Photo by Fotolia
These days, the term "Going Green" is no longer a new concept, but technology continues to improve upon this theme with new, innovative products and scientific findings. The following are a few ways businesses can lower overhead and improve both indoor and outdoor environments in their offices.
Healthy Indoor Environments
Regardless of the size of the building, when people walk into a business with growing plants, water ponds and nature sounds, the change in their heart rate and stress level lowers. The plants filter the air; the trickling water relieves stress, and the sounds make the room feel like the great outdoors. Even break rooms and food courts benefit from this environment, helping workers relax from otherwise taxing jobs.
Some companies, such as the UK-based Innocent Drinks, realize that being natural, responsible, and generous is part of running a successful business. Innocent even has a gym in the office, which helps their employees stay healthy and focused. They also offer natural, nutritious foods for employees on-site. Promoting the health and morale of the employees naturally improves their disposition and how they deal with customers and the general public. It also improves job concentration, resulting in fewer errors in performance.
Sustainable Policies and Professional Training
In the last few years, helped by policy changes towards the end of the 20th century, business owners and the general public are more mindful of the impact they have on the environment. Earning a Masters in public administration is one way some individuals have started a career in the area of public policy and sustainability. Some of the exciting career choices for MPAs include departments of health and human services, government, public management, foreign and state affairs, and other public or nonprofit organizations.
In many cases, businesses have been able to augment and change their policies to include more Earth-friendly practices and actually save money on overhead costs. Businesses which were formerly reliant on the petrochemical industry have been able to implement policies that distance themselves from destructive practices. One such company, Interface Global, was able to save money and remain a leading manufacturer of carpet tiles. By changing their company practices, they were able to refocus on sustainability without sacrificing business goals.
Additional Expectations for the Future
Among other innovations, LED lighting in homes, buildings and even automobile headlamps, offer impressive savings. LED lights are more reliable and less expensive than traditional bulbs, due to their longer lifespan.
Solar Power also regularly makes headlines with new applications that include a paint used on the outside of buildings and cars. Recently, the photovoltaic cells used in solar panels have been adapted to glass, creating windows that power the buildings in which they are installed. This is another emerging technology just getting off the ground and gaining speed, but will surely become more adaptable and applicable in the near future.
With continued improvements in electrical storage devices for Solar Power and organizations demanding clear air and water, the future looks bright for emerging professionals who understand the benefits of adopting environmental policies for businesses.
Fashion, an industry that rakes in 3 trillion dollars a year, is one of the most toxic industries—alongside big oil companies—and places a heavy burden on Mother Earth, rapidly depleting natural resources.
Fast Fashion Facts
• The manufacturing of polyester and other synthetic fabrics requires energy-intensive processing, which uses large amounts of crude oil and releases harmful, volatile emissions.
• Cotton crops use a quarter of US pesticides and nearly 3 percent of the world’s annual water supply.
According to the 2015 fast fashion documentary, “True Cost” directed by Andrew Morgan:
• 80 billion pieces of clothing are purchased worldwide yearly, a 400 percent increase from 20 years ago
• Americans throw away more than 82 pounds of clothing and shoes, per person, per year
• In 1960, 95 percent of clothing was made in the United States. Now only 5 percent of clothing is made in the States.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Solid Waste reports:
• Only 10 percent of the clothing donated to thrift stores is sold, the rest end up in landfills
• Women waste 7 times more clothing than men!
So what can we do?
1. Stop creating the demand for fast fashion.
2. Spend wisely by investing in eco-conscious companies that use sustainable materials, such as organic cotton, hemp or bamboo, recycled materials, and treat workers fairly.
3. Buy high quality items that will last a decade, if not a lifetime. Local Goodwill, Salvation Army and other resale shops are great places to find gently used, quality items for great prices.
Patagonia was the first conscious company I fell in love with and have supported since I was a senior in high school. They were the first company to really take eco-fashion seriously—making fleece from recycled plastic bottles and using organic cotton and hemp to create stylish apparel. That was back in the ‘90s, when not too many people knew about eco-fashion. Since then the industry has evolved; now there is simply no excuse not to invest in alternative, eco-friendly brands—for Earth and for all.
3 Conscious Companies
Blue Canoe, a woman-owned and -run San Francisco based clothing company, has been committed to creating quality fashion since 1994. They offer a full line of timeless, super-soft organic cotton and silky bamboo women’s clothing and lingerie. The line is totally comfortable and really gorgeous.
Sole Rebels, the world’s first Fair Trade footwear company, handcrafts recycled car tire soled shoes in Ethiopia. These unisex shoes are fashionable and comfortable, with styles ranging from ballet flats and sandals to boots and sneakers. They also offer leather and vegan options, all in a variety of fun, fresh prints.
Sole Rebels are modestly priced and come with a “happy sole guarantee.” Shipped in a organic cotton sack to reduce waste and ship anywhere in the world, for free. Sole Rebels pays their employees a “proud wage,” that is 4 times the local minimum wage. In turn, the talented artisans crafting the shoe put a lot of love and soul into each pair, you can feel it when you put them on. This is one company you don’t want to overlook with your purchasing power.
Corature makes fashion accessories out of eco-friendly cork left over from the wine stopper industry! They offer smooth, affordable, high-quality phone cases, wallets and clutches in an array of colors. Products are made in Shenzhen, China. “After years of searching we found a factory that could produce to the standards that we need and at a price point which would allow us to bring to market a viable alternative to leather,” says owner Jake Williamson. In the future, Corature hopes to offer luxury items made in the United States, but are committed to keeping their price-point and footprint low as the world adjusts to the reality of eco-alternatives.
All of the companies mentioned are creating quality eco-fashions, and doing great things to help eliminate fast fashion trends, environmentally-harmful practices and poor working conditions.
Learn more about eco-fashion in Runway Fashion: Find Eco-Fashion Essentials for Your Wardrobe
and Ethical Alternatives to Designer Handbags
Shar Veda, Southern Oregon’s Premier Alternative Therapist, offers deep healing through loving touch and compassionate counsel. She is an Ayurveda Lifestyle Counselor & Health Educator, yoga therapist and herbalist. Shar has been blessed to study with leading teachers in Ayurveda, Yoga, and herbalism for 20 years. However, it was her adopted grandma, Doe (English-American and Blackfoot Native), who instilled within her profound appreciation for the supreme power of loving touch, healing arts, and world family. Visit her website for a video, full bio, and photos or find her on Facebook and Instagram!
Photo courtesy of Living Goods
This issue’s charity: Living Goods
Why they’re crucial: When disease hits, many of us are fortunate enough to easily access the medicines and medical expertise we need in order to get well. In places such as Uganda, Zambia and Myanmar, however, prohibitively priced medicines and lack of access can make treatable diseases such as malaria or pneumonia fatal. Living Goods works to provide desperately needed health products in developing countries around the world, and to encourage female entrepreneurship at a local level, through a door-to-door model of distribution. Living Goods trains women in the communities where they live to visit families, provide at-home health advice, and sell health products at an affordable price.
What they do:
• Distribute simple, life-changing health products such as water filters and medicines to communities in need.
• Create entrepreneurship opportunities for women through a door-to-door sales and distribution model.
• Work to prevent child death from diseases such as malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia.
• Create sustainable models for community health in developing countries.
How we can help: Throughout the duration of this issue, we’re collecting donations to this important charity. To join our efforts, visit livinggoods.org. Or mail donations directly to Living Goods, 220 Halleck Street, Suite 200, The Presidio, San Francisco, CA, 94129. 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 Living Goods.
Did you know...
• Malaria, pneumonia & diarrheal disease cause up to 60 percent of child deaths in Africa.
• 6 million children will die this year from treatable diseases.
• Many child deaths caused by disease could be prevented for less than the cost of a cup of coffee.
• In Africa, there are only 2.3 health-care workers per 1,000 people;in the Americas, there are 24.
• An independent study found that Living Goods’ community health agents reduce child deaths by more than 25 percent for less than $2 per person annually.
Photo by Fotolia
It’s a popular idea that interior design and our feelings go hand in hand. Behavioral scientists are now learning that this may have some truth. Not only that, but the right room design can promote creativity, relaxation or even socialization. Everything from the ceiling height to the color of the wall can impact your mood, and, if done without considering the psychological effect, even cause anxiety. If done well, however, they can promote wellness.
A study published in the Journal of Consumer research suggested that the height of the ceiling in a room can impact the way a person thinks, acts and feels. According to this study a 10-foot high ceiling will promote abstract and free thinking, which leads to creative ideas and solutions. On the other hand, a person living in a space with an 8-foot ceiling tends to focus on specifics and think practically. If you happen to be stuck with a low ceiling, you can always use tricks, such as lighting, floor-to-ceiling doors, striped wallpaper to give the illusion of height.
It is no secret that different colors trigger different emotions. Based on the knowledge we have on colors, we can conclude which shades are the best for which room. The bedroom, for instance, should be painted in soothing and relaxing hues, like soft greens and blues, while the living room can be colored in vivid shades to encourage socializing, creativity and happiness. When you are choosing a color palette, you do not have to stick to one color, you can use a combination of neutral for larger surfaces, calm shades for furniture and dramatic shades for accessories.
Photo by Fotolia
As with colors, lighting can make a person feel happy and energized, or moody and anxious. The more natural light is allowed into the space, the better a person in it will feel. Additionally, if the windows look onto trees or a green space, it can improve focus. The intensity of person’s emotions (both positive and negative) is proportional to the intensity of light. Poor lighting can cause feelings of sadness and fatigue, while excessive artificial lighting leads to nervousness and anxiety.
The Furniture and Accessories
These elements make a home feel like home, so it is no wonder they play such an important role in making people feel pleasant and relaxed. A comfortable sofa filled with throw pillows in a living room will evoke socializing and fun conversations, while a leather, straight lined sofa will reflect a more formal sense. It is similar with curtains, bed covers and rugs. For example, rug manufacturer Zado suggests that a soft shag rug next to the bed in the bedroom will make waking up much easier, giving your feet a soft place to land.
Clutter vs. Open Space
Clutter, and here we do not only mean general mess, but also overcrowded furniture and accessories, can drain and frustrate a person. On the other hand, an open space can make a person feel more relaxed, free and creative. Holding on to too many old items can make you feel suffocated, or even depressed. To create a healthier living space, try decluttering, using demonstrated techniques such as the Konmari method. Visualize your ideal space, set goals, and keep only the items you really need or really love.
Photo by Fotolia
House plants are known for cleaning the air indoors, but they do much more than that. They are directly linked to wellness, since they generally improve mood and sense of wellbeing. Additionally, the presence of house plants can reduce stress, depression and anxiety, and increase self-esteem, calmness, optimism, relaxation and sense of control and stability. Some of the best mood-improvers out there include aloe, English ivy, rubber tree, peace lily, snake plant, bamboo palm, philodendron, spider plant, dracaena and golden pothos.
All of these suggestions can be applied differently to various rooms in your house. Dress your room for its function (e.g. bedroom = relaxation, living room = socialization, home office = creativity and focus, etc.), and you may find your mood and overall satisfaction with your living space improve as a result.
Photo by Fotolia
In this day and age, it can be easy to feel like you are losing your sanity. With work, commuting, and the other demands of modern life, it's easy to feel stressed-out. It's important to take time every day to do things that promote relief from stress as well as contribute to your overall health and well-being. Here are five activities that can help moderate your sanity:
Have a Social Life
Your social life is important. Having a support system is crucial for any dark times or crisis that life may throw at you. Having a tight circle of family and friends will enrich your life and provide opportunities for fun. It's also nice to have parties or gatherings to look forward to after a long work week.
When you were a child, you undoubtedly spent many hours coloring, drawing, or doing other creative activities. As people grow older they tend to lose interest in these sorts of things. School, work, and other adult responsibilities take over a lot of time and can leave you feeling drained and unhappy. Take time to do something creative, whether it be making music, painting, or doing arts and crafts.
Never Stop Learning
One of the best things you can do for your mind is to constantly challenge it. Read, watch documentaries, and always be on the lookout for learning opportunities. You will acquire more knowledge learnt that it's a great way to gain confidence and a new perspective on the world.
Being sedentary is one of the worst things you can do for your mental health. So get up and get moving. Exercise does many wonderful things for the body and the brain. You can lose weight, get in shape, and improve your health. A healthy brain is less prone to experience stress. Plus, you'll have a sense of satisfaction and pride in accomplishing goals. Go for a walk or start riding a bike. Practicing any physical activity will do wonders for your sanity. If you're looking for equipment to get started, try online coupon sources such as discountrue for discounts on equipment and supplies for an active lifestyle.
Some of the major reasons for stress involve worrying about the future. Bills, deadlines, and responsibilities can make you feel anxious. It's important to take time to consider the present moment and learn to appreciate things as they happen. Practicing mindfulness through meditation can help bring balance, inner calm, and a more optimistic outlook on life.
It's not difficult to find ways to reduce stress. The most important thing is to make time to have fun and enjoy yourself.
Many pet owners struggle to help their pets deal with anxiety, especially dogs, which can do some serious damage. Problems like excessive barking, chewing, jumping, housebreaking issues and even escape attempts are common symptoms of dogs dealing with anxiety.
Photo by tranmautritam.
Some pet owners are able to help their pets learn how to cope with anxiety, but others can’t. The anxiety may be too severe, the owners may not have the resources to deal with it, or there may be a chemical imbalance in the animal’s brain. No matter what the reason, many people are turning to medications in order to help their furry friends live happier lives.
Almost 3 million dogs are now on some form of anti-anxiety medication in the United States. This is actually less than 4 percent of the 77 million dogs that are owned, but the number is climbing.
Why Medicate Your Dog?
Most people are opting for medications for their pets because it really helps. Most of these people have tried other options and haven’t found them to be helpful. This is especially true for pets that experience separation anxiety. Pet owners can see the pain their pets are in when they’re left alone, and it causes them stress, too.
Some vets prefer using medication as a last resort, in part due to the potential side effects. Like all drugs, doggie Prozac does have some risks, including a loss of appetite, vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea and tremors. For some people, that may be too much of a risk to subject their pets to. For others, the anxiety or aggression is worse than side effects that may or may not affect their pet.
When humans are given an anti-anxiety drug, they are also usually in conjunction with some form of therapy. The idea is that the medication will be a short-term solution, while the therapy can help them develop the coping skills to live without needing to rely on medication. Pets, however, aren’t usually presented with this kind of tag-team combination. That means once the dog starts a medication for anxiety, there aren’t many other efforts made to help the animal learn how to handle stressful situations.
If your pet finds an experience stressful, like going to a pet wash or the vet, medication isn’t going to help them find a better way to deal with it, like behavioral training would. However, it might give you a good starting point, and help your dog stay calm enough during these stressful experiences that they can start to relearn how to handle them.
Are There Other Options?
Of course there are other options. There’s an entire industry dedicated to helping your pets deal with anxiety and aggression issues. Some people swear by things like essential oils, pheromone-releasing collars, coats designed to hug the dog to provide security, and treats that are marketed to calm your pets during stressful events.
Not all animals respond to this kind of treatment. By a wide margin, most veterinarians agree that any product will work best when used in conjunction with behavior-modification training. Because we are talking about dogs, the effects of the medications are little more questionable. We can’t tell if the animals are actually happier and calmer, or if the medication only suppresses the behaviors.
Ultimately, the decision to medicate your pet is a deeply personal one. Some vets will recommend the medications if they believe other options won’t be helpful to your particular situation, but most will ask that you continue to use behavior modification techniques, even with the meds.
So, what do you think? Should you medicate your pets, should it be a last resort or are the side effects too much of a risk for any family member–furry or not?
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.
Easter is often associated with chocolate bunnies, artificial colors and a big, high-fat meal. According to the National Confectioner’s Association, Easter is one of the biggest holidays for candy consumption, with 120 million pounds of candy being purchased every year. Let’s not forget the 16 billion jelly beans that are made for the occasion. Yikes!
There’s so much opportunity for healthful fun during this spring holiday. A festive Easter doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your health; there many resources right at your fingertips, and we’ve collected a few of our favorites to share with you.
Photo by Fotolia.
Ditch Artificial Colors
Artificial colors are extremely harmful, with each one having its own nasty side effects. Luckily, Mother Nature has provided us with vibrant, beautiful plants with extracts that can be derived to make safe, effective food coloring or dye. Turmeric, matcha, beets, berries, cocoa, spinach and carrots are just a few of the plants that can add a rainbow of colors to cakes, appetizers, Easter eggs and just about anything else your heart desires.
If you don’t feel like making or buying natural food coloring, top your desserts with fresh berries or use garnishes like parsley, carrot shavings or lemon to make your main dishes gorgeously bright.
Clean Up the Easter Baskets
Have you read the back of that chocolate bunny from the grocery store? More times than not, you will discover a list of unidentifiable or just straight bad-for-you ingredients. Choose companies that are dedicated to make delicious, healthy treats, like The Natural Candy Store, Rose City and Allison’s Gourmet which all carry vegan, organic and fair trade treats. Sjaak's Organic Chocolates offers a load of adorable Easter treats and gift baskets.
Maybe your kids don’t like chocolate. You can buy bunny lollipops and all-natural jelly beans from Surf Sweets or vegan fruit chews from their sister company, TruJoy.
I think it’s important to steer away from giving the kids too much candy, so add in some cute, festive items with a little more substance. Annie’s Organic Cheddar Bunnies taste similar to Goldfish crackers, but they’re a safer, healthier choice. I recently came across Bitsy’s Brainfood, and they make a variety of foods aimed towards kids, like alphabet-shaped cookies that are infused with healthy ingredients. As an added bonus, there are games on the back of the packaging.
When making Easter baskets, I try to stay away from using only edible items, so I will toss in some beauty items or toys, too. This year, I’m making adult baskets in addition to the treats I am preparing for nieces and nephews, so I am going to add a few Mad Hippie Skin Care products. Mad Hippie is an all-natural line and the packaging is covered in flowers…pretty fitting for Easter.
Change Up the Meal
Over the past few years, our Easter menu has begun to gradually change…for the better. If you’re like us, you have a feast including ham, stuffed eggs, potato salad, some kind of Jello-thing, and too many cakes or pies.
This year: No ham. We’ll be focusing our meal around healthy, plant-based, bright-colored dishes like spinach salad with strawberries and goat cheese, roasted herb potatoes, grape-blueberry skewers and mushroom quiche. For dessert, I’ll be serving strawberry rhubarb Hail Merry Miracle Tarts, which are tiny, vegan, non-GMO, all-natural desserts. Each tart contains only 3 grams of sugar and is made with wholesome ingredients, such as coconut oil and almond flour.
Breathing fresh air does wonders for the mind and body, as does exercise. Have fun and engage with your family by planning events outside following your meal. We usually have an Easter Whiffle Ball game, and it’s great exercise for all ages.
Plan an egg hunt for the kids. And one for the adults, too! Adult hunts are hilarious and a lot of fun. Separate everyone into two teams, each having a specified egg color to search for. Each team hides the other team’s eggs. You decide what the winning team gets.
Let this Easter be the first step in striving for more healthful, earth-friendly holidays!
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.