Author Archive | Jennie Lyon

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.

5 Non-Toxic Ingredients for DIY Cleaners and How to Use Them

Many people with pets or kids have noticed that many of the ingredients in commercial cleaning products are not only harmful to people and animals but can be fatal. So, it’s no surprise that people are looking to remove these harsh chemicals from their homes and replace them with great, green, healthy alternatives. Fortunately, there are some great, green, affordable substitutes that can be used pretty much anywhere in your home and that you likely already have sitting in the pantry. Read on for my 5 favorite, non-toxic ingredients for DIY cleaners and how to use them in your home.

1. Vinegar
Vinegar is my all-time favorite non-toxic cleaner. It removes odors, stains, and grease and can effectively prevent mildew and mold when applied regularly to shower walls, sinks, and toilet bowls. Vinegar neutralizes pet odors like cat urine and will help keep colors from bleeding from a new pair of jeans or a red shirt if you soak the clothing item in vinegar for 30 minutes before washing or dump a cup or so into the washer with the detergent. To remove corrosion and chemical buildup from showerheads, soak the showerhead in vinegar overnight. Plain white vinegar should be used but if the smell offends you, you can add 10-15 drops of essential oil to your cleaning mixture. My favorite all-purpose cleaner, for bathroom, kitchen, and glass, is simply 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water mixed in a spray bottle. That’s it!

2. Baking Soda
Baking soda has virus-killing abilities and makes for an effective but gentle scrub for bathtubs, toilets, tile, and porcelain or stainless steel sinks. When I run out of Bon Ami, I pour baking soda in the sink, squeeze in half a lemon or pour in about ¼ cup vinegar, and scrub with a sponge or bristle brush. For a great toilet scrub, pour ½ cup baking soda into the toilet bowl and add 10 drops of tea tree essential oil and ¼ cup vinegar. The mixture will fizz while you scrub and cut through mold and grime while the tea tree oil disinfects. Tea tree oil and thyme oil are both great non-toxic disinfectants to be used in place of bleach. That said, just because they’re non-toxic doesn’t mean that you, your kids, or your pets should consume these products!

3. Castile Soap
Castile soaps are made from 100% plant oils so they’re safe and gentle but effective. While traditionally it’s recommended that wood floors be cleaned with pure water, I’ve added a few drops of peppermint or eucalyptus castile soap to a warm bucket of water and mopped our wood floors with the mixture to clean and freshen up the room. Our floors aren’t wax-treated, so please ask a pro if yours are before using anything but water on your wood floors. Castile soaps are great all-purpose cleaners, too. Simply mix a tablespoon to a ¼ cup with warm water for washing down counters, tile, windows, or a sink full of dishes. The term “all-purpose” really applies to castile soap!

4. Lemon
Lemon juice kills mold and mildew, shines harder surfaces, cuts grease, and deodorizes. A cut lemon can be scrubbed over the surface of a cutting board to sanitize it. Simply rub a halved lemon over the surface, let sit for 10 minutes, and rinse. Lemon juice can be added to vinegar cleaning mixtures to add a fresh scent and aid in cutting grease. Lemon juice is a great bleach substitute for washing laundry, too; just add lemon juice to the rinse cycle.

5. Essential Oils
Peppermint, tea tree and thyme oils are my favorite for use in home cleaning products. Peppermint oil eliminates offensive odors and is a natural pest deterrent. I have successfully used peppermint oil to eliminate mice in one of our sheds by placing cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil around the entrances to the shed and places where the mice frequented. Tea tree oil eliminates mold and mildew; a few drops can simply be mixed with water and sprayed onto shower walls (don’t rinse it off) and left to kill mildew and mold. Thyme oil is a powerful, natural disinfectant that has been said to kill and prevent botulism, e. Coli, listeria, and salmonella. Add a few drops to your vinegar all-purpose spray or use in the same way as tea tree oil in the formula above.

YOUR TURN: What are your favorite DIY, green home cleaning products?

Eco-Friendly Ways to Successfully Cool Your Home

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 come 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 a 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.

Eco How To: 4 Steps to Stop all of that Junk Mail

HOW TO: 4 Steps To Stop All Of That Junk Mail

More than 100,000,000,000 pieces of junk mail are received by Americans each year. 1/3 of all the mail delivered in the world is U.S. junk mail. Can you believe it? 44% of junk mail is never opened and devastatingly, only 22% of that is recycled. Junk mail alone uses 100 million trees, wastes 28 billion gallons of water and pumps 2.8 million cars worth of C02 into our atmosphere annually. And on average Americans spend 8 months of our lives opening junk mail. What? Let’s stop the craziness, here are 4 ways to stop the junk mail:

  1. Sign an online petition supporting a national registry to stop junk mail at donotmail.org.
  2. Go to OptOutPrescreen.com to opt-out of Credit Bureaus sharing your information with junk mail distributors.
  3. Stop Catalogs at Abacus Catalog Alliance.
  4. Try a service like Tonic Mailstopper that will stop 90% of your junk mail in only 90 days or 41pounds.org which will stop most junk mail for 5 years.
Or if you are really talented like Sandy Schimmel Gold, you can turn your junk mail into beautiful mosaic portraits. My absolute favorite is “Natasha’s New Pajamas.” It would look fabulous in my Asian themed living room.

What steps have you taken to stop junk mail? Or do you recycle it into fantastic art? 

4 Eco-Friendly Picnic Must-Haves for Summer

4 Eco-Friendly Picnic Must-Haves for Summer

One of my favorite parts of summer is the picnics! My family spends the better part of our weekends having picnics at the beach. Some of my most precious memories include Eben and a picnic blanket – it is the perfect setting for a little mother-son chatting. Here are some eco-friendly picnic goodies to inspire you to get outside:

1. A Cozy Picnic Blanket:
I can’t wait to snuggle up on a comfy picnic blanket this summer. I love this eco-friendly picnic blanket from Sewn Natural.

2. A Hydration Station:
The most important item to pack on a picnic is water – it’s important to stay hydrated on hot summer days. I need a couple of these recycled blue glass drinking jars from Crate and Barrel.

3. A Good Read:
Snuggle up with my boys is my favorite, next will be reading a really good book. I need this beautiful, colorful vegetarian cookbook from Anthropologie. It will inspire all of our summertime meals.

4. A Picnic in a Basket:
Of course, I will need something to pack all of the goodies in. This eco-friendly picnic basket from Uncommon Goods would be perfect!

Do you have a thing for picnics too? What is your picnic must-have?