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Wiser Living

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Summer seems a long time gone when the nights start to draw in and the temperature quickly begins to drop. This is a time when our thoughts turn to staying warm throughout the winter months. In part, that means adjusting our wardrobe to cope with the chill in the air and making sure we feel warm and comfortable at home, as well.

winter fashion
Photo by Fotolia.

1. Chunky Knit Solutions

Fashion might not always be a priority over warmth, but you won’t have to compromise if you take advantage of some stylish and warm solutions.

Knit jumpers and dresses have been a regular feature on the winter fashion scene for the last few seasons. Gone are the days when people might have viewed cable knit as a bit stuffy and not exactly fashionable. If you want to achieve a combination of warmth and style, you could do a lot worse than to cocoon yourself in this stylish, chunky knit.

You may also want to consider a knitted scarf when putting together your winter wardrobe. Scarves are rightly viewed as a necessity when the temperature starts to drop and chunky knit scarves can keep you warm. Pick up a variety of printed and patterned wool to make them more of an accessory which will allow you to easily personalize your look.

2. Cozy at Home

For many of us, there is nothing quite as inviting as the prospect of a night snuggled up by the fire, enjoying a warming drink, and some quality time with loved ones.

You can look forward to feeling even cozier at home with warm pajama outfits from places like Sleepyheads. You could even get matching PJ sets for the entire family, so you can all snuggle up and feel the warmth together.

Consider footed pajamas for a bit of extra warmth. Plus, these are a great gift option for all ages; they’re great for lounging or sleepovers.

3. Don’t Forget Socks

Socks are mainly viewed as functional attire, but they do an unbelievably good job of keeping your toes nice and warm as you walk through the slush and snow.

As a fashion statement socks can be underrated. Hiding your socks under your boots is perfectly fine, but they can also serve as a cozy accessory. Neutral colored chunky knee-high socks or layered socks peeking out of boots can add subtle interest to outfits.

4. Fashionable Head Wear

Although the belief that we lose the most body heat through the head is a myth. However, we can lose about 7 to 10 percent of our body heat if our heads are left exposed in cold weather.

The good news for your ears is that they can stay toasty through the season with knitted headbands, which are considered a very current fashion accessory. The trend for chunky knit has also influenced head wear and a two-tone knitted headband will keep you warm and on-trend.

If you’re feeling adventurous and have a bit of knitting know-how, you might even want to create your own braided headbands or stocking caps.

5. Wear Tights with Style

Some of the colder days don’t really allow ordinary tights to keep your legs warm. You can now get leggings and tights which use special heat technology to keep your legs warm and cozy, whatever the weather. Several leading brands have produced tights that are able to keep you warm by retaining your body heat.

This means that whether you want to wear black tights or leggings, you can now find versions that use this modern technology and allow you to stay stylish without feeling the winter chill as much as you would before. Opaque tights, which are a bit thicker and heavier than regular tights, and fleece-lined leggings are other great options for staying cozy and stylish.

Even when the temperature drops and you start thinking about extra layers, there are plenty of ways you can look and feel good this winter.

Allison Ernst is a health professional and mother of three. She enjoys the chance to share her insights and observations on family topics online. You can find her posts on a number of relevant websites.


Fifty-five percent of those surveyed are willing to pay more for products and services from companies who pledged to take real, meaningful steps toward sustainability, according to a 2014 Nielsen survey. And as the demand for sustainable goods continues to increase, these early adopters have positioned themselves at the front of the market. From fashion and manufacturing to home goods, here are just four eco-friendly companies who are extremely well positioned to handle the growing consumer demand for sustainable products.

eco-friendly business
Photo courtesy Depositphotos.

Apple Rubber

There are companies that make products, and then there are companies that make the materials that are in those products. When you make a material like rubber or plastic, which is a necessary component of nearly everything, even a small shift toward sustainability can have a huge effect. O-ring manufacturer Apple Rubber has proven itself more than willing to make the move. They have begun researching a Brazillian sugar cane-based ethanol product that would greatly reduce their demand for crude oil. This organic rubber would also reduce their carbon footprint without any compromise in quality.

The Honest Company

Household cleaning products can have a hugely detrimental effect on the environment, not only by way of the materials and practices needed to manufacture them, but also in the waste created when they are disposed. Based out of Santa Monica, California, The Honest Company is looking to change that. It has created a set of strict guidelines for all of its products that ensure that each one that hits store shelves is safe and sustainable. This starts with manufacturing, where the company relies almost exclusively on sustainably harvested, renewable materials. And once the products leave The Honest Company’s entirely solar-powered headquarters, they travel almost solely by ground shipping to stores across the county. Why? Because it uses six times less energy than flying.

New Belgium Brewing

Started by Kim Jordan in 1991, this Fort Collins, Colorado, company has since managed to become the fourth largest craft beer brewer in the county. And remarkably, New Belgium Brewing has done it while maintaining a reputation as one of the most sustainable companies in the beer-making industry. From early on, Jordan was obsessed with data, and that carries through today. New Belgium tracks all of its energy consumption and waste production, and the company has worked diligently to find ways to reuse or compost almost all of its waste products. New Belgium is also a huge promoter of green living for its employees and customers. It provides bikes and Priuses for employees who are travelling near their home facility. And their traveling Tour De Fat beer festival hits the road every summer to educate the public on the value of commuting by bike.


Since opening in 1975, this popular fashion brand has held a commitment for implementing sustainable practices into every aspect of its nearly 2,000 stores. From the actual design of the stores to the cardboard used in its packaging, Zara has managed to reduce its carbon footprint by almost 20 percent in recent years. This eco-conscious commitment carries over to the actual clothing as well, which are constructed of organic cotton and delivered to stores in bio-diesel trucks. Zara also instituted a strict recycling policy for one of the most wasteful items in retail stores: hangers. It’s a simple move that will undoubtedly pay huge dividends for the environment.

Aaron Rote is a Chicago freelance writer and poet specializing in quick wit and quick turnarounds.


Your anti-aging cream may be costing you more than cash. The Breast Cancer Fund’s Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has issued a statement informing consumers that some wrinkle-fighting creams contain PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid), a contaminant that is found in the non-stick cookware agent, Teflon, aka PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene). Simply put, PFOA can cause cancer.

PFOA is added to beauty products because it creates a smooth finish. The toxin is also found in foundation, pressed powder, loose powder, bronzer, blush, eye shadow, mascara, shave gel, lip balm, anti-aging lotion, water- and oil-resistant fabrics, stain-resistant carpet, stain-protectant products for furniture, and drinking water. Almost all Americans have PFOA running through their veins, putting them at risk for numerous health problems.

happy older woman with radiant skin 

How to Avoid It

Unfortunately, cosmetics are poorly regulated and are not held to the same standards as food. That’s pretty scary because even food standards aren’t that great. Products often hit the shelves with unlisted byproduct contaminants.

Anti-aging creams confirmed by the report to have PFOA include:

• Garnier Ultra-Lift Transformer Anti-Age Skin Corrector
• Garnier Ultra-Lift Anti-Wrinkle Firming Moisturizer
• Cover Girl Advanced Radiance with Olay, Age Defying Pressed Powder

Cosmetics Without Cancer” is an initiative created by The Breast Cancer Fund and Campaign for Safe Cosmetics to push for stricter laws on cosmetic production. The team believes that the only way to know if a product contains PFOA is through lab testing. However they advise consumers to avoid ingredients such as Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), Polyperfluoromethylisopropyl Ether and DEA-C8-18 Perfluoroalkylethyl Phosphate. is a great place to find tools that will help you choose pure products.

In a previous article, I mentioned the amazing Think Dirty app. Their database is growing everyday as new product information is researched and added. You can find the toxicity and ingredients of many personal care and household products.

The Impact of PFOA

PFOA can cause a variety of cancers, but given that it is October, breast cancer is heavy on all of our minds. It has, personally, impacted family and friends and taken people away from me. Almost everyone I know has been dealt a blow by this cancer in some way.

 My mom’s best friend, Karen, recently discovered she was battling the disease. After a lumpectomy and radiation, she’s doing well, but is still on the journey to recovery. “I'm doing a lot of searching, whether for answers through prayer or researching medical abstracts and documentaries to educate myself. I'm trying to make some obvious small changes to my lifestyle, like more water and exercise. I don't use anti-aging creams per se, although I do still use Bioelements cleanser on my face and sunscreen moisturizer daily. This is an area I'm researching. I know that I need to research every product I currently use to check for toxicity, but I'm a first grade teacher not a scientist so I really have to rely on the research already out there,” says Karen.

When I told her about the PFOA report she replied, “Given the fact that cancer is increasing at such an alarming rate, we need lots of research to help us make informed decisions. I really feel like it is a trillion dollar pharmaceutical business and the truth may be slow in being revealed.”

Well said. Now if the cosmetic industry will just listen!

aloe vera with jar natural face cream 

Healthy Alternatives to Battle Aging

The solution can often be right in front of us. Throw away the creams and go for more effective, natural and cheaper alternatives.

• Protect yourself from the sun.
• Avoid smoking or drug usage.
• Moisturize and care for your skin while avoiding unnatural harsh products.
• Hydrate your body by drinking plenty of water.
• Eat a variety of healthy, nourishing foods so your cells can replenish themselves.
It is never too late to start applying anti-aging practices to your life.

An Important Note from The Breast Cancer Fund

“We can’t just shop our way out of this problem. In order for safer products to be widely available and affordable for everyone, we must pass laws that shift the entire industry to nontoxic ingredients and safer production. We are asking people to demand that Congress give the FDA the authority and resources it needs to ensure the safety of cosmetics and require full disclosure of ingredients so consumers can make informed choices. It’s time to take action!”

Do Your Part

We can make a difference in countless ways. Refuse to buy toxic products, support pure companies, pressure Congress to make changes, and inform others. Cancer is thriving and we can do something to make those numbers go down. Do it for yourself, your family, or your friends. Honor them all during this year’s Breast Cancer Awareness month by supporting change. In the words of The Breast Cancer Fund, it is time to “Rethink the Pink.”

Photos by Fotolia

Karyn WoffordKaryn Wofford is a type 1 diabetic, EMT and Certified Wellness Specialist. For years she has educated herself on wellness and natural, wholesome living. Karyn’s goal is to help people be the healthiest they can be while living fun, happy lives.


Volkswagen already generates billions in profits every year, so many found it disturbing when news broke that the car manufacturer had flat-out cheated. The entire process was elaborately planned: Volkswagen used a software program that causes a vehicle's emissions to appear below the legal limit when monitoring equipment is hooked up, while also decreasing the exhaust's clean filtering system when the monitoring equipment is not attached. The result produced emissions approximately 10 to 40 times the legal limit.

Volkswagen's motive is predictably financial—since cars are generally less efficient when being filtered properly, Volkswagen used this software to tout impressive EPA fuel economy estimates and provide an additional incentive to consumers mulling the purchase of a diesel vehicle. This scandal is yet another in the wake of many corporate mishaps, from CEOs raising prescription drug costs for no reason other than profit to this recent event, which may end up costing Volkswagen up to $87 billion.

Volkswagen logo
Photo by Karen Roe.

While this scandal provokes plenty of ire about greed being the central component of capitalism, the most proactive response is to focus on what can be done by the individual or business who, unlike Volkswagen, sincerely aims to improve the environment.

Much of the anger directed toward this scandal is not just because it’s another company price-gouging or fudging numbers, but because the 10 to 40 times more harmful emissions can negatively impact us, our friends and families.

The Scandal’s Cost in Lives

“Scandal” is one word for this, but others can rightly refer to it as an environmental disaster—as it has certainly resulted in deaths. The New York Times estimates the death count since 2008 ranges from 106 to 146 due to the amount of additional tailpipe emissions, which are projected at 46 thousand tons. MIT professor Noelle Eckley Selin thinks there could be up to 40 more deaths than those numbers.

It’s clear that emissions are causing people to die. That’s an issue that should be at the forefront of this scandal instead of the continual non-progress created by conversations revolving around greed and capitalism—these concerns are unlikely to be resolved anytime soon. But individuals and businesses do have the power to lower emissions.

The Benefits of Lowering Emissions

The same New York Times report noted the work of three researchers who analyzed the correlation between mortality rates and decreased nitrogen oxide emissions. A decrease in those emissions by 350 tons per year correlated with a decrease in prescription drug spending and a decrease in deaths to "five per 100 thousand people." It’s ironic and maddening that more investment in reducing these emissions could potentially help resolve two scandals in the news—specifically the Volkswagen disaster and the horrific rise in prescription drug prices.

What You Can Do to Lower Emissions

Many in the world feel more compassion for the environment than Volkswagen. Just making a few changes in your life can help the environment tremendously. The EPA offers useful tips in addition to a green vehicle guide that can steer one toward a truly eco-friendly car instead of one faking test results.

Other tips include not spending more than 30 seconds idling, reducing weight in your cabin and trunk area, getting regular tune-ups and even checking your tires — under-inflation and tire wear results in higher greenhouse gases and increased air polluting emissions.

Another important detail to note is the use of public transit: It’s an existing carbon footprint that is more environmentally friendly when more people use it at a time. Options range from rail lines like All Aboard Florida and Amtrak to public bus lines. You may be able to get around on public transit, depending on where you live — if you live in an area with sparse public transit, there are still many other ways to help the environment.

Although it will be difficult for consumers to act as corporate watchdogs and prevent these types of scandals from occurring in the future, a little effort from a lot of people can significantly reduce emissions and potentially save hundreds or thousands around the world.

Kayla Matthews is a health and wellness blogger who loves jogging, yoga and hiking. Follow Kayla on Google+ and Twitter to read all of her latest posts.


No matter how hard we might try, finding the perfect gift is scientifically unfeasible. According to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, we give gifts that we think will reflect well on us and endear us to the recipient—not what the recipient actually wants.

This year skip the search for the perfect item and instead bestow the gift of a great time. Compared with material goods, experiences bring more happiness, according to research published in Psychological Science. When people spend resources on experiences instead of stuff, they get an uptick in happiness and excitement in advance of the experience that outpaces the boost given by the anticipation of a material good. Experiences trump material goods when it comes to long-term happiness, too. Experiences offer a social element, so we can build up relationships with them, and once the experience is over, it’s something we can discuss with others. (A trip to Japan is much more interesting conversation fodder than describing the features of a new camera.) Read on for just a few ideas for fun, experiential gifts.

Woman with Camera


A well-chosen subscription service makes for a perfectly practical gift that delivers for months to come. Here are some of our favorites:

When it comes to food delivery, few subscriptions can beat the do-good feeling of Love with Food. Every month, your foodie friend will receive a box filled with organic and all-natural snacks based on seasonal items. What's more, for every box sold, a meal is donated to food banks such as the Feeding America Network and Share Our Strength-No Kid Hungry. $8 a month, Love with Food

Thrill your favorite bookworm with a subscription to a book-delivery service. The indie ebook store Emily Books will automatically upload a carefully selected ebook to their device every month. Or for commuters, try an Audible subscription, so your pal can download any audiobook that strikes her fancy. $14 a month, Emily Books; $15, Audible

Vinesse offers an "Earth-Friendly Wine Club," which will send your loved one wines from vineyards that use age-old farming methods to become self-sustaining ecosystems. You can select the number of bottles and frequency. From $42 to $276. Vinesse


Taking a cooking class together is a fun undertaking, and results in new skills that can be practiced daily. Read on for more ideas:

Check your local co-op for a variety of cooking classes. The staff may also be aware of local butchers, cheese makers and more who offer classes to interested parties.

Pastry is a delicate art, and a class can help you learn technique and have fun making treats together. Culinary schools sometimes offer recreational classes (such as those at the Institute of Culinary Education), but you can also explore the prospect of classes at local pastry shops or specialty stores.

Williams-Sonoma offers a variety of cooking classes at its locations around the country. There are classes for kids, cookbook club classes, technique classes and more traditional cooking classes.

Sur la Table also rolls out a full menu of cooking classes each season. Visit their website to see a full list of class offerings.


Trying something out-of-the-ordinary can make for lasting memories—as a bonus the right recipient will be thrilled with the unexpected nature of the gift. Keep reading for more info:

An afternoon of rock climbing can be an adventure by itself, or it may turn into a full-fledged hobby for you both to share. Find climbing gyms across the U.S.

Taekwondo, an ancient martial art, can be fun for the entire family. To explore the adventure of taking a class together, check out this great directory of schools across the nation.

Jumping out of a plane definitely constitutes adventure. Find out whether skydiving might be ideal for your adventure experience by looking up the dropzone nearest you.

Hit the highway for a road trip. Whether you simply want to treat your loved one to unexpected sights and hideaways near home or strike out for the opposite coast, the planning website Roadtrippers can help you find attractions, scenic routes and places to stay.

Experience Wanted

Check out these five ideas for experience-based gifts.

A meal at their Favorite Restaurant
It might sound boring, but few things are better than a free meal at your favorite spot.

• Or share the gift of a home-cooked meal.

Tickets to an Event
An evening of togetherness out on the town can’t be beat.

• Consider tickets to a  concert, a play, the symphony or a sporting event.

A Family Trip
Skip all the stuff this year, and take the family on an adventure instead.

• You could also consider a couples trip or a getaway with friends you don’t see often.

Gift of Relaxation
Depending on your recipient’s needs, consider a massage, a spa treatment, an acupressure session or a yoga class.

• You could even arrange to pick them up afterward for lunch.

Natural Attraction
Check out resources near your recipient’s home that offer events of interest.

• Check into botanical gardens, a national park, a wildlife refuge or an amusement park.


young boy eating soup
Photo by iStock.

WHY THEY'RE CRUCIAL: We want everyone, not just the more fortunate among us, to have the chance to relish the joy and abundance of the holiday season. Unfortunately, more than 46.5 million people face hunger in the U.S., including 12 million children and 7 million seniors. The good news is that for 35 years, Feeding America has worked to bridge the gap between food waste and those in need. The Feeding America network of food banks secure donated food from farmers, manufacturers, retailers and government organizations. These donations are distributed to local food pantries and meal programs around the country, providing more than 3 billion meals to people across the U.S.


• Run a network of 200 food banks across the country

• Provide safe and nurturing places for children to have a meal

• Distribute food that helps seniors meet their specific nutritional needs

• Advocate on behalf of food-insecure Americans through a policy staff based in Washington, D.C., and through the Hunger Action Center, a grassroots online advocacy center

HOW WE CAN HELP: Throughout the duration of this issue, we’re collecting donations to this important charity. To join our efforts, visit Feeding America. Or mail donations directly to Feeding America at P.O. Box 96749, Washington, D.C. 20090-6749. Include the fundraiser name, Mother Earth Living Gives Back, on the envelope or check, if you wish. It’s our goal to collect $2,500 for Feeding America.


• 15.8 million children lived in food-insecure households in 2013.

• 7 million seniors age 60 and older are served by Feeding America each year—as well as nearly 6 million adults between the ages of 50 and 59.

• In 2013, 14 percent of households nationwide were food-insecure.

• Food insecurity exists in every county in America.


A study by Nielsen reveals that 55 percent of online consumers in 60 countries would pay more for products and services from companies with a focus on social responsibility. Among those surveyed, 52 percent said they have purchased at least one product or service from a socially-responsible company within the past six months.

Retailers and manufacturers are responding to the call for more environmentally-friendly products. However, choosing sustainable options in your everyday life extends past the food you eat and transportation you use. It’s entirely possible to redesign your life with sustainability in mind, from how you accessorize to the pet food you buy. Here are some tips to help you get started.

everyday tote
Photo by shutterstock.

Eco-Friendly Furniture

Make a positive difference in the environment by searching for furniture makers and retailers through the Sustainable Furnishings Council. This organization offers education in green home furnishings and certified training for manufacturers and retailers. The organization's members work to reduce carbon emissions and waste pollutants and to use materials from sustainable sources.

Sustainable Jewelry

Non-sustainable jewelry is often mined by stripping surface soils and using harmful chemicals that lead to soil erosion and contamination. Fortunately, it's possible to enjoy fine jewelry and accessories while still making ethical choices. Ritani collaborates with the World Gold Council to create jewelry with a green gold hue made from 80 percent 18 karat gold. They also use recycled sterling silver and recycled 18 karat yellow gold for its SLANE collection. Spending a little more for sustainable options can last longer than their cheaper counterparts and help the environment at the same time.


You can even make sustainable choices for how you communicate. Fairphone works to integrate materials for their products that support local economies. Its manufacturers are also invested in worker's safety and well-being. Consider how much waste smartphones add to the planet: PC Advisor claims that the average iPhone is broken within 10 weeks or less. Instead of striving to sell new phones, Fairphone designs its products to be durable and to have the ability to be easily repaired.

Smart Sunglasses

Skip the cheap, plastic sunglasses at the drugstore and pick up sustainable options instead. Companies like Grown sell sustainable and organic sunglasses and frames. Founded by a group of surfers and shore dwellers, the team uses its proceeds to help fund sight-restoring surgery or eye exams for adults and children. Grown uses durable bamboo, Zebrawood and other hardwoods that are free from toxic elements.

Natural Pet Food

What your pets eat can make a contribution to sustainable living. Choose pet food that is produced from companies that use natural ingredients and sustainable practices. Purina works to responsibly source ingredients, water and raw materials. It also uses recycled packaging and transportation methods that optimize sustainability. The company's employees also focus on recycling and environmentally-friendly volunteer events to raise awareness about other eco-friendly practices.

Eco-Conscious Hair Care

Don't let your hair have a negative impact on the environment. Sustainable companies, like Davines, use natural ingredients and are involved in projects that help benefit and protect the environment. Davines partners with nonprofit organizations, such as the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, to help alleviate world hunger by planting orchards where they can serve the community for generations. The partners also fight against global warming and strengthen communities. Davines also contributes part of its proceeds, from its collection of carbon-neutral Zero Impact products, to a fruit tree project that harnesses oxygen to further help offset waste.

Susan Finch is a freelance writer with a passion for travel and helping small businesses find their online voice through content marketing, blogging and beyond. She is an eclectic writer with more than 10 years of experience contributing to guidebooks, magazines, iPhone apps, online publications and more.

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