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Eco-Friendly Shades: Protecting Both Your Eyes and the Earth

As the summer months finally start to roll around, the bright beams of the sun have many individuals reaching for their sunglasses. Currently, due to the wide selection of shades on the market, sunglasses have become viewed as a way of making a fashion statement; endless combinations of colors and shapes create a diverse sunglass market. This season, instead of investing in a pair of shades made from one-time-use plastics, consider purchasing a pair of eco-friendly sunglasses. Available in a wide selection of styles, these sunglasses are constructed from recycled or biodegradable materials, and some of these styles of green shades do more than just protect eyes — they also harness the power of the sun. Below are a few stellar (pun intended!) options for eco-friendly sunglasses.

1. Wooden Frames

Perhaps the most common option for eco-friendly sunglasses, wooden frames made from either recycled or sustainably-sourced wood provide an excellent alterative to the traditional plastic frames. Such wood-based frames can be purchased through brands like Proof, Shywood, Kayu, and iWood. And as if saving the earth and consumers’ eyes isn’t enough, several of these brands ensure that their sale of shades does more than that. More specifically, Kayu donates $50 from every purchase of sunglasses to an organization dedicated to providing corrective eye surgeries for individuals in developing countries. Proof donates a pair of eyeglasses for every set of shades sold; additionally, Proof also is involved in planting trees in Haiti. The price of sunglasses with wooden frames varies, depending upon the specific brand.

2. Recycled Goods

Falling under the third concept of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” motto, sunglasses made from recycled plastics (and other materials) are also considered eco-friendly. Shywood and HUF have collaborated to make such sunglasses from recycled broken skateboards while Urban Spectacles has brilliantly designed a pair of retro-looking shades made from recycled beer bottles. At the same time, Shywood has also teamed up with Bushmills to create a pair of sunglasses made from recycled wooden whiskey barrels. Between the beer bottles and the whiskey barrel designs, environmentally-friendly consumers can definitely choose to embrace a whole new meaning of “Drinking in the sunshine.”

3. A Hairy Matter

Arguably the most unique idea in green sunglass materials has been presented by two students at the Royal College of Arts. Made from a creative combination of human hair clippings and bioresin, these sunglasses are completely biodegradable. Since they are not currently backed by a large scale company, the pricing information for “Studio Swine Human Hair Sunglasses” is only available upon request.

4. Solar Power

Unlike the other sunglasses that just focus on protecting eyes, these glasses also work to harness the power of the sun. Made with dye-sensitized solar cells and a power jack at the end of the glasses’ frame, these handy shades can be used to provide power to your favorite mp3 player in addition to protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays.

5. Green Plastics

Finally, eco-friendly sunglasses can also be considered to be any sunglasses made from plant-based plastics. For example, fashion giant Juicy Couture recently placed its “Choose Green” shades on the market; all of these glasses are made with 55% renewable plant-based plastics, as well as bamboo accents.

When making your sunglass purchases for this new summer season, remember to look for green alternatives like the ones mentioned above. Although such shades might be higher in price than traditionally-constructed sunglasses, the long-term benefits of these shades arguably justify this price difference.

About the Author

Author Sara Roberts has a background in health and technical writing, and is a content contributor for Just Eyewear, an online retailer of prescription glasses and sunglasses. Visit Just Eyewear on Facebook.

Yard Sales: The Eco-Friendly Way to Shop

Anyone who has been trying to reduce their carbon footprint has likely discovered the benefits of buying second-hand items. Just thinking about the many harmful drawbacks of the manufacturing cycle is enough to set your teeth on edge. In fact, it can hardly be called a cycle at all; it’s more like a straight line (with some pit-stops) from the manufacturing plant to the landfill. Natural resources are mined from the Earth by heavy-polluting and wasteful means, after which raw materials are subjected to more waste and pollution thanks to a variety of chemical processes at manufacturing plants. Then these finished products are wrapped in all kinds of packaging that consumers will purchase and discard (more waste), until finally the many disposable products that permeate our society are carted off to their final resting place at an overflowing landfill (more waste, more pollution…you get it).

Giving items a second life by reclaiming them breaks the linear mentality and creates a cycle in which less manufacturing and waste is required. Sounds pretty good, right? It is! And by frequenting yard sales, you can save money on this most eco-friendly mode of turning one man’s trash into your green treasure. However, there are a few things you should think about when you purchase items in this manner, such as what you can reasonably use and the impact it might have on the environment when you bring it home.

While you are probably doing a good thing by keeping most items out of the landfill, there are a few caveats to consider. For example, you must reflect on whether or not continuing to use the item will do more harm than good. Suppose you find an old fridge that still works. If it’s not an energy-star model, it will suck up massive amounts of electricity, unlike a much more eco-friendly model. But if you want to turn it on its side, throw a couple cushions on the top, and make it an interesting seating arrangement in your backyard, that’s a different story. Or what if you get a living room set and then decide to have it reupholstered. Do you have any idea how many chemicals are used in the process? You might as well get a new couch if that’s your plan!

The point is, you need to put some thought into the items you’re buying second-hand so that you make sure your purchases are the greenest possible choices. Whether you frequent San Francisco, New York, or Aurora garage sales, the truth is that you’re not likely to find items that were originally conceived to be eco-friendly. Sorry to break it to you, but conflict-free diamonds, organic clothing, and furniture built without varnish or glue are not common finds on the yard-sale circuit. You’re much more likely to find stuff that was made before the term “eco-friendly” even existed. So if you’re going to try to make strides for a greener future by buying second-hand goods at yard sales, it’s a good idea to find items that will help you to reach your goals rather than ones that will set you back in your efforts.

Kermit was wrong! It is easy being green on Halloween! Just make choices that are people-healthy, animal-friendly and Earth-conscious. We’ll show you how with these 10 simple steps:

10 Easy Steps to Making Your Halloween EEK-O-Friendly

1. Plan ahead to avoid last-minute shopping which often limits your choices.

2. When it coms to costumes, and decor – reuse, borrow, trade purchase used or simply do-it-yourself.

3. Treat bags can be anything! For extra fun, match the bag to the costume using something you already own. Here are some ideas: purses, flowers pots (cover the hole), cloth sacks, backpacks, or lunchboxes.

4. Choose healthier treats. Take baby steps with organic candy and honey sticks, two child-favored choices. (Honey is not suitable for children under two years of age).

5. Choose fun treasures instead of conventional sweets. Think of the treasures your child collects in her pockets – pretty rocks, coins, etc.

6. If you’re giving a party, avoid disposables including napkins, plates, cups, tablecloths and other decor.

7. Walk from house to house instead of driving.

8. Compost pumpkins and any other food, including leftover candy.

9. Collect candy wrappers and help your kids turn them into gift items like purses, bracelets, and picture frames. Find directions online.

10. Avoid purchasing any treats made with palm oil.

Check out GreenHalloween.org for hundreds of fun, fresh ideas!

Halloween Decorations Whose Environmental Impact Isn’t Scary

If any holiday gives arts and crafters chance to shine, it’s Halloween! With spooky skeletons, ghoulish ghosts, and eerie ambience galore, choices for great Halloween Christmas decorating tips and start getting ready for the next big holiday!

Pack your child’s lunch in an extremely unique, hand-crafted lunchbox made from items that have been thrown away, such as juice containers, rice bags, and even advertising banners! Each creation from Bazura is truly one-of-a-kind, and makes quite the conversation piece! With each purchase, you are helping to provide a job for hundreds of women in the Phillipines who are part of a woman’s co-operative. BaZura.Biz works closely with these women to assist them as they transform garbage into practical, useful items that are used everyday!

More than just lunchboxes are created – the extensive collection from Bazura includes Messenger Bags, Backpacks, Pencil Bags, Diaper Bags, Duffel Bags, and even Bowling Bags! Bright and cheerful, each colorful piece is a work of art! Who knew trash could be this functional!

Mom” received the Lunchbox and Mini Lunchbox to use, and both are sturdy & perfect for keeping everything cool for lunch. With an easy-to-clean foil interior and inside slip pocket, each lunchbox can be packed accordingly – the Mini Lunchbox for snacks after-school, and the regular-sized lunchbox for lunchtime. Each one is available in 6 bold colors, including pink, red, green, blue, purple and orange.

Environmentally-conscious families will adore each and every product Bazura offers, and will love that they are helping to make a difference both locally and globally.

To learn more about Bazura.Biz, or to order your own lunchbox or bag, visit www.bazurashop.com.

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

Clogged By Clutter
By Alice Inoue

Where do I place a fountain to bring in more opportunities? Will hanging a crystal enhance my career? Should I paint my room green for better feng shui? These are frequently asked questions, yet small things like this will hardly make much of a difference, and even if they do, their effect will be short-lived. For the long-term, the foundation of your energetic environment will have the greatest impact.

Alice’s Basic Rule #1
So where do you begin? The first thing I say is to minimize your clutter. When I mention this in presentations, some people sigh, others groan, and many nod knowingly. Most everyone relates to clutter, no one seems to like having it, and yet, unless someone is spring cleaning or a move is imminent, it’s rare to get motivated to clear it out.

Everything in our environment is a reflection of what’s going on in our inner environment, and a cluttered home is directly correlated with the mental and emotional clutter we hold inside. You will often hear me say, “clear your clutter, clear your mind.” By sorting out your clutter, you sort out your life, which results in a release and renewal of your own life force.

Why we hold on to clutter
Clutter is woven into our emotional energy and it drains us. It ties us to the past instead of allowing us to live in the present moment, yet we hold on to it for various reasons. How many of these clutter scenarios do you relate to?

Clothes that don’t fit
By keeping clothes that don’t fit, you constantly have a visual reminder that you are not where you once were. If you can accept where you are with your size in the present and let go of the clothes that represent the “old” you, you will have an opportunity to create a “new” you.

Expensive but unused items
Have you ever purchased something that cost “a lot” of money and later realized it wasn’t a wise purchase? Keeping these items constantly reminds you of your “mistake”. Each time it’s in view, you subconsciously judge yourself, which holds you in the past. Let it go.

Keeping things “just in case”
Do you have five umbrellas but only two people in your home? Do you have a closetful of shopping bags that you’ve been saving from years ago? Holding onto everything that comes into your possession shows an anxiety about the future and a lack of trust that the Universe will provide what you need when you need it. When you open up space in your home or office, you open up the possibility that something new can arrive.

Items from a past relationship
Getting rid of possessions after a break-up or a death is always difficult because it means you really have to come to terms with your grief and loss. There is no set time when things “should” be cleared out, but the sooner you are able to clear out possessions associated with a past relationship, the sooner you are able to live in the present moment. It’s fine to keep items to remember the positive aspects of a person’s existence in your life. Clearing out others’ things is for when you need to let go and move on.

A gift you are not fond of
A gift you don’t like from someone you do like is one of the toughest things to deal with gracefully. I always say to honor the intent of the gift and be appreciative of the love that the person has for you, then donate it or give it to someone who likes it and can use it. Feng shui-wise, it doesn’t make sense to keep something that does not resonate with you.

Tied to your clutter
Imagine being tied to everything in your environment by an invisible thread of energy. As such, you are literally tied to your clutter, even if you can’t see it. Can you believe that you drag your clutter around, no matter where you are or what you are doing? You are losing your energy to it!

Clear your clutter
There are many methods to clear clutter but the simplest is using the theory of relativity. It states that whatever is closest to you affects you the most, so start clearing from where you spend the most time. Your bedroom? Your office? Your car?

Mark your calendar
Thinking about clearing your clutter is not effective. Make an appointment with yourself, just like you would with a good friend. It is totally worth it because at the end of the day, you will feel far better than if you spent it at the spa or out on the golf course.

About the Author

Alice Inoue is a life guide that uses the modalities of feng shui, astrology and spirituality in her work. Her offerings include award-winning, mind-body-spirit themed books, as well as a series of feng shui instructional DVD’s. For more information visit www.aliceinspired.com. Sign up for her newsletter to receive monthly articles on feng shui, astrology and life wisdom.

The must-have item to stay hydrated and beat the heat this summer? S’well, the new luxury reusable water bottle! That is how the company touts it – “Mom” thinks the water bottle not only looks fabulous, but is sheer genius. The bottle is made to keep items chilled and cool from 8 -12 hours, and guess what? It delivers! 12 hours overnight in the summer heat and yes, there were still ice cubes in the bottle! Pick your favorite color out of 7 bold colors and put it to the test at www.swellbottle.com.

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

Spring Cleaning for a Healthy You

Spring cleaning is not only good for your home, it’s good for your body, mind and soul. As spring begins to appear, take this opportunity to clean out in ways to benefit you physically, mentally and emotionally.

A Trip to the Dentist

Your teeth can indicate just how healthy you are. Tooth decay can lead to more serious, long-term health issues, such as gum disease and even heart troubles. If it’s been awhile since you’ve seen a dentist, make an appointment to get a dental exam, x-rays and a cleaning.

“An exam and x-rays will help us to identify any potential problems,” states Dr. Barber, a dentist in Vancouver, WA. “If they aren’t taken care of now, what were once little problems can become large, painful, and expensive.”

Once you’ve visited the dentist during this period of spring cleaning, make and keep an appointment with your dental professional every six months to maintain a healthy mouth.

File and Recycle

If you’re anything like me, your life is full of piles of papers. Clearing out this physical clutter will help clear out the mind as well. File important papers appropriately and shred those that you no longer need. Recycle the shredded leftovers to keep them out of local landfills.

Physical files in your home office aren’t the only ones that need to be maintained. Think about what would happen if your computer suddenly stopped working. Grab a USB memory stick or a portable hard drive and back up the files on your computer. That way, you know that your information is retrievable even if your computer unexpectedly fizzles.

Check On Your Health

Your body may need a bit of a tune-up during this spring cleaning process. Make an appointment with your doctor for a physical, especially if it’s been awhile. Request a blood panel to check on your cholesterol, thyroid and blood sugar levels. Talk with your doctor about any health concerns or questions you may have while you’re there.

Reduce and Reuse

Closets can become crammed with stuff that we no longer use. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to take inventory of your possessions. Look ahead to warmer spring and summer months and decide if you want to hold a garage sale. If so, create two piles – one for items to sell at a garage sale and one for items to give away. In this process, you may come across things that you can reuse, which is great – but only keep them if they’ll truly be helpful. Then prepare items for the garage sale and donate whatever isn’t sold to a local worthy cause.

Clean Out Commitments

We can become bogged down mentally and emotionally by all of the commitments that fill our calendars. Take stock of how you spend your time, and ask yourself if what you’re doing over the days and weeks is addressing your needs. It could be time to adjust or even stop participating in some commitments for a short time to gain more balance in your life.

This kind of spring cleaning will help ensure greater health as we observe the signs of spring.

About the Author

Kelly Wilson is a busy mom and freelance writer. For more information about maintaining a healthy smile, contact Dr. Barber, a dentist in Vancouver, WA, at Smiles Dental.

Light up the night without batteries or electricity this season! These holiday-inspired glow-in-the-dark decals from WallCandy Arts are great for decorating your home for the holidays. Best of all, they can be applied and reapplied each year without damaging the walls. What a great way to reduce and reuse!

The ultimate in energy efficient illumination, Glow-in-the-Dark decorative decals cost $48.00. For more information, visit www.wallcandyarts.com.

*Image provided by WallCandy Arts.*

Seeking a planet-friendly option for holiday entertaining this season by opting not to use plastic or styrofoam cups? Check out this fantastic new line from Silikids! Their new Siliskin Drinking Glass sets, offered in 3 sizes, are a stylish alternative that are both reusable and recyclable. Festive and fun, the drinking glasses are wrapped in a Siliskin sleeve, protecting the glass and providing a safe, easy-to-grip surface. Little hands can grip the glasses with ease, and Mom does not have to worry about the glass shattering and breaking if accidently dropped!

Plus, the glasses are perfect for those seeking to relax pool or deckside while sipping a cocktail (or mocktail!) without fear of dropping the glass. The silicone sleeves are BPA-free, made from 100% food-grade silicone, and are hypo-allergenic. In addition, the sleeves are removable and dishwasher-safe or can be boiled for sterilization.

Siliskin’s Drinking Glass Sets are available in the following sizes:

To order a set or two before your next holiday gathering, visit www.silikids.com.

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