Organic Food is Better. End of Argument.
This infographic from the Organic Center explains the many benefits of eating organically.
This infographic from the Organic Center explains the many benefits of eating organically.
Scientists at Washington State University compared the milk that came from two groups of cows. The "old fashioned" cows had been fed a diet of mostly corn, probably living in what are called "confined animal feedlots" where they are also treated with hormones and antibiotics. The organic cows were raised in pastures, where they ate grassy plants. Both groups produce milk, but it turns out that the milk from organic cows has much higher levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, the "healthy fats" that are good for the heart.
Both organic and old fashioned milk contain two kinds of fatty acids. Omega-3 helps improve heart health. Omega-6 poses risks for cardiovascular disease, cancer, inflammation and auto-immune disease.
Natural disasters aren’t going away any time soon. In fact, given the increasing effects that climate change is having on the weather, scientists expect the number of natural disasters globally to grow. You only need to review the skyrocketing frequency of hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes, fires and floods that have destroyed homes and communities in the last couple of years to be clear on at least one thing: it’s better to protect yourself before you’re hit by a natural disaster than try to pick up the pieces afterwards.
At a conference I recently attended on rebuilding sustainably after natural disasters strike, the audience of educators, first responders, disaster experts, scientists, elected officials, public interest advocates and business leaders all agreed: most people do not have enough insurance to protect themselves if a natural disaster hits. As the sponsor of this post, the Australian insurer HBF also points out that most travelers don’t carry adequate insurance in the event their holiday or business trip is disrupted by a natural disaster, either.
HOW MUCH INSURANCE DO YOU NEED?
It's that time of year when my hands are starting to feel so dry, you'd think I lived in the desert. Nope, it's just winter setting in, along with its prescription for cracking skin and painfully tight dryness. Happily, this month's EcoCentric Mom subscription box included butter - hand butter that is, made by The Seaweed Bath Co. from shea butter, neem oil and bladderwrack seaweed extract. I'm not sure what a bladderwrack is, but this balm feels great, and smells yummy, too, with a hint of citrus (or maybe that's what bladderwrack smells like...).
Not to leave lips at the mercy of winter, either, the subscription box also included both the 3 Little Girls Holistic Oange Pop Lip Gloss, and lip scrub and lip colour from Lauren Brooke cosmetiques. The organic sugar in the lip scrub helps smooth chapped lips, then moisturizes with organic lecithin and shea butter. The lip colour is infused with organic pomegranate and non-GMO vitamin E. And of course, the lip gloss is organic, too. Winter or summer, I actually put lip gloss on top of lip colour for extra moisturizing, so am glad to try out both these products.
But for children in the Philippines and Syria, that definitely is not the case. And even though those places may be worlds away from you, I hope you'll stop for a moment, read about the plight little ones in these two forlorn countries face and, through UNICEF Australia, decide there is something you can do to help.
On Friday, November 8, a powerful typhoon called Haiyan struck the Philippines. You probably saw some of the initial news reports about the typhoon's impact on communities across the country. Powerful winds ripped roofs off housing and uprooted trees. Flooding and the collapse of buildings killed thousands of people. Parents were separated from their children; millions of people lost their homes, their belongings, and their livelihoods.
Are you planning a home renovation for 2014? Have fun coming up with new interior designs and imaginative ways to use your space! But while you’re plotting for the new, make sure to take proper precautions as you get rid of the old. Why? Because the furnishings and construction materials found in many older homes actually contain dangerous chemicals and compounds that can cause serious health problems if they’re underestimated or ignored. This post, sponsored by Newcastle Permanent, highlights several problems home renovations could create.
Renovation and remodeling have been proven to result in lead poisoning in children, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The lead primarily comes from old paint. Power sanding and demolishing walls and ceilings can release toxic dust, which can poison kids and pregnant women in particular. Your contractor can do a test to detect the presence of lead in wall, ceiling, door and window trim paint.
To be safe, if your house was built before 1978, assume the worst so you’ll take the best precautions. Work with a contractor who is certified in safe lead removal practices. Seal off the area that is being renovated with plastic sheeting and make sure the paint is being removed using a wet sand or wet scrape process, which reduces the presence of dust and fumes. Clean up thoroughly every day. And keep pregnant women, babies and children, and even pets far away from harmful dust and debris.
Green living doesn’t need to stop when you take a vacation. An increasing number of properties are available that offer close-to-nature lodgings that tread lightly on the earth.
Our sponsors at Perfect Stays, a UK-based rental or “letting” agency specializing in unique homes for holidays, special occasions, and short breaks, has drawn our attention to the properties at The Emerald, a five-acre estate in England’s Cornwall district that has achieved the UK’s highest level of sustainability (code level 6).
The properties include five different rental homes (including "Fern," pictured left) and several additional facilities (like an indoor swimming pool and a gym) powered by solar energy, to the point that the entire property is carbon neutral. Rainwater is captured from the roof, while grey water from the kitchen sink, bath, and shower is recycled to maximize water conservation and ensure water is abundantly available for the landscape as well as the house. Waste paper is recycled on the property. Lights are illuminated with energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs, though the properties are also designed to maximize use of sunlight indoors to minimize the need for electricity. Appliances are energy efficient and save water. Each house is cleaned with products free of toxic chemicals and compounds.
Kitchens in the houses can be stocked with locally-sourced food, including milk, eggs, bread, and cheese. If you want to venture into the beautiful Cornwall region rather than hit amusement parks or shopping malls, you can go kayaking, sailing, windsurfing and paddle boarding at one of the nearby beaches. Or if you prefer, bicycle along the coast. Fine dining is available at local pubs rather than chain restaurants. Enjoy the region’s history at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth, or at Pendennis Castle.
The colder it gets outside, the more people want to heat up their cars inside - even before they get in the car. Leaving an engine to idle -- in other words, turning the car on and leaving it on when it is parked for longer than about the wait at a stop light -- wreaks havoc on clean air. That's because when your vehicle burns gas, it emits dirty particles and toxic chemicals that combine in the atmosphere to produce acid rain and ground-level ozone or smog that can be very harmful to our lungs. Air pollution is particularly tough on kids, reports the terrific non-profit group Moms Clean Air Force, because they actually breathe faster than grown-ups and inhale more air per pound of body weight. Some communities, like this inspiring group in Nova Scotia, Canada, have banded together to put a stop to idling at schools, sporting events, and shopping malls.
If right about now you're really fretting about the commercialism of the holidays, take a deep breath, settle back, and click on the SoKind Registry. It's a one-stop way to give meaningful gifts without getting caught up in the expensive "more stuff" trap that often bogs down even the most conscientious among us.
The registry is the brain child of the wonderful Center for a New American Dream, the same folks who have been inspiring people to simplify the holidays by focusing on what's meaningful, not only on what can be bought. The So Kind Registry works in two ways. One, it encourages people to create their own non- or not-too commercial wish lists for things like music lessons, homemade dinners, museum memberships, babysitting help, or their favorite charities. Two, it allows gift givers to skip the mall and a bunch of "stuff" in favor of making gifts of time or donations to people who would really enjoy and value them. Like the idea but don't know what to put on your registry? The website offers this handy list of gift ideas to get you thinking.
If you love to travel but hate the impact that many hotels may have on the environment, consider house swapping. Never heard of it? House swapping, says LoveHomeSwap.com, our sponsors for this article, is the practice of literally exchanging a stay in your house with people living in a house in a place you want to visit.
For example, I could swap a stay in my home, which is just outside Washington, D.C., with someone who lives in London (or with this gorgeous house in Bali). I would stay in their house, and they would stay in mine. Usually, the stays last about the same amount of time, but they don’t have to occur simultaneously. I have friends who regularly swap houses with people all over the world. If their guests want to visit at a time when they’re not traveling, they decamp to their kids’ house or to a neighbor’s or friend’s. It has worked so well for them, they have managed it in Maryland, San Francisco, Seattle, Paris, the Dordogne region in France, Italy, Belgium…you get the picture.