Friday, November 28, 2014

Alternatives to Cutting Down A Christmas Tree

Well, the feast is over (except for the leftovers), and it's Black Friday! (Be sure to see Tuesday's post for some great eco-friendly gift ideas to pick up while you're out today!) Along with this holiday shopping tradition, another common tradition is bringing home the Christmas tree this weekend. Every year, over 30 million lives are destroyed in the weeks before Christmas. Those lives belong to the myriad of Christmas trees that are unceremoniously tossed out every year. Instead of cutting down a tree, what if you took a different take? There are a number of alternatives you could use for your Christmas tree this year that don't involve destroying a tree.

1. Plant the Tree Afterwards

Instead of buying a tree that has had its roots cut off, buy a tree with its roots intact. This could be a little trickier if you're buying a tree in a store; but quite easy if you drive directly to the tree farmer. If you can't find a tree with roots, call up some of your local green and eco-friendly non-profits and they'll be able to point you in the right direction.

Getting a tree with roots lets you plant your tree in your garden after Christmas is over. To cover up the roots, just place the tree in a pot and add some dirt on top. After Christmas, just pull out the tree and plant it in your backyard.

2. Choose A Light-Based Christmas Tree

English: American Christmas Tree
Christmas Tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are a lot of incredible Christmas trees you can buy that create the Christmas tree shape using lights. Some of them are spinning lights, others are stationary. Some even use elaborate setups of candles.

These Christmas trees are a fantastic way to save trees while still having a tree that looks stellar. Better yet, you don't have to throw them out every year. Just put them in storage and pull it out again next year.

3.  Make Your Own Light Tree

If you're feeling crafty and looking for a fun project you can do with your family this holiday season, create your own light tree. It's pretty simple.

Start with a projector, a spotlight or some other source of bright directional light. Then take a piece of paper and cut out the shape of a Christmas tree. Take transparent colored paper and tape it in different ways across the paper.

When you shine the light through the paper, it'll now look like a Christmas tree on your wall. The colored paper will create a rainbow color effect on the tree. This is an eco-friendly, affordable and fun way to create your own tree.

4. Get A Plastic Christmas Tree

Finally, you can buy plastic Christmas trees. These trees are often treated as disposable, though you can easily put them in storage and use them again and again. While plastic trees can be a good way to save a tree, they still require a chemical process to create and use petrochemicals. They also don't look as good, so only use this option as a last resort.

These are some of the many different alternative Christmas trees you can choose from. There are a lot of options other than just a traditional Christmas tree.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas for Black Friday Shoppers

It's almost here! "Black Friday" is just around the corner, and millions of shoppers will hit the street (and web) this weekend to get great deals on gifts for the holidays. But why not "give green" this holiday season? Giving green is a great way to show your community that you really care. It can also inspire others to think eco-friendly as well. It's also unique. People can get a little tired of receiving toys, gift cards and kitchen wares every year. Giving a green gift is a great way to spice up your holiday gifting - and do a good deed at the same time!

So what are some green gifts you can give? Here are some ideas to consider when you hit the stores this weekend:

1. Soap Nuts

Green Will Soap Nuts on
Huh?? Yes, you read that right. Soap Nuts are tiny nuts that work more or less like soap. They come from the Sapindus tree, more commonly known as the soapberry tree. Just throw these nuts in your washing machine and they'll clean your clothes just as well as laundry detergent. They are safe, bio-degradable, and contain no harmful chemicals.

This gift is unique, saves people money on detergent and helps them adopt a green lifestyle with zero effort. It also is great for those who are sensitive to fragrances or chemical sudsing agents commonly found in commercial laundry detergents.

2. The Gift of Life

One fantastic gift you can give is seed packets. Before you buy these packets, take a walk through your friend's gardens. What kind of plants do they have? What colors do you think would do well in their garden?

Once you have a sense for what your friend might want, go online and buy a few different kinds of seeds you think they'll appreciate. You can also buy trees and shrubs, or gift certificates for companies that sell them. In a few years, you might just see your gift spreading its leaves in your friend's backyard!

English: Half a dozen home-made cookies. Ingre...
Home-made chocolate chip cookies. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
3. Home Made Organic Food

Giving someone homemade organic chocolate chip cookies, or perhaps a raw vegan snack bar is a fantastic way to promote green culture while giving someone a gift they can really enjoy.

If you don't enjoy cooking, you can also buy many incredible eco-friendly snacks online.

4. Green Clothing

Did you know there's an entire sub-culture dedicated to creating dazzling clothing made entirely from eco-friendly materials? Some of the materials are recycled, others are bio-degradable, others are petrochemical-free.

Support these designers by purchasing from them this holiday. Make sure they look great and make sure you let whoever is receiving it know that they just received a green item. It makes a great dinner party story too!

5. Recycled Wine Glasses

What happens to glass that goes in the recycling bin? You see recycled paper and recycled plastic everywhere, but you seldom see labels for recycled glass.

Recycled glass looks and feels more or less exactly like normal glass. But by buying recycled glass, you support the recycling industry as well as giving your friend something unique. Recycled wine glasses come in all kinds of shapes and sizes.

There are a lot of incredible green and eco-friendly gifts out there, just waiting to be found. These gifts will wow your friends and family and bring a smile to their face, not just because of what they are but also because of their story. Give a green gift this holiday season, and you're giving to the environment as well!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Eco-Friendly Holiday Tips to Scent Your Home

Perfumes and traditional air fresheners are not only bad for the environment, they're also bad for you. They contain all kinds of chemicals that would never be found in nature. Many of these chemicals are carcinogens when used in larger quantities. Many of them are byproducts of other manufacturing processes.

By scenting your home with home made scents and eco-friendly scents, you take market share away from those big corporations. You improve the air quality in your own home and make the world a greener place.

So how do you scent your home in an eco-friendly way?

1. Use Essential Oils

English: Glass vial containing Cedarwood Essen...
Cedarwood Essential Oil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Essential oils are probably the easiest and simplest way of making your own scents. Add a few drops of essential oils to water and you'll instantly have a very fragrant, very healthy mixture.

Then all you need is a fragrance disperser. These dispersers allow you to put whatever solution you want in them and it'll mist it out at set intervals. Add your mixture to the disperser and your home is scented!

What's more, this method is much more affordable than buying perfumes or cans of Febreeze. A tiny bottle of essential oil can last you for up to a year!

2. Make Soy Candles

Making your own soy candles can be an exhilarating adventure. Soy candles are a lot healthier than traditional candles. Traditional paraffin candles have up to 11 different carcinogen compounds. In California, these substances are actually considered toxins.

Soy candles on the other hand are much healthier. If you're making them yourself, you know exactly what's going in the candles. Your home and your family are safer.

To make your soy candles scented, just add a few drops of essential oils. You can very easily make your home smell like whatever you want.

3. Buy All-Natural Candles and Scents

Two good places to buy naturally made, chemical-free candles and scents are Etsy and Whole Foods.

Etsy is an artist-driven marketplace. A lot of candle makers make fantastic natural candles and sell them on this site.

You can also find natural, chemical-free scented candles at Whole Foods and other health and natural food stores. Make sure you read the labels for the ingredients before you buy. Don't buy anything with an ingredient that you don't recognize.

Cinnamon sticks.
Cinnamon sticks. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
4. Boil Spices

You can also make scents without essential oils. For example, you can make a wonderful holiday potpourri scent by boiling 1 ounce of cinnamon sticks with a handful of cloves and a handful of spice mix. Throw in some orange peels and heat for 20 minutes. Simmer in just enough water that the spices don't burn, so the water absorbs as much fragrance as possible.

You can vary this technique however you want. Once the water is done simmering, pour it in a fragrance disperser. Simple and easy.

Scenting your home shouldn't put you and your family's health in danger. Use these techniques to create fresh and healthy fragrances that will make your home smell great for the holidays!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Safe & Eco-Friendly Ways to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

Did you know that according to some surveys, most of us spend as much spend over 90% of our time indoors? And every moment of that time we're indoors, we're breathing. Whatever is in the air is going in and out of our bodies constantly.

Air quality is an important consideration for everyone; but it's especially crucial for the elderly, for children and for anyone with health conditions.

Fortunately, you can improve your home's air quality - And do it in an eco-friendly way. Here's how.

1. Turn Off Your Air Conditioner

Aparelho de ar condicionado
Air conditioner (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Air conditioners are huge energy hogs. It's hard to be truly eco-friendly when you're running air conditioners. They can also be very detrimental to your health.

Mold, even invisible mold, often grows inside air conditioners. AC units give mold the perfect environment to grow in: It's dark, it's moist and it's cool.

When you turn your AC unit on, that mold gets blown into your home. It can cause allergic reactions as well as worsen asthma. Instead, open up the windows and let in the fresh air! It will do wonders for your health as well as your mood!

2. Buy Some Plants

Nature built us an incredible air cleaning system: Plants. They are one of the most incredible filtration systems in the world.

Other air filtration systems can only filter out particles that are a certain number of microns or larger. Plants can basically filter out anything. They even turn the carbon dioxide you breathe out into fresh oxygen.

Plants also look fantastic. They can really add a sense of nature and joy to any house.

Open Your Window
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
3. Work on Your Ventilation

Having good ventilation can go a long ways towards improving your home's air quality.

Install fans near windows and other sources of outside air. Open windows instead of using air conditioning. Install windows in rooms that might otherwise feel stuffy, such as the kitchen or the bathroom.

If heat loss is a concern, you can install air to air heat exchange systems that allow you to get fresh air while not losing heat.

4. Install an Air Filter

A high-efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA filter) is an extremely effective way of cleaning the air of any dust particles or allergens. It's a bit pricier than its cheaper counterpart, ionic filters, but does the job much better.

When buying air filters, make sure you do your research to see which devices are ozone-producing air filters. Ozone can be irritating to the lungs, but actually smells like fresh air. People often think their air is clean, when really it's not.

Make sure you change your filters on a regular basis, or else your air filter can end up spreading pollutants around instead of cleaning them out.

These are just a few eco-friendly ways you can keep your air clean and your home fresh.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Healthier Ways to Clean Your Dishes

Food is the center of many of life’s celebrations, but at the end of the celebrating, when all the guests are heading home, the clean up has to begin. Doing the dishes, whether you put them in a dishwasher or wash them by hand, takes up a lot of time. And depending on what you use to aid in the cleaning up process, the products you use may be environmentally unfriendly and unsafe for your skin.

Seventh Generation Dishwasher Pods
Organic cleaners are safer for every cleaning task you need to do - so that means you don’t have to skip using organic products to clean your dishes, regardless of whether you choose to wash them by hand or load them in a dishwasher.

There are a lot of organic cleaners that can give your dishes sparkle and get them shiny clean. If you choose a dishwasher, you can buy organic cleaning pods that come with delightful fragrances like thyme. This scent can give your entire kitchen a fresh smell - without all the harmful chemicals.

Look for organic dishwashing detergents that don’t have any chlorine or phosphate in them. These are also a much better option if you have a septic system, as these chemicals can disrupt the delicate microbial balance of your system and cause problems in the future.

Organic cleaners can make a greasy clean up job a lot easier by cutting through the grease. And if you get the pre-measured dishwasher pods, this even cuts back on time spent in the kitchen, too. All you have to do is stick one into the dishwasher - no time needed to measure and no chance of accidentally overfilling the soap dish.

Earth-Friendly Products Dishmate
If you want to hand wash the dishes, then using organic soap won’t only clean your dishes without unsightly spots, but the soap is also better for your hands, too, without drying alcohols or harsh sudsing agents. Find one that contains aloe vera or chamomile to soothe your skin.

Instead of using dishwasher detergent that has synthetic scents and colors, use ones that have citrus extracts like lemon so that your kitchen is instantly refreshed after you cook a meal with strong odors.

You can make a nice cleaner yourself very cheaply just by using a mix of borax and baking soda with an essential oil of your choice. This may not have the beautiful color and suds that you had when you used store-bought dishwasher detergent, but you also won’t be putting anything harmful down your drain.

Make sure you play around with the do-it-yourself recipes for organic and natural cleaners, because results can vary depending on the hardness of your water. And watch how your skin reacts to the ingredients, too. You might need to wear gloves while cleaning, as even some natural ingredients are abrasive and can irritate your skin.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Benefits of Organic Cleaning Products

Everyone wants a clean living or work environment, but cleaning can be hazardous to your health if you use cleaners with harmful toxins. Exposure to the harmful toxins found in cleaning products can worsen asthma and cause allergic reactions.

You may not even be aware that you're polluting your home when you clean. But if you'll check the ingredients posted on the side or back of regular cleaners, you'll see many allergy and cancer-causing ingredients listed. You can research these chemicals and see the harmful health effects they've been linked to.

Earth-Friendly All-Purpose Cleaner
Using organic cleaning products offers many benefits that chemical based ones do not. By using organic cleaners, you can rid your home of chemical cleaner toxins. Organic cleaning products don't contain harsh chemicals that will not only damage your skin but can affect your lungs if you breathe in the vapors.

Cleaning products are used in every room in the house, including on counters, on floors, and on furniture - and everyone in the home is exposed to whatever active ingredients make up the compound of the cleaning product. What do you want your family to come in contact with?

The number of children diagnosed with asthma continues to rise and concerns have been raised by study groups that exposure to the toxins found in household chemicals may be to blame.

One form of asthma, called extrinsic asthma, is caused by environmental contaminants. By using organic products, you'll create a safer home environment for everyone around you. Because they're non-toxic, organic cleaners are safer to use around kids and they're also safer to use around your beloved pets, too.

Organic is better for allergy suffers as well as asthma sufferers. Going organic cuts down on (and in many cases eliminates) illness brought on by being around chemical cleaners. Not only are organic products better to use in your home for health reasons, but they're also better for the environment.

Chemical cleaners can contain harsh abrasives that damage the surfaces of counters - even granite - and bathroom fixtures too, whereas most organic products are gentle and won't hurt the surfaces. Even when you're finished using a chemical cleaner, the chemical toxicity can stay on your counters, tubs and toilet for several hours if not longer before evaporating.

Organic cleaners can clean as well as (and in most cases, better than) chemical cleaners. Plus, there's the cost involved. Chemical cleaners seem a lot less expensive, but they're not in the long run. Many organic and natural cleaning products are highly concentrated, so you don't have to use as much of them. And when you factor in the long-term impacts on your health, organic cleaners come out way ahead.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

What is Colon Cleansing & Is It Safe?

Part of the colon's job is to eliminate toxins from the body.  That's why you go to the bathroom!  Therefore, anything indigestible, or otherwise classified as "waste" by the body, is eliminated via the colon.  Of course, other organs, such as the skin, liver, and kidneys, also play a significant role in detoxifying the body.

However, the colon sometimes needs special attention, as experts note how wastes and undigested food matter can accumulate in that organ to an alarming degree.  Some natural health practitioners and nutritionists claim that the natural mucus lining of the colon can harden and putrefy, creating a host of health problems.

So How Do You Cleanse the Colon?

There are a couple of ways to do this, either separately or combined.

Journal of Dietary Supplements
Journal of Dietary Supplements (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
1. Supplements/Pills

You can purchase a colon cleansing kit at most health food stores and some drug stores and pharmacies, and just follow the directions.  These kits are comprised of various supplements designed to eliminate toxins from the colon.  You can take the pills and continue with your diet as usual, but some who have tried this say they don't feel really "cleaned out," and sometimes unpleasant side effects can result.

2. Special Diets or Fasts

There are a host of special colon-cleansing diets out there, from the famous "Master Cleanse" or lemonade diet - during which you drink only lemon juice mixed with water and maple syrup for several days - to smoothies.  There are also juice cleanses, and raw vegetable and fruit cleanses.  Some people simply adopt a healthier diet that includes more whole, unrefined foods and fiber.  These dietary changes can be done on their own, or sometimes in addition to supplementation.

But Is It Safe?

Some medical experts warn that colon cleansing can be dangerous due to possible electrolyte imbalances.  If practiced excessively, some experts warn that colon cleanses can stress the kidneys and heart.  The key is to undergo a cleanse with medical supervision and knowledge.  Here are some things to keep in mind to make cleansing safer.

1. Involve your family physician or consult a naturopathic physician
Tell your doctor that you want to undergo a colon cleanse, and he or she can work with you with regard to your state of health and what, if any, method you should use. Your doctor can inform you of the symptoms of electrolyte imbalance or other possible problems so that, if these begin to occur, you can stop the cleanse immediately.

English: vegetables
Healthy vegetables. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
2. Use clean techniques
If enemas are part of your colon cleansing regimen, make sure they are done by a professional who uses sterile equipment.

3. Start slowly
Try gentle methods first, such as a one-day juice fast, or a naturally cleansing diet for a specified number of days. For example, the Total Wellness Cleanse includes a very healthy, safe and natural diet that is gentle on your body.

In summary, colon cleansing can be a good way to detoxify your body occasionally.  Before beginning, do your homework, and determine the method that will work best for you, and be sure to consult with a professional before starting. 

Total Wellness Cleanse

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Natural Cleansing Herbs for Your Colon, Liver, and Kidneys

If you want to cleanse and detoxify your bodily systems naturally, there are several effective herbs that you can take to perform a cleanse.  The colon, liver, and kidneys are organs commonly targeted by cleansing, and there are herbs and remedies specific to each bodily system.*


For cleansing the colon, try the following herbs or foods:
  •  Prune juice: Okay, so prunes are not generally considered herbs per se but, like all medicinal herbs, they are the fruits (plums) of a plant (the plum tree), and their cleansing ability is very good.  Drinking prune juice and/or eating prunes relieves constipation, and can be very cleansing to the colon.
    Flax seed
    Flax seed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Flax seeds: A tablespoon of flax seed three times a day, ground or whole, will help cleanse the colon.  If you have ever mixed flax seeds with hot water, you know how this works.  The water, in which flax seeds are steeped, becomes a thick, mucilaginous mass.  If you tend to have intestinal irritation, use ground flax seed.  Note, though, that you must drink a lot of water for this to work.  Flax is so effective at creating bulk in the intestines that it can create a blockage without proper water intake.
  • Psyllium: Like flax seeds, psyllium seeds need a lot of water to work.  Those wishing to benefit from psyllium may take 3-10 tablespoons of the tiny seeds each day.  Psyllium also creates bulk in the intestine, moving toxins and waste out.
  • Senna: The leaves and seedpods of senna are used for internal cleansing.  A popular remedy for constipation, be aware that senna can be unpleasantly powerful in its effects.  Senna contains anthraquinones, a very effective laxative.  Other herbs with anthraquinones are aloe, cascara sagrada, and buckthorn (to name a few).
  •  Rhubarb: Once again, crossing the herb-food line is this laxative plant.  Rhubarb has fiber, and it also contains a laxative chemical similar to anthraquinones.

  • Milk thistle is an excellent liver-cleansing herb.  The best way to use milk thistle is by taking capsules, since the most effective part of the plant are the seeds.  Milk thistle helps protect the liver from damaging toxins, and also helps the liver to remove toxins from the body.

Dandelion roots
Dandelion roots (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Dandelion root and leaves are very effective diuretics, thus helping to flush out the kidneys and the system in general.  Try cooking young dandelion leaves as a potherb or taking capsules of the dried root.  Dandelion root that has been roasted and ground can be drunk as a cleansing, coffee substitute.
  • Cranberry is a well-known bladder infection fighter.  Because it prevents bacteria from adhering to the walls of the bladder, it has a cleansing effect (the bacteria get flushed out).  Blueberries work well for cleansing, too.

* Note: Information provided here is not designed to treat or cure any disease. Be sure to consult your personal physician before attempting any type of cleanse or detox.

The Total Wellness Cleanse