Many of the greener choices are now a tremendous bargain for consumers. The federal government currently offers a tax credit of up to $4,500 for electrified vehicles, and many states kick in with added subsidies. Highlights include maximums available for electric vehicles (EV) with big batteries: California, $1,500 in rebates, plus single-occupant use of the high-occupancy vehicle lanes; Colorado, $5,000; Connecticut, $3,000; Delaware, $2,200; Maryland, $3,000; Massachusetts, $2,500; Michigan, $2,500; Pennsylvania, $2,000; Rhode Island, $2,500; Texas, $2,500; and Utah, $750.
“My top herb garden choice for the hot, humid conditions in the South is Tuscan blue rosemary, because it is beautiful, easy to grow and is wonderful in all kinds of foods and products,” Kessler says. “It blooms in several seasons and provides bees with off-season food.”
For instance, replacing Kentucky bluegrass, Bermuda grass or another non-native species with natives can deliver drought resistance and lower irrigation needs; eliminate any need for fertilizers or toxic pesticides; reduce or eliminate labor-intensive and often polluting mowing and edging; enhance the beauty of a home; and attract birds, butterflies and other wildlife.
“The number of U.S. cemeteries allowing natural burials has increased by 30 in the last year,” says Elizabeth Fournier, owner of Cornerstone Funeral Services, in Boring, Oregon. “More than 150 cemeteries allow them now. We encourage replacing cut flowers with plants. A multipurpose wooden casket can serve as a bookshelf until needed, or a casket can be made of natural wicker, paper or grass.” Formaldehyde-free embalming fluids made of non-toxic and biodegradable essential oils allow for a synthetic chemical-free burial…Each (pet) urn comes with a seed for a tree or shrub and the proper soil to help it grow…Eternal reefs are made of ashes mixed with cement placed in the ocean in a military-style ceremony to help support marine life for at least 500 years…Music lovers can choose to have their ashes compressed into a vinyl record. A live recording of goodbyes, a last will and testament or compilation of favorite songs can be prerecorded. Ashes can also be compressed into colorful memorial gemstones ready to be set into jewelry to keep a loved one close.
Today’s mass-produced furniture may contain hidden chemicals such as formaldehyde-based adhesives, flame retardants and other volatile organic compounds (VOC) linked to serious health issues. Researchers from the Natural Resources Defense Council found 45 toxic chemicals in indoor dust, 10 of which were present in at least 90 percent of households sampled. “These chemicals enter the air as materials in the furnishings break down,” explains healthy home expert Lisa Beres. “Because we spend an average of 90 percent of our lives indoors, the exposure to harmful chemicals is troubling.”
Skin outbreaks can also be the result of food sensitivities or food allergies. “I make patients aware of the issues underlying their skin problems so that they understand the connection between internal health and skin. Then they can make conscious food choices,” says Dattner.
Nature’s holiday decorations can transcend cliché pine wreaths or farmed trees to make highly personalized indoor décor that supersedes traditional greenery. Yet mistletoe, holly leaves and berries, eucalyptus, poinsettias, tree needles, acorns and a cut tree’s water reservoir can be harmful to both pets and children. Here are some better choices.
Whether it’s a sideline or full time, flourishing small businesses stimulate the economy. The U.S. Small Business Association found that between 2009 and 2013, companies with fewer than 500 employees accounted for 60 percent of net new jobs. Technology allows new commercial ventures to be launched from home, yielding huge savings in startup costs. Owners have found ways to fulfill needs by leveraging their past job experiences and personal interests.