Green Living Archives

Driving Toward Greener Autos

(NAPSI)-If you’re like most Americans, you have a number of objectives when thinking about a new car-safety and fuel economy are probably at the top of the list, not to mention price. There is, however, a new concern growing in importance: the environmental “footprint” of the vehicle. In response, carmakers are learning that by making vehicles lighter–without making them smaller–they can deliver on all of these fronts.

Enter aluminum. Automotive aluminum is lightweight to help increase gas mileage. In fact, a 5 to 7 percent fuel savings can be realized for every 10 percent weight reduction by substituting aluminum for heavier steel.

To curb greenhouse gas emissions, each pound of aluminum replacing two pounds of iron or steel in a car or truck can save 20 pounds of CO2 equivalent emissions over the typical life of a vehicle.

For example, the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid provides both improved fuel economy and strength compared to the conventional version of this vehicle. Its efficiency is highlighted compared to the conventional version of this vehicle by aerodynamic enhancements and significant use of aluminum. The vehicle weighs 400 pounds less than the standard model and consumes roughly 30 percent less gasoline on average than its conventional version.

Automotive aluminum is also highly recyclable, which significantly saves on the emissions associated with primary aluminum production. Nearly 90 percent of automotive aluminum is recovered and recycled and never needs to be taken to the landfill.

Automotive aluminum helps create a vehicle that is both big and safe. Studies confirm that size, not weight, is more important for automotive safety; meaning automotive aluminum can make the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid safer by making it larger, while still boosting gas mileage.

Learn more

To learn more about auto aluminum and sustainability, visit The Aluminum Association’s Aluminum Transportation Group at www.autoaluminum.org.

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We are surrounded by human-made chemicals—more than 80,000 are in use in the United States today. Of those, only a few hundred have been tested for safety. Chemicals are so ubiquitous, they reach us before we’re even born: Researchers have found up to 300 contaminants in the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies.

Experts suspect this cocktail of chemicals in our water, food, air and homes may be part of the cause of the rising rates of some cancers, autism, diabetes and obesity. Young children, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems are most at risk. While it may seem overwhelming to get control of our world’s rampant, potentially harmful chemicals, cleaning up the chemicals in your life is easier if you take it step by step. You can get started by reducing the quantity of these 10 chemicals in your house and yard.

1. Phthalates

Phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals used to make #3 plastic (PVC or vinyl) flexible. PVC leaches phthalates when it’s heated or worn down. Phthalates are found in personal-care products and detergents, often labeled as “fragrance.” Phthalate exposure has been linked to early puberty in girls, a risk factor for later breast cancer.

To minimize: Never microwave plastic containers. Store food in glass or metal containers. Avoid vinyl flooring, shower curtains, PVC pipes, and products with “fragrance.”

2. BPA

Bisphenol A (BPA) is an endocrine disrupter found in reusable polycarbonate (#7 plastic) food and beverage containers (including baby bottles); the lining of food and beverage cans; in PVC (#3 plastic); and on receipts and money. Research links BPA to breast cancer, miscarriage, erectile dysfunction and heart disease.

To minimize: Never microwave or heat plastic containers, and store food in glass or metal containers. Avoid canned foods—choose bulk, frozen or fresh instead. Some companies such as Eden Organic offer BPA-free canned food. Buy “BPA-free” reusable water bottles. Wash your hands after handling receipts or money.

3. Chlorine

Used as a disinfectant in municipal water systems, chlorine is toxic, even at low concentrations. Studies link chlorine exposure through ingestion and showering with an increased risk of heart disease, allergic reactions and miscarriages, as well as increased rates of bladder, colon and rectal cancers. Chlorine irritates the eyes, nose and throat.

To minimize: You can filter chlorine with a whole-house filter or with a chlorine-filtering showerhead and a granular-activated charcoal drinking water filter. Avoid swimming in chlorinated water.

4. Radon

Radon is a natural, odorless radioactive gas that can seep into homes from the ground. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer (and the leading cause for nonsmokers) and can be detected with a test kit.

To minimize: Test for radon with a simple test kit, then call in a radon remediation contractor if the levels are too high—4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) or higher. Levels between 2 pCi/L and 4 pCi/L can still pose a risk and in many cases can be reduced; consult a specialist.

5. PFCs

PFCs (perfluorochemicals) are persistent organic pollutants used on stain-resistant clothing and upholstery, cooking pans, fast-food wrappers, and inside pet food and microwave popcorn bags. Teflon, Scotchgard, Stainmaster and Gore-Tex are all PFCs. They have been associated with low-weight babies, abnormal thyroid hormone levels, liver inflammation and reduced immune function.

To minimize: Forego stain treatments on furniture or carpet; don’t wear clothing labeled stain- or water-resistant; avoid nonstick pans; pop popcorn on the stove; and choose personal-care items without “PTFE” and “perfluoro” in the ingredients.

6. Lead

Found in paint manufactured before 1978 and old plumbing, lead is a neurotoxin that can cause headaches, joint pain, high blood pressure, and reproductive and memory problems, as well as impair children’s brain and nervous system development.

To minimize: If you have peeling paint, (and your house was painted before 1978), clean up chips immediately and hire a certified lead abatement contractor. Do not remove lead paint yourself. Prevent chipping by sealing old paint with a clear, nontoxic sealant. If you suspect high lead levels, contact your doctor about lead testing for any children in the household.

7. Pesticides & Fertilizers

If it kills insects or weeds, it likely isn’t good for human health, either. Many common pesticides are known carcinogens. One chemical in many pesticides, dichlorvos, is associated with mammary tumors in rats or mice. Another, glyphosate, has been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

To minimize: Don’t use chemical pesticides or fertilizers on your lawn. Buy organic fruits and vegetables, or grow your own without artificial pesticides or fertilizers.

8. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a flammable, pungent compound found in building materials, pressed-wood products, melamine (hard plastic) dishes and cigarette smoke. It can irritate the eyes, throat and mucus membranes, and cause headaches and nausea. Exposure may increase the risk of brain cancer and leukemia.

To minimize: Use “exterior-grade” pressed-wood products to limit formaldehyde exposure in the home. Before purchasing pressed-wood products such as plywood, paneling, particleboard, fiberboard, and furniture and cabinets, ask retailers or manufacturers about formaldehyde content.

9. Parabens

Parabens are used as preservatives in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. While no causal link with cancer has been established, parabens are controversial because they weakly mimic estrogen, and researchers have found measurable concentrations in breast tumors. Studies show that methylparaben (in some sunscreens) may react with sunlight to damage skin.

To minimize: Avoid cosmetics that list parabens or words ending in “-paraben” among the ingredients.

10. PBDEs & PBBs

Used as flame retardants in building materials, electronics, foam cushions and textiles, PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) and PBBs (polybrominated biphenyls) accumulate in blood and fat tissues. Endocrine-disrupting PBDEs and PBBs may alter children’s brain development and cause learning and behavior problems. Exposure can decrease thyroid hormone levels and negatively affect reproduction.

To minimize: Cover or replace cushions or car seats where foam pads are exposed. Avoid rigid polystyrene (Styrofoam) insulation.

Resources

American Lung Association
healthy indoor air information

Breast Cancer Fund
information on chemicals to avoid to reduce breast cancer risk

Environmental Protection Agency
radon testing and abatement

Environmental Working Group
guides to healthy products and chemical avoidance

list of most important produce to buy organic

HealthyStuff
nontoxic children’s toys and consumer products

Pure Bond Fabricator Network
searchable list of formaldehyde-free cabinetry and furniture

Skin Deep
Environmental Working Group’s cosmetics safety database

Alli Kingfisher, a state of Washington green building and sustainability specialist, is plotting to green her 1906 home in Spokane. Kelly Lerner, a Spokane-based architect specializing in healthy, energy-efficient homes, is co-author of Natural Remodeling for the Not-So-Green Home.

Read more: Mother Earth Living

Handcrafted All Natural Lye Soaps

Green Tech Wooden Birdhouses and Feeders

 

Judy’s handcrafted all natural soaps are just a few of the new products added to the inventory of Judy’s Wholesale Retail Crafts here in Raleigh NC. We are very proud to start marketing and selling these great product from our 21 plus years in business.

Judy’s soaps made from all natural ingredients, over 75% are grown here in North Carolina. Herbal soaps from recipes from 1889 – 2013 upgraded recipes with the right fragrance, cleaning, exfoliating, moisturizing and for a variety of ailments. Judy handcrafts each and every bar cold and hot process, with 19th Centenary recipes that we upgrade to 21st centenary chemistry. Judy use the very best soap making product on the market, with what we grow and make ourselves.

This is not melt and pour products, these soap are made from scratch and we grow most of our herbs. Coconut oil is used in our cold and hot process soap making because it produces a thick wonderful lather that’s good for dry skin, plus it’s all Natural. Palm oil, when used as carrier oil, makes a hard and stable soap that produces a rich, creamy lather – great for a cleansing or facial bar. Being rich in Vitamin E, Vitamin E is an antioxidant that will prevent collagen damage, fine lines and wrinkles, and cellular damage. This is one of the most powerful antioxidants that the body cannot produce on it’s own. Adding palm oil adds excellent scent retention and is acceptable with all religions.

African Black Soap has been made in Africa for hundreds of years and is highly sought after for it’s healing properties of skin conditions. Used for cleaning skin, hair, and even pots and pans. Our recipe lathers great, exfoliate the skin very gentle and is also gentle on all the body.

African Black Soap is a very good exfoliating soap and is in high demand, our soaps bars come in different sizes from 3-1/2 oz to 6-1/2 oz bars. ingredients include Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, and Shea Butter. essential oils include, Vitamin E Oil, Tea Tree Oil, Pine Scotch Oil.

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DSCF0109Finally after years of personal use, and trial and error, we are going to start selling our organic fresh and dry herbs and spices, also our lye soaps from days gone by. We are very proud of our old recipes that’s been passed down with very little changes over the years. We will be offering the Old Schools soaps and a few of our new soaps, these are all natural and made with (lye) sodium hydroxide like my mom and grandparents did years ago.

We will start selling our products here locally in Raleigh NC and online at www.tools-and-things.com late Spring or early Summer. Fresh herbs and teas, all organic. Fresh tomatoes grown with home made compost and all from less than 1/3 acre of land, we do have a certified organic grower that will help supply us with teas and spices, but all our home grown products will be marked as that. We can’t wait for you to try our products

Slash Your Energy Bill Fast

(NAPSI)—You’re probably spending more than $2,000 a year on utility bills. Heating and cooling your home accounts for more than half of that.

Older homes can be money pits. In fact, houses built before 1950 use about 60 percent more energy per square foot than those built since 2000.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, sealing air leaks—especially around doors and windows—and improving your home’s insulation are the fastest and most cost-effective ways to save energy and money.

Of course, insulating won’t stop leaks. So weatherstripping and caulking should be your first plan of attack. In fact, the government says those two simple air-sealing techniques will pay for themselves within a year.

These tips will help you save money:

• Check for leaks: On a cold day, run your hand around doorframes and windows. You’ll need weatherstripping if you feel drafts around joints that are inside your door and window frames. You’ll need caulking if you see cracks or feel drafts around the outside joints of your door and window frames.

• Weatherstrip your doors: A new low-cost DIY product called Cinch, by M-D Building Products (cinchdoorseal.com), allows you to seal your doors in less than 15 minutes using a special peel-and-stick 3M adhesive. All you do is measure, cut, peel and stick it into place around your doorframes and on the bottom of your doors.

• Weatherstrip your windows: Rolled sponge rubber weatherstripping applied to the inner sash, as well as the top and bottom of windows, will create a strong money-saving seal that will last for years.

• Check your caulking: You’ll need to redo cracked caulking around windows and doorframes to keep outside air, rain and insects from coming in. Look for a long-lasting siliconized acrylic caulk that can be painted, resists mold and mildew and forms a weather-tight seal.

• Insulate your attic: If you have less than 11 inches of fiberglass or eight inches of blown cellulose (recycled paper) in your attic, you could probably benefit by adding more. This is especially important if you live in colder climates.

Other easy, low-cost ways to save money include installing a programmable thermostat, turning off lights, lowering your water heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees and washing full loads of dishes and clothes.

Handcrafted Wooden Bird Feeders and Birdhouses Made In Raleigh NC

http://www.garnernc-online.com/Commercial-Contractors.html

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Helping To Protect “America’s Backyard”

(NAPSI)—From Alaska to Florida, millions of people visit America’s National Forests each year, and with two-thirds of Americans living within 100 miles of a National Forest, these lands truly are “America’s Backyard.”

However, due to damage from wildfire, insects, disease and natural disasters, nearly one-third of the 193 million acres of the National Forest System urgently need restoration.

To maintain and strengthen these vital natural resources, the National Forest Foundation (NFF) has launched a national conservation campaign called Treasured Landscapes to build support for America’s National Forests from coast to coast.

Treasured Landscapes

The NFF’s Treasured Landscapes campaign has a goal of raising $100 million. The money raised will be used to take on large-scale restoration projects at 14 ecologically significant and iconic locations while supporting hundreds of community-based conservation efforts at national forests and grasslands across the country.

The campaign offers multiple opportunities for individuals and families to get involved in the enjoyment and restoration of “America’s Backyard” by lending support, volunteering time or just signing up to follow campaign updates.

The campaign targets America’s National Forest System, which:

• includes 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands in 44 states;

• hosts more than 200 million visitors annually; and

• creates a positive economic impact on surrounding communities, including 223,000 jobs.

The Foundation works to replant wildfire-burned areas, restore streams and fish habitat, and improve trails to improve the health and vitality of our public lands.

Challenges To Public Lands

“Our nation’s public lands face unprecedented challenges to their health, diversity and vitality,” said Bill Possiel, president of the NFF. “The health of America’s National Forest System contributes to everyone’s quality of life-from the millions who rely on drinking water from the National Forests to the clean air that the forests produce.”

To learn more and become a Friend of the Forest, visit the website at www.friendsoftheforest.org.

“Friends” receive updates and communications, with photos and stories about our National Forests and Grasslands as well as opportunities to take part in hands-on volunteer projects restoring popular forest areas.

You can stay connected by following the Foundation on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NationalForestFoundation, on Twitter at www.twitter.com/nationalforests and on YouTube at www.youtube.com/natlforests.

USA and State Conservation efforts

Solar Power Helps Homeowners Melt High Energy Bills (397)

(NewsUSA) – Savvy consumers are now turning to solar energy to beat utility price spikes.

Thanks to technological advances and attractive rebates, home solar-electric systems are more popular and affordable than ever. Last year, Americans installed 33 megawatts of residential solar systems, enough to power the equivalent of more than 41,000 homes.

In Southern California, Cheryl and Robert Boland faced electrical bills that averaged $300 a month and spiked to nearly $600 during the dog days of summer. Then the Bolands installed solar panels on the roof of their Apple Valley home. “Now our utility bill averages about $1.75 each month,” said Cheryl Boland.

“When I compare the cost of installing the system with what we will save on our bills over the next two decades, solar gives us an incredible return on investment. For us, it was all about the money.”

For homeowners interested in using solar panels to combat high energy bills, here are four important points to consider:

The right installer. Experience and reputation are critical in selecting a solar installer.

The solar professional will not only design your system and install the panels, but he or she will guide you through the process of obtaining tax incentives and rebates, potentially saving you thousands of dollars. To find a qualified installer in your area, visit www.solarworld.com/meltmybill.

Smart system design. A residential solar system must be designed to produce the right amount of power for your home and lifestyle. A good installer will review your previous year’s energy bills along with the orientation and shading of your roof. Check your installer’s credentials for signs of credible certification, for instance, as a manufacturer’s authorized installer.

Reputable panel manufacturer. Because home solar-energy systems should last for at least 25 years, homeowners must know theirs is built to last. Many customers find assurance in purchasing products made by manufacturers with proven longevity. “It was important to us to choose a panel from a long-standing American producer,” Boland said.

Guaranteed power output. A factory process called “plus sorting” ensures that solar panels are tested to meet or exceed their nameplate power rating. Plus, a 25-year linear warranty and 10-year workmanship warranty provide consumer protection.

With these four elements in place, homeowners often experience a 50 percent decrease in their electric bills, and sometimes eliminate their bills completely. For more info on using solar panels at home, visit www.solarworld.com/meltmybill.


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Getting roots wet without waste

Getting roots wet without waste

(ARA) – Water is one of the most important and precious natural resources necessary for garden and lawn health. Now that planting is in full swing, getting plants established while using water wisely is essential for a successful growing season.

With a few simple tips, plants can be better prepared to withstand even the toughest weather, and use water more effectively. Follow these steps to keep gardens and landscaping lively and colorful when the temperatures climb, even if Mother Nature is sprinkling less.

* Build great soil: Improve growth and moisture control by uniformly mixing in rich organic matter when planting the garden. A rich garden soil, such as Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Garden Soil, helps protect plants from over- or under-watering by holding onto to moisture and releasing it as needed, while providing enough air space in the soil for roots to grow and breathe.

* Outdoor potted plants: Use Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix in pots and containers to help container plants make the most of the water they receive. Larger pots help keep plants from becoming root-bound quickly and thirsting for water. The more room plants have to grow, the less water is needed.

* Mulch everything: Apply a 3-inch layer of mulch around all plants – vegetables, shrubs, perennials and flowers (even in containers). Mulching helps reduce evaporation from the soil surface and soil crusting that can reduce water infiltration. This helps keep more moisture in the soil longer for plants and keeps water-stealing weeds away by blocking access to sunlight.

* Timely and gentle feeding: Miracle-Gro LiquaFeed combines watering with gentle feeding for all your flowers, vegetables, perennials, shrubs and even containers. It’s the convenient way to nourish plants with both water and plant nutrients during dry conditions.

* Water wisely: Water after planting and when needed (before leaves wilt). If you do not already have one, consider installing a drip irrigation system to keep plants from drying out. When additional watering is necessary, do so in the morning between the hours of 6 and 10 a.m. to reduce effects of wind on sprinkler uniformity and reduce losses from evaporation.

Keep grass in tip-top shape while keeping the watering to a minimum. It is simple to do, just follow these easy guidelines.

* Set your mower at the right height: Mowing at the right height makes your lawn stronger to withstand heat or drought better. For specific grass types, mow:
Bermuda grass: Mower height at about 1.5 inches, a low wheel setting
Zoysiagrass: Mower height at 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches, a middle wheel setting
St. Augustine/Tall Fescue/Buffalograss/Bluegrass: Mower height at 3 to 4 inches, a high wheel setting

* Water judiciously: Listen for the weekly weather forecast – there is no need to water if rain is on the way soon. Water only if needed or when establishing new grass. Lawns can tolerate dry spells by going dormant for up to two months. Water during dry spells if the lawn gets activity from kids or pets. When watering, water deeply, but only once or twice a week.

* Timely feeding is everything
Well-nourished grass withstands stress better than a hungry, under-fed lawn. Feed regularly with a lawn food formulated specifically for grass. Feeding with a lawn food earlier in the season strengthens the lawn to better withstand dry conditions and heat.

Keep these tips in mind this summer and you will feel great knowing that you have done your part to conserve one of our most precious resources – water.

Green cleaning: great results without breaking the bank

(ARA) – While most people want to help the environment in theory, when it comes down to buying green cleaning products for their office or small business, many put concerns about effectiveness and cost above whether a product is “green.”

Close to 60 percent of office workers polled by Staples last year for Earth Day said that while they thought their company was green, they could always do more, with only 30 percent saying they buy sustainable paper and cleaning products for their breakroom. This spring cleaning season, Staples, which offers sustainable cleaning products and more on Staples.com, examines the cost and effectiveness of green cleaners to see if the facts match the public’s perception.

Examining the effectiveness of green cleaners
Many green cleaners available today feature labels from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment (DfE) program and/or Green Seal. The U.S. EPA Design for the Environment (DfE) program uses the DfE label on chemical-based household and commercial products that meet the program’s stringent human and environmental health criteria.  Green Seal certification ensures that a product meets rigorous, science-based leadership standards. This gives manufacturers the assurance to back up their claims and purchasers confidence that certified products are better for human health and the environment.  

What many people don’t know is that for any cleaning product to earn either the DfE or Green Seal eco-labels, the product must undergo performance testing to verify that it meets or exceeds the performance of conventional cleaning products in the same category. When designed the right way and used for the right application, green cleaners work as well or better than conventional cleaning products.

Previously, it had been difficult to find a disinfecting green cleaner. Consumers and businesses that needed a disinfectant for specific applications couldn’t find a greener option and had to resort to traditional cleaners. However, new cleaners are being introduced (like Seventh Generation’s Multisurface Disinfecting Spray) that combine both cleaning and disinfecting agents made from natural plant-based sources and free of the harsh chemicals found in traditional disinfectants. Shifting to a green cleaning regimen can help improve indoor air quality for building occupants and janitorial staff and reduce the need for protective gear and additional safety concerns. But do green cleaners cost more?

Green cleaners- can they be less expensive than the alternative?
While some environmentally responsible cleaning products can cost more, not all do. For instance, based on a price comparison of products on Staples.com, the average ready-to-use all purpose cleaner costs 15 cents per ounce, while the green equivalents from Clorox (Clorox Greenworks All Purpose Spray) and Staples Sustainable Earth Brand (Sustainable Earth All Purpose spray) average 14 cents per ounce. The cost of the average glass cleaner is 10 cents per ounce, the same cost per ounce for Sustainable Earth’s alternative.

Other factors to weigh when comparing price include the concentration of the cleaner. Sustainable Earth makes a Neutral Cleaner concentrate that will yield up to 257 gallons of cleaner when mixed with tap water for only $29.99, less than 12 cents a gallon. Compare that to the average price per gallon ($15.48) for a regular gallon of pre-mixed all-purpose cleaner on Staples.com and, as long as you’re willing to buy in bulk and mix the cleaner yourself, it’s really no comparison.

What about when it comes to paper products used to clean offices, like hardwound/roll paper towels? The average hardwound paper towel costs 1.2 cents per foot, while the costs of green alternatives from Envision Recycled, Scott, Kleenex and Sustainable Earth actually average 1.1 cents per foot.  But it’s not just the price of green and non-green paper towels that can affect the overall cost and impact on the environment. Consider too, the way paper towels are distributed. According to CleanLink.com, the most cost-effective towels are hardwound/roll towels, as they “feature controlled portion dispensing, which reduces consumption because folded systems allow users to take more towels than are required.”

While there are many factors to consider when purchasing cleaning supplies, including price, labor costs, distribution method and employee safety, in most cases green cleaning supplies match the traditional offerings in value and performance.

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We all can save more of our drinking water, by doing little things that we take for granted, like flushing the toilet, washing the car, taking showers, watering grass, brushing your teeth and so on. This a list of things I did in the past 2 years and the things that are in progress or being planned at our home here in Raleigh NC.

1. We take shorter showers, about 7 minutes long or less.
2. All the water we use to rinse dishes in the sink is collected and use to water plants.
3. Old or dirty ice cubes that has fallen or gotten stall, we use to water plants.
4. We bought a new water saving toilet plus we got a rebate $100.00 for buying this water conserving toilet. The City Of Raleigh NC Watersense toilet rebate program.
The program runs from July, 01-2011 To June, 01-2012 or until funds are exhausted.
5. Rain barrels for watering garden and plants, you can find food grade barrels online for about $15.00 to $20.00 and buy the supplies to make your rain barrels at hardware, home improvement, farm and gardening stores all here in Raleigh NC and surrounding areas. This something you the homeowner can do or you can purchase at one of the stores above or online.
6. Water your garden and yard of grass early in the morning and late evenings water it deep, for you can get by with 1 inch of rain a week.
7. Invest in a soak er hose to save even more.
8. Use less dry fertilizer and more compost and also mulch where possible.
Using some or all these ideas not only conserve water but can even save you some money

This is a demo store for testing purposes — no orders shall be fulfilled.

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