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4 Essential Tips to Build an Eco-Friendly Home

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Eco-Friendly Home

If you’re thinking about doing your bit for the environment and building a green home, you could be part of a revolution.

Green builds are one of the newest and most valuable trends in construction at the moment. For every single new house built, there’s an associated impact on the environment, though green builds can minimize, and in some cases even neutralize this impact.

But where do you even start when planning to build an Eco-friendly home?

There are a lot of options available – pre-fab Eco homes, specialist Eco-designs and more alternative solutions – but if you’re going it alone, there are a few really important points to think about first.

How to build an Eco-friendly home

1. Location, location, location

build an Eco-friendly home - Location

When choosing the plot your new home is going to stand on, consider what is, or was there. The general rule is: don’t build in an environmentally sensitive area – no construction on wetlands, in forests, floodplains or on any patch of land that will significantly alter the landscape if you built there.

Finding brownfield land – land that has already been built upon – is the best bet for Eco buildings. You can knock down any buildings that stand on the site already; but make sure the land is not contaminated, as it will make it impossible to landscape with all those plants that will help make your building carbon neutral.

 

2. Energy efficiency

build an Eco-friendly home

Make sure you’re using as many energy conserving measures as you can within your budget.

Think about having your home completely powered by solar panels – although initially expensive to install, you can save far more than the installation cost, and over a ton of carbon emissions per year!

Comprehensive insulation can ensure that you don’t lose so much heat, making your house more energy efficient. There are a lot of effective recycled insulation solutions, for example, from paper or plastic bottles.

Make sure the windows you install are double or triple glazed, and think about their positioning – maximizing windows on the south side of your building means you’ll get a lot of solar warmth, even on cloudy days.

Installing a green roof can also massively help with insulating, and help offset that carbon footprint.

Make sure when you’re furnishing to buy energy efficient appliances, and also think about having recycled or up-cycled furniture.

 

3. What materials to use?

building materials

There’s a huge selection when choosing green build materials, and it seems a new one is developed every minute. Think about using recycled materials – you could even use materials from the site such as gravel and rock, or from the building that was there before.

When you decorate, make sure you use Eco paint, which is made from natural products and has minimal effect on the environment. Think about where you will be spending most of your time, if in the office, plants can help to diffuse hard edges and can also make for a more oxygen rich environment.

 

4. Water usage

home water conservation

Think about installing low-flow toilets, sinks and showers, and also consider reusing your grey water (not as horrible as it sounds, I promise).

There are several options for this – to have grey water from your bath, shower and sinks diverted to a water butt so it can be used for watering plants, or you can have it diverted to a tank, so it can be used to flush the toilets as well.

Here are safe ways to use grey water around the house.

Conclusion

These four points should be at the front of your mind when designing your home. At every step of your build, just stop for a moment and think, am I doing my bit for the environment? And you should have a great, green home!

{This article has been updated for freshness and consistency.}

Falling in Love with Fall with Raw Apple Crumble

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Apple Crumble Recipe Ingredients

Fall is by far one of our favorite seasons. Although the weather is getting cooler and layers of clothing are being piled on – fall is one of the most gorgeous seasons with the best food!

It’s an incredible time to support our bodies with delicious and hardy root veggies and crisp, sweet apples.

Here are a few reasons to fall in love with fall….including a delicious apple crumble recipe!

1. Eat your rustic roots

butternut squash

 

  • Firstly, Eat them sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, parsnips, acorn squash…
  • These rustic roots are usually orange and yellow – these colours represent creativity, physical and emotional energy, expression, and optimism!
  • Foods that are rich in these colours support the digestive system and stimulate our appetite.
  • They’re high in vitamin A & C; these vitamins stimulate our immune system, promote healthy skin & reduce inflammation.

 

2. Go for the green

kale

 

  • Eat them kale and collards
  • These cruciferous veggies contain indole-3-carbinol, which helps the liver detox excess estrogen (this doesn’t just apply to you ladies!), reducing cancer risk especially breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers.
  • Get your vitamin C and A from these leafy greens.
  • Don’t forget about vitamin K, important for healthy blood clotting and bone health.

 

3. Get your apple on

apples - apple crumble recipe

  • Apples, the main ingredient in the apple crumble recipe, contain a fiber called pectin, which regulates ‘waste’ removal, gets rid of toxins and cleans out the colon! Pectin is very soothing for the digestive tract.
  • Get your intake of vitamin C to boost immunity and prevent inflammation.
  • Apples have anti-inflammatory substances that reduce the risk of cancer. One study in women showed a lower risk of death from cancer by eating apples.

 

4. Get saucy with cranberries

cranberries

 

  • Don’t sweat the UTI (urinary tract infection), cranberries help prevent and relieve UTIs by preventing bacteria from attaching to the wall of the bladder
  • Want pretty teeth? Cranberries prevent bacteria from attaching to the walls of tissues keeping our oral hygiene in check and even preventing stomach ulcers – ouch!
  • And yet again, another fabulous source of vitamin C and fibre, woohoo!

 

5. People of the world, spice up your life with cinnamon

cinnamon

 

  • Feeling that 3pm crash? Craving carbs? Cinnamon balances our blood sugar so that we stay nice and energized throughout the day without feeling those lows!
  • Cinnamon also prevents unwanted blood clots, is anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial – goodbye inflammation and colds!

 

6. Boost your boogie with ginger and garlic

garlic

 

  • Let’s prevent illness this fall and winter season with ginger and garlic.
  • Ginger relieves digestive upset and nausea, combats microbes, supports the delivery of nutrients and removal of waste and keeps us warm through the cold winter nights.
  • Raw garlic contains allicin (a sulfur containing component) which has anti-cancerous properties and lowers blood pressure.
  • Garlic, raw or cooked, is anti-microbial and gives the immune system an extra kick, hya!

 

7. Guess who’s coming to dinner

dinner

  • It’s so important to share your meals with loved ones and feel a sense of community.
  • When we’re eating with those we love, we are in a relax and digest mode, which allows us to properly metabolize our food and take in all of the wonderful nutrients the meal has to offer.
  • Drop the stress and come on, get happy.

Delicious Apple Crumble Recipe

Here’s the apple crumble recipe, enjoy!

Apple Crumble Recipe Ingredients
Yield: Serves 8

Raw Apple Crumble

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Autumn is an incredible time to support our bodies with delicious and hardy root veggies and crisp, sweet apples – like those found in this fantastic apple crumble!

Ingredients

Crumble

  • 2 cups your favorite nut mixture, we used pecans and almonds
  • 1 cup cooking dates
  • 1 cup quinoa flakes, or oats if you can tolerate them
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 pinch seal salt

Filling

  • 8 apples, Cortland and Empire are great choices!
  • 1 cup cooking dates, (or medjool – yum!)
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

Filling

  1. Cut the remaining 6 apples into small slices and mix with the puree – get those apples saucy.

Crumble

  1. Find your favorite 8×8” pan and layer ½ of the crumble on the bottom.
  2. Place the apple mixture on top of the crumble layer.
  3. Put the remaining crumble mixture on top.
  4. Enjoy!

Notes

Recipe originally published Nov 14, 2011

Nutrition Information

Yield

8

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 516Total Fat 26gSaturated Fat 9gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 16gCholesterol 0mgSodium 113mgCarbohydrates 70gFiber 12gSugar 44gProtein 10g

Did you make this recipe?

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

Is a Vegan Diet Better for the Environment?

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vegan diet

For several decades, people have been striving to live a healthy life that includes a balanced diet and lots of exercise. Fitness and health gained a lot of popularity over the years, and people started considering vegetarianism as a lifestyle.

While many people were slowly transitioning to the vegetarian lifestyle, the vegan way of life was introduced as being more healthier and beneficial to the environment.

 

What is the vegan way of life?

Vegan Diet Better for the Environment

The vegan way of life or veganism is not very different from vegetarianism. A vegetarian is a person who does not consume any kind of animal product such as meat, fish, and poultry. But their diet includes dairy products such as milk and eggs.

Vegans, similar to vegetarians, do not consume animal products. However, unlike vegetarians, they also do not consume any animal-based products such as dairy, honey, or any by-product made from animal or animal skin.

There are two types of ethical vegans; plant-based vegans and raw vegans. While plant-based vegans live on foods that grow from the ground only, raw vegans do not eat animal products and any food cooked above 115-degree Fahrenheit.

They believe that food loses its nutrients and enzymes when cooked at high temperatures. Ethical vegans are those who put their ethics forward instead of their stomachs. Their love for animals and the environment is stronger than the desire to consume an animal-based diet or even use any product made of animal skin or animal parts.

 

Is a vegan diet good for the environment?

There is a growing concern about how our habits are ruining our planet. The sea levels are rising, the temperature change is extreme, and natural disasters are more severe.

Our planet needs more help than ever right now, and adopting a sustainable vegan diet might be the answer to preserving the environment. We can help the environment by fighting climate change and establishing a sustainable food system.

Several measures were proposed to save our environment, such as the ban on straws, ban on plastic, carrying one’s shopping bag, shorter showers, carpooling, and more. As much as these measures did contribute to a better environment, many researchers linked animal agriculture to a slew of environmental issues.

Researchers believe that it is important to change what people expect on their plates to reduce the impact on the planet. A comprehensive analysis of the effects of farming on the environment found that the single best thing a person can do to lessen the impact on the world is to adopt a vegan lifestyle.

 

How does a vegan diet contribute to a better environment?

Vegan Diet Better for the Environment 2

Did you know that meat and farmed livestock or dairy accounts for 14.5% of human-made greenhouse gas emissions? What’s more shocking is that it is roughly equal to the exhaust emissions of every car, ship, aircraft, and train on the planet!

If every person on earth adopts a vegan diet, it will take nearly three decades to drop the world’s food-related emissions by not more than 70%, and the vegan diet contributes to reducing global warming.

There are several other benefits of a vegan lifestyle that can contribute immensely to improve the environment. These include:

 

Reduced CO2 production

A livestock sector and human-related activities in this sector produce a larger share of harmful greenhouse gases, which can be reduced with a vegan diet.

 

Reduced nitrous oxide/methane production

The percentage of ammonia, nitrous oxide, and methane emissions by the livestock industry is reduced drastically. A vegan diet can lower greenhouse gas emissions and methane cycles out of the atmosphere.

 

Saves and preserves water

Animal waste, antibiotics, and hormones enter the waterways and pollute it as does chemicals from fertilizers used on crops that severely harm the ecosystem. Humans can reduce the effects by adopting a vegan diet.

 

Reduced destruction of tropical rainforest

Livestock farming leads to overgrazing, which causes soil erosion, deforestation, and desertification. A vegan diet can help reduce this. It also reduces wildlife destruction as these animals will not be forced to evict from their homes for animal farming and cultivation.

 

Reduced use of chemicals, antibiotics, and growth hormones

The livestock industry, including the fish industry, uses a wide variety of drugs to produce more benefits. However, these chemicals have detrimental effects on the environment and human health. For instance, they have been linked to a rise in cancer cases across the world.

A vegan diet would reduce the use of these drugs.

 

Reduced ecological footprint

You would contribute to a reduced ecological footprint by switching to a vegan diet and also cause less harm to the planet’s non-human inhabitants.

 

A sustainable environment

As the world population grows, so does the demand for food, fossil fuels, and freshwater. Cattle grazing has been found to cause more damage to the environment than many other forms. As the demand for meat grows, so does the production, which puts additional strain on the environment.

A vegan diet can help reduce the demand, and in turn, create a more sustainable environment.

 

Final thoughts

As a vegan, you’re already contributing to a better environment. If you plan on becoming a vegan, then you’re one step closer to improving the environment.

 

The Halloween Pumpkin – Green or Just Orange?

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Halloween Pumpkin

Unless you’ve been hiding out in the hills for the past month or so, you have most likely been inundated with the sight of pumpkins.

Halloween pumpkins

Whether you’re just trying to get your groceries or visiting your dentist, you may have tripped over a couple or at the very least, stood in close to proximity to one or twenty. And, while I’m all for holiday décor and festivities and absolutely nothing makes me happier than the months of October through December, this mass of pumpkins also scares me a little.

They’re everywhere because we, Americans, have created a demand of more than 1 billion pounds, per year.

That’s over 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkin, most of which carries the sole purpose of pleasing the eye and providing décor. We carve them, we set them on mantles and we line our stairways with them. But, when the Halloween holiday is over, most of us, will sadly, toss these pumpkins in the trash can, at which point they’ll be tossed into a landfill.

 

Landfills

landfills

While tossing pumpkins into a landfill may not sound like a bad idea, it is. Landfills are a notorious source of greenhouse gases such as methane. Also, their environment and lack of oxygen prevents pumpkins from decomposing naturally like the could in a compost pile.

As as result, we not only deprive the ground of essential nutrients that we could give it, but we also contribute to higher methane levels in the atmosphere.

So, if we do want to decorate, carve or otherwise enjoy pumpkins as tradition to our Halloween and fall festivities, what can we do? Here’s the easy list:

 

Consider an alternative

It may feel like tradition, but get more creative with your decorations. Create pumpkins out of recycled cardboard. Have a family or women’s craft day where all Halloween decorations made are 100% recycled and recyclable.

 

Weigh the pros & cons on organic

If the only way for you to buy an organic pumpkin is to buy one that’s been shipped thousands of miles, skip it, the good probably won’t outweigh the carbon footprint. (If you’re not eating it, then the pesticides don’t matter as much)

 

Support local

local Halloween pumpkins

If you do have a local farmer selling organic pumpkins, then please go support them! Take the family and make an afternoon of it, kids will love it and it’s always beneficial for children to see food in its natural, growing state.

 

Create additional uses

Halloween pumpkin muffins

You can make your pumpkin greener simply by using it for more than just décor. When it’s done providing eye candy for you, eat it! Take the insides out, puree them and then turn them into treats like pumpkin breads and muffins. Whip up pumpkin pancakes for Halloween morning. Clean the seeds, sprinkle with salt and seasonings with a drizzle of olive oil and roast.

 

Recycle, recycle

Instead of tossing the pumpkin in the garbage, recycle it in your compost bin. If you don’t have your own compost pile, ask friends and neighbors if they do. Check to see if your city has a pumpkin recycling initiative in effect. Donate to a local zoo where the lions will take care of any pumpkin leftovers.

{This article has been updated for freshness and consistency.}

7 Eco-Friendly Ways to Celebrate Halloween

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jack-o-lantern on porch with halloween decorations

Halloween is almost here, and that means a thrilling holiday filled with great food and wild celebration, too much candy and impressive Jack-O-Lanterns.

In most of suburban North America, cries of “Trick or Treat” will soon echo around the neighborhood. Unfortunately due to the COVID19 pandemic, those cries will be more muted this year.

Excited young voices giggle behind dazzling costumes and spooky masks. “Trick or treating” is a tradition where parents dress their kids in cute and scary Halloween costumes.  

The children run from house to house yelling “trick or treat,” hoping neighbors will joyfully provide piles of candy.

Sometimes they are lucky enough to find delightfully frightening surprises, too, like ‘haunted house’ mazes and pop-up zombies.

Kids meet up with classmates also dressed in wacky plastic costumes and carting around plastic shopping bags and buckets filled with candy.  

Parents walk a little way behind them, enjoying the sight of them screeching in wonder as candy loot is amassed.

Moms yell about feasting on too much candy when they get home. Tell-tale piles of candy wrappers fill the kitchen table, and the garbage can.  

Holiday traditions were formed back when the environment, and the pandemic weren’t a big concern. Times have changed.

Here are seven eco-friendly ways to celebrate Halloween, without losing the essence of the celebration:

 

Creative Eco-friendly Ways to Celebrate Halloween

Costumes

Halloween-costumes

The recent standard for Halloween costumes has been prepacked, plastic, and disposable; shipped from halfway around the world.  

These costumes have heavy carbon footprints. They encourage single-use plastic, clog up landfills and fall out of fashion as childhood character trends change.

There are two sure ways to reduce the impact of Halloween costumes on the environment:  First, get creative.  Second, rent.

Browse through ideas on the web and use clothes already in your wardrobe. Pick up tips for piecing together an award-winning costume from thrift store clothing, using a sewing kit, a couple of reusable accessories, and a sense of humor.  

Get the kids involved, too! They’ll love the creative family time leading up to the night itself. If you’re not the crafty type, why not see what’s lying in your friends’ closets? Some people have a box of costumes ready for a second (or third, or fourth…) re-wear!

It is usually more environmentally-friendly (and often significantly cheaper) to rent a costume.  

Halloween only comes once a year. This year, Americans plan on spending over $8 billion on this one-time event, even as they grapple on how to celebrate safely in the middle of a pandemic. Of that $8 billion price tag, the largest chunk – about 36% — was spent on costumes.

I can only imagine what future archaeologists will think of our society, when they uncover plastic costumes of Casper the Friendly Ghost, Mr. T., Batman, Pennywise, Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Wonder Woman, and Mickey Mouse.

Rent Halloween get-ups from theatrical or costume stores. This allows kids to dress up differently each year, but saves on trash, and is available for reuse the following Halloween by somebody else.

 

Candy

Eco-friendly ways to celebrate halloween - candy 1

 

Candy goes with Halloween, for sure, but but you don’t have to add to the already huge hauls of sugar that these kids bring home.

Many candy wrappers from our childhood Halloween jaunts are probably still intact in landfill sites today, leaching their wasteful by-products into the soil where we grow our food, and into the water we drink.

There are several ways to reduce environmental impact (and choose healthier alternatives) on the candy front:

  1. Choose candy in less plastic packaging.
    • Fewer plastic wrappers and fewer layers means fewer things to throw away.
  2. Make treats yourself.
    • Let the neighbors know what you are making and put a distinctive mark/symbol on it so they know their kids are safe. You could also put a sign up telling passersby you are giving away handmade food.
  3. Opt for small gifts instead of candy.
    • It could be something handmade by you, or something the kids can put together by themselves at home after Halloween. Let the creative juices flow!
  4. If you are giving out candy, opt for organic or fair-trade brands such Dark Chocolate Minis from Camino or Yummy Earth’s Organic Lollipops.

Organic candy and other treats may be more expensive but the benefits are obvious.

Organic foods are healthier and better for the environment, and made from products which don’t contain pesticides or other chemicals.

You can find organic candy online, in the organics section of many grocery stores, health food stores, and in some farmers’ markets.

 

Bags and Buckets

halloween tips

Who needs plastic buckets? If you secretly hope your kid gathers some candy for you while you take them trick or treating – and what parent doesn’t? – pillowcases make great loot bags.  

They are washable, and a king-sized one will hold more candy than a typical cloth shopping bag.

Stay away from the molded plastic jack-o-lanterns being sold this time of year. Although they are reusable, they are still made of plastic.

Over 90% of all trash floating in our oceans is plastic, and much of that is eaten by fish, birds and other marine life. Canvas bags, reusable shopping bags or pillow cases are much creepier anyways.  

 

Decorations

halloween decorations

Like costumes, most Halloween decorations are cheap, disposable plastic trash. It gets thrown out after the holiday is gone.

If you’re crafty: This is your time to shine! Get the kids and sit down to start creating some fantastic reusable and high-quality decorations.

Create reusable garlands and bunting, “spookify” mason jars, reuse chicken wire and start painting some Halloween posters – there are plenty of fantastic Halloween decorations out there.

You can do this every year as part of a new (greener) holiday tradition, and you won’t even realize that you’ve done the environment a huge favor!

 

Pumpkins

Eco-friendly ways to celebrate halloween - organic pumpkins

Pumpkins are all the rage when the Halloween season falls but people are quick to forget that with supply and demand comes dangerous effects on the environment.

In order to grow pumpkins big enough fast enough, many are sprayed with heavy-duty pesticides. They are shipped over long distances, making their carbon footprint exorbitantly high.

The solution is easy: Buy organic, locally grown pumpkins.

Don’t forget to make pumpkin-based recipes out of the pumpkin flesh! Try any of these ones to get started: Vegan Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Ravioli, or Pumpkin Seed Granola (Without having to worry about feeding your kids pesticides!)

 

Travel

 

halloween travel - biking

One other eco-friendly ways to celebrate Halloween: Go a little greener in you holiday travel this All Hallows Eve. Organize carpools to reduce the amount of people driving to your Halloween party.

Or even better, eliminate the cars. Take the kids trick or treating in local neighborhoods you can walk to. It is not only greener than driving to further communities, but better for them.

They will get to meet and play with other children in the neighborhood – and you get to meet other parents locally, too.

Another idea is to provide special door prizes for those that show up with proof of an environmentally-friendly way to get to your place – a bus pass, transit transfer, or bicycle, for example. People will do just about anything to receive a free gift.

 

Parties

Hallloween party

Having a Halloween party this year, take extra measures for safety and also make it green-themed right from the start. Invite very few people to dress up in green-themed, home-crafted costumes, or rentals.

Serve organic food. Use dishes and cutlery instead of disposable plates and plastic forks and knives.  

Encourage or reward environmental ways of getting to your party, and make sure there are green ways for people to get home.

Halloween may be a night for ghosts, goblins and zombies, but with a little planning and thought, it can be an environmentally-friendly celebration. It can also be safer if you celebrate locally, in social-distanced environments, and follow health guidelines and protocols against Covid-19.

What other eco-friendly ways to celebrate Halloween would you recommend in 2020?

 

{This article has been updated for freshness and consistency.}

7 Green Living Projects for Autumn

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fall projects and activities

Autumn is a time to slow down, put your feet up, and enjoy a cup of something hot in the gorgeous afternoon sunshine.  

If you need something to keep you busy when that’s done, the season is never short of green living projects for autumn around the home and garden.

Here are seven green ideas to keep you busy in the season of pumpkin spice, apples, cinnamon, and falling leaves:

Green Living Projects for Autumn

Simplify, Declutter, Beautify

minimalist living room

Quiet days indoors are a perfect reminder to reassess life in the home for the impact it has on the natural world outside.  

Take time to go through the deepest, darkest hiding places in cupboards, toy boxes, the attic, basement, chests, and garden shed.  

Declutter. Recycle where possible. Donate unnecessary clothes, tools, kitchenware, and furniture. Repurpose the old with a brand new paint job.

While going through each item, remember to think about its environmental impact so you can make better choices with the next purchase, or use it in a greener way.  Are there single-use items you can replace with reusable, sustainable items?

Do you have a habit of buying lots of plastic items which clutter up your storage spaces, when you could be buying environmentally-friendly items to replace it instead?

 

Green the House

green living projects for autumn - green the house

Are there ways you can decrease your carbon footprint, save water, and decrease power usage?  Try the following:

  • Greywater systems.
  • Installing rain tanks in time for upcoming spring rains.  
  • Switch out light bulbs for energy-saving ones.  
  • Install solar lamps or panels for heating.  
  • Set up the compost heap in an easy access location to the kitchen (or a way to keep the cuttings in an easy to carry container until the end of each day).

 

Clean Up

baking soda

Go through the chemical cleaning agents in your kitchen.  Clean up your act. It is better for everyone to choose sustainable, non-toxic, biodegradable products.  

Preferably products made from renewable sources and responsible distributors.

Perhaps it is time to dry DIY cleaning products – you may be surprised at the effectiveness.

Try some apple cider vinegar, baking soda and warm water for wiping surfaces. It gets rid of grime like a charm.

 

Insulation

We don’t usually think about insulation through the warmer weather so autumn provides opportunities to get stuck into the idea.  

It doesn’t need to be professional insulation, although it is better to do it right the first time.

Adding insulation to rooms, behind wall heaters, and in the ceilings will help with both cold weather and warm weather, lowering your energy bill as the temperature stays more constant inside the house.

 

Start a Worm Farm

green living projects for autumn - worm farm

The garden needs all the help it can get during the colder, drier months.  

A worm farm is an awesome project to get going in autumn when the pruning and chopping and grass cuttings are keeping the green fingers active.  

Worms love all organic things (except for acidic materials like citrus and onions) and turn it into rich, fertile soil.

The ‘worm wee’ can also be tapped out and diluted in a watering can for some extra growth factor for all things green.

Keep them moist and turn the material every now and again to keep the process going.

 

No-Waste Crafts

Autumn is also an awesome opportunity to use natural materials to decorate the house. The children love being involved in decor efforts; including carving, sticking, shaping and collecting materials.  

  • Decorate with pine cones,
  • make wreaths with leaves, vines and dried flowers,
  • carve pumpkins,
  • make gourd candle holders, and
  • use leftover bits of glass and tiling to create mosaics on flower pots, stones, and walkways.

Use extra fabric pieces to create reusable items like fabric shopping bags, fruit and vegetable liners to replace the small plastic bags in the grocery store, and quilts for the homeless.  

Rather than using synthetic fibers for the crafts, try tying it all together (or knitting and crocheting) with bamboo yarn – a yarn gathered from sustainable, fast-growing bamboo forest.

When it is all done, throw it all in the compost heap (or into the winter fireplace).  No waste, no problem.

TIP: Remember pine cones are wonderful objects for decor ideas but organic material tends to pick up bugs and mold.  To be extra careful, roast the pine cones at 200^C for 90 minutes in the oven before using them around the house.

 

Leave it to Nature

nature

It is a ludicrous idea to think of nature’s waste being thrown into landfills when fallen leaves can be so valuable to the ground from which they came. Make greener choices this autumn and see the leaves for what they are – a renewable resource for Eco-conscious gardeners.

Autumn leaves can be used in the following ways:

Lawn cover

The leaves keep coming and the wind makes it impossible to keep them to one side.  Why not just mow over them (without a collection attachment) a few times. This breaks them up into small pieces which can decompose quickly and then eventually disappear altogether into the lawn.

Mulch

Leaves can be layered directly onto flower beds, newly prepared ground, vegetable gardens, and autumn bulbs. This will help create a barrier against the elements and add an extra layer against weed growth.

Mold

If you have time and patience enough to wait it out, the leaves can be kept in a plastic bag, kept in a dark, moist place for two to three years. To shorten the molding process, use smaller pieces. The resulting ‘leaf mold’ resembles compost and smells like nature. It can be used to add richness to the ground, to spruce up potting soil and

Compost

Obviously, leaves are great for the compost heap but do tend to pile up quickly.  If you can use smaller pieces and compost these, layering the leaves between grass cuttings, the decomposition process will be quicker.

Are there other green living projects for autumn you enjoy during the season?

 

{This article has been updated for freshness and consistency.}

11 Secrets to Creating Healthy Eating Habits for Life

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salad

We’re excited to share our favorite, simple secrets to creating a healthy lifestyle!

If you’ve felt like healthy eating habits are out of reach, you’re not alone. A lot of the time we know the basics of eating well, but we fail to implement them.

With that said, we’ve found eating healthy doesn’t have to be hard or restrictive!

These simple tips will help you feel your best and still enjoy your favorite foods!

Sorey Fitness Healthy Eating

How Can You Develop Healthy Eating Habits?

Just like any habit, healthy eating becomes part of your routine with planning and practice. That’s why we like to keep things simple as you’ll see in our tips below.

The first thing to identify is why you want to eat healthy though. Without a good reason why, it’s easy to fall into old habits. Once you know why you want this habit, the how becomes clearer.

Our 11 tips will give you a strong foundation that our clients have found to be very effective and simple to implement into their busy lives.

 

11 Healthy Eating Habits for Life

 

Watch Your Portions

pizza

We believe in a balanced diet, and we eat everything from broccoli to pizza. The portion size of your food is just as important as the actual food you’re eating.

That being said, we tend to overestimate how much we need to eat – especially when it comes to sweets and healthy fats. Restaurants are also notorious for doubling to tripling portion sizes! Yikes!

We personally love the Portion Control Diet because it’s not restricting, and it doesn’t require you to count calories!

 

Choose Fresh Foods [skip the boxes]

fresh produce

Another way to watch your portions and up your nutrition is to choose fresh foods.

We’ve all been guilty of eating too many potato chips from a large bag, but you rarely hear someone eating 3 bananas in a session. It’s because whole foods are already pre-measured and pack so much nutrition (like fiber) that we are satisfied after a serving.

Plus, by skipping boxed food, you’ll skip added sugar and sodium that is often added during the processing of food.

 

Shop the Perimeter of the Grocery Store

supermarket

One way to know if a food is fresh or considered a whole food is to shop the perimeter of the grocery.

Typically grocery stores are set up with the produce in the front, meat (and meat substitutes) in the back and then dairy on the other end. While some dietary needs require certain food groups to be avoided, the average person can benefit from all three sections of food.

Plus by shopping the perimeter, you’ll be able to skip the tempting, processed foods typically found down the aisles in the middle of the store. If you don’t see it, it’s easier to avoid it!

 

Don’t Cut Out Foods

cake - heatlhy eating habits

We still want people to enjoy their food, though. If you told us we’d never have another piece of cake, that is all we’d ever want to eat.

Instead of cutting out a major food group or even your favorite junk foods, aim for everything in moderation. This will help keep your cravings down and your mindset strong.

 

Track Your Drinks

cocktails

One way people gain or lose weight without really noticing is by watching what they drink. This could be alcohol or a high-calorie drink like soda or juices.

The calories in drinks count the same as calories in food, but they don’t make us feel any more full. Swap your high calorie drinks for water or a low calorie option.

 

Slow Down & Enjoy

Eating shouldn’t be part of your multitasking. That means stopping the car, putting down the phone or turning off the tv to enjoy your meal. By doing this, your mind and body connect to the eating experience leaving you feeling more satisfied with your meal.

 

Get Active

woman jogging

Getting active doesn’t directly tie with food; however, there is a correlation to eating healthy and working out.

If you’re working out you don’t want to undo your work, and you also want to fuel your body with the right types of foods. Plus exercising can balance out hunger-hormones which can help with your appetite over time!

 

Keep Snacks Heavy [so you don’t starve!]

almonds

Keeping snacks on hand can keep you from hitting the break room’s candy jar or going through a drive through.

Keeping snacks on hand can be as simple as putting 1/4 cup of nuts in ziplocks and carrying them in your purse.

We also love protein bars when we’re in a pinch.

 

Cook More [& make leftovers]

healthy eating habits -- cooking at home

By cooking more, you’ll start to limit fast food and eating out more.

Plus, if you make something with leftovers you’ll have lunch or dinner the next day without much effort.

We love chili, minestrone or vegetable soup or bean burritos.

 

Split a Meal

If you do go to a restaurant, remember to watch the portions.

It’s a good idea to split with a friend or ask for the waiter to go ahead and wrap up 1/2 of your meal before bringing out to you.

This keeps you from being tempted to overeat, and it also creates those leftovers for later if you want!

 

Use the Buddy System

buddy system

It’s so much easier to stick to healthy eating habits when you have a support system.

We are very lucky to have one another as accountability partners, and we create that same support in our online groups. When everyone else is saying eat that 2nd or 3rd roll at a restaurant, we can remind you that you enjoyed the first roll, and there will always be more next time.

Simple, almost silly, reminders like that can make a huge difference in motivation.

 

We follow the 80/20 Rule.

We’ve outlined our favorite tips to creating healthy eating habits, but how do we eat?

We actually follow all of the tips above and practice the 80/20 rule. We found this 80/20 Rule about 11 years ago, and it still works today!

The 80/20 rule says:

I’ll eat healthy 80% of the time so that 20% of the time I can have my favorite foods.

That isn’t to say some of our favorite foods aren’t healthy, but the 20% allows us the freedom to say yes to a glass of wine or dessert. It also takes away the stigma of having to eat perfectly.

Food is meant to be enjoyed — not overeaten, but enjoyed.

Following this rule allows us to enjoy, and still stick to our healthy living goals! We have a free sample 80/20 meal plan as well!

We’re so grateful to be able to share these tips with you, and we’d love to hear from you! We hope you’ll enjoy our free library of meal plans and tips, too!

{This article has been updated for freshness and consistency.}

Cultivating a Sustainable Garden with Beekeeping

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At least 30% of the world’s crops and 90% of all plants require cross-pollination to spread and thrive. That’s why bees are an important part of any ecosystem.

Pollinators, and bees specifically, work to create many benefits for humans and the Earth we live on. One of those is to increase the health of your garden.

Whether you are a fan of honey, want to incorporate more beautiful flowers into your space or love being able to have a positive impact on the environment, beekeeping can prove to be a fun, sustainable hobby. It also provides you with a way to improve the health of your garden and home.

 

Bees & Sustainability in Earth’s Ecosystems

beekeeping

The first step in designing any sustainable space is to understand the way it works within your local ecosystem and beyond.

Bees are a crucial part of our Earth’s ecosystem and can actually benefit both the quality of your garden and the nature around it.

Three out of four crops across the globe, producing fruits or seeds for human use as food depend, at least in part, on pollinators.

Bees pollinate these plants so humans, and other animals in the wild can have food.

As well, by focusing on pollination management in your garden, studies have shown that crop yields could be increased by about 25%, meaning that your garden can grow faster and healthier.

As your garden begins to thrive and flowers begin to flourish, you are creating a positive impact on the air quality in your local community as these types of flowers have been shown to reduce air pollution.

 

Changing Your View of Gardening

eco-friendly habits - gardening

Through beekeeping, you create a sustainable space that allows you to view your garden from a different perspective. For instance you are likely to start doing things that attract pollinators to your garden.

Learning to cultivate a space that allows pollinators to thrive includes planting things such as forget-me-nots, wildflowers and weeds such as buttercups. These tend to be beneficial to bees and other pollinators.

You might even learn how to use compost effectively to help the bees. That also reduces the amount of waste you send to landfills.

Aside from helping increase your compost pile and reduce your garden waste, bees can help eat insects that might be affecting the overall growth of your garden and the yards around you.

All this makes you a better and more diverse gardener. You also become a more environmentally-conscious citizen.

 

Beekeeping as a Hobby

Beekeeping as a Hobby

To get started, all you need is some beekeeping gear for protection. You also need healthy bees from a reputable bee breeder in your area.

Look for docile bees as these will be the easiest to manage when you first start out. Also, ensure you never get too comfortable working around them without your protective gear such as gloves, a beekeeper hat and whatever else makes you feel most comfortable and safe around the bees.

More importantly, check your local laws and regulations to find out if beekeeping is approved in your areas. It’s also a good idea to check whether your neighbors are allergic to bees, or any of the flowers your intend to plant.

If you are really dedicated to the cause, you can even take your passion on the road and use your honey bee hives to help farmers all around the country increase the health of their crops such as almonds, pumpkins and apples.

 

Investing in the Health of the Environment

healthy environment

There is more to green living than just recycling and reducing your energy consumption.

While there exists a variety of ways to engage in a sustainable lifestyle, beekeeping benefits both you and the environment. It’s a win-win for you, the bees, and the planet.

Natural beekeeping at home is an efficient way to save honeybees. It also ensuring that your garden thrives.

Incorporating these insects into your garden can help you cultivate better food and plants. It also increases the health of your home’s green space and help create a more sustainable world.

{This article has been updated for freshness and consistency.}

Eco-friendly Halloween Candy for Trick or Treaters

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halloween candy

Halloween is one holiday everyone enjoys. Whether it’s carving out a pumpkin together or planning for your Halloween outfit to outdo others’, it’s an exciting time of the year.

A very important Halloween tradition is taking to the streets to “trick or treat”. While this tradition makes Halloween a lot more exciting for trick or treaters, it’s not always the best for the planet. Most candy and other Halloween treats handed out at Halloween to trick or treaters come in unsustainable packaging and result in an immense amount of waste.

Furthermore, the candy you give out might be made with chemicals or additives that you would never let your own children eat – so why give it out to the neighbors?

Growing concerns for the environment has made it necessary for us to re-evaluate our choices and the way we celebrate different festivals. Today, many eco-friendly candy options are available that can make your Halloween a sustainable one.

Here are some options for eco-friendly Halloween candy for trick or treaters.

Did we miss one of your favorites on our list? Let us know in the comments!

How to Keep Critters Out of Your Garden

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keep critters out of your garden

Nothing is quite as frustrating as working all season to cultivate the perfect fruits, vegetables, and flowers, only to lose half of your crop to marauding pests. If everything from deer to neighborhood cats has you tearing your hair out, consider trying out some of the following tips to keep critters out of your garden.

Keep Critters Out of Your Garden

Insects

insects - keep critters out of your garden

 

Insects are often one of the hardest pests for gardeners to eliminate. When battling bugs, one of the first places to start is by creating barriers.

Cheesecloth, floating row covers, and screen cones placed over young seedlings can help to repel potato beetles, flea beetles, cucumber beetles, cabbage loopers, and cabbage maggots.

Collars installed around seedlings act as a barrier to cutworms, while crushed eggshells will ward off slugs and snails.

Grow plants that attract beneficial insects to your garden — they’ll keep critters out of your garden, take care of the fight for you!

  • Parasitic wasps like yarrow, lavender globe lily, dill, golden marguerite, masterwort, purple poppy mallow, caraway, coriander, cosmos white sensation, Queen Anne’s lace, fennel, statice, edging lobelia, lemon balm, penny royal, parsley, sulfur cinquefoil, alpine cinquefoil, orange stonecrop, marigold, tansy, crimson thyme, zinnia.
  • Ladybugs prefer yarrow, carpet bugleweed, basket of gold, dill, golden marguerite, butterfly weed, four-wing saltbush, coriander, Queen Anne’s lace, buckwheat, fennel, prairie sunflower, Rocky Mt. penstemon, sulfur cinquefoil, alpine cinquefoil, tansy, dandelion, spike speedwell, hairy vetch.
  • Lacewings enjoy yarrow, dill, angelica, golden marguerite, four-wing saltbush, purple poppy mallow, caraway, coriander, Queen Anne’s lace, fennel, and dandelion.

Of course, the best way to control bugs is to keep them out of your garden to begin with. While there are many pesticides you can use to destroy garden pests, avoid using broad spectrum pesticides that will kill beneficial insects as well.

 

Birds

birds - keep critters out of your garden

 

Preventing birds from feeding on your berries can be as simple as a good scare. Consider building a scarecrow — although you do have to remember to move it every day. Another way to frighten birds from your garden is by utilizing a cat or owl replica.

While scaring birds away may minimize the damage they do to your plants, it isn’t a foolproof method. The only sure-fire way to do so is to physically protect your garden with bird netting — which can be draped over the plants or suspended over them by cages constructed with PVC pipe.

 

Squirrels

squirrel

 

When it comes to squirrels, the best defense is often a good offense. Provided your neighboring squirrels with a feeder filled with sunflower seeds or other squirrel-friendly foods. Place the feeder a good distance from your vegetable garden or flower bed to leave scavenging squirrels less interested in formerly-desirable plants.

Squirrels seem to take special pleasure in digging and nibbling on prized bulbs. To combat this, plant bulbs at a depth of two times the bulb’s height. Place an inch of pea gravel on top or chicken wire just under the soil’s surface.

 

Deer

roe deer

Scarecrows and predator decoys — especially those with movable parts — make deer skittish. Use them in combination with wind chimes or bright lights to startle deer into avoiding your property.

A fence offers one of the most effective methods to keep deer out of your garden. The more opaque the fence, the better. If deer can’t see what’s inside your yard, they’re less likely to enter your property.

Since deer are impressive jumpers, build fences at least eight feet high rather than the standard six. Electric fences are another option, although, in some circumstances they aren’t effective in deterring deer as their drive to get to a food source can be stronger than their fear of a psychological barrier.

 

Rabbits

rabbit

 

Considering rabbits only feed where they have cover from predators, remove any brush piles, tall grass, low-growing shrubs, and rock piles around your home. Block openings beneath sheds, porches, or low decks to prevent access.

Fencing for your garden should rise at least two feet above the ground, and be buried three to six inches below the ground. This will prevent rabbits from jumping over or burrowing under.

Use chicken wire with one-inch or smaller mesh to safeguard your plants. Lay the wire over small plants, and form a cylinder with it to protect larger plants. Another way to protect plants is by planting a sacrificial garden to attract the rabbits away from the plants that you’re trying to protect.

 

Cats

cat

 

Wandering neighborhood cats can be a bit of a nuisance for gardeners. As fencing is rarely an effective barrier for cats, making your yard unappealing is the best bet.

Start with a motion-activated sprinkler to discourage them from coming into your yard or getting too close to your house. When cats comes within range of the sensor, they’re hit with a burst of water just strong enough to scare them off without causing any permanent harm.

Since cats love to use flower beds as toilets, place chicken wire at ground level or just under the surface of the soil — cutting holes in strategic places to allow your plants to grow. This makes the  surface of the ground uncomfortable to walk on and impossible to dig in. If they can’t dig in it, it becomes an unsuitable litter box!

 

Dogs

rottweilers

 

To keep your dog out of the garden, dissolve bitter orange into used coffee grounds and spread it around your flower and vegetable beds. Not only will it repel your pooch, it will also deter cats, snails, and fertilize your garden!

Another fantastic (and attractive) way to protect your flowerbeds is with a low picket fence — it creates both a visual and physical barrier for dogs.

Don’t push your pup too far away, though. Dogs are one of the best guardians to keep critters out of your garden. They fend off many of the destructive creatures on this list, including rabbits, deer, squirrels, and cats!

 

Conclusion

Defending your garden from pests may seem like a never ending struggle. However, the resulting rewards of fresh veggies, flowers, and time spent plodding away in the sunshine are absolutely worth it. Happy gardening, friends!

{This article has been updated for freshness and consistency.}

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