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5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Plan for Thanksgiving Dinner

5-eco-friendly-ways-to-plan-for-thanksgiving-dinner

Hello, Friends! I am pretty excited, Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Are you hosting the big dinner this year? There are many eco-friendly ways to green your Thanksgiving dinner – all of which are easier to implement if you plan ahead. Many of these ideas will save you money and time while cutting down on the amount of waste that can accumulate from a big family dinner. Read on to learn my 5 favorite eco-friendly ways to plan your Thanksgiving dinner and start planning today!

1. Decorating 101
You don’t have to spend any money when decorating for Thanksgiving, instead use items that you already have or consider bringing natural items indoors. We always have a handful of pumpkins leftover from Halloween that we use as Thanksgiving decorations. And Eben and I like to take a nature walk to collect natural elements (pine-cones, acorns, branches and leaves) to display as our Thanksgiving table centerpiece.

2. How Much is Enough?
It is really easy to go overboard when planning the Thanksgiving menu. Consider the dishes that you will be serving and ask yourself if you are making more than is necessary. Choose a few dishes that you are sure your guests will love and skip the rest. Also, consider which parts of Thanksgiving dinner you want to or can afford to purchase organic and whenever possible, avoid pre-packaged items.

3. Consider the Table
Do you have enough dinnerware for everyone in your dinner party? If not, consider borrowing place settings from close friends or family members instead of purchasing new. If you aren’t a china and tablecloth kind of family and choose to go with disposable place settings, choose a great compostable version that is made from 100% recycled materials.

4. Think Seasonal
When choosing fruits and vegetables for your Thanksgiving menu, think seasonal. You want to avoid purchasing produce that are imported from far away. You may consider joining a local CSA for the holiday season – not only will you have delicious, local foods to serve this Thanksgiving, but you will be supporting a local farm too.

5. Plan for Leftovers
What do you plan to do with the Thanksgiving dinner leftovers? If you are planning on sending goodies home with your guests, have glass resuable storage containers ready to go. If you made more than your family can consume, you could donate some of the leftovers to a local food bank, freeze them for later or have a menu plan for the days after Thanksgiving so all of the leftovers will be used.

How do you green your Thanksgiving dinner? I would love to hear – please share your thoughts in the comments!

7 Easy Ways to Adopt a More Eco-Friendly Lifestyle

Although everyone celebrates Earth Day on April 22, there are so many opportunities to help “keep it green” all year-round! For those who want to adopt an eco-friendlier attitude throughout the year, there is more you can do than just recycling cans and plastic bottles. You can adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle and attitude.

The benefit of adopting an eco-friendly attitude is not just related to conserving resources and the environment. In fact, the therapeutic and preventative effects of eco-friendly choices can be reflected in human health. Humans who eat organic meat and pesticide-free vegetables, for example, avoid ingesting harmful chemicals and hormones that interfere with the body’s natural ability to digest and process food. However, an organic diet is not the only path to a healthy, eco-friendly lifestyle. By following some of these tips below, you can help conserve the Earth’s natural resources, positively improve your health, and maybe even save a little money as well.

#1: Adopt a Natural Cosmetic Routine
There are so many chemicals that go into the average cosmetic product. By using natural products, you will be reducing the chemicals that you are putting on your skin, and eventually into the Earth. You can also adopt green habits by purchasing fewer beauty products in general, and by looking for products with two-in-one capabilities, for example, a conditioning shampoo. Why use two plastic bottles when one will do?

#2: Exchange Traditional Eyewear for Laser Surgery
Laser eye surgery has gone from being a luxury to a common and reliable procedure that makes glasses and contact lenses a thing of the past. Laser surgery corrects the cornea, so light falls accurately on the retina. By exchange your eyewear for laser surgery, you will be saving the materials necessary to make the glasses or contacts, as well as the fluid needed to clean them on a daily or monthly basis. If you need advice on the advantages of exchanging conventional contact lenses with surgery, you can find Lasik consultations in Minneapolis and many other states across the country.

#3: Eat in Season
Although most fruits and vegetables are now available year-round in the average grocery store, you can usually spot the ones that are in season. They are the juiciest, most delicious looking ones in the store. Eating vegetables that are grown in the appropriate season reduces the likelihood of ingesting harmful preservatives that are used to keep produce fresh during long distance travel. And not only that, seasonal produce usually tastes way better too!

#4: Exchange Cotton for Bamboo
Cotton is probably one of the most used fabrics on Earth but to grow it, you need a huge amount of water. There is an alternative to using cotton, however. Bamboo can be used to create an incredibly soft fabric that is fast becoming a popular choice for bedsheets and pillow cases. Bamboo is not only soft and requires less water to grow, it also absorbs moisture from the skin, in addition to removing harmful bacteria.

#5: Exercise Outside
Have you ever had a gym membership that you never used? Gym memberships can be costly to the consumer and, in addition, use up an inordinate amount of electricity operating treadmills day and night. Walking, running, or biking outside is free, uses no electricity, and it exposes the participant to a much needed dose of Vitamin D.

#6: Use Your Slow Cooker
Slow cookers can be a huge time-saver. Simply throw some ingredients into the slow cooker before work in the morning and you can come home to an absolutely delicious meal. Using a slow cooker offers many eco-friendly benefits as well. Cooking with an oven can generate a lot of heat. As slow cookers use less far less heat than conventional ovens, using one can help keep the kitchen cool, reducing the burden on your air conditioner. Slow cookers also use about the same amount of energy as the average lightbulb, so they can even save you money on your power bill!

#7: Limit the Amount of Tech Time
Watching television and using the computer, in addition to texting on cell phones, can consume an inordinate amount of time and electricity daily. By limiting the amount of time spent using these gadgets, you will not only save money, but you will also have more opportunities to interact with other humans. Another eco-friendly tip, many of these devices (like televisions) consume power even when they aren’t turned on. Investing in a power bar with a timer can shut off the power at the source at a predetermined time of night, then turn the flow back on in the morning.

All of these behaviors are simple ones that do not require a lot of money to adopt. By changing actions that can become toxic over time, or by adopting habits that allow reconnection with nature and other humans, you will be doing your part to save the Earth. And in the end, more than just the Earth will thank you. Your body will too!

3 Eco-Friendly Home Improvement Projects That Boost The Value Of Your Home

When it comes to home improvements, many people seem hesitant to commit to projects that require a substantial investment. However, there are a number of renovations and improvements that not only increase the value of your home but serve as eco-friendly solutions as well. Here are just a few sustainable home improvement projects that can increase the value of your home.

Roofing

Your home’s roof is obviously a critical component of its structural integrity. If you’re in the market for a new roof, consider opting for one of the many eco-friendly roofing materials available. New metal roofs, for example, may contain anywhere from 30% to 60% of recycled metal content and are 100% recyclable at the end of their service lives. Plus, while a traditional asphalt shingle roof has an average lifespan of 12 to 20 years, metal roofs can last between 40 and 70 years when properly installed and maintained.

Another eco-friendly benefit of metal roofing? Its energy-efficiency. Metal roofs have a unique cooling quality that allows them to reflect radiant heat from the sun. This can reduce energy costs by between 10% and 25%.

Plumbing

Many homeowners are uneasy about the idea of messing with their home’s plumbing system, but tankless water heaters have a number of eco-friendly benefits. Tankless water heaters are extremely efficient. They use only the energy necessary to heat the amount of water that you’re using, unlike tank heaters which heat several gallons of water at a time. A tankless water heater and can save you as much as a 20% on your energy bills.

“Tankless units (also called “on demand” units) heat water only when you turn on the faucet,” explains Family Handyman. “They usually operate on natural gas or propane. The main advantage is that they eliminate the extra cost of keeping 40 to 50 gallons of water hot in a storage tank, so you waste less energy.”

Furthermore, How Stuff Works says that tankless water heaters typically come with a federal tax rebate of $300. Considering the fact that they can last up to 10 years longer than traditional tanks, they’re certainly an investment worth looking into.

Countertops

Finally, natural stone countertops are a sleek and eco-friendly alternative to traditional materials. In fact, of the 93% of homeowners who are updating countertops during a kitchen renovation, the majority are choosing natural stone materials. They don’t require as much energy to produce since they’re all-natural, and they’re incredibly durable and long-lasting. They don’t stain, can withstand hot temperatures, and are almost impossible to scratch.

Homeowners that value individuality as much as sustainability will also be pleased to hear that natural stone countertops are one-of-a-kind. Their natural qualities and unique markings make them a warm and welcoming addition to any home.

Ultimately, these are just three of the countless eco-friendly home improvement projects that increase the value of your home. Never be afraid to experiment with any number of sustainable solutions, and most of all, don’t ever think your efforts don’t make a difference. Each and every eco-friendly home improvement project is another step toward a sustainable future.

7 Sustainable Ways to Welcome Fall with Your Family

7 Sustainable Ways to Welcome Fall with Your Family Jennie Lyon

Fall is my favorite time of year, it seems like we start to slow-down as family and spend more time reconnecting with each other. Since the days get shorter and it gets dark outside so much earlier, we really focus that time on family time. This is the time of year that our bowl on the dinner table gets filled with card games and brain teasers, and our nightly dinners get dragged out by long conversations and hot steamy beverages for dessert!

It is also the perfect opportunity to go green together as a family. To get you in the autumn mood, while getting your excited about sustainability, check out my 7 favorite eco-friendly ways to welcome fall.

1. Make it Family Dinner Night
One of my favorite fall family traditions is to have make-your-own organic pizza night a few times a month. There is something fun about kneading the dough, cutting up vegetables and pulling hot vegetarian pizza’s from the oven. We like to make ours look like sweet, smiling faces and it always ends in a night of laughter and fun!

2. Green Your Overall Health
Fall is the perfect time to amp up your healthy lifestyle before winter hits – because with winter comes sniffles, colds and the flu. You can start by boosting your immunity, packing healthy, organic school lunches, adding some super-foods to your marketing list and by doing a whole-body cleanse. You want to stay healthy through all of the fun fall and winter holidays, right?

3. With Fall comes Leaves, Lots of Them
When it comes to the leaves that fall in your yard, the way that you dispose of them can have a huge impact on the environment. The best options would be to mulch them and use them as ground cover for your garden. The worse option would be to blow them around with a noisy, emission polluting leaf blower. If you want to have fun with leaves, consider making leaf prints for your family room or you can always jump in piles of them.

4. Enjoy Your Natural Environment
One of my favorite ways to enjoy a lovely fall day with my family is by taking a bike ride. In fact, I think we should take our bicycles on our fall family trip to this year. Another fun thing to do this time of year is to visit your local botanical garden – you could try one of these surprising ways to make it a day of full of fall fun.

5. Prepare for Winter
Before you know it, winter will be here – and fall is the perfect time to prepare. When we lived in Colorado, I liked to stock up on non-perishable organic goods so we didn’t have to go marketing as often. It is also a great time to weather-proof your doors, windows and prepare your garden for the cold, winter ahead. I also like to think of fun ways to cozy up our home – this usually means bringing out stacks of books, blankets and pillows and sipping hot organic tea and cocoa.

6. Green Your Halloween
Whether you are making plans to make your own Halloween costumes, decorations or you want to turn your home into the ultimate eco-friendly haunted house– now is the time to get started. We like to scour our local thrift stores and tag sales for fantastic Halloween decor well before the holiday. It always gets us in the mood for Halloween and when the holiday actual gets here, we are completely ready!

7. Go Local 
In Florida, our farmer’s market season starts at the beginning of October – which is the perfect time to stock up on those yummy fall vegetables. I love when the mister whips up a batch of one of his fantastic soups during the fall months using local vegetables from the farmer’s market. And pumpkins from the farmer’s market, oh my, they are my favorite. If you live in a cooler climate that doesn’t offer a farmer’s market during fall, consider joining your local food co-op.

How do you welcome fall with your family?

The World’s First Flower Most Likely Looked Like Today’s Water Lily, Researchers Find

How would you feel if someone told you that all of the flowers in the world come from one ancestor? While it may seem dramatic, it’s true, according to a new study published in the British journal Nature Communications.

A group of international scientists has discovered that the world’s first flower sprouted about 140 million years ago. It looked similar to the common-day water lily, with circles of petals and protruding pollen spikes in the center of the bud. While scientists say that it is similar to one of the most widely known lilies, the Madonna lily, which is also the oldest lily on record, dating back 3,000 years, the head scientist explains to USA Today that it is hard to really compare pre historic flowers to flowers of today.

Herve Sauquet, an evolutionary biologist at the Paris-Sud University explained:
“All flowering plants have evolved and changed since that ancestor, that’s how evolution works. So there is no single species or group of species that would have existed some long time ago and still exists today unchanged.”

For their study, the scientists used an evolutionary tree to connect all species of plants, 792 in particular, to this one flower. Interestingly enough, the scientists were able to find that what they originally thought concerning the flower’s sexual organs was false. This finding actually was able to help the scientists plot out a whole new vision for exactly how pre historic flowers evolved to the flowers of today.

However, Sauquet points out that while no fossil exists from 140 million years ago, the researchers were able to compare the oldest finding, from 130 million years ago, and link it to 10 million years prior simply because they could link the flower’s sexual organs to similar flowers they know to existed at that time.

So while this was a great finding, the researchers are still trying to figure out where and when the first flower formed in the world. But with this information, they’re hopeful that they’re close.