“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.
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.