Green News

06/10/2011

Up Your Energy with a Relaxed Stay-cation

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With “stay-cations” taking the place of traditional vacations for many families around the country during these tough economic times, people must still find ways to relax and enjoy their time off.  A challenge, to be sure – but there are innovative ways to chill out, recharge your batteries and feel refreshed – all without leaving home.  

Dr. Ann Marie Chiasson, MD, and Dr. Andrew Weil, of Self-Healing with Energy Medicine, has some smart tips for those seeking the benefits of a vacation, without the price tag of a travel-heavy get-away. Up your energy the all-natural (non-caffeinated way) with these simple mind/body exercises:

 

  • Gather energy for each day – Use your slowed breath, movement or exercise to consciously bring vitality and energy into your body to greet the demands of the day. This is particularly useful for mornings when you know you will be facing a hectic day.
  • Tap your toes together or your fingertips to relieve stress - Lie flat in bed and rotate your legs to allow your toes to tap together over and over, quickly and rhythmically. If you are upright, tap your fingertips together to allow energy to move through your body.  This moves the stress through instead of allowing it to disrupt the nervous system.
  • Breathe – Breathing can shift your nervous system from overload to relaxed.  Slow your breath down. Breathe in gently through your nose for the count of four. Hold for the count of seven and breathe out through your mouth for the count of eight.  Repeat this four times, at least twice a day or during times when you feel your stress level rising.
  • Shaking the Bones – Imagine a cord attached to the crown of your head, reaching up to the sky. Allow your body to relax like a rag doll hanging from this cord. Let your neck relax and fall to one side. Bounce gently up and down from your knees, and allow the rest of your body to shake. Shake your shoulders and your arms; let your neck gently roll from side to side. Use your breath with each movement to shake out old experiences, feelings, or tensions that come into your awareness during this exercise. Do this practice for 2 to 5 minutes a day initially, and work up to 10 minutes a day.  If you have knee problems, sway from side to side while you shake. If you experience a moderate to severe amount of pain at an old injury site, stop the practice and come back to it the next day. Practice shaking the bones every day this week and anytime you feel overwhelmed or if you feel you need a quick pick me up. 
  • Connecting to the earth – Begin this practice by lying flat on the ground or sitting in a chair. Relax and allow your body’s energy field, or the feeling of your body’s edges, to merge with the energy field of the earth. Feel the interface of these energy fields as they come together. After you feel this connection, if you are lying on the ground, place one ear on the earth and listen. If you are seated in a chair, focus on one ear and listen to the energy and sounds around you. Rest in this position for a few minutes, and then switch sides and listen with the other ear. Continue to rest and listen for a few more minutes.
  • Slow down, time bends – Slowing our pace in each moment by practicing the art of not rushing allows us more time to get things done.  This shift happens in a fraction of a second. You must try this perspective to reap its benefits.
  • Day 7 - Laugh as much as you can – Laughter is a wonderful way to connect to yourself and relieve stress.  Try renting funny movies, remember and re-tell funny stories and read funny books. Laughter is a profound way to enjoy yourself and your family.

Source: Dr. Chiasson

06/08/2011

Safe and Sustainable Sunscreens

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Sunscreen Beachy vacations are a summertime must, and so is slathering up with sunscreen. We wanted to know which sunscreens work best, which are dangerous to our health, and what other options exist for protection agains harsh UVB and UVA rays.

In a recent Consumer Reports Health study, two products stood out among the rest—Target’s “Up & Up” Sport SPF-30 and Equate Baby SPF-50. Each of these provided excellent protection against UVB rays, and “very good” protection against UVA radiation, which can cause slightly more harm to our skin due to deeper-penetrating rays. In addition, they’re also both devoid of retinyl palmitate, a antioxidant that animal studies have linked to increased risk of skin cancer. (Yes, a sunscreen that could potentially lead to skin cancer!) The shocking truth is, most sunscreens contain this ingredient, along with others known to cause adverse health effects in animal studies, like oxybenzone, nanoscale zinc oxide and titanium oxide.

What a mouthful, huh?

Consumers, however, shouldn’t rule out natural sunscreens made by brands like Aveeno, California Baby, Soleo Organics and UV Natural, most of which can be picked up at your local drugstore.

In addition, there are extra steps that can minimize your exposure to the sun. Consider a broad-brimmed hat, tightly-woven clothing or an umbrella to stick in the sand. Better yet, pop a tent for adults or kids to crawl into when they need a break. Most importantly, if possible, avoid being outside during the mid-day hours, when the sun is directly overhead and its rays are the strongest. For more information, Consumer Reports Health.

Visit EWP Blogazine's partner, Earth Tones, for more eco-friendly tips.  

06/02/2011

Top Vegetarian Restaurants in the U.S.

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Veg restaurant No longer do vegetarians have to resort to nibbling pasta when hitting up the best restaurant in town. Today, seasonal, organic ingredients are plentiful are menus across the nation - and we've compiled a list of some of the best dining hot spots to score a delectable, planet-friendly meal, as recommended by AAA travel inspectors.

3 Sisters Cafe
Indianapoils, Ind. 
Locals and tourists alike flock to this slightly worn but charming Victorian-style restaruant. Vegetarian and vegan options abound and an awesome all-day breakfast menu continuously tempts. Their homemade black bean burger always garners a thumbs-up.

Claire's Corner Copia
New Haven, Conn. 
Distinctive koscher, Italian and Mexican dishes feature organic ingredients at this college hang-out, where Yale students have been coming for more than 30 years. Checkered tile floors and original artwork for sale on the walls only add to it's charm.

Dragonfly Neo-V Cuisine
Columbus, Ohio
A well-established vegan mecca owned by Chef Magdiale Wolmark features a menu made of plant-based foods - from soup to dessert. Specialties like mock duck and orzo "mac and cheese" are all-time favorites.

French Meadow Bakery and Cafe
Minneapolis, Minn. 
The smell of baked goods wafting lures in passers by to this farm-to-table restaurant, where brown rice bread is a claim to fame. 

Green Vegetarian Cusine and Coffee
San Antonio, Texas
A century-old brick building with a front yard herb garden and patio dining is enough to soothe anyone. Add a vegetarian-ham Reuben, enchiladas, stroganoff and wraps to the mix and things get a little more exciting.

Horizons Philadelphia
Philadelphia, Pa. 
The seasonal menu at this restaurant earns smiles from vegetarians and carnivores alike, and includes specialty cocktails and savory delights like Jamaican BBQ seitan and Cuban paella. The perfect date spot.

Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant
Boulder, Colo.
Artistic food presentation and elegant decor make dining here a special experience. Complex flavor and visual appeal make the sweet onion tart a much-loved sweet, but the most memorable menu item is a ginger lemon shurb - a zesty fruit beverage dating back to colonial times.

Lovin' Spoonfuls
Tuscon, Ariz.
Locally-owned and operated, this all-vegan restaurant sets the bar when it comes to eco eating. Mouthwatering appetizers include cashew mushroom pate, hummus dip and marinated grapevine leaves stuffed with seasoned rice.

McFoster's Natural Kind Cafe
Omaha, Neb.
A quaint, worn-in restaurant surrounded by gardens, this destination offers up delectable and nutritious dishes alike. Popular items include the huge salads, soups, and entrees like eggplant parmesan.

Sage's Cafe
Salt Lake City, Utah
Featuring international, organic vegetarian cuisine and locally grown foods, this cafe is known for it's carrot butte pate, raw pad Thai salad, vegan Philly "cheese steak," French toast dipped in tofu batter and house-made root beer.

Tille Gort's
Pacific Grove, Calif. 
A small restaurant with a big menu, Tillie's serves breakfast, lunch and dinner meals that span the cultural gamut - from Italian, Mexican and Indian to American. Their "No Meat Loaf" is a favorite among customers.

For more Earth-friendly articles, visit Earth Tones.

Hungry yet? Check out AAA's travel blog - AAATravelViews.com - for more dish on veggie-loving restaurants nationwide. 

06/01/2011

The Carbon-Friendly Commute: Bicycling

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Bicycling to work 

Biking to work may not be the most practical option for all of us - especially those of us who wear skirts on occasion, or need to drop the kids off at daycare - but it remains an option. If you're one of the brave few who strap on a helmet daily, we've provided a reminder round-up of safety tips to keep in mind. 

And for those of you who have never even considered biking to work, give it a second thought. With gas prices skyrocketing, it's a sure way to save some cash and get a good workout in at the same time! 

1. Be bike safe (and smart)
Just like you would tune-up your car before a trip, take stock of your bicycle and take time for proper maintenance.  For more tips, visit the League of American Bicyclists.

  • Wear a helmet
  • Check the air pressure in both tires; know what pressure is best for your tires and your terrain
  • Pack a portable pump and extra inner tubes or a patch kit so you are ready to fix a flat
  • Know the bicycle safety and traffic laws for your area 

2. Turn your bicycle into the ultimate commuter
Forgo the racks or panniers and opt for a lightweight trailer like this one from BOB.

  • Easily attaches to your bicycle’s back wheel
  • Has a low center of gravity to keep weight off of your bicycle frame, which means better bike handling
  • Tracks with your back wheel, which means it’s easy to navigate your commuter route
  • Provides plenty of storage capacity for all of your gear, plus anything you need to pick up along the way

3. Dress for commuter success
When commuting by bicycle, be prepared by anticipating changes in weather and wearing comfortable clothing. These factors can make or break an enjoyable commute. 

  • Dress in layers made of breathable fabrics.  It may start out cooler at the beginning of your morning ride, but you’ll warm up quickly and may want to shed layers
  • If your ride is longer, consider wearing bicycling shorts
  • Don’t forget to tie down your right pant leg – your drive train can easily chew up loose fabric
  • Shoes should be sturdy with rubber soles to provide traction on pedals

4. Map your ride
Find the best bike route and get mentally prepared using Google's Bicycling Directions. Even take a virtual ride before you go.

5. Pack up essentials
Take a few minutes and consider what you’ll need to make it easy, convenient and fun:

  • A change of clothes or shoes
  • A travel set of toiletries such as deodorant, hair brush and cleansing body-freshening wipes to transition from the bike lane to the office setting
  • Pack your lunch and snacks to maintain energy throughout the day

For more earth-friendly transportation ideas, visit our Road & Travel Magazine partner, Planet Driven.

(Source: BOB Gear)

05/26/2011

Ten Tips for Taking a Volunteer Vacation

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Volunteer Vacation

These days, many travelers are forgoing traditional vacations in order to take part in a volunteer vacation. Volunteer vacations gives average travelers the chance to volunteer abroad by taking part in a worthwhile project such as helping to preserve endangered wild animals or ecosystems through wildlife conservation programs, often in remote parts of the world, and much more. Dr. Matthias Hammer, Executive Director of non-profit wildlife conservation volunteer organization Biosphere Expeditions, offers his top ten tips on how to choose the right volunteer vacation for you:

1. Make sure it is a well-established organization with a proven track record of making a real difference in the projects it has become involved with – has it won any awards for its work?

2. If, for example, the project is about wildlife conservation, make sure that the program is run on verifiable scientific grounds. While you give your time as an interested traveler who wants to make a difference, you need to have peace of mind that the project you are helping with is being run by a qualified scientist.

3. Ask where your money goes. To truly make a difference, it is best if as much money and resources as possible go to help the local environment in the country the project is in. Reputable organizations will always publish information about how funds are distributed to the public.

4. Make sure that the organization keeps you up to date on how your volunteer project is progressing. Even though you may have only been there for one or two weeks, many volunteer programs run for many years. Make sure that you will be sent regular reports to see what is happening with the program.

5. Many volunteer vacations will take place in remote parts of the world where you may have close encounters with potentially dangerous wild animals. Make sure the organization that you are volunteering with has an excellent safety record and takes the whole issue seriously.

6. Do some background research on your expedition leader and make sure that they are qualified. To some extent you may be putting your life in their hands, so you need to be sure they have all the necessary qualifications.

7. Determine what new skills you will learn on your volunteer vacation and how you will be taught these skills. One of the biggest bonuses of a volunteer program may be learning something new in an exciting environment and you want to make sure that the people who are teaching you are well qualified.

8. Make sure that you have clear goals about what you hope to accomplish out of the whole experience and don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek the views of travelers who have gone before you. Reputable organizations will always offer to put you in touch with previous travellers – if they don’t, beware.

9. Find out who you will be traveling with. As you may be virtually living “next door” to each other for some time, you need to be comfortable with the type of people you are likely to be with. The organization should be able to tell you about the kind of people who typically attends their projects. Facebook, blog pages, and social media outlets can be invaluable information gathering tools for volunteer vacations.

10. Most importantly, determine if it will be fun. Although most volunteer vacations have a serious purpose, you should have fun considering that you are spending your valuable vacation time “giving back”.

For more tips, advice, and information about volunteer vacations and volunteer wildlife conservation programs visit Biosphere Expeditions.

05/25/2011

Eco-Friendly Office Habits & Rewards

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Office deskYour nine-to-five may not seem like the most eco-friendly atmosphere, but a recent study revealed that companies are making strides in adopting environmentally-responsible business practices, and many employees make it their personal mission to be mindful of the environment at the office. But as far as the average working American is concerned, U.S. companies and employees could improve greatly when it comes to "going green" at work, and it's up to every single person in the workplace to make it happen. 

Nearly two in three working Americans believe their current employer could do a better job of being environmentally considerate by doing things like recycling paper or refilling ink cartridges. This might result from companies not effectively encouraging green business practices; only one third promote recycling by placing bins around the office, only one in seven assign someone to oversee green initiatives and a mere 8 percent incentivize employee participation. (A reward for recycling? Yes, please!)

All that said, the majority (84%) of working Americans say they personally recycle paper at work, and four in ten are motivated by their desire to set an example for coworkers. And scrutiny is high. Nearly three-quarters of professionals say their current colelagues could improve their habits to reduce their company's environmental footprint. 

So, what do associates want in return for making green choices? Business owners and managers listen up! An extra day of vacation, free lunch or party or a special green gift is all it takes to encourage people to take part and motivate. Are you doing anything at your office to spur eco-smart choices? If so, please leave a comment to share!

Source: Office Max. For more green lifestyle choices, visit our partner, Earth Tones.

05/24/2011

2011 Lexus CT 200h Road Test Review

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Lexus-ct-200h 
by Martha Hindes                       

Talk about split personalities. Bordering on brash, yet still subdued, the new 2011 Lexus ct 200h lays claim to a pure, undefiled image while teasing the need for speed.  A five-door (sic hatchback) compact done in Lexus' new "L-finesse" design language, it's meant to add zip to the brand's longstanding understated luxury image. The result, a sleeker, more defined premium sporty car that's a fuel-miserly full hybrid to the core. Whether it contends with blast-your-socks-off driving is another story.

Our Lexus-sponsored test drive at Florida's Delray Beach had slow roads bordering the Atlantic Ocean and a way of life so relaxed a local cop rode (and fell from) a dual-tire Segway. Not exactly a place to mash an accelerator in an expected flat-out run challenge with the likes of Mazda, Audi or Volvo. We'll defer to specs for that. The 1.8-liter, 98-hp four cylinder engine and 80-hp, 60-kW electric motor can morph into sport mode when enthusiastic driving's a must, gas stingier EV, ECO or normal when it's not.

We found it eager to a point, supple and charismatic enough to add some buzz, and firmly comfortable. But we think promised driving thrills could benefit from additional oomph. It delivers about 42 guiltless combined MPG (probably not enough to legally drive some HOV lanes solo like its Toyota Prius cousin). Available Pre-Collision and Radar Cruise Control can boost standard safety features. Initial $29,995 pricing (add $8K fully loaded), shouldn't break an entry-level luxury bank -- especially with fewer fill-ups.

[Read Full Article] For more road test reviews from partner Road & Travel Magazine, click here. Also visit partner, Planet Driven.

05/17/2011

The Cleanest Cities in the U.S.

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Clean cities More than half of all Americans live in cities with unhealthy levels of air pollution, most commonly masking itself as smog or soot, according to the American Lung Association (ALA). What's worse is that breathing in partical pollution can increase your risk of early death, heart attack, stroke or serious illness if you already suffer from asthma, cardiovascular disease or diabetes. 

When its inhaled, ozone irritates your lungs, causing a reaction similar to a bad sunburn inside your body.  And shocking as it is, despite the Clean Air Act and our nation's attempts to cut back on emission levels, air pollution has actually become worse in some parts of our country over the past year.

Two cities, however—Honolulu, HI and Santa Fe, NM—ranked among the cleanest in the U.S. in the new 2011 State of the Air report by the ALA. They're not alone. The following areas were ranked as the Top 10 Cleanest U.S. Cities for Year-Round Partical Pollution:

#1: Cheyenne, WY
#2: Santa Fe-Espanola, NM
#3: Tucson, AZ
#4: Honolulu, HI
#4: Great Falls, MT
#6: Anchorage, AK
#7: Amarillo, TX
#7: Albuquerque, NM
#9: Redding, CA
#10: Salinas, CA

Are you lucky enough to live in one of these clean, green cities? To see your state's air pollution grade, visit the State of the Air website

For more earth-friendly tips, visit RTM's Earth Tones. 

 

05/13/2011

Tips to Conserve Electricity (and Money) this Spring

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Electricity bill The drudges of winter are slowly coming to end, and along with warmer temperatures comes longer days (requiring fewer lamp-lit evenings) and open windows (leading to fresh, rather than forced, air flow) throughout your home. And all of these seasonal adjustments add up... to a less expensive electricity bill!

In addition to reducing your eco footprint, a few simple steps can help you to cut your energy usage and keep some cash in your pocket.

Focus on the Fridge
Often overlooked, this appliance is one of the largest consumers of energy in your home. Think about it; it's always on. And while it's running, it can eat up approximately 8 percent of your electric bill. An easy way to help a fridge run more efficiently is to clean the outside coils twice a year.

Don't Forget to Look Up
Don't forget about ceiling fans! Double-check that all are working properly and are dust-free and then redirect fans to circulate counterclockwise in the summertime, pushing from the ceiling down to create a cooling effect.

And then Look Out
Windows, windows, windows. In addition to turning off the therostat when possible, replace your storm windows with screens to allow air to circulate in moderate temperatures. 

Automate It 
If you haven't already, install a programmable thermostat to help adjust to unpredictable changes in temp and humidity. As the air outside heats up, adjust your thermostat to the warmest comfortable temperature for you to save dollars when the bill is due. 

For more eco-friendly tips, visit Earth Tones.

 

05/10/2011

All New for May 15, 2011 - 5 Frugal Tips for Living Green & Earth Friendly Oil Changes

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Action-adventure-may15-header 

All new for May 15, 2011 - Our new issue sets its sights on for green-minded travelers, how earth-friendly is your oil change, 5 frugal tips for living green, and how to plan an action adventure vacation while treading lightly on mother earth. Visit EWP's Partner Website - Road & Travel Magazine now!!!