inadequate drainage leads to differential foundation movement and structural damage.
  2. Window Installation. On 9 out of every 10 houses I inspect the windows are not installed in accordance with the code, manufacturers’ installation instructions or other applicable industry standards.
  3. Electrical Installations. About 60% of the homes I see have multiple electrical installation code violations.
  4. Framing. Flagrant wall and roof framing code violations are common.
  5. Foundations. Foundation formwork and reinforcement violations are on every house.

Garage Door Repair Ripoff

Feb 2, 16 • News

Local consumer Watchdog Dave Lieber holds forth on garage door repair scam.

Watchdog: Carrollton-based garage door company’s ex-manager fesses up

Local Developer, HOA and City Officials Screw Homeowner

Jan 22, 16 • News

Homeowner’s Lot Slides Away

Consumer Information is King

Jan 12, 16 • News

A very good article from Sam Rashkin regarding home buyers finally waking up to the need to demand quality homes.

Consumer Information is King

Spider Bites

Dec 9, 15 • News


Spider Bites