7 Easy Ways to Spend More Time Outside

7 Easy Ways to Spend More Time Outside

We all make the same excuses for why we can’t spend as much time outside as we’d probably like to. After all, we have to work, clean, commute, and take care of all our daily tasks — leaving little time in between for us to simply get out and enjoy nature.

The truth is that what we’re really doing is prioritizing everything else over our connection to nature. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with prioritizing things like work or family above anything else, but it’s important to be aware that this is what we’re doing when we catch ourselves falling into the "not enough time for it" excuse trap.

Those of us who want to make our connection to nature a bigger priority can do so by combining some of the things we already do (or want to do) with outdoor activity. Here are just a few easy ideas to get you started.

1. Practice yoga and meditation in an outdoor environment.

There’s perhaps no greater way to enjoy the great outdoors as a yogi than by rolling out your mat in your own backyard or by taking your meditation practice to a bench in a nearby park. Your senses will be in for a real treat as they pick up all the sights, sounds, smells, feelings, and perhaps even tastes all around you.

2. Take your meals outside.

Unless it’s raining cats and dogs, there’s always an opportunity to get outside during breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snack time. Ask to sit on the patio at a restaurant, host a barbecue, have lunch at a picnic table in the park, or even sit on the stairs leading up to your front door while you eat.

3. Read or work under the shade of a tree.

Nature is a wonderful source of inspiration and creativity, so any activity that takes a higher level of mental focus can be enhanced by spending more time in any green space. Take your laptop, study material, or books out under a tree or to a shaded picnic table for a nice switch up from your regular indoor work environment.

4. Swap your regular commute for walking or cycling.

If you don’t have a long way to go from point A to point B, why not walk or cycle your way there? Yes, it does take some extra time compared to commuting by car or transit, but that extra activity mean you can shave off some of the time you might need to spend in the gym or on the mat.

5. Take up gardening.

You don’t need a green thumb to be a successful gardener. Planting a single pot of flowers, herbs, or veggies even just right outside your door on your front or back porch can encourage you to spend more time outside than you regularly would.

6. Trade your Netflix subscription for a sunset stroll.

Of course it’s tempting to plop down on the couch after a long day and turn on the TV, but no show or movie compares to the spectacle of light and color that the sun puts on every evening. Weather conditions may not always be ideal for it, but when they are, you should definitely grab a friend or loved one and head out to catch the sun as it says farewell for the day.

7. Find a new outdoor hobby.

Any outdoor hobby or activity that you absolutely love doing will naturally encourage you to get out more often. Whether you decide to take up a completely new sport like kayaking or look to pick up an old hobby from your past like nature photography, embracing any interest that can be done outdoors is a great way to reconnect with yourself and Mother Nature at the same time.


5 Creative Ways to Reuse Food Scraps

5 Creative Ways to Reuse Food Scraps

No matter how conscious we may be of how long certain foods last, our portion sizes, and our efforts to eat up all those leftovers, the reality is that food often still gets wasted. Unsurprisingly, it's often in the form of scraps.

Food scraps are especially difficult to minimize for plant-based foods. Preparing all sorts of fruits and veggies means that inedible parts such as leaves, stems, stalks, skins, and cores end up in the trash.

With a little creativity, however, practically anyone can scale down their food scraps to very little or almost nothing. Here are just five great ways to do exactly that.

Make your own compost pile.

It’s spring, meaning it's the perfect time to start composting. The nutrient-dense soil produced by a compost pile is ideal for enriching indoor plants, outdoor plants, lawns, gardens, and whatever else you want to grow. Composting is as easy as gathering enough material for a 3-foot deep pile and then laying down alternate layers of green materials (such as food scraps) and brown materials (such as dead leaves).

Nourish your body.

Believe it or not, food scraps make great ingredients for DIY beauty regimens. Old coffee grounds, for example, can be used to gently exfoliate your skin while banana peels can be rubbed on your teeth to improve their whiteness. You can also take various nutrient-dense food scraps and blend them together in a mixer or blender to use as a nourishing face mask.

Whip up some homemade broth.

When it comes to making your own broth, almost anything goes. All the bits of veggies you don’t use can be tossed into a pot along with some water and any herbs or spices of your choice to make a highly nutritious vegetable broth. And if you eat meat, such as chicken, you can even save the bones to make your own bone broth, which will be full of minerals that can help heal your gut.

Regrow your fruits and veggies.

If you save the seeds, pits, and stalks of some fruits/veggies and herbs, they can be replanted and regrown into brand new ones that could keep growing forever as long as you take care of them. Fruits/veggies and herbs that you can regrow include green onions, regular onions, carrots, celery, set potatoes, leeks, boo choy, avocados, lemons, pineapples, ginger, basil, lemongrass, garlic, rosemary, lemon balm, and mint leaves.

Infuse your water.

For a cool and refreshing twist on regular water, add some flavor without any extra calories or chemical-based ingredients by taking old food scraps and adding them to a regular pitcher or a fruit infuser. Save those pieces of fresh ginger you didn’t use or those lemon peels and throw them into your pitcher or fruit infuser along with some water. Refrigerate for at least an hour or so before enjoying a glass of naturally flavored water. Here are several fruit-infused recipes to consider trying.

All of the above food scrap ideas are wonderful ways to give back to the Earth and to yourself. So save your scraps and pick one you’re interested in trying out!


Finding Peace in Nature

Finding Peace in Nature

It’s impossible not to notice the burst of energy that Mother Nature rekindles for us in the spring. April is one of those months of the year where the active wildlife and blooming plants draw our attention to the miracle of rebirth as every living thing around us grows stronger and fuller each day.

Reconnecting to nature helps keep us grounded. Though it may feel good to get swept up by the lively energies of the spring season, staying present and calm is what we need to maintain balance.

Finding peace in nature is as simple as using your senses. Used mindfully, your senses will help ground you and keep you where your feet are when your mind wants to pull you into your thoughts.

Look

April is a wonderful month to pay close attention to the visual beauty of nature while everything around us begins to grow. Look for those few blades of new grass poking up from the earth, the budding leaves on nearby trees, small animals scurrying around, and even some varieties of flowers starting to show that they're ready to bloom.

Really look at these elements of nature and notice everything from the purity of their regrowth, to the vibrancy of their colors. How does it make you feel?

Listen

Go into any forest or wooded area away from the hustle and bustle of modern life, and you’ll undoubtedly be able to hear all sorts of big and little sounds coming from everywhere. Listen for birds chirping, the wind blowing, last year’s leaves crunching beneath your feet, and anything else that makes even the subtlest sound.

Be present with each passing sound, noticing it fully as it starts and as it ends. If you can, feel the vibration of the sound with your body as well.

Feel

Our sense of touch gets a real treat in spring as we say goodbye to the persistent feeling of cold and dryness. In April, you may feel the first significant touch of warmth from the sun and moisture from the air.

Whenever you step outside, or go out for a walk, bring your awareness to your sensation of touch. How does the wind feel blowing on your face? Can you feel the abundance of love and light as the sun wraps its rays around you?

Breathe

Last but not least, always remember to breathe — especially when you’re seeking that sense of peace and calmness of mind. Breathing in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth will also simultaneously allow you to explore the two last senses — smell and touch — in your outdoor environment.

As you breathe in the fresh, warm, moist air of spring, be mindful of seasonal aromas like fresh grass, warm soil, rainwater, and damp wood. Chances are if you can smell them with your nose, you can probably taste them with your mouth too!

Be Still and Silent

You’re more likely to find that sense of peace in nature if you can stop what you’re doing and just allow the thoughts flowing through your mind to calmly break away from your awareness. This is mindfulness meditation.

In stillness and silence, you can increase your awareness as you focus on your sensations of sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste — one by one, in whichever order you like and however many times you'd like to return to them.

There is perhaps no more effective path toward achieving an instant feeling of peace than by looking toward nature. Enjoy it while you’re there in the moment.


5 Steps to Build Long-Term Eco-Friendly Habits

5 Steps to Build Long-Term Eco-Friendly Habits

Whether you’ve signed up to participate in our Eco Challenge or gone off on your own to try developing more eco-friendly habits in your everyday life, chances are you know how tricky it can be to maintain those habits over the long run. This is especially true when life gets in the way, when time is of the essence, and when sticking to a budget is super important.

Making eco-friendly choices for a day or two is a cinch. Making them stick over the course of your lifetime, however, is much harder.

Despite the difficulty, just think of how much of a personal difference you could make with a lifetime of eco-friendly habits. With this in mind, you can use the following tips to help integrate newer, greener habits into your lifestyle for years and years to come.

1. Start by Committing to One Change

Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to make too many eco-friendly changes all at once. While you may be enthusiastic to simultaneously start eating more local/organic foods, turning off all your electronics, commuting less often by car, plus a hundred other new and exciting things, you’re far more likely to throw in the towel too soon once you realize how difficult it is to maintain so many changes all at once. Pick one (or two at most) and focus on that.

2. Keep It Small and Simple

For the one eco-friendly change you’ve decided to make, you’re going to want to make it so ridiculously simple and easy to do that you just can’t not do it. For example, rather than aiming to turn off every single light fixture, appliance, and electronic after you’re finished using it, start with aiming to just power down your laptop every night. It's crazy simple, and that's why it's far more likely to stick.

3. Get Clear About Why

It doesn’t matter if you think a particular eco-friendly habit is something you should do — it has to be personal and it has to be linked to your core values. Dig deep to determine exactly why making a particular eco-friendly change is important to you not just because you think you have to do it, but because you want to do it.

4. Set Up a Trigger

You can use a visual queue to trigger your new eco-friendly habit. For example, if you’re trying to cut down on energy consumption and the small habit you’ve decided to start with is powering down your laptop every night, you could use the action of closing of all your browser tabs, the last email you hit send on, the desktop wallpaper, the specific time that appears on the clock, or anything else as your visual queue to trigger you to power down.

5. Repeat the Above With Another

Once you’ve spent a few weeks consistently following through with your first eco-friendly change (or long enough so that it becomes an automatic habit ingrained into your lifestyle), feel free to repeat the above with another one. The real key to making it stick is keeping it simple, remaining aware of why it’s important to you, and relying on a trigger rather than memory.

As you build your long-term eco-friendly habits, remember to connect with nature often. Whether it’s by taking an entire day to do an outdoor activity you love, or by simply stepping outside for a quick minute to breathe in the fresh air, connecting with nature as often as possible will serve as the natural reminder you need to maintain your eco-friendly habits hopefully for the rest of your life.


4 Ways to Have a More Eco-Friendly Yoga Practice

4 Ways to Have a More Eco-Friendly Yoga Practice

There are countless ways we could all tweak our lifestyle habits so that they’re more environmentally friendly — some of which are more realistic than others. As yogis, we have the opportunity to look toward our practice to see where we might be able to make a few improvements.

Here are just four ways to make your yoga practice a whole lot greener!

Upgrade to an Eco-Friendly Mat

Do you know what your yoga mat is made of? If you picked your mat up at just any old store, chances are it might be made out of certain types of plastics or other unrecyclable materials that don’t break down well in the environment.

While it may cost slightly more than any regular yoga mat, an eco-friendly mat that’s made from biodegradable, chemical-free materials (such as all-natural rubber) is worth the extra investment. Most are also very high-quality designed to last for years and years.

Treat Yourself to Some New Eco-Friendly Clothing

If your current yoga attire is made from synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, or rayon, then you can take that as an opportunity to shop around for more eco-friendly alternatives. Fabrics like polyester aren’t biodegradable and also take a lot of energy to produce.

There are all sorts of yoga apparel companies out there offering clothing made from recycled and sustainable materials. You can find some really unique clothing in a variety of different styles and designs made from organic cotton, recycled wool, hemp, and even recycled polyester.

Turn Everything Off Before Your Practice

If you practice at home, consider taking a short walk throughout your home to make sure that everything including lights, electronics, and anything else is turned off while not in use. Your time on the mat is your time to unplug, which simultaneously benefits both you and the environment.

Consider taking it to the next level by choosing to practice under natural light near a window so you don’t need to leave any lights on, without the help of a yoga workout playing on a nearby screen (if you have enough experience to create your own sequences), and without the fan or A/C blasting cool air at you. These types of changes may be difficult and uncomfortable at first, but they’ll help you conserve more energy while giving you the opportunity to get more deeply in touch with yourself in quieter stillness.

Take Your Practice Outside

Last but not least, there’s perhaps no greater way to make your practice more environmentally friendly than by getting outside to appreciate nature fully, just as it is. Whether you choose to practice in your own backyard, at a nearby park, or in some other green space, just one outdoor session has the power to expand your awareness.

The more you practice outside, the more likely you’ll be inspired to make more eco-friendly choices in all aspects of your life. This is the best way to make eco-friendly living feel less like a chore and more like a natural part of your lifestyle.


9 Gratitude Mantras to Help You Appreciate Nature

9 Gratitude Mantras to Help You Appreciate Nature

“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.” ~ Lord Byron

It's far too easy to take nature for granted. We don’t think twice about all those pieces of plastic trash scattered along the side of the road, we often find ourselves wishing it would just stop raining to avoid getting wet when we go outside, and we gasp in horror at spiders that find their way into our homes.

When we’re always lost in our own little worlds, our awareness is very limited. We don’t even realize that all those plastic pieces of trash will still be sitting there along the side of that road centuries from now if nobody picks it up, we forget that the rain will benefit the farmers fields to grow their crops, and we can’t appreciate that little spider for being just one of 40,000 known species worldwide.

Use the following gratitude mantras to help you expand your awareness and appreciate nature a little more. Whether you choose to write these mantras down, print them out, or have them saved as notes in your smartphone, you can turn to them whenever you like to remind yourself how incredibly amazing and awe-inspiring nature truly is.

Plants

“I am grateful for the silence of the trees, the flowers, the grass, and every aspect of plant life that allows me to quietly and calmly find peace of mind.”

“I am grateful for the the clean air I am able to breathe every day as nature’s life support system works away quietly in the background, turning carbon dioxide into oxygen.”

“I am grateful for the nourishment that every fruit, vegetable, grain, herb, and spice brings my body with every meal and snack.”

Animals

“I am grateful for the vast number of animal species and the delicate roles they each play in our environment.”

“I am grateful for the bees that pollinate our crops, the bugs that help break down and dispose of waste, and yes — even the spiders that feed on common indoor pests like mosquitos, flies, earwigs, and roaches.”

“I am grateful for the birds, the squirrels, the butterflies, and all the other local wildlife species I get to share my own backyard with on a daily basis.”

Weather

“I am grateful for the changing of the seasons and each stage of of the life cycle they represent as I align my own personal journey with each season.”

“I am grateful for the rainy days in the summer that quench the Earth’s thirst for growth, as well as the snowy days in the winter that support the Earth’s rejuvenating slumber.”

“I am grateful for the summer heat as the sun shines its love over me and I am grateful for winter’s chill as all of nature prepares for rebirth upon the return of warmer days ahead.”

 

Feel free to play around with these mantras by customizing them however you like. Shorten them, tailor them to your own interests, or even create your own!