I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas

December 7, 2010
During the rush of the holiday season, it may be harder to beGreen ChristmasGreen Christmas the green person you strive to be throughout the year, but here are some simple ideas from Mahalo that can help us all feel a bit better.
The 2.6 billion holiday cards sold each year in the United States could fill a landfill the size of a football field 10 stories high. Send e-cards or at least reuse cards you receive to make gift tags.
 
The tree: If you love having a real live tree, try to buy your tree as close to its source as possible to cut down on fossil fuels. If you prefer the artificial kind, make sure it was made in the U.S.A.
 
Switching to LEDs for your holiday light display is 90% more efficient than incandescent lighting. 
 
The best way to eliminate waste is to give less. 

Be a giver of green gifts, i.e., items made of organic or recycled materials.  

 Skip the wrapping paper if possible. Wasting an entire roll of paper disguising a new bike is a waste. And remember to reuse bows.

 For a complete list of green tips for the holidays, visit Mahalo.


Keep Your Pumpkin From Shriveling Up

October 29, 2010

Does your pumpkin need a facelift?

Let’s face it, once you’re done removing the orange goo Jack-O-Lanternand the ritual of carving the family pumpkin is over, old Jack can start to look a little tired within a few days, especially in the South.

Here are a few tips from Articlebase.com to keep your creation still looking good for the big day:

* Put your pumpkin in cold water after it’s carved; it will soak up the water and get firm.

* If your pumpkin starts to shrivel, put it back in cold water for one to eight hours.

* Add a very small amount of unscented bleach to the water to stop premature molding.

* Put a thin coating of petroleum jelly on exposed, cut edges to keep the water from evaporating and to preserve the cuts, as well as the pumpkin.

 * Spray your pumpkin with a plant mister to keep it from shriveling.


Orlando Real Estate Investing Alive and Well

October 19, 2010

Orlando real estate investor eyes investment market growth

Lenny Layland, founder, and broker/owner of Investorlando Realty based in Longwood, Fla., was one of 45 professional investors invited to attend the Investment Provider Leadership Summit in Phoenix, Arizona last month. For the past 11 years Layland has also run his own private real estate investment fund, Investorlando, Limited.  Layland says, “Real estate is alive and well, regardless of the recessionary climate.  In fact, it is one of the best investment opportunities in years.

“People don’t realize how big this is,” he adds. “It’s even a larger market than I thought, even on the international stage. For example, New Zealand investors at this conference see our prices as dirt cheap and are actively investing in the U.S.”

Layland, who graduated from Miami University with a degree in finance and turned down offers from Wall Street to become an independent investor and broker, has real estate investing in his blood. His parents retired to Florida after years of home investing in the small town of Eaton, Ohio.

Investorlando Realty, and the related real estate investment fund formed in 1999, provides individuals multiple, simple and diversified ways to invest in real estate.   The newly launched brokerage also offers property management, buyer representation, marketing, and consulting for residential, investment and commercial buyers and sellers.

Investorlando offices are located in the historic Longwood Village Inn, which opened as the Waltham Hotel in 1887. It is one of the few remaining 19th century buildings remaining in Florida today and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Housing Remains Under the Gun

September 20, 2010

Any time a major industry struggles, factions seem to square off, and housing is no exception. The argument being bantered around in circles today is whether buying a home is a smart investment or just another staple.

The New York Times reports that economists are taking sides on this issue. One side believes housing is a luxury good, meaning home prices will rise nearly as fast as incomes in the long run. The other party theorizes housing has become a staple and prices will rise slowly with general inflation, like food.

In a recent article in Time titled “The Case Against Home Ownership,” the writer made some stirring observations for not owning a home. That struck a nerve with the National Association of Realtors, prompting President Vicki Cox Golder to fire off a letter responding that “recent attacks on the value of homeownership are knee-jerk reactions to current economic conditions.” The letter stated: “The positive impact of homeownership on society has been well documented; extensive research from government agencies, industry, and academia has shown that homeownership contributes to stable communities, helps reduce crime and improves academic achievement.”

And finally, there are those who have been touting the advantages of renting as opposed to buying, like freedom from debt and more leisure time with family, as reported in the August 27 issue of The Hestia Report.


Living green has morphed itself

May 26, 2010

Living green has morphed itself. In a short couple of years, it has gone from being environmentally friendly and conserving energy to all things healthy. Just look at the homes that are currently being certified green by the Florida Green Building Council. The only Platinum Home — the highest designation available — is in Orlando, Fla., that indeed is not sexy green. It scored high marks not for its roof gardens or rain barrels, but for its low-VOC and no-VOC carpets and paints. The tight envelope of the home keeps out allergens as does the fresh air intake of the air conditioning unit. Moreover, Cambria countertops are installed in the kitchen and all bathrooms: Cambria is food safe since it is nonporous and food and moisture cannot penetrate the surface.

And it’s not only the sick buildings we are addressing; it’s the foods we eat that have become the newest green offshoot. It started with eating local foods to cut down on emissions and carbon footprints, but it has become a quest for eliminating obesity — especially in children — and returning our eating habits to those of our ancestors free of processed foods and out-of-control portions. The obesity factor has reached such a high scale that the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity was just released by First Lady Michelle Obama, which is aimed to reduce childhood obesity from 20% to 5% by 2030.

The greener eating craze has caused an uptick in the fight for exercise as well. It is not only a good diet that will keep you healthy, but it’s the regular exercise that so many people avoided way too long.

Indeed, it is the influx of baby boomers into their senior years that is really causing a stir.

If boomers are not kept healthy, their sheer numbers could crush even the best of health care plans.


Health-conscious Businesses Being Honored in Orlando

March 12, 2010

In the past couple of years, the hackneyed term “green” has morphed beyond just our social consciousness of the environment and into the realm of healthcare. We have seen this trend in publishing We Care magazine in Orlando, Fla., in which the tide toward being healthy — holistic eating, non-toxic cleaning products, and walking/biking to school and work — has seemed to take center stage.

Last fall I had the pleasure of becoming involved with a group called Get Active Orlando, which acts as an advisory committee to the City of Orlando, although we reach way beyond the city limits. This group of professionals representing hospitals, nurses, doctors, neighborhoods, entrepreneurs, associations, and local businesses and governmental agencies are engaged in fabricating the area in which we live into the healthiest city in the country. Tall order, but one that can be accomplished.

To that end, I am working with Get Active Orlando on a regional campaign to find and award the healthiest businesses in Central Florida. The first-ever Healthy Workplace Awards will honor businesses dedicated to the health of their employees.

For example, do you encourage your employees to include exercise in their daily activities? Do you know of a business that promotes bicycle riding or walking to work? Does your place of business offer facilities for exercise or working out for employees? If you can say yes to any of these questions, or have a wellness program of your own, let us know.

For applications, criteria, and submission guidelines to the 2010 Healthy Workplace Awards, e-mail info@getactiveorlando.com or visit www.getactiveorlando.com. The application was designed to take only a few minutes to fill out and there is no entry fee. Applications are due April 30, 2010.

So, stand and be recognized — apparently it’s the green thing to do.


Is Florida Getting Snubbed?

June 3, 2009

First it was The Associated Press earlier this year that said by reviewing driver’s license applications in Florida, there was a drop of 175,000 applications between 2003 and 2008.  Then United Van Lines’ 32nd annual “migration” study, which tracks where its customers moved from and their most popular destinations over the past 12 months, showed Florida had as many people move out as move in. It made folks wonder whether Florida had lost its allure.

Well, yes and no.  It is no coincidence that following the 2004 hurricane season that saw at least three major storms crisscross the Sunshine State like  a crazed banshee in the matter of six weeks, people may have put off their plans to relocate. While the state’s population actually grew by 2.2 percent in 2005, net migration did fall 13 percent.

But the real reasons Florida has seen its border crossings full of more tumbleweeds than New Yorkers is related to the economy. Dr. Sean Snaith, director of the Institute for Economic Competitiveness at the University of Central Florida, says the recession and the fact that the Dow lost 43 percent at one point, caused retirees to delay plans of moving to the Sunshine State.  “They had to push back their decisions,” the economist explains. “The influx choked up.”  Even worse, the state, like many, stopped producing jobs, so those not at retirement age are also in limbo about their plans to relocate. Throw in the fact that the cost of living has increased since the boom days of Florida migration, and it is easy to see why Florida’s allure may be changing. However, it may be short term. “As the economy recovers,” believes Snaith, “it will pull more migrants into Florida.” He says population growth should soon return to a normal 1.5 to two percent a year.

In fact, Snaith forecasts 2011 and 2012 will be good years for the state, especially the Orlando area, which is predicted to have the highest job growth statewide. Because of that, net migration will not affect Orlando as much since people will move from the coast to the epicenter of growth.

Finally, I leave with this statement by Wayne Archer, director of the Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Florida from a report this past winter in which net migration was being analyzed.  

“There are pessimists who think people are going to pack up and leave Florida, but when I stand outside on these clear winter days, I think ‘they’re not going far.’ As long as people keep moving here, the growth will bring us a correction that you won’t get in industrial states like Ohio, Michigan or Illinois.”

Besides, the beaches are still free, and the water is warm. Surf’s up!