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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 Tips to Help You Grow Your Own Organic Veggie Garden

NOTE FROM SWEET GREENS: Thank you supporting the companies that keep Sweet Greens in business.

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Have you ever tried to grow your own vegetables?

If not, you’re missing out. Eating vegetables is part of a healthy diet and can greatly cut down your risk of diseases and illnesses. Organic veggies, grown in your own garden, reveal just how bland, both in color and flavor, grocery store veggies are. Not to mention the huge markup that supermarkets put on organic foods. If you are simply buying your vegetables at the store, eating organic can be extremely expensive!

You may also be concerned about the wasteful ways that supermarket produce is grown and the pesticides used to get them to grow and thrive. With this knowledge, more and more people are making an effort to grow their own vegetables and live an eco-friendly lifestyle. Having your own garden is an excellent way to preserve the planet, while also helping keep your household costs to a minimum.

If you like the idea of growing your own veggies organically, but you don’t know where to begin, here are 6 simple tips to get you started:

#1: Soil Preparation
Many new gardens wonder, “What’s my first step?” The best place to begin with your garden is preparing your soil. Although some plants may thrive in poor soil conditions, others will offer a more bountiful yield with soil that contains organic matter. Utilizing important nutrients such as fertilizer and mushroom compost can give your soil a boost.

You can also have your soil tested by a landscape professional to ensure it is prime for planting. Simply take a sample of your soil, bring it to the professional, and the nursery can test the organic particles in it. If it is less than ideal, they will give you advice on how to improve the quality of your soil so your organic garden and thrive and flourish.

#2: Choose Regional Vegetation
Before buying seeds for your garden, you want to determine the type of vegetables that are sure to thrive, based on your region. Important things to take into consideration include our local growing zones, rainfall, and sunlight quantities. The internet has a wealth of information that can help guide you to find the plants that best reflect your region. You can also take a look at the directions on the back of the seed packets or planting stakes.

Another thing to consider is the weather in the later stages of the growing season. Some regions may experience frost at earlier times of the season than others. Unless you are making ice wine, frozen produce isn’t what you want in your garden. Before you begin to plant, ensure that your veggies will be safe from the cold by determining the latest point you should harvest them.

#3: Plant a Garden that Attracts Pollinators
Your garden needs the help of Mother Nature to grow. You can encourage pollinators such as bees, pollen wasps, butterflies, flower beetles, and moths to visit your organic beds by planting flowers near your crops.

Nature is a delicate balance, and today, it seems like that balance is upset. You constantly hear horror stories on the news about how essential pollinators, such as bees, are dying off in massive numbers. This is called Colony Collapse Disorder. Nobody knows why this is happening, although there have been many theories (Cell phones, pesticides, etc.) These kinds of stories can make us feel helpless, like there is nothing we can do for the planet. By planting flowers with pollen that support bees around your produce, you will be helping them thrive, along with your garden. Clover can be an excellent choice for this.

#4: Make Your Own Compost
Like we mentioned above with preparing your soil, natural compounds are necessary to help your garden flourish. Without them, any growth will be stunted. You can make your own organic compost pile using grass clippings, leaves, coffee grounds, egg shells, and other household waste. Find a place in your backyard to house your compost pile. If you prefer not to have the pile out in the open, you can invest in a number of different containers that will help the organic material breakdown. As you tend to your vegetables, add the compost material as needed around the plants base. If you find that you don’t have enough compost, you can also purchase organic mulch to help your soil retain its moisture throughout the season.

#5: Purchase Product from Reputable Resources
If you’re going to all of the trouble of growing your own garden, you want to make sure that all of the produce is organic and natural. When you’re ready to purchase seeds or plants, you need to ensure the company you are buying from is certified organic. This means both the seeds and starter plants have been manufactured without the use of chemicals, pesticides, or GMOs. Check your local home improvement stores or nurseries for their certified organic offerings. You may also want to check your regions farmers markets for organic starters and seeds.

The internet can also be a great place to find fantastic quality organic seeds. Just make sure you do your research on the company first to confirm that they are certified organic and have quality plants.

#6: Eliminate Pests Naturally
Creating a successful vegetable garden takes a lot of hard work. Unfortunately, before you can reap what you’ve sown, pests such as aphids, ants, beetles, deer, and rabbits may decide to prematurely sample your bounty. Turns out that they like organic produce too. While you want to turn these vegetable thieves away, you also want to avoid using chemicals or poisons that will hurt both them and Mother Nature (and you too, while they’re at it).

To prevent your garden from being devoured by these uninvited guests, you can eliminate hazardous insects and pests naturally. Marigolds, soap sprays, garlic, and natural oils can help provide your yard with relief from the vermin. Research your region to find the most likely pests that will attack your garden and prepare for them well ahead of time.

Starting your own organic garden may sound challenging, but can be well worth the effort. Eating nutrient rich foods has a host of benefits. Simple things such as cutting out sugar and consuming broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, and green beans will help preserve brain function and reduce risks of diseases such as dementia, diabetes, and cancer. If you don’t have a green thumb and have never worked in the yard, growing your own may seem to be more of a nuisance than purchasing your organic produce at the local market. But with the right plan, soil, and organic seeds, you can grow veggies that are eco-friendly, healthy, and bountiful.

3 Budget-Friendly Ways to Remodel Your Kitchen and Bathroom

NOTE FROM SWEET GREENS: Thank you supporting the companies that keep Sweet Greens in business.

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If you’ve decided you would like to remodel different areas of your home, you may want to start with the kitchen and bathroom. Both these rooms are most likely frequented by everyone in the household on a daily basis, which make them a great place to start your remodel. Even once you’ve decided these are the two rooms you want to work on, you could have some concerns about how much money it will cost to achieve a drastic transformation. You may also be worrying about the challenges of making eco-friendly design decisions while staying on-budget. Here some effective, budget-friendly, and environmentally conscious ways to complete the remodeling process without stressing yourself out.

1. Choose a Fresh and Exciting Color of Paint For the Walls

Nothing says new like a fresh coat of paint. A new color on the walls of each room is a great way to start the transformation process. Painting is budget-friendly because you can easily do it on your own. All you need to do is get the necessary supplies, such as cans of paint, brushes, and rollers. Painting is often a concern for the environmentally conscious decorator because it traditionally contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that release toxins. However, in recent years, mainstream companies like Benjamin Moore have released paints with zero VOCs at a reasonable price-point. There are many affordable eco-friendly paint options available on the market today that can instantly take your bathroom and kitchen from drab to stunning.

One important tip is to set aside some dedicated time to get the painting done. If you are off from work on the weekends, you could probably get both these rooms painted in two days if you stay focused.

2. Replace Those Old Countertops With New and Modern Options

Adding a new color to both rooms is a great way to start the renovation process, but there are other budget-friendly options that can make a major difference too. Countertops in your kitchen may be old, outdated, and possibly even a bit stained. You could buy new and updated countertops while getting everything you need to remodel your home kitchen and bathroom. There are several eco-friendly materials to choose from, including recycled glass, fast-growing bamboo, recycled wood. Aside from considering appearance, affordability, and quality, you may want to select a specific color and pattern to match the existing color and décor of your kitchen.

3. Enhance the Look of Old Cabinets With Simple Yet Effective Tricks

If you would like to take the renovations one step further, completing a do-it-yourself project to transform the cabinets in your kitchen and bathroom is a great idea. There are several effective and fun tips and tricks you can use to make old cabinets look brand new again. You could start by using sandpaper to smooth the surface of the material and remove any minor imperfections. After sanding, you can paint the cabinets on your own with a new paint color or even some wood stain. Another easy way to change the look of your cabinets is to replace the old hardware with updated handles. There are hundreds of different knobs and pulls to choose from! Sprucing up your current cabinets helps your renovation stay eco-friendly by upcycling your existing furnishings.

You may have many reasons for wanting to remodel your kitchen and bathroom. Most people complete home renovations because they would like to upgrade their living space and make it even more comfortable. If you are worried about trying to complete these upgrades on a budget, focus on keeping it simple and making a few small changes that can make a significant difference.

Aside from increasing your own comfort, there is another great reason for you to complete these budget-friendly renovations. When you update your kitchen and bathroom, you are increasing the value of your property. If you have plans to sell your home at some point in the future, the renovations you’ve done can make it worth even more than you expect.

Looking for Fun Organic Summer Fashion? Check out Nordstrom!

Nowadays it’s easier than ever to shop stylish, eco-friendly fashion with big stores like Nordstrom stocking organic and sustainable clothing. Designer Eileen Fisher creates simple, wearable styles with organic linen and cotton that are perfect for the upcoming summer months.

Not only are organic fabrics good for the environment, they also result in garments which are wonderfully soft and breathable, creating the perfect blend of style, comfort, and sustainability.

For those hot summer afternoons in the garden, Eileen Fisher’s Organic Linen Crop Pants will keep you cool with light fabric and a breezy style. For year-round layering, top them off with a simple Organic Cotton Tank. There’s nothing quite so comfortable in a basic layering piece as the incredible softness and breath-ability of sustainable, organic cotton. If you’re looking to build a complete outfit with organic fashion from Nordstrom, finish those two pieces with an Organic Linen Open Front Cardigan. Made from breathable organic linen, this cardigan is a great option for cooler summer nights and the eventual transition into fall weather.

Shopping for organic, eco-friendly clothing doesn’t mean sacrificing all the versatility and simplicity we’ve come to expect from less sustainable brands. Nordstrom features organic fashions for every body type with certain styles designed specifically for petite women. Most pieces by Eileen Fisher are also machine washable and safe to put in the dryer so it’s easy to incorporate sustainable fashion into your existing clothing routine. Fun organic fashion also doesn’t have to break the bank with Groupon offering promo codes and discounts to shop at Nordstrom on a budget.

It used to be that you had to travel to specialty stores to find stylish and sustainably made clothing, but Nordstrom has made it possible to shop online and buy stylish eco-friendly products no matter where you live.

 

Full Disclosure: This post was brought to you in part by Groupon – all opinions are my own.

prAna and Stonyfield Hit the Beach for #TheWholeYou

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

Can you believe it is already May? Last weekend, we spent Sunday soaking up the sunshine at the beach! It is the one time each week where I feel really relaxed and present. It’s nice to slow down, spend time with my family and embrace my authentic self! #TheWholeYou Seriously, I would spend every single day at the beach if I could.

When we hit the beach, we plan to spend the whole day swimming, snorkeling, paddleboarding, beachcombing and soaking up the sunshine. So, we always pack a lunch and snacks. Last weekend, we packed veggie sandwiches, fresh fruit, sparkling water and Stonyfield organic whole milk yogurt. While not the typical beach snack, I find cold yogurt to be really refreshing on a hot Florida summer day! Plus, yogurt is a great snack for keeping my family fueled all day which was perfect because later that afternoon we completed our family volunteer work, a beach clean up! It really was a perfect Sunday!

I was pretty excited to receive a pair of Tess shorts from prAna just in the time for the weekend! They slipped perfectly over my swimsuit and where super comfy to wear to the beach clean up. Plus, who doesn’t love sustainable, organic shorts!

The Tess shorts are super cute and 97% organic! They have a little bit of stretch, making them super comfy and giving then a great fit. I love the color selection, they really are the perfect short for summer. Want a pair of your own? You can get 15% off your entire purchase with the code WHOLES17MSG – you can also find PrAna on social!

Facebook: PrAna
Instagram: @PrAna
Twitter: @PrAna

Happy Summer!

 

4 Low Effort Ways to be More Eco-Friendly

NOTE FROM SWEET GREENS: This article wasn’t written by me. Thank you for supporting the companies that keep Sweet Greens in business.

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We all want to reduce our carbon footprint on the environment. We need to be resourceful in order to carefully steward this planet we call our home as science continually shows us that much of what we do on a daily basis has a direct and negative impact on the world.

Thankfully, we can all do seemingly small things consistently over time that will add up to do the most good. In this article, we will discuss four ways that you can easily be more eco-friendly:

Eat Meat Less Often
One does not need to become a vegan or live a stringently vegetarian lifestyle to make a difference, but making the choice to eat meat less often can have a significant global impact. It has been calculated that it takes more water to produce a pound of meat than it does to produce an equivalent amount of vegetables or grains. For example, producing a pound of Tofu requires 832 liters of water, while it takes between 6,800 and 9,400 liters to produce the same amount of meat. It also takes about 15 times the amount of fossil fuel to produce meat as it does vegetables or other foods.

All of this additional energy usage contributes to greenhouses gases that cause global warming and other deleterious effects on the planet. If everyone simply cut back on their meat consumption a little, it would have a tremendous impact overall.

Being Responsible with Your Waste
It’s understandably difficult for people to make the time to recycle the things that they no longer want or need. It takes a great deal of time and effort to collect and sort your items, as well as hauling them all the way to the recycling facility. It can be equally time consuming to load these items into your car for disposal in a landfill dumping area, not to mention the negative impact dumps can have on environment.

If you don’t have the time, do some research into alternative waste removal solutions. There are many companies out there who would be happy to pick up your recyclable waste, such as this London based rubbish removal company. They may cost a little more, but it would have a very positive impact on the environment.

Plant Some Trees
If you want to do something that will last for future generations, the best way is to plant a tree. Not only are they beautiful, but they provide our planet with necessary oxygen and are a habitat for the many creatures that depend on them for food and shelter.

In addition, you can save on your cooling bills by strategically planting trees to block against the wind while also using them to provide shade for your house. By doing so, you will require less planetary resources and fossil fuels to cool your home, making your carbon footprint that much smaller.

Change the Way You Travel
Changing your mode of transportation is one of those ways you can make a huge difference, as it is something that you do every day. The effects will be cumulative and will, hopefully, over time, become a habit.

If you drive a car, you can take the bus or subway if there is one in your area. If you do need to drive your car, try to figure out the most direct route you can take. Riding a bicycle is great for your health and for the planet, and when and if you are able, you can try walking to work!

If you want to reduce your impact on the environment, try implementing some of these methods and habits. We all have to do our part, and together, we can help preserve this planet and save our environment for all of our children.

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