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The Best Ways to Reduce VOCs in Your Home

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reduce VOCs at home

Your home should be a place of rest and recuperation, an oasis where you can relax and recharge from the hustle of life. Unfortunately, many houses suffer from poor air quality, which can affect residents with a multitude of health issues. 

Some of the most common toxic chemicals found in indoor air are volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Many common household products can emit VOCs, damaging your air quality and your health. 

Here’s everything you need to know about how to reduce VOC levels in your home.

 

What Are VOCs?

Volatile organic compounds are unstable organic chemicals emitted as gas from some solids and liquids. They contain carbon and have a low boiling point, which leads to quick emission as gases. Many VOCs exist in nature, and not all of them are harmful. 

However, most VOCs come from man-made products such as paint, wood varnish, pesticides, nail polish and cleaning products. Many can be harmful to human health, although it depends on each one’s chemical composition. Some common toxic chemicals found in VOCs include: 

  • Formaldehyde
  • Toluene
  • Benzene
  • Acetone 
  • Carbon tetrachloride
  • Xylene
  • Vinyl chloride

Because VOCs off-gas over time, they can affect air quality over many years. Studies show much higher levels of VOCs indoors than outdoors, likely because they are part of so many construction materials.

 

Health Hazards of VOCs

the health hazards of VOCs at home

Health hazards of VOCs vary depending on the type and length of exposure. They seem to specifically impact brain health, causing headaches, dizziness and memory impairment. 

VOCs’ long-term effects can range from eye irritation to liver damage, and some suspect they play a part in causing cancer after extended exposure. A study conducted in 2010 also shows a correlation between VOC exposure and suppression of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for quieting the body and regulating essential functions like digestion. 

Although it is generally agreed that VOCs are harmful to health, they are still included in many renovation elements like paint, personal care items and craft products.

Until more regulations are in place, it’s up to you to regulate your environment and promote healthy air for you and your family.

 

Items That Emit VOCs

Fortunately, there are a few easy steps you can take today to reduce the levels of VOCs in your home. First, take stock of any items that may be off-gassing. Some common things you may have around the house include: 

  • Paint — cans or freshly painted walls
  • Aerosol spray paints
  • Paint strippers
  • Pesticides
  • Kerosene
  • Gasoline
  • Nail polish and acetone remover
  • Cigarette and tobacco smoke
  • Dry-cleaned clothes with an odor
  • Air fresheners
  • Some candles
  • Some plastic, including synthetic mattresses
  • Furniture varnish

Because VOCs are emitted over time, items you’ve owned for a while are safer for your air quality than new items.

However, some products that emit VOCs can leach through sealed containers, so it’s a good idea not to keep any strong chemicals inside your home.

 

How to Do a VOC Cleanse

VOC cleanse

The two steps you can take to reduce VOCs in your home are simple.

First, remove as many unnecessary items as possible. For instance, throw away extra chemicals, toxic air fresheners and old plastic containers. Be thoughtful about what new materials you bring into your home, and switch to nontoxic cleaning products. 

Next, use fresh air to reduce the levels of VOCs inside your home. If your house is new or freshly painted, you can “bake” it by cranking the heat and opening the windows to let as many VOCs as possible escape before you move in.

Leaving new furniture outside for a few days can also help reduce VOC emissions. 

You may also want to consider soil remuneration to free your property of toxic chemical buildup. Cleaning your soil is especially wise if you’re going to grow a garden near your home. Many hazardous materials from pesticides, mining activity and wastewater can pollute the land, harming plant and animal life.

VOCs are just one element that can damage soil health – it may also be contaminated with heavy metals and chlorinated hydrocarbons.

 

Breathe the Free Air

The quality of air you breathe is essential to your health. While you may be aware of outdoor pollutants and chemicals in office buildings, don’t forget to check the air quality of your home, too. 

Many houses have poor indoor air quality because of VOCs and poor ventilation. You can improve the health of your home simply by reducing toxic chemical exposure and bringing fresh air inside. Your brain and body will benefit, and your home will become the refuge it was supposed to be all along.

6 Eco Un-Friendly Habits You Need to Stop Now!

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Eco Un-Friendly Habits

Being environmentally friendly can be hard work, but once you kick some of those bad habits and get some new ones, it’s usually pretty smooth sailing.

Many of us can’t even fathom going to the supermarket without our reusable bags, or ordering a beef burger for our dinner.

But there are still a few lingering habits some of us haven’t even thought about yet! Let’s take a look at some of the un-environmentally habits that you probably are still doing, and how to stop doing them!

 

Bad Habit #1

Using Plastic Bags To Pack Your Fruit And Veg In In The Supermarket

Eco Un-Friendly Habits 1

I’ve heard every excuse under the sun for using plastic bags for your fruits and vegetables at the supermarket.

The shopping carts are full of germs.

Yup. And your hands, which have just been touching that shopping cart, lifted that fruit and/or veg from its shelf to place them in the plastic bags.

Bacteria/germs travel fast. Just wash them when you get home.

I’m afraid they’ll get squished.

Just segment your shopping cart. Place your fruit and veg in one corner and make sure that you secure bigger items, such as cereal boxes or milk, around them (be sure that they’re lying down so that they don’t fall). If you have a 2-tiered cart, or one with a cage already in it, well ta-da!

How much do you think a plastic bag will protect them anyways?

It gets messy if you don’t bag them.

Ok, I confess. Spinach out of the bag is a pain. For this, I’d suggest re-using some plastic bags. Keep the bag and then bring them with you with your other reusable bags!

The cashier hands will dirty them.

Again, everything in the place is dirty. Just make sure you wash them when you get home and you should be fine!

 

Bad Habit #2

Not Keeping Wrapping Paper

keep the wrapping paper

Ok, I get that if you had to rip the thing open because somebody used too much cellotape (which, by the way, is also an environmentally unfriendly habit to have) then I guess you have to throw it away. Unless, of course, you’re super artsy and can find uses for everything.

For the rest of us though, getting a nicely wrapped gift is always great. My favourite are the ones that open super easily.

Because that way I can fold them right back up and bring them home with me and reuse them for somebody else!

Ribbons and bows too! Keep them! They’re super easy to reuse, and will save you money in the long run!

Another great idea is to check out WragWrap or this method of wrapping presents without paper, by using fabric as gift wrap to encourage people not to be wasteful.

 

Bad Habit #3

Using Disposable Chopsticks

disposable chopsticks

This only applies if you’re an Asian foodie fan, but if so – are you guilty of using disposable chopsticks and then throwing them away?

I know I am!

They always came with my takeaway and I didn’t think anything of it.

That is, until I saw these cheap reusable chopsticks for sale. Oops.

In fact hundreds of acres of forest are felled every year to produce chopsticks.

Think of chopsticks like forks and knives, we don’t throw those out after every use so why do we do it with chopsticks?

 

Bad Habit #4

Turning Off The Lights Every Time You Leave A Room

turn off the lights

Ok. It’s good that you’re in the habit of turning the lights off, it really is.

And you’re probably doing the right thing.

But it really depends on the type of lights that you have whether or not it will actually be energy efficient for you to turn them off if you’re going to be coming right back.

If you’re using energy-efficient light bulbs, it’s actually better if you leave them on. The more energy-efficient, the longer you can leave it on before it become cost-effective and energy-efficient to turn it off.

I know, it’s confusing right?

Well, let’s throw a few examples at you then:

Incandescent lights you can turn off straight away. At any possible point. They’re horribly energy inefficient and should really just be banned altogether. (Oh wait, they are moving to ban them!)

However, fluorescent lights can be left on for a little bit longer (about 5 minutes).

This is because they’re operating life is shortened by how often they’re turned on and off, and the pay off of having to buy new ones is more environmentally damaging then saving them by leaving them on slightly longer.

So if you’re going to be right back, leave them on!

 

Bad Habit #5

Leaving Appliances Plugged In

unplug those appliances

People still think that if you don’t have something plugged in to a wire, then it’ll stop emitting energy.

Unfortunately, this is far from the truth.

There is still power produced by these wires is called “vampire energy” or “standby power” and costs $10 billion of wasted energy in a year in the U.S.

 

Bad Habit #6

Wearing Denim

denim isn't always good for the environment

Most of us own a pair of jeans. In fact, the average North American owns seven pairs.

But did you know that it takes a whole lot of water to make those jeans? Levi’s has said that it takes more than 1500 litres of water to make just a single pair of its jeans.

The thing is, denim is great. It lasts for so long. So invest in a few good pairs, and try to conserve energy (and the space in your wardrobe) by leaving it at that.

Are there any little habits that you do that you think are possibly environmentally unfriendly? If so, let us know in the comments section below or tweet us @greenerideal


Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for freshness and consistency.

Steamed Pumpkin Cake Recipe

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steamed pumpkin cake

Have you ever steamed a cake? In lieu of baking this holiday season, try this scrumptious steamed pumpkin cake from pastry chef Dana Cree.

This light and fluffy cake is both easy and fun to make! The recipe is from the book Twenty-Five: Profiles and Recipes from America’s Essential Bakery and Pastry Artisans, a beautiful food arts book that highlights 25 accomplished pastry chefs and bakers from around the country.

steamed pumpkin cake
Yield: 12 servings

Steamed Pumpkin Cake

Have you ever steamed a cake? In lieu of baking this holiday season, try this scrumptious steamed pumpkin cake.

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup coconut flakes, processed in a food processor until very fine
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons ground anise
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups sucrose, A good substitute for sucrose is Splenda.
  • Caramel sauce, for serving (homemade or store-bought)
  • Ice cream, for serving, flavor of your choice

Instructions

  1. Line two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, coconut flakes, anise, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Place the pumpkin purée and coconut cream in a bowl and stir until combined. Set aside.
  3. Place the eggs, brown sugar, and sucrose in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium speed for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the pumpkin-coconut mixture. Whisk on low speed for 1 minute, until the pumpkin and coconut are evenly incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the reserved flour mixture.
  4. Change to the paddle attachment and mix on medium-low speed until blended evenly. Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans.
  5. Transfer the cakes to a steam oven and steam for 35 minutes (Note: you can also set each pan, one at a time, on a rack in a large pot with enough water to to almost reach the pan). Once steamed, remove and transfer to a wire rack and let cool before serving.
  6. For serving, divide the cake into 12 pieces and place each on a plate with a smear of caramel sauce. Top with a small scoop of ice cream.

Notes

Recipe via Foodista, under CC License. Originally published November, 2016.

Nutrition Information

Yield

12

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 359Total Fat 9gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 67mgSodium 568mgCarbohydrates 64gFiber 3gSugar 37gProtein 7g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

How to Keep Employees Happy & Healthy in a Small Office Space

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keep employees happy and healthy in small office space

Bosses and supervisors often struggle to find innovative ways to improve employee morale. This is especially relevant in smaller office spaces, as tensions can easily run high and escalate in such close quarters.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to keep employees happy, healthy, and productive in a small office space. Read below to learn more!

 

Option for Privacy 

Everybody has different workplace preferences, but a certain degree of privacy is always valued by employees.

Even if the specific work environment is more collaborative, privacy is still needed while accomplishing certain individual tasks such as reading and making phone calls.

This makes employees feel comfortable, which, in turn, makes them happier and more productive. 

While privacy may be hard to come by in smaller office spaces, there are solutions. Moveable desk dividers and desktop panels are two ways to provide employees with the occasional moment of privacy. 

 

Keep a Clean and Tidy Office

clean small office space

Keeping a clean office will help keep employees happy and healthy at work. A clean working area is very advantageous for workers, as it helps reduce stress and decreases the chance of illness spreading throughout the office. It also leads to a more organized office, which makes it easier to find miscellaneous items such as office supplies and complete important tasks at hand. 

By doing little things to keep the office neat and tidy, thorough cleaning will not be required nearly as much. Putting dishes away, clearing off desk areas, and occasional sweeping or vacuuming are all easy ways to keep your office clean. 

You should also use non-toxic cleaning products. Some common cleaning products contain harmful toxins, allergens, and chemicals. The effects of these products are magnified in smaller offices, as they linger in the air and embed themselves in the carpet fibers.

Fortunately, there are many non-toxic cleaning products available that will do as good or better of a job!

You can also pay for a professional cleaning service if one is not provided by your office building already. They will likely do a more thorough job cleaning, and employees will definitely be more focused and happier in a clean office. 

 

Complimentary Food and Drinks

Employees covet complimentary food and drinks more than most other benefits. In fact, it is one of the most important factors prospective employees weigh when considering job offers.

Providing employees with food and drinks has many different benefits. It saves them money and helps boost productivity by eliminating midday lulls and crashes. 

Providing snack and beverage options will also keep employees feeling energized and healthier. Healthy beverages for employees include coffee, tea, water, juices, and kombucha.

Healthy snack options include trail mix, fruit, vegetables, and more. These snacks can all be purchased in stores, and it may be best to order in bulk to save time and money. 

 

Temperature Control

Regulating the temperature is crucial to the happiness and health for employees in small offices. No employee can focus or function properly if they are too hot or cold.

A ductless mini split is one of the best ways to heat and cool a small office. These innovative and efficient air conditioners provide unmatched temperature control and comfort for a reasonable price! 

Ductless mini splits consist of an outdoor condenser or compressor connected to one or more indoor air handling units by a series of copper wires and pipes.

They are available in single and multi-zone systems, and the single unit is perfect for a smaller office space. They offer many benefits, such as increased efficiency that directly contributes to lower energy bills and a smaller carbon footprint. 

Some HVAC systems are intrusive and detract from the room’s aesthetic, but mini splits are hardly noticeable! Slim models and ceiling cassette versions are very inconspicuous and take up little area in a small office space. They are also virtually silent, so they won’t distract any employees!

Mini splits also act as air filters, purifiers, and dehumidifiers. While heating and cooling the room, they remove any harmful allergens, dust, dirt, debris, and other bacteria from the air.

This increases your indoor air quality and reduces the potential for mold and mildew. Harmful airborne materials easily build up in smaller areas with stagnated air flow, but they are eliminated with a ductless mini split. It will keep your employees feeling healthy and happy at work!

 

Decorations

small office decoration

Creating an aesthetically pleasing environment using decorations and colors leads to happier employees.

Certain tones, colors, and textures have been shown to help stimulate productivity, creativity and help employees feel comfortable. Encourage employees to decorate their own areas with artwork and photographs, as this also increases comfort and makes them happier. 

Indoor plants are another excellent office decoration, as they can have a calming effect on employees. Not only do these plants look great, but they help kill harmful airborne bacteria and chemicals.

This improves the indoor air quality, which, in turn, leads to healthier employees. Snake plants, English ivy, and aloe are three of many plants that can thrive in any office. 

 

Lighting 

Proper lighting keeps employees happy and healthy. Natural light is the best source for the office, as it provides employees with vitamin D and leads to an overall heightened sense of comfort.

It also reduces stress on the eyes, especially for those who spend long hours looking at screens.

If possible, allow natural light in through a window or ceiling opening. If natural light is inaccessible in your office, fluorescent 6500k light bulbs will suffice. They are designed to recreate the effects of natural light and can be installed in any light fixture. 

When considering how to keep employees happy and healthy in a small office, take their advice into consideration.

While these are all excellent guidelines from a general standpoint, employee feedback will help you create the perfect working environment to maximize happiness, health, and productivity!

The Importance of Sustainability in Corporate Companies

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The concept of conducting a firm without negatively influencing the environment is known as business sustainability.

A green business serves the local and global environment’s best interests, which means it helps the community and economy that rely on a healthy earth. An environmentally conscious company focuses more than simply on earnings; it also analyses its social and environmental impact.

Such a firm is sustainable because it contributes to the health of the structure in which it functions, so assisting in the creation of an environment conducive to its success.

 

How to Make Your Business More Sustainable

1. Recycling

This keeps trash out of the landfill and the incinerator, and it creates 757,000 jobs annually. If your workplace doesn’t already do so, start recycling.

 

2. Green Commuting

The commute is a daily drain on the environment: people squander 2.9 billion gallons of petrol every day delayed in traffic, and each person loses $710 per year in productivity. Green commuting has the potential to have a significant environmental impact by reducing daily emissions.

 

3. Remote Work 

Remote workers have the same impact on the environment as planting a forest of trees: they eliminate 3.6 billion tons of greenhouse gases caused by commuting annually.

 

4. Go Digital 

Computers, smartphones, and other devices are integrated into the workplace; use them to their fullest extent and avoid using paper whenever possible.

 

5. Sustainability Committee

A group of people who  are people specifically responsible for this, and can take care to follow up with others and bolster a culture of sustainability in the workplace

The foam specialists at Bracken Foam Fabricators have put together an infographic that shows ‘The Importance of Sustainability in Corporate Companies’.

They show the main sustainability stats, successful initiatives in action, how to bridge the gaps of sustainability and how to put a sustainability program in place.

The-Importance-of-Sustainability-in-Corporate-Companies

A Family House: Unique Exterior Features When Building A Custom Home

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unique home exteriors

The exterior of your home is practically the face of your home. It is what the public sees and what your visitors see first when they visit. It is only right that it sets the perfect tone for your home’s atmosphere. Besides this, the exterior of your home should reflect your personality and style.

Unique exterior features allow you to add a touch of class and elegance to your home’s curb and street appeal. In addition, these features enhance your home exterior usage, allowing you to enjoy your life outdoors to the maximum.

The good thing is that when building your custom home, you have the chance to add the features that you desire for the outcome of your dreams. If you are building your custom home, here are some unique features that you can consider for your home’s exterior.

 

Large front porch

front porch - building a custom home

Front porches aren’t so common in new homes, which makes them a unique feature for your custom home.

Ideally, a front porch is an extension of your home as it creates an added living space at the front of your home. You can use it for relaxing on a sunny afternoon, as an outside dining space, or for entertaining guests in the summer months. Whichever the use, make your porch cozy, warm, and inviting.

Let it set the tone of what is beyond. Start by choosing comfortable chairs. You can go for coaches with extra stuffed pillows and a statement coffee table. Add unique antique pieces for the décor. In addition, add plants in beautiful planters or hanging baskets.

Remember lighting as well; you can use candle lanterns or hang wrought iron pendants and much more.

 

Outdoor fireplace

outdoor fireplace

An outdoor fireplace offers an excellent way to warm up your outdoor living space, allowing you to enjoy your deck or porch longer.

This is especially welcome in the cold winter months. Rather than going for a fire pit that is common, make it unique by opting for a gas fireplace. Surround it with beautiful brick or stonework and you have a stunning piece to look at.

This will create a beautiful focal point for your home as well as depict class and style. However, you have to think carefully about the size and the location of the fireplace for your home to have a perfect flow of the elements.

 

Deck

deck - build a custom home

Just like the front porch, decks are also a beautiful way of adding living space to your home for outdoor fun and entertaining.

Opt for a large deck that covers the entire length of the back of your house. Make it unique with sliding doors that lead to it and a beautiful staircase to add some elegance. If you prefer a more private deck space, consider adding a master suite deck.

Not many homes have it, so you will have a unique feature to offer you a serene environment in the warmer months. The good thing is that you don’t have to make it too large. You only need a space that is enough for two people.

Add a hot tub and optimize on the available views and you have something extra for your enjoyment.

 

Water feature

water fountain

Water features create a soothing sound that can be effective in calming the mind. Adding a water feature in your garden will not only bring in some uniqueness but will also give you a relaxing environment right outside your home.

In addition, it will create a beautiful focal point of your landscape and highlight the beauty of your garden. Just surround it with beautiful and brightly colored flowers such as lazy susans, zinnia, and chrysanthemums for captivating scenery.

You can also add some beautiful lighting to highlight the waterfall way after the sun has gone down.

 

Balconies

balcony

Balconies aren’t so unique in double-storey homes, but you can have them add some uniqueness to your home with just how they are placed as well as the décor.

If your home has some beautiful views, make sure to optimize them by having a balcony overlooking them. Your guests will see the uniqueness when enjoying those views when they visit. Place simple furniture pieces and beautiful potted plants to complete the look.

It is not always easy to decide on the features to include, their placement, the materials, and the décor among others. Save yourself the trouble by working with a custom home builder

 

Conclusion

Building your custom home is like a blank canvas allowing you to build a home that you have always desired. Be sure to include the designs of the exterior features that you want from the word go.

A large front porch, an outdoor fireplace, a water feature, a deck, and balconies offer a great choice when it comes to adding elegance and uniqueness to a home. Seek the help of a custom home builder so that you can achieve a home that you have always desired.

10 Wellness Trends of 2021: Their Benefits and How to Implement in Your Life

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wellness trends

The year 2020 was a tough one for many people. Not only did we have to deal with the COVID pandemic, but it also ushered in a new way of living that many of us were not prepared for. However, it did reveal the start of some wellness trends that would really take shape in the year to come.

After this virus struck, people were forced into self-care at home because gyms and spas were not an option anymore. In addition, the virus definitely changed our relationships with food, fitness and health supplements and other aspects of life like work-life balance and relationships. 

In 2021, we saw 10 trends emerge which will affect how we live and love in 2022. Let’s take a look at them now!

 

1. Community-Based Wellness

We are living in a world where community is becoming more and more important. This is especially true now in a period when we had to spend so much time apart. But we’re not letting physical distancing cancel our community spirit! Technology to the rescue! 

Have you noticed that when disasters strike, people come together for the greater good? Whether it’s donating food or helping others, this trend has been evident lately. For example, after the earthquake in Nepal in 2015, people came together to help rebuild

Another way you can do this is to join a group/club that meets up regularly online or in safe, socially distanced spaces. In addition, something as simple as cooking once a week with others has been shown to help raise mental wellness. So, find your tribe and see what happens!

 

2. Exergaming

wellness trends 2021 - exergaming

Love playing video games? Now you can get fit while having fun with your friends.

Exergaming refers to the use of interactive, virtual games that require physical exertion, which leads to fitness. They’ve been around for a while, but they really saw a boost in popularity during the past year. 

Today, the most popular ones on the market include the Wii, the Xbox Kinect and the Playstation Move. Popular games on these platforms include Just Dance and Wii Fit. You can also get outdoors with games like Pokémon Go, where you walk around and catch virtual Pokémon.

The great part is many games also connect us to a community of others who enjoy them. Those are the ones that will stand the test of time and still be around and played next year. 

 

3. Mindful Nutrition

Due to the COVID pandemic, people started growing their own food to control what they put into their bodies. This trend also had another benefit – it made you more mindful of your food choices and how they impact your physical and mental health. 

So, if you’re feeling stressed, do you turn to sugary snacks or maybe caffeine? If this is the case, then mindful nutrition will be a trend you want to start practicing. It’s vital for those with gastrointestinal issues or worries about gut health. In these cases, adding something like enzyme supplements to your life may also be beneficial. 

Humans are not just what they eat. It’s also about why they eat and how much they eat.

So focus on your food’s source and see if you can eat organically. This will benefit not only you, but also the environment!

 

4. Focus on Immune Health

The COVID pandemic has had a lasting impact on how people look at their health. If you live in fear of getting sick, then chances are your immune system isn’t as strong as it should be.

So, start focusing on this vital part of your body by doing things like eating certain foods or taking supplements to strengthen the immunity you already have. 

This trend is here to stay because it will be hard for people to ignore how important the immune system is. So, what are you waiting for? Get started!

 

5. Flexible Work Schedules

People’s work lives were turned upside down by COVID. They were forced to take on flexible work schedules to care for their families and friends. 

This trend is here to stay because it will be difficult for people to return to the 9-5 monotony of life. However, this has led to a growing sense of satisfaction and improvements in mental health among many employees who have had the opportunity to do it. So, if you want this type of flexibility but aren’t enjoying it yet, best approach your boss about a change or transition into an industry where it’s possible. 

 

6. Home Yoga

home yoga

The home yoga trend has been going strong for a few years now, but it will still be around as people focus more on their mental health. People who practice yoga regularly show increased mood improvement. They also experience less anxiety and greater self-esteem. 

If you’ve got the time and patience, then home yoga is an excellent way to get started with this trend.

If not, just look for classes in your area or search online! You can find websites like YouTube with all types of videos that will help you ease into it. And many instructors are a quick Zoom call away. 

However you do it, just do it!

This trend is here to stay because of the positive effects that yoga has on your mental and physical health, as well as the ease of making it happen. No more commutes to yoga studios across town. Drop that mat on your living room floor. It’s downward dog time!

 

7. Work on Your Relationship

People realize that it’s harder to find someone with whom they can connect long-term. It has led to more people focusing on their existing relationships because of how important they are. 

Spend more time with your partner and work on strengthening that bond, as this trend is here to stay for a long time!

Find those activities that bring you together, and when needed, do a little couple’s counseling via Zoom. Remember, speaking with a professional can happen long before you have any significant issues in your relationship.

Consider it a relationship tune-up to ensure a smooth ride into the future. 

 

8. Healthy Home Cooking

On top of eating meals at home, people are also trying to cook more healthy meals. If you think about it, fast food and dining out can be expensive after a while. Many of us found that out as we jammed local cafes, restaurants and other eateries with our daily orders. 

Instead of that, why not just eat what you cooked? It’s much cheaper and healthier for you!

 

9. Better Sleep Hygiene

wellness trends 2021 - sleep

You’ve heard it before, and you will hear it again. Sleep is important. With the COVID pandemic, people started getting more sleep because they were forced into lockdown situations. 

This led to more regular sleeping habits and better ways to reach that restful night’s slumber. But if you still aren’t getting seven or more hours of sleep each night, try adding a magnesium supplement to your routine. Then, you’ll be better able to implement this wellness trend into your life.

 

10. Workouts That Double as Stress Relief 

Finally, the last trend is the workout trend. People are better understanding how much working out reduces stress and boosts self-esteem.

They’re focusing on activities they can do at home or outdoors in their neighborhood instead of hitting up the gym for an hour or more each day and still getting great results. While their abs may not be peeking through quite as much, that mental well-being sure shines bright!

If you want to get into this wellness trend, then find workouts that you enjoy doing, and that will help you reduce your stress levels. This way, you can feel better both while working out and while going about your day!

 

So, There You Have It… 

The top wellness trends of 2021 and their benefits that will follow you into 2022. These are all great things to get yourself into a healthier lifestyle because this is honestly the best time to do it. So go out there and enjoy yourself!

The Benefits of Eating Superfoods – Infographic

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superfoods header

Superfoods are the latest craze for people who are trying to eat healthy and make food choices that also limit our impact on the planet. Superfoods are also referred to as “nature’s medicine”, in that they offer significant health benefits to anyone that eats them.

According to GoodnessDirect,

There’s a lot that can be done with these special ingredients, and incorporating them into your everyday diet is easier than you might think. A handful of blueberries sprinkled over breakfast is one of your five a day and a superfood! Even adding a teaspoon of honey instead of sugar to your coffee is a way to add another superfood to your everyday routine. The benefits of consuming superfoods are rather astounding – they can help every part of your body, externally and internally!

To learn more about the benefits of eating superfoods, check out the infographic below:

 

superfoods infographic

A Festive Vanilla Cranberry Quick Bread Recipe

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vanilla cranberry quickbread

You don’t have to be a master baker to achieve a spectacular loaf such as this one. As their name implies, quick breads don’t need yeast or the time and skill required to develop a traditional yeast bread.

When quick bread comes to mind, think scones, brownies, banana and zucchini breads, cornbread, biscuits, and such.

During the busy holiday season, delicious quick breads can be your go-to sweet treat. This easy quick bread recipe is super moist from the low fat kefir used (a healthy yogurt-like drink), has just the right amount of sweetness, yet a bit of sour from the cranberries, and is oh so wonderful!

Wrap it up with a festive ribbon and give as a gift, or keep all to yourself! It’s wonderful as a dessert, in the morning with a nice cup of tea, or any time during the day – just because.

vanilla cranberry quickbread
Yield: 1

Vanilla Cranberry Quick Bread with Kefir

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Low Fat Kefir
  • 2 cups bleached all-purpose flour, (or experiment with bread pastry flour or gluten-free flour)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 - 1 cup dried, unsweetened cranberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a standard 9"-by-5" loaf pan.
  2. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the oil, egg, kefir, and vanilla
  4. Pour wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Fold together gently until ingredients are just combined. The batter should be wet and shaggy.
  5. Transfer the batter into loaf pan and shake the pan to make sure batter is evenly distributed. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a tooth pick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  6. Depending on your oven, this could take longer – just be sure to watch the loaf so it doesn’t burn.
  7. When the toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden brown, remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
  8. Remove the loaf from the pan to slice and serve, or cool completely before wrapping in plastic wrap. Store at room temperature. Can be wrapped in aluminum and frozen for up to three months, as well.

Notes

Recipe source: Foodista via CC

Did you make this recipe?

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What will the world actually look like at 1.5°C of warming?

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extreme weather

The high ambition of the Paris Agreement, to limit global warming to “well below 2°C”, was driven by concern over long-term sea level rise. A warmer climate inevitably means melting ice – you don’t need a computer model to predict this, it is simple common sense.

As temperatures rise, sooner or later much of the world’s glaciers will become water, which will end up in the ocean. With enough warming, ice sheets could also begin to melt irreversibly.

Also, water expands as it warms. Although the full impact will take a long time – centuries or more – the implications of even only 2°C warming for low-lying coastal areas and island states are profound. This is why, in Paris, the world agreed to “pursue efforts” to go further, and limit warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

“Pre-industrial” is not always well-defined, but is often taken as 1850-1900 since that is when accurate measurements became widespread enough to estimate global temperature change.

By the 1980s, when scientists first warned about the risks of climate change, the world had already warmed by around 0.4°C. Things have accelerated since, and while year-to-year changes show downs as well as ups, the general ongoing trend is upwards. Latest data from the Met Office shows 2016 is expected to be 1.2°C above pre-industrial levels – the hottest year ever recorded.

So given this, what will a world above 1.5°C look like?

 

Not much different … at first

Depending on climate sensitivity and natural variability, we could conceivably see the first year above 1.5°C as early as the late 2020s – but it is more likely to be later. In any case, the first year above 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures will not represent what a world that warm looks like in the longer term.

During that year we’d expect some extreme weather events somewhere in the world, as happens every year.

Some of these heatwaves, heavy downpours or droughts may well have become more likely as part of the changing climate. Others, however, may not have changed in likelihood. Teasing out the signal of climate change from the noise of natural variability is hard work.

waves hitting lighthouse
It’s hard to say how much climate change is responsible for any individual storm.
Zacarias Pereira da Mata / shutterstock

But there will be some places which do not yet see major impacts in that first year, that nevertheless will have become more likely to be affected. The “loaded dice” analogy is rather clichéd, but nevertheless useful – even a pair of loaded dice will not roll a double six every time, just more often than normal dice.

So while the chances of an extreme heatwave, for instance, may have increased by the time we exceed 1.5°C, it may not necessarily occur in that year.

Furthermore, some impacts such as sea level rise or species extinctions will lag behind the change in climate, simply because the processes involved can be slow. It takes decades or more to melt glaciers, so the input of extra water to the oceans will take time.

None of this should lull us into a false sense of security, however. While rising seas or biodiversity losses may not be obvious in the first year above 1.5°C, some of these changes will probably be already locked in and unavoidable.

 

Beyond global warming

The impacts of increased carbon dioxide do not just come from its effects as a greenhouse gas. It also affects plant growth directly by enhancing photosynthesis (“CO₂ fertilisation”), and makes the sea less alkaline and more acidic.

Ocean acidification” is unhealthy for organisms which make calcium in their bodies, like corals and some forms of plankton.

All other things being equal, CO₂ fertilisation could be viewed to some extent as “good news” as it could help improve crop yields, but even so, the implications for biodiversity may not all be positive – research has already shown that higher CO₂ benefits faster-growing species such as lianas, which compete with trees, so the makeup of ecosystems can change.

fog in forest with lianas
Increased carbon dioxide favours lianas (woody vines) more than trees.
Stephane Bidouze / shutterstock

The extent to which a 1.5°C world will see these other impacts depends on the still-uncertain level of “climate sensitivity” – how much warming occurs for a given increase in carbon dioxide. Higher sensitivity would mean even a small rise in CO₂ would lead to 1.5°C, so fertilisation and acidification would be relatively less important, and vice versa.

 

Impacts of staying at 1.5°C

There is a huge debate about whether limiting warming to 1.5°C is even possible or not.

But even if it is, limiting global warming will itself have consequences. I’m not talking here about potential economic impacts (whether positive or negative). I’m talking about impacts on the kind of thing we are trying to protect by minimising climate change itself, things like biodiversity and food production.

In scenarios that limit warming at 1.5°C, net CO₂ emissions would have to become negative well before the end of the century.

This would mean not only stopping the emission of CO₂ into the atmosphere, but also taking huge quantities of it out. Large areas of new forest and/or large plantations of bioenergy crops would have to be grown, coupled with carbon capture and storage. This will require land.

But we also need land for food, and also value biodiverse wilderness. There is only so much land to go round, so difficult choices may be ahead.

So while the Paris Agreement ramped up the ambition and committed the world to trying to limit warming to 1.5°C, we should remember that there is much more than a single number that is important here.

It would be naive to look at the climate in the first 1.5°C year and say “Okay, that’s not so bad, maybe we can relax and let the warming continue”.

It’s vital to remember that at any given level of global warming, we have not yet seen the full impacts of it. But nor have we seen the impacts of holding back warming at low levels. One way or another, ultimately the world is going to be a very different place.


The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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