Tag Archives: Green Living

3 Ways to Design Your Home for Maximum Happiness

There's No Remedy For Memory

There are many possible sources of discomfort and discontent, ranging from relationship troubles, to financial woes, to self-esteem, and more. One common source, though, which is often overlooked, is your environment and home space. Even something as simple as the shade of a wall or placement of a bed can affect your mood and take a toll on your daily life. Luckily, there are several essential warning signs to look out for, and some simple fixes to achieve the healthy and healing space you deserve.

In the July/August edition of Spirituality & Health magazine, design expert Laura Benko discusses some common sources of design-induced discomfort, with tips on how to adjust these influences. Here are 3 of the 6 tips, and check out Spirituality & Health for the rest of the article!

1. Build Confidence. Piles of unfinished work, clothing, paperwork and other clutter can indicate procrastination and induce a sense of fear that you are getting behind. Mitigate this worry and build confidence at the same time by organizing odds and ends and getting started on some of the tasks on your to-do list.

2. Build Self-Esteem. Did you know that hanging artwork and mirrors too high on the wall can lead to a feeling of never measuring up? As a rule, artwork should be roughly 5 feet from center to floor so that you see it directly at eye level. As you view your wall hangings, remind yourself of the realistic expectations you set for yourself and the achievability of your goals.

3. Embrace Change. Decorations and decor that have not been updated in ages can induce or perpetuate a fear of change and uncertainly. Break the mold by moving some furniture around, hanging a new piece of artwork, or getting a plant. Give yourself a new perspective on your space and, as a result, a fresh outlook on your life and future.

Do you have any other holistic design tips? Let us know in the comments section!

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Spirituality & Health
is a magazine for people who want to explore the spiritual journey and wake up to our capacity for self-healing, vitality, and resiliency. Read whole article on holistic design in the July-August edition of Spirituality & Health, on newsstands now! Get your first issue FREE here.

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7 Telltale Signs You’re A Hardcore Greenie

max-R Outdoor Recycling BinGoing green is a great way to show your love for the environment and to promote a sustainable lifestyle that really helps the planet. It’s also incredibly addictive, so after the first few steps you might find yourself engaged in an increasing number of green activities. You know you’ve become a seriously hardcore greenie if…

You Look for Recycling Bins Instead of Trashcans

Recycling is one of the easiest, most essential ways to go green. It only takes a little effort, it’s great for the environment, and it’s becoming much more widely accepted. If you’re becoming a hardcore green-friendly person, you likely start looking for recycling bins before you ever look for trashcans, because you realize that practically everything is recyclable. Whether you’re out shopping or visiting a friend, you’re loathe to throw away your paper cups, soda cans, or newspapers, and secretly you feel a little appalled when you discover that there aren’t any recycling bins available.

Your Have Reusable Bags Hidden in the Car

You can’t remember the last time someone at a store asked you if you wanted paper bags or plastic ones because your reusable bags are always at hand. You’ve been known to turn around without shopping if you arrive at the store and realize you forgot your fabric bags. To avoid that in the future, you started squirreling reusable bags away in your car.

People who carpool with you (of course you carpool—it’s better for the environment) are likely to find cloth bags in the side pockets of the door, the glove compartment, the trunk, under the seats, and in the hidden cubby console between the front seats. You now use them for everything, from carrying around your gym clothes to carrying your shopping. In fact, you have enough reusable bags that sometimes you lend them to people at the grocery store who insist on using plastic bags.

You Unplug Without Thinking

Many people don’t even realize that their appliances and gadgets still suck up energy even when they’re turned off—but you do. You’ve long suspected that your electricity bills are high and your appliances are wasting energy even if they’re turned off, because they’re still plugged into the wall sockets. Now that you have proof, unplugging is second nature to you.

When you’re a serious greenie, your routine changes. Where once it was enough to simply walk through your home turning off the lights in empty rooms, now you go around unplugging those big energy vampires. You make sure to unplug your computer and all of its components because you know your favorite tech-toy is one of the biggest culprits. You gleefully unplug kitchen appliances, especially the microwave, and you always pull the plug on the TV too.

Of course, if you’re really green, you likely have smart power-strips as well, to save energy even when you’re using your favorite devices.

You Take Marathon Showers

People waste so much water every day! Long baths and showers aren’t special treats saved for stressful days, they are daily occurrences. But you know better. Not only do you turn off the faucet as you brush your teeth so you’re not needlessly wasting water, you’ve turned showering into an Olympic event.

You’ve timed exactly how long it takes you to do everything you need to do in your shower. You don’t waste one single second—or a single drop of water. In addition to installing a low-flow head for your shower and a shower timer, you’ve equipped every faucet with an aerator to conserve energy, water, and heat. You know, as you get all clean and fresh, that you’re doing your part to save water.

You Wanted Solar Energy for Your Birthday

After long dreaming of using solar energy, you finally decided that was all you wanted. You saved up, looked around for the best deals and the most quality work, and decided that solar panel energy was the best choice for you. That’s because you know how efficient solar energy really is. You understand the joy of relying on the sun to give you heat, power, and even hot water. While your panels were your biggest birthday present, you still insisted that anyone who got you a present used recyclable paper, of course.

All Your Gadgets Are Solar-Powered

It wasn’t enough to install solar power on your roof, though. You want everything powered by solar energy because, again, you realize how powerful the sun is. So your kitchen is fully outfitted in appliances powered by solar energy. The fridge uses solar power and all of your other appliances are completely energy-efficient. You’ve got a solar-powered watch and the charger you use for your phone, tablet, and other mobile gadgets is also solar-powered. All your friends are jealous of you when the power goes out because you’re still connected. How cool are you?

You’ve Got the Best Compost Pile on the Block

If you’re a hardcore environmentalist, you’ve been composting since long before it was cool. You’ve discovered a way to compost almost everything. As a result, your grass is lush and all the drought-tolerant plants in your garden thrive. You can easily sustain yourself on the food you grow and you routinely share with your neighbors because you want them to eat healthy too.

Composting is part of your routine. Almost everything that comes out of your home either gets recycled or composted. You try to reuse everything for a good purpose and it works for you. Not only do you know you’re doing your part, but you help to erase your carbon footprint every single day. You even offer to start compost heaps for the neighbors who compliment your lifestyle, your commitment, and your gorgeous greenery.

If you’re a serious greenie who takes the eco-friendly life seriously, then you are unquestionably awesome. You’re kind to the Earth, to your family, and to your neighbors because you know that what you’re doing matters.

 

Image via Flickr by max-R

Deepak Chopra: Does Climate Change Threaten The Survival Of The Human Race?

We’ve all heard the terrifying statistics that predict the fall of civilization with the progressing decline of the environment. At times we might feel too doomed to even change our ways and work toward sustainability.

In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak Chopra addresses climate change and social action. Joined by David Gershon, founder and president of the Empowerment Institute, the two argue that by taking collective action, we can make an impact on the world and on our environment for the better. Gershon addresses some of the key components of social change, which include protest, personal growth, and education.

What do you think? Do you feel inspired or hopeless about the environment? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and don’t give up hope for social change!

4 Green Technologies That Are Actually Selling

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People are becoming increasingly concerned about their carbon footprint. However, just because we are concerned about this as a society does not mean that all green technologies are selling as well as they should be. In fact, too many of them have gone by the wayside. Luckily, there are still green technologies that are actually selling.

Hybrid Cars

The price of hybrid cars keeps coming down, and the demand keeps going up. As the price comes down, more people can afford them. When buying new cars, one of the biggest things families look at is the gas mileage. The next thing they look at is the overall price of the car. So, if they can get a car that is relatively inexpensive but will give them great gas mileage, they are going to jump on it. This is the biggest reason that these vehicles are selling extremely well.

Cleaning Supplies

Have you walked down the cleaning supplies aisle at the grocery store lately? Take a look around; you’ll see that there’s a lot of “green” products. That’s because these things sell like crazy. No one wants to clean their home with harsh chemicals. Instead, they want to get things clean, but do it as environmentally friendly as possible. Companies that create cleaning products have noticed this and now make green cleaning products that fly off the shelves.

Home Solar Panels

As the solar panel technology is getting smaller and more easily available for home use, it’s also becoming more popular. People are buying solar panels to put on their roofs to power their homes. Some use these to supplement their power, while others bring in so much from their solar panels that they are able to sell back to the power company in their town. In addition, many new homes come pre-installed with solar panels. This is a technology that is becoming almost as common as high-speed Internet in homes – it’s not quite there yet, but give it a few years.

Windmill Farms

One of the biggest sellers for cities and states is the wind technology. In fact, many areas are setting up windmill farms. These expanses of land literally have windmills set up on them, and that’s it. They harvest the power of the wind and use it to produce power. That power takes the place of more traditional power creation methods, lowering the carbon footprint of the city. Plus, many cities that do this are able to sell the excess power they create to other cities or even other states. In addition to larger entities doing this, some individuals are able to set up windmills on their own land. Sometimes the land is rented to larger organizations for the power creation.

There are a lot of green technologies out there. Some have come and gone without much stir in the community. Other technologies have yet to be tested on a larger scale. What are your thoughts on the green tech industry? Do you see potential for economic growth and job creation through these endeavors?

5 Best Sources of Home Improvement Inspiration

Home improvement is an important topic for many homeowners. If you’re a current homeowner, you may just want to give your house a little pick-me-up by refreshing walls, installing kitchen upgrades, or simply buying new curtains to complete a look.

On the other hand, it’s a buyer’s market, and if you’ve recently purchased a home, you’re probably looking for inspiration to make it your own. If you’re a visual person or just looking for ideas to jump-start your creativity, here are some of the best sources of home improvement inspiration:

5. Pinterest: Where Your Inspiration Board Becomes Digital

Image via Google Images

Pinterest is the very popular online inspiration board website that just keeps gaining users left and right. Create specific boards for yourself based on what items you want to save from the internet and then “pin” images from your favorite sites.

With more than 40 million users, Pinterest is sure to offer inspiration for anything imaginable. Want to explore DIY improvements? Interested in viewing specific color schemes? Need to find a picture of a bathroom with bamboo? Pinterest has a whole page of search results for that.

4. Home Depot & Lowes: Specialty Stores You Can Connect With

Image via Flickr

Speciality stores Home Depot and Lowe’s have created inspiration magazines that are available for free download via iTunes. The Home Depot’s Style Guide and Lowe’s Creative Ideas Magazine both provide gardening and other visual inspirations to design ideas and trends, making both digital publications invaluable for home improvement inspiration.

3. Zillow Digs: Combining House-Hunting & Improvement Guides

Image via Flickr

If you’ve been in the market for a home, chances are you’ve heard of Zillow. This popular website is a great tool for buyers to view valuations and other data. With the new iPad app and Web service called Zillow Digs, Zillow is now competing against Pinterest for those users looking for home improvement inspiration.

Just like Pinterest, users can “pin” their favorite images, but unique to Zillow Digs  is the ability for users to view the estimated cost of the featured rooms and easily connect with local professionals in the industry. And if you’re looking for a way to protect your investment on a a particularly costly project, see this page for some good home security options.

2. Houzz.com & Merrypad.com: Inspiring Trends for Do-It-Yourselfers

Image via Flickr

Aside from online boards like Pinterest and Zillow Digs, there is an unbelievable number of websites dedicated to home decor, improvements, and DIY projects. Houzz.com features house tours, advice, how-to help, and more. Merrypad.com is a website dedicated to DIY projects and those homeowners who want to embrace the do-it-yourself lifestyle.

1. BrightNest: Your Guide to Innovating & Renovating

Image via BrightNest.com

Possibly one of the most artsy and most places on the web for home renovators and innovators is Brightnest. The site is a great resource for almost any aspect of home improvement. The site also recently launched an excellent iOS app that not only offers advice and inspiration, but it also helps you to organize your tasks.

Due to the advancements of technology, it’s become easier for homeowners to find improvement inspirations to make renovations fun and easy. By taking advantage of all the tools in front of you, you’re most likely to generate the most diverse and creative ideas.

What sources do you use for home improvement inspiration?

6 Reasons (And One Adorable Video) to Celebrate “Bike to Work Day”!

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 12.46.33 PMIf you haven’t heard, May is National Bike Month, and it’s time to start gearing up for an active and green summer! Sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, this month is all about staying healthy, doing your part for the environment, enjoying the rush of fresh air, and experiencing your city outside the confines of a car. There will be bike month events taking place in communities around the country, which you can learn more about here. Tomorrow is Bike to Work day, so if you haven’t hit the pedals yet this month then there is no better time to start!

“But I don’t have a bicycle,” you might say. “I don’t know how to ride a bike… My bike is broken… I want a cycling partner…” Fear not! The League has compiled a database of resources for cities around the country. So if any of the above concerns applies to you, simply visit their website, type in the name of your town, and voilà! (If your town is very small or remote it may take some more digging, but Craigslist and Meetup.com can be great places to start. Just beware of scams.)

For some people, a bicycle might seem like an absurd alternative to the ease, comfort, and speed of a car. But there are several invaluable benefits to cycling over driving:

  1. You can avoid traffic and parking woes.
  2. You can get a great workout while simultaneously getting where you need to go.
  3. No gas, cheap(er) fixes, easier to maintain.
  4. You’re able to experience your city in a more tactile way than you would from inside a car.
  5. Fresh air, wind in your face, feeling your muscles work to get you from place to place.
  6. You can feel super cool and inspire healthy habits in your friends and colleagues!

What are your top reasons for biking?

As if you needed any more inspiration to hop on your bicycle this minute, here is a ridiculously adorable video of one Philadelphia cyclist biking around town with his kitty cat on his shoulders. How cool is that?!

 From the purring we gather kitty is into biking, too. 🙂

 

Photo credit: Flickr

7 Easy Ways to Green Your Halloween


It seems like there are two kinds of people: Those that love halloween, and those that don’t. My sister-in-law and her husband love Halloween. They throw an annual Halloween party and the two of them spend months thinking about and preparing costumes for themselves and their two boys, ages 6 and 4. And I must admit they pull off some pretty creative, hilarious and scary costumes.

As for me, in a good year I fill a bowl with candy and stingily hand out one piece to every kid that comes to the door. In a bad year, I hide at the back of the house with all the lights off…pretending I’m not home.

But here’s what I really want to say: Halloween is the second most wasteful holiday next to Christmas. Decorations that turn Main Street into Mockingbird Lane, trillions of wrappers from indivdually wrapped treats; and cheap, disposable costumes purchased from WalMart are among the reasons. So here are some ideas for a less wasteful Halloween:

1. Trade last year’s costumes for something different at Swapthing.com or Zwaggle.com.

2. Make a costume with what you have.  Adults should try to come up with a creative costume that doesn’t require tearing open a plastic bag. Here’s your chance to show your friends how brilliant and creative you are using clothing and objects found around the house.

3. Support a farm and take your kids to a local pumpkin patch — if you can find one nearby. Use as much of the pumpkin as possible. Toast the seeds and try out some pumpkin recipes. And remember to compost your pumpkins. If you don’t have a compost bin, none is required. Just find an out-of-the way 3′ x 3′ section of your yard and get started.

4. Resist buying special plastic or paper bags for trick-or-treating. Remember when everyone used a pillow case? Still works.

5. Take along an LED flashlight when trick-or-treating. LED lights are more energy efficient and last longer than incandescent bulbs.

6. Walk, don’t drive around the neighborhood. Idling your car at each house wastes fuel and emits harmful pollutants–pollutants which disproportionately impact children who breathe 50 percent more air per pound of body weight than adults. If you want to go to another area of town to trick-or-treat, car pool or take public transit.

7. Choose trick over treat. Kids get enough candy during Halloween, so when trick-or-treaters come to your door, be ready to wow them with a trick in lieu of passing out a treat. Whether or not they will be disappointed will depend on your trick!

 

Originally published in 2009

photo by: juhansonin

6 Green Tips: How to Save Money and Energy for Going Back to School and Work

All across the country and the world, countless people are heading back to school and work for the Fall. Consider this new season of transition as an opportunity to change your daily habits to save more money and energy when you go about your productive day.

1. Bring a Bento Box For Lunch. Making your own lunch will save you tons of money every week. Eating your food from your bento box will give you discipine in portion control. Get inspired from this New York Times article detailing the rise of bento box usage among Americans which also contains a handy list of bento-related blogs at the very end.

2. Use a Reusable Bottle, Tumbler or Mug For Your Drinks. Addicted to your coffee and tea? Can’t go anywhere without staying hydrated? Instead of wasting all that trash on styrafoam cups, plastic water bottles and aluminum cans, go completely green with a reusable drink container when you are on the go.

3. Recycle and Reuse Office Supplies As Much as Possible. Before you go spend-happy with shiny and cool office supplies, explore other options that can easily be done for much cheaper without wasting more limited resources. For starters, Craigslist and Facebook usuallly contain many notices from people trying to sell their used printers, scanners, computers, desks and other work-related equipment for much cheaper than the store price. Also, you can print on scratch paper for printing paper documents that aren’t that important (such as map directions, rough drafts of papers, or testing the color ink on digital photos.)

4. Remember to Shut Down Your Computer and Unplug Other Electronic Appliances. Use a power strip for all your electronic appliances, and don’t forget to turn it off when you are not using the appliances or going to sleep. You will save money on your electricity bill, and also decrease energy consumption on this planet.

5. Do a Fashion and Make-Up Swap With Friends to Update Your Fall Wardrobe. You probably have several wardrobe items that you’ve only worn twice and probably won’t wear again. Chances are your friends do, too. Swap clothes, accessories, shoes, make-up with your friends, and it will save you a tidy bundle of money that might have gone for another expensive wardrobe indulgence that might not be used much after all.

6. Go Paperless For Paying All Your Bills. We are living in an age where the paperless option exists for pretty much any service that requires paying your bills. Spare the planet all the energy and time that goes into printing envelopes and delivering mail across long distances, and save yourself the time of having to seal envelopes and lick stamps.

photo by: I Love Egg

Giving Back to the Earth

Yesterday marked 22nd anniversary of Earth Day, a movement that began in 1970. For some, Earth Day is a celebration of our planet and for other’s; Earth Day is a call for activism. Earth Day represents a call to action, the need to be pro-active, and know how our actions impact the planet.

I truly believe the message of the Native American Proverb, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” Our efforts to better the planet need to be done daily, not just on one single day out of the entire year. What are some ways that we, as the population of beings that live on this planet, can give back on a daily basis to the planet we call home?

3 Ways to Give Back to the Planet:

1. Be More Green

The term “green” is used a great deal by people talking about environmental issues and sustainability, but all of us can easily incorporate measures to be more green in our every day lives. This can be done by not using plastic bags at the grocery store, recycling on a regular basis or using a hybrid car. The core idea is to be environmentally conscious of our actions and the repercussions our actions have on the planet.

2. Take A Time Out

Do you shut the light off when you leave the room? Do you leave your computer running 24/7? Are you using air conditioning when a cool breeze can be enjoyed by opening a window? Taking a time out from technology and using electricity when it is not needed not only benefits the planet, but it is equally beneficial to our bodies. We all need a time out upon occasion. The easiest way to do this is to declare one or two days a month “off the grid”. Step away from technology and shut off your devices that have you in tune with the entire digital world. Take these 48 hours in a month and go outside, visit a park, go hiking or read a book. Your mind and body, along with the planet will be rejuvenated from this brief respite.

3. Volunteer

There are many organizations that devote time and energy to making the planet more “healthy.” All of these organizations are in a constant need of steady funds and man-hours. Conduct some light research and see what organizations could use your assistance in your local area.

We all love fresh fruit, vegetables and other local foods that can only be found at local markets. While the prices may be a few cents more, supporting local agriculture, food and goods is one of the easiest ways we can support Earth Day.

In essence, every day is Earth Day. If we all do our parts, we can continually contribute to communal consciousness of our planet. If we all do one small thing, those small things will add up. The result is a gift, a healthy earth that can be given to our children and to the future.

Sherry Gaba LCSW, Psychotherapist, Life & Recovery Coach is featured Celebrity Rehab on VH1. Sherry is the author of “The Law of Sobriety” which uses the law of attraction to recover from any addiction. Please download your free E-books at http://thelawofsobriety.com/store/   Contact Sherry at for webinars, teleseminars, coaching packages and speaking engagements. Listen to Sherry on “A Moment of Change with Sherry Gaba”on CBS Radio

photo by: AlicePopkorn

Four Misconceptions About the Simple Life

 It is important to recognize inaccurate stereotypes about the simple life because they make it seem impractical and ill suited for responding to increasingly critical breakdowns in world systems. Four misconceptions about the simple life are so common they deserve special attention. These are equating simplicity with: poverty, moving back to the land, living without beauty and economic stagnation.

  1. Simplicity Means Poverty Although some spiritual traditions have advocated a life of extreme renunciation, it is very misleading to equate simplicity with poverty. Poverty is involuntary and debilitating, whereas simplicity is voluntary and enabling. A life of conscious simplicity can have both a beauty and a functional integrity that elevates the human spirit.

    Poverty fosters a sense of helplessness, passivity and despair, whereas purposeful simplicity fosters a sense of personal empowerment, creative engagement and opportunity. Historically, those choosing a simpler life have sought the golden mean — a creative and aesthetic balance between poverty and excess. Instead of placing primary emphasis on material riches, they have sought to develop, with balance, the invisible wealth of experiential riches.

  2. Simplicity Means Rural Living

    In the popular imagination there is a tendency to equate the simple life with Thoreau’s cabin in the woods by Walden Pond and to assume that people must live an isolated and rural existence. Interestingly, Thoreau was not a hermit during his stay at Walden Pond. His famous cabin was roughly a mile from the town of Concord, and every day or two he would walk into town. His cabin was so close to a nearby highway that he could smell the pipe smoke of passing travelers. Thoreau wrote that he had "more visitors while I lived in the woods than any other period of my life." The romanticized image of rural living does not fit the modern reality, as a majority of persons choosing a life of conscious simplicity do not live in the backwoods or rural settings; they live in cities and suburbs. While green living brings with it a reverence for nature, it does not require moving to a rural setting. Instead of a "back to the land" movement, it is much more accurate to describe this as a "make the most of wherever you are" movement. Increasingly that means adapting ourselves creatively to a rapidly changing world in the context of big cities and suburbs.
  3. Simplicity Means Living Without Beauty

    The simple life is sometimes viewed as an approach to living that advocates a barren plainness and denies the value of beauty and aesthetics. While the Puritans, for example, were suspicious of the arts, most advocates of simplicity have seen it as essential for revealing the natural beauty of things. Many who adopt a simpler life would surely agree with Pablo Picasso, who said, "Art is the elimination of the unnecessary." Leonardo da Vinci wrote that, "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Frederic Chopin wrote that, "Simplicity is the final achievement … the crowing reward of art."  The influential architect Frank Lloyd Wright was an advocate of an "organic simplicity" that integrates function with beauty and eliminates the superfluous. In his architecture a building’s interior and exterior blend into an organic whole, and the building, in turn, blends harmoniously with the natural environment. Rather than involving a denial of beauty, simplicity liberates the aesthetic sense by freeing things from artificial encumbrances. From a spiritual perspective, simplicity removes the obscuring clutter and discloses the life-energy that infuses all things.
  4. Simplicity Means Economic Stagnation

    Some worry that if a significant number of people simplify their lives it will reduce demand for consumer goods and, in turn, produce unemployment and economic stagnation. While it is true that the level and patterns of personal consumption would shift in a society that values green living, a robust economy can flourish that embraces sustainability. Although the consumer sector and material goods would contract, the service and public sectors would expand dramatically. When we look at the world, we see a huge number of unmet needs: caring for elderly, restoring the environment, educating illiterate and unskilled youth, repairing decaying roads and infrastructure, providing health care, creating community markets and local enterprises, retrofitting the urban landscape for sustainability and many more. Because there are an enormous number of unmet needs, there are an equally large number of purposeful and satisfying jobs waiting to get done. There will be no shortage of employment opportunities in an Earth-friendly economy.

A central and exciting task for our times is consciously designing ourselves into a sustainable and meaningful future, from the personal level outwards. In envisioning what this future could look like, it is important to not be bound by old stereotypes and to instead see the realism and the beauty of simpler ways of living. 

 

 

 

 

 

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