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Throw an environmentally friendly Christmas party

Host an eco-friendly Christmas party

Ever since the straw ban earlier this year, there has been a noticeable increased interest in environmentally friendly options in every area of life. People are buying reusable straws, composting more, and giving up single use plastics left and right.

And that’s great! Once I heard about the straw ban, which doesn’t even effect me, I knew I had to step up my green game too. So I bought some stainless steel straws, and a thermos so I could reliably keep what I was drinking hot or cold.

I already had reusable bags, but I made a point to use them more, too. And I ditched paper towels and opted for reusable washcloths, even cutting up some old shirts that had holes in them to use as reusable cleaning cloths that I wouldn’t mind bleaching after a really gross job.

Now I’m looking at other areas of my life where I can be environmentally friendly, and there’s a big one coming up sooner than you realize: Christmas.

Specifically, Christmas parties, but some of my tips below will be useful for the entire holiday season!

So I want to have an environmentally Christmas party. I want to waste as little energy and food as possible, and I definitely don’t want to encourage the use of single use plastics. Those are my number one enemy right now.

So here are some tips I’ve found that will help us all have a more green Christmas celebration.

Use reusable utensils and dishes

It’s so easy to go to the Dollar Tree and pick up some plastic forks and spoons, some paper plates and napkins, and just call it a day. There’s minimal clean up after, that’s for sure.

But that convenience comes at a heavy ecological cost. Those plastic forks make up a huge part of the 6 MILLION tons of single use plastics that get thrown out every year.

And you might think that you’re doing better if you recycle all of that plastic, but you’re really not. I’m sorry to tell you this, but the majority of plastic that gets sent to be recycled, is just thrown away.

China used to buy a lot of recycled paper, plastics and other scrap materials, but China decided they don’t want to import foreign garbage. The stuff you’re recycling doesn’t have a place to go, and in the end it just gets thrown away.

The fact is, if you want to save the planet, you can’t rely on recycling. You have to rely on reducing. And single use plastics have to go.

So what are your options? Just use your normal silverware, your normal plates, and invest in some reusable straws. They come in a few different materials: silicone straws, stainless steel straws, or glass reusable straws and can be used for generations if treated right.

And stop buying paper towels, too. A set of reusable and even fashionable cloth napkins will save you money and save the environment at the same time.

Use LED lights

This is a simple one. If you’re buying new Christmas lights this year, choose LEDs. They use only 10% of the power of a conventional string of CHristmas lights.

The icing on the cake? Conventional Christmas lights are also three times more likely to cause household fires than LEDs.

In fact, LED lights are up to 80% more efficient than incandescent or fluorescent lights. 95% of the energy spent by LEDS is converted into light. That means only 5% of that energy is wasted!

On top of that, LED lights have no toxic elements and distribute light better, meaning you need fewer lights. And the kicker is that LEDs have a longer life span, which means you’ll need to replace fewer bulbs when you pull your lights back out next year.

Send e-invites instead of paper ones

Personally, I hate Christmas cards. They’re clutter that comes with guilt because I want to throw them away instead of display them.

I’d rather get an invite through text, email, or on social media than a physical Christmas card inviting me anywhere. Seriously. Skip the paper, save on stamps, and just send a digital invite. You’ll be doing everyone, and the environment, a huge favor.

Paperless invitations don’t have to be cheesy and ugly, though. They can be just as thought out and loving as a paper one, just without the waste.

Here are a few websites to check out:

Paperless Post

Paperless Post has beautiful, easy to use e cards that can feature moving elements. They’re gorgeous and realistic, so when your guests receive them they’ll almost feel like they’re holding the cards in their hands.

This website isn’t free, but 30 “stamps” only costs $5 (cheaper than Forever Stamps!)

Evite

Evite is a tried and true paperless card option. And their cards are free, so don’t pass this website up. You might be surprised by some of the awesome services they have.

Pingg

Pingg is a lot like Etsy, in that they give artists the ability to upload their card designs to the site.

Their cards are free, though card recipients will see ads when they get their invite. There’s a $10 membership option if you want to remove those ads.

Choose a real Christmas tree

Christmas decorations aren’t the same without a Christmas tree. But which is more environmentally friendly? Fake or real?

The most green Christmas tree option is a real tree with the root ball still attached, a tree that can then be planted after your holiday celebrations.

But even if you don’t want to replant the tree, you can get a real tree and sleep easy. Christmas trees are a crop, so cutting them down doesn’t contribute to deforestation. For every tree a farmer cuts, they’re likely planting four or five more to ensure they get a healthy tree to be cut down in a few years.

Those farms are also a habitat for birds and other wildlife and contribute to the local economy.

The worst option is a fake tree. Made of plastic and metal, there’s a huge process that goes into making them that takes up energy and likely produces polluting byproducts. They have chemicals in them that are unsafe, and if it’s made from China or somewhere else then you have to account for that tree being shipped to you.

If you must have a fake tree, you should take care of it so that you can use it for more than 20 years. Otherwise, you’re hurting the environment.

Recycle and compost after

If you have waste at the end of your party (which you probably will, so no judgment here), then you should find ethical ways to dispose of it.

If you have food waste, you can compost it and then your Christmas party will be contributing to a healthier garden in the spring.

Other items can be reused. Wrapping paper scraps can be turned into origami or bows, or shredded to be used as packing material. Boxes can be reused as long as they’re in good shape pretty much indefinitely.

And if you do have some plastics or paper products to get rid of that you can’t reuse, then you should recycle it. It might end up in the landfill anyway, but at least you tried.

Encourage carpooling

If you have a lot of people heading to your house, you should try to help organize carpooling options for everyone. That means fewer cars in your driveway and less gas wasted. And if they can carpool through a ride sharing service like Uber or Lyft, that means someone can still go home early if they need to without being a burden on the rest of the group they came with.

According to The Rideshare Company, the average vehicle releases ten thousand pounds of carbon dioxide every year. That carbon dioxide is wreaking havoc on the environment and causing climate change to get worse.

Fewer cars being used during the commute-heavy holiday season means less traffic, fewer emissions, less money wasted on gas, and better air quality. And I think that’s something we can all agree is a huge benefit to everyone.

So if some of your guests live near each other, figure out who has the greener car or set them up with Uber or Lyft to bring them all to your house.

If you want to use the best environmentally friendly ride sharing option, Lyft may be the way to go: they announced that they were buying carbon offsets for all of its rides globally.

Carbon offsets reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere in a few ways. They can capture and destroy green house gases, produce energy using clean and renewable resources, or capture and store greenhouse gases to prevent their release.

So if it’s an option, choose Lyft over Uber this holiday season.

Skip the host gift

It’s common courtesy to bring a gift to whoever is hosting a party, but if you don’t really need another 10 bottles of wine, you can encourage your guests to bring something to donate.

My suggestion? Ask your guests to bring a toy to donate to a kids fund. It’s a feel-good option that doesn’t make your guests feel awkward for arriving empty handed.

Or, you can choose a zero waste host gift.

Some zero waste gifts include:

  • Fresh bread that you baked yourself. No packaging, just love and some hard work.
  • Olive oil. Great for anyone that cooks.
  • Plants, but only if you know the host can take care of it!
  • Raw, local honey. If your host loves tea or really just likes honey, this is a great idea. You can help support a local apiarist and their bees!
  • Plastic free food wrap. You can make or buy bees wrap that is biodegradable and reusable and just as good for saving food. You can also choose a silicone option.
  • Reusable straws. A couple of straws that never need to be thrown away, plus a cleaning brush? Sign me up!
  • A hard wood cutting board. If treated well, these boards can last a lifetime and will save your host’s counter tops.

What to eat

This is going to be a tough one. If you want a really eco-friendly Christmas dinner or party food, you’ll probably have to insist on vegetarian or vegan options.

But if you don’t want to do that and your guests are bringing a dish, you can send your guests a list of in-season food and encourage them to choose local foods!

There are a lot of great options that are in season in December. The whole dish doesn’t have to be local and in season, but a few pieces can make a difference.

What’s in season does depend on where you live. If you live in Florida, you have more options than someone living in Michigan.

Here are a few things to encourage your guests to get or to buy yourself:

  • Apples
  • Beets
  • Belgian endive
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chard
  • Citrus fruits
  • Cranberries
  • Fennel
  • Horseradish
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Parsnips
  • Pears
  • Persimmons
  • Pomegranates
  • Potatoes
  • Radicchio
  • Radishes
  • Rutabagas
  • Shallots
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Turnips
  • Winter squash

Final word

Going green is a big adjustment, and we can often fall into the trap of trying to do everything at once. But if you’re not used to this lifestyle yet, you’re better of choosing one or two things to focus on this year.

Starting small means you’re more likely to choose environmentally friendly options for longer, making it a life long habit. And those long term habits are what really help the planet. If you give it up too fast because you got overwhelmed, you’re not helping anyone at all.

This year, I’ll be focusing on using my reusable utensils and dishes, plus getting LED Christmas lights to replace the ones that are broken. And, because I hate Christmas cards, all of my invites will be sent out digitally.

So what will you choose to do to make your Christmas parties more eco-friendly this year?

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Coconut Oil Secrets Every Woman Should Know

Amazing ways to use coconut oil

I bought my first jar of coconut oil when I started keto years ago. I used it in my eggs. I used it in my bulletproof coffee. I used it, briefly, for my hair. 
Let’s just say that I love coconut oil. I have had a jar on hand ever since I bought that first jar and never let myself run out of it.
Coconut oil has so many health benefits, but it also has practical uses as well. 
There are a lot of good reasons to love coconut oil:

Use coconut oil to improve your life. #naturalbeauty
  1. Coconut oil is a good saturated fat. That’s right, I used “good” and “saturated fat” together!
  2. Two words: Lauric acid. You know, that fatty acid that is found in breast milk? Yeah, it’s found in coconut oil, too. And lauric acid is nearly a miracle: it’s tied to weight loss, it could protect against alzheimers, and the majority of it is converted into energy rather than being stored as fat. That’s why it’s perfect in coffee: it makes an already energizing drink even more so!
  3. Coconut oil could support thyroid function and the metabolism. This is important for people trying to lose weight!
  4. And speaking of losing weight, consuming fats helps you to feel satiated for longer. So you can eat fewer calories but feel full for longer!
  5. Coconut oil is anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-fungal and even anti-viral. There are no side effects unless you’re allergic (so be careful when you start using it).

But what are some of the uses for coconut oil? Here are just a few ways to use coconut oil every day:

Use coconut oil to make a natural toothpaste #naturalhealth #ayurveda
  1. Make a coconut oil toothpaste. The fats in coconut oil helps to break up all that gunk on and between your teeth, leaving your mouth fresh and with ingredients you can trust. Find a good recipe here.
  2. Add to your popcorn instead of butter.
  3. Mix coconut oil and a hazelnut spread together in a 2:1 ratio to make an incredible ice cream topping that will harden within a minute.
  4. Condition wood with coconut oil. Coconut oil is especially great for conditioning your cutting board thanks to its anti-bacterial properties. 
  5. Add to pet food as a source of nutrients. One teaspoon per 10 pounds of dog is the recommended dose, but build up to that amount slowly over a month.
  6. Add a tablespoon of melted coconut oil to your morning smoothie.
  7. Use as a gunk remover. Get rid of sticker residue or gum in your hair.
  8. Remove your eye makeup gently with some coconut oil.
  9. Season your cast iron skillet. Never let your skillet get rusty again!
  10. Fix squeaky hinges by dabbing some coconut oil onto the hardware.
  11. Mix garlic and coconut oil for a creamy dairy free spread for bread or to use in recipes similar to garlic butter.
  12. Use as a safe lubricant for sex. However, if you’re trying to get pregnant, you may not want to use it as it may act as a natural spermicide.
  13. Rub some coconut oil inside of your nose during the winter to stop nosebleeds. 
  14. Mix coconut oil with peppermint, tea tree, or rosemary essential oils and apply it to your skin to keep bugs away while exploring outside during the summer.
  15. Mix coconut oil and sugar to make a simple lip scrub.
  16. Use coconut oil to buff and restore leather or polish furniture.
  17. Keep a small container of coconut oil to use in place of chapstick.
  18. Add to your coffee for a bulletproof coffee that will wake up your body and mind. Try one of these recipes.
  19. Rub coconut oil into your nails to strengthen and condition them, making them stronger and less likely to break.
  20. Use in place of butter in cinnamon toast.
  21. Make a homemade deodorant with this handy recipe.
  22. Coconut oil rubbed into a bug bite will calm the itchiness.
  23. Coconut oil can make a wonderful shower scrub that moisturizes as it exfoliates. Just be careful while you wash it off, because your tub will be slippery! Click here for the recipe.
  24. Remove crayon from walls by cleaning it up with coconut oil.
  25. Remove scuff marks by rubbing coconut oil into the marks on your floors.
  26. Keep eggs fresher for longer by dipping room temperature eggs into melted coconut oil. 
  27. Make DIY candles by using coconut oil as a natural carrier oil for the scents you want to use.

Will you use any of these tips in your home? I think I’m going to head into the kitchen and condition my cutting board right about now!

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Use up leftover food before it expires with these hot tips

Stop wasting food #zerowaste

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I truly hate wasting food. I always feel so guilty when I have to throw food away.
Of course I know that expiration dates are mostly just suggestions, but food does eventually sour. And then there’s nothing you can do but throw it away or compost it.
But there is an in between state where food has almost gone bad. That’s when it’s most important to use up your foods before they go really bad.

Stop letting food go to waste and save some money with these tips

Here are some ways to use food that isn’t bad yet but will be soon:

  1. Use old mayonnaise to shine stainless steel appliances. It sounds disgusting,but the oil content really makes stainless steel shine!
  2. Did your brown sugar turn into a brick? Bring it back to life with your blender! Just blend it up to loosen it.
  3. You can use expired pasta and cereal in art projects with your kids.
  4. Are your veggies about to go bad? Chop them and throw them in the freezer! Then you can easily add them to soups or even improve some cheap and easy ramen with them.
  5. You can use Greek yogurt that is past it’s prime as a face mask. The lactic acid will exfoliate dead soon cells gently. Just mix it 2 to 1 with honey. Then apply it to your face and let sit a few minutes.
  6. Use stale bread to create croutons or to make breading for chicken and pork chops.
  7. Overly ripe avocado isnt great to eat, but it is the perfect treatment for your hair.
  8. Use berries in smoothies, jams or preserves.
  9. Squeeze all lemons and limes and save the juice by freezing it in ice cube trays.
  10. Use up milk with baking projects or a batch of hot chocolate. And slightly soured milk can be used as an alternative for buttermilk, so you can make some biscuits!
  11. Everyone knows this one: turn overripe bananas into banana bread!
  12. Ground coffee is great for face scrubs! Used on their own with some water or when mixed with milk, you will reveal beautiful skin with this scrub.
  13. Turn fruit into fruit leather by dehydrating their puree.
  14. Old eggs can’t be used whole, but if you keep the shells you can use them crushed up to improve your garden soil.
  15. Turn peanut butter into protein bars with some oats, nuts, and dried berries.
Go zero waste by using up all of your left over food before it goes bad. Stop throwing away your food!

How do you use food that’s about to expire?

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5 Places That Could Benefit From Climate Change

The coldest areas in the world could soon be home to our most populated cities

When someone thinks of climate change, they often think only of doom and gloom. Floods. Torrential rains. Droughts. Snow storms. Hail storms. The kind of weather that can kill people or leave them homeless. Tropical diseases spreading to people with no immunity and countries that can’t afford the treatments.

Continue reading 5 Places That Could Benefit From Climate Change