A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for foodies

December 7, 2018 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

Food is an important aspect of our daily lives, but many of the treats we love are wrapped in single-use plastics or come from pesticide-ridden conventional farms . This year, show the foodies in your life how much you care with sustainable gifts that improve their cooking skills and make the planet a better place to live. Stainless steel straws After reviewing several types of reusable straws, we fell in love with the stainless steel variety. As the war on plastic straws wages on, give everyone you know a pack of stainless steel straws to keep on them anywhere they go. Related: Plastic straws are a thing of the past, but which reusable straw is the best for the future? Yogurt maker Many people love yogurt, but the individually packaged options on the market only contribute to the global waste crisis. Instead, create your own flavor combinations in reusable glass jars using this handy yogurt maker . Make yogurt-making part of your weekly routine, and you’ll see it is as easy as “set it and forget it.” Stasher bags Although quite wasteful, you have to admit that plastic, resealable baggies are incredibly handy for storing extra food and other miscellaneous items. Luckily, Stasher has taken this idea and made it even more useful and sustainable. These reusable , resealable bags are made with BPA-free silicone and can be boiled, frozen, baked in the oven, microwaved and more. They last much longer than their single-use counterparts, but when they reach the end of their life, Stasher will recycle them into playground pebbles. Beeswax food wrap Avid cooks and bakers can find many uses for plastic wrap, but unfortunately, it is a single-use item that goes straight to the landfill. Gift your favorite foodies these reusable food wraps made using beeswax. These are a natural, zero-waste alternative to plastic wrap, and they come in an adorable pattern for wrapping sandwiches, leftover produce, cheeses and more. Reusable water bottles If you’re friends or family still haven’t converted to carrying reusable water bottles over plastic, it’s time to make the change. With a wide variety of colors and patterns, these S’well bottles make a great gift for everyone on your list. CSA subscriptions For the most serious foodies, nothing is better than cooking with fresh, local produce . Get in touch with farmers in your gift recipient’s area to set up a CSA subscription, which will deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to your loved one’s door. Start your search here . Fair trade chocolate Chocolate always makes a great gift, but make sure your present is being harvested ethically and sustainably. Check out some of these brands to add to stockings this year. Metal tea strainer A hot cup of tea soothes the soul… or at least warms you up during these cold, chilly days. Put together a cute and functional gift for every foodie you know with a mug, some local and organic tea (packaged sustainably, of course!) and one of these metal tea strainers , which eliminate the need for single-use tea packets. Images via Amazon ,  Stasher , Abeego , S’well , Jill Wellington , Nawalescape , Drew Coffman , Pexels and Shutterstock

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A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for foodies

10 ideas for zero-waste gift wrapping

December 6, 2018 by  
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Wrapping beautiful presents for the holidays can create a lot of trash, thanks to all of the paper, bags, bows and ribbons. They may look amazing sitting under your tree for a few days, but within seconds of being opened, the garbage bags quickly fill up. Gift wrapping is one of the most wasteful parts of the holiday season, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can actually wrap beautiful presents without creating a ton of trash; you just have to use the right materials. If you look around your house, keep your eyes open at work, pull from the recycling bin, hit up a thrift shop and visit your local craft store, you can find the perfect items to wrap your presents in a zero-waste manner. Wrapping paper alternatives Newspaper The perfect idea for last-minute wrapping paper , newspaper is a material that you can easily find in the recycling bin at home or work. Use the comics section or advertising circulars to add a little color, or stick with the traditional black and white print. Either way, this option gives new life to a material that usually finds its way to the trash just as quickly as store-bought wrapping paper. You can also use magazines, old books, vintage maps or sheet music to wrap your gifts. Upcycling paper for gift wrapping is an idea that can’t go wrong. Paper grocery bags Another material that you will find in most recycling bins, paper grocery bags give a little texture to your gift wrapping, and this material can be easily dressed up with embellishments. Even if there is a logo on the bag, you can still use it. Simply take an old Christmas card and place it on the spot you want to cover. Fabric With some sewing scraps, old button-down shirts, cloth napkins or scarves from a thrift shop, you can make your gift wrapping zero-waste by using fabric . There is actually a Japanese fabric wrapping technique called furoshiki, which embraces an eco-friendly philosophy by folding and tying cloth in a unique way. Butcher paper White or brown butcher paper makes perfect wrapping paper because you can easily make it jazzy or keep it plain. Plus, it is never in short supply. You can find it in a recycling bin, or visit your local craft store and find rolls for cheap. Related: 3 easy, last-minute DIY gifts for nature lovers Mason jars Instead of filling up a gift bag, consider using glass jars to “wrap” your gift. You can dress up the jar with some old fabric or ribbon, and the recipient can reuse the jar instead of tossing a bag in the trash. Blankets Most people won’t object to getting two presents in one, especially when the bonus present is a soft, cuddly blanket. Place your gift on a flat blanket, then tie all of the corners together for a fun wrapping idea. Flower seed paper Try this unique alternative to traditional wrapping paper — plantable paper . This innovative gift wrap is made from post-consumer materials and is completely biodegradable. The paper is embedded with seeds, which sprout into flowers once the paper is planted. Ties and embellishments Twine/hemp Keep your tape use to a minimum by using twine or hemp to tie up your packages. With a simple spool of string, you can tie up all of your presents that you wrap in newspaper, paper grocery bags or butcher paper. Leather cord This strong material can easily tie up your gifts, and you can find rolls and rolls of it for just a few bucks. Leather cord also comes in a variety of colors, so it will easily dress up plain paper. Fabric scraps If you have pieces of fabric that aren’t large enough to wrap an entire gift, you can use those pieces to decorate a plain package or jar. Cutting up some long, narrow strips of fabric is an easy solution for jazzing up gifts, and it keeps your gift wrapping to zero-waste . Old jewelry Thrift stores are loaded with brooches and bracelets that you can buy with the change in the bottom of your purse. There are many beautiful jewelry options that you can use to add some sparkle to your gift wrapping when you tie them with fabric scraps or cloth napkins. Cinnamon sticks This option is beautiful, smells amazing and is also compostable. Simply tie some cinnamon sticks with string — and add a little greenery like pine needles or fresh herbs — to give your gifts an extra dose of holiday cheer. Natural elements Find fallen leafy branches from evergreen trees, pinecones, winter berries or twigs to adorn your packages. Simply tie them into place with twine, hemp, leather cords or fabric scraps for an impressive, thoughtful touch. Via Going Zero Waste and Trash is for Tossers Images via Leone Venter , Chang Duong and Kari Shea

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10 ideas for zero-waste gift wrapping

A guide to the best holiday gifts for an eco-friendly home

December 5, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

As adults, receiving gifts to adorn a home or apartment is one of the greatest joys in life. Whether you’re searching for a unique furniture piece for your parents, adorable trinkets for a friend or something extra special for yourself, these gifts top our list of favorite presents for a green home this year. Natural Escape Mattress This holiday season, give the best gift of all: the gift of a good night’s sleep. Free from the toxic VOCs and chemical flame retardants that lurk in most traditional mattresses, the Natural Escape mattress from My Green Mattress is organic and USA-made, making it the perfect gift for just about anyone on your list. We certainly won’t judge you for purchasing it for yourself — once you’ve slept on the contouring, supportive layers of organic cotton and latex as well as natural wool, it will be even harder to leave your bed each morning. Smart thermostats This green technology will allow its recipient to keep their home cozy and comfortable year-round while saving energy and lowering utility bills. Check out the high-tech options by Nest or ecobee . Related: 4 things you need to know about smart thermostats Cork and bamboo coffee press Made from cork, bamboo and glass, this eco-friendly French press is a stylish gift that will look beautiful on any kitchen counter. The wood is left unstained for food safety, and the simple device is just as quick and easy to use as any other coffee maker but without throwaway filters or electricity. Best of all, each purchase helps the company, GROSCHE, provide more than 50 days of safe, clean drinking water for those in need. Bidet Is a bidet attachment for a toilet the most romantic or exciting gift? Maybe not. But it is incredibly useful and better for the environment, considering people around the world flush the equivalent of about 27,000 trees daily . Nomadix Many people have towels for different purposes: bathing, camping, swimming, yoga. But  one towel from Nomadix  can do it all, and these brightly patterned towels are even made from post-consumer  plastic  bottles. It’s a win-win. Terra Klay If you really want to take someone’s breath away, snag some impressive dishware from Terra Klay . From bowls and mugs to teapots and casserole dishes, this pottery is handcrafted with care by women artisans in Manipur, India. They make a striking addition to any kitchen. Fan-folded paper lights Really wow someone you love with these luxurious (but budget-friendly) pendant lights . The fixture of each light is made from upcycled vinyl records, while the intricately folded shade is made from scrap cardboard paper. It also includes LED bulbs and comes in four colors, from neutral to flashy. Rio sofa from Stem At first glance, this is a simple couch that can blend into any living room. But this sofa also features eco-friendly and customizable materials from colors and fabrics to fillings and legs. The sofas are made with FSC-certified timber frames and avoid harsh chemicals. Inmod Azara dresser This stylish dresser is made from 100 percent Moso bamboo and features six soft-close drawers to hold plenty of clothing, accessories or extra blankets. The finish is distinct enough to stand out, but subtle enough to match the recipient’s existing furnishings. Wool comforter We spend a lot of time sleeping or snuggling in bed. Make that time count with these warm, snuggly wool comforters that are made with 100 percent organic wool and cotton. This is also a durable comforter that will last and last. Melrose furnishings from Urban Woods You can’t go wrong with the Melrose set from Urban Woods . Each piece uses reclaimed wood as well as low-VOC and non-toxic materials. These furnishings are also made in L.A., reducing the environmental impact of shipping (compared to ordering items shipped from outside the country). This collection is bold and modern, but you can also find many other sets or make a custom order to suit your gift recipient’s style. Teak wood bowls and salad servers Made from reclaimed teak wood, these bowls and salad servers are a must-have for anyone who loves to entertain. Each is hand-formed with distinct graining, leaving no two items the same. From salads to fresh fruits, anything served in these bowls will be the star of the show. Recycled pouf The incredibly relaxed lounge chair, or the pouf, is becoming a staple for modern living rooms. Choose a unique, sustainable option like this eye-catching black pouf made from recycled textiles like leather and cotton. Each pouf uses a different blend of materials, making each one an original. Organic crinkled percale sheets It’s no secret that well-loved (read: old) sheets are the most comfortable to sleep in, so imagine the joy of opening a set of brand new, organic sheets that already have that worn-in softness from the start. These sheets come in soothing neutral shades to match any bedroom, and the soft, slightly crinkled cotton will make your bed even cozier than normal. Images via My Green Mattress , Nest , GROSCHE , Amazon , Terra Klay , Nomadix , ABCD , Stem , Inmod , Haiku Designs , Urban Woods , CB2 ( 1 , 2 ), Coyuchi and Amira Hegazy

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A guide to the best holiday gifts for an eco-friendly home

Avoid the crowds with these 10 alternatives to Black Friday shopping

November 23, 2018 by  
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The unofficial kick-off to the holiday season is virtually stamped on the calendar the day after Thanksgiving . Titled Black Friday — from the idea that it is the time of year retailers leave the red column and enter the profit, or black, column — the commercialization of the third Friday in November is somewhat of a pop phenomenon with a cult-like following. Merchants hype up and advertise specials, deals and savings weeks in advance while people prepare to rise at 4 a.m. just hours after completing their holiday feasts. If you prefer to avoid the madness, here are some alternatives. It’s not surprising that so many people participate in Black Friday. After all, it is the season of giving. Many look forward to spending the day with spouses, siblings or parents. Others like to complete their holiday shopping early so they can enjoy the upcoming weeks in other ways. But from a different perspective, Thanksgiving offers a rare 4-day weekend, leaving many unencumbered by school and work obligations. This is an opportunity to enjoy the last bits of decent fall weather, spend time with family or try something new. So while everyone else is out battling for the newest electronics, fill your Black Friday with some of these shopping alternatives, many of which are good for your health , the environment and your wallet. Volunteer Nothing feeds the soul like helping others. Volunteer to serve a meal at a local homeless shelter; these shelters often seek volunteers for special meals served during the holidays. Also, track down your local food bank. Food banks are always looking for extra hands during the busy season. Volunteer options abound, so choose to participate in something that you’re passionate about such as a church bazaar, a beach clean-up or a gift wrap event to support foster children or servicepeople. If you’d rather spend the day alone, make crafts to donate to a worthy cause, scoop leaves out of drains on your street or make repairs at an elderly neighbor’s home. Get into nature Fall is that forgiving season where you might need an extra layer, but the harsh winter days have not yet arrived. Take advantage of the weather and enjoy some time in nature . Invite a friend for a walk or take the dogs for a long hike. Pedal the miles on your street bike or hit the hills with your mountain bike. Go bird watching, camping or kayaking. If the snow has arrived, hit the slopes for skiing or snowboarding. Related: Get ready for an adventure with this ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials Take a trip The long holiday weekend is the perfect time to take a mini vacation. Hit the beach , visit family or explore someplace you’ve never been. Locally, you can set a goal of visiting all the parks in your area. Do home improvements Life gets busy with the daily 9-5, so when you have a couple of days off work, it’s nice to tackle home improvement. Clean out the garage, donate cans and bottles to a local fundraiser, make trips to donation centers and get the recycling out of the house. Perhaps paint a room or install new flooring. You could also complete those outdoor tasks of cleaning up the garden, building new beds and repairing gates. Attend a local event Merchants and vendors know that you’re spending the day with family, so there are ample opportunities to find an event that suits your interests. Look on community boards for information about craft fairs, wine tastings and musical events. With part of your thoughts wrapped up in holiday gift giving, pick up gift certificates for lunch while you’re at the winery, buy concert tickets for a friend or purchase small local goods such as honey and tea and then put together gift baskets as the holidays get closer. Host a friendsgiving Friendsgiving is a growing tradition where people assemble for a casual pre- or post-Thanksgiving gathering. Commonly, people bring leftovers or a favorite recipe , so everyone contributes to a potluck-style dinner. You could make it a family event, invite couples or just have friends over. Structure the day the way you want with an emphasis on quality time together and no stress. Make it a pajama party. Write thank you cards to each other or others. Have a movie marathon or cue up a sporting event on TV. Make gifts Instead of marching in to the nearest mall, spend the day making your own gifts . Have a wreath-making party, whip up a batch of Kahlua drinks and place in cute bottles, prepare gifts in a jar such as cookie or soup ingredients, make salt dough ornaments or get out the sewing machine to create heat packs or door draft blockers. Related: Inexpensive DIY holiday centerpieces and decorations Schedule a date Get out with others and attend a movie, go bowling, visit the zoo, head to the theater, check out an art exhibit or museum, get a pedicure or massage or check out a local escape room. Create memories at home In today’s busy world, it’s rare to truly unplug and revel in moments at home. Plan a craft with the kids, make snowflakes for decorations, work a puzzle, make homemade popcorn and gather the family for a movie or dig out the board games. These are the things your family will remember long after the store-bought items are unwrapped and eventually discarded. Support alternatives to big box stores Hit up the secondhand market through thrift stores and estate sales, shop locally and support small businesses and scour Etsy and other online merchants for crafters who make creative, one-of-a-kind items. When you do make purchases from retailers, support those in alignment with your eco-friendly beliefs. Also check out Shop for Good Sunday , a community of companies that aim to be responsible stewards in business. If you decide to go shopping, remember to carry the spirit of the season with you. Allow someone to park in a space when you arrive simultaneously, offer to return a shopping cart for a mother with small children, help the elderly across the road and let someone with only a few items check out before you. Also think about ways you can minimize waste by purchasing items with responsible packaging, bring your own bags to the store and refuse bags or boxes that you do not need. Images via Rawpixel ( 1 , 2 ), Fidel Fernando , Kane Reinholdtsen , Traveler , Kelsey Chance , Michael Mroczek , Myke Simon , Picsea ,  Heidi Sandstrom and Shutterstock

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Avoid the crowds with these 10 alternatives to Black Friday shopping

How to host a zero-waste Thanksgiving dinner

November 19, 2018 by  
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Hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for friends and family can be an overwhelming task. When you are providing a meal for a group of people, it is tempting to opt for things like pre-cut fruits and veggies, snack portions of cheese, store-bought pie and other modern conveniences to make it easier to get through the day. However, using these items can come at a price. When you buy things that are packaged in single-use plastic, it wreaks havoc on the environment. This year, instead of just focusing on eating all of the delicious food during the celebration, focus on the preparation, and commit to a zero-waste Thanksgiving. Here is how to do it. Choose recipes and menu items wisely A zero-waste Thanksgiving always starts with your grocery list, so when you are planning your Thanksgiving dinner, go through your recipes and choose menu items that will use up whole veggies and full containers of things like broth, cream or soup. For example, if you have a recipe that uses half of an onion, find another recipe that will use the other half. If you are using recipes that have special ingredients that you don’t use often, like buttermilk or fresh herbs, have a plan to use up all of these ingredients. If you aren’t going to use them entirely for Thanksgiving, do some research on how to store the items for the long-term, like freezing, or find some post-holiday recipes where you can use the remainder of the ingredients instead of throwing them away. Shop local Opting for the local farmer’s market to purchase your ingredients instead of a supermarket will get you off to a good start for a zero-waste Thanksgiving. Food at farmer’s markets is often unpackaged, and it is usually organic , meaning you can steer clear of harmful pesticide residue. If you do not have access to a local farmer’s market, choose a grocery store that sells unpackaged produce. Avoid buying anything that is already prepared. Whether you visit the market or the grocery, don’t forget your reusable produce and shopping bags to keep every step of your Thanksgiving feast free from waste. Cook from scratch When you are deciding on a menu, make sure to plan ahead to cook everything from scratch. If you have a small kitchen or don’t feel like you are going to have the time to cook everything on the menu, don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family members to each bring a dish. If you do this, get specific about what each person will bring, so you don’t end up with several green bean casseroles. Related: Make your own tasty vegetarian turkey for Thanksgiving with this recipe If you don’t have the patience or time to plan out everything ahead of time, chances are you will end up with leftovers or unused items. If this is the case, throw some cooked turkey, veggies and herbs into some extra broth or stock and freeze the mixture to use later. You can also keep your scraps while you are cooking, and use those trimmings, bones and peelings for homemade stock. Encourage smaller portions It is very easy to load up your plate during Thanksgiving dinner and have food leftover, because you can’t eat it all in one sitting. To stop food from going into the trash, set out smaller plates and serving spoons to encourage smaller portions. You could also supply storage containers (or, better yet, ask guests to bring their own!) that your guests can use to package their leftovers and take home. Be sure to use real plates, utensils, glasses and cookware, and if possible, use cloth napkins. This will greatly reduce your Thanksgiving waste and keep your garbage can from overflowing. Make your own decorations Instead of purchasing Thanksgiving decorations from a store, get crafty and make your own centerpieces and decorations. You can reuse your Halloween pumpkins and other gourds for a beautiful centerpiece, or buy new ones to use as flower vases or candle holders. You can also use tiny pumpkins in place settings. You can cook or compost the pumpkins after the holiday. Be a gracious guest If you are not hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, you can still be a mindful guest. Be prepared with your own reusable containers for leftovers, and avoid bringing dishes in disposable plastic containers or foil. Having a zero-waste Thanksgiving is all about intention. You can’t do everything all of the time, but if you have the mindset to start with one holiday, you can bring those ideas into your everyday life and start to really make a difference. Via Care2 , Mind Body Green and Sustainable America Images via Chinh Le Duc , Ja Ma , Pablo Lancaster Jones , Jess Watters , Priscilla Du Preez and Shutterstock

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How to host a zero-waste Thanksgiving dinner

1960s home remodeled with energy-efficient and non-toxic hempcrete

November 19, 2018 by  
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When homeowner Pam Bosch was looking for ways to remodel her 1960s home in Bellingham, Washington, she was determined to renovate the older home with energy efficient and non toxic materials. Through her research into various potential sustainable materials, she found that hempcrete, a hemp-based render made out of a mixture of hemp, lime and water, would be the best option. Working in collaboration with Matthew Mead from Hempitecture , the now solar-powered Highland Hemp House was reborn and constructed with an insulative hempcrete thermal envelope. When inspired to renovate her home using sustainable , eco-friendly and non-toxic materials, Bosch decided to work with hempcrete, a bioaggregate building material that is derived from the woody core of the industrial hemp stalk. When combined with hydrated lime and water, it solidifies by absorbing carbon dioxide, resulting in a concrete-like material. However, when compared to concrete, hempcrete is a more sustainable and affordable material, which is estimated to absorb about seven pounds of CO2 per cubic foot. Related: The tiny solar-powered hemp home with a green roof To begin the process of remodeling the three-story home , Mead worked with local contractors to create a new framework suited for a hempcrete wall system. Once the home was primed for its new envelope, the next step was to create the hempcrete material by mixing 12,000 pounds of hemp aggregate with 23,000 of lime binder. When mixed at a specific ratio, the material solidifies, creating a concrete-like texture. The material was then cast around the home’s frame, forming a monolithic wall. From a distance, the home’s construction process may look like any other home renovation. However, in working with hempcrete , Pam Bosch’s madeover Highland Hemp House is insulated with a material that is fireproof, breathable, resistant to mold, pests, and regulates moisture. Additionally, the new thermal envelope of the home is estimated to sequester about 15,372 pounds of CO2. + Hempitecture Images via Hempitecture

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1960s home remodeled with energy-efficient and non-toxic hempcrete

This year, dish out these eco-friendly Halloween treats

October 25, 2018 by  
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October kicks off the holiday season with Halloween decor and candy lining the shelves of every store. While porches fill up with carved pumpkins, spiders and cobwebs, parents and children across the country begin planning their Halloween costumes. The tradition of neighborhood trick-or-treating holds strong in nearly every area of the country. With an estimated 40 million trick-or-treaters hitting the streets, the potential environmental impact is huge. If you are looking for ways to make Halloween more sustainable, there are several steps you can take. Trick-or-treat close to home to minimize transportation emissions. Avoid single-use plastic in decor and costumes, and invest in long-lasting options or shop secondhand to extend the life of products already in the consumption stream. Perhaps the biggest impact you can have is to carefully consider eco-friendly options when it comes to the Halloween treats you’ll hand out to Little Red Riding Hood and the superheroes that appear at your door. Provide nutrition bars Protein and granola bars are a healthier option than candy laden with sugar . Plus, there is more product per package over individually-wrapped candies, which results in less waste. Look for organic ingredients and rely on companies like Clif, winner of the 2017 Climate Leader award by the EPA, for its efforts in promoting climate action and implementing green power up and down the supply chain. Related: 6 tips for crafting an eco-friendly Halloween costume Offer natural candies There is no dispute that candy isn’t notable for its health benefits. However, not all ingredients are created equal. When reading the ingredient labels for your Halloween treats, see if you can even pronounce them all. Probably not. Instead of handing out artificial candies made in a lab, reach for a more natural option. Choose candies made with original recipes that date back to a time when foods weren’t made by someone wearing a lab coat. Natural candies are made using natural sweeteners such as sugar cane, agave and honey. Instead of coloring that has a number, natural candy is dyed using beet, cabbage and carrot juices. Check out your local market or jump online to order from the Natural Candy Store . Choose fair trade chocolate The fair trade movement guarantees certain rights across industries. From clothing, to coffee, to chocolate, products certified as fair trade ensure that workers are given a voice. Other fair trade practices include attention to working hours, equal gender pay, child labor laws and safe working conditions. With this in mind, look for chocolate made with fair trade cocoa when choosing your Halloween candy. One example is Justin’s brand of peanut butter cups, which are made with fair trade chocolate, plus the company donates a percentage of its profits toward ending world hunger. Look for sustainable manufacturing Take a look at companies like Mars, which is working toward sustainability through renewable energy at nine of its factories, water conservation practices and conscientious sourcing of ingredients. Most companies practicing sustainability in the material acquisition, manufacturing, packaging and transport segments of their businesses are quite transparent about their efforts, so hit up Google for more information. Take, for example, Equal Exchange’s fair trade, organic chocolate, which lists its certifications and ingredients right on the website. Consider packaging Tens of millions of trick-or-treaters, each scoring a bucket- or pillowcase-full of individually-wrapped candies, creates massive waste. With this in mind, think about the packaging of your chosen treat. Choose paper or cardboard packaging over plastic . Look for companies that package in biodegradable or recyclable materials. Go Organic fruit chews reportedly come in compostable bags. Alternatively, Yum Earth fruit snacks’ packaging is produced in a facility powered 100 percent by wind energy . Yum Earth also makes an organic lollipop that comes in a reusable and resealable bag. Consider Glee gum, made without artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners. The packaging is recyclable, so you can feel good about avoiding the individual plastic surrounding most Halloween treats. Related: 10 sustainable Halloween decorations for your green home Another option is to hit up the bulk section at your favorite store. Because individual packaging is an unavoidable side effect of generously handing out treats, look for foil-wrapped chocolate balls and similar items that allow the packaging to be recycled . Of course, you could also go with cardboard boxes that can be recycled or will biodegrade 1,000 years sooner than plastic bags. Some candies (think Nerds) are packaged this way, along with things like raisins. If you want to take the natural route, fresh fruit comes in its own packaging, so small apples and mandarin oranges are an option, too. Understand the teal pumpkin Not long ago, families with children who have  food allergies had few options for traditional trick-or-treating. Instead of finding other activities or hunkering down to a movie with the porch light off, parents passionate about being able to celebrate the Halloween holiday like other families have come up with a solution called the teal pumpkin. Any family that puts a teal pumpkin on their porch on Halloween night is announcing that they offer food-free options for trick-or-treaters. In fact, there is a even a website where you can register your house or find participants in your area. To participate, keep non-food options available, such as Play-Doh, soap bombs, face paint, craft paint, tattoos, stickers, puzzles, markers (especially Crayola, which offers a recycling program), pencils, paper bookmarks, bubbles, playing cards, spinning tops, wooden yo-yos, small word games or puzzle books. Don’t forget to put a teal pumpkin on your porch as well. Holidays are full of opportunities to spend time with loved ones and create special memories. When it comes to providing treats for the little ghosts and goblins in your neighborhood, you can enjoy the holiday vibe and still feel good about helping create a cleaner planet that they will inherit. Via Yoga Journal , TreeHugger and Going Zero Waste Images via Marco Verch , Photo AC , Charisse Kenion , Mars , Incase and Shutterstock

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This year, dish out these eco-friendly Halloween treats

6 tips for crafting an eco-friendly Halloween costume

October 19, 2018 by  
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It is hard to believe, but it’s almost that time of year again when sugar-hyped witches, ghosts, superheroes and princesses will be ringing your doorbell and asking for candy. Halloween is a fun holiday for many of us, but the celebration can easily become expensive and far from eco-friendly, thanks to the decorations, candy and greeting cards. Worst of all, the plastic-packaged costumes can also be an enemy of the environment as well as your wallet. Americans spend billions of dollars on Halloween goods each year, but you don’t have to contribute to the waste. Instead, keep this Halloween season as eco-friendly as possible with these tips for making a costume that will be a hit at your holiday party, but won’t crush your bank account — or the planet. Certified pre-owned Buying a brand new, expensive, cheaply-made costume is never necessary. Instead, there are a variety of ways that you can get a used costume that will work perfectly. You can visit your local thrift shop to find a used costume that won’t cost much, and reusing items is good for the environment. Related: 11 brilliant ideas for family costumes that will blow you away You can also get together with friends, family and neighbors and host a costume swap party. You can easily do this for adults’ or kids’ costumes, and it can give you some Halloween inspiration. Send out some electronic invites to your friends with details about bringing old costumes they have stashed. Then, enjoy an evening of mixing and matching costumes until everyone has what they need.  You can use different parts of old costumes to create something new, or swap for one that is already complete. Either way, it will help you avoid a Halloween mega-store. Look in your closet It is quite possible that something already sitting in your closet would be perfect for a costume. Striped, plaid or polka dot clothing works for a clown costume, a sheet works for a ghost and black clothing can easily turn you into a bat or witch. Do you have a formal dress or suit in your closet? Get dressed up and add a white sash to the outfit with the word “apology” written on it, and you can go as a “formal apology.” Do you have some old medals from winning competitions in school? Put them all around your neck, grab some loaves of bread and be a “breadwinner” this Halloween. With just a few items, you have an entire costume that costs you next to nothing. Makeup and face paint Instead of buying an overpriced plastic or rubber Halloween mask, use makeup that you already have or non-toxic face paint to create your look.  You can even make your own DIY makeup by mixing cornstarch, solid shortening and natural food color. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has other face paint recipe options, while Smart Mama has a  recipe for fake skin . There are tons of tutorials online to help you with this project, and you will be pleasantly surprised by how it turns out. Raid the recycle bin and watch what you throw away There are many things that we throw in the trash or into the recycling bin that can be used for Halloween costumes and decorations. Cardboard boxes and soda bottle caps can be the beginning of a robot costume; soda can tabs can become chainmail sleeves on a Monty Python costume ; cardboard boxes and paint can turn you into a Tetris game piece; plastic cups, cardboard and paint can transform you into a LEGO character. Related: 10 ingenious Halloween costumes made from recycled junk Work uniforms Do you have a friend or family member that delivers pizzas? Or maybe you know someone who is a Subway sandwich artist. Anybody who wears a recognizable uniform to work can be the source of your next Halloween costume idea. Just ask them to borrow it for a night and add a special detail or two — like food service gloves or a pizza delivery bag — and you will be the life of the party. DIY treat bags If you are going trick-or-treating, you will need to add an eco-friendly candy bag to your Halloween ensemble. From reusable shopping bags to duct tape, there are many ideas out there — including 14 from The Spruce Crafts — that you can easily make so you can avoid the cheap plastic candy bucket. A little bit of craftiness and creativity can go a long way during the Halloween holiday season. All it takes is using resources like items in your closet, the recycle bin and your real-life social network to avoid spending a ton of cash while keeping the celebration eco-friendly. Via Sierra Club , Boston.com and Earth 911 Images via Shutterstock

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6 tips for crafting an eco-friendly Halloween costume

14 superb gifts for your furry friends

December 7, 2017 by  
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If you’re strapped for ideas about what to get your dog, cat, rabbit, iguana, or parrot this holiday season, fear not! We’ve collected a bunch of great gift ideas ranging from tasty snacks to super-fun toys . Read on to discover some of the treasures we’ve found for your furry and feathery friends this year. GIFTS FOR FURRY FRIENDS >

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14 superb gifts for your furry friends

Vast Ice Age cave system discovered underneath Montreal

December 7, 2017 by  
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Walking the streets of Montreal , Canada, you’d probably never guess a cave system lurked 10 meters below. But that’s exactly what two speleologists, or cave experts, recently discovered. Daniel Caron and Luc Le Blanc found a 15,000-year-old network of caverns that might have formed as glaciers receded during Earth’s last Ice Age . They think it’s possible that no person had ever set foot inside these caves until now. Back in 1812, the Saint Léonard cave beneath Pie-XII Park was discovered. But cave experts wondered if there was more. Caron and Le Blanc, both amateur explorers, found a vast network in October after drilling through the limestone walls of the existing cave to expose a spacious chamber which branches off into several passages winding beneath the Saint-Leonard borough. Related: Magical New Zealand cave is illuminated by luminescent glowworms The cave system could have formed as pressure from colossal glaciers split the rock . The explorers uncovered between 250 and 500 meters (820 to 1,640 feet) of caves, according to The Canadian Press , although they think the actual dimensions are even longer. The furthest reaches extend to the Montreal water table, Caron said. Rock climbing equipment is necessary to explore some passages, and some may need more rock-breaking for a team to go inside. The team was stopped by water and could only partially explore one of the passages via an inflatable raft, but they aim to explore more in the dry season when the water level hopefully lowers. As the explorers only reached the system by drilling, they think it’s likely no other human beings have ever walked inside these caves. Caron said every caver’s dream is to find a place no one’s been before. He told The Canadian Press, “Normally you have to go to the moon to find that kind of thing.” Via National Geographic and The Canadian Press

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Vast Ice Age cave system discovered underneath Montreal

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