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.
Natural Ways to Refresh and Renew April Thompson Pampering ourselves isn’t a luxury so much as a necessity to refresh and renew mind, body and spirit. A Spa Specialty Spas have been synonymous with pampering throughout the ages. “Every civilization around the world has had some kind of communal gathering place for people to practice ‘self-healing’,” says Jeremy McCarthy, group director of Spa & Wellness for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and author of The Psychology of Spas & Wellbeing. From ancient Greek bathhouses to Japan’s beloved natural hot springs, spas have long served as sacred places of healing and restoration. Indeed, many treatments provided at today’s eco-spas draw inspiration from traditional uses of herbs, honey and olive oil to care for skin and hair.
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.
Since ancient times, gardens have been employed as a place of healing for body and spirit. Japanese healthcare providers prescribe shinrin-yoku, meaning, “walking in forests to promote health” or “forest bathing”. Its intent is to use sight, sound and smell to connect with nature through stress-reducing, meditative walks.
Female Farmers Come of Age Lisa Kivirist More women are becoming farmers, bringing with them a passion for producing organic and sustainably raised fare and transforming America’s food system. The U.S. Census of Agriculture reports that their numbers rose by more than 20 percent between 2002 and 2012, to 288,264. Historic Roots “Women have played an integral role in farming for centuries, but in the last 100 years they’ve started to self-organize and be recognized for their important work,” says University of California garden historian Rose Hayden-Smith, Ph.D., author of Sowing the Seeds of Victory: American Gardening Programs of World War I and editor of the UC Food Observer. “During that war, the Women’s Land Army of America, a female-led initiative, recruited nearly 20,000 mostly middle-class urban and suburban women to enter the agricultural sector as wage laborers at farms, dairies and canneries, often in rural areas, where farmers urgently needed help while the male labor force was off fighting.”
Travel is changing as vacationers increasingly value unique experiences over standard tourist fare. In addition to the option of couch surfing (Tinyurl.com/CouchsurfingAdventure), more people are making the most of house rentals, swapping and sitting, plus various home stays via AirBnB (AirBnB.com). All expand options for affordable journeys tailored to their needs.
Each American discards an average of 4.4 pounds of personal garbage a day according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Half of what we toss can be recycled. A yard sale can both clear out the clutter and keep reusable items in circulation.
How to Downsize “I Do” Footprints An eco-friendly wedding will not only strip it of energy-sucking extras, it’s also far less expensive. Minimize the occasion’s carbon footprint by taking a cue from these standout green wedding customs and traditions from other countries. Canada Rather than buy wrapped gifts, guests pay for each kiss from the bride or groom, and also pay for part of the honeymoon. China The bride and groom travel in one car to the ceremony.
Our Precious Freshwater Supplies Are Shrinking By Linda Sechrist Virtually all water, atmospheric water vapor and soil moisture presently gracing the Earth has been perpetually recycled through billions of years of evaporation, condensation and precipitation. As all living things are composed of mostly water and thus a part of this cycle, we may be drinking the same water that a Tyrannosaurus Rex splashed in 68 million years ago, along with what was poured into Cleopatra’s bath. Perhaps this mythological sense of water’s endlessness or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration images from outer space of a blue planet nearly three-quarters covered by water makes us complacent. Yet only 2.5 percent of Earth’s water is not salt water and of sufficient quality to be consumable by humans, plants and animals.
Practical Ways We Can Help Out the Planet By Lisa Kivirist and John Ivanko For many Americans, living more sustainably has become a natural part of their daily routine as they consistently recycle, eat healthy and use energy more efficiently. It’s just what they normally do every day. Every one of them had to start somewhere, growing their efforts over time to the point that nearly every activity yields better results for themselves, their family, their community and the planet. It might begin with the way we eat and eventually expand to encompass the way we work.