This is how climate change will impact wine

February 14, 2019 by  
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Look at a wine label or chat with a wine connoisseur, and you will find that wine has always been intimately connected to location and climate. Grapes taste different from region to region, and even grapes from the same vineyard taste different from year to year, depending on the weather each season. So it is no surprise that drastically changing weather patterns have a huge and confusing impact on the wine industry. Increasing temperatures and climate volatility not only impact the flavor profiles for wine enthusiasts, but the unreliability also has a negative impact on wine farmers . Climate scientists argue that growers need to start implementing adaptation measures  and experiment with lesser-known varieties of grapes, but these solutions come with risks and expenses that are often too costly for farmers. The last four years have been the hottest on record , a drastic change for grapes that generally thrive in cool, temperate climates. Unpredictable weather, such as droughts, heatwaves and hail can devastate farmers of all kinds, but grapes are a particularly sensitive and vulnerable crop. In Sonoma County, a region in California known for wine production, a record-breaking wildfire devastated the county in 2017, followed by an even more devastating, record-breaking fire in 2018. Related: The growing wine industry is threatening California’s Napa Valley Even in cases of more subtle changes, the impact on sensitive grapes is noticeable. Soil salinity is changing in some regions as a result of sea level rise, and many farmers struggle with increased pests and diseases. Typically, winter frost kills off pest larva, reducing the population in spring, but when temperatures no longer reach below freezing, the populations continue to grow. Wine’s climate connection The wine industry is highly dependent on subtle climate and soil characteristics. In fact, enthusiasts argue that wines are made from four ingredients: the weather, the soil, the topography and the grape. Wine is often defined by its terroir , a word derived from the Latin word terra , meaning earth. It is used to describe a wine’s “sense of place” — in other words, the very specific microclimate and soil of a particular area. To understand the specificity with which soil and temperature characteristics impact the wine, it is important to note one vineyard alone might contain many different microclimates. For example, the slope and orientation of a row might dictate how much sun the grapes receive. Weather affects the grape’s sugar content, acidity and tannin content. As temperatures increase, grapes are ripe and ready to harvest sooner than usual. If left on the vine, the sugar and alcohol content will rise past acceptable (and delicious) levels. Unfortunately, harvesting grapes earlier means they also lose their complexity and the quality that successful vineyards and their customers rely on. In New Zealand, for example, where 85 percent of exported wine is Savignon Blanc, the world renowned “acidic gooseberry” flavor profile is becoming more of a “mellow tropical fruit.” Climate-smart agriculture for wine growers Many farmers have begun to implement climate-smart agriculture practices on their land; however, broad changes and new technology are still unattainable for some growers. Examples of adaptation measures include cover cropping and drip irrigation to conserve soil and water , nets to protect vines from hail and limiting the height of vines. Other farmers are planting on south-facing slopes to reduce sun exposure, while some farmers are going so far as to relocate their entire vineyards to cooler climates and higher altitudes. Even the more modest solutions require significant costs in terms of new equipment and additional labor. One frost fan alone, which controls the temperature variation on the vines, can cost $40,000 . Researchers suggest lesser-known grapes Researchers argue that experimenting with lesser-known varieties of grapes is one solution that farmers should invest in. In a recent Harvard University publication , assistant professor Elizabeth Wolkovich explained, “There are more than 1,000 varieties — and some of them are better adapted to hotter climates and have higher drought tolerance than the 12 varieties now making up over 80 percent of the wine market in many countries. We should be studying and exploring these varieties to prepare for climate change .” Farmers, however, are hesitant to experiment, because new varieties come with risk as well as changes to their brand. In Europe, only three varieties of grapes can legally be labeled as champagne. Champagne farmers are therefore uninterested in testing other varieties, because they will lose their name and their market share. Related: Champagne could lose its classic taste due to climate change In other regions, like the U.S. and Australia, labeling requirements are less strict; therefore, farmers have more freedom to experiment. Still, customers largely buy based on grape name recognition, such as “pinot noir.” Changing the grape means introducing new names and flavors to customers, which is a marketing challenge many vineyards are not excited to take on. In addition, experimentation is a risky and long-term solution. Christine Collier Clair,  director of Willamette Valley Vineyards in Oregon, explained , “When you plant, you won’t get your first crop for four years, and your first wines in six years. And you won’t know if it’s a really great site for maybe 20 years.” The wine industry is in a difficult and critical moment of decision. Growers must decide now to risk investing land and money into new practices and uncertain grapes or else risk serious problems from an uncertain future. Via New Zealand Herald Images via Qimono , Chee Hong , Bernard Spragg and Tjabeljan

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This is how climate change will impact wine

New research shows an organic diet shrinks pesticide exposure

February 13, 2019 by  
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The bad news isn’t news to many — eating a conventional diet leads to pesticide buildup. But a new study published in Environmental Research reveals surprisingly good news. Switching to an all-organic diet quickly and significantly reduced synthetic pesticide levels in study participants. After six days of an all-organic diet, their pesticide and pesticide metabolite levels dropped by an average of 60.5 percent. Four American families of different races participated in the study, titled Organic Diet Intervention Significantly Reduces Urinary Pesticide Levels in U.S. Children and Adults . The families lived in Atlanta, Baltimore, Minneapolis and Oakland. Related: Is a flexitarian diet right for you? The most significant finding was a huge drop in levels of organophosphates, insecticides that are commonly used in agriculture , gardening and household products, such as roach spray. Farm workers often administer them when growing apples, peaches, strawberries, spinach, potatoes and other common crops. The study showed a 95 percent drop in the organophosphate malathion, a probable human carcinogen linked to brain damage in children. Levels of pesticides associated with endocrine disruption, autism, adverse reproductive effects, thyroid disorders, lymphoma and other serious health issues dropped between 37 and 83 percent after a week of all-organic eating. “This study shows that organic works,” said study co-author Kendra Klein, PhD, senior staff scientist at Friends of the Earth. “We all have the right to food that is free of toxic pesticides . Farmers and farmworkers growing our nation’s food and rural communities have a right not to be exposed to chemicals linked to cancer, autism and infertility. And the way we grow food should protect, not harm, our environment. We urgently need our elected leaders to support our farmers in making healthy organic food available for all.” The study’s authors are affiliated with the University of California at San Francisco, UC Berkeley, Friends of the Earth U.S. and the Commonweal Institute. Friends of the Earth is urging the U.S. Congress to pass a bill to ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that causes brain damage in children. In 2017 under President Trump, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reversed its proposed ban on chlorpyrifos. + Friends of the Earth Image via Paja1000

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New research shows an organic diet shrinks pesticide exposure

Students taking Lyft and Uber to class are taking LA’s smog problem from bad to worse

February 7, 2019 by  
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Environmentalists are concerned by the number of students using transportation services like Lyft and Uber to get to classes. Students at UCLA specifically use these alternative means of transportation around 11,000 times per week, and that is troublesome for a city that is already dealing with significant smog issues. “The  pollutants  coming out of the tailpipe heavily contribute to Los Angeles’ smog problem,” Yifang Zhu, a professor at UCLA, explained. Transportation staff at the university said that the majority of these trips are short in duration. Students who oversleep are also more likely to use Lyft or Uber, because they need to get to class in a hurry without being tardy. School officials believe this increase in traffic plays a part in the growing smog problem in Los Angeles. Related: Toxic smog causes school closures in Bangkok Part of the issue with these services is that the vehicles are idling for a significant portion of time before picking up passengers. In fact, the idling can sometimes contribute more smog that actually driving to the destination, which is troublesome for a densely populated city like  Los Angeles . According to The Washington Post , younger generations are more apt to use services like Lyft or Uber , because they have an aversion to owning their own vehicles. These services can be more affordable than purchasing a car, especially on a student’s budget. While economics is clearly a factor to consider, previous research shows that millennials are the driving force behind these ride-hailing apps. For example, a 2016 study conducted by the Pew Research Center discovered that around 25 percent of young adults between 18 and 29 years old had used services like Lyft or Uber. Adults over the age of 65, meanwhile, barely register at only 4 percent. Although it may be more environmentally friendly to not own a car or truck, using alternative transportation services can be just as damaging. The transportation staff at UCLA gathered the information by combing through data from Uber and Lyft, two of the most widely used services on campus. Via The Washington Post Image via Josh Saldana

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Students taking Lyft and Uber to class are taking LA’s smog problem from bad to worse

Prosecco production is destroying soil in some Italian vineyards

January 28, 2019 by  
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Many people enjoy a glass of prosecco with their dinner , because it pairs well with everything from seafood to spicy Asian dishes. But the demand for the Italian sparkling wine is starting to cause some problems. According to a new study released earlier this month, the wine is destroying the soil in northeastern Italy’s vineyards. The amount of soil erosion from Italy’s prosecco vineyards is not sustainable, according to Jesus Rodrigo Comino, a geographer at the Institute of Geomorphology and Soils in Malaga, Spain. Even though he wasn’t involved in the study, he said that the future of the vineyards could be in jeopardy. Italy’s prosecco vineyards produce about 90 million bottles of the sparkling wine each year. After growing concerns about the skyrocketing demand of prosecco and its effect on the local environment, researchers from the University of Padua in Italy decided to look into the “soil footprint” of high-quality prosecco. Related: The growing wine industry is threatening California’s Napa Valley After studying 10 years of data for rainfall, land use, soil  and topographic maps, they found that prosecco was responsible for three-quarters of total soil erosion in the region. Then, they compared the soil erosion numbers with annual prosecco sales and came up with an annual “soil footprint” of 4.4 kilograms per bottle. It is worth noting that soil erosion isn’t always negative. To keep an ecosystem healthy, the erosion can help generate new soils. But that doesn’t mean that this current trend with prosecco production should continue. Scientists said that vineyard owners can reduce soil loss by leaving grass between the rows. According to simulations, this one solution could reduce total erosion by half. Other ideas include planting hedges and other greenery around the vineyards and also by the rivers and streams. According to Comino, “Only the application of nature-based solutions will be able to reduce or solve the problem.” Via Science News Image via seogolic0

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Prosecco production is destroying soil in some Italian vineyards

Deforestation could wipe out over 50 percent of species in Haiti

January 16, 2019 by  
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According to new research from Temple University scientist Blair Hedges, the Caribbean island nation of Haiti is undergoing a mass extinction event, and the country is close to losing its rich biodiversity. Hedges — who has spent decades in Haiti’s rain forests — says that the results of his latest study are shocking. In a paper recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Hedges and his co-authors revealed that Haiti , which was once full of lush trees and teeming with wildlife, has now lost almost all of its virgin forests because of deforestation, and is at risk of loosing more than half of its species by 2035. “Up until this analysis, nobody had any idea it was that bad,” Hedges said. “Haiti is in the middle of a mass extinction, and it’s already lost a large number of species because entire areas where unique species exist are no longer present.” Hedges and his colleagues used NASA satellite imagery to analyze Haiti’s current landscape and found that the country has about one percent of its primary forest left since people have resorted to cutting trees down in order to make way for farming and charcoal production needed for cooking. Related: Deforestation in South America causes extinction of 8 bird species He also explained that no one on his research team expected the forest to disappear so quickly. The team of researchers realize that Haiti is at a forefront of a global mass extinction as the country’s species are disappearing at the alarming rate of 100 to 1,000 times the normal rate. Haiti’s loss of wildlife and forestry is largely due to habitat destruction (cutting down trees), but that is just one component in worldwide mass extinction. Other factors across the globe include climate change , invasive species and other human-related activity. Hedges says people often associate deforestation as just removing plants and trees, but in reality everything is being removed. Stuart Pimm, professor of conservation ecology at Duke University, says that Hedge’s study is a “tragic and brutal” instance of the lengths of human destruction. Primm added that Haiti’s story should resonate, and should be a lesson that everyone should heed when managing wild areas, watersheds and rivers. Via Whyy.org Image via 753tomas

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Deforestation could wipe out over 50 percent of species in Haiti

Kick your cold to the curb with these natural cold remedies

January 16, 2019 by  
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Have you ever wondered if natural cold remedies really work? When you catch a cold, chances are you are going to be sick for a week or two. But you don’t have to be miserable. There is no cure for the common cold, but there are natural ways to help yourself feel better faster. Here are some of the most common natural cold remedies that actually work, and what they do to help ease those cold symptoms. Vitamin C There is no proof that vitamin C prevents colds, but it does boost your immune system. Studies have shown that vitamin C can reduce a cold’s lifespan. The best way to get vitamin C is in your diet from fruits like oranges, cantaloupe, grapefruit and kiwi. You can also get a high dose of vitamin C from wild rose hips . One hundred grams of wild rose hips has more than 1,250 grams of vitamin C, which is 30 times the amount in citrus fruits. You can make a rose-petal infusion by immersing the plant in hot water and letting it simmer (or steep in a slow cooker), and it will soothe a sore throat and reduce swelling. If you opt for vitamin C supplements, be careful. They can upset your stomach or cause kidney stones. Related: How to make your own herbal tinctures Cinnamon Cinnamon has antifungal and analgesic properties, which makes it a fantastic natural cold remedy. Dr. Patrick Fratellone, a registered herbalist with the American Herbal Guild, said that cinnamon is warming for the body and dilates blood vessels, plus it lowers blood sugar concentration and improves insulin sensitivity. When you get a cold, try making a tea by putting the cinnamon into a mug and pouring boiling water over it. Drink the cinnamon tea two to three times a day. You can also sprinkle cinnamon on your food, or add a little bit to your morning coffee . Water, sleep and an extra pillow The best way to naturally recover from a cold is to drink a lot of water, get plenty of rest and sleep with an extra pillow. When you stay hydrated, it allows your body to naturally flush the germs out of your system, and drinking more water keeps the mucus thin and flowing.  Sleeping gives your body the chance to fight off the infection, and the extra pillow under your head helps your sinuses drain. Oregano Oregano is an antioxidant that is antibacterial and antifungal. The herb is perfect for treating a bad cough. You can take oregano capsules two times a day with a meal, or make an oregano tea. To make the tea, all you have to do is mix 8 ounces of boiling water with a teaspoon of dried oregano and let it stand for about 10 minutes before drinking. To make the tea sweeter, add a little bit of honey. If you can drink two cups a day, it will make a big difference. Related: Make your own simple herbal remedies Garlic Not only does this plant make your food taste way better, but garlic is also antibiotic, antimicrobial and antibacterial. Clinical herbalist Steve Sietos said that the perfect time to reach for garlic is when you have yellow or green phlegm. “It’s highly antiviral, immune stimulating, and it’ll kill any upper respiratory infections,” Sietos said. To make a garlic elixir, press or chop a clove of garlic and let it sit for 15 minutes. The chemical reaction of garlic hitting the air will allow the clove to become a powerful antibiotic. Another recommended remedy? Garlic bread. Spread garlic and olive oil on a piece of bread and enjoy to help ease an upper respiratory infection. Soups and hot liquids Hot soups and liquids will help reduce mucus buildup, and chicken soup in particular has anti-inflammatory properties, making it a natural weapon against colds. According to a study in the Chest medical journal , the ingredients in chicken soup (like onion and garlic) help reduce inflammation and reduce congestion, plus the hot liquid will keep you hydrated. Hot liquids will also relieve nasal congestion and soothe the inflamed membranes that line your nose and throat. A hot toddy, which is a cup of hot herbal tea with a teaspoon of honey (a natural cough suppressant) and a shot of whiskey or bourbon, will reduce severe congestion and help you sleep. Just be careful with the alcohol, because too much can inflame the membranes and worsen your symptoms. Nasal irrigation Dry and cracked nasal passages can inhibit the skin’s protective barrier against viruses. Nasal irrigation with a neti pot can help keep those nasal passages hydrated. There are a few things to remember. First, never use tap water; if it is contaminated, it could cause a rare but deadly brain infection. Instead, use a saline solution of 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 8 ounces of warm water (boil it first, then let it cool). Use a neti pot to pour the saline solution into one nostril and out the other. This will clean out your nasal passages and thin the mucus, which will reduce swelling, congestion and nasal irritation. Be sure to talk with your doctor before using the neti pot. Get well soon! Via Reader’s Digest , WebMD and Piedmont Images via Brooke Lark , Ulleo , Sylvie Tittel , Ariesa66 , Public Domain Pictures , Biopresto , Rawpixel and Shutterstock

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A glowing river of books creates a traffic-free haven in Ann Arbor

December 6, 2018 by  
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In their latest installment of Literature vs Traffic, Spanish design collective luzinterruptus transformed a major street in Ann Arbor , Michigan, into a glowing river of 11,000 books. Carried out to bring attention to the importance of pedestrian-friendly spaces, the large-scale installation turned an area typically marred by the sounds and pollution of cars into a quiet haven. At the end of the night, all the books were quickly “recycled” and taken home by visitors as a keepsake of the temporary event. Luzinterruptus’ most recent installation of Literature vs Traffic—the artwork had previously been displayed in Toronto, Melbourne, Madrid and New York—was briefly brought to life at Ann Arbor on October 23, 2018 thanks to the invitation of the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities and its curator, Amanda Krugliak. The design collective felt the Michigan city was a fitting choice due to its reputation as a book loving college town and its proximity to Detroit , the birthplace of the U.S. automobile industry. “We want literature to take over the streets and to become the conqueror of all public places, offering passersby a traffic-free area that will, for a few hours, surrender to the humble might of the written word,” explain the designers. “Thus, a place in the city usually dedicated to speed, pollution , and noise, shall turn, for one night, into a place of peace, quiet, and coexistence, lighted by the soft dim light issued from the book pages.” Related: Glowing labyrinth made from plastic waste pops up in Buenos Aires The university organized a book donation drive to collect the 11,000 books used in the installation and also helped to temporarily close the major intersection of State Street and Liberty Street for 24 hours. A team of 90 volunteers also pitched in to help prepare and embed the books with tiny lights. On October 23, a glowing river of books was laid out for a few hours until nightfall, when visitors were invited to enter the ‘river’ and take the books home. All the books disappeared in less than two hours, leaving the street clean and empty by midnight. + luzinterruptus Images by Melisa Hernández and John Eikost  

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A glowing river of books creates a traffic-free haven in Ann Arbor

Corona announces pilot program for 100% plastic-free 6-pack rings in 2019

December 6, 2018 by  
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Corona has announced that it will be launching a pilot program in 2019 for 100 percent plastic-free six-pack rings, making it the first global beer brand to attempt such eco-friendly packaging. The company says it will introduce the new rings in select markets at the beginning of the new year as part of its commitment with Parley for the Oceans to lead the multi-billion dollar beer industry in doing its part to protect the world’s oceans from plastic pollution . Corona beer is mostly packaged with glass and fiberboard, but the company does see an opportunity for improvement when it comes to the six-pack rings. The industry standard plastic rings — made from a photodegradable form of polyethylene — break down into increasingly smaller pieces when they aren’t recycled. Related: Danish brewer Carlsberg to swap plastic 6-pack rings for glue However, the plastic-free rings that Corona will be testing are made from plant-based biodegradable fibers and a mix of by-product waste and compostable materials. When they are left in the environment, they are not harmful to wildlife and will break down into organic material. “Our oceans are under attack. We are taking their life in rapid speed, destroying the chemistry that allows us to be here,” said Cyrill Gutsch, founder and CEO of Parley for the Oceans. “Therefore, we are bidding on the few who take the lead in true change. The ones who are shaping the future with us. Corona is such an Ocean Champion, a powerful ally in our war against marine plastic pollution — and in building the material revolution that will lead us beyond it. We share the goal of phasing plastic out for good, because we simply can’t afford its toxic impact anymore.” Approximately 8 MM metric tons of plastic enters the world’s oceans every year, so Corona has adopted Parley’s strategy to avoid and intercept as much plastic as possible while creating alternative solutions to plastic packaging. This reality is motivation for Corona to avoid plastic entirely, so it will be piloting the new rings in the company’s home country of Mexico at the beginning of next year. It also plans to test the new rings in the U.K. Corona’s decision could have a major influence on the beer industry. The company hopes that this solution of plastic-free rings will become the new standard. + Corona Images via Corona

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Corona announces pilot program for 100% plastic-free 6-pack rings in 2019

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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Time to put the flame out scented candles can cause disease and poor air quality

November 27, 2018 by  
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Candle season is in full effect as winter days quickly approach. Candles are a great accent to incorporate into home decorations and also to photograph as the little flickering flames in the jar illuminate dark evenings at home. Scented candles are nice to look at and even nicer to breathe in, but your favorite candle can cause more damage than you imagine. In the age of social media influencers and luxury brands promoting their one-of-a-kind scents, it’s no wonder why  candle sales are soaring . But there is a dark truth hidden behind the feel-good aromas and warm coziness that candles convey — disease and  pollution . The majority of manufactured candles are made from paraffin wax, which is a byproduct in the petroleum refining chain. In a sense, it’s the bottom of the barrel or the worst of the worst. When certain candles are burned, they release toluene and benzene, both of which are known carcinogens . Related: Handmade fruit candles look realistic enough to eat In a study by Southern Carolina State University , researchers compared petroleum-based and vegetable-sourced candles to determine their emissions. Researchers let candles burn for up to six hours in a small box and collected and analyzed air quality . The study concluded that candles that are paraffin-based (the most popular kind) emitted toxic chemicals such as toluene and benzene. “The paraffin candles we tested released unwanted chemicals into the air. For a person who lights a candle every day for years or just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies and even asthma,” said Ruhullah Massoudi, a chemistry professor at Southern Carolina State University. “None of the vegetable-based candles produced toxic chemicals.” Fragrance is also dangerous, because “over the past 50 years, 80 to 90 percent of fragrances have been synthesized from petroleum and some of the commonly found harmful chemicals in fragranced products include acetone, phenol, toluene, benzyl acetate and limonene,” according to a 2009 study,  Fragrance in the Workplace is the New Second-Hand Smoke by the University of Maryland. A 2001 EPA  report mentions that burning candles indoors can cause air pollution and “may result in indoor air concentrations of lead above EPA-recommended thresholds.” The lead found in the soot comes from the metal-core wicks that help keep the wick upright. If you must keep a candle or two in your home, the safest option is to purchase unscented organic soy or beeswax candles. Essential oil diffusers are also a great way to keep your home smelling fresh this holiday season or year-round. Via Treehugger Images via Tatlin

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Time to put the flame out scented candles can cause disease and poor air quality

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