There’s a growing movement of in-betweeners. These are people who are old enough and responsible enough that they can’t stand to purchase bargain clothing that falls apart in a few washes. They’re also too fiscally responsible to spend the equivalent of a couple of car payments on a maxi dress.
I salute the in-betweeners, yet I don’t envy their struggle. Locating clothes that are affordable yet ethically made abroad, or even made by independent local designers, can be quite a challenge. However, the need for more sturdy affordable options is definitely growing.
Photo courtesy StockSnap.
Not only does buying with the future in mind save you money in the long run, it’s also ethical, healthier for the planet, and safer for the people who live and work to create these items as well. Peter Dunn advises to aim to spend about 5 percent of your annual income on new, quality clothes. Follow these simple tips to make doing so much easier.
Look for high-quality fabrics and stitching. This boils down to buying fewer items that are higher quality. You can still buy clothes that look great, as well as wear and wash well within the same budget; you’re just going to have to purchase fewer of them. When your goal is long-term wear you need to be far-sighted in your choices.
If you’re uncertain what quality looks or feels like, visit an upscale store, even if you know their clothing is out of your price range, and spend some time examining the construction. How does the fabric look and feel? Gently tug on the seams to see how strong they are, and examine the number of stitches per inch (hint: more is definitely better). Take a look to see how well buttons and other appliqué designs have been added to the garments. Once you’re able to recognize quality when you see it, you’ll be able to make decisions about items within your budget.
Collect the classics. Items that can be worn in multiple seasons are considered “classics” or staple items, and tend not to follow flash-in-the-pan trends. If you really want to look on-trend (which is usually a recycled fad from a few decades ago anyways) hit up thrift stores and resale boutiques for stylish, well-made vintage clothing items and accessories.
Get it tailored. The better your clothes fit, the better they look on and the more likely you are to wear it. Factor custom alterations into your yearly budget and aim for purchasing new pieces that, if anything, are slightly larger so you can get them altered for a perfect fit.
Consider each purchase carefully. Clearly, if you slow down to consider quality, real cost, comfort, and style you’re going to end up making more wise decisions about many of the things you purchase. This method will force you to consider whether you actually need an item, and whether it is the best use of your money in the long run.
Becoming more mindful of your impulse buys and other spending habits (including how much you were really spending on disposable clothes) will help you change your perspective on the all of your finances.
You’re new, slower and less impulsive habits can even help you save money or pay off debts. Considering the true cost of items helps you make more informed decisions and set a realistic budget for clothing purchases.
Choose items that mix and match well. Look for pants that can go with a variety of shirts. Or shirts that can be accessorized easily to change the look. You don’t necessarily need a lot of clothing to keep your outfits looking fresh each day, just enough to let you get creative.
Look for repair-ability. Gauge how repairable the item will be if it becomes torn or damaged. Is it made from a material that is easy to fix yourself?
No longer can we ignore the power our purchases have to either campaign for change or contribute to the high cost of low prices. Our purchases have the power to either perpetuate the system of millions working for slave wages around the world, or reward ethical business practices, safe working conditions, and worker rights.
As a global community we can no longer afford to accumulate so much “stuff” that breaks beyond repair, falls apart at the seams, or finds itself threadbare after a single season. Even if an item is repairable, many of us are nervous to attempt such projects for fear of making a mistake.
The savvy shopper learns to focus on comfort, sustainability, durability, and options outside of the “disposable” culture. A culture where planned obsolescence creeps up in ever shortening lengths and the useful life of common household items is shrinking day by day.
As you tackle the stores in search of comfortable, high-value items, remember that a higher price tag doesn’t always mean that an item is high quality. Also keep in mind that you’re not buying more clothes, you’re buying fewer. You’re simply more discerning about your purchases and making smart decisions within a similar budget.
Photo by Fotolia
Hotels are meccas for waste, over-consumption and pollution. Smaller, less extravagant choices can be more eco-friendly, but sometimes it’s nice to get a little extravagant. Luckily, big time hotels are taking responsibility, and are working to create clever ways to conserve. When I go on vacation, I dig to find places that protect the earth while ensuring a great time for my family. I’ve found three Florida locations that are luxurious and environmentally conscious.
Photo by Pam Tyson Yasinski
Naples is a calm beach town located on the Gulf Coast and also hosts the high end, yet family friendly Edgewater Beach Hotel. Located right on the water, it consists of large, modern suites/apartments, two swimming pools, beachside service, extremely comfortable lounge chairs and beds (yes, beds on the beach), complimentary shuttle to shopping areas, mid-day milk and cookie bar, and an outstanding restaurant.
Provided hotel toiletries are eco-friendly and biodegradable. Rooms are immaculately cleaned every day with “green” products, while guests are lounging by the turquoise water. To conserve water, sheets are changed every three days and towels are only replenished if left on the floor. Water saving devices are installed throughout the hotel and energy-saving lighting is used.
Hotels and resorts accumulate mountains of trash, so Edgewater uses largely recycled and compostable products, such as coffee cups and paper print outs. Soy ink is used instead of toxic variations. Recycling bins are located all over the property to make it easy for guests to recycle.
Coast, the hotel’s outstanding restaurant, serves three meals a day, with menus magnificently prepared by William (Bill) Zimmer. Zimmer is passionate about his work and strives to give each customer an incredible experience when dining. He insists on serving only the best local and organic ingredients, which further enhances the taste of each entrée.
Dinner options include an array grouper, red snapper, tri-colored carrots, asparagus, broccoli, cheeses, nuts and more incredible ingredients. Breakfast is just as elaborate, with options such as lobster benedict, omelets and seasonal fruit.
90% of Loggerhead Sea turtles nest in Florida, and Edgewater works with The City of Naples Sea Turtle Protection Program to make sure these little guys and their nests are protected. Guests are urged to follow the rules below:
• Turn off your lights at night- Beachfront hotel lights can confuse hatchings and direct them away from the ocean. Shut off porch lights and close your curtains at night.
• Do not disturb nests- Keep a safe distance from nests. Professionals typically mark these areas with yellow tape.
• Knock down sandcastles and fill in holes- After a day of play in the sun, flatten any structures that could block a turtle and fill in hazardous holes.
• Toss food- Scraps attract turtle predators, like raccoons. Raccoons will munch on a leftover bag of chips and on poor little turtle eggs too.
• Skip the fireworks- Go to a professionally organized show, because setting off a display near a nest could be harmful.
• Report incidents- If you see someone disturbing a nest (try to inform them of the danger first), or if you spot an injured turtle, contact the local wildlife association of that area.
Photo Courtesy Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort
Situated off of the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk, the Margaritaville Beach Resort is a versatile, family friendly vacation spot loaded with fun activities. The hotel boasts three gorgeous pools, one being kid friendly, and another adults-only one on the 11th floor terrace. Of course, there is a Margaritaville restaurant, as well as a coffee shop, tiki bar, Landshark Bar and Grill, Floridays Airstream Café, JWB Prime Steak and Seafood, and a few other unique dining options. Rooms include comfortable beds with little parrots embroidered on the sheets, complimentary “paradise” water and spacious, spa- like bathrooms. The St. Somewhere Spa is the cherry on top of the casual-yet-luxurious resort, offering a full list of spa services and lounges.
Margaritaville is equipped with energy conserving features such as the automatic HVAC shut off in every guest room. When the room is vacant for an extended period, the air conditioning unit will shut itself off. No worries though, the room is still at a very comfortable temperature upon returning. The fitness center has a similar feature. While empty, the lights will shut off. In a hotel the size of this one- 349 rooms and 17 stories to be exact- little things like this make an enormous impact.
JWB Prime Steak and Seafood was the final of the eight food and beverage concepts to be opened and is partially constructed with reclaimed materials. Ingredients such as fruit purees are used to create unique cocktails, and other local ingredients are incorporated into dishes. Perhaps the most unique thing about JWB is their Spear-Caught Fishing Program. Local fisherman catch fish by spearing, which is considered to be more sustainable and protects the ecological systems of Florida. Nets and lines can damage the delicate balance of the ocean. Consumers know where their fish came from, as well as the fisherman who caught it.
I was more impressed with the breakfast offerings at the resort than any other meal. While the coffee shop offers indulgent choices, the Margaritaville restaurant opens up for breakfast too, serving large fruit plates, oatmeal, yogurt parfaits and a variety of eggs. Room service is available throughout the day, offering organic veggies, salads and other healthy choices.
Photo by Pam Tyson Yasinski
Part of the SunStream Collection of Florida hotels, Gullwing is a condominium-style hotel that offers every amenity of home. Separated bedrooms, a full kitchen, laundry room, luxurious bathrooms with multiple showerheads, a large furnished porch and living room with flat screen television make the oceanfront location the perfect place for an extended beach stay. The area is calm and serene, situated a few miles away from the crowded parts of Fort Meyers. Grills are available for cooking up the day’s catch and a pool area with Squawk’s Snack Bar is great for the family. Sugary-white sand and an extended, flat beach provides plenty of space for activities.
Sunstream hotels are some of the 4,000 hotels involved with Clean the World, a non-profit organization that recycles unused, leftover soaps and sends them to developing countries and homeless shelters, where unsanitary conditions can lead to respiratory infections, cholera, pneumonia and other deadly illnesses. Clean the World sanitizes the recycled soap, and has shipped 25 million bars since 2009.
The hotel group is also a part of the Florida department of Environmental Protection’s Green Lodging Program, which praises and rewards hotels for being eco-friendly. Sunstream makes a strong recycling effort, making it easy for guests and employees to repurpose not only basic items like paper and glass, but batteries, ink cartridges, computer equipment and light bulbs as well. Since 2008, their recycling rate has increased by 68%.
Water conservancy, energy efficient appliances, green lighting and air quality improvement equipment are a few more contributions the group makes toward preserving the environment. Over the past eight years, they have seen a 32% electricity usage decrease.
Like Edgewater, Gullwing and Sunstream are protecting the turtles by following the guidelines of Turtle Time, a non-profit organization that works to preserve Loggerhead turtles. The rules mirror those of the Naples Sea Turtle Protection Program.
I am a strong believer in being good to earth, in all that I do. Finding eco-friendly vacation spots has been a recent recollection for me. By committing to supporting hotels that recycle, conserve energy and preserve wildlife, we are making a huge impact by preventing unfathomable amounts of waste and destruction. I’m certainly not perfect and have a long way to go, but I’m excited about my future adventures in “green” travel.
Karyn 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.
Photo by Fotolia
Living a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle can be beneficial for the planet and your wallet. There are many surprising ways that going green could save you money, and you can make a few simple changes that may dramatically cut your living expenses.
Lower Gas Costs
You can save yourself a lot of money on gas for your vehicle by either carpooling, taking the bus, or commuting by bike when you can. Finding more eco-friendly alternatives to driving your car all the time may even save you thousands of dollars per year. If working from home is an option, this can also be a more environmentally friendly alternative, since you won’t have to drive to work every day.
Reduced Energy Expenses
The money it costs to heat or cool the inside of your building can quickly eat away at your budget. To get the most for your money, you should make sure your home’s HVAC system receives the necessary maintenance so that no energy is wasted. Simply having your air filter regularly cleaned is an excellent way to conserve energy and lower your utility costs. Old or damaged electrical outlets can also be a source of wasted energy, as well as a fire hazard. New Jersey electricians Team Electric, Plumbing and Air recommend replacing old outlets with newer, childproof models.
Money Saved on Food
When considering your food budget, there are greener options for eating that can save you money and help the environment at the same time. Packing and transporting food to supermarket shelves requires a lot of gas, energy and money, and you can expect to pay more to help cover these expenses. Growing your own vegetables at home is a great way to eliminate these extra costs while doing some good for the planet.
Reducing Water Usage
If you want to lower your water bill, adjusting your water heater’s settings may be the perfect way to cut some of the costs while conserving energy. The hotter you allow your water temperature to get, the more gas or electricity it will take to heat it. By simply turning down the temperature a little, you may quickly notice the savings on your next water bill.
Lower Waste Disposal Costs
If you are a homeowner, you have to pay to have your trash hauled off to the dump each week. By reducing your waste, you can schedule trash pickups to occur less frequently and limit the trash that ends up in landfills. Recycling aluminum cans, paper products and other household materials is one of the best ways to make your trash loads smaller. Composting your food waste not only reduces what you send to the landfill, but can also be an almost inexhaustible source of fertile soil for your garden.
Going green is not only beneficial for the environment, it can have a positive impact on your finances. Making just a few adjustments to the way you live can quickly yield great results.
Photo by Fotolia
More and more people worldwide are awakening to the benefits of organic products, food and drinks included. Various studies into the impact of clean eating confirm the gains organic labels entail for the environment and human health, and eco-friendly recipes are multiplying at the speed of light. But what about environmentally conscious alcohol? Beer, wine, and liquor production and distribution have a negative effect on the environment, and air, water, and soil pollution is already turning the climate against mankind. Still, there’s hope: it seems that major players in the alcohol industry have finally realized that a neglectful attitude to natural resources can only end in loss of profits. This realization triggered the advent of organic alcoholic beverages sourced, manufactured, packaged, and distributed with sustainability in mind. But how can you tell environmentally responsible drinks from their non-eco counterparts? Here are a few tips on how to drown your sorrows without damaging Mother Earth.
Always double-check the labels
When picking your poison, don’t just grab a suave bottle or nice-looking can and call it a day. If you want to drink responsibly in terms of the environment, always check the list of ingredients. Unfortunately, many brands in the alcohol industry don’t disclose ingredients used in production of their liqueur over formula theft concerns. On the plus side, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau stepped up alcohol content control efforts back in 2007, when it called on manufacturers to include nutritional labels on the packaging – and many companies found it better to adhere to the proposed measure than risk potential penalty points.
If you’re not seeing the information you’re looking for on the bottle or can, try to find a detailed list of ingredients and production procedures online. Or, make life easier on yourself and simply stick to the brands that take environmental responsibility seriously and can back it up with transparent labels.
Look for pesticide- and flavorant-free drinks
There’s no shortage of green alcoholic drinks out there: Crop Vodka, Tequila Alquimia, Square One Vodka, Prairie Vodka and Gin, Hall Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Naked Merlot, Juniper Green Organic Gin and vegan-friendly Asahi beer are only a few among the heady beverages made from 100% organic ingredients, grown without use of pesticides and produced without artificial colorants, flavors, preservatives, and other hazardous chemicals.
If you want to stay on the eco-conscious side when throwing back a stiff drink, go online and do your research before shopping for alcohol – or, if possible, ask the producer about details pertaining to the growing, harvesting, brewing, and packaging of their spirits.
Shop local for environmental bonus points
When buying liquor, wine, or beer, opt for local over international brands. Shipping of alcoholic beverages entails a high carbon footprint, so the shorter the distance the bottle or can travelled, the lower its environmental impact will be. For this reason, buying wine straight from a local vineyard or opting for beer crafted in your hometown over an imported can is a safe bet that goes a long way in terms of environmentally responsible bottle-tipping – and for a sweet bonus, you’ll also be doing your community a favor.
Sustainable beverage packaging for eco-safe guzzles
Packaging selection is another aspect where you can curb your environmental impact by simply choosing the eco-safe bottle or can. For instance, glass and aluminum containers are recyclable. Most beer cans, however, feature BPA lining which can be potentially hazardous for both human health and the environment. To reduce your carbon footprint, ditch plastic and mixed-material bottles, and stick to tetra pak or boxed wines.
Also, make sure you drink your favorite stiff drink from a reusable growler, glass, or tumbler and not a plastic cup, and check the cap to make sure your inebriating beverage is eco-safe through and through. Another convenient way to clean up your drinking habit is to skip the straw when ordering a cocktail at the bar: even tiny pieces of plastic can wind up in the sea and claim the life of an underwater critter, to say nothing of soil and water pollution.
Back eco-friendly companies and producers who care about the environment
Many brands in the alcohol industry support sustainable practices both inside and outside their core business. This is why knowing your favorite brands’ policy and initiatives they endorse, advocate, or fund is extremely important for long-term and large-scale environmental impact of your liqueur tasting sprees. Distilleries and breweries that employ sustainable alcohol production procedures or participate in eco-friendly campaigns deserve your trust and loyalty more than those whose policy revolves around profits alone – so pick both your poison and its mastermind wisely, and with Mother Nature’s benefit in mind.
There’s more to drinking responsibly than just not drinking and driving. Fortunately for Mother Earth, there’s an entire microcosm of organic drinks emerging on the alcoholic horizon, and the brands that make the effort are by all means worth a shot (pun intended). Cheers!
Photo by Fotolia
Tires can be used for much more than wheeling your car around. There are a whole bunch of great ways to recycle and upcycle tires into everything from home decor items to utilitarian yard projects. Here are 5 of my favorite things to do with old tires:
Tire sandals are a great way to recycle old tires into something stylish, unique and useful.
In fact, I recently found out that tire sandals are actually a common footwear form in Africa, and have existed there for decades! Since they are made of rubber, they’re extremely durable, and can be used very effectively outdoors. Here’s a great tutorial on how to make some neat tire sandals.
There are many different styles of tire ottomans, but I particularly love this rope covered one from Boredom Therapy. If I didn’t know better, I’d have pegged it as something from a boutique furniture store! Even though it takes some time and effort to create, it is worth the money you will save rather than buying a similar piece elsewhere. These funky little pieces of furniture might be just what you need to add an edge to your living room.
It’s always hard to find an effective and sustainable way to store hoses. More often than not, hoses end up lying on the ground, getting unnecessarily tangled up. This hose caddy eliminates that problem, and is a neat and extremely simple way to keep your hoses tidy. All you have to do is cut one sidewall off an old tire, and then curl your hose up in it. You can get creative with your caddy too, and paint it in to match your garden, or decorate it in any other way you’d like for a polished appearance.
Tire Mirror Frame
Another home decor project, but this one is a somewhat less time consuming than the ottoman. Upcycling an old bicycle tire can lead to this wonderful mirror frame, and all it requires is matching the mirror to the tire size. It’s easy to customize too, with different ornaments, paint colors and patterns as per your liking!
The ultimate garden decor accessory - tire swings are a simple but perfect addition that bring back wonderful childhood memories. Even if you don’t have young kids, having a tire swing in your garden or backyard can be a unique style statement. They add to the welcoming vibe of any space, and will always be a crowd- pleaser in the summer months. Not to mention, they are super easy to put together!
Hopefully, these ideas will convince you to not throw your old tires away and inspire you to reuse and recycle them! What’s not to like about less environmental waste and a very unique end-product? Ultimately, revamping old tires into artsy and useful items is a win-win situation!
Akshata Mehta has a passion for traveling and exploring the world. She loves to write and is interested in entrepreneurship and sustainability.
Photo courtesy Dress for Success
This issue’s charity: Dress for Success
Why they’re crucial: The effects of poverty are long-lasting, and they’re particularly hard on women and their families. To improve their quality of life, it’s vital that every woman has the skills and confidence needed to find and keep a job. Since 1997, Dress for Success Worldwide has helped more than 850,000 women by providing a network of professional support, development tools and work attire. Women referred to Dress for Success are partnered with a staff member who helps them search for jobs, create resumes and prepare for interviews. The organization’s Suiting Program provides each client with a specially selected career suit, cosmetics, footwear and accessories. Dress for Success then provides clients who find work with a full week’s worth of professional attire.
What they do:
• Collect and distribute donated professional attire.
• Provide women looking for work with valuable professional training and coaching.
• Create a support network for recently employed women to help with professional and financial skills.
• Provide a 10-week intensive workshop series, including networking seminars and job search support, for participants in the organization’s Suiting Program who haven’t secured employment.
How we can help: Throughout the duration of this issue, we’re collecting donations to this important charity. To join our efforts, visit dressforsuccess.org. Or mail donations directly to Dress for Success at 32 E. 31st St., 7th floor, New York, New York 10016. 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 Dress for Success.
Did you know...
• The poverty gap between men and women widens significantly between the ages of 18 and 24.
• On average, the women participating in Dress for Success are raising two to three children.
• 23 percent of mothers are out of the workforce, compared with 1 percent of fathers.
• 75% of women who are part of Dress for Success’ Professional Women’s Group retained their jobs after one year.
Photo by Fotolia
Even though raising chickens takes a lot of effort, it is one of the most fulfilling activities to engage in. Backyard chickens will provide you with fresh eggs, pest control, fertilizers, composting opportunities, and entertainment.
In return, it is your job to protect your beloved chickens from various predators. Protecting your chickens can be difficult, as chickens are prey for many creatures - from owls and hawks to snakes and rats. Over the course of raising chickens, it is very likely that you might lose a bird to a predatory animal. However, keeping these tips in mind will greatly reduce the risk of predation, and help keep your flock safe and sound:
1. Train your chickens to return to the chicken house every evening, and make sure to always close it. According to Grit editorial director Hank Will, “If you raise your chicks in that coop, they will naturally return to lay eggs and roost at night after you let them range for the day.”
2. Keep the coop and run closed from the top as well. To do this, use welded wire, game-bird netting or even random crisscrossed wires. This will prevents predatory birds from attacking the chickens at night. If owls are a problem in your area, then make sure to close out the coop before nightfall, as owls prey in the evening too.
3. Consider electrified netting. Using chicken wire as a fencing mechanism may work to safeguard chickens against owls and hawks and also keep chickens inside, but it won’t help in keeping creatures like raccoons out. Raccoons can easily pick their way through chicken wire, so you should use something sturdier. Consider installing electrified netting to keep away land predators. There are several different options for electrified fencing that you could benefit from, depending on the predators in the area and the size of your coop.
4. Keep the coop raised at least one foot off the ground. This will discourage rats, snakes and skunks to take up residence beneath the coop, minimizing chances of stolen eggs and chicks.
5. Eliminate open food sources. Food, including chicken feed, attracts all sorts of pests. Once mealtimes are over, make sure to clean up any leftover feed. Another option is to use store shed separately in a shed or garage, Don’t leave it lying around unless completely necessary.
6. Introduce “guardian animals”. According the The Chicken Chick, certain animals acts as flock guardians. These include llamas, donkeys, geese and even roosters.
7. Prepare for the worst. Even if you implement all sorts of high end security, having an emergency plan in case you discover predation is always critical. Know the enemy, and potential ways to get rid of it in an unfortunate situation. Failure to do so might lead to the loss of your beloved chickens, in a situation where they could have been saved.
There are many new devices around the market that can aid in protecting chickens. From motion sensors to night-vision cameras, there are various gadgets that are at your disposal. However, unless your situation calls for it, there is no need to blow up your budget on these sorts of devices. Hopefully, these basic tips above will aid in protecting your chickens at a primary level, letting your mind rest in peace, and encouraging a happy, productive flock.
Akshata Mehta has a passion for traveling and exploring the world. She loves to write and is interested in entrepreneurship and sustainability.