4 Reasons to Eat Seasonally and Locally This Summer

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If you shop at the farmer’s market, are a local CSA member, or frequent the “local” section of your grocery store’s produce aisle, you are well aware that fruits and vegetables come into and out of season. Depending on the climate where you live, you may have a wide variety of fruits and veggies to choose from year round, or you may notice that summer is truly a more abundant season for produce. Wherever you live, eating seasonally has its benefits. If you’re not already doing so, here are four reasons to eat seasonally.

#1: Fresher, More Nutritious Produce
Produce that doesn’t have to travel long distances to get to you will be fresher when you purchase it because it’s been harvested more recently. Also, since seasonal fruits and veggies are harvested when they’re ripe and grown outside, in their natural environment, they’ll contain far more nutrients and flavor than produce that’s grown in greenhouses or prematurely harvested and required to ripen off the parent plant.

#2: Supporting the Local Economy
Farmers harvest and sell what’s abundantly in season. By purchasing seasonal, local food, you’re supporting local farmers and therefore your local economy (you’re supporting yourself in many ways, when you think about it!).  By supporting local farmers you’re not only helping people but also encouraging sustainable, green farming practices because local farmers will plant and grow only what is suited to the soil and climate where they live.

#3: It’s Cheaper
Fruits and vegetables that are in season are more abundant and therefore end up being cheaper than foods that aren’t in season. Buying foods out of season means paying a higher price to cover the transportation of the food and growing fruits and veggies in artificial conditions.

#4: It’s Eco-Friendly
Buying produce that doesn’t require transportation means that less gas is being consumed and less exhaust is being emitted. Additionally, fruits and vegetables that have to travel long distances (like strawberries traveling from Mexico to Wisconsin in January) require far more chemical-ridden sprays and treatments in order to stay fresh long enough to make it to the grocery store. By becoming a member of your local CSA or buying at the farmer’s market, you’re buying directly from a local farm where transportation and preservation time is minimal—many times you’ll purchase produce that was harvested the same day as you pick it up.

As you can see, eating seasonally and locally has some amazing benefits! I love sampling seasonal fruits and veggies when I travel because chances are I’m visiting a state or country with a different climate, ecosystem, and sometimes season—there’s so much variety to be experienced!

YOUR TURN: What’s your favorite local, seasonal recipe for summer or fall?

Eco-Friendly Ways to Successfully Cool Your Home

NOTE FROM SWEET GREENS: Thank you supporting the companies that keep Sweet Greens in business.
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While you might enjoy staying cool and comfortable in your home during the warmer months of the year, you may also be concerned about cooling your home in a way that’s sustainable and friendly for the environment. Explore a few tips for making your cooling experience eco-friendly and just as effective as traditional methods.

Invest in Quality Insulation and Sealing

Some of the best and most effective cooling methods don’t even involve your air conditioner. Take out some time to have a professional technician who specializes in air conditioning repairs inspect your current insulation to see if it’s doing its job and whether you need to consider investing in an upgrade. Different types of insulation and sealing include thermal envelopes and heat shields.

Boost Your Home’s Ventilation

Making sure air can easily flow through your home is also essential to keeping cool and overall energy efficiency. Specifically, you’ll want to keep your home’s windows, shades and doors closed up until it’s cool out, otherwise, you’ll only have hot air blowing through your home’s interior. Additionally, bear in mind that ceiling fans cool people, not rooms, which means you should only have your fans on when someone is in the room. On a related note, when your fans are on, they should spin counter-clockwise to draw hot air up into the ceiling.

Close Your Shades and Blinds

No matter how great the inside of your home looks while drenched in sunlight, it comes at the cost of heating up your interior, which means your air conditioner is working harder than necessary. To help combat feeling as if you’re living in a sauna, close up your blinds and shades against direct sunlight and the heat waves that comes with it. If you’re someone who thrives on sunshine, you can leave your blinds and shades partially closed to direct sunlight.

Cook at Night or in the Early Morning

Operating your oven or stove during the day cranks up the heat in your home, which makes your air conditioner crank up its efforts to keep your home at the same temperature. Rather than feel as if you’re making a sacrifice by not using the oven, you can instead start eating more raw vegetables and fruits, which your body is sure to thank you for. Opt for fruits like watermelon that contain a lot of water to help you keep cool.

Lower Your Overall Cooling Load

Ways to make the most of passive cooling include:

  • Add or upgrade the sealing around your home’s windows and doors.

  • Use low-E glazing to your windows.

  • Make sure you have proper and sufficient insulation in your attic.

  • Invest in a whole-house fan, which can decrease your use of your air conditioner as well as your overall energy consumption.

  • Consider installing a radiant barrier in your attic ducts.

These methods are sure to pay off in the long run.

Sleep With a Buckwheat Pillow

If you’re like most people, you probably like sleeping in a cool room. Blankets and sheets are comfortable while sleeping, but they can raise your body temperature. Rather than crank up the air conditioner, invest in a buckwheat pillow, which is naturally cooler than standard pillows and won’t keep you tossing and turning during the night, which impacts the overall quality of your sleep.

Turn Up Your Unit Temperature

You can still remain comfortable even if your unit is set at a higher temperature. For every degree you set your unit above 72 degrees, you can save anywhere from one to three percent energy. Try it and see if you notice a difference in your comfort levels.

With the right information, you can do your part to save the environment through more efficient cooling methods. Put these tips to good use and see what a difference they make and how good it feels to practice sustainability.

4 Eco-Friendly Spring Activities for Teens

As inquisitive as kids can be, they will drill you with dozens of questions on a daily basis to understand your every decision, every move, and every choice you make. And if they are growing up in an eco-friendly family, they will slowly adopt and comprehend the benefits of such a balanced lifestyle, when explained properly.

However, teens are a whole different story – many of them are rebellious by nature and they are eager to be different from everyone and not follow the herd. As a mom of two little nestlings, I’m striving towards instilling an eco-friendly mindset into my kids throughout their adolescent years with the help of these simple activities, but even if you’re a newbie in the green world and wish to pass this wisdom onto your teen kids, these could be true life-savers!

#1: Contribute to cleanliness
I’ve noticed that our little rascals are eager to help around the house, especially when we make things interesting with some music and healthy snacks. Suddenly, cleaning up the room and washing the dishes no longer feel like chores, but like fun family time! Kids have also been asking me where I spend my Saturday mornings, and when I explained that I go to clean the local riverside with a few other people, they actually yelled: “Mommy, we want to come, too!”

Since modern societies still have much to learn in order to build this awareness as a norm, you have a chance to encourage your teenagers to take part in causes that matter to them and that will allow them to make a difference and thus, be different. You don’t have to chaperone them, but treat them as responsible adults and support them in their search for the right local activities to keep your community clean.

#2: Green exercise and transportation
Our little nestlings can spend hours playing in the garden, helping their dad make a birdhouse or playing with our pooch, but teens yearn for independent activities that will reflect their core beliefs and every choice they make is a statement. My husband and I have been using eco-friendly Gitane ebikes to work out and ride across town, and our kids have noticed that these bikes are different from the majority of those they see on the streets.

It’s natural that teens have increased self-awareness about their looks and their values, and supporting their efforts to be fit, healthy and confident with the help of an eco-friendly method will help them stand out in the crowd even more. Plus, they will reap the rewards of a healthy lifestyle and start early with maintaining their green habits.

#3: Green fashion
If our little girl already knows she adores green tees and absolutely despises yellow skirts, then I can only imagine the level of detailed commitment a teenager is willing to invest in their wardrobe. What they wear is yet another form of authentic self-expression, and they wouldn’t be caught dead in something they find ordinary or conformist.

And what better way to appeal to their inner rebel than by introducing them to an eco-friendly line created by none other than a teenage girl? Maya Penn is a young entrepreneur with tremendous ambitions to create sustainable, fashionable clothes. Although not many youngsters will be eager to make their own line of clothes, you can encourage them to design their new spring outfits by using sustainable materials and thus support the local economy.

#4: Everyday choices
If my kids are proud of me for hosting lectures on eco-friendly choices in our community, and the global teenage population prides themselves on individuals such as Ann Makosinski and her energy-efficient inventions, then your adolescent kids certainly do not lack sources of inspiration in this day and age.

Not only can you help them stay informed and learn about their peers who are literally changing the world, but you can also lead by example in your own home without imposing your beliefs. Small deeds such as shopping in your local market for locally grown goods, or more involved ones such as organizing green food drives for the homeless, hosting seminars and volunteering are more than enough to inspire your kids to make a difference and have fun during spring.

6 Eco-Friendly Ways to Keep Your Dog Happy and Safe this Summer

During the summer, your pet may be spending more time outdoors and might even take a few road trips with you. Keep your pooch happy and safe this summer by incorporating these pet and eco-friendly tips into your summer routine. These tips will keep your best friend comfortable and safe during the dog days of summer.

1. Hydration Station:
A simple fact is – a hydrated dog is a happy dog. Keeping Fido hydrated during the summer months is especially important – remember they are wearing a fur coat! Keep several dishes of fresh, clean water throughout your home and outside areas. Also, remember when you are out for the day or traveling, offer your pet fresh water on a continuous basis.

2. Give that Dog a Pool? 
Many dogs love to get wet and a great way to keep them hydrated when you are outside as a family is with a wading pool. Or, better yet, if you live near a natural body of water, why not take your dog with you for a little water fun! Just remember that not all dogs are good swimmers – keep an eye on them at all times.

3. Make it Portable
If your travel plans or daily outings include taking your dog along with you, don’t forget your pet’s essential supplies. There are many great eco-friendly on-the-go dog supplies that making taking your dog with a snap. Don’t forget the collar (with I.D.), leash, biodegradable poop bags, food, water, and feeding dishes.

4. Just Say NO – to Cars
I know it can be tempting to take Fido with you when you just have a few errands to run. However, this is an absolute no-no, especially on summer days. The inside of a car can heat up to deadly temperatures in the matter of a few minutes. Also, studies show that leaving the windows cracked or partially rolled down does nothing to save your pet from the summer heat. It is simply too hot for them!

5. Think of Hot Paws
When taking your dog on summer walks, remember that hot concrete and blacktop do not mix with dog paws.  Especially the paws of dogs that spend the majority of their lives indoors. Instead, choose a grassy route for your walk or wait until the early morning or evening hours to take your best friend on a walk.

6. Keep Them Updated
One of the worst feelings can be losing your pet. Regardless of how careful you are, accidents do happen. Remember to never take your pet outside of your home without their collar and I.D. on. This simply act can be the difference between having your beloved friend returned immediately if lost and never seeing them again. It is definitely worth the few seconds that it takes to snap their collar on before taking them outside.

How do you keep your dog happy and safe during the hot months of summer?

Naturally Sweet: Pacifica Vegan Perfumes are Perfect for Summer

Do you have a go-to scent for summer? My all time favorites are from Pacifica Perfume – they are all-natural, vegan, smell fruity and are perfect from summer! I love the Tuscan Blood Orange and the Hawaiian Ruby Guava.The fruity scent goes hand in hand with summer and they are affordable too – $22 a bottle, which will last all summer long.

 Do you have a favorite all-natural perfume?

Organic Tacos + Jalapeño Crema Recipe

This post is sponsored by Stonyfield and Walmart– all opinions expressed are my own.

So, my family loves tacos! And by love, I don’t just mean love, I mean my husband HAS to stop at every single taco truck he sees. Ha! It’s no surprise that we enjoy tacos at home quite frequently. Especially considering the mister does 100% of the cooking at Casa de Sweet Greens. Thank goodness!

The mister does all of his marketing on Mondays and was excited to hear that I partnered with Stonyfield and Walmart to showcase the wonderful affordable organic options that Walmart has to offer. So, of course he said, I know exactly what I am going to make, tacos! Organic tacos with jalapeño crema (made with Stonyfield yogurt) to be exact!

The taco recipe is pretty simple, add a bunch of your favorite organic taco fillings to a tortilla! This time, the mister used a selection of organic products that he found at Walmart! And, of course, he found a bunch of other organic goodies for the week too!

The best part of the tacos is the jalapeño crema! Who needs a taco, just squirt it into my mouth!

So, now of course you want the recipe, here you go!

Jalapeño Crema Recipe

  • 1 jalapeño
  • 2 cups Stonyfield organic Greek Yogurt
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cumin

Directions:

  1. Cut the jalapeño in half and seed it.
  2. Broil the jalapeño until the skin is charred.
  3. Place jalapeño in a closed container for 5 minutes.
  4. Peel jalapeño.
  5. Add the jalapeño, 2 cups of yogurt, lime juice, salt and cumin in a blender/food processor and process until smooth.

Add the jalapeño crema to a condiment bottle and enjoy!

If you are looking for a crowd pleaser this weekend, hit Walmart, grab a bunch of organic taco ingredients and invite your friends and family over for some fun!

6 Eco Friendly Tips for a Great Green Summer

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It’s summer, summer, summertime! With summertime comes hot days, cool treats and lots of fun in the sun with your family. Before you hit the road for a hot sunny day at the beach, park or BBQ, check out my six favorite eco-friendly tips for a great green summer. The best part, most of them are free and will only make your summer more enjoyable, read on.

1. Get Outside
It’s much nicer to cool off outside than it is to sit inside with the air conditioning on high. Hit your local beach, lake, or pool and cool off in the waves. Also, it’s a good idea to keep your shades drawn during the hottest parts of the day and use the reverse function on your ceiling fans to circulate the air to keep your home cool.

2. Go Local 
You don’t have to go far from home this summer to have a wonderful time. Take advantage of summer time by exploring your local community – hit a park that you have never ventured to before, find a new secret beach for the first time or check out the local farmer’s market and pick up tonight’s dinner.

3. Stay Hydrated
Long hot days mean that you and your family will need lots of fluids to stay hydrated. Instead of stopping to buy a drink whenever you are thirsty, keep your reusable bottles with you. I am enjoying my Vapur water bottle, it is easy to roll up and throw into my handbag or pocket until I need it. Summer is also the perfect time to make your own fruit and vegetable infused waters and homemade ice pops.

4. Stay Protected
Keep yourself and your family protected from the sun with all-natural sunscreen. I think it is a good idea to have one on hand at all times. I like to keep one in my handbag, beach bag, car, and even one by the door making it easy to grab on the way out to the pool.

5. Green Your Bikini
If you are in the market for a new swimsuit this year, consider purchasing an eco-friendly one. EcoSwim has a fantastic selection of swimsuits for women. You may also find a great selection at your local eco-friendly stores or Etsy shops.

6. Go Solar
Summertime is the perfect time to take advantage of all that sunshine. Consider using a solar charger to recharge your portable devices when out for a day of fun in the sun. We have a solar charger that we use whenever we go backpacking or camping, it is great for charging up our cell phones and extra battery packs for the RV.

What ways are you going and staying green this summer?

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