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Fri Nov 02 00:00:00 EDT 2018

More and more it has become so important to help provide a safe habitat for our winged friends. Perfect places like your garden, balcony, workplace, or community garden are areas you can make a huge difference right away.

Not just here in the U.S. but also throughout the world, there have been significant losses in natural bee habitats. Right here in the United States, grassland prairies which were once rich habitats supporting all of the winged pollinators as well as wildlife are becoming more and more threatened. Due to the increasing agricultural growth, recent surveys suggest close to a 99.9% loss in habitat spaces over the last 150 years. In the UK, almost 97% of native wildflower habitats have been lost since the 1950's for the same reason.

These types of losses are occurring in other ecosystems that once generously supported our winged pollinators. Increasing population growth in the suburban and rural areas is creating even more conversion of wild areas for farmland, suburban, and urban purposes. With this industrialization our winged pollinators are further threatened. By increased pesticide use, thoughtless habitat management practices (mowing down wildflowers before they are able to set seed), and other various problems that come with living within a growing human population, our perfect pollinators are becoming more and more threatened.

Beautiful Habitats +

While we recognize that growth is inevitable, we also recognize that we must do whatever we can to prevent the extinction of any of our winged pollinators. Regardless of the wildlife, bees, butterflies and birds, they all need our help to provide them with the shelter and habitat to allow them to thrive. These winged friends hold the key to a prosperous future for our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Our habitats are designed to offer a safe haven for these winged pollinators to thrive and reproduce. In addition to the habitats, find a way to plant a wildflower garden. Not only are they bright and beautiful but they also create the perfect environment to allow all of our winged friends to survive and flourish.

birdhousebutterfly house

Visit our Habitats + Feeders Collection to shop now. Plus, see our favorites below!

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Fri Nov 02 00:00:00 EDT 2018 Aurelia Ytaka Eco Tips  Health Living and Home 
Thu Aug 17 00:00:00 EDT 2017

The highly sought after teak tree is native to Myanmar, India, Thailand and Indonesia. It is known for its richly dark gold wood and incredible durability when exposed to the elements. The wood is, by nature, resistant to moisture, rot, decay, warping, and cracking. Because of these properties, teak is widely prized in the marine and boating industry for both its look and its performance in its role as the top choice for deck wood. Outdoors, teak is used for many projects beyond boat decks, such as benches and other outdoor and garden furniture. Additionally, indoors it is used for flooring, window frames, furniture and more. The signature color, decorative grain, and over all strength make it a wood in high demand.

As amazing as teak is, its superior performance has lead to some unfortunate results. While the tree can still be found growing on plantations in its native area, natural teak forest are sparse and scarce due to unsustainable logging practices and slash-and-burn agriculture. Two teak species, Tectona Hamiltoniana and Tectona Philippineasis, are officially classified as endangered. Many parts of the world now heavily regulate the harvesting of teak to protect its natural survival. Organizations such as the Royal Thai Forestry Department and the Rainforest Alliance work to ensure teak wood is farmed sustainably and legally.

As for VivaTerra’s complete collection of teak wood furniture and décor, many of our products are created from reclaimed or recycled teakwood. This allows our collection to boast all of the benefits of teak wood, such as its gorgeous color, moisture resistance, and durability, while also eliminating any impact on the depletion of teak forest. Perfect for use in any space in your home, teak is unaffected by moisture in the bathroom, elegant enough to grace your dining table, sturdy enough to hold up in the kitchen, and is just the right natural accent for a living or bedroom. We can’t say enough good things about this super dependable wood or list all the reasons you’ll love having it in your home.



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See the complete VivaTerra Teak Wood Collection...

 

Thu Aug 17 00:00:00 EDT 2017 Jesse Eco Tips  Health Living and Home 
Wed Aug 16 00:00:00 EDT 2017

When It Comes to Decorating Your Apartment, Go Green… But Stay Chic

Over the past few years, the apartment-hunting experts at ABODO have noticed two overriding trends: People of all ages are moving back to city centers to rent, and they’re looking to live in environmentally-conscious buildings. Living in the city shortens commutes and lessens carbon emissions. And advances in eco-friendly construction are making a marked difference in energy consumption. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified buildings — which are built from sustainable materials to save energy and water, and to limit harmful gas emissions —are expected to save up to $1.2 billion in energy costs between 2012 and 2018.

But what about the interior of your apartment? How can you extend the noble effort to conserve energy, limit harmful emissions, and increase efficiency inside your apartment, while still presenting an elegant, impeccably-designed interior? We’ve got a few ideas.

Compost… Even Inside

You might think that composting your food waste is only possible if you have a yard… and a large, unsightly bucket. But indoor composting is possible, even without a worm farm. Electric composters like the Smart Cara Food Recycling System are energy-efficient, quiet, and easy to use. They’re also sleek and small enough to fit under your kitchen sink.

Reclaimed Wood

Furniture made from reclaimed wood doesn’t just look good—it minimizes your impact on the world’s forests. Reclaimed wood is stronger than most synthetic material, and every piece is unique, with a patina that implies a long and rich history. Pieces like this reclaimed Indonesian teak table are stylish, sturdy, and sustainable.

Recycled Glass

The high heat necessary to melt sand, dolomite, and other materials into glass leads to the production of greenhouse gasses. Recycled glass doesn’t require as much heat, substantially reducing emissions. And though you don’t have much control over the windows in your apartment, recycled glass is great for plates, bowls, and kitchen utensils. These recycled glass vases could add a whimsical, homespun touch to your dining or living room.

All Natural Fabrics, Ethically Sourced

Natural fabrics like wool and cotton are soft, breathable, and look great. Plus, it’s relatively easy to find fair trade, ethically made products that are also completely natural. These striped bath towels are 100% cotton and are made by female artisans in Ethiopia. They’re also fair trade, which means that the people who make them are compensated fairly for their work.

Furniture That Supports the Earth… and Your Back

You can have ethically sourced, 100% natural textiles on top of your bed or your couch, but what about the inside? Many mattresses and couch cushions are filled with synthetic materials whose production leaves a huge carbon footprint. Consider soy-filled couch cushions or a mattress made from coconut husk fibers, latex made from rubber sap, or memory foam with a high plant-oil content. And don’t fall for marketing gimmicks: Make sure your product is certified by a trusted third-party organization, like OEKO Tex Standard 100 or Global Organic Textile Standard, both of which ensure that producers conform to exacting sustainability standards.

Wed Aug 16 00:00:00 EDT 2017 ABODO Interior Decorating & Design  Eco Tips 
Wed Aug 16 00:00:00 EDT 2017

Spring is the perfect time for a backyard dinner gathering. After all, the sun is warm, the birds are calling overhead, and there are new tulips and daffodils everywhere you look—all of it brought to you by the Earth.

Therefore, it’s only right that you do your part to give back. And you can certainly do a lot when you choose to go green with your outdoor dining. There are plenty of ways to get the environmental stamp of approval on your soiree. Read on to find out some of the best.

group dining

All the Barbecue—Without the Emissions

It’s no secret that grilling comes with a hefty environmental price tag. Grills let off smoke and carbon dioxide that contributes to global warming. In fact, if all of America’s grills were fired up for two hours, it would generate around 882 million pounds of CO2, about as many emissions as your average coal-fired power plant lets off in a month.

And charcoal is one of the worst offenders. Researchers have found that gas grills have about one-third the environmental footprint of comparable charcoal units—and they cook much more efficiently, too. Charcoal lets off harmful fumes and smoke that travels out into the atmosphere, whereas many of these are avoided by switching to natural gas or propane.

But it’s possible to set up your grill so that it’s practically emissions-free. Smaller electric grills can be powered by portable solar panels—or plugged right into the outlet if you have solar in your home—for fresh-off-the-grill fare that has the clean taste of green power.

basket of peaches

Planning a Menu with the Earth in Mind

According to a recent study led by the World Resources Institute, there’s a definite link between red meat consumption and climate change. Beef production generates about 20 times the amount of emissions as plant-based proteins and is also really resource-intensive to farm. In fact, about one-third of the farming water footprint goes straight to that burger.

We’re not necessarily advocating vegetarianism, but you will keep the Earth cleaner and happier if you opt for more eco-friendly proteins, like turkey burgers or chicken breasts. You can also reduce your footprint by opting for local fare sourced from nearby growers, CSA programs, or farmer’s markets—even if just for your non-meaty ingredients. Local doesn’t just mean it’s fresher (and therefore, tastier!). Food that has to travel fewer miles to your plate will also shrink your meal’s carbon footprint. At the very least, avoid produce grown in South America or New Zealand. Anything coming to you by airfreight racks up about 50 times the emissions of ground-transported food, so even making this small change offsets a lot of carbon dioxide.

Lastly, turn an eye over to the drink cart. Many of the ingredients in our favorite adult beverages come from water-intensive grow practices. For instance, in California, about 80 percent of the state’s water footprint goes to agriculture, including growing grapes for wine. Don’t get too excited, beer lovers, because brews fare no better. In fact, it takes 300 liters of water just to make one liter of beer.

To keep your party’s spirits on the up and up, look for beer, wine, and alcohol produced by biodynamic growers. These farmers try to use as little water as possible in their agriculture, offering a finished product that will quench your thirst without leaving the Earth thirsty in its wake.

salsa

Putting the “Reusable” in Reduce, Recycle, Reuse

One of the best ways to green up any outdoor fete is to ditch the plasticware. Disposables may be more convenient, but they swell landfills and require a lot of energy and resources to make. Generally, most plastic products are made from petroleum, a raw material whose ecological impact is already well-documented. The petroleum turns into the plastic we recognize by “steam cracking” refined ethane and propane using a steam bath heated to 900 degrees Celsius or more. That means a lot of fuel and resources go into the process—all of which can be avoided when you use reusable silverware, plates, and cups.

You can even have some fun with it. Mix up a signature boozy punch served in a glass dispenser and served in these elegant, recycled glasses. Or cook your food in a natural stone crock that doubles as a serving vessel. Have your guests drop their plates and silverware into a decorative tub filled with water and dish soap, and offer clearly-labeled spots for trash, recycling, and compost. Clean up has never been so easy!

Make It Easier for Guests to Take Leftovers

Any seasoned dinner party host knows it’s better to have too much food than too little—but not when the end result is a lot of food waste. Around 40 percent of the food we grow in the US gets thrown out. Not only is that a waste of resources, it also means a lot of fuel and water was used up producing that food—all for nothing.

If you know you can’t finish the leftovers yourself, encourage guests to dish out a second plate to take with them. Provide easy-to-transport, travel-ready containers (durable enough to be reused and hopefully returned, of course). Or look for plasticware that uses over 30 percent post-consumer materials. That way you won’t be solving one problem by creating another one.

All in all, sustainability should be a group effort, so don’t be afraid to get your guests involved, too. Tell them that this gathering is a low-impact party, and let the environment be the real guest of honor at your outdoor fete!

 

 

Guest contributor, Lauren Pezzullo is a writer, editor, and musicophile who's passionate about vegetarianism and sustainable eating. As an editor for Modernize, she writes about energy-efficient living in the home. She's currently writing her debut novel.

Wed Aug 16 00:00:00 EDT 2017 Lauren Pezzullo Eco Tips  Health Living and Home 
Wed Aug 16 00:00:00 EDT 2017

Making any occasion a more eco-friendly one is always a VivaTerra specialty, but for this upcoming Valentine's Day, we've released a new collection of recycled glassware that's both romantic in design and beautiful in story.

Our newly released Vintage-Inspired Recycled Glassware Collection is based on 19th-century glassware molds that capture that beautiful and graceful style of the mid- and late-1800s. Handblown in Spain, this glassware not only supports a traditional art form and its artisans, it's also made of 100% recycled glass bottles and collected throughout the country. It's one of those special products that captures both our mission to be better to our earth and to support artists and art forms around the globe.

Available in a red wine glass, white wine glass and a champagne flute, each piece of this unique collection comes in a set of 6. Due to being made of second-run, recycled glass, each piece has a very subtle light green tint reminiscent of older soda bottle glass. Each piece has a story and history all its own.

And for your upcoming Valentine's Day plans, these romantic designs would be a beautiful, earth-friendly addition! Toast your Valentine with your favorite beverage and feel like you've been transported back in time with our vintage-inspired collection.

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Wed Aug 16 00:00:00 EDT 2017 Kristen Perkins Eco Tips 
Mon Feb 06 00:00:00 EST 2017

There is no meal that compares to one made in the heart of your own home, or especially to one made and served with earth-friendly values on the mind. However, in a busy world, many of us find ourselves short on time to prepare meals for our families, friends, or even just ourselves. Not to mention, short on time to stop and think of the environmental impacts we could be making in our kitchens. The consideration of this impact need not be burdensome, however! With just a single investment into cookware, serveware or dinnerware you can change the way your serve every meal. We have a few tips on how to improve the environmental of your dinners, lunches and more from point A to point B.

It starts with energy efficient cooking.

Natursen cookware

New to our spring collection is a line of natural stone cookware, Natursten™, which offers both a beautiful and energy efficient way to prepare a meal. The dense stone retains temperature longer than your average pot, pan, or grill to reduce cooking times and therefore reduce energy use. Save time and resources by turning the stove off a few minutes sooner and letting the stoneware do the rest. 

It continues with sustainable serveware.

Indigo Enamel Coated Mango Wood Serveware

Natursten™ cookware even continues to help here. Save water (and time) by skipping washing an extra dish! Let it cool and take these cookware pieces straight to the table without dirtying another serving dish. The beautiful stone surfaces and metal hardware make them gorgeous serving pieces too. For the dishes you don’t need to cook, such as salads, we recommend serving them in our bold Jesse’s Indigo Enamel Coated Mango Wood pieces. Mango wood is a sustainably harvestable wood due both to its fast growth and the need to discard of non-fruit producing trees. In the past, mango trees that had reached maturity and stopped producing fruit were cut down and left to rot. Today, many manufacturers and designers have discovered a better purpose for these beautiful trees. In this serving collection, mango wood is coated in food-safe enamel and features a gorgeous indigo dyed pattern that brings both sustainability and bold pattern and color to your table.

It ends with recycled dinnerware.

bright bubbled turquoise recycled glass drinkware collection

From our new recycled glass drinkware collection to our signature SeaGlass dinnerware, setting an inspired and eco-friendly table is a breeze. The Bright & Bubbled Drinkware in our newest Spring collection is available in three cheerful colors and a variety of glassware styles. So you’ll be set to serve up refreshing lemonade for the family or glasses of chardonnay to friends. Mix the cobalt collection in with Jesse’s Indigo Enamel Coated Mango Wood plates & blows for the ultimate eco-setting.

You’ll find every piece you need for creating a quick and eco-chic dining experience in our Spring 2017 collection. From your kitchen to the table, there is a sustainable, eco-conscious, or recycled collection that encompasses fashion and function during every step of the way! 

Mon Feb 06 00:00:00 EST 2017 Jesse Eco Tips  Health Living and Home 
Tue Aug 02 00:00:00 EDT 2016

VivaTerra has joined up with Goodwill in a new initiative to give back, aptly called Give Back Box. As participants in Goodwill’s Give Back Box program, we (as in us + you) have the opportunity to turn a simple shipped order into something more! And it’s so easy to do.

It all starts with the simple joy of receiving your VivaTerra order—Hooray, it’s here! Unpack your new eco-friendly home good or accessory and place it in your home to enjoy. Now you are left with a box, empty to the untrained eye, but really full of giving potential. Fill it up with gently used clothing, housewares, and other donation worthy items (no electronics or perishables please) & seal it back up. Visit us here to print your shipping label—free of charge, and attach it to the box after removing existing shipping labels. Just like that, you’re ready to ship! Once you’ve sent it out, the package will make its way to your local participating Goodwill location where your donated items will be put to good use.

Your contribution to the Give Back Box program is an eco-friendly way to reduce waste and repurpose the box in which your shipment arrives. Yet even more than that, it is a simple way to impact another’s life and give to your community. To say thank you for your participation, we are offering $25 off your next online purchase of $100 or more once your donation is received.

Thank you for shopping with us and thank you for your generosity in giving back with Give Back Box.

Tue Aug 02 00:00:00 EDT 2016 Jesse Eco Tips 
Fri Jul 15 00:00:00 EDT 2016

By definition, driftwood is “wood floating on or washed ashore by the sea or other body of water”. It can come from fallen trees and branches, or trees along a river’s edge, swept away during a flood. Some driftwood is even the result of humans cutting and disposing of wood, or from rare occurrences such as old shipwrecks or lost cargo crates. However it finds its way to water, erosion and natural elements such as wind, sun and rough water take their turn crafting the wood into its new form. When it washes ashore, it has been stripped of its bark, smoothed by the wind, and often bleached by the sun to a lighter color. And while many may see driftwood as simple debris on the shoreline, some see it as more.

 It’s often prized for its structural beauty, being known to take on artistic, almost sculpture-like forms over time. And for pieces that don’t become works of art naturally, they can be used as material in a manmade work instead. Driftwood can be hard to obtain in some areas however. In Oregon for example, law—for the cause of environmental and natural habitat protection—protects most driftwood. Here, and in many other places, it may only be collected by individuals or companies who possess a license or permit.

The artisan responsible for creating many of our beautiful driftwood products has been granted such permit due to his indigenous heritage. He collects driftwood from the beaches of the Pacific Northwest. The collected driftwood is then carefully arranged together to create a nature inspired sculptural work. Once his work is complete, the sculptures are sent to a United States based nursery. Here, succulents and plants are hand-picked for each one and hand-planted. The combination of the sun-bleached, monochromatic, textural driftwood and lush, green, living plants brings a perfect natural balance to every work.

We believe driftwood is a work of art created by Mother Nature herself. And we love that this artisan, with respect of the environment and this nature created material, gives driftwood a breath of new life in a work of art that can be admired in the home. You can browse our collection and find a driftwood work that will perfectly fit your home.

driftwood details

driftwood landscape

Sources:

http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/pages/rules/oars_700/oar_736/736_026.html

Fri Jul 15 00:00:00 EDT 2016 Jesse Eco Tips  Thoughts 
Sat Apr 23 00:00:00 EDT 2016

Happy Earth Day to all! Today is easily one of our favorite days of the year, maybe even our favorite. As our name suggests—VivaTerra, meaning, “living earth”—we are strong supporters of the Earth Day cause. In honor of the earth & its preservation, today we will make a donation to TerraPass for every order we receive. What does that do? Well, we’re glad you asked…

TerraPass began in 2004 with a modest mission to help individuals offset the CO2 emissions of their driving. Quickly gaining participation, recognition, and success with their individual program, they set their sites even higher. TerraPass has since helped thousands of business and institutions do their part to reduce their own impact on the environment. They have also helped, and continue to help implement greenhouse gas destruction projects all across the nation. The projects range from helping farms better use animal waste, to creating wind energy, to landfill gas-capturing initiatives, to BEF water restorations. To learn more about these and other TerraPass projects, you can visit TerraPass.com. For today, our project, in partnership with TerraPass, it to offset the carbon emissions generated in the transport of any orders we send out. When you place an order, we’ll make an investment into a CO2 eliminating project. So, not only will your shipping today be FREE, it will be carbon footprint free as well.

We hope this helps shed some light on our company initiatives to protect the earth, as well as some ways you can help get involved on this earth day. Ship your order free, we’ll offset it’s CO2, and you can enjoy a breath of fresh air outdoors today.

Sat Apr 23 00:00:00 EDT 2016 Jesse Eco Tips  Thoughts 
Fri Feb 12 00:00:00 EST 2016

The world outside our homes is full of irritants—seasonal allergens, standstill traffic, that one overly-talkative neighbor. And although our homes feel like refuge from external troubles, fumes from paint and other building materials, as well as from synthetic carpeting, fireplaces, mold, and any number of other toxins are regularly filling our living rooms—and the air we breathe.

The Daily Mail reports that more than 900 different chemicals could be present indoors at any time, including the dangerous substances formaldehyde, trichlorethylene, and benzene. At their most innocuous, these agents are linked to itchy eyes and coughing, but in their more nefarious forms, they can cause cancer, heart disease, and other serious ailments.

 That may be enough to put you into a cold sweat for sure, but luckily there is one thing you can do to purify the air in your home and keep your stress levels from sailing off the charts. Houseplants don’t just add a pretty note of color to your kitchen window, they also work hard to restore sanity and purity to your space. An often-quoted study from NASA showed that, in addition to adding precious oxygen back to the air, many plants do double duty, filtering out toxic chemicals to keep enclosed spaces healthier and cleaner. Of course, some species do more heavy lifting than others. If you’re looking to make your home a low-chemical paradise, these are your best bets for detoxifying.

Rubber Plants

They may be called rubber, but they’re 100 percent green, and are experts at taking formaldehyde out of a room. A member of the ficus family hailing from Southeast Asia, they do best with plenty of filtered bright light and moist soil.

Peace LiliyPeace Lily

The name just sounds like it will do wonders for your home. And it lives up to the hype: peace lilies help filter out acetone, a chemical given off by electronics. Despite their tranquil moniker, though, they’re mildly toxic to pets, so they work best in pet-free homes.

Broadleaf Lady Palm

All that bleach may kill off noxious bacteria, but the ammonia found in common cleaning agents can be harmful to your respiratory system. Undo the damage with one of these palms, which thrive with plenty of indirect sunlight and frequent watering.

Spider Plant

This is for all the black thumbs out there. Extra-hardy spider plants can stand up to almost any abuse you can dish out, only requiring occasional watering and repotting. Plus, they’re purifying pros—this overachiever removed 95 percent of toxic materials in its environment during NASA’s study.

Florist’s Chrysanthemum

Flowers aren’t just a pretty token for your sweetheart—they’ve also been shown to have a positive impact on depression and stress levels—and not just when they come attached with a loving missive. These mums possess all those benefits, plus air-improving aplomb. To keep their blossom power at its peak, make sure to fertilize about once a month.

Aloe VeraAloe Vera

This tough little succulent sucks down benezene—a chemical found in paint—like it’s a job. And when it comes to your health, it packs a double punch: the sticky juice inside its leaves makes a great salve for burns and bruises alike. Just make sure not to overwater, as there’s nothing it hates more.

Boston Fern

Not only do their frothy fronds absorb formaldehyde, ferns also release elevated levels of oxygen, increasing humidity levels, and making the air much cleaner and healthier. They do best in a cool area where they won’t be exposed to too much light, and they like to be kept moist—they even respond well to an occasional misting here and there to work their humidifying magic. With houseplants this helpful, you’ll breathe easier in no time!

 

About our contrubuting guest: Bryn Huntpalmer is a mother of two young children living in Austin,Texas where she currently works as an Editor for Modernize. In addition to regularly contributing to Home Remodeling and Design websites around the web, her writing can be found on Lifehacker and About.com.

Fri Feb 12 00:00:00 EST 2016 Jesse Interior Decorating & Design  Eco Tips  Health Living and Home 
Tue Jan 26 00:00:00 EST 2016

Now that we’re deep in the crippling embrace of winter, the grass is really looking greener over on the other side of Spring. Every day you find yourself staring out the frost-flecked window, dreaming about those distant summer plans—the lush garden and sun-drenched cookouts, lazy hammocks and tart lemonade—and especially the deck or patio potential that could be locked beneath the inches of ice.

Of course, when you’re planning a fresh outdoor look, you want to make sure it’s as good for the earth as possible (so as not to trigger more of nature’s icy ire!). But because porch and patio surfaces are built to withstand weather’s worst, they often contain toxic sealants and unnatural materials that don’t really make your home the eco-paradise it’s meant to be.

It pays to be knowledgeable about the types of materials that go into not just your home, but your backyard BBQ, too. But as with many green makeovers, deciding what materials are best can get a little murky. Still, there are some surfaces that should be avoided at all costs. Here’s what to use where when you’re planning your outdoor escape.

 

Sustainable Decks

Sustainable DecksNothing looks better shading a verdant lawn than a spacious new deck. But when you want to build one sustainably, things can get a little tricky. In terms of dangerous toxins, natural wood is the most organic option, but of course, new wood accelerates the decline of the world’s rapidly depleting forests. And the curing process burns up even more trees—or worse, coal!—pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Maybe you’ve considered using the new composite deck boards instead? After all, you think, they’re made with recycled plastic and sawdust left from lumber yard leftovers. But not so fast—because although they get a check in the “reused materials” column, they’re prone to fading and even, in some cases, falling apart. Yikes!

And then, once you’ve got your deck installed, there’s the treatment. Many stains and sealants are heavily toxic, and contain VOCs (volatile organic chemicals), which can worsen asthma and have been linked to cancer and liver and kidney damage. Ei yi yi!

The solution: If you really can’t see your yard without a glorious hardwood deck, look for locally-sourced lumber that has been certified by Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Or, if you’re not picky about uniformity, check with nearby lumber suppliers to see if any have experience with salvaged wood (although make sure you get to look at their stash before committing—some reclaimed lumber can be rotted or misshaped).

If you’re flexible about materials, though, consider scrapping the lumber entirely in favor of an aluminum deck—it’s super durable and completely recyclable. But no matter which way you decide to go, make sure you’re picking low-VOC paints and stains for finishing.

 

Upcycled Hardscaping

Upcycled HardscapingSometimes the most sustainable deck is no deck at all! Patios make a great alternative to wooden surfaces because they can be constructed with totally reclaimed materials. However, again, it’s good to be particular about how you build: cement, asphalt, and concrete, all often used in conventional patios, are made with harmful manufacturing processes. And all those flat, nonporous surfaces inhibit rainwater runoff, contributing to erosion and wreaking havoc on the health of surrounding turf.

The solution: Recycled materials really are the way to go here. Using reclaimed brick and stone rescues these remnants from the landfill and lends a distinguished patina to your upscale garden party. Additionally, older bricks were often made by hand, which gives their surfaces a visual cache that factory-made bricks just cannot match.

Another material we’re pretty excited about right now is urbanite—broken, reclaimed concrete scavenged from demolition sites. When repurposed into patio tiles, it looks remarkably similar to freshly-quarried flagstone, and it has the same versatility as new concrete, so you can stain it any way you like.

 

Earth-Positive Paths

Earth-Positive PathsGravel goes down great on a walkway, and it helps root out worrisome weeds and other riffraff. It’s also perfect for drainage, which keeps the local flora flourishing. Unfortunately, aggregate mining spells trouble for the environment, as it releases dust and particles that lower air quality, and the dredging furthers erosion. The chemicals used in quarries can also contaminate nearby waterways, affecting ecosystems for miles around.

The solution: As always, recycled materials are your best bet. Reclaimed and crushed concrete, tumbled glass pebbles, and salvaged stones and gravel all give new life to old castoffs here. Mulch is another option—pine chips produced in lumber processing are a great choice, as these byproducts would likely end up in the trash anyway. We’ve also seen interesting results from paving paths with modular rubber tiles—they’re made from recycled tires and manufactured to look like brick and stone.

But we like the idea of getting a little funky with your footpaths. We’ve seen beautiful walkways made from upturned wine bottles, plastic bottle caps, reclaimed rail ties—if you’ve got a lot of it, you can build a path with it! That should give you some inspiration to while away those wintry afternoons!

 

About our contributing guest: Bryn Huntpalmer is a mother of two young children living in Austin, Texas where she currently works as an Editor for Modernize. In addition to regularly contributing to Home Remodeling and Design websites around the web, her writing can be found on Lifehacker and About.com.

Tue Jan 26 00:00:00 EST 2016 Kristen Eco Tips  Health Living and Home 
Fri Oct 09 00:00:00 EDT 2015

We love that nature, in its constant state of change, is always surrounding us with a new and fresh beauty. All the quintessential signs of fall are sneaking in around us—leaves are a little less green, pumpkins pile up by supermarket doors, and the mornings are marked by a distinct electrifying chill—and theses marks of seasonal change mark something else too, the time to give your closet its biannual make over. The floral patterns, lightweight fabric blends, and sleeveless styles of spring and summer have become a thing of the past. And around here, we have some pretty specific ideas on the good things they should be replaced with. Here is your guide to fall fabrics and fashions with VivaTerra:

Organic Cotton: Super soft, lightweight, and yet warm enough to stop fall’s crisp cool air from cutting too deep. It’s the perfect transitional fabric for the season. But of course, the main benefit of organic cotton clothing is the eco-conscious elements of its production. Organic cottons are grown and harvested without the use of harmful toxins such as pesticides and insecticides. Making it better for the farmers and workers who grow it, the world around it, and you—the people who wear it.

organic cotton blouse

 

Alpaca Wool: Alpaca yarn is a naturally durable, luxuriously soft, hypoallergenic material that’s a total necessity for your cold weather wardrobe. Due to the environmental conditions alpacas are subjected to in their natural habitat, their coat posses a unique combination of qualities: it is both lightweight and warm. Alpaca is also a great cozy alternative for those who may be allergic to wool.

alpaca coverup

 

Luxurious Combinations: With so many so wonderful materials available to warm up in, we don’t see a reason not to combine a few of them together. Our Wool Luxe Winter Coat brings together alpaca, merino wool, and organic cotton to make the ultimate statement in style and cozy luxury. So, if you can’t decide on just one, you can reap the benefits of all fall’s best materials in one garment.

 

Cashmere: The reputation of cashmere precedes it—as one of the most well-known luxury fabrics for winter weather out there, we hardly have to explain why we love it. Ultra soft, wrinkle free, animal friendly and sustainable, cashmere is a natural when it comes to building an eco-friendly and cozy closet. Make it number one on your list if you have holiday travel plans, as it resist wrinkles and pairs well with just about anything.

cashmere sweater

 

Texture: The quality that truly sets fall fashions apart from the styles of warmer weather. Thick knits, voluminous fibers and loosely woven materials give the winter wardrobe a bold and textural fashion advantage. We love the dimension and pattern in our Duo Knitted V-neck Poncho that gives it a distinct look among the sea of sweaters that will surround it this season.

textured coverup

 

Cozy Accessories: The bow on the top of every autumn outfit is a cozy accessory. A knitted scarf, fuzzy mittens, or a woven hat—what more do you need to brave the cold in comfort and in style?

cozy neck wrap

 

You can shop all of our favorite fall fabrics and fashions in your most recent copy of the VivaTerra Fall catalog, or here online at vivaterra.com! Plus, keep an eye out for your upcoming copy of our holiday catalog, filled with tons of new styles to keep you cozy in the cold.

Fri Oct 09 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Jesse Eco Tips  Health Living and Home 
Wed Sep 09 00:00:00 EDT 2015

Silk, cashmere, leather, these are some of the most valued and appreciated materials on the market for many reasons. They are softer, warmer, durable or simply more beautiful than other fabrics. But what is the process for producing these goods? Silk in particular, is a textile that’s origin often goes unconsidered, because it may be slightly less obvious than the origin of a material like leather. But where does silk come from?

The silk worm; a little guy we’ve all heard of, who does a very big job. It is amazing to think that all silk products result from the work of these tiny worms. In preparation for its metamorphosis, the silkworm spins a cocoon made of one continuous strand of saliva. These cocoon strands are unraveled and reeled to result in what we know as a silk strand. And while it is easy to marvel at the concept of this process, there is an unfortunate and cruel aspect that is often unknown. Traditionally, once a silk worm spins its single-stranded cocoon, its life is the cost of collection. To avoid breaking the strand, the cocoons are boiled with the worms still inside, both to kill the worm and to soften the silk. According to animal rights groups, a single pound of silk can cost around 3,000 worms lives to. And while the silk worm may not be fluffy, fuzzy, cute, or cuddly, we believe there is value in its life.

You may have noticed our new home goods labeled as “peace” silk. Because fortunately, there is a cruelty free alternative to traditional harvesting methods, which spares the life of the silk worm while still yielding a beautiful and luxurious fabric. Peace silk, also known as “Eri” silk, is harvested after the Eri silk worms of India have completed metamorphosis and left their cocoons as moths. The natural escape of the moths causes the single strand of the cocoon to be broken, and therefore in need of repair. The repair process results in a silk strand that contains small “nubs” where the strands are reconnected; the nubby strands are then spun like other fiber rather than reeled. Through this process, a soft, cozy and highly valued silk yarn is made and yields a unique texture to the. We choose this beautiful and humane fabric to make luxuriant home accessories and apparel. This assures these silk products not only feel good, but also that you can feel good about them. From here on out, when you read the words “peace silk” you can rest assured that it means, “No silk worms were harmed in the making of this product”.

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Sources:

http://www.ecofashionworld.com/Glossary/Cruelty-Free-Silk-or-Peace-Silk.html

http://thekindlife.com/blog/2012/09/alicia-silverstone-what-is-peace-silk/

http://greenopedia.com/wild-peace-silk/

 

Wed Sep 09 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Kurt Jacobson Eco Tips  Thoughts 
Sat Aug 29 00:00:00 EDT 2015

As climate change issues come to the forefront with each passing day, more and more people are looking for ways to make their home green and eco-friendly. Here are a few easy and simple steps to creating a green kitchen.         

1. Buy energy-efficient appliances and use them correctly: Always buy energy-efficient appliances that consume fewer resources and last longer. Though they may cost more, you may actually end up saving money in terms of tax rebates, amount of energy consumed, and so on. For example, an energy-efficient dishwasher uses much less than water than washing dishes by hand. Just make sure that you run it only when you have a full load to wash. In the same way,do not keep your refrigerator next to your oven - or it will always have to work more to keep your food cold. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and maintain your appliances in good condition to make sure they run well and last longer.

2. Choose green cookware and tableware: Choose safe and green cookware and tableware that are made from natural, eco-friendly materials. If you are thinking of upgrading or remodeling your kitchen, consider investing in eco-friendly flooring and countertop options like bamboo, cork or recycled glass.

3. Build a compost bin: Set up a composting system in your home to turn kitchen waste into rich soil manure.  Don’t worry if you live in the city and do not have enough space outdoors for a large compost pile - even the space under the kitchen sink or a small portion of your apartment balcony can be used to set up an adequately sized compost bin. For more information on composting indoors, have a look at what this website has to say.

4. Use energy-efficient cooking methods: Employ smart cooking methods that save energy and effort. Match your pots to the size of the stove burners. You’ll end up wasting a lot of energy if you use a smaller sized pot on a bigger burner. Using tight-fitting lids for the pots will ensure that heat does not escape, the food cooks faster, and less energy is consumed.

If you are cooking small dishes, use a small toaster oven, microwave or convection oven. If you want to use your full range oven, try to cook more than one thing at the same time.

5. Say yes to eco-friendly green kitchen products: Use eco-friendly dishwashing agents and cleaners that do not release harmful chemicals into the air. Make your cleaning products using commonly found ingredients such as vinegar and baking soda.

6. Say no to plastic and avoid excess packaging: Buy in bulk to avoid excess packaging. Recycle plastic boxes and trays used to pack food. Use reusable canvas bags when you go grocery shopping. Reduce usage of plastic wrap, aluminum foil and zip lock bags in favor of reusable storage boxes with lids. And when it comes to storage containers for your legumes or cereals, opt for glass or stainless steel over plastic.

 

 

About our contributing guest: Kurt Jacobson is a snowboarding enthusiast with a background in real estate. Having moved 11 times in the past nine years, he thrives on helping others learn from his experiences. When he’s not out shredding the mountain, he writes about all things home related for the website HouseHunter.co.

 

 

Sat Aug 29 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Jesse Eco Tips  Health Living and Home 
Mon Aug 24 00:00:00 EDT 2015

At VivaTerra we love a good farmer’s market. Fresh organic produce, environmentally friendly local shopping, and a slew of artisan made products and US grown goods. In fact, we may even dare to call ourselves farmer’s market connoisseurs. With markets all across the country in full swing, and summer threatening to wind down before we know it, we thought we would share a few tips on making the most of your local market while you still can. Whether you’ve never stepped foot in your local market or you are a total veteran, we hope you can learn a bit from our team’s “best advice on navigating the farmer’s market.”

1. Get Outfitted: For starters, you will want to carry a good market tote. Sure, most stands are going to have plastic bags available, and sure, you can recycle them later. But why take one at all if you don’t have to? Plus, having all your items in one place is more convenient. You’ll want free hands to grab a fresh made donut or an iced coffee. Not to mention a market basket is more fashionable than adorning your arms in red and white “thank you thank you thank you“ bags. Secondly, dress the part. Markets are most popularly in operation during the warmer summer months. So, you’ll want to be cool and comfy, stylish, yet casual. May we also suggest pockets? In short, our Organic Cotton Pocket Skirt is a perfect fit for the market—stylish, airy and convenient. Top off with the Madagascar Hat to gain a little personal shade and complete the look.

market tote

2. Scope it Out: Be sure to arrive early and do a full lap to see what is there. There’s nothing worse than jumping on buying something and then passing another stand later that has a better price, or a variation of something you prefer. Avoid any chance of buyer’s remorse by getting a quick lay-of-the-land before you shop.

market shot

3. Bring Cash: of course, with technology in this day-and-age, you can probably fair just fine at your local market without. There will be an abundance of iPad and app armed vendors happy to take plastic. But, for those smaller, more traditional stands, you won’t want to miss out on what they have to offer if you’re not prepared.

4. Negotiating Price: Maybe the prices aren’t so much better than the grocery stores, but without the store, your money goes straight to the farmers and you support your local economy. We’d advise not to try and haggle with vendors or question their prices, as this may put them on the defensive. There are a few methods you can use though, to get a better price:

Ask for “seconds.” This is produce that is visually damaged or bruised and may not be on display. If you don’t need items to be beautiful—say you plan to juice them, dice them, or can them—then seconds are a great option for you.

Ask about bulk pricing. Going to a cook out? Baking a few pies? Ask to buy a whole box of peaches or apples and see if a discount is available for buying at a higher volume.

Prices may be lower if you wait a few weeks after the beginning of a fruit or vegetable’s season, because at first less farmers may have them available. Wait until they are in full swing and let competltion drive down the price for you.

There are two tactics to saving by arriving at different times of the day. You might need to visit a few times, at different times, to figure out which happens more often at your specific local market. Option one is to go early; there may be a great deal on produce that you miss simply due to the fact that the farmer runs out of stock before you get there. The second option is to go late; sometimes farmers are eager to get rid of what they do have left over. You may score a great deal if you are around when they drop the prices to empty their stands. 

5. Expand Your Horizons: The farmers market is a great place to explore something new! Look out for things you’ve never tasted before and ask farmers or stand owners to tell you a little bit about them.

market tote full

6. Learn the Tricks of the Trade: There may be no worse disappointment than bringing your fruits and veggies home only to find out they are under or over ripe when you’re ready to use them. To avoid this, we give you full permission to judge the book by its cover. Here are a few tips on how to spot perfect produce right on the shelf:

Avocados, Tomatoes, and Mangos: These three fruits (and yes, they are all technically fruits!) have more to tell than meets the eye. You are going to want to pick these guys up and give them a squeeze. If they are very firm, or have little to no give beneath your fingertips, they are not ready. If they feel “squishy” they are overly ripe. All should have a general firmness in your palm but give a little when you give them a poke.

Pineapples, Strawberries, and Peaches: This aromatic trio has one dead give away: smell. Always look at the color first—you don’t want to go crazy sniffing every fruit in the basket. Pineapples should be golden brown and show little to no green at the base. Peaches should be striated red and yellow. Strawberries should be bright to deep red. After that, give ‘em a sniff. Peaches and strawberries will smell almost exactly how they’ll taste, and a pineapple should smell slightly sweet.

Cantaloupes and Watermelon: These two are always worth their weight in flavor. Both melons will feel heavy when they are ripe. For cantaloupes, when you slightly push the stem at the end you should feel a little give; for watermelon, look for a yellowish color on its underside and listen for a hollow sound when you knock on its side.

Honeydew, Cucumber, Corn and Eggplant: An unlikely group with only one real thing in common, you can take them at face value. Honeydew should be waxy, smooth, and golden in color. Eggplants should have a fresh green stem and cap with a deep purple, solid-colored, elastic skin. For corn, look for a still green husk and silk threads that cling to the kernels. The cucumbers are the easiest; just find dark green skins and double check for firmness.

7. Putting Your Harvest to Use: To really get the most from your local, organic, perfectly in season produce, look up some raw recipes! Sure you could smother those carrots in a buttery brown sugar glaze (and we aren’t saying don’t!) But the best part of fresh, flavorful produce is the great natural taste. 

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Mon Aug 24 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Jesse Eco Tips  Health Living and Home  Thoughts 
Tue Aug 04 00:00:00 EDT 2015
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Tue Aug 04 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Jesse Eco Tips 
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Thu Jul 23 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Jesse Interior Decorating & Design  Eco Tips 
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Thu Jul 09 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Jesse Eco Tips 
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Thu Jun 25 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Jesse Eco Tips  Health Living and Home  Thoughts 
Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015

As the busy holiday season ends, we begin recollecting ourselves and turn to the goals, plans, and ambitions of the New Year. For 2015 we've come up with a few eco-resolutions that we believe are some easy steps towards a more earth conscious and mindful existence.

1. Start Meat-less Mondays or be a Weekend or Weekday Vegetarians. These are all variations of new health conscious and earth conscious diets. By eating less red meat, we can reduce our carbon footprint and improve overall health while still maintaining flexibility for special occasions.

2. For every item of clothing you buy, donate an item you no longer wear. You'll be surprised at how much less you may need or how much you no longer need!

3. Use public transit. Make a resolution to carpool or use public transit to work. If you live in a bike-friendly community, biking is an eco and heart healthy alternative to driving.

4. Unplug unused appliances to reduce phantom power usage. Simply remember to unplug after charging your cell phone or computer and keep seldom used appliances unplugged until you use them. Power strips and timers make this an even easier way to start off your New Year.

5. On average, 1,500 plastic bottles are used every second in the U.S. By simply bringing a reusable water bottle or travel mug with you everywhere you go can dramatically reduce these numbers. We love this resolution because it's a simple way we can tread lighter on Mother Earth in 2015.

6. Reduce plastic use in the kitchen. Other than water bottles, trash bags, Ziploc bags, and plastic wrap are all large sources of non-biodegradable kitchen waste. This year, we've resolved to reduce our usage of plastic in the kitchen by storing leftovers in reusable containers, buying compostable trash bags and using reusable snack bags.

7. Begin composting. What's a better way to reuse kitchen scraps than to return it to the earth? Begin composting this New Year and by the time the warmer months come around, there will be plenty of all-natural fertilizer for your summer herb garden!

8. Going abroad or traveling around the U.S.? 2015 is the perfect time to research eco-tourism alternatives for travel. More and more countries have started offering green alternatives to lodging, transportation, tours and even cuisine so that you can still enjoy the wonder of exploration while preserving these places for future generations. Visit the International Ecotourism Society to learn more.

9. Build your own recycling station at home. Every locality has different recycling policies. Visit your local recycling center's website and learn what can and cannot be recycled. Then tailor your in-home recycling station by marking separate bins for plastics, paper, glass, compost, etc. Share this project with the family and create a small "landfill" demo where you take a days worth of trash and sort them in your new recycling station. You'll be surprised at how much can be re-purposed or recycled for future use.

10. Make a pledge to spend at least an hour every day outdoors. While not a typical "eco" New Years resolution, we believe that the more time people spend admiring mother nature's wonders, the greater their desire to protect and preserve our precious resources for future generations.

Happy 2015!

Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Emily Eco Tips 
Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015

There's so many super simple ways to refresh your bedroom—and turn it into an eco-conscience, planet-friendly paradise! In every aspect of our lives, it's so important to remember and preserve the beauty of our planet by making conscience, thoughtful decisions. Plus, it's so easy to do! Read on to discover some of the best—and easiest—ways to makeover your bedroom while keeping the Earth in mind.

 

REUSE

When it comes to giving your décor a brand new look, remember that that doesn't mean everything has to be brand new. Simply by giving one of your existing pieces of furniture a new coat of paint you can completely change the look of your bedroom—and bring a pop of color to the space. Plus, look to purchase antique or previously owned pieces from thrift stores, yard sales and flea markets, or buy furniture and accents that are made from reclaimed and recycled materials. You can find all kinds of pieces made from these eco-friendly materials over at vivaterra.com.

 

COLOR

One of the easiest steps to revolutionize your bedroom is to give the space a new coat of paint, and, these days, it's incredibly simple to do just that while keeping the planet in mind! Look to purchase paints that are low or zero VOC. This means that they contain few or no volatile organic compounds, which are harmful chemicals and toxins released into the atmosphere when painting. If you'd rather avoid the hassle of painting, simply adding a pop of color with a cheerful accent or piece of décor is a great way to bring a fresh, bright touch to your bedroom.

 

ALL-NATURAL

When choosing new bedding, curtains, accents and rugs, be sure to buy all-natural, organic and renewable fibers. Organic cotton, jute, bamboo and wool are great choices to make sure the textiles in your bedroom entirely eco-friendly. Learn more about all-natural fibers here.

 

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

To make a space truly planet-friendly, it's important to keep energy consumption in mind. When updating window coverings, look for curtains and blinds that feature thermal backing. This helps regulate the interior temperature in both summer and winter, keeping your heating and cooling costs low, as well as keeping your carbon footprint in check. Plus, if you're ready for a project, it's a great idea to install an overhead ceiling fan to cool your bedroom in the summer without the use of energy-guzzling air conditioning. And, don't forget to change your light bulbs to energy efficient bulbs! It's easy as can be, and advances in technology makes these bulbs not only supremely energy efficient, but also just as warm and inviting as traditional incandescent bulbs.

 

OUT WITH THE OLD

If it's time to let go of some of your old furniture or décor, don't just throw it out. Look to recycle whatever your can—like plastic blinds, for example—and donate everything else to your local charity shop or thrift store.

Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Kristen Eco Tips  Health Living and Home 
Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015

We’re always searching for eco ways to foster a greener and more natural home. Unsurprisingly, we often turn to mother nature for some wise answers. Our most recent quandary was how to dry our linen bath towels and dish towels without excess use of our dryer. Tumble dryers make up the majority of energy consumption when it comes to keeping our linens, towels and clothing clean. But through some research be found that life isn’t so hard without the dryer.

The age-old tradition of line-drying has many benefits over the machine dryer. Here are some to consider:

  1. Line-drying is easier on Mother Earth. A typical electric dryer emits about 159 kg of CO2 per year based on an average family’s usage. Since towels are bulky and require more energy to dry, line-drying these can greatly reduce your carbon footprint. And you can save on your energy bill! To read more about energy consumption visit: http://www.carbonfootprint.com/energyconsumption.html.
  2. Nothing smells quite like the scent of sun-dried laundry. Line-drying outside in the summer is not only green but also great for the senses!
  3. The sunlight will brighten your whites. Mother Nature’s natural heater is also a great whitener. Hang your light colored towels to dry outside under the sun for a green way to brighten your whites.
  4. Your clothing will last longer. Tumble-drying takes a toll on your clothing and other washables. Fabric thins, colors fade, and seams weaken. Line-drying can increase the longevity of your favorite pieces.

When we first tried line-drying we had some concerns. We were worried our towels would be stiff and scratchy if we dried them naturally. Instead, what we found was that our linen towels dried beautifully on the line as did our organic cotton clothing. The detergent and soap we used made a difference in the softness. We found that natural soaps or vinegar washes cleaned stains and dirt while maintaining softness.

The other question we had was, what happens when the season’s change and the cold winter arrive? What we found was a strategically placed laundry line or laundry rack near our heater was the perfect solution. Make sure not to place clothing or towels directly on the heater or they might get too toasty!

Happy drying!

 

For more laundry room decorating ideas visit: http://www.vivaterra.com/bed-bath/bath-accessories

Wed May 06 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Kristen Eco Tips 
Tue May 05 00:00:00 EDT 2015

We don’t really know who first proclaimed the kitchen “the heart of the home,” but we wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment. The kitchen really is the hub of the home. It’s where we congregate daily to prepare and share meals, and it’s the one place that people seem to flock to, especially during a party.

It’s important to practice earth-friendly living in every room, of course, but particularly in the kitchen. Greening your kitchen means utilizing energy-efficient appliances, being waste conscious, ditching toxic chemicals, and using products made from sustainable materials. With that in mind, here are 10 simple tips for creating a more eco kitchen.

Shine Your Coffee Carafe – We love the classic “diner trick” for giving your glass coffeepot a like-new shine: add ice, salt and lemon rinds to an empty carafe, swirl for a few minutes, dump and rinse. Voila! Instant sparkle.

Lemon Rinds can also be used to remove mineral deposit buildup from your teakettle. Just fill it with water and a handful of lemon peels, bring to boiling, remove from heat and let sit for an hour before rinsing well.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – The “three R’s” are a key component of the eco kitchen, and so easy to put into practice. Case in point: our handsome knife block made from reclaimed wood and our cookbook/IPad stand that’s hand-carved from sustainable shesham wood. Our recycled glass decanter with teak stopper coombines two planet-friendly elements in one useful beverage dispenser, and our recycled seaglass dinnerware and serving pieces are as beautiful as they are functional.

Compost – Gardeners call their homemade compost “black gold” for a good reason: it provides the valuable soil-improving material that plants need. So save your vegetable and fruit peels, eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags and other food scraps in an attractive compost jug on your counter, and you’ll have a great – and free! – source of ingredients for your own backyard compost pile.

Clean Green – Eco homemakers forego harsh chemicals in favor of natural cleaning solutions. They’re gentler on your skin, less toxic to kids and pets, and kinder to the environment – a triple win. Vinegar, baking soda and lemons are all you really need to make your kitchen sparkle.

Waste Not, Want Not – Out of necessity, our wise grandmothers were adept at getting every bit of useful life out of anything. You can, too! In the kitchen, your fruit and vegetable scraps can all be used for more than the main course meal. Use orange or lemon rinds to make a citrus extract powder or to flavor honey, vinegar and olive oil; prepare a tasty vegetable stock from onion skins, potato and carrot peels, etc.; the fleshy part of avocado peels make an excellent facial moisturizer.

Make It Last – Invest in quality cookware and utensils that will survive many years of use instead of cheap goods that barely make it through a week’s worth of meals. We love cooking with cast iron pans that have been handed down for generations yet are still good as new. Likewise, we think reusable stainless steel flatware and serving pieces are designed to endure and can be used over and over again. For our table top linens, we choose linen napkins and table cloths. They are not only a greener choice than throwaway paper products, they’re much prettier to look at, too.

Buy in Bulk – Spices, cereal, grains, pasta, beans, flour, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, trail mix, coffee and tea can all be found in bulk bins in many supermarkets. Buying in bulk is a great eco-friendly practice because it reduces packaging waste and you save money by buying only what you need.

Bulk Cooking is also an important element of the eco kitchen. Making a big pot of soup, chili or stew and freezing some of it for another day is a more efficient use of energy and your time.

Water is essential for life; water in disposable plastic bottles is not. For a more eco approach, use a water pitcher with a replaceable filter (we love our Brita!), install a filter on your kitchen faucet, or refill your bottles at stores that sell filtered water by the gallon.

Tue May 05 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Emily Eco Tips  Health Living and Home 
Tue May 05 00:00:00 EDT 2015

When it comes to keeping things clean and dry, we're always looking for eco-friendly, all-natural alternatives. We're all about keeping chemicals and toxins away in every part of our lifestyle—especially when it can be easily done with style and grace! That's why we're simply enamored by organic towels made from all-natural fibers and dyes derived straight from the planet. Read on to learn more.

Linen

Linen, made from the fibers of the flax plant, is one of the planet's earliest forms of textile production with evidence dating as far back as 8000 BCE. The word itself is derivative of the Latin name for the flax plant, linum, as well as the earlier Greek word, λινόν (pronounced linón). It has been prized for centuries for not only its supreme utility, but also for its natural brilliance and lustre, so much so that it was used in Ancient Egypt as currency—and served as a symbol of light, purity and prosperity in mummification. Because it is so laborious to make, it remained a symbol of prosperity for hundreds of years, and to this day there are few fabrics that can stand up to its quality. The natural absorbing properties of linen allow it to quickly wick up moisture without feeling as moist to the touch as other fabrics, and it has the capability to dry incredibly quickly—making it ideal for towels in the kitchen and in the bathroom, like our beautiful Pure Linen Towels.

Cotton

We think its safe to say when someone says, "Fabric," all of our minds go to cotton—it is simply ubiquitous with the idea of material. Throughout history, cotton has served to clothe, warm and clean all sorts of societies and—evidence of cotton production dates as far back as 5000 BCE in both the Old and New Worlds. However, that doesn't mean the process is perfect. As technological advances have been made, certain changes have appeared in the age-old process. Modern day cotton is treated with endless pesticides, insecticides and herbicides, and is often the result of GMO alterations. For each harvest year, it is estimated that cotton farms use as much as 25 percent of the world's insecticides and 10 percent of the world's pesticides. These chemicals are released into the atmosphere and water systems of our planet—but there is hope. Organic cotton production is free of toxins and chemicals, utilizing methods that lessen harmful effects on our environment. There's so much to love about organic cotton—and we simply can't get enough. Just one look at our Kimono Towels and we're sure you'll catch the organic cotton bug, too.

Natural Dyes

We don't just stop at fabrics when it comes to all-natural textiles—the part that really shows is the dye! Just as with all-natural fabrics, the essentials of vegetable- and mineral-based dyes have remained unchanged for eons, with evidence of dying processes dating back to the Neolithic period. While time has, of course, yielded refinements in our understanding of the process, the nuts and bolts have remained unchanged. Naturally colorful and staining elements from nature, like seeds, berries, leaves and minerals, are placed in a solution of water. The fabric is added to the water and left to stew, with the mixture being heated and stirred until the color is transferred. The range of shades and hues that can be derived from nature are simply stunning, and each culture has discovered unique and impressive ways to pull color out of their surroundings. We particularly love the ancient Japanese methods—like Kusaki-zome, which results in the sweet, pastel shades of our Kasaki Puff Towels, deriving their range of hues coming from larkspur, olives and chamomile, or the rich, dark shades that come from traditional Kishu-Banchotan charcoal in our stunning Charcoal Bath towels.

Tue May 05 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Emily Eco Tips  Health Living and Home 
Tue May 05 00:00:00 EDT 2015

It's that time again! This year, all of us at VivaTerra are making a sincere resolution to consider the environment and go green in as many ways as possible in the coming year—and they may be in ways you wouldn't expect. Here are some of our favorite green New Year's resolutions:

 

Cut down on water waste

Water is a precious global resource—and one that we often don't consider. Being conscious of the way that we use water is a great way to bring green practices to each and every day. Consider using reusing dishes and glasses—it takes roughly three glasses of water to clean just one dish! An even more creative way to cut down on the amount of water your household uses is to put a brick (or other heavy item) in the back of your toilet to displace water and decrease the amount used with each flush.

 

Go all-natural with cleaning products and cosmetics

Many conventional cleaning products and cosmetics include harmful toxins, chemicals and petroleum by-products, all of which go right down the drain and into our water supply. Consider investing in store-bought green products, or, even better make your own! It's easier than you think, and there are many alternatives that are great for the environment and even better for your wallet. For example, you can use diluted vinegar as a great all-natural window cleaner, and a combination of baking soda, vinegar, water and a little dish soap makes an amazing all-purpose cleaner. For cosmetics, you'd be amazed at the wonderful concoctions you can make for you hair and skin right out of your kitchen cabinet—like an amazing face scrub with just chopped apples, honey and salt, or a refreshing and conditioning hair mask made simply from honey, coconut oil and bananas.

 

Buy fresh, buy local

Did you know that on average, the food we buy travels 1500-2500 miles before it makes it to our table? That amount of transit has a drastic, devastating effect on taste and nutrition—not to mention on the environment. We're sure you've heard it before, but there's no better way to bring eco-friendly fare to your table and your life than by buying fresh and local. The amount of precious energy and resources invested in shipping produce across the globe is astronomical. Making a resolution to buy food produced locally is not only a great way to spur your local economy, it's also a fantastic way to decrease your carbon footprint. And, you'll be amazed by the difference in taste! Attend your local farmer's market, join a CSA, or plant your own garden—there are so many ways to bring local and fresh food into your daily routine.

 

Change the way you wash

With a few simple changes, you can make an incredible impact on home energy use—a great thing for the environment and for your wallet! 90 percent of the energy used in a laundry load is from heating the water. Simply by washing your clothes in cold water, you can eliminate as many as 350 pounds of carbon dioxide in one year. And, don't worry—your clothes are sure to be clean. Advances in technology both for machines and for detergents mean that your clothes will come out clean regardless of the water temperature. What's more, line drying is a fantastic option for decreasing your home's carbon footprint. At Viva Terra, we love line drying! Learn even more here.

 

Don't forget your reusable bags!

Cut harmful plastic waste out of your shopping trips. Simply by keeping a reusable bag (or several!) in your car or tucked away in your purse, you can cut down on the more than 1 trillion plastic bags that are used and discarded every year. Each of these plastic bags takes over 1,000 years to degrade, leaving a toxic vestige of our own generation for many to come.

 

Switch to green power

Become part of the solution! Many power companies offer the option to switch your home from a fossil-fuel-based energy source to a renewable energy source. With just a simple call to your energy provider, your home could be running on solar, wind or hydroelectric energy.

 

Check out our other post for new eco New Years Resolutions.

Sources: https://www.buylocalvirginia.org/about-buy-fresh-buy-local/why-buy-local

http://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/cleaning/laundry/does-washing-clothes-in-cold-water-really-get-them-clean

http://www.reuseit.com/facts-and-myths/facts-about-the-plastic-bag-pandemic.htm

Tue May 05 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Kristen Eco Tips  Health Living and Home 
Tue May 05 00:00:00 EDT 2015

Looking for ways to discover more storage and stay organized while also keeping the planet in mind? Us too. We love to think about how we can bring order and organization to every space in our home—and do so in the most eco-friendly, green way possible. With just a little creativity, it's easy to achieve sustainable, eco-conscience storage solutions. Read on to discover our favorite eco-friendly storage ideas!

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

The best way to be eco-friendly is to reuse and repurpose items in your home that may not be fulfilling their true potential. Items like milk crates, wooden wine boxes or even just cardboard boxes can be given new life—simply arrange or stack them to create a brand new shelving unit. Add a basket inside for chic and stylish storage, or simply leave the face open to easily view and access what's inside. For an even more creative solution, we love the idea of stacking up unused luggage and suitcases to create a side table. Not only a unique addition to your décor, it also provides handy interior storage space, too.

COMPARTMENTALIZE

Wherever possible, give small items their own proper place to avoid losing them to greater chaos. An old, unused ice cube tray makes an incredible organizing tool in a desk drawer or craft room for small office supplies like paper clips, rubber bands and thumb tacks. You can also use the tray to organize jewelry in a drawer or errant nails and screws in a tool box. In the kitchen, use magazine holders to bring space-efficient, vertical storage to items like aluminum foil and plastic wrap boxes or even small cutting boards. Another idea for the kitchen is to organize (and decrease the storage space needed!) tupperware lids by arranging them in a metal CD rack. It will cut down on the clutter in your drawers or cabinets—plus it makes these pesky lids easy to find! In the closet, you can use old wine case boxes with compartment dividers to compactly store sandals and small shoes. If you don't have these at home, simply ask at a local grocery store, restaurant or bar.

HANG IT UP

By adding hanging storage—even to places you might not expect it—you can discover extra storage space and order with ease. Add a tension rod under the sink to organize cleaning supplies—simply hang spray bottles on the rod and voilà! There will be more space in the cabinet itself for other items. You can achieve the same effect in kitchen cabinets by affixing towel racks to the backs of the cabinet doors. That way, you can easily store lids, suspended in the towel racks, and have more space in the cabinets themselves for your pots and pans. In fact, you can do the same in any cabinet by attaching storage bins or a plastic shoe organizer to the back of the cabinet doors with adhesive hooks. Instantly, you've added organized, additional space to your cabinets!

BUY RESPONSIBLY

When it comes time to purchase something new, be sure to purchase storage items that are made from eco-friendly materials. These include reclaimed and recycled materials, as well as wood that is FSC-certified. You'll find all kinds of unique and beautiful storage solutions that are as kind to the planet as they are to your décor over at vivaterra.com.

Tue May 05 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Emily Eco Tips  Health Living and Home 
Tue May 05 00:00:00 EDT 2015

When it comes to making your life eco-friendly, one often over-looked but important and easy way to decrease your impact on the environment is through using all-natural, DIY cosmetics and beauty products. Traditional, commercial cosmetics are made with many synthetic chemicals and toxins, including parabens, which have been linked to digestive and hormonal issues as well as breast cancer, and phtalates, triclosan and benzophenone, all of which disrupt the function of your body's endocrine system. These chemicals are not only harmful for you and your family's health, they also are released into the environment each time they are used, impacting wildlife and ecosystems. But, with just a few all-natural ingredients, you can start to create your own beauty products from scratch, removing chemicals, toxins and negative effects on the planet from your beauty routine! Read on to learn how to make everything from shampoo to deodorant, sunscreen, lotion, lip balm and more.

You can replace almost everything in your bathroom cabinet and cosmetic bag with a mixture of these staple ingredients.

Coconut oil—coconut oil is incredibly versatile. It is antibacterial and anti-fungal, plus it's a great moisturizer. It can be used to deep condition hair and tame frizz, or as a make-up remover, shaving cream, deodorant, moisturizing lotion, lip balm, to sooth sunburn and more.

Cocoa or shea butter—both have high levels of vitamins and anti-oxidants to nourish your skin. They work to moisturize, soothe and soften, and make great lotions, shaving creams, lip balms, body butter and more.

Liquid castile soap—castile soap is an all-natural soap made from pure oils. It includes no artificial ingredients and cuts out all of the toxins found in commercial soaps. Castile soap is a staple in DIY, all-natural cosmetics and can be used in making body wash, hand soap, shampoo, and can also be used as an all-natural home cleaner.

Baking soda—baking soda works to stabilize and regulate pH, making it an efficient way to deodorize and clean your body (and your home too!). It can be used to make everything from deodorant to toothpaste to an exfoliator to a shampoo as a part of the no 'poo hair treatment process, removing build up and synthetic toxins from your hair.

Honey—naturally antibacterial, honey is a luscious way to care your skin and hair. It cleans, exfoliates and softens skin, making it a great ingredient for acne treatment, soothing skin cleanser, and lip balm. It also naturally moisturizes and makes a sweet and decadent hair conditioner.

Avocado—The ultimate super food, avocados are also an incredibly useful ingredient in DIY cosmetics. The healthy fats and oils in the avocado help to moisturize and condition skin and hair.

Essential oils—essential oils are not, per se, essential in DIY cosmetics, but they can add a pleasing fragrance or aroma therapeutic benefits. Choose lavender or chamomile for a soothing effect and lemongrass to purify skin.

Sources:

http://sunflower-press.com/use-natural-cosmetics/

http://yesmissy.com/coconut-oil-uses/

http://www.littlehouseliving.com/uses-for-shea-butter.html

http://www.flusterbuster.com/2013/01/exfoliating-moisturizing-on-budget.html

http://www.liverenewed.com/2011/04/the-many-uses-of-castile-soap.html

http://www.thankyourbody.com/uses-for-baking-soda/

http://www.indianbeautyspot.com/2014/06/amazing-benefits-uses-honey.html#_

http://premeditatedleftovers.com/naturally-frugal-living/7-uses-for-avocados/#_a5y_p=1068237

http://wellnessmama.com/5801/diy-beauty-recipes/

Tue May 05 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Kristen Eco Tips  Health Living and Home 
Tue May 05 00:00:00 EDT 2015

Discover the eco-friendly way to keep you home squeaky clean. It's incredibly easy to replace the chemicals under your sink with non-toxic, natural cleaners that you probably already have in your kitchen cabinet. Traditional commercial cleaning products are filled with synthetic chemicals linked to both health and environmental damage. On top of being less costly for your family's well-being and for the planet, homemade cleaners are often less expensive than commercial products. Read on to learn how to clean your home, DIY style.

 

Common Ingredients

- Baking soda

- White vinegar

- Lemon (or other citric element)

- Hydrogen peroxide

- Isopropyl alcohol

- Salt

 

Recipes

All-purpose cleaner: Combine 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda with 1/2 gallon water. Use in a spray bottle to leave shower stalls, bathroom chrome features, windows, mirrors and more sparkly clean. It can also be used to clean tile floors with a mop.

Bathtub cleaner: Slice a grapefruit in half, then sprinkle it liberally with coarse kosher salt. Wet your bathtub, then sprinkle a little more salt in the bottom of the tub. Scrub all surfaces with the half grapefruit, being sure to juice it a bit as you scrub, as well as lift it up to keep salt in between the grapefruit and the surfaces of the bath (rather than just pushing the salt around).

Bathroom mold: Combine one part hydrogen peroxide (3%) with two parts water. Use in a spray bottle, applying to tile and grout. Leave for one hour, then rinse.

Drain cleaner: For lighter blockages, heat 1/2 cup salt in 4 quarts water, but not to a boil. Pour the mixture down the drain. For more serious drainage problems, pour roughly 1/2 cup of baking soda then 1/2 cup vinegar drown the drain. The chemical reaction that follows helps to unclog the drain. After 15 minutes, pour boiling water to clean the residue. Be sure to only use this method with metal plumbing—plastic pipes can melt from the boiling water. Also, do not use this method after having used a commercial drain cleaner—the vinegar can react with the product and create dangerous fumes.

Window cleaner: Combine 2 teaspoons vinegar with 1 quart warm water and put the mixture in a spray bottle. Clean with a cotton cloth or crumpled newspaper, but only the black and white pages—colored pages will smudge. Be sure to avoid cleaning windows that have the sun on them or are warm—they are more likely to show streaks when dried.

Carpet stains: Combine equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Apply to the stain. After several minutes, clean with a sponge or brush and warm soapy water.

Marks on walls and painted surfaces: Many dark marks on walls can be removed by applying baking soda with a damp sponge. Rub the mark gently, then wipe with a clean sponge.

Air freshener: Combine baking soda or vinegar with lemon juice in small dishes and place around your home to absorb odors from the air. You can also use fragrant dried herbs and flowers like our herb wreaths to add a pleasant fragrance. Also, houseplants are a great way to reduce odors and purify your home's air.

 

Sources:

http://eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_solutions.htm

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-clean-a-bathtub-naturally-with-grapefruit-salt-117590

https://www.care.com/a/7-benefits-of-green-cleaning-1303041029

http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/070111p16.shtml

Tue May 05 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Kristen Eco Tips  Health Living and Home 
Tue May 05 00:00:00 EDT 2015

The perfect combinations of sweet and sour, chewy and soft find themselves in these "modern" candied lemon peels. When so much of our usable produce ends up in the trash, it is always beneficial to reinvent old fashioned recipes that use often forgotten produce parts. What we love most about this recipe is it adds a global twist to candied lemon peels and makes a perfect accompaniment to pound cake, yoghurt, etc. We even use it in our curries! Continue reading for the recipe.

 

Chai Spiced Candied Lemon Peels:

Ingredients:

  • 2 organic lemons, washed
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom

Directions:

  • Remove the lemon peel from the lemon using a vegetable peeling. Wrap the remaining lemon and store for future use.
  • In a small saucepan, combine the peels with 2 cups cold water. Bring to a boil and pour out water. Repeat process 2 more times. After the third time, drain water and remove lemon peels and set aside.
  • In a saucepan, add 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup water. Mix solution until sugar is dissolved. Add lemon peels and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow peels to simmer in sugar water until they are translucent. Drain and allow peels to cool.
  • Add the coconut sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom to a medium bowl and mix. Add lemon peels and toss lightly to coat peels. Remove each peel and serve or store in an air-tight container.

 

Tue May 05 00:00:00 EDT 2015 Emily Eco Tips  Recipes 
Wed Jun 26 09:49:30 EDT 2019