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6 Products You Didn’t Know Had Sustainable Alternatives

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It seems every time you turn around, there is a story about how another everyday item is killing the planet. “Don’t use this” or “stop using that” appears on the screen along with an image of a polluted beach or stream.

Of course, you want to do your part, but you also don’t want to sacrifice the functionality of these items. Well, now you don’t have to. More and more sustainable alternatives are available for many common goods.

Check out the list below to see what items you can exchange for an eco-friendly alternative.

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Image Credit: F. Kesselring, FKuR Willich/Wikimedia Common

1. Straws

Several restaurants and businesses have announced their plans to do away with using plastic straws. California has already banned plastic straws for their harmful effects on the environment and other states could be next.

But many people still prefer to sip from a straw—and for people with disabilities, they’re often quite necessary.

Fortunately, there are a few environmentally friendly alternatives. Depending on your budget, you could get straws made from metal, silicone, glass, straw, bamboo or paper.

Like everything else, each straw has its own pros and cons, so do your research before making a purchase.

For example, paper straws break down after a while, so they can’t be reused as many times as the other types, but they do require the least expensive upfront cost.

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Image Credit: CC0 Public Domain

2. Toothbrushes

Nylon bristles and plastic handles aren’t great for the environment, but you need to brush your teeth every day. There are a few options you can use to be eco-friendly and preserve your oral hygiene.

The type of brush you pick will depend on your personal preference and how eco-friendly you want to be.

For example, a Neem chew stick is completely biodegradable. It’s an all-natural, plant-based stick made from a neem tree.

People nibble part of the stick off to expose the bristles before brushing their teeth.

Then, they cut the used bristles off and start again for the next cleaning. This continues until the stick is gone, which leaves little to no waste.

However, if you would like a more traditional toothbrush, you can use a Bogobrush or Preserve Toothbrush, made from recycled materials.

Bogobrush also has biodegradable toothbrushes available.

Alternatively, you can find bamboo toothbrushes like these at Brush with Bamboo.

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3. Binders

Binders are a great way to package important documents—and if you opt for a reusable material such as vinyl or poly, they can be used for multiple purposes rather than end up in the trash.

Leather production is harmful to animals, the environment and employees of the industry because of the toxic chemicals used to transform skin into leather.

It also uses massive amounts of fossil fuels in the production of livestock, but you don’t have to give up on style while trying to save the planet.

Company Folders, Inc. offers sophisticated vinyl binders that mimic a leather style while also being durable and water-resistant.

The earth-friendly design comes in six different stocks and can be printed with six metallic foil options to add more elegance to the product.

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4. Flooring

When it comes to flooring, there are a variety of eco-friendly options for any kind of budget.

As with straws and toothbrushes, bamboo can also be used for flooring. Recycled material such as reclaimed woods, glass, porcelain and ceramic tile, metal and carpet also make good choices.

Other materials that can be used include cork, linoleum, wool carpet, rubber, stained concrete and even leather, though it’s best to use leather flooring in a dry area that doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic.

Flooringinc.com can guide you to select the best type of flooring for your budget and the area of your home.

For example, linoleum (which is made from all natural materials) is one of the more durable types of eco-friendly flooring, great for high-traffic areas as well as kitchens, bedrooms and hallways.

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5. Linens

When it comes to selecting environmentally friendly bedding, be sure to look for linens meet the Global Organic Textile Standard.

Organic cotton is great, but there are other materials that also can be used to produce great bedding.

Living Fresh adds eucalyptus and other botanicals to cotton, which helps the environment because the eucalyptus tree doesn’t need irrigation, farming or pesticides.

Bamboo is a pretty versatile plant, as it can be used for sheets, pillows and even mattresses. Alternatively, consider bedding filled with a polyester down alternative made from recycled bottles from Under the Canopy.

There’s more to linens than bedding, however.

Bottle Cloth produces tablecloths, placemats, runners and napkins made from recycled plastic bottles. The fabric is durable, spill resistant and easy to clean.

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Image Credit: CC0 Public Domain

6. Bags

Like straws, plastic bags are also getting banned across the country. California became the first state to ban the bags in 2014.

Other municipalities have imposed fees or surcharges on plastic bags.

To do your part, you can opt for paper bags next time you’re at the grocery store or bring something a little more durable.

Eco-Bags offers recycled cotton totes as well as string market bags.

Grocery bags aren’t the only bags that have a sustainable alternative. There are a couple of options when it comes to replacing your plastic sandwich bags.

Blue Avocado’s (re)zip line is made from recycled material and offers a reusable, leak-proof storage bag in a variety of sizes for sandwiches and other snacks.

Another sandwich bag alternative is available from Nordic by Nature.

They are made from cotton fabric in various colors and patterns and have food-safe polyester inside that can be easily cleaned by hand or put in the dishwasher.

As you can see, reducing your carbon footprint doesn’t have to leave you scrambling.

Companies are releasing eco-friendly alternatives to their already existing products each day as part of their sustainability plans.

In addition, new products that do the same things are also being developed. You can’t save the planet by changing your entire lifestyle overnight, but every little bit helps.

The Real Cost of Technology and Why You Should Recycle Responsibly

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Before you buy your next electronic gadget, here’s something to think about that goes beyond the features on your wish list or where you’ll find that gadget for the lowest price.

Does the amount you will pay accurately reflect the true cost of that item? If you’re like most people, you’d likely conclude that it does. Here’s why you’d be wrong.

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Direct and Indirect Costs

Setting a price for any product can take into consideration two kinds of costs: direct and indirect.

Companies generally use just direct costs for pricing unless the government forces them to factor in indirect costs. Direct costs of a product are more obvious—materials, labour, rent, packaging, transportation and marketing. Indirect costs, however, are much less apparent.

In the case of electronics, indirect costs include damage to the environment when items are thrown away rather than recycled.

Even when electronics are recycled, the indirect costs to the environment will depend on how ethical the recycling process is.

Since it is estimated that only 20 per cent of electronics is being recycled, the indirect costs are much higher than necessary.

The costs of unethical electronics recycling include:

  • the negative health effects for people who process toxic chemicals without proper protection
  • the costs of the violence associated with conflict resources
  • the costs of mining new metals rather than extracting metals through recycling
  • fewer jobs compared to those created with ethical recycling

 

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Toxic Third World Landfills

It’s no secret that developed countries ship much of their e-waste to developing countries for processing.

This is called the global waste trade. While China recently closed its doors to this practice, there are plenty of countries still accepting e-waste.

They tend to be located in western Africa and Asia.

Unfortunately, in the countries that process e-waste, laws governing environmental safety and human health and safety are minimal to non-existent.

Toxic materials such as mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, beryllium, chromium and other components of electronics contaminate both the environment and harm the workers processing them.

By recycling old electronics locally and responsibly, we make sure that toxic waste is not contributing to environmental or health problems elsewhere in the world.

 

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Violence Associated With Conflict Resources

Conflict resources are natural resources extracted in a conflict zone and sold to perpetuate the fighting.

The four most commonly mined conflict minerals are cassiterite, wolframite, coltan and gold ore.

Other conflict minerals include cobalt and tungsten.

These conflict minerals are mined in the eastern Congo in Africa and are essential for the manufacture of electronic items such as cell phones and laptops.

Proceeds from the sale of these minerals are used to fund conflicts throughout the region. Responsible recycling would reduce dependence on mined conflict minerals.

 

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Recovering Valuable Resources vs. Mining New Metals

It is estimated that 44.7 million metric tonnes of e-waste were generated globally in 2016.

The amount of valuable raw materials contained in that total, including metals such as gold, silver, copper, platinum and palladium, would be worth an estimated US$64.6 billion if recovered through recycling.

Recovering valuable resources is a major benefit of recycling electronics versus mining new resources.

Rüdiger Kühr of United Nations University (UNU) says that, to mine one gram of gold, companies need to move a ton of ore.

But the same amount of gold can be found in 41 mobile phones in a process that is called urban mining.

 

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Creating Jobs Through Ethical Recycling

One of the most visible benefits of recycling e-waste properly is the creation of jobs.

Jobs are created in several areas: through collecting, processing and preparing e-waste; through creating new electronics from reused and recycled parts; and through reselling and reusing older electronics parts.

One study found that for every job that exists in recycling collection, eight jobs are created through manufacturing recovered material into new products.

It should now be obvious that the price of an electronic product does not accurately reflect its true cost when we consider the damage that can be inflicted on the planet if that product is not responsibly recycled.

Given that each of us has full control over whether we do or do not responsibly recycle our electronics, the correct path is clear.

Find an ethical e-waste recycler with multiple certifications and a good reputation for follow-through that properly manages the process from start to finish. Your conscience and the planet will thank you!

5 Reasons Laser Technology is Better for the Environment

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Environmental concerns are becoming more prominent for all businesses as we become more conscious of our impact on the world around us.

In every industry, companies are finding ways to reduce their ecological footprint without sacrificing profit or revenue.

Adopting green policies also shows your customers that you’re committed to social issues.

While many people don’t associate laser technology with environmental health, lasers actually offer many ecological benefits over their competitors.

They have been used effectively in the place of many older, less environmentally friendly technologies.

These are some of the most common ways lasers have been implemented to help the environment.

Laser marking decreases waste without using harmful resources

Traditional methods of affixing visuals like serial and barcodes, logos, and safety information generally involve additional labels.

By contrast, laser marking can engrave directly on a variety of materials, removing the need for extra materials.

When used on recyclable items, laser marking is clearly a uniquely beneficial option for the environment.

In addition, laser marking doesn’t involve any ink or contact with the material.

Traditional inks, which often use nonrenewable, harmful resources, should be eliminated whenever possible.

This also makes lasers especially valuable in fields like medicine and food, as lasers can be used on the product itself without risk of harm to consumers.

Manufacturing parts with lasers use more of the raw material

Just like laser marking, part manufacturing has long been a wasteful process, and substantial sections of the material would be discarded after the correct shape was carved out.

Lasers have changed the way parts are made in a diverse range of industries from air travel to medical technology, as they provide both functional and environmental benefits.

Lasers are also capable of working on an extremely small scale, which has led to their implementation in many industries in which precision is paramount.

Overall, laser part manufacturing has been adopted for many reasons, most prominently its quick turnaround, ease of innovation, and reduction of waste.

Laser light sensors cut down on unnecessary energy use

People all over the world waste significant amounts of energy by merely leaving lights on that they aren’t using.

While it would be great if everyone could remember to turn lights off when they leave a room, this isn’t a practical large-scale solution.

Many people have implemented laser light sensors in both business and personal settings to cut down on waste.

These automatically turn on lights when movement is detected, ensuring that energy is only used when needed.

Laser printers are becoming a viable alternative to ink-based printers

While laser printing has been criticized for its significant energy use compared to its competitors, it’s clear that inkjet printers come with their own set of problems.

While neither option is currently a perfect solution, there have recently been significant strides in laser printing technology that have cut down on its environmental impact.

Inkjet cartridges, which contain many harmful parts, can be recycled.

But the vast majority are simply thrown away, representing a significant ecological cost worldwide.

Laser printers, on the other hand, are creating less heat and waste every year as technology improves.

Of course, printing, in general, should be used only when necessary.

Laser technology is being used for research on climate change

In addition to its everyday implementations, laser technology is also being used to help us understand more about climate change and other environmental issues.

The Natural Environment Research Council now uses a Laser Heterodyne Radiometer to monitor the atmosphere as part of their ongoing studies.

Laser sensing is also used to study rainforests, which can be hard to access with other methods.

It has even been implemented in the cleanup of oil spills.

Scientists add oil-consuming bacteria to the surrounding area to cut down on the impact of spills, and lasers can be used to examine the effects of these bacteria.

While these are just a few examples of many, it’s clear that lasers have an important role to play in our ongoing efforts to protect the environment.

Many traditional industrial methods involved significant inefficiencies that lasers have been able to correct, and this trend will only continue as the underlying technology is improved.

10 DIY Beauty Product Tips

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DIY beauty products are on the rise. The commercial beauty industry as a whole is an impressive animal. It carefully cajoles us with assurances of a youthful glow and remedied flaws, promising perfection.

Sharp marketing tactics make “professional” look attractive and “expert” brands outdo one another for commercial airtime.

The shiny posters and airbrushed models downplay the other side, however; the chemicals, the borderline ethics and questionable claims of sourcing sustainability. Beautiful people are up in arms for more accountability from the beauty industry.

In a world of growing transparency and the power of social movements for change, greater emphasis is being placed upon ethically-developed, naturally-sourced and chemical-free products.

Enter DIY beauty trends.

Surprisingly, beauty products are alarmingly alike in composition, with only slight tweaks between competing brands. That is part of the reason DIY beauty products are becoming so accessible to regular folks.

There is no better way to know exactly what you are placing onto skin and body than by making the product yourself.

Here are ten tips and tricks for DIY beauty:

 

1. Bank on it

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Let’s face it, most people initially turn to DIY beauty products to save cash.  Environmental considerations often don’t factor into it until later.

It’s true, DIY beauty products can save you money, but long-term, it may save natural habitats, clean air and uncontaminated fresh water sources for future generations, too.

Less exposure to carcinogenic substances and harmful chemicals is better for everyone (except the massive beauty corporations, of course).

 

2. Look Harder

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We often assume the high price of beauty merchandise assures the highest quality ingredients, the absolute best for our skin and body. Unfortunately, an inflated price tag usually only indicates a brilliant marketing strategy and efficient profit maximization.

The sad truth is that even ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ stamped products may contain ingredients heavily laden with chemicals, carcinogens and, artificial preservatives.

A shampoo might have been developed using ‘organic aloe vera’ but what about the other chemicals hidden beneath impossible-to-read scientific names on the ingredients list. Look harder.

 

3. Follow a recipe

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DIY does not always mean intuitive or simple products. The composition might skip the twenty-five letter ingredients and disclaimer warnings we usually see on the back of the box, but DIY beauty products still require clear direction and a level head.

Fortunately, there is a lot more information out there than pre-internet homesteaders had to go on.

This includes everyday bloggers who have shared the results of years of trial-and-error recipes, like Shanti from A Life Made Full, who shares an awesome DIY Vanilla Night Cream recipe.

We also have a ton of recipes in our guide to natural beauty and cosmetic products!

 

4. Take the Easy Road

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There are some DIY beauty products everyone should use.  They are simpler, better for the environment and surprisingly effective.

DIY hair oil, homemade lip balm, aromatic steams, face masks, face scrubs, and homemade toners are just a few of the easiest products to make yourself.

Sugar or salt body scrubs, and homemade deodorant are also easier than you might think.

Take the benefits of raw honey, for example.  Smear it on your skin as a revitalizing mask, use it for its conditioning effects, eat it as a healthy snack and use it as an effective sugar substitute for healthier meals, too.

It requires no effort, no recipe, and no additives. Start with some of these fun recipes from Living the Nourished Life.

 

5. Read the Fine Print

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When gathering ingredients for amazing, green-friendly DIY recipes, read the small print.

Don’t assume that a ‘natural’ tag means no chemicals are present. Choose organic, responsibly-sourced materials.

Look up unknown ingredient names and research the source companies.

How much do you notice about the products you buy on a regular basis? Is the palm oil in your chocolate, lipstick, soap and packaged bread sustainably sourced, for example?

The charcoal products that are now everywhere are another example of questionable information.

If charcoal is used externally (and only used internally for cases of severe poisoning), from sustainable wood sources in quickly renewable forests (like bamboo), it might just make the cut.

Check before you spend.

 

6. Try It First

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As with any new product, try it on a small patch of skin (like elbow or wrist) before using it on a full body.  Allergic reactions are not confined to only ‘chemical’ products.

Natural ingredients may just as easily cause reactions if new.

DIY beauty might require a couple of attempts before you reach a unique, perfect balance for your own skin and body.

On this note, give the new ‘product’ time to work (or not work), just as you would for any commercial product. Take before, and after pictures to make sure you are approaching it with complete objectivity, too.

 

7. Research

 

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It is best to do a bit of reading before attempting to replicate a beauty product.  Compare a couple of available recipes to see the commonalities (like core ingredients) and reflect on any differences.

Check out the substitution possibilities to see how to manipulate scent, consistency and even color to your own needs.

When settling on a recipe from a blog, be sure to scan through the comments section from people who have tried it (especially if there are outright failures or proof it was ineffective).

It may save you some time and effort, or even an irreversible disaster.

 

8. Be Careful

Internet claims float around for decades, often to the detriment of well-meaning DIY enthusiasts.  There are certain “popular” recommendations which are fake, even dangerous for skin and body.

Natural substances, even ones found in the pantry, can be just as dangerous if used incorrectly.

Chamomile tea is amazing for its calming effects, for example, but it has blood thinning properties which may leave new mothers in renewed pain and discomfort if ingested before they are fully recovered from the birth.

In beauty trends, lemon juice is a wonderful ingredient for many different reasons, but undiluted acidity is never a good idea when it comes to our skin.

It is also a bad idea to start using glue in DIY face masks, or applying abrasive baking soda as a scrub.

The scary results might leave your skin burned, scarred and in need of professional help.

Be smart about it and check your sources.

 

9. No Magic

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There are no silver bullets when it comes to health and well-being.  A thriving body and flawless skin are simply not possible alongside poor nutrition, lack of exercise and unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Neither commercial nor DIY beauty products will magically solve underlying health problems. Get moving, eat well, sleep more and stay hydrated.  Your body and your skin will thank you for it.

 

10. DIY really can save the world

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DIY beauty products can be as healthy for the environment as they are for your body.  Homemade deodorant is simple to make and far greener than shop-bought products, especially sprays.

No chemicals and parabens, no carcinogenic substances like talc and silica, and no pressurized or plastic dispensers to add to overflowing landfills.

An effective and aromatic DIY deodorant from Coconut Mama, for instance, includes just four basic ingredients: coconut oil (an antifungal, antibacterial creamy base), baking soda (to neutralise smells, like it does when you put a container of it in the fridge), arrowroot (for moisture absorbent properties) and essential oils (for scent and antibacterial properties).

What fail-safe DIY beauty treatments would you recommend?

How to Make Your Office More Sustainable [Infographic]

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Going green at home? It’s probably pretty easy—a recycling bin, re-usable bags for the grocery store, even skipping straws when you’re ordering out.

But greening at the office? That might be harder, especially if you have people who have a different devotion to how much they want to go green.

However, there are ways that you can use going green to improve your office’s eco-system and also to encourage people you work with to function as a superstar green team.

For example, something as simple as adding plants to your reception area or offices offers some great benefits—cleaning the air and just bringing in a bit of green to the workplace.

If there are magazines or newspapers that aren’t being read anymore, or your office can share in a digital subscription, go for that.

What else works for creating a greener office? This infographic gives you some inspiring ideas to get started.

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This Infographic is Provided by ZeroCater

Drinking Infused Water: Everything you need to know (and how to make it!)

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Global health discussion platforms are buzzing about the magical qualities of infused waters. They have really taken off in the food and beverage market, presenting bottled refreshment that is healthier than soda and more refreshing than regular water.  

What is even more exciting is how easy (and satisfying) it is to make infused water at home.

 

What is infused water?

Water is ‘infused’ with natural flavors, colors, and aromas using garden-grown items, for example.  

This is usually fruit, vegetables, and herbs, which are soaked in cold water.

The blend takes about 2 to 4 hours to bind successfully and the infused water may be stored in the refrigerator for about three days.

 

Is infused water healthy?

The concept of infusion is equally appealing to dieting gurus, environmentalists, and health nuts.  

Infused water is an especially healthy alternative to carbonated drinks and sugar-rich alcoholic choices, which can still impress the crowds at social functions.  

Homemade infused waters present a wonderful opportunity to choose a healthier beverage alternative, it’s true. They are easy to make and full of nutrients.  

Claims of ‘healthy, flavored water’ can be ignored on bottled waters because there are no hidden ingredients in the homemade versions.

It encourages us to drink more water, which is great for both detoxing and staying properly hydrated.

 

Is infused water sustainable?

Absolutely.  Infused water made at home reduces our carbon footprint:

  • We have another excuse not to purchase plastic bottles in the name of ‘health’.  
  • Glass jars with tight lids are great water infusing tools, which encourages us to reuse jars from other products we purchase in stores.  
  • The dregs of fruit, veg, and herbs are thrown straight onto the compost heap, too, so nothing is wasted.  

Growing our own infusion ingredients also means healthier soil in our garden and happier garden birds and insects.  

What a fantastic contribution to clean air and healthy ecosystems in our area!

 

Is it bad to drink infused water?

No home remedy is without risks, but infused water is almost free of worry.

The one possible (though improbable) downside is the interaction of herbs with medication (ask your GP if you notice side-effects with your chronic medication).

Consuming excessive amounts of infused water made with more potent ingredients, like ginger or acidic citrus may, in extreme cases, generate laxative effects, gas, or acid mouth burn.  

Again, this is unlikely for regular use. As with anything, balance is required.

 

6 Easy Steps to Making Infused Water

The only secret is knowing how to put it all together.  It is not even a secret, really. There are six easy steps:

  1. Chop fruit or veg or tear the leafy bits of herbs to release the oils.  
  2. Fill no more than a third of the jar with fruit, veg or herbs.  Top up with cold water and seal. Soak (called steeping) for 2 – 4 hours at room temperature. Or soak overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. After steeping, squash ingredients against the side of the jar with a spoon to release the last of the flavor.
  4. Shake it up.
  5. Decant the water and filter out the fruit.  Less filtering leaves bits of tasty deliciousness in the water.  A finer one, like a coffee filter paper, will leave only the clear liquid, still with a hint of color and flavor.

Voila!  That’s all there is to it. Store it in the fridge for up to three days.  Infused water lasts longer when stored without the fruit, which ferments quicker when left in warm, moist settings.

 

20 Delicious Combos

It isn’t possible to cover all the amazing recipes but there are several delicious combos you have to try!  These twenty flavor combinations are a perfect place to begin:

  • Cucumber and Mint (add Honeydew for a twist)
  • Parsley and Celery
  • Lemon, Orange or Lime Rinds
  • Frozen Berries like strawberries, cranberries, blackberries, and raspberries. (HINT: too-sour-to-eat berries make for perfect infused water ingredients!)
  • Ginger and Lemon or Honey
  • Raspberry and Mint
  • Celery (with pieces and torn celery leaves)
  • Watermelon and Basil
  • Watermelon, Kiwi, and Lime
  • Blueberry and Orange
  • Lime, Ginger, and Basil
  • Lemon, Raspberry, and Rosemary (or blueberries in season)
  • Grapefruit, Pomegranate, and Mint
  • Lime, Coconut, and Pineapple
  • Mango and Ginger
  • Strawberry and Kiwi
  • Blackcurrant and Lemon
  • Pear and Fennel (slice the pears thinly to squeeze out more flavor)
  • Lemon and Thyme
  • Orange, Guava, and Mint

A good tip to remember is to lead with one dominant flavor and enhance it with herbs, lemon, lime or sweeteners. Watermelon, rosemary, pineapple, and berries are strong flavors, for example. These are beautifully enhanced with touches of mint, lemon, ginger or basil.  A pinch of dried herbs adds a twist on flavor, too.

There are no rules.  Go wild with your own flavor combinations. Share recipes with your friends.  It’s easy, it’s healthy, it’s sustainable, and it’s delicious!

Have you discovered any great infusion flavor combinations recently?  Tell us about it.

5 Top Celebrity Champions for Green Living

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Green living is becoming a popular trend among A-list celebrities. The lives of the rich and famous often leave us breathless over the excess, the waste, and the drama.  

The press churns out stories of parties, marriages, fundraisers, and awards.

The rest of the world stands in awestruck fascination but we rarely fixate on their contributions to the natural world unless they are Jane Goodall or David Attenborough.

Here are five top celebrities doing good for all things green:

 

#1 Leonardo DiCaprio

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A Hollywood star with an impressive repertoire, Leonardo DiCaprio is not only a world-famous actor and producer, he is a green hero, too.  A versatile practitioner, DiCaprio has starred in blockbuster hits like The Great Gatsby (2013), Inception (2010), Blood Diamond (2006), Catch Me If You Can (2002), and Titanic (1997).  

After his rise to fame after his dramatic role as Jack in Titanic, he founded the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in 1998.  

Twenty years on, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is doing amazing work for both humanitarian and environmental issues.  It campaigns in aid of habitats, biodiversity, renewable energy, climate change awareness, and ocean conservation projects.

They donated $3 million to Global Tiger Summit to support Nepal in its efforts to double wild tiger numbers in the next five years. The organization has done brilliant work on behalf of wild things.  

DiCaprio serves on the board of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), International Fund for Animal Welfare, Global Green USA, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.  

He also produced The 11th Hour documentary which stirred up a global discussion on the state of the environment from activists, politicians, and scientists.  

The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation also produces documentaries to highlight the need for balanced ecosystems, water conservation and the protection of natural habitats.

#2 James Cameron

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A giant in the film industry and a man of many talents, James Cameron is probably best known for successful undertakings such as Avatar (2009), the Terminator film series and Titanic (1997).  

His concern for the environment runs deep.  

In the wake of Avatar, he championed a number of green causes with his profits and pledged to employ clean energy in the production of the Avatar sequels.  

He is also involved in the promotion of green building and ocean preservation.

Cameron is also speaking out against animal agriculture in support of a vegan lifestyle.  He emphasizes the role of agriculture in climate change, deforestation, water use and emissions.  

#3 Cate Blanchett

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A beautiful Elf in The Lord of the Rings, Cate Blanchett is not only a stunning actress but a genuine heroine of the environment, too.  

She is known to live in an off-the-grid home and has urged the Wharf theatre to reuse and recycle its theatrical props and costumes.

She was instrumental in solar panel and rainwater collection system installation for the Sydney Theatre Company.  The theater now draws 70 percent of its power from its solar installation and the hope is to eventually achieve carbon neutrality.  

She is also the face of Who On Earth Cares, a campaign against climate change.

#4 Jack Johnson

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A sultry singer who loves to surf, Jack Johnson rocks the world with his green vibes.  His most notable contributions include the Johnson Ohana Charitable Campaign and All At Once.  

Johnson Ohana Charitable Campaign is his public charity to promote lasting change through music, art, education and the environment.  All at Once is his initiative for making positive changes in your local community.  

It connects NPOs, environmentalists, and rewards programmes to promote plastic-free living and sustainable food systems.

The UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador also sings to support Climate Counts, Inspire Foundation’s ActNow, Live Earth, Waterkeeper Alliance, Kokua Hawaii Foundation for environmental education, the turtles of Australian Marine Conservation Society, and 1% For the Planet.

Last, but not least, his insistence on the use of the EnviroRider, an environmental handbook promoting eco-friendly tour production, ensures his venues and tour operators are on board, too.  

Among other things, hosts are required to purchase renewable energy, to compost, to change to efficient lighting, and to recycle more than half the total waste generated from the event.

#5 Brad Pitt

actor-Brad-Pitt

A household name and extremely talented actor, Brad Pitt is famous not only for his on-screen achievements but also his heart for humanitarian and environmental issues across the globe. 

He has used his fame to spark meaningful environmental policy debates, like his narration of RX for Survival: A Global Health Challenge (about global health issues), and Design: e2 (about eco-friendly architecture), both television series on PBS public television.

Among his long list of green contributions is the Make It Right organization which originally began to rebuild eco-friendly homes in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  

It has since expanded to other community development programs. In partnership with Angelina Jolie, he also founded the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, which aims at community development, poverty eradication, and environmental education in rural Cambodia.

What other celebrities do you see using their power for the good of the environment?

Rainforests of the World [Infographic]

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We often hear of unfortunate tales of deforestation whereby hundreds of acres of pristine rainforest are destroyed for other purposes.

It’s a crying shame that these beautiful surroundings are so readily demolished, especially in an era when paper is less and less of a necessity, but thankfully there are still large swarms of rainforest regions that continue to survive.

Some of these rainforests have a considerable appeal to tourists.

For example, the Amazon basin always attracts adventure enthusiasts who want to explore this remarkable region up close, while the Daintree Rainforest in the Australian state of Queensland has more than 400,000 visitors a year.

Some rainforests aren’t mere tourist havens – they are the epicentre of people’s lives.

In the Congo Rainforest that traverses nine countries in sub-Saharan Africa, there are 150 separate tribes comprising more than 39 million people who call this area home.

Were loggers to move in with bulldozers and destroy this rainforest region, they would also destroy so many people’s livelihoods.

The death toll might not be as high as if the area was subjected to a terrorist attack or a natural disaster, but its effect in turning people’s lives upside-down and forcing them to rebuild or relocate would be similar.

Here is an infographic which profiles some of the world’s most important rainforests and outlines some information about the ecological and animal life that exists in these regions.

 

rainforests-world-infographic
This infographic was provided Jarrimber

Passive Housing: A Smarter Way of Living [Infographic]

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Did you know that passive housing can help you to save 90% of the energy that you’d use in a conventional home? Or that a building must use no more than 15 kilowatt hours of electricity per square metre in a year for it to obtain passive house status?

A passive house is one where a constant, moderate temperature is maintained, thus eliminating the quandary of one room being substantially warmer or colder than the next.

To qualify as a passive house, a building must meet the exacting standards set out by the Passivhaus Institut in Germany, a country renowned as one of the most proactive in terms of energy conservation.

Passive houses are characterised by their heavy insulation around the building’s envelope, the elimination of thermal bridges that allow heat to seep through structural gaps, and efficient ventilation which exchanges moist indoor air for fresh outside air.

This fresh exterior air will heat or cool the interior of a passive house as appropriate.

Passive housing is well worth considering for several reasons.

Aside from enabling significant savings on utility bills and being environmentally friendly, it is better for your health as fresh air replaces the toxins that might have existed in moist, polluted indoor air.

Also, the increased efficiency of its insulation helps to reduce noise pollution, as does the smoother operation of vents and fans.

This infographic from EZ Living Interiors provides a well-summarised introductory guide to passive housing, explaining why it is so beneficial to homeowners who avail of this contemporary housing option.

It looks likely that demand for passive housing will increase and it’s not difficult to see why, so we invite you to take a few moments to read through the infographic below.

 

passive-housing-smarter-way-living-infographic
This Infographic is Provided by EZ Living Interiors

5 Urban Gardening Basics

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Modern life has taken a giant leap into the new millennium, far beyond the simpler existence of centuries past.  

A tech-savvy workforce has converged on metropolitan cities, buzzing around commercial and creative hubs, and more content with urban living than ever before.  

Farming is still enjoyed by a handful of folks but often their children and grandchildren have gravitated towards the excitement of the big city lights, and the buzz of activity it promises.

Cities are expanding rapidly, with commercial hubs forming a vortex of frenzied activity. 

This has meant a steady rise in fast-paced, convenience lifestyles, far away from the old days of quiet subsistence and rural settings.  

With development comes sacrifice, however, particularly for green areas – as wild habitats well know. 

Yards have been traded for balconies, grass for concrete, and trees for lamp posts.

City life does not have to be drab and grey, though, and urban gardening trends are giving us a taste of the green prairies once more; but with a lot more style and much softer hands.  

Here are five ways to keep nature thriving in an urban home:

 

1. Terraced gardens

Terraced-gardens

As space availability declines, innovation peaks.  There are more efficient ways to plan a garden and even grow your own vegetables in a confined space.  

Consider these tips for balcony gardens:

  • Use pots on shelves, tiered up against a wall and secured from the wind.
  • Place the right plant in the right space (considering light and wind)
  • Measure root space (if it needs 20-25cm, make sure the pot is of adequate depth to encourage thriving vegetables and herbs).
  • Employ efficient watering systems (plants that need more water at the bottom of the stack, and plants needing better drainage at the top)
  • Partner plants to promote the growth of other plants in pairings like broccoli with celery, and cucumber with lettuce.
  • Use organic fertilizers, especially for food you will be eating.
  • Research proper soil requirements for each type of plant (potting soil for good airflow and a peat base, for example).

 

2. Stackable plant pods

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Image Credit: Vakant Design

When you can’t go sideways, go up! Stackable plant pots and hanging vertical trellis gardens are becoming wildly popular, especially with high-rise dwellers hankering for a green space to call their own.  

Hang plants from the ceiling, the walls, and the security fences. Use hooks over drain pipes and secure pots to railings and privacy screens.

Erect pot plants into water-efficient towers so water run-off can make its way from the top to the bottom via each pot, instead of being wasted on the floor.

Keep in mind the health and safety requirements of your building, especially where plants could fall on to people or objects far below.  

Be sure to secure pots properly.

 

3. Shared Spaces

Shared-spaces

In an era of rental agreements, why not go for shared green spaces, too?  

Where the vacant lot across the road is only going to neglect, why not propose a community garden, mini-park or vegetable patch with a few interested others?

Or spruce up a drab apartment rooftop with green-minded neighbors?  

Sharing garden space has many advantages:

  • There are more hands to tend to digging, potting, weeding and watering.
  • Discussing ideas about gardening strategies does wonders for pest control techniques and aesthetics.
  • More avid gardeners in a space means a better chance of getting free plant slips or extra seeds for your own garden.
  • Gardening is a means of catharsis for all, and happy people are better neighbors who build stronger communities.

 

4. Greenhouses

greenhouse

Mini greenhouses are another possibility for balconies or small suburban yards.  It makes it easier to impose vertical planting techniques and establishes year-round climate control. 

These mini greenhouses (think small garden shed size) are especially appropriate for small spaces and extreme seasonal fluctuations.

It also makes it possible to employ greener methods of irrigation and power in a confined area, saving the environment little by little.

 

5. Indoor plants

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A traditional way of bringing nature indoors, indoor plants are still a popular accessory for interior design.  

Plants add color and texture to even the smallest spaces. Pots of all shapes and sizes can be decorative and practical at the same time.

Old wives’ tales say not to sleep with plants in the bedroom, thereby risking an overdose on elevated carbon dioxide levels.  

Nowadays we know a lot more about the biology of plants, however, and understand there are certain plants which create sleep-inducing benefits or produce oxygen, too.  

Rosemary, jasmine, and lavender are supposed to be great bedroom plants, for example, soothing the senses and even lowering blood pressure.

Thinking a little differently about the practical aspects of indoor plants can add a new spin on modern pot plants, too.

Why not bring in potted fruit trees, insect-repelling plants, and drought-resistant species?

After all, it is always a good idea to have fresh, organic produce to offer the family, to expend fewer chemicals inside the home and to be vigilant about water savings.

Small spaces can be green spaces, too.

What other tips can you share for a successful urban garden?

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