Natural Living


More Ways to Green Your Holiday 3

Mid December is the time of year that the internet abounds with useful tips to green your holiday and a multitude of tips to lighten your environmental impact over the holidays. The Most Repeated Eco Holiday Tips Switch to LED lights to conserve massive amounts of electricity and forego the wrapping paper for something homemade from old magazines, newspapers or brown bags and festive bows. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="178"]Reusable shopping bags Image by Luca Penati via Flickr[/caption] Ways to save money and environmental impact include:
  • From Eco-Wrap Your Holiday Gifts: Use vintage tins, reusable bags or eco paper to wrap your special gift.
  • Buy presents that don't require packaging such as gift certificates, movie passes or restaurant cards.
  • Don't wrap the presents or buy presents that don't need wrapping such as a charitable donation.
  • Give reusable shopping bags for gifts. Everyone should own these anyway.
  • Make your own gift with a reusable bag, fair trade coffee, a stainless steel water bottle and some soap nuts.
  • Make your own ornaments either from recycled materials or fun items from a thrift store.
Eco Book Gift Ideas From Eco-Libris: The Green Collar Holiday Gift Guide for Book Lovers - Part 1 - Consider the gift of an eco-book that will educate and inspire. Some of the more exciting recommendations include: “Gorgeously Green: 8 Simple Steps to an Earth-Friendly Life” by Sophie Uliano “Eco Chick Guide to Life: How to Be Fabulously Green” by Starre Vartan “The Lazy Environmentalist” by Josh Dorfman “The Better World Shopping Guide: Every Dollar Makes a Difference” by Ellis Jones For the eco conscious woman in your life, check out Inhabitat's Green Gift Guide for Her, with creative, unique eco-friendly gift ideas like a recycled chain bracelet, organic bath and body treats, purses made from recycled leather jackets or TONS of soda pull tabs. As always, Inhabitat finds great items that are as unique and stylish as they are sustainable.

Tips to Green Your Holiday 4

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300"]An artificial fiber optic Christmas tree Image via Wikipedia[/caption] Green Your Holiday starting with your tree What is better? Real or artificial? Deforestation or plastic contraption? Here is Christmas tree 101 with tips from the Chicago Tribune. Artificial Tree Pros: Durable, affordable, easy to set up and maintain and continues to look good. Cons: PVC, phthalates, huge carbon footprint and no natural tree scent Real Tree Pros: environmentally friendly, local, renewable and recyclable and they smell good Cons: grown with pesticides, difficult to set up and maintain, pricey Solution? I already have an artificial so I am going with "reuse" despite the PVC and phthalates concerns. Plus I like a white tree and that is tough to find at the tree farm. Still can't decide? You could always go with a Festivus pole. Holiday Gifts With a Donation Twist If you would like to make a donation to a worthy cause and go holiday shopping in the process, then check out greenlagirls Give to get: Picking an eco-gift bag. Her useful review actually compares the contents of two different eco gift bags to determine if the bag is truly eco-useful or just fluff. One bag is from Environmental Working Group for a $135 donation and the other is from Jump Start to Green for an $89.99 donation. Either bag is a great way to get an "eco-interested" friend or relative started on the right foot.    
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Going Green Starts at Home 4

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300"]Space-filling model of a part of a PVC chain Space-filling model of a part of a PVC chain[/caption] Did you know that the EPA not only considers indoor air to be much more polluted than outdoor air, but it is one of the top 5 human health concerns? It is no wonder when you consider that most homes contain toxin soaked carpeting, formaldehyde soaked particleboard, toxic household cleaning supplies, PVC, offgassing, dry cleaning, plastics and much more. If it was manufactured in a lab, odds are it is not good for you or your family. The short and long term dangers are compounded if you have children or pets. The good news is that it is not terribly difficult or expensive to start going green at home. Gaiam has a nice article called 5 Easy and Cheap Ways to Green Your Home and the list includes: 1. Take your shoes off at the door to avoid tracking in lead, pesticides and other contaminants. The good news is, your home will stay much cleaner too. 2. Get rid of vinyl (PVC) which is commonly found in shower curtains, kids toys and backpacks. Look for the #3 or letters PVC. Why get rid of it?
"PVC frequently contains notorious phthalates to make it soft. According to the Children's Health Environmental Coalition, these phthalates are known to cause liver and kidney damage, endocrine disruption, reproductive system damage and, possibly, cancer, and they can easily leach out of PVC. And finally, harder PVC often contains lead and cadmium, two heavy metals that have also been linked to a host of health issues, including cancers."
3. Switch to green cleaners because traditional household cleaners turn your indoor air and surfaces into toxic hazards. There are many green cleaners on the market today and they are a step in the right direction but making your own cleaners with vinegar, baking soda and salt is the most healthy, inexpensive, non-toxic and earth friendly way to clean your home. 4. Use indoor plants. They look great, are positive feng shui and yes they absorb toxins from the air. The best plants for toxic absorption are ficus, spider plants and English ivy. 5. Open your windows even if it is for a few minutes a day and yes, even in the winter. Even adding a little fresh air to the mix will help dilute the toxins in your household air.
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6 Of The Top Organic Fertilizers 0

organic fertilizersby James Ellison Some of the most important organic fertilizers are fish emulsion, seaweed, earthworm castings, bone meal, kelp meal, and rock phosphates. These natural fertilizers will improve your plants, especially yield plants, and are great for the soil. Not only do they nourish your plants but the soil as well so that it is healthy enough to support whatever you decide to plant. It is quite easy to match the organic fertilizer to the plant you need it for thus improving the plants and making them healthier. They also tell you how often to use them so that you don't overdo. Some fertilizers are longer lasting and do not have to be applied as often. Fish Emulsion and Seaweed This combination of organic fertilizer is just about as good as one can get. It is high in trace minerals that plants need and help to establish root growth. The joining of the two makes the best complete fertilizer so there is no need to add anything else. Fish emulsions made from fish or fish by-products along with seaweed, a saltwater plant can give you a very healthy plants. Earthworm Castings Earthworms are burrowers. While burrowing in the soil they swallow the soil that contains organic matter. It is then ground up in the gizzard and expelled as castings. These castings aerate the soil and have over 60 trace minerals that are needed by plants. Do not use chemical fertilizers near earthworms as it is toxic to them. Bone Meal Due to the slow release of this organic fertilizer it is safer when transplanting new plants and lowers transplant shock. It promotes a healthy root system. Bonemeal contains calcium, nitrogen, and phosphorus and is one of the best plant foods. Kelp Meal This fertilizer is made from dried seaweed and is used as an additive with other organic fertilizers. It is high in plant food growth hormones which will help your plants to grow bigger and stronger. It is also thought that plants that this is used on develop a resistance to pests and disease. Rock Phosphates It is not only a natural source of calcium, phosphates, and trace minerals but it improves the soil and is one of the best fertilizers for transplanting young plants since it does not burn roots. Urban Organics All Purpose Organic FertilizerIt is also a slow dissolver in water which makes it last a lot longer than most others. Organic fertilizers are the best for your garden, flowers, and your lawn. They provide natural elements to the soil and plants which is very beneficial to the environment. Today when everything we eat and use is chemically altered in one way or another it is refreshing to know that we can get back to the basics and perhaps be healthier in the future. After all most of these elements have been around for centuries. About the Author: Jim's articles are from extensive research on each of his topics. You can learn more of organic and natural fertilizers by visiting: Organic Fertilizers Buy Urban Organics All Purpose Fertilizer Image Source:

Composting Food Scraps Makes the Earth Happy 0

by Duong Vicki Not too many people realize it, but composting is one of the best ways to return your resources back into the earth. In a way, composting is our way of saying thank you to Mother Earth for providing us with the resources needed to feed ourselves and our families. Simply put, composting is a lot like recycling, except you don't take your reusable goods to a recycling center, but rather you put it in a compost bin or tumbler and back into your garden. Let's start with a common scenario for households of two or more. In the beginning, there was food, and it was good. Fruits and vegetables were abundant, but so were the leftovers and food scraps. Instead of tossing all the food scraps into the trash where it would take up unneeded space in landfills, why not recycle it all back into the earth? Food scraps are easy enough to compost because there's always such an abundance of it lying around, so what have you got to lose other than the scraps themselves? Always consider what you can and cannot compost. For instance, it's strongly advised to never, ever compost bones, meat and dairy products, fats and oils since they take too long to decompose or won't decompose properly at all, smell really foul after half a day, and they attract all sorts of critters and wildlife. Unfortunately, not everything can be composted; I would recommend that you toss the aforementioned items in your trash and properly dispose of them. Veggie stalks, fruit rinds, apple cores and even coffee grounds are the goodies you want to compost. You wouldn't think it, but coffee grounds are great for the composting process since they're rich in nitrogen and aid in adding heat to your compost pile. We know that composting is great for the earth, but why and how? Well, if you think about it, composting cuts out a lot of costs. You would be saving a lot of money on water and garbage bills just by making free natural and organic soil fertilizer for your garden and houseplants. And did I mention it would improve the vitality of your soil? By returning nutrients back into the soil that will be released over the course of a couple years, you would be maximizing the growth and health of your plants and veggies. The soil itself will also have improved aeration and drainage. And even if you're not an avid gardener, composting takes very little of your time and like I've mentioned before, what have you got to lose other than your food scraps? Kitchen Compost Crock by Gaiam *Special thanks to C. Forrest McDowell, PhD and Tricia Clark-McDowell for their compost guide Home Composting Made Easy, available on Cortesia Press. About the Author: For an excellent selection in wood chippers and lawn sweepers, be sure to stop by today. Buy the Kitchen Compost Crock [affliate link] Image Source: