Natural Living — Reuse

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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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Feng Shui Life - Declutter With A Yard Sale 2

by Laurie Raphael As you may already know, the first step to obtaining a feng shui life is to rid your home and yourself of all the stale and dead energy around you by getting rid of all the clutter. One really good way to do that is by having a yard sale. There are many great reasons for having a yard sale. Some people have yard sales before they move so they don't have to pack and ship belongings they aren't using. Sometimes they are updating the look of their home and sell their old belongings to make money and room for the new ones. Sometimes your children just grow like weeds and rapidly outgrow both their clothes and their toys. It could also simply be the desire to purge all those items you've held onto for so long, thinking you'd find a use for them but never did. No matter what your reason, having a yard sale is a relatively easy goal to achieve and requires just a few hours of preparation and a few more hours actually selling your wares. You'll reap both financial and emotional rewards from it. Getting rid of the clutter is your first step towards attaining a feng shui life. Decide on a date for your yard sale. Visit your local liquor store for boxes or use heavy duty garbage bags to put the items for your sale into. Start by surveying the items you have. When you are going through your house, you will need to be brutally honest with yourself. If you haven't used it, don't like it, don't see yourself using it or don't know of anyone personally who could benefit from it, then it's a yard sale item. Sort through every dresser and kitchen drawer, every clothes and linen closet, every cupboard and toy box you have in your house. Don't forget your basement, attic, pantry, entertainment center, buffet and outdoor tool shed as well. Get your family involved so that if an item belongs to one of them you won't be making the decision for them. Get their input before placing an item in your yard sale box. Regardless of the time it takes to sort through all your items, make the commitment to stick with it and remind yourself on a continual basis the monetary profit and emotional relief you'll feel once your clutter has been cleared from your home. Once the sale is over, make another commitment to yourself not to bring the unsold items back into your home. Make arrangements with your local charity thrift store to donate the items. Most will be happy to make arrangements to pick up large donations.Yard Sale If you don't have a local charity who will pick up the items just use my method and put a big "FREE" sign out at the end of the day. You will not believe how fast those items will disappear and it will save you a trip to the second hand store or from being tempted to bring the items back into the house. Once it's all said and done, you'll have a few extra dollars in your pocket, and can breathe an emotional sigh of relief that the clutter that's been weighing you down for so long has been purged from your home. Renew your commitment to remain organized and to combat the clutter on a continual basis. About the Author: Visit my Alternative Medicine website featuring Feng Shui life and Herbal Remedy Medicines, Chinese Herbal Medicine and much more: http://www.AlternativeMedicineBasics.com Buy the Book: Yard Sale [affiliate] Image Source: http://flickr.com/photos/opticallyactive/81438260/

Sit on Your Compost with the Composting Bench 2

For some, figuring out where you can start composting can be a bit of a challenge. After all, there are a few things you should keep in mind, like how far the compost heap should be from your home, how to keep it hidden away from nosy neighbors and prying eyes, and how to keep rodents and wildlife from digging around in the compost. And while there are a couple options like keeping your compost under wraps in a compost tumbler or bin, there are consumers out there who look for other aesthetically attractive options. One such option is a bench that doubles as a composting bin. Dual functional furniture is always a plus, and owning a bench that offers a composting bin option is a terrific way to hide your compost in plain sight. You may want to consider this alternative versus a normal compost bin or compost tumbler if you feel that composting out in the open may ruin or distract from your natural landscape. With a composting bench, you can fearlessly hide your compost out in the middle of your garden without it taking away from the landscape. Some companies offer dual functional composting benches, but it you're the do it yourself type, you can make a building project out of it. Just be sure to keep about 20 inches of height from the seat to the ground for a good sized composting bin. Another good design feature to keep in mind is to add hinges to the seat so that you can lift it up whenever you need to add water or turn the pile. Composting, A Practical Step by Step GuideIt's also important to keep in mind that your compost needs ventilation in order for it to decompose properly, so make sure that there's plenty of slits all around the bottom bin. Be sure however, to make them small enough so that small animals can't get in. And don't worry about any smells coming out from beneath the bench; as long as you're following the proper carbon to nitrogen ration (green parts to brown parts), and you're regularly turning and adding water to your compost, it should smell earthy, not icky. Composting is a fun process for everyone, and keeping it underneath an attractive bench is perfect for even the most discerning gardener. Literally, you can sit back and relax and let the compost do its thing! by Duong Vicki About the Author: For a wide selection in compost bins and rain barrels be sure to stop by Composters.com. Buy the Book: Composting, A Step by Step Guide [affiliate link] Image Source: http://flickr.com/photos/flatbushgardener/460330959/

Eco-friendly Flooring Options That Will Wow You 37

If you're remodeling your home, or building your dream home from scratch (lucky you!), installing a brand new floor might be on your list. There are many flooring materials to choose from, each with different pros, cons, and looks. If you are trying to live green (make environmentally friendly remodeling choices), you may want to consider an eco-friendly flooring material. There are quite a few options out there, so let's take a look: Cork Flooring You're probably familiar with the cork you find stopping up wine bottles, of course, but you may never have walked on a cork floor. It's the same material, just formed into tiles or planks and stuck down on the sub-floor. Since it is lightweight, installation is fairly painless. Cork is considered eco-friendly because it's harvested from sustainable resources. It comes from the bark of the cork oak tree (which can be collected without harming the tree itself). Cork's unique look makes it a fun floor choice, but there are practical reasons for choosing it as well. It acts as an insulator, absorbing sound and softening impacts (for instance, if you lay cork in the kitchen, a dropped dish probably won't break). It's also an easier material to stand on for long periods than floors made from ceramic tiles, stone, etc. Reclaimed Hardwood Floors If you love the look of hardwoods (who doesn't?) but can't reconcile yourself to having trees cut down just so you can get a new living room floor, there may still be a way for you to get the floor of your dreams. Think reclaimed wood. Reclaimed hardwood floors are made with timbers recycled from old structures, such as dilapidated barns, schoolhouses, libraries, etc. There are a number of companies who buy the wood that would otherwise end up in a junkyard and refinish it to create planks suitable for residential floors. So basically you can a new hardwood floor without any new trees being cut down. If you're wondering if these reused boards are structurally sound, they are. In fact, many people tout them as superior to the planks made from today's trees. The wood used in these older buildings came from old-growth forests, from older first generation trees; on the other hand, today's hardwood floors are made from wood harvested from tree farms, where the trees never truly reach maturity before being cut down. Have a floor made from reclaimed wood and you'll be getting quality, character, and history in one swoop. Bamboo Flooring Bamboo is another flooring material that is catching on in popularity. It is considered eco-friendly because bamboo is a fast-growing grass, rather than a tree, and farms can grow a shoot to maturity in just a few years. Though bamboo is somewhat similar to hardwood floors, it has a distinct look, and some people prefer that uniqueness to hardwoods. It is a sturdy, durable material and will last just as long as wood. Though there aren't as many varieties as there are species of wood, different finishes can create different looks for you to choose from. The three flooring materials we have discussed--bamboo, hardwoods, and cork--are all considered eco-friendly. As an added bonus, they are all relatively easy to maintain. No vacuum cleaner required here! They are also good choices for allergy sufferers. With bamboo, hardwoods, and cork, there is no place for pet dander, pollens, mold, mildew, dust, etc. to hide. Compare this to the nooks and crannies you get with carpets, and you'll see why more and more people are choosing these other materials. by Ivan Cuxeva Jr About the Author: TC Thorn writes on many home improvement topics, such as wood flooring, bamboo floor cleaning, and kitchen floor ideas. Buy The New Flooring Idea Book [affiliate link] Image Source: http://flickr.com/photos/jakerome/2096311515/