The Difference between Upcycling and Recycling

Reducing our resource consumption and reusing whatever we can is important for a great many reasons. The economy is still totally stagnant, and being able to avoid buying new as much as possible keeps money in your pocket that can be put towards other things. But the environmental reasons are just as important. You might not think your family alone can make a difference, but if we want to leave a livable world for our children and grandchildren, we must reuse what we have as much as possible. Recycling has been a common aspect of everyday life for decades now, having come to popularity back in the 1970’s. Most people are familiar with splitting their cans, plastic and used glass, and wrapping up their newspapers for pickup. You’ve probably also taken advantage of recycled products, from toilet paper to car tires. But you might not be as familiar with upcycling, an additional effort towards sustainability that has become popular just over the past decade. Knowing the difference between the two will help you bring them consistently into your life, saving time, money and energy for the future.

Recycling as it is done today involves taking a used item and transforming it for reuse. Depending on the product, that process can take a number of different shapes. If the product has already been used, it is processed so that it can be used again for a similar purpose, as with paper. If the product had a previous use that is now redundant, it can be repurposed, such as when machine plants are turned into arts centers or movie theaters. In all of these cases, the product being recycled must be changed practically down to its core, and often can no longer be used for the exact same purpose. For example, recycled plastic bottles are not often used as bottles a second time through, due to concern about chemicals being ingested. It is much more likely that that recycled plastic would become a toy or a piece of clothing.

Upcycling is quite different. In general, it means reusing a product without impacting the quality of that product for further use. While recycling is extending the life of something a touch longer, it will inevitably end up in a landfill. Upcycling, at least in theory, could extend the life of a product indefinitely. That makes the difference massively important. Upcycling cuts down on waste, and further reduces the need to use new resources to inevitably replace the original.

The way that we handle soda cans is a great example of upcycling. All of that aluminum is turned into new cans, which basically saves nearly 100% of the resources required to make a new aluminum can from scratch. And since the material doesn’t degrade, the process can keep going over and over again, well into the future.
It’s worth our time as a culture to create more ways to upcycle, and should be just as much a part of everyday life as recycling. While recycling is a hugely important aspect of environmental sustainability, upcycling represents our best chance to maintain a good quality of life going on into the future. Don’t be discouraged against recycling, however. If you have a vertical blind that needs replacing, using one made from recycled materials is still far preferable to buying new. Just think about ways you and your family can focus on upcycling, and you’ll be doing more than your part to extend your purchasing power, and the life of our planet.

Wheatgrass contains over 100 nutrients, has the same amount of vitamin C as citrus fruit, approximately the same amount of vitamin A as dark leafy greens, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and more! Plus, wheatgrass is a great way to get your daily dose of protein as it contains more protein per ounce than beef! If that’s not enough for you, wheatgrass’ high levels of chlorophyll help oxygenate the blood and are very healing to the body.

Tropical Wheatgrass Juicer


1/2 Pineapple
1 Orange
1 Papaya
3 inch round of wheatgrass


Remove rind from pineapple and cut into cubes. Remove skin from orange (leaving as much of the pith still on the orange) and cut in half. Remove skin from papaya and cut in cubes. Insert ingredients in your Omega masticating style juicer. Enjoy!

*Recipe and image courtesy of Omega.*

Bikestorming: A Mission to Make Bikes the Main Transportation

When you think of urban transportation, you probably have visions of freeway gridlock as thousands of commuters cram their cars onto a roadway intended for a fraction of the vehicles that actually use it each day. Or perhaps you are a bit greener in your thinking, and the first thing that pops into your head is the network of trains and buses that ferry multiple passengers around the city non-stop. Depending on where you live you might even consider an actual ferry boat as a form of urban transport. But one thing you may not immediately hone in on is bicycles. And while the reasons for this are pretty clear (they expose riders to the elements, they require physical effort to use, and they simply don’t go as fast as other forms of transportation….well, except in gridlock), there is one group that’s trying to change the way people feel about this eminently eco-friendly form of transportation.

The folks at are an innovative bunch, and in their bid to greenify the way we move they’ve launched an internet campaign to get people trading in their car keys for a bike lock and helmet. In fact, their main goal is to get 51% of the population riding bikes as their main form of urban transportation by 2030. But there’s a lot more to their philosophy than simply busting up the car culture that currently permeates our society (and indeed, most of the world). The initiative was dreamed up by La Vida en Bici, a Buenos Aires based group that already works to promote the use of bicycles throughout the world. But in launching they have started to build a collaborative platform that has the potential to reach a global audience and encourage individuals all over the world to get involved and carry the banner of bicycling in their own communities.

And there are several underlying goals involved in the movement. Of course there is the environmental aspect. Bicycling creates no carbon emissions, which means that putting half the world on bikes could drastically slow the progression of climate change. Plus, this sustainable form of transportation could vastly improve travel time for urban drivers that constantly find themselves beset by gridlock and spending far more time in the car than is necessary (pumping exhaust into the atmosphere all the while). On a bike they could zip through traffic and get around much faster. Then there is the health factor. Not only could removing the automobile congestion on roadways clear up the air we breathe, but getting out and exercising will improve one’s overall state of fitness.

But that’s not all these cycling enthusiasts are looking to accomplish with their campaign. They also propose that pulling half the population out of their cars and putting them on bicycles will help to promote social equality and community spirit, two things that are sorely lacking in many of the world’s largest urban centers. However, it takes many voices to affect change, and since a strong infrastructure is needed to support a cycling community, it is up to individuals to form their own groups within a city and call for action. In this “click here” age of instant gratification, the best way to get people on board with any initiative is through digital means. And La Vida en Bici has embraced this mentality wholeheartedly by launching

To get the fun, shockingly pink color of these homemade fruit leathers, no fake dyes are necessary — raspberries are added, which also give the fruit leather a nice tartness.

Special equipment: You will need a nonstick silicone baking mat.

Game plan: The fruit leather has a 6- to 7-hour baking time, so plan accordingly.

Apple and Raspberry Fruit Leather


1 1/4 cups unsweetened applesauce
6 ounces fresh raspberries (about 1 1/3 cups)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch fine salt


Heat the oven to 170°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking mat and place on a flat work surface; set aside.

Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl; set aside.

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend on high until you’ve got a very smooth purée, about 1 minute. Pour the mixture through the strainer into the bowl, and then scrape a rubber spatula against the inside surface of the strainer to push the purée through until only seeds remain. Remove the strainer and discard the seeds. Transfer the purée to a container with a spout or return it to the cleaned and dried blender pitcher.

Slowly pour the purée onto the baking mat, tracing the inside of the colored border to create a rectangle. (If your baking mat has no border, leave a 1-inch border from the edge.)

Pour the remaining purée within the borders of the rectangle in a zigzag pattern (do not pour it all into the middle of the baking mat). Using the rubber spatula, push the purée to cover any empty parts within the rectangle (the surface will not be even).

Keeping the baking sheet on the work surface, grasp the edges of the sheet—pressing against the exposed border of the baking mat with your thumbs—and gently shake back and forth to even out the surface of the purée, rotating the baking sheet and shaking as necessary.

Place in the oven and bake until the surface of the fruit leather is slightly sticky to the touch but, when pressed in several different places, a finger does not leave an indentation, about 6 to 7 hours. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, place on a wire rack, and let cool completely.

Set aside a 16-inch-long sheet of waxed or parchment paper. Starting at one short edge of the cooled fruit leather, pull it up from the baking mat and transfer it to the paper. Using clean kitchen scissors, cut through the fruit leather and paper to form desired-sized strips, shapes, or pieces and roll up, paper and all (to prevent sticking). Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

*Recipe and image courtesy of*

Your little back seat driver is going to love having their own steering wheel – no drivers ed classes needed! (at least not yet!) B. Toys’ latest educational toy for children is the ultra cool YouTurns, a steering wheel that doubles as a pillow for long car rides. Just flip it over, and little ones can nod off on the way to Grandma’s.

The bright red wheel sits neatly in your child’s lap, and can be steered left or right with real engine and horn sounds. Plus, tiny tots will love that they can shift into forward, reverse or neutral as they cruise along, and the screen even lights up for night driving! With LED blinkers and a music button that plays lively tunes, YouTurns will spark your child’s imagination while beating the backseat blues.

Another great use for YouTurns? It makes an excellent gift for children who have an extended stay in the hospital. It can be used for playing or sleeping while confined to a hospital bed, and is much more exciting than a teddy bear!

To learn more about YouTurns, or other B. Toys, visit B Toys can be found at any local Target store, as well.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this piece.*

Teaching Your Kids to Eat Local and Organic in College

Getting your child to eat right is nothing if not a chore, and once he flies the coop for the halls of higher learning you’ll have even less control over what he chooses to shove down his gullet. There’s a reason the freshman fifteen is the norm for first-year college students; the minute they’re out from under the watchful gaze of their parents they go mad with power, reveling in their ability to stay out late, attend frat parties on school nights, and eat whatever sugary, salty, greasy concoction of carbs and preservatives they want for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s enough to make you recoil in horror just considering it. However, you can find ways to help your college-bound kid adopt healthier eating habits even as he works to feed his mind.

There’s no denying that eating well in college can be difficult, especially considering that most kids are not at all used to fending for themselves when it comes to food. Sure you can get your college student a meal plan, but most campuses don’t offer the organic and locally-sourced options you’d like to see your child consuming. And the chances that he’ll actually eat every meal in the cafeteria are pretty slim anyway. It’s more likely he’ll survive on junk food from the vending machines and whatever cheap-o diners he can find within a few blocks of campus. However, you can definitely help him to find better options.

For example, you can take the time to research restaurants in proximity to campus that offer an organic menu or at least purchase goods from area farms (thus cutting carbon emissions produced through transport). And convincing your child to frequent these eateries is just as easy as loading up gift cards specific to the restaurants you’d like him to eat at. Any hungry kid that’s low on funds is fairly likely to make a beeline for the free food, so you can easily steer your wayward student towards restaurants that are better for him and the planet. However, you can also have food delivered directly to him.

Co-ops of farmers growing organic crops have sprung up across the country and you may be able to take advantage of the fresh, chemical-free produce they grow. All you have to do is sign your college kid up to receive regular deliveries (and pay for the service yourself). Many offer fruits, vegetables, or mixed boxes, and you may also be able to order ready-mades (like chopped salads or fruit smoothies) and even animal products such as eggs and milk. Although most college students don’t enjoy private kitchens in their dorms, a room equipped with a mini fridge and a microwave should do the trick since most of these items will require no cooking to enjoy.

You might have trouble pushing your college kid towards an organic agriculture program, a major in sustainable manufacturing, or a health information management degree, but you can help to ensure that he eats a little healthier during his time on campus. By providing him with healthy options and making them more desirable than the alternative you can encourage him to eat the local and organic fare that will nourish his body and protect the environment. The rest is up to him.

The best way to start off your late summer day (and beat the heat) is a smoothie loaded with healthy fruits and vegetables, which helps promote blood flow. Also, by adding coconut water to your smoothie, you’re ensuring that you won’t be dehydrated since its one of the most hydrating liquids.

Tropical Joy Juicer


1/4 Pineapple, cubed

2 Triangle Slices of Watermelon, cubed

2 cups coconut water

10-15 frozen blueberries

1/2 Banana


Juice all of the ingredients through your Omega Juicer. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

*Recipe courtesy of Omega.*

Those adorable little legwarmers that are seen adorning tiny legs and arms this Fall are available in soft, organic cotton, as well! BabyLegs® Organic offers vibrant stripes and pretty prints to mix and match with all of your child’s outfits, and one size fits most, so the legwarmers can be worn as your child matures. PLus, for added fun, the legwarmers can also be worn as armwarmers, too! What “Mom” loves about these cute styles is that they can help to transition your baby or toddler’s clothing from Summer to Fall with style. Plus, they make diaper changes a breeze!

In addition to keeping wee ones warm, the organic legwarmers are perfect for protecting tiny knees and elbows as babies learn to crawl and walk. Our favorites include the Duchess and Dorothy styles with tiny ruffles – could they be any cuter?!

To learn more about BabyLegs® Organic, to locate a retailer near you, or to order online, visit

*Company generously provided samples and images for this piece.*

Preventing Head Lice In The New School Year

With a new school year approaching, parents should take the time to learn the “facts of lice” and the natural measures that they can take to keep children lice free.

To help, here are some tips from Risa Barash, founder of Fairy Tales Hair Care:

• Teach children to never share hats, combs, pillows or helmets; doing so can transmit live lice. Remember, lice can survive off the human head for 24-36 hours.

• Keep long hair up in a braid or ponytail.

• Do not wash hair every day—lice attach themselves more easily to squeaky clean hair.

• Do weekly head checks to ensure early detection.

• Use hair care products designed to repel lice, such as Fairy Tales Hair Care’s Rosemary Repel collection. The all-natural formulas are infused with organic ingredients such as rosemary, tea tree and peppermint oils. They are free of nuts, soy, parabens, sulfate and gluten and are designed to be used by the whole family.

Those who order online can save 20 percent by entering the coupon code LICE20 at checkout.

To order, learn more or for a copy of “The Facts of Lice” booklet, visit Download the free “Facts of Lice” iPhone app to report and track local outbreaks.

*Article courtesy of NAPS. Image courtesy of*

This sparkling and refreshing granita is perfect on a late summer’s afternoon, and it is served in an orange shell for extra flair and flavor!

Sparkling Orange Mango Granita


6 oranges, emptied and shells frozen

1 mango, peeled and pitted

1 bottle of Orange Mango Sparkling ICE

½ cup water

¼ cup sugar


Cut the oranges in half and scoop out the pulp for later use. A thin layer can be sliced off the bottom of the orange halves to create a flat surface and prevent them from rolling around when serving.

Freeze empty orange shells.

Note: For easier scooping, roll the oranges by hand before cutting in half, using a firm downward pressure to loosen the pulp.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Sparkling ICE.*