Eco-Friendly Ways to Reuse Green Tea

10 Eco-Friendly Ways to Reuse Green Tea

Believe it or not, green tea isn’t just for drinking. In fact, the teabags or looseleaf contents from this ancient and powerful beverage can actually be repurposed around your home, in your garden, and even in your skincare routine.

So don’t toss them out too quickly before thinking about how you can extend their use. Instead, save them up and pick a few ways to reuse them from the list of suggestions below.

1. Freshen up your yoga mat. While essential oils (like tea tree oil) and organic mat sprays are great for keeping your yoga mat clean and bacteria-free, green tea is another good alternative. Just add your used green tea bags to some warm water and use a washcloth to clean and eliminate any lingering odors from your mat.

2. Deodorize your cat’s litter box. Leave some looseleaf green tea out to dry completely and then it to your cat’s litter box for a natural solution to neutralize odors. You can even place them in other stinky places to suck up bad odors, like near the trash can.

3. Break down caked-on food and grease. Next time you cook up a storm, try adding a few used green tea bags to your dishes left to soak in warm water in the sink. The acidic tennis is exactly what you need to help lift and remove all that extra grease and gunk.

4. Polish wooden flooring. Switch from your regular floor cleaner to green tea bags to give it some extra shine. Fill a bucket with boiling water plus 5 to 10 tea bags and use it with a mop or cloth to clean your floors. This technique can even work for wooden furniture too.

5. Wash windows and mirrors. Say no to Windex and yes to green tea! Just brew up another batch of tea with your used looseleaf tea or teabags, wait until it cools to room temperature, pour it into a spray bottle and give a couple of sprays to your windows and mirrors to wipe them down.

6. Cleanse carpets. Around 10 minutes before you run your vacuum over your carpets, try sprinkling some used, dry green tea over them. The tea will help lift odors and other grimy stuff away so you can vacuum it up.

7. Help your houseplants. Take your looseleaf tea or rip open your teabags and sprinkle the loose stuff over the soil of your houseplants to enrich the soil and keep insects away. Keeping a used, dried teabag beneath the soil can also help absorb any extra water and redistribute it more evenly.

8. Speed up decomposition. Your compost pile can benefit from tossing used green tea bags (as long as the bags are biodegradable) in with the rest of your organic waste. You can even pour a few cups of twice-brewed green tea into your compost to help with acidity and speed up the entire decomposition process.

9. Soothe certain skin conditions. Got a sunburn or an itchy mosquito bite? Green tea has healing properties that can help fight inflammation and aid in the relief of a variety of non-severe burns and wounds. Simply take a used, cold green tea bag and apply it as a compress on the affected area.

10. Give yourself a facial. You don’t need to have a burn or bite for your skin to benefit from green tea since it can also soothe tired eyes, reduce puffiness and act as a hydrating facial. You can steam your face over a bowl of hot water with the tea bags or brew up another batch with your used tea, let cool and transfer to a spray bottle to spray your face with once or twice daily.

So what are you waiting for? Time to brew up your next batch of green tea and start saving the leftovers! Now you have even more good excuses to start drinking more of it.

50 Energy Efficient Mindfulness Tips for Your Home

It’s the small things that we’re individually responsible for that make a big difference. With just a few lifestyle adjustments you can not only save some money but save the earth too!

In the average home, 75% of the electricity used to power electronics is consumed while the products are turned off.

Being mindful of our energy consumption empowers us to better understand how to better manage our energy usage. So here are 50 ideas to get you going!

Energy Efficient Mindfulness Practices

Things to Remember on Your Next Nature Walk

Things to Remember on Your Next Nature Walk

Everyday stress can take its toll on us when it gets to unmanageable levels, and it turns out that nature just might be an appropriate prescription to help us cope and bounce back. According to Stanford researchers, getting out in nature has been shown to lower people’s risk of depression while positively impacting both mood and cognitive function.

Of course, physically walking through a park or along a trail is just one small and obvious part of really embracing the activity. Anyone could simply move their legs and sway their arms to walk through a forest, and yet still not fully experience all the mental and physical benefits it has to offer.

Ever feel like you're really "not all there" when you get out to walk? Consider implementing the three following tips into your next nature walk to really maximize the whole experience.

Leave your worries behind

Being out in nature surrounded by trees and away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life tends to have a meditative effect on a lot of people. It’s just easier to be present in a quiet, calm, natural environment.

For others, however, it’s not always so easy. Their minds may still be muddled with thoughts of past events and all the things they have to do once they get off the trail and head back home -- so much so that they aren't even able to take in and enjoy what’s right in front of them.

If you ever find yourself at a point along the trail in which you don’t even remember how you got there, or you notice yourself trying to anxiously get to the next trail marker so you can finish, it’s time to take a step back. Release all your past and future worries as you head out on the trail and work on maintaining that level of mental clarity with the next two tips.

Be in awe of your surroundings

We live in an exciting time where we have constant access to stimulation from technology, but the downside is that many of us have numbed our minds to the point of being unable to fully appreciate some of the stuff that isn’t so stimulating. Nature is just one of those things. Regularly getting out to walk in a natural environment gives us the opportunity to consciously reconnect with the wonders of plant and animal wildlife.

There's no need to book a flight to visit a famous waterfall or go on an African safari in order to experience the awe of nature. Simply getting out to a local park or trail where you can just focus on noticing the shape of a large tree trunk, new growth on a dead log, the colors of the flowers, the sun shining through the canopy of leaves, and the sounds of birds or other animals around you is enough to inspire and astonish you.

Just breathe

Getting out in the fresh air to move our bodies can really help us become more conscious of how we’re breathing, which can instantly change how we feel both in the mind and the body. Making a bad habit of mouth-breathing, breathing too rapidly, or breathing too slowly makes it hard for the body to get enough oxygen, which can lead to higher stress and even illness.

A good breath is a slow and deep one that involves the belly, rib cage, shoulders and clavicles. In addition to helping with mental clarity and emotional relief, deep breathing also brings more oxygen to the blood and shuttles it to the muscles, which is especially helpful on rough terrain or hills during your walk.

So leave your worries behind, get inspired by the wonders of nature that surround you, and just breathe. That’s all you have to do to make your nature walk really worthwhile.

Connecting the Self with Nature

When was the last time you spent an entire day outside? Can you remember your last trip to the beach, or where you last went hiking? Have you ever fell asleep while laying in the tall, cool, grass as you watched the billowing white clouds shape shift against an ocean blue sky?

Some might say these are frivolous ways to squander time, costly and unproductive or considered a child's activity; in truth, these activities are as necessary as air, food and water for sustaining the health and well being of everyone, of all ages. But part of incorporating nature into our lives for the purpose of improving our health is understanding how society has pushed us to be isolated, not just from nature, but also from each other.

The Natural World, Our Natural Place

Have you ever noticed how kids and dogs always know how to have fun? It's something of an innate ability, and it's by virtue of not having forces, like society, pull them out of their natural place. As any kid (or dog) would tell you, you can't really have fun until you're outside. That's where the adventure is.

Celebrating our love for nature by letting the rain splash on our face or catching snowflakes on our tongue is as much tradition as it is nutrition for our mental health. Its in our DNA to be outside. We crave it. That's why kids can't wait to get outside to splash in the puddles. We are outdoor animals, and nature inspires us to be ourselves in the purest form.

And it's because of our relationship with nature that we are able to fully express ourselves. This can be during play, or during contemplation. Consider the often overwhelming sense of wonder when we look up at the stars at night. Deep inside, we ask the eternal questions: Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? Nature inspires this thought, just as it stirs excitement in our souls.

The Balance Between the Individual and the Connection

To answer those questions, as only we can do for ourselves, we need to remember our connection to nature. We need to feel the expanse of the sky above us, feel the earth under our bare feet, the sun on our skin, the wind in our hair. We need to remember our connection to each other.

But what draws us from this is another carnal need: privacy. This balancing point is where the frustrations of modern society pulls the individual in, and causes aches in the soul.

Humans that live packed into tight spaces with very little or no privacy often forget how to stop, be still, to listen and observe in silence. And its no wonder: under such a constant barrage of distraction and manipulation, from school to work to church and their obligations and responsibilities, then family, friends and the latest trends that require attention, then every media on the planet that seeks to plug one in to the stream of advertisements for every conceivable product, all clamoring and vying for our attention.

Modern privacy is caricature of real privacy – the type that inspires the wonder aforementioned. Instead, the ceaseless demand for decisions is exhausting. The digesting of the information overload requires energy. This is a reality bred by our own creation, and is one that must be consciously guarded against. Rather than privacy being provided by nature, it is forced by our own hand, and this is dangerous. 

We tend to fear crossing the street, preferring to be safe with what we know. We suspect any culture or geographical location that is not familiar to us. Bigotry, greed and fear are unseen, but now compulsory factors to our "survival." Our basic human need to feel secure and truly safe is distorted due to a lack of connection with our natural world, and this means we take action to protect ourselves by searching out a place of release from society's pressure.

The Paradox of a Interconnected, Completely Individual Society

What happens, then, when our natural connection to nature its stymied by a false sense of privacy and illusionary isolation? A prickly, disconnected populous, unsure of who is who and who is worth trusting.

A modern example is to notice next time you're in traffic how many cars have one occupant. There is a reason we prefer private vehicles. Its the same reason no one likes being in a elevator with one or more other persons we don't know. We now all have an invisible zone around us that, should anyone enter into, we react defensively. When we step into a full elevator, we hold our breath. We keep our eyes down and stand on front of our feet in anticipation of the doors opening and escaping the brief but barely tolerable invasion of our space.

Consider a movie going experience. The instant we step out of a dark, crowded movie theater we feel our spirit expand like being released from invisible restraint. After so many hours of 'sharing' even the largest spaces with hundreds or thousands of other people, sooner than later we must escape the masses. Our mind feels 'free' as it spreads outward, filling the increased space around us. There is even a physiological reaction to filing out of a stadium after a concert or football game. No matter how much we love the music or the sports, most of us breathe a sigh of relief when we get outside. We feel even better when we get back to a private, familiar space with one or two trusted companions where we can relax and be ourselves.

In some ways, this is natural, in others, this is a sensation exacerbated by the lack of true connection with each other and our world. Yes, every person needs a moment of private solitude to reconnect with themselves at one point or another. But just as seriously, we need to allow ourselves time to truly be private, truly ponder, and truly enjoy the world around us. This soften us, and connects us. We are at our best health, mentally and physically when our eyes see green and blue, as light and color create their own energy, having their own wavelength and frequency.

Say Goodbye to 'Modern' Necessities and Embrace the Self

And this really is what shows the point: we must embrace the self, the true self, once again, and this self exists in nature. Every person needs to relax, exhale, and let go of posture and pretense, ideology and intent. Stop making decisions. Stop sharing. Watch one sunset and keep that moment for yourself.

We are not truly healthy until we feed the whole body and mind. Being part of nature is the life experience; one must get outside, find a place to celebrate life, in person, in private, where one can truly relax.

Software is in the works for sending the smell of food, flowers, and spices through digital media, but currently, Instagram and Facebook are not capable of physiological interaction. For the time being we the only way we can enjoy the scent of pine on the breeze or feel the cold splash of ocean spray on our faces is to actually go do it. Lets face it, no app will ever replace nature. So just do it.

This article was contributed by Robert Richardson, environmentalist and arborist who has planted over 1 million trees in the last 50 years. He currently lives, studies, and maintains forestry in the Umpqua National Forest in Oregon. 

Go Green in Your Beauty Routine

Go Green in Your Beauty Routine

Besides making an effort to recycle the plastic and cardboard packaging that comes with buying new cosmetics, having an eco-friendly beauty routine can be taken much further than that. Everything from what goes into the cosmetics we use to how we plan on using them has an impact on the environment.

Here are a few different ways to revamp your makeup bag and beauty habits with personal health and environmental sustainability in mind.

Go Fragrance-Free

Everything from body washes and hand soaps to shampoos and facial moisturizers are fragranced these days. They may smell great, but they also contain hundreds of different chemicals that can cause allergic reactions, disrupt hormonal health and don’t readily breakdown in the environment. When purchasing cosmetic products, it’s worth avoiding anything that includes the word “parfum” or “fragrance” in its ingredients.

Say No to Microbeads

There are all sorts of cosmetic products out there–including exfoliants, body scrubs and even toothpastes–that contain tiny little microbeads. They might seem harmless, but they're actually proving to be a big environmental issue. Once they’re washed down the drain, they eventually make their way into our rivers, lakes and oceans after failing to be captured by wastewater facilities due to how small they are in size. And because they’re not very biodegradable, fish and other animals mistake them for eggs and end up eating them. Just say no to anything with microbeads.

Stop Using Makeup Wipes

It’s tempting to use tissues, cotton balls and even those fancy pre-packaged makeup wipes to remove makeup at the end of the day. But they all end up in the trash, and if you remove makeup every day, then that’s a lot of paper products being sent to landfills. A paper-free and all-natural solution is to use coconut oil, olive oil or mineral oil by applying it to the face and removing makeup with a damp washcloth. The oil also acts as a natural and effective moisturizer.

Choose Eco-Friendly Makeup Brushes

Makeup brushes are easy to forget about when it comes to going green. The bristles of many makeup brushes are actually made from the hair of squirrels, badgers, goats and even ponies. If you’re looking to purchase some new brushes, make sure you look for brushes that have been made from sustainable materials like bamboo and synthetic bristles. Some people claim that these Earth and animal-friendly brushes do a better job at blending.

Skip the Shower Every Other Day

The general trend these days in modern society is to take a shower every day, but from a hygienic health perspective, we’re really overdoing it, and we’re definitely not doing the environment any favors either. In addition to completely drying out our skin, longer and hotter showers mean more wasted water and energy. A faucet left to run for just five minutes uses just about as much energy as a 60-watt bulb left on for 14 hours. Almost everyone could benefit from showering just every other day.

Dive Deeper into the Ingredients

We’ve already covered the fragrance portion of cosmetics, but there are hundreds of other nasty chemicals lurking in cosmetics known to be hazardous to human health and the environment. Parabens, triclosan, formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, sodium laureate sulphate and other PEG compounds are just a few to avoid. To make it easier in pinpointing how eco-friendly a particular product is, consider checking out the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Database, which includes ratings for over 60,000 cosmetic products.

As a last tip, consider researching cosmetic companies that sell the most eco-friendly products. Safe Cosmetics has a list of 500 companies that have made substantial progress in banning harmful chemicals in their cosmetics and working toward a higher standard for personal care products.

7 Easy Changes You Can Make to Save Energy

7 Easy Changes You Can Make to Save Energy

The only time any of us usually realize just how much we rely on energy in our homes is when the power goes out and stays out for more than a few minutes. In fact, it even puts into perspective how we often continue to overuse our appliances and electronics even when we don’t really need them.

Creating a much more energy efficient home starts with small steps that add up to make a big impact. No need to fork out thousands of dollars for a solar panel installation–all you need is a willingness to make a few sustainable changes by changing some of your habits and maybe a few extra bucks to replace certain things in your home that aren’t very energy efficient.

1. Replace regular bulbs with energy efficient bulbs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are super affordable and are even cheaper than LEDs. They use up 75 percent less energy and lasting about 10 times longer than your average incandescent bulb.

2. Turn off lights and electronics when you leave the room. No need to leave all the lights on or the TV blaring in the background if there’s no one in there! Get into the habit of turning things off when you move from one room to another.

3. Unplug appliances when you’re not using them. Did you know that certain household appliances and electronics continue to suck up energy (and your money) even when they’re turned off? These include desktop computers, laptop computers, televisions, DVD players, modems, cable boxes, cordless phones, stereo systems, radios, coffeemakers, lamps, toasters and any gadgets that get their power from a plug-in transformer. Once you turn them off, consider pulling the plug out of the socket too.

4. Skip the dryer by hanging clothes up to dry instead. In the spring and summer, it shouldn't be all that difficult to resist throwing a load of wet laundry in the dryer if you’ve got enough room in the yard for a dryer rack to hang your clothes. And even if you don’t have much of a yard to do that, you could easily set one up inside your laundry room or bathroom.

5. Get a low-flow shower head for your shower. Swapping your shower head for a more energy efficient one can help you save on water heating costs and water usage. Try combining this with taking shorter showers and you’ll be all set!

6. Install energy efficient ceiling fans. You can get one of these for as little as $30 to help regulate temperature and air circulation. When the weather is cool, run the fan in a clockwise direction to push the warmer air down, and during warm weather, switch it to run counterclockwise to help your home feel cooler. Energy Star has a list of the most efficient ceiling fans here.

7. Use permanent weather stripping around windows and doors. If brand new windows and doors aren’t in the budget, permanent weather stripping can make a big difference in sealing in the heat and keeping gusty drafts out during colder months. The stuff is also cheap enough that you can go ahead and line every window and doorway in your home with it.

Stick to these easy tips, and you’ll be right on your way to reducing your carbon footprint!

Ways to Cut Down on Food Waste

Ways to Cut Down on Food Waste

To say that food waste is a bit of a problem the world is facing today would be a bit of an understatement. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the global volume of food wastage is estimated to be 1.6 billion tonnes with a carbon footprint estimated at 3.3 billion tonnes.

As if the negative impact on the environment that all this food waste causes isn’t depressing enough, consider how much money is being wasted as well. When we throw unused food out, we’re literally throwing our money out with it too.

Ready to take this food waste thing more seriously? Good! Here are some tips to get you started.

Always make a list. If you show up at the grocery store or farmers’ market not knowing what you already have at home, you could end up with double the amount of the same type of food, and if you can’t eat it before it goes bad, you’ll definitely be wasting some of it. Always plan ahead by taking stock of what’s in your kitchen and build a shopping list accordingly.

Buy less of what you’re not using in full. It’s time to get really honest with yourself and make a note of what you’re tossing out regularly. Look for trends in how you're tossing meat, vegetables, fruit or dairy products and try cutting what you regularly purchase by at least half and see how that goes. Chances are you’ll end up wasting a lot less.

Store produce properly. The way you store your fruits and veggies properly can make a big difference in how long they last. For example, wrapping the stems of your bananas with some plastic wrap and securing it with a rubber band will prevent them from going brown so quickly. And if you love avocados, consider waiting for them to ripen (which you can check by pulling off the little nub to see if the flesh is green) and then you'll be able to store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to five extra days.

Know your use-by dates. Check the dates on every food product before you buy it to make sure you feel confident about using it all up before it’s no good. You may even want to consider hanging a list of foods on your refrigerator to remind yourself of what needs to be eaten before a certain date.

Keep your refrigerator organized. Speaking of use-by dates, keeping your refrigerator and pantry organized can prevent products that are about to expire from being shoved in the back and forgotten. Remember to store raw meat on the bottom shelf so it doesn’t drip onto other food, and plan to clean your refrigerator every 1 to 2 weeks.

Use your freezer. You can freeze leftovers and raw meat before the use-by date. Just make sure to wrap these items properly to prevent freezer burn and pull them out to defrost and eat within a reasonable amount of time.

Repurpose food scraps. There are all sorts of different ways to reuse food scraps. Some people make bread crumbs out of bread crusts, use eggshells in their gardens, and even shine their shoes with banana peels.

Compost. Last but not least–compost, compost, compost! The FAO says that home composting has the potential to cut down as much as 150 kilos of food waste per household every year.

To eliminate food waste, all it really takes is a commitment to being a lot more conscious of your shopping habits and meal prepping. Before long, food waste will be a thing of the past in your household.