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Environment

10 Best Eco-Friendly Commercial Cleaning Products

May 10, 2018
eco-friendly commercial cleaning products

Going green is a popular buzzword, as more and more people become concerned with the impact that we have on the planet. Driving electric cars, recycling and composting are all great ways to go green — but when it comes to cleaning products, many of the greenest households are still relying on harsh chemicals like bleach and ammonia to keep their houses sparkling. Thankfully, the push toward green living has resulted in a plethora of eco-friendly cleaning products that you can use to reduce your reliance on harsh chemicals.  If you’re not sure where to start, we’re here to help — here’s our list of our top 10 eco-friendly cleaning products that we use every day.

1. Seventh Generation Dish Soap

Getting greasy stuck on food off of your dishes can be a pain, even with the toughest chemicals — and they still end up being harsh on your hands and poor for the environment. Seventh Generation is one of our favorite companies for green cleaning products in general, but their dish soap really stands out. Their Free and Clear soap has no artificial scents, and even their scented soaps are mild and use botanical extracts and essential oils. It’s easily one of our favorite green cleaning products.

2. Better Life Stainless Steel Polish

Cleaning stainless steel appliances can be a nightmare, especially if you’ve got lots of little hands leaving fingerprints on your fridge and stove. Most stainless steel polishes contain harsh chemicals like VOCs which are bad for your health and the environment.  Better Life’s stainless steel polish provides the same cleaning power, plus a protective fingerprint repellant, without relying on harsh chemicals. Plus, the company is vegan — their products aren’t tested on animals at all.

3. Osmo Wash and Care Wood Floor Cleaner

Cleaning and sealing your hardwood floors usually results in your house reeking of artificial pine or lemon scents, not to mention the fumes from whatever oil you use to seal the wood after cleaning it. Instead of having to leave all your windows open when you clean your floors, choosing Osmo Wash and Care wood floor cleaner lets you get all your floors clean and polished without worrying about using harsh chemicals in your home.

4. Intelligent Nutrients Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is a great tool to keep you healthy, especially if you work in an office or around people who tend to carry lots of germs. Traditional hand sanitizers tend to be harsh on the skin and are full of chemicals. Intelligent Nutrients also uses alcohol as the main sanitizing ingredients, but instead of pairing it with antibacterial ingredients, it uses essential oils and other ingredients to kill surface bacteria and keep you healthy.

5. Nature Zway Bamboo Towels

We use 13 billion pounds of paper towels every single year. If you break that down per person, that’s an average of 45 pounds of paper towels that each person in the United States uses and throws away every single year. While we love the convenience of being able to use a paper towel and throw it away, it’s incredibly wasteful and not terribly good for the environment. Nature Zway Bamboo Towels come in a roll of 25 for $11 and can be rinsed and reused up to 100 times each. If you’ve got kids and have a lot of spills to contend with, these reusable towels can be a godsend.

6. Moldex Mold Remover

Our go-to cleaning substance for getting rid of mold is bleach — but if you’re trying to go green, then chlorine bleach isn’t always the best option. Moldex doesn’t just kill mold and make it easier to clean, it also inhibits mold growth in the future by using a combination of materials that works as a viricide, a fungicide, and mold and mildew inhibitor – all without using bleach or other harsh chemicals.

7. The Honest Co. Honest Dishwasher Pods

We all love the convenience of being able to use our dishwashers instead of hand washing our dishes, but most dishwasher soap isn’t the greenest. If you can’t live without your dishwasher, The Honest Co’s Honest Dishwasher Pods are one of the best options on the market — fewer harsh chemicals while still getting your dishes sparkling clean.

8. GreenWorks Chlorine Free Bleach

It can be hard to break that bleach habit. If you can’t live without that clean bleach smell, then the best thing you can do is to get away from traditional chlorine bleach. GreenWorks Chlorine Free Bleach uses sodium lauryl sulfate as its primary cleaning ingredient — a plant based solvent that works just as well as chlorine without all the fumes or harsh side effects.

9. SafeChoice Super Clean

Everyone can always use a good all-purpose cleaner but many of them use harsh chemicals and VOCs as their cleaning agents. Super Clean, by SafeChoice, is one of the most effective degreasers and all-purpose cleaners that we’ve ever tried, without any of the chemicals that we normally worry about. It comes in one-gallon jugs and it’s concentrated, so a little bit goes a long way.

10. Vinegar and Baking Soda

One of our favorite green cleaners is probably already in your kitchen.  White vinegar is one of the most versatile green cleaners that you’ll ever find. If you can’t stand the smell of vinegar, steep your cleaning vinegar with some lemon rinds for a few weeks — not only will this give it a fresh lemon scent, but it helps to increase its cleaning properties. If you have something particularly grimy that needs to be cleaned, sprinkle some baking soda on it first. Once you spray it with your vinegar cleaning solution, it will bubble up and carry the grease and grime away with it.

 

You don’t have to break the bank to go green — at least for your cleaning supplies. It might be a little difficult to know where to start, but hopefully, this top 10 list will help you figure out the best supplies to keep your house clean and sparkling without any harsh chemicals.

Environment

10 Vegan Pantry Staples

April 26, 2018
vegan pantry staples

Going from an omnivorous or vegetarian lifestyle to a vegan one seems like a clear-cut transition: You’re cutting all animal products from your diet. But the task becomes a bit more difficult when you open your pantry and realize so many of your go-to favorites no longer fit your gastronomical requirements.

Fortunately, there are some vegan staples you can use to refill your cabinets and rely on for a quick, satisfying meal that’s animal-product-free. Here are 10 things to stock up on.

1. Beans

This might be an obvious inclusion, but the vegan diet wouldn’t be complete without beans. Whether you choose dried or canned legumes, you’ll have a tasty source of protein and texture to add to any meal. Pinto beans, chickpeas, lentils and more are all options you can easily store and use to enhance the flavor and variety of your vegan meals.

2. Grains

New and seasoned vegans alike know the power of whole grains in their diet. Much like beans, they’re a filling addition to a meal, especially when layered at the bottom of a hearty Buddha bowl. These recipes combine grains, plant protein and vegetables in tasty, filling combinations, and they’re easy to throw together if you always have the staples in your pantry. Try to mix things up with rice, quinoa, couscous, bulgur wheat, barley and other grain variations.

3. Nuts and Seeds

When non-vegans imagine a plant-based diet, they envision people who eat raw fruits, vegetables and seeds all day long. These crunchy snacks aren’t just part of a farcical image of a vegan, though: They’re packed with protein and nutrients that enrich your diet.

Along with chia, pumpkin, sunflower and flax seeds, stock your pantry with almonds, walnuts and cashews. And, while they make great snacks, they bring just enough crunch to soups, salads and even the Buddha bowls we previously mentioned.

4. Non-Dairy Milk

The production of the dairy milk you used to drink has substantial environmental consequences: It creates a tremendous amount of nitrous oxide, a gas that’s 300 times more damaging to the earth than carbon dioxide. That’s why milks made of almonds, cashews or even coconut should have a special spot in your kitchen. Use non-dairy creamers to make your morning coffee tastier, too.

5. Oil, Vinegar and Sweeteners

Another mischaracterization of vegan cooking is that it’s dull and flavorless. However, you can spice things up with your favorite plant-based flavorings to make your meals complete. Stock up on tasty oils and vinegar you can use to make dressing, gravy and other sauces to complete a dish. On top of that, maple and agave syrups show up in a lot of vegan recipes as the all-natural sweetener of choice or a substitute for honey, so have those on hand, too.

6. Nutritional Yeast

One of the biggest surprises when it comes to the world of vegan eating is nutritional yeast. It sounds like it wouldn’t be more than an ingredient in a baked good, but it will probably become a staple in your diet. That’s because nutritional yeast is a tasty substitute for cheese in your diet — and you’ll find it in recipes for things like mac and cheese, cheesy popcorn and queso dip. If that’s not incentive enough, it’s packed full of B vitamins, protein and fiber, all of which are great for you.

7. Nut Butters

We’ve already touched on the importance of nuts in their natural form, but nut butters should also make their way into your vegan-friendly pantry. Just a dollop of almond, hazelnut or peanut butter can transform a bowl of oatmeal to an even tastier level. Try adding a spoonful to your smoothies, slathering it onto a piece of fruit or eating a bit by itself for an energizing bite of protein.

8. Vegetable Stock or Broth

Soups and stews will undoubtedly become a big part of your vegan diet. Unfortunately, many recipes call for beef or chicken broth as their base. You can swap in a vegan-friendly version to make the same soup without the animal products, so have a few cartons on hand for whenever you’re in the mood to fire up your stovetop and stew.

9. Canned Vegetables

You’ll probably fill your fridge with fresh fruits and veggies, but canned produce can be a quick addition to your vegan dinners, too. A few tins of diced tomatoes and garlic can transform into a tasty spaghetti sauce, while you can drop canned veggies or beans into a soup or curry to bulk it up and make it into a full-fledged, filling dinner.

10. Dried Fruits

Vegetables aren’t the only nonperishables that will keep for a while in your cabinets. Dried fruits like raisins and apricots can be a sweet snack all on their own, and they can add depth to an otherwise savory salad or curry, too. You might even pop a few pieces of dried fruit into your morning cereal or oatmeal — along with that spoonful of nut butter we already mentioned — to start your morning with even more flavor.

Make It Vegan

With a pantry full of vegan-friendly ingredients, you’re sure to stay on course with your animal-product-free lifestyle. So, start with the 10 items listed above, fill your kitchen and make it vegan — you’re doing yourself and the environment a favor by sticking to your healthy new way of eating.

Environment

A Roundup of Earth Day 2018

April 23, 2018
Earth Day 2018

Every year, millions of people around the globe celebrate Earth Day. It’s a chance to soak in all the beauty of the earth while raising awareness of how everyone can help make it a better place. There’s no doubt that work can be done by everyone to decrease pollution, which is why so many people come together at special Earth Day events. Everyone wants to make a difference, and that can be made even greater when it’s a large group of people all aiming at the same goal.

For Earth Day 2018, plenty of these events were available for people to attend if they wanted to go green. Some might not have known how they could contribute, while others might have already been living a green lifestyle and wanted to help others join the cause. There are lots of different ways that people in all parts of the world can celebrate and help the earth, which makes each event special.

From festivals to parades, people celebrated Earth Day 2018 with the kind of pride that comes along with living on such a beautiful planet. There’s so many reasons to love the earth and give back to it. Check out some of the ways that people came together at Earth Day events. Whether they did something to give back or just tried to learn something new, everyone made a positive impact by attending these events.

San Francisco, California

People in San Francisco celebrated a little early this year with speakers ready to present on a variety of topics. Save the Redwoods League partnered with Bioneers, SF Sustainable Fashion Week and the California Academy of Science to inform audiences about things like recycling, climate change and how politics and technology intersect with the environment. What made it even better was that it was completely free, so the public was able to attend for as long as they wanted.

York, Pennsylvania

Over in York, Pennsylvania, a special film screening of “SEED: The Untold Story” was shown for free to the general public. As the climate changes, plants have to adapt to that change, so farmers are trying to keep our culture connected to seeds by saving one of humanity’s most treasured resources. With 94 percent of seed varieties having disappeared, it’s important for more people to be aware of this issue to minimize its impact in the coming future.

Washington D.C.

People who live and work in the D.C. area know that it has a large draw of tourists on a daily basis, which makes it the perfect place to celebrate Earth Day. They’re able to reach people quickly while getting them involved, which is why they celebrated conservation success at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Education stations and Animal Enrichment activities provided everyone from children to adults with the opportunity to learn something and leave with a more informed perspective.

Chicago, Illinois

The key to make people get invested in an issue is to make it personal, which is something the Chicago Botanic Garden understands. They brought a science fair to life with three days of science activities like looking through a telescope and discovering biospheres in your own backyard. There was also a poetry slam for those who leaned more creatively than scientifically.

Dalton, Massachusetts

Dalton put on an Earth Day celebration at The Stationary Factory for people to learn about local sustainable businesses and organizations. While there are plenty of ways to volunteer and help the Earth, sometimes all it takes is getting to know which organizations you can support in your local community. Add that to little green lifestyle changes like recycling old bottles and using less electricity and you can make more of a difference than you might think.

Durham, North Carolina

Though much of North Carolina is dedicated to farm towns, there’s still an ever-growing number of people who can get involved to go green. That’s why Durham threw a public festival in the Durham Central Park. People enjoyed music by local bands, good food and activities focused on environmental education. There’s no better way to get people engaged with something than to help them have fun while they learn.

Dallas, Texas

The running joke that Texans like to make is that everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes their celebrations. EarthX was a two-day festival to inform Texans about how their lives impact the earth. Conferences and speakers spoke on a variety of ecological topics to show people how to be green in all aspects of their lives. Whether people led healthy and active lifestyles or wanted to influence policy, EarthX offered valuable resources for everyone who attended.

Arlington, Virginia

Much of what pollutes the earth goes into the oceans and rivers, making them a hazardous home to all marine life. The group Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment saw that and decided to get a head start on Earth Day by cleaning up the Potomac River. Volunteers came from all over to help pick up trash and debris on the shoreline to prevent any more marine life from being tangled up in or hurt by improperly discarded trash.

 

As spring comes into full bloom, more and more people think about the earth and how it’s doing. The sad truth is that pollution is a constant problem. Sometimes it’s because of people who don’t think before throwing trash out of their car window, but other times it’s unknown pollution. People who have to fly regularly for their jobs are causing planes to emit CO2 at alarming rates, and all they meant to do was go to their next meeting.

That’s why Earth Day is so important. It makes people come together to really think about how they’re impacting the Earth on a daily basis. People leave Earth Day events more informed so they can make greener decisions in the future. It’s great to celebrate the beauty of Earth, but it’s even better to keep the Earth functioning and looking great all year round by hosting events like these to spread the word and change the world.

Environment

Identifying Eco-Friendly Board Games for Your Family

April 16, 2018
identifying eco-friendly board games

Family game night has somewhat lost its magic and has since been replaced with tablets, smartphones and video game consoles. However, family game night is something to look forward to for both parents and children alike because it allows quality time together to bond and have fun with one another. Also, who doesn’t like a little healthy competition?

In a technologically-driven world that’s constantly on the go, it can be challenging for families to find time to spend together. Don’t let your family be the one that sits in the same room together but plays Candy Crush Saga in silence with other online opponents. Reinstate family game night, and reap the benefits.

There are many good reasons to play board games with your family. Board games promote human interaction, mental development and improve relationship skills. They also have a positive effect on your motor skills, school performance and problem-solving skills. In fact, research at the University of Florida has concluded that children who practice strategizing and problem-solving with their parents end up with better memory techniques, and therefore, become more successful problem-solvers.

Eco-Friendly Board Game Ideas

You’ve probably read and heard lots about the green initiative that impacts everything from what you eat to the clothing you wear to the way your home is designed. It doesn’t stop there. You can also become a part of this initiative when you participate in family game night. Identify eco-friendly games that promote a healthy environment as well as teach you and your children about the planet and what can be done to protect it. The other added benefit is, of course, the priceless family time you’ll get out of it.

So unplug from your devices, tune into the now and play these fun eco-friendly board games with your family:

1. eeBoo Games

eeBoo’s motto is to reduce, reuse and recycle. This small family-owned company loves the planet and shows it through their games and education initiatives that promote worldwide preservation. The company also donates $2 of each sale of their Biodiversity puzzle to the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation.

eeBoo’s games are made from simple recycled materials that have no toxic inks and always exceed safety standards. Among their most popular is Gathering a Garden, which will teach your children about gardening. Create a complete garden by collecting items like herbs, flowers, vegetables and more. This may even inspire you to create a real garden, which will teach the kids where food comes from and how to be healthy. This will also reduce the cost of groceries, which will in turn reduce package waste.

Other games from eeBoo include Robot Explorers, where players race around the solar system and pick up specimens from different planets. Slips and Ladders is a green version of the classic Chutes and Ladders — no plastic pieces included.

2. Family Pastimes Games

A Beautiful Place is a fun co-operative ecology game for children that gives players the opportunity to restore the beauty of the world. Learn about environmental concepts, presented in a simple way — like dark pollution clouds and more. Earth Game is another one that teaches players how to manage resources and problem-solve. Games are eco-friendly because they are made of recycled pasteboard and paper, and there are no toxic inks.

3. Late for the Sky Games

Late for the Sky is dedicated to earth-friendly games that use 100 percent recycled paper and only soy-based inks. There are several versions of Monopoly, including Zoo-opoly where you can teach your kids about zoo animals.

Earthopoly is a great spin on Monopoly that celebrates the planet as players try to become earth champions. Teach your children about the Earth and important things like clean air, better water usage, recycling and more. Instead of collecting property, buy carbon credits that can be exchanged for clean air.

Take what you and your family learn from Earthopoly and incorporate it into your daily lives. The preservation of water is a great example. Install low-flow shower heads and toilets and keep the sink off when brushing your teeth to preserve water right at home.

4. Bioviva Games

These earth-friendly games are created by environmental scientists who want to promote an understanding of life on earth. Games are printed on recyclable materials and use eco-friendly ink.

With Bioviva games, teach your kids about the animal world, improve their visual memory and develop their readiness skills, among other things. The Nature Challenge board game specifically helps players learn about common endangered species all over the world.

You can also play Bioviva — yes, the namesake game — and travel around the world while you answer questions about science and nature, in hopes of collecting eco points. The game’s huge catalogue of questions includes over 800 different ones, so you never have to worry about playing the same game twice.

Going Green Can Be Fun

Going green and helping the planet is for everyone. You can start small by slowly incorporating greener initiatives into your family’s lifestyle. Swapping out board games that use too much plastic, paper and toxic inks is a great way to start because you can easily transition to eco-friendly options, without losing the fun.

Don’t let going green become a daunting task. Become greener as a family to make the transition easier.

Environment

10 Green Home Renovations for DIYers

April 5, 2018
green home renovations

You care deeply about our planet and are mindful of your carbon footprint, which is one of the reasons you might fantasize about things like triple-glaze windows and a geothermal energy system. Another reason — let’s not kid ourselves — is you’re fond of long-term savings.

For the short-term, however, you’re limited to eco-friendly improvements you can tackle yourself using basic materials.

We’ve got your back on this one. Below you’ll find 10 green home renovations for DIYers that are kind to the environment as well as your wallet — and just may lay the groundwork for higher-end upgrades down the road.

1.  Insulate Pipes

Maintain the temperature of hot water as it moves through your house by insulating pipes with fiberglass, rubber or polyethylene foam sleeves. From a material standpoint, the cost is minimal — roughly $10-$15 for the insulation itself and a roll of duct tape. Most commercial foam sleeves come pre-slit along one edge with adhesive on the inside, too.

Just measure your insulation material, cut it, wrap it around each pipe and apply pressure to secure. You may want to adhere duct tape over the connecting seams. Depending on the size of your home, this project can take a few hours to complete.

Not sure which pipes to focus on first? Feel for the ones that are hot to the touch and begin there.

  1. Reseal Air Leaks

At least twice a year, preferably in the spring and fall, reseal against air leakage around windows and doors. To maintain ambient temperature efficiently, replace caulking and weather-stripping as needed and seal up any new leaks. Consider installing sweeps under entryway doors as well — you’d be surprised how much of a draft they block!

  1. Install Solar Panels

Decrease your reliance on the grid and harness the energy of the sun. Solar array pricing is on a downward trend — thanks in part to tax incentives, purchase rebates and location-specific opportunities to sell excess energy back to your utility company.

As a green home renovation for DIYers, you can purchase a photovoltaic system kit and install panels, inverters and safety connects yourself — just make sure a registered electrician does the metering to the house and wiring. Be on the lookout for user-friendly “plug-in” systems slated to arrive on the scene soon.

  1. Incorporate Ceiling Fans

Strategically placed interior fans assure consistent air flow. Depending on the direction blades rotate, ceiling units either keep warm air in a room or push it out. Just flip the base switch to change the function. Make sure any model you choose has blades which are angled at least 14 degrees for maximum benefit.

DIY installation requires only a screwdriver, stepladder, support brace and perhaps an extra set of hands to hold the unit in place while you screw components in and connect wires.

  1. Switch to a Programmable Thermostat

You can install a basic programmable thermostat in under an hour. Pre-set temperatures for different times of the day based on your schedule and comfort level. Many models have wireless monitor access, too, so programming from a remote location is possible. Future high-tech units even advertise the ability to adjust the settings based on prior scheduling!

  1. Build-In Houseplant Design

Improve interior air quality naturally by adding green, literally, throughout your home. Consider container gardening in built-in deepened box planters, decorative niches and even vertical space!

Do you have a feature wall that gets a lot of natural light? Make it into a living wall with reclaimed wood and clips for hanging terra cotta pots. Or invest in a self-watering system for a large-scale floor-to-ceiling green design.

  1. Configure a Rainwater Catch

Household use of “grey” water in places like toilets and your washing machine cut water consumption by as much as 50 percent. Attach a catch barrel or tank to the runoff of your drainage system with gutter screening to filter leaves and debris, a wood pallet for a base and garden hose spigot hardware.

Don’t forget to check the tank for sludge build-up every few years. If build-up occurs, you’ll want to completely drain and clean your tank.

  1. Create a Centralized Recycling Center

Do you have non-stream recyclables in paper bags, cardboard boxes and trash cans all over your house, yard and garage? Is routine collection first a matter of organization in your home, then again at the curb? Look at your living space creatively and see if you can convert an unobtrusive centralized location for recyclables.

Consider under-cabinets with bins hidden behind closed doors and holes cut on top for easy access. You might also look at a movable island with labeled slots for cans, bottles, plastic and paper products that can be rolled outdoors for picnics or into a rec room for parties.

  1. Attach a Clothesline

Dry clothes and linens naturally bring the fresh air in with a vintage clothesline you can reel from inside. If you’ve got a window in or near your laundry area and a bit of land outside, this one’s a no-brainer. You’ll need a 4X4 or 6X6 piece of lumber for the upright, a 2X8 piece for the cross arm, line and pulley hardware.

Don’t want it attached to the house? Construct a free-standing structure anywhere you get plenty of wind and sun with double the lumber.

  1. Construct a Wind Turbine

Do you sit on quite a bit of land — an acre or more — with a good cross-breeze? If so, you’ve got a fantastic scenario for harvesting wind energy. Even better, you can construct a wind turbine yourself out of scrap metal and a car alternator, or even spare bicycle parts. You will need more than a bit of mechanical finesse, innovation and persistence for this project — but between the wind and solar power harvest potential, you may be moving off-grid faster than you’d ever imagined!

Maybe you can’t install triple-glaze windows or a geothermal energy system immediately. With DIY ingenuity and timely tips, you can renovate toward greater sustainability from the get-go — and enjoy green energy savings for years to come!

Environment

10 Cost-Effective Ways to Green Your Beauty Routine

March 29, 2018
green your makeup routine

Feeling beautiful and conserving natural resources don’t have to be mutually exclusive endeavors. With a bit of forethought before you hit the makeup counter, you can find cost-effective ways to green your beauty routine. So even if you don’t want to splurge on overpriced all-natural products, you can still help to keep Mother Earth happy and healthy with just a few simple tweaks to your current beauty routine.

Ready to take the plunge into a healthy, eco-friendly approach to beauty? Then read on for 10 tips to help your routine go green.

1. Make Your Own Makeup

You probably already have a favorite mascara, blush and foundation, but they might be chock full of chemicals that are harmful to both you and the environment. Instead, craft your own beauty products at home. You can create your own makeup using natural, eco-friendly ingredients. It’s just one of the many easy and cost-effective ways to green your beauty routine.

2. DIY Facial Products

The DIY possibilities don’t end with makeup. You can whip up your own facial cleansers and toners using earth-friendly ingredients like castile soap, essential oils and distilled water. When you make your own skin-pampering products at home, it’s obviously one of the cost-effective ways to green your beauty routine — but it’s also an opportunity to customize them to your needs. For instance, you can choose a lavender essential oil to calm your mind as it soothes your skin.

3. Treat Your Hair to All-Natural TLC

Are you really getting into the DIY possibilities? Good news — there’s more. You can even make a coconut-honey hair mask, an all-natural hair rinse and dry shampoo at home with just a few simple ingredients. That saves you a trip to the store and some dough as it simultaneously saves Mother Nature from harsh chemicals invading her water supply. It’s a win-win all around.

4. Shop Trusted Brands Online

If you don’t have the time to DIY everything in your beauty arsenal, then you have other options, too. Scour the internet for affordable green brands that use sustainable, organic and otherwise eco-conscious ingredients. Some also enlist eco-friendly practices when it comes to packaging and shipping. Look for brands such as Credo Beauty, Spirit Beauty Lounge and Follain.

5. Read the Labels at Your Favorite Stores

Maybe the best way to keep unnecessary trash out of landfills, however, is to shop in-store, eliminating the need for any extra packaging to ship products to your doorstep. Check out retailers like Target, Trader Joes and Whole Foods. They all offer natural lines of cosmetics and beauty products, and when you choose the store brand, you’ll enjoy affordable price points, too.

6. Find Waterless Ways to Beautify

Is washing your face every night part of your beauty routine? You certainly aren’t alone, but you may be unintentionally increasing your impact on Mother Earth. Instead, switch to using organic face wipes every other night. This will help you to conserve water without sacrificing your complexion in the process!

7. Don’t Toss Half-Full Containers

If you’re in the habit of buying new mascara as soon as you start running a little bit low, you could also be an inadvertently be putting more strain on the environment. As long as your makeup and beauty products haven’t expired, feel free to use them to the bitter end. You’ll save money by going through fewer eyeshadow palettes and decrease the amount of waste you contribute to landfills.

8. Try Multi-Purpose Products

Some eco-friendly makeup companies offer products that play multiple roles in your makeup collection. For instance, you can use a single pot of rosy-hued makeup as lip balm, blush and eyeshadow. When you do this, it keeps more money in your pocket and means you’ll have fewer makeup containers to toss in the trash.

9. Recycle Those Mascara Tubes

Speaking of empty makeup containers, check before you throw them away. You can recycle many makeup containers through cosmetic companies. Take a look your retailers’ website to see if it offers a recycling program. If it doesn’t, consider switching to a brand that does. You may also be able to clean out your old makeup containers and fill them with your new homemade products.

10. Think Small (at Least to Start)

When you first set out to make a big change, it’s natural to want to hit the ground running. But doing so often results in an enormous shift in your lifestyle that’s just impossible to maintain. Instead, take baby steps. Start slowly with one eco-friendly switch, like making your own foundation, and then gradually add on other eco-conscious initiatives. It’ll be easier to create long-lasting habits if you start small.

Sustainable Beauty Is Within Reach

If you thought that bringing your green lifestyle into your beauty routine was either too expensive or too time-consuming, now you know the truth. You can easily find affordable and simple ways to enjoy an eco-friendlier pampering session with just a bit of planning. And there’s no time like the present to start your journey toward a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.

Environment

5 Environmental Documentaries Everyone Should Watch

March 22, 2018
Environmental Documentaries Everyone Should Watch

We live in an age of denial. Global climate change, a documented and proven process, is still openly debated in both public and political forums. The few unbiased scientific reports which are released are immediately politicized, making it impossible for the public to determine what is reality. Further, most of us aren’t willing or able to read long and complex reports on the subtle environmental shifts around us, before sculpting them into our understanding. In these cases, documentaries can do wonders.

Documentaries have the amazing benefit of adding video to topics that are otherwise difficult to demonstrate or explain. In the case of environmental matters, documentaries serve two major purposes. First, they can explain the complexities of environmental science through interviews and videos of the environment. Better than trying to explain the science of global warming through written word, documentaries can use animated graphics or experts to weave a narrative the viewer can more easily pick up.

The other major benefit is the ability to show the environment for its beauty and importance. While many people accept the science of climate change and the abstract importance of the greater environment which is at risk, they do not fully grasp the beauty and seismic importance of protecting it. By showing viewers exactly what is at risk, documentaries can inspire a whole new wave of advocates.

Here are a few of the best examples of projects that embody one — or both — of these qualities. The following are five environmental documentaries everyone should watch.

An Inconvenient Truth/Sequel

Al Gore set the standard with his 2006 An Inconvenient Truth, which he followed up this past year with An Inconvenient Sequel. Both have been praised for their clarity and ability to introduce the topic of climate change and human impacts to new audiences. While some critics have complained that the films oversimplified certain concepts, this decision adds to the accessibility of the material. These are great films for those otherwise unaware of global climate change.

Gasland

This film was created in 2010 as a personal investigation into the impact of drilling and fracking and opens viewers’ eyes to the impact such actions have on the greater environment. Whereas docs like An Inconvenient Truth focus on the macro of humanity’s environmental impact, Gasland creates a much smaller focus, going in-depth on the specifics of the drilling industry. This makes it somewhat less approachable but also lends the entire film a laser focus.

Further, the documentary does a great job at showing the consequence of drilling for communities and individuals, something a larger-scale project couldn’t hope to accomplish.

Before the Flood

Leonardo DiCaprio headlines this 2016 project, touring to various locations and speaking with world leaders on the topic of global climate change. It is a bit of a hybrid, including beautifully shot helicopter video, a journey of self-discovery by DiCaprio, and the opening of a dialogue on the global stage. The film’s tone is one of deep concern and tentative hope, as our guide chats with politicians, green energy factory owners, and the Pope.

The viewers will become intimately involved with the issue even as DiCaprio does himself, aided by wonderful cinematography and an array of famous figures across the continents.

Plastic China

Also released in 2016, this documentary narrows to follow the story of an 11-year-old Chinese girl who works in one of China’s many plastic waste processing towns. The film plunges the viewer into the squalor caused abroad by consumption at home, as the young girl works through an unceasing mound of MacDonald’s napkins, granola bar wrappers and broken toys. It is impossible not to pick up on the larger statement of the story: a consumption culture impacts those both near and far.

The film, through its depressing and brutal surroundings, has a strong impact on anyone watching for the first time. Documentaries like this function in the same way as those of giant ice sheets cracking: we watch something delicate and beautiful destroyed before us, and we cannot help but shudder at the sense of undeniable loss. It carries with it the slice-of-life reality of any good documentary, not trying to spin a narrative, but simply portray a situation as it truly is.

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret

This 2016 documentary covers the lesser-known factors of greenhouse gas: the beef industry. Consumption of beef results in a massive daily release of methane from, well, cow farts. While this might seem negligible next to the massive factories and shipping ports of the world, the fast food industry has caused cheap beef production to skyrocket, and ethane is one of the largest global contributors to atmospheric warming.

This documentary presents an interesting side of the problem and will keep the viewers invested throughout by giving a tour of force into the machinations of the cheap beef industry and the problems it is causing the rest of the earth.

Staying Aware

A good environmental documentary should be used to spread awareness, inform the public of something interesting and potentially impactful, and instigate action. All of the above do this and are some environmental documentaries everyone should watch.

Environment

What Are the Stats of Water Waste Around the World?

March 9, 2018
water waste around the world

Water is one of the most important substances on the planet. Every living being needs it to survive. We drink it, use it to produce food and use it for hygiene purposes. Sadly, though, one-sixth of the people in the world don’t have adequate access to clean water.

The reason for this isn’t so much that there isn’t enough water as it is an issue of management and distribution. While people in some areas struggle to find enough, other regions end up wasting substantial amounts of water.

Which Countries Use the Most Water?

Many of the countries with the largest populations also top the list of nations that use the most water. China, India, the United States and Brazil used the most, and they’re the first, second, third and fifth most populous countries.

The amount of water used per person in each country, though, varies significantly. Per capita, the United States used the most water at 2,842 cubic meters per annum. People in India use about 1,089 cubic meters, while the global average is 1,385.

Countries that have abundant water supplies tend to use more than others. Most parts of the United States, for example, have reliable resources of fresh water. The United Kingdom, however, has a much smaller supply, causing them conserve more. In the UK, the average person uses 39 gallons per day compared to the American’s 110 gallons.

Across Europe, water use varies rather widely. Iceland, Macedonia and Greece have some of the highest residential water use, while Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland use large amounts for industrial purposes.

In Africa, water supply conditions vary from country to country. Some have plentiful supplies, while others do not. Even in nations that have freshwater sources, ineffective distribution of that water is a problem. Three-fourths of people in Africa do not have reliable access to clean water.

Much of Australia is sparsely populated desert. So while waters use in much of the country is minimal, people have relatively high levels of water use along the coast where populations are higher. Consumption has been falling, though, as drought conditions and other environmental pressures push the nation to better conserve its water resources.

What Do We Use Water For?

People use a lot of water at home, but much more water use goes toward agricultural, industrial and other processes. These indirect water uses make up the largest portion of our water footprints. Globally, irrigation for agricultural use is the biggest reason for water withdrawals, accounting for 70 percent. Industry accounts for 20 percent and municipal use for 15 percent.

Lifestyle choices also play a part in shaping someone’s water footprint. Part of the reason that the United States uses so much water per capita is our diet. Meat consumption is responsible for 30 percent of an average American’s per capita water footprint, and sugar represents 15 percent.

More direct at-home uses of water include drinking, cooking, showering and flushing the toilet, which accounts for 24 percent of water use in the average American home. Showering uses 20 percent, running the faucet uses 19 percent and washing clothes makes up 17 percent. Leaks are another significant contributor, accounting for 12 percent of household water use on average.

How Can We Conserve Water?

While these are all legitimate uses of water, the way in which we use water for these purposes can result in waste.

In the agricultural and industrial sectors, we need to look for more efficient ways to use water. Many farms, for instance, have switched to drip irrigation, which supplies water directly to the root of the plant, rather than the entire area around the plant. Other ways that farms can reduce their water use include planting more native plant species, switching to crops that require less water and raising less livestock. Consumers can support these efforts by purchasing these native foods and eating less meat.

Turning off the water in your home, even for short periods can result in substantial water savings. Turning off the tap while you brush your teeth, for instance, can save eight gallons of water every day. Only running the dishwasher when it’s full can reduce the average U.S. family’s water consumption by 320 gallons per year. Fixing leaks in a home can prevent 180 gallons of water waste every week. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, installing water-efficient fixtures and appliances can cut water consumption by 20 percent.

In countries that have a consistent source of freshwater, it’s easy to take the resource for granted. In many parts of the world, though, water is a scarce commodity. To help solve the water crisis, we need to keep in mind the reality that many people face every day and push for more efficient water usage at home and in society overall.

Environment

How Much is Your Diet Contributing to Climate Change?

March 2, 2018
diet contributing to climate change

Since 1880, the average temperature of the globe has increased 1.8° Fahrenheit. The amount of Arctic ice has dropped by 13.2 percent each decade. The sea level has increased by 3.2 millimeters every year. These startling statistics from NASA indicate that climate change is not only real, but that it’s happening at a rapid pace. In fact, the earth probably looks a lot different than it did when you were born — so imagine how different it could look when your grandchildren are born.

Of course, the question on everyone’s mind is: how can climate change be stopped? There are many complex answers to this question. However, there’s also a stunningly simple one: the global population needs to stop eating meat. A global shift to eating less meat could save the planet from an 80 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions — and that’s just with less meat. Consider what would happen if the entire planet went vegan or vegetarian!

While it might not be practical to demand that every person on earth suddenly stop eating steak, deciding to cut back on meat would definitely be a positive step for your planet and your health. Keep reading to learn how your diet affects Mother Earth and, by extension, the people who inhabit her.

Pollution

The most detrimental aspect of being a dedicated carnivore is that the production of meat causes an extreme amount of greenhouse gas emissions compared to the cultivation of plant foods. Greenhouse gases are such a problem because they trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere and raise the global temperature, when wreaks all types of havoc across the planet (e.g., those rising oceans and melting ice caps).

When you compare beef and lamb to beans and other legumes, gram for gram of protein, the meat results in 250 times more greenhouse gas emissions than the plants. Compare pork and poultry to legumes, and the statistic is still shocking: their production results in 40 times more greenhouse gas emissions. A large portion of these gases results from the energy it requires to process and transport meats. However, some of the gases come from the animals themselves. The three major offenders are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

Carbon dioxide fills the air whenever fossil fuels are burned in order to power processing plants or delivery trucks — about 11 times as much per calorie of animal protein compared to a calorie of plant protein. Methane, on the other hand, emanates from the animals as they digest their food and from the copious amounts of manure they produce. Nitrous oxide, meanwhile, is largely produced by the dairy industry, and it’s 300 times more destructive to the environment than carbon dioxide.

Although vegan and vegetarian diets have been projected to have the greatest positive impact on the state of the earth going forward, it wouldn’t necessarily take a total moratorium on meat to keep the earth healthier. A more subtle shift to a largely Mediterranean and pescatarian diet would make major waves in the progression of climate change, especially if you’re being mindful to only eat fish farmed sustainably, and it would be much more feasible for the majority of the earth’s population.

Deforestation

The problem of greenhouse gases emitted by meat production is compounded by the fact that some of the earth’s safeguards against global warming must be removed in order to raise livestock. Perhaps most importantly, trees are cut down in order to make room for pastureland where cattle and other animals can graze. In fact, roughly 80 percent of the deforestation that occurs in the Amazon Rainforest can be directly contributed to the raising of cattle.

When forests thrive, they serve as types of sponges that can soak up carbon dioxide and return it to the atmosphere as clean, breathable oxygen. However, when humans decimate forests in order to make way for grazing cows, Mother Nature loses a bit of her ability to protect herself. So, essentially, every hamburger comes with a small but significant tax on the earth. So if you wonder if you’re eating a diet contributing to climate change, simply ask yourself: does it contain meat?

Undernourishment

Beyond the direct issues of climate change, eating meat also has other negative effects on the earth, although they’re not all directly aimed at the environment. When the globe continues to consume meat, portions of its population suffer. Approximately 35 percent of the world’s grains are used to fatten up livestock. Meanwhile, nearly 800 million people go underfed. If everyone is ever to move toward a happier and healthier earth, the reallocation of this food to people in need is an obvious step.

Disease

Even worse, those people who are eating meat on a regular basis are at a much higher risk for diet-related diseases. So as they contribute to climate change in drastic ways, they also may unknowingly push the globe in an unhealthy direction. According to research, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer can all be linked to a high intake of red meat.

If the entire planet switched to a vegetarian diet, approximately 7.3 million lives would be saved by the year 2050, according to a study by Oxford University. The shift could also save the globe from 63 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from farming. It everyone could commit to strict veganism, the statistics are even more promising: 8.1 million lives saved and pollution cut by 70 percent. Consider what the earth would look like for your grandchildren if this was the scenario that unfolded, as opposed to the alternative?

 

With these facts in mind, it’s hard to ignore the obvious: eating meat regularly is bad for people and it’s bad for the environment. If everyone on earth even promised to eat just one meatless meal per week — or an entire day’s worth of meatless meals — consider how much this tiny change in routine could impact the course of global warming and climate change! It’s time to ask yourself how much is your diet contributing to climate change. If a shift to veganism isn’t in the cards, cut meat from one day each week and enjoy the results.

Environment

Eco-Friendly Tips I’ve Learned From Traveling

February 19, 2018
eco-friendly lessons from traveling

Traveling expands our horizons, broadens our outlook and allows our creativity to soar. However, the benefits of travel often mean creating a substantial negative impact on the environment. Luckily, traveling can also help us learn how to minimize our environmental impact. Here’s how.

Choose Your Destination Wisely

When planning a vacation, most travelers give little thought to matters such as whether their destination will have cleaner public transportation or recycling bins readily available. However, for the green traveler, such considerations are a must.

Think about your last road trip, for example. Chances are, when you stopped for gas or a bathroom break, you disposed of the trash that accumulated in your vehicle during the long drive. Did the gas station have recycling bins on hand? In most areas of the U.S., they do not, and as a result, plastic bottles and the like end up in the trash, rather than the recycling bin.

If you must drive through an area that is not eco-friendly, consider storing recyclable goods in your car until you reach a destination with recycling bins. I’ve started always carrying reusable bags in my car so that I can store trash in them until I reach an area where I can recycle everything.

How to Get to Your Destination in the Most Eco-Friendly Manner

Deciding how to get to your destination is as important as the destination itself. In general, driving is more environmentally friendly than flying. To make your trip even greener, consider offering to share the ride with others, if possible. Keep an eye on your speed, as an increase of 10 mph means, on average, an extra 15 percent in fuel expenditure. If driving a rental vehicle, choose a hybrid or one that runs on alternative fuel if possible.

If you must fly, do your best to stick to nonstop flights, as layovers along the way use much more fuel when the planes land and take off. Also, try to pack as lightly as possible, depending on the length of your trip, as each pound of luggage equates to higher fuel costs. If you can get it all into a carry-on, you have the bonus of knowing your bag will not get lost.

Making Your Hotel Stay More Earth-Friendly

As most of us who have stayed at a hotel over the past several years know, many lodging destinations request guests ask for fresh sheets and towels only when necessary. But even if the hotel where you stay does not offer signage to remind you, make a mental note to hang up your wet towels to dry and to leave a note for the cleaning staff to refrain from changing your sheets until you ask them to.

If you’re camping, in lieu of the RV, try to get a true taste of peaceful outdoor living by bringing a tent instead for shorter trips. Just be sure to pack out everything you bring in.

Choosing Eco-Friendly Activities

Where you go on your travels is not nearly as important as the fun you have while there, right? While activities are important to a memorable vacation, be conscious of the environmental impact of your activities. If touring in a group, strive to find activities with a smaller carbon footprint. For example, if your trip involves off-roading over rocky terrain, choose a Jeep tour that accommodates a group of four to eight people, instead of renting an ATV that can only carry one or two.

You can also gear your getaway toward making a positive impact on the planet. If you’re planning a tropical getaway, why not participate in an Adopt-a-Beach cleanup crew? You’ll make great new friends at your travel destination, and make sure it remains clean for future travelers as well. Another option is to volunteer for vacations specially geared toward helping local people plant trees or other activities that will increase the beauty and magic of your favorite getaway destination.

Think Carefully When Dining Out

Like activities, dining out is one of the most exciting parts of traveling. Exploring local cuisine can be a blast, especially for the foodies among us. The best way to savor the true local flavor? Seek out dining establishments that get their food from local fishermen and farmers. Not only will the foods be fresher and richer in flavor, you won’t be contributing to pollution that comes from shipping foods a long distance away.

If you’re enjoying a seaside stay, indulge in the local seafood. If traveling in a more metropolitan area, eschew chain restaurants and instead seek out smaller boutique restaurants that cater to the locals. Not only will you likely spend less on your meal, you’ll walk away knowing you’ve kept your travel carbon footprint small.

Skip the To-Go Bag Extras

Portion sizes at many restaurants have skyrocketed in recent years, and the eco-friendly among us know taking leftovers to go cuts down on food waste. However, many restaurant to-go options are far from green. To minimize the environmental impact of your leftovers, resolve to skip the extras many restaurants provide.

Your hotel may provide silverware, so just say no to plastic utensils. If you’re staying at an Airbnb or similar vacation rental property, utensils will definitely be included, and washing them takes only moments. Ditto for plastic straws — you can buy glass or metal straws to use instead of plastic.

Finally, many restaurants will offer you a plastic bag to carry your leftovers, but politely decline this and just hold the container. Who wants mushy food that’s been swung around, after all?

Avoid Bottled Water

“Don’t drink the water” is common advice many overseas travelers hear. But that doesn’t mean increasing your carbon footprint by buying one bottle of water after another. Americans throw away 35 billion plastic bottles every year! Instead, invest in water purification tablets and reuse the same bottle to reduce plastic waste.

Travel can be rewarding, but it shouldn’t be environmentally damaging. By following the tips above, you can roam free without putting undue pressure on the planet we all share.