At our house, December 2009 was a blur of working, crafting and traveling. Somehow, in all of the excitement and frenzy of the holidays, the 31 days of 2009’s final month felt more like 13 days. There just never seemed enough time! That must be why, almost a full week into the new year, we are just now getting around to replacing all of the calendars in the house. In past years, I have always grabbed a big, glossy shrink-wrapped calendar from the big-box bookstore, but this year I am looking for something different. Because we are going to have to live with it for the next 12 months, I want something unique, clever and, of course, eco-friendly.
“LEMONADE” Mixed Media Collage Print, by Linda Woods
“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” When Dale Carnegie first spoke those pithy words of wisdom, his intent was to remind us that no matter what comes our way, it is up to us to make the best of it. For me, though, as soon as I hear “When life hands you lemons…”, I think “Lucky me!” That could be because I always associate the cheerful little yellow fruits, not by their sourness, but by their powerful mood-lifting effects. And, it’s not just me; research has proven that just a sniff of fresh lemon really can boost moods and increase optimism in test-subjects. It sounds counter-intuitive, and I stumbled upon it completely by accident, but the tart juice of the lemon is actually an age-old remedy for nausea, too, and is commonly recommended by naturopaths. I can vouch for this first-hand; when I was pregnant with my son and deep in the throws of
morning all-day sickness, the only thing that could calm my tummy and allow me to function was to (literally) suck on a lemon.
So, when life hands you lemons, here are a few ideas for what you can do…
”When life hands you lemons, wash your socks!” Can doing laundry make you happy? It can if you use an eco-friendly product with an uplifting fragrance like the one pictured above by Maylee’s Garden. Scented with pure lavender and lemon essential oils, this all-natural, vegan laundry soap is made by hand by the always effervescent Libby, and contains absolutely no palm oil or harsh detergents. It’s also great in cold-water and suitable for HE/front-loading machines.
“When life hands you lemons, go shopping!” …and be sure to keep your positive eco-karma intact by bringing along a handy reusable shopping bag. This reversible one, pictured above, handmade by Charity of Lil Hipsters, features a cheerful lemon print on one side and a fresh green solid on the other.
“When life hands you lemons, take a bath!” Scrub your troubles and bad mood away with the zesty Lemon Slice soap made by DeShawn Marie The handmade, 100% vegan soap contains a triple-squeeze of lemon (lemon peel, lemon essential oil and lemongrass essential oil), along with nourishing coconut milk and exfoliating dried chamomile flowers. After you’ve toweled-off, visit DeShawn’s website for details on her soap club, which offers a different soap every month!
“When life hands you lemons, rub it in!” Into your cuticles, that is. The next time you find yourself in a seemingly endless line-up, instead of impatiently tapping your fingers, massage Pure Intox’s conditioning, lemon-drop scented balm (above) into your dry cuticles instead. The uplifting scent of lemon will energize and relax you while you wait (patiently) for your turn.
Of course, when all else fails, go ahead and make that lemonade.
Old Fashioned Lemonade
1 cup Simple Syrup (recipe below)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cups cold water
Ice and lemon slices, to serve.
Directions: In a pretty pitcher, combine simple syrup, lemon juice, and water. Adjust sweetness/tartness by adding more sugar or more lemon juice. Serve over ice and garnish with lemon slices.
Simple syrup: In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. Simmer until sugar is completely dissolved.
There’s no denying it – America has a sweet tooth. According to the National Confectioners Association, retail sales of chocolate, candy and gum amount to approximately $28 billion dollars annually. All of that sweetness, however, comes wrapped up in a problem. Because candy-wrappers are usually made up of mixed materials, they are generally not recyclable.
The hybrid of paper, plastic and metal that is responsible for keeping your treats fresh and tasty also prevents them from being conventionally recycled. As a result, millions of candy-wrappers end up in our landfills and eco-systems each and every year. Without avenues to recycle the wrappers, we can either choose to reduce waste by buying bulk candy (or candy with more recycling-friendly packaging such as paper or foil) or we can upcycle the empty wrappers into new, usable goods. Here are some Etsy sellers who are doing just that!
Tracy’s passion for upcycling candy and snack packaging came after a recent vacation to the Croatian Islands. She was so taken by the beautiful and colourful designs on some chip bags, that she packed the empty bags in her luggage and brought them back to her Seattle home. It didn’t take long before Tracy found a creative way to use her “souvenirs”. Clever quilt blocks made from the hoarded chip bags were followed by a mini-wallet, which ultimately became the inspiration for her line of accessories. “After making the Croatian chip wallet, I thought about all the chip bags, soda wrappers, candy bar wrappers & coffee bags that get tossed into the garbage,” says Tracy. And so, Squiggle Chick Designs was born.
eliza B green: I’m a green designer, working with eco fabrics and existing clothes, repurposing to create something new. All my items are original, one-of-a-kind or limited edition, built from scratch.
I am writing this week’s article from a hotel room in Toronto. Earlier, while I was waiting in a seemingly-endless line at the check-in desk, I had a few moments to peruse the hotel’s “environmental pledge”. It got me thinking; as diligent as we are to remain environmentally-friendly at home, it seems that many of us slip into bad habits as soon as we check into a hotel. How soon we forget that the little things, like leaving the light on when exiting the room and taking extra-long hot showers, can quickly add up. You probably don’t wash your bed sheets every day or use a fresh towel (or two) for each shower that you take at home, so why should you expect it elsewhere? I’ve compiled a few tips to help you “go green” and reduce your impact when you travel. Of course, I’ve also included a few eco-friendly, handmade items to make your trip a more pleasurable one, too. (Upcycled suitcase, above, by Get Ready, Set Go!)
Have you ever wanted to throw a dart at a map and travel to the spot that it hits? While that idea has a certain spontaneous appeal, perhaps a little more thought should go into not just the location, but the timing of your trip. Traveling during the high-season can mean a higher stress level for the traveler and for the destination itself. By shifting your travel plans to even just a month after a peak period, you allow the area to recover and rejuvenate itself. Plus, chances are that you and your family will get to see things that high-season visitors don’t and you will be get a more authentic experience. It’s a great way to get to see a culture at it’s relaxed and natural best. (Passport holder, above, by My Paper Garden.)
Eco-conscious travelers choose tour operators and facilities with strong environmental sustainability policies Before you book, do a little research and ask questions about the property that you intend to visit. If they have good practices in place, then they’ll be happy to brag about them! You might be pleasantly surprised to learn that your hotel composts kitchen waste, or that they are taking actions to conserve water and energy. Ask about low-flow toilets, water-saving showerheads and earth friendly housekeeping, then reward companies that put these polices into practice by giving them your business. And, don’t forget to write home – recycled map stationary (above) by Dote.
As the old saying goes, “take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints”. While those little single-use shampoos and soaps are cute, they tend to generate more garbage than they are worth. Before you depart for your adventure, buy small, refillable containers to port your own toiletries. Not only will you reduce waste, you’ll be using products that you know are good for you, rather than leaving it to chance. Even better than bottled, the Lemon Basil shampoo bar (above) by Beautiful Soaps contains conditioning rose hip seed and neem oils and is 100% spill proof – perfect for the suitcase or backpack.
Whether you are hostelling or staying in 5-star comfort, you can always try to make a positive impact on the places you visit. By treating your home away from home with the same care that you treat your own, you help to ensure others who follow will be able to experience and enjoy it, too. We can all can make a difference, especially if we take the steps, both large and small, together. What else can we do? I would love to hear your eco-friendly travel tips – please comment and share them with us. (Travel journal, above, by Blue Toad.)