The traditional beginning to a New Year’s resolution is January 2 and the usual end to your willpower is January 30. This year let’s try something different – make green living resolutions that are so easy to keep you won’t even realize your life is more environmentally friendly.
As we move toward a new year we encourage you to try one or all 10 of these suggestions to make your life (and the planet) go green in 2015.
10 Ways to Go Green Today
1. BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag)
According to an article published in Rolling Stone magazine, “American shoppers use an estimated 102 billion plastic shopping bags each year — more than 500 per consumer. Named by Guinness World Records as “the most ubiquitous consumer item in the world,” the ultra thin bags have become a leading source of pollution worldwide.” Join the fight against single-use plastic bags by bringing your own reusable cloth bag when you do your shopping.
2. Buy more vegetables
Meat is a drain on natural resources. The 2,464 gallons of water used to raise livestock in one state can be used to supply clean water to thousands of acres of crops, effectively producing food for millions versus meat for a handful of people. When you choose a meatless meal just once a week you will be saving more natural resources than you will by recycling your plastic bottles. Talk about going green!
3. Drink filtered water
Bottles used to package water take over 1,000 years to bio-degrade and if incinerated they produce toxic fumes. It is estimated that over 80 percent of all single-use water bottles used in the U.S. simply become “litter,” reports The Water Project. Instead, buy reusable bottles and refill them with filtered water. Not only will you be saving our environment, but you will also be saving yourself the cost of buying prepackaged water.
4. Say no to liquid soap
Think about it: the soap you use to wash your clothes and dishes is just detergent mixed with water. Then you add more water to get the items clean. That’s a lot of water. Fifty thousand gallons of water every year, to be exact. Purchase dry detergent (powdered) and save our planet’s water supply for things that really matter, such as drinking water and growing food.
5. Switch on the lights
Conventional lighting versus energy conscious lighting isn’t even a fair fight. Environmental bulbs save enough energy to power up over 3 million homes for 365 days, not to mention the more than $600 million saved in energy costs and the toxic greenhouse gases prevented (an amount equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars) says Energy Star.
6. Use microfiber cloths instead of paper towels
Made with fibers smaller than a human hair, microfiber cloths are reusable green cleaning towels that are created to absorb more liquid, up to eight times their weight – a feat impossible for paper towels. They also lift dust away from surfaces through a naturally generated electric charge. That means you remove dust (not just spread it around) without using toxic conventional cleaning products.
7. Hail a bus. Or a boat.
Next time you’re trying to get from point A to point B, consider public transportation instead of taking a car. Cabs are convenient for you, but not so much for the health of our environment. When was the last time you took a boat to Brooklyn? New York Waterway’s East River Ferry is an alternative means of public transportation that makes getting around the city fast and fun. No cars allowed, so shake the dust off your bike and try getting to work or an outing by bus, boat or bike this week.
8. Upgrade your kitchen
Replacing old appliances with new energy-saving fixtures can be a huge money-saving and health-saving switch this year. Not only do these modern appliances draw on less energy to function, but many of them are created to help maintain a safer indoor environment for your good health. For example, the Greenhood stove hood is an air purifying appliance that eliminates odors while sanitizing the air around it, a similar technology to an ionized air purifier. Better air quality and lower electric bills? That sounds like an ideal start to the new year.
9. Take a vacation
Yes, you read that correctly. Volunteer vacations offer the opportunity to spend time working to support at risk causes one on one. “The key to a successful Volunteer Vacation is being realistic about your desire and abilities,” says Doug Cutchins, one of the authors of Volunteer Vacations. This is the chance to support your passion, whether that be saving sea turtles in Costa Rica, protecting dolphins in Greece, or studying climate change in the Arctic.
10. Use green cleaning products
Conventional cleaning products you can buy in the supermarket are filled with toxic chemicals and packaged in plastic bottles that are destined for the landfill. Not to mention how much they cost! This year you can save your money, the planet and your health by switching to green cleaning products, whether they be our own line of Ecospirit vegetable-based cleaning products or you can make your own natural cleaners. Baking soda, lemons, and vinegar are our three favorite ingredients to use when we’re cleaning. Between the three of them you will be able to scrub, scour and shine almost everything in your home.
Making better choices in your daily life directly affects your health, wealth and environment. It’s easy to make a switch, and you’re not alone – even we are searching for ways to go even greener this year. We’d like to know how it’s going. Chat with us on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
We love our apps. These handy devices that tell us where the nearest fair trade coffee can be purchased, what businesses are nearby, and who’s talking to us on Facebook and Twitter at any given moment. Apps on our smart phones are great ways to manage our daily lives so we can focus on handling our many responsibilities.
Our favorite apps are those that help us be more environmentally conscious. We’ve highlighted 10 of our favorite green apps here.
By Environmental Working Group
The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Use EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides™ to reduce your exposures as much as possible, but eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all. The EWG guide will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. You can lower your pesticide intake by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and choosing the least contaminated produce.
Green Schools Revolution: The Game
By The Co-operative Group
Have you got what it takes to be the ultimate Eco Warrior at home and at school? GREEN SCHOOLS REVOLUTION: THE GAME puts your green knowledge to the test, saving water and energy as you go. Can you unlock the secret bonus round and make it to the top of the leaderboard? Can you do this faster than your friends, get the highest score possible, unlock the secret bonus level and become an Eco Warrior?
This app offers barcode scanning so you can retrieve product ratings and information on your phone while you shop. It also offers social performance ratings on more than 120,000 food, personal care, and household products. Plus, you can select the issues you care about most to see how products perform on your preferences. Get customized product recommendations. Create your own personal shopping lists.
By Mostly Brothers
Farmstand connects you with locally-grown food. Find markets in your area, share photos, post deals you’ve found, and help support your local community by telling everyone what’s great at your farmers’ market in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, and New Zealand.
Get There By Bike – Interactive Bike Maps for the Urban Commuter
Obtain bike friendly directions taking into account traffic, hills and off-street bike paths. Record your own routes and share with other app users. Mark dangerous intersections, bike thefts, secure bike parking and bike friendly businesses and publish them to the shared map. Create and share biking tours to your favorite bars, restaurants, parks and sightseeing destinations.
By Green Mountain Digital
Tap into the great outdoors with NatureTap, the only nature app that lets you swipe, flip and tap your way through hundreds of birds, bugs, frogs and flowers. And challenge yourself with fun and exciting games.
Air Quality Pro
By Mobeezio, Inc.
Air Quality Pro offers the current air quality anytime with this simple to use monitoring app. Great for anyone who has allergies, asthma, or plans to work out or play outside.
Electronic Recyclers International, Inc.
The all-new 1800Recycling.com app helps you quickly find recycling locations nearest you. This free app is the easiest way to find convenient drop-off locations and organize your recyclables quickly and effectively. You can even share and rate your recycling experiences to help others recycle better! This app makes it easy to go green.
My Green Directory
Find eco companies, events, news, competitions and others that are environmentally friendly, sustainable, fair-trade, organic, natural, ethical and socially responsible principles.
One Small Act
By NBC Universal, Inc.
Track all of the little things you do for the environment and discover how your impact can contribute to creating a more sustainable and eco-healthy planet. Offers over 400 small “eco” actions you can set as goals or complete to make a difference in our environment; points and badges to celebrate your eco achievements; green tips from Hollywood’s biggest stars; social media sharing to let others know how you are contributing small eco actions; an impact counter for the planet’s water, health, energy and environment.
Holiday party planning are three words that bring with them a unique mix of stress, excitement and fear. We love parties – giving them, going to them and even cleaning up after them – but the holiday party season isn’t always at the top of everyone’s list of things they want to do. Over the years we’ve compiled a list of our favorite ways to throw a green holiday party that doesn’t put you, your guests or the environment in danger!
Start with these green party planning tips:
Easy & eco friendly invitations
Paper invitations are so 10 years ago. E-vites (internet invites) are easy and earth friendly – two words we can’t get enough of. All you need are email addresses and your imagination. Explore popular invite sites for inspiration or create your own with a favorite graphic and eloquent phrasing.
Decorations made by Mother Nature
Green holiday parties are our favorites because the most beautiful decorations are natural and simple. Take a walk in the park and collect branches, pine cones, leaves and stones to use as materials for your custom decorations. Add beautiful fruits like oranges or pears along with cloves and cinnamon to bring your whole house to life with color and intoxicating smells. Visit a craft store or flea market to repurpose items into decorations and packaging for presents – we love old candelabras and beautiful vintage vases alongside nature-made decorations for an interesting mix of green and gorgeous.
Elegant table settings
Real china and silverware add unmatched polish to your table. Remember, real flatware doesn’t have to be expensive, in fact we prefer mismatched vintage pieces from local secondhand stores. Not only do these pieces add a sophisticated flair, but we love that they bring a snapshot of history along with them.
Local, sustainable food and drinks
We firmly believe that the best ingredients are sourced locally. Shop farmers markets, CSAs and local stores for seasonal, organic food to use for your holiday meal. Not only do local ingredients taste fresher, but you get the added benefit of supporting your community during a stressful time of year. Stick to buying local, organic or fair trade wine and beer options as well. Not only are they healthier, but your support for these small vineyards and micro-brews gives them the ability to support their families and improves their lives. If you end the evening with lots of leftovers, make arrangements with a local food bank or charity to donate what’s left instead of throwing it away.
Post-party clean up
Hire a green cleaning service to clear up when the festivities are over. Green cleaning services will use eco-friendly cleaning products made without toxins and chemicals. Clearly marked recycle bins are a must-have before, during and after the party for you and your guests to dispose of waste responsibly. Planning for the after-party clean up before the party starts takes the stress off you so you can relax and enjoy your night.
One of the best parts about the holiday season is the return of favorite holiday food and drinks. Whether your taste runs to the traditional – mulled red wine and roast beef– or the sweet and simple – eggnog and honey glazed ham – there is always something wonderful to eat and drink. And clean. Because any self-respecting hostess knows the ultimate sign of the season is the need to clean like never before.
There’s the initial “get the house ready for guests” cleaning, followed by the “drunk aunt just spilled red wine on the Moroccan rug” cleaning, which is closely followed by the “new baby smeared chocolate sauce on the new couch” cleaning. Don’t panic in the face of emergency spills. We’re sharing our best tried and true party cleaning tips so you can eat, drink and be merry, the way the holiday season is meant to be enjoyed.
Get prepared before the party starts
Almost any cleaning disaster can be solved using one of five super ingredients: baking soda, vinegar, peroxide, salt or lemon. Sometimes all five at once will do the trick. Knowing that you’ll need at least one and probably all five before the night is over, save yourself some time and prepare the cleaning solutions in advance. Mix a little baking soda with some warm water in a reusable spray bottle. Cut some lemons and have them ready to go in the fridge. Keep the bottle of peroxide handy along with a microfiber cloth. Just like the Boy Scouts, your party motto is: Be Prepared.
Understand the science behind the red wine stain
We all know that chocolate and red wine are some of the biggest stain offenders, but did you know that the reason why red wine causes a stain is because it is actually made from grape skins containing a food coloring pigment called anthocyanins. This pigment is what creates the chemicals that are used to dye fabric, which means that when red wine is spilled you are essentially dying the textile it lands on.
Knowing that, we have to fight fire with fire and in essence dye the textile back to its original shade. We do that using a combination of equal parts detergent and peroxide applied to the stain. For best results we recommend applying a thick layer of salt over the stain to lift as much of it as possible, then finish with the detergent and peroxide solution.
Avert an eggnog disaster
The creamy texture eggnog is famous for is a result of eggs and cream, two ingredients with the unfortunate tendency to stick, stain and stink up any surface they come in contact with. It’s almost guaranteed that one of your party guests will get a little rambunctious and eggnog will end up on the counter, the couch or the carpet. As with every emergency spill, the secret is acting fast. When eggnog dries it takes on the consistency of super glue so save yourself endless scrubbing later with a baking soda and warm water cleaning solution. Spray it on the spill and allow it to break up and soften the heavy creamy texture of the eggnog before you wipe it away. It’s fast acting and odor-resistant so you won’t be left with that sour milk smell for days after the party.
Chocolate is best cleaned with enzymes
The only thing more fearsome than a red wine stain is a chocolate stain. That’s because chocolate is made with dairy – an enzyme-based ingredient — that grips surfaces and can be stubbornly resistant to regular stain removal products. Luckily, peroxide, baking soda and (when all else fails) digestive enzyme tablets work to break up tough stains by dissolving the enzymatic bonds. To green clean a chocolate disaster we suggest soaking the stain in hydrogen peroxide (spot test first) for up to 15 minutes. Then mix up to five digestive enzyme tablets (buy them at any natural foods store) with cold water and apply to the stain. Allow to set for 90 minutes and then rinse completely with cold water. If the stain persists, repeat the process until it disappears.
Most importantly, relax and have fun. Nature has provided us with dozens of effective ways to remove stains – even if you have to wait until you clean up the next day – but you can never replace the time spent with family and friends. Happy holidays from our family to yours!
We’ve all been hearing a lot about the new Affordable Care Act, which is scheduled to go into effect January 2014. With all this talk about health care, we’ve been thinking a lot about how to prevent a hospital stay and doctor’s visits with green living and natural health care.
Health care of any kind is fraught with confusion, myths and mysteries. We’ve tried to sort through the clutter to share some tips to keep you out of the doctor’s office.
One word of advice: before you make any changes to your current or future preventative health care – natural or conventional – always check in with a trusted doctor or health care professional to ensure that you’re doing the right thing for your individual circumstances.
THREE TOP WAYS TO PREVENT A DOCTOR VISIT
1. Cut out Soda
According to the American Natural Health Care Society, soda is one of the biggest health dangers in existence. When soda is ingested, your body is often assaulted with mercury-containing high-fructose corn syrup in addition to a conglomeration of pesticides and processed sugars. An average bottle of Coke contains over 60 grams of sugar. Increasingly it is being recognized that the substantial level of sugar consumption inside the United States and elsewhere is responsible for many of the health issues the average person faces, including obesity, diabetes, and chronic lethal afflictions like cancer and heart disease. Drinking two soft drinks per week increases risk of pancreatic cancer by 87 percent.
2. Eat fresh foods
According to the FDA, Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical that has been present in many hard plastic bottles and metal-based food and beverage cans since the 1960s. Since then there has been concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland. BPA is routinely used to line cans to prevent corrosion and food contamination.
This chemical has been linked to cancer, heart disease and diabetes. A Harvard study included 75 volunteers in two groups. One group ate a 12-ounce serving of vegetarian canned soup each day for five days and the other group ate the same amount of fresh vegetarian soup daily for five days. Urine samples showed that daily consumption of canned soup was associated with a more than 1,200 percent increase in BPA, compared to eating fresh soup.
3. Take your vitamins
According to Discovery Health, taking the right mix of vitamins will help fight the aging process, which contributes to overall health vulnerability.
Vitamin E prevents blood from clotting unnecessarily, lowering the risk of stroke or heart attack. It also helps to prevent LDL cholesterol from contributing to atherosclerosis. Vitamin E might also protect against cancer, since free radicals and their damaging effects may play a role in cancer development. You can get vitamin E through nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, and vegetable oils (such as soybean, canola, and corn). Vitamin E is also available in a variety of supplements and topical applications.
Vitamin C has cancer-preventing qualities and appears to reduce the odds of developing cardiovascular disease. Additionally, some studies have suggested that vitamin C delays or even prevents the formation of age-related cataracts and macular degeneration. Fruits and veggies (especially citrus and potatoes) are excellent natural sources of vitamin C.
Your body produces small amounts of vitamin K on its own, but you can use more than your body can provide. Vitamin K can be consumed as a supplement, as part of a multi-vitamin, in the form of topical creams or (ideally) through your diet. Kale, lettuce, spinach and broccoli are all excellent sources of vitamin K, as are non-hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Niacin counteracts the effects of aging inside your skin as well. It raises your “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoproteins, or HDL) and also lowers triglycerides (fats in your blood that contribute to your overall cholesterol count). In doing so, niacin lowers your risk and rate of atherosclerosis, the hardening of your artery walls that leads to heart attack and stroke. Niacin also plays a major role in converting food into energy. Get your daily dose of Niacin in sun dried tomatoes, peanuts, chicken and paprika.
Vitamin A — in proper amounts — is important for your overall bone health, helping to offset the effects of osteoporosis as you get older. However, there is a danger for seniors of taking too much vitamin A, which can lead to osteoporosis and bone brittleness. Talk to your doctor about the best way for you to obtain the amount of vitamin A you need.
Few things make us more excited for fall and the approaching holiday season than the pumpkin. But, when we realized that pumpkins were as good for our bodies as they are for our souls, we knew we had to learn more about their medicinal value.
Pumpkin is originally from Mexico…
Pumpkin is believed to be originally from Central America, but its seeds were first discovered being used in Mexico. You might think of pumpkin as a beautiful fruit or vegetable, but it’s actually a cousin to cucumbers since it’s part of the squash family.
The self proclaimed “Pumpkin Capital of the World” is Morton, Illinois, where Libby – famous for its canned pumpkin filling – is headquartered.
It is high in vitamins…
Pumpkins are rich in anti-oxidants and vitamin A, B, E and C, as well as lecithin, tyrosine, peporesine, proteids, resins and enzymes. These vitamins and minerals are essential for supporting the regeneration process, which contributes to youthful looking skin and bodies.
Use pumpkin to treat disease…
The most important part of the pumpkin for disease prevention and treatment are the seeds. These little powerhouses pack a lot of punch! Did you know that pumpkin seeds have been seen to help prevent heart disease, eliminate intestinal parasites, clean blood vessels, lower cholesterol, fight cancer and support healthy kidneys?
The fruit – the orange pulp we enjoy in pumpkin pie – can help get things moving in people who suffer from constipation and dyspepsia. When it’s applied to bug bites and stings, it can even help soothe and heal inflamed skin.
Pumpkin juice relieves pain from ulcers and insomnia. It might even provide relief to women suffering from hormonal imbalances and disorders associated with menopause!
Use it in skin care…
It’s anti-inflammatory and active enzymes makes it a popular ingredient in natural skin care solutions. People suffering from acne and uneven or sallow skin can find relief with a mask or treatment product made with pumpkin. It’s soothing properties makes it a favorite in anti-aging skin care formulas as well. Look for products that include pumpkin or pumpkin-derived enzymes high in the ingredient list as those products will contain more of the active fruit, which mean better results for your skin.
Every time you eat the seeds and fruit of the pumpkin, you’ll be protecting yourself against disease, something we feel very strongly about. That’s why we’re proud to support CANCERCARE®, a non-profit organization that provides free, professional support services to individuals, families, caregivers, and the bereaved. The counseling, education, information and financial assistance these people receive from CANCERCARE® help them manage the emotional and practical challenges they face during their fight against cancer. When you purchase Ecospirit™ products, 10% of product sales are donated to CANCERCARE®.
Here’s some good news: the delicious holiday food and drinks we love to indulge in might actually be healthy. If you’ve been looking for just such an excuse to relax and enjoy yourself with a second trip around the holiday buffet table, we’ve prepared a list of 10 healthy ingredients to use in your holiday cooking this year.
Traditionally used in everything from pies to eggnog, nutmeg calms the mind and body (especially when combined with dairy as it is in eggnog) and supports healthy sleep patterns, relieves anxiety and treats joint pain, stomach upset and may even improve your concentration.
One of the hardest working ingredients, cinnamon provides several health benefits to your holiday meal. It’s antimicrobial properties means it can kill digestive bacteria, stimulate circulation, prevent urinary tract infections, and relieve joint pain and stiffness. It may even serve to lower blood sugar levels in those suffering from type two diabetes.
Even conventional medical professionals use cloves and clove-derived solutions to treat muscle discomfort, tooth pain, intestinal bacteria and parasites. Some people swear by its aroma therapeutic benefits in increasing creativity and concentration. Use it in holiday drinks and decorations to take advantage of its healing smell and beneficial digestive qualities.
This herb’s fresh, invigorating scent is known to be calming to the digestive tract and open up the lungs and nose so you can breathe easier. Use it to relieve chronic or temporary constipation and keep respiratory allergies under control this holiday season.
Cardamom, used in holiday pies such as pumpkin and mince meat, offers dual benefits as a digestive aid and an aphrodisiac. It’s also been known to support healthy lungs, so reach for this if you are suffering from a lingering winter cold.
Like peppermint, ginger is a well known cure for digestive problems caused by an upset stomach. If you find yourself eating too much at your holiday meal, chewing on a piece of raw ginger will reduce the nausea and calm your digestive tract almost immediately. As a bonus, that means ginger can also reduce gas and support a healthy heart among its many other congestion-relief benefits.
Sage, a favorite ingredient in stuffing, also serves as a powerful antibacterial remedy used to reduce infection, relieve discomfort from a winter cold, and strengthen your liver, which will help you recover faster from a rich holiday dinner.
Oranges are a traditional source of healthy vitamin C, but did you know that the peels can also supply heart healthy carcinogens that prevent disease and support healthy digestion? Use the entire orange by flavoring cider and mulled wine with the peels and eating the fruit.
Cranberries are a potent antibacterial ingredient and one of the most well known natural method of preventing urinary tract infections caused by an overabundance of intestinal bacteria. This ingredient is such a powerful source of antibacterial support along with antioxidant-rich vitamin C that you should take at least two helpings of cranberry sauce this season.
10. Olive Oil
Olive oil, traditionally used in the lighting of the Hanukkah lamps is a popular addition to any meal. Cook with it, add it to recipes raw or use it in your holiday celebrations; olive oil is credited with heart healthy benefits including lowering the risk of high cholesterol, stroke and heart attacks.
The holiday season means different things to everyone. Some of us look forward to this time of year as a season for coming together with friends and family beside a gorgeously trimmed Christmas tree while others gather to recite blessings and light the candles during the Hanukkah festival of lights. Still others think of this time of year as a time for private spiritual and emotional reflection. No matter how you choose to celebrate this season, we all have one thing in common – the need to honor the spirit of warmth and togetherness that characterizes these months. With that in mind, our thoughts turn to decorations to display as visual symbols of our thankfulness and joy.
What better way to honor each other and our environment than by using nature’s own materials to create visually stunning holiday decorations.
Possibly nature’s best object for decorating, pinecones bring an almost ready-made festivity to any décor. Watch these crafty wizards add their unique creative tinkering and transform pinecones into a natural holiday decoration appropriate for every way you celebrate.
Tree Ornaments for Christmas
Fire starters for Hanukkah and hostess presents
Their bright citrus smell combined with spicy cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg add instant cozy to seasonal décor. Watch to discover how you can combine these items into a beautiful and aroma-therapeutic display for the holidays.
Evergreens and branches
Learn how to make holiday garlands appropriate for any seasonal celebration and décor.
Design bloggers show you how to make eco-friendly holiday crafts
Be a part of a creative discussion with six design bloggers that want to share how they find and repurpose natural materials, recyclable items and found elements to create beautiful seasonal decorations.