Healthier, fresher, more eco-friendly—organic produce has become popular for a reason. The growing fear of toxic pesticides—which have been linked to cancer, behavioral disorders, and birth & developmental effects—is a factor, too, making more people question how their food is grown and where it comes from. Because washing/rinsing only reduces but does not eliminate pesticide residue from produce, it’s time to seriously consider going organic.
By U.S. regulations, “organic” produce must be grown without synthetic pesticides (natural pesticides are OK!), chemical-based fertilizers, artificial preservatives, and without GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). The resulting produce is of a much higher quality, but it’s often much more expensive. But don’t let that prevent you from choosing safer, more nutritional food for you and your family. In truth, You don’t have to go entirely organic to reap the benefits of organic produce. Just as some produce should always be purchased organic due to its high toxicity, some conventionally-grown produce can still be eaten without fear of pesticides or other ill effects. Here’s 12 items you should always buy organic (and 15 you really don’t have to).
(Don’t forget: Organic or not, you should always thoroughly wash & rinse all produce!)
The Envrionmental Working Group (EWG) evaluates pesticide usage and its efects on produce each year. For their latest findings, visit their website.
Always Buy These Organic:
The Environmental Working Group’s latest findings indicate that Strawberries are the absolute worst fruit or vegetable in terms of pesticide toxicity. The EWG’s stats show that on average over 300 lbs. of pesticides are used on each acre of non-organic strawberry fields. To make matters worse, strawberries are the most difficult fruit or veggie to adequately rinse, since all those little pits double as pesticide-trapping reservoirs.
Spinach is a highly nutritional alternative to lettuce or cabbage. However, unless you’re buying organic, spinach can also be harmful to your health. The EWG ranks this vegetable as the second most pesticide-covered fruit or veggie for 2017. Furthermore, according to the EWG, Spinach has on average twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.
They might be a sweet, tart and refreshing summer snack, but non-organic Nectarines contain several of the most dangerous pesticides in the world. Nectarines are #3 on the EWG’s most pesticide-ridden produce list for 2017.
Apples are the fourth most pesticide-contaminated fruit or vegetable in 2017 according to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization that monitors pesticide usage in the U.S. The average non-organic apple contains up to 48 different pesticides. According to information collected from the USDA, even after thorough washing, 98% of all apples still contain at least one toxic pesticide.
Peaches clock in at #5 on the EWG’s most pesticide-laden fruit and veggies list. Like strawberries, apples and spinach, 98% of all peaches—even after washing—contain at least 1 harmful pesticide.
On average, non-organically grown pears contain at least 40 known pesticides—8 are probable carcinogens, 7 are neurotoxins, 11 are suspected hormone disruptors, and 5 are thought to cause reproductive or developmental complications in women and children.
Even after washing, nearly 100% of all cherries contain detectable levels of toxic pesticides. Of all the food you should buy organic, this is right near the top of the list.
On average, a batch of grapes contains upwards of 60 different pesticides. From known carcinogens to neurotoxins and hormone disruptors, non-organic grapes are littered with frightening chemicals.
Celery is something of a gateway vegetable, with many parents introducing their children to vegetables by slathering these fibrous green stalks with ranch dressing and other dips. But if you plan to feed these to your children, you better buy organic—celery contains at least 64 different pesticides!
Starting in 2017, cherry tomatoes are no longer considered a risky pesticide crop. However, your standard tomato still ranks as one of the worst. With over 35 pesticides on your average tomato, you should definitely go organic when shopping for these fruits/vegetables.
Sweet Bell Peppers
Sweet bell peppers are quickly becoming one of America’s favorite snacks. Sadly, they also rank as of the most pesticide-riddled vegetables available. Sweet Bell Peppers come in at #11 on the EWG’s most pesticide-contaminated fruits and veggies rankings.
Non-organic sweet potatoes remain a relatively safe choice as far as pesticides go. The same, however, cannot be said of its starchier cousin, which is known to commonly carry upwards of 35 different pesticides!
Fruits & Vegetables You Don’t Have To Buy Organic
Due to their low pesticide toxicity and lack of GMOs & preservatives, the following fruits and vegetables do not need to be purchased organic:
- Sweet Corn
- Frozen Sweet Peas
- Honey Dew Melon
Growing Your Own Produce?
To keep your family, pets and the soil safe & healthy, be sure to choose eco-friendly, all natural pesticides for your lawn & garden.
Over 1 billion pounds of synthetic pesticides are used worldwide every year. Over 95% of these end up somewhere other than their target destination—such as oceans, forests, our drinking water, our food, and inside our homes, pets, children, even breast milk. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) conducted a study of 9,282 people throughout the U.S. and found pesticides in 100% of those tested: the average person was found to have 13 out of 23 common pesticides in their bloodstream or urine.
But what can homeowners do to help minimize the impact of these pesticides? It turns out, a lot. The average homeowner uses ten times more pesticides per acre than farmers use on industrial farmland. Of the 30 most common lawn pesticides, 19 are linked with cancer, 13 are linked with birth defects, 26 with liver and kidney damage, 13 with neurological damage, and 11 with disruption of human hormones. Furthermore, 17 of these are commonly found in groundwater, 23 in our drinking water, 24 are toxic to aquatic life such as fish, 11 are fatal to bees, and 16 are toxic to birds. (At this very moment, the makers of Roundup—the most used pesticide in the world—are facing lawsuits from thousands of cancer-sufferers claiming Roundup caused their disease). So, in many ways, it’s in the hands of average homeowners like you to start minimizing the risks associated with pesticide use by searching for safer, all natural alternatives. Not convinced? Here are 8 reasons why you should stop using synthetic pesticides today.
1. They’re Poisoning Your Food
Washing vegetables and fruit removes all those dangerous pesticides, right? Wrong: the USDA reports that even after peeling and rinsing, 60% of all produce still contains at least one harmful pesticide. What can you do? Purchasing only organic produce is one option; growing your own, and using only non-toxic, natural pesticides on your garden, is another.
2. They Could Be Harming Your Child’s Brain
People are “not aware of the hazards that the unthinking use of pesticides poses to their children,” says Philip Landrigan, dean for global health and professor of pediatrics at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.Because of their size and because they’re in the midst of development, children are especially at risk when it comes to toxic pesticides. When you consider how often children play in the yard, and how often they place their hands into their mouths, it becomes obvious why they’re directly in harm’s way. “They take into their bodies more of the pesticides that are in the food, water and air,” Landrigan continues; their “delicate developmental processes are easily disrupted by very small doses of toxic chemicals that would be virtually harmless for an adult.”
Frighteningly, studies indicate that children with parents who use chemical-based pesticides are at higher risk of several types of childhood cancer, brain damage, lower IQs, and other health effects. Sources have also proven that measurable levels of pesticides are prevalent on household flooring. So, when you note that infants are already at high risk of pesticidal side effects due to their weight, the thought that they’re often found crawling on floors should set off alarms in every parents’ mind.
3. They’re Killing Your Pets
Like children, pets are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of pesticides (which includes exposure via Flea Collars, too). Your pets not only live and play in your yard, they sometimes even eat its grass, insects and rodents too. One study conducted by the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University found that dogs exposed to lawn pesticides had as much as a 70% higher chance of contracting potentially fatal canine malignant lymphoma. Another study concluded that bladder cancer was also associated with lawns treated with inorganic pesticides, with even indirect exposure from adjacent lawns significantly raising your pet’s risk of getting this extremely painful cancer.
4. They Pollute Your Home
If you think that avoiding your lawn immediately after treatment keeps you out of harm’s way, think again. Gary Ginsberg, a public health toxicologist and assistant clinical professor at the University of Connecticut says, “there’s some inevitable transfer into the home or the neighbor’s home from use on the lawn.” Whether through windows or vents, or transferred via shoes or your pet’s paws, pesticide residues almost always find their way into your home. One study found that a week after treatment, pesticides could still be detected on all indoor surfaces: including kitchen countertops, tabletops and flooring.
5. Pesticides Are A Strain On The Economy
It’s estimated that exposure to chemical pesticides (along w/ other endocrine disruptors found in plastic, makeup, detergents and other packaging) costs the U.S. over 340 billion dollars annually in health care costs and subsequent lost wages. Endocrine disruptors interfere with proper human hormone function, and are linked with health problems ranging from infertility and obesity, to brain development and diabetes. The financial toll of these effects is said to represent at least 2% of our country’s entire gross domestic product, or GDP. The same study discovered that pesticide exposure alone causes more than 1.8 million lost IQ points and 7,500 intellectual disabilities each year—the annual cost of which is roughly $45 billion.
6. They Damage Our Environment
Because of wind, runoff, overspray, and their ability to leach into soil, chemical pesticides regularly pollute the environment, ending up in soil, water and other delicate ecosystems. How extensive is pesticidal pollution? In a study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey, pesticides were found to contaminate every stream in the United States, and over 90% of all wells tested. These toxins were not limited to groundwater, though, they were also found in rainwater and fog, too.
Another study conducted in Australia—which tested areas directly bordering the Great Barrier Reef—found that pesticides were detected in 90% of all samples the Australian scientists collected. When chemicals from pesticides enter an ecosystem they disrupt normal biological processes and therefore decrease overall biodiversity, greatly limiting the number of surviving species. Unfortunately, this effect can persist for long periods of time, as many pesticides are also soil contaminates—meaning these toxins can stay active in the soil for decades.
7. They Harm Wildlife
Pesticides seem to be especially harmful to marine life and birds. By the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service’s own estimation, more than 72 million birds die in the U.S. each year as a result of pesticide use. But because many pesticides are bioaccumulative—meaning toxic levels can slowly build up within an organism over time—they have the potential to disrupt entire food chains of which birds and fish represent only a small part.
In truth, pesticidal contamination has the potential to affect nearly every living organism, if not directly then indirectly through ecosystem damage. One particularly chilling example can be found in bees, which are one of the most integral organisms to survival on this planet. Largely due to the widespread use of toxic pesticides, the world’s bee populations have been falling drastically in what scientists call colony collapse disorder. And while recent restrictions in pesticide use have helped restore their numbers, pesticides continue to threaten the health of bees worldwide.
If you’re among the millions of people that use synthetic pesticides in and around your home, your health is at risk. The following conditions have all been linked to pesticide exposure.
Termites are one of the most successful and durable organisms on Earth. For every one person on our planet, there’s roughly 1,000 lbs of termites. Termites also work around the clock, never once requiring sleep for their entire lives. More closely related to cockroaches than other social insects like ants, termites have been around for over 250 million years (by comparison, humans have existed for just over four million years). While there’s upwards of 45 different species of termites, three species account for most home infestations: subterranean termites, drywood termites, and dampwood termites. It’s estimated that these termites cause over five billion dollars in damage each year. And with the typical infestation containing anywhere from 1-4 million of these wood-chewing insects, it’s obvious why every homeowner should be prepared to combat a termite infestation.
The good news is that termites are relatively easy to treat once located. However, finding the source of your termite problem can take some time—there’s a chance you’ll have to remove drywall or dig small trenches in your yard to locate the termites’ hive. Sadly, most traditional methods for treating termites involve toxins that endanger not only your family, but also your pets and the environment. Thankfully, you don’t have to resort to these toxic chemicals to get rid of your termite infestation. There are several natural alternatives that are highly effective at reducing termite populations. Here are our favorites.
It’s much easier—and much cheaper—to prevent a termite infestation than it is to treat one. The following precautions will go a long way in keeping these damaging insects away from your home:
- Eliminate any unnecessary moisture around the foundation of your home. Be sure to properly maintain pipes, home fixtures, A/C units, gutters, downspouts and other drainage sites. Fix any leaks immediately.
- Fill any cracks or other openings that would allow termites to enter your home. Pay special attention to utility lines and piping.
- Do not store firewood or other lumber near your home
- Remove tree stumps, branches, and any other wooden debris from your yard.
- Keep shrubs, small trees and bushes well maintained
- Be sure all exterior vents have screens suitable for preventing termites from entering your home.
Termites cannot withstand sunlight, and therefore avoid it. Termites require moist conditions to stay alive, which is why direct sun exposure will ultimately kill them. If you’re seeing termites within certain areas of your home, expose those areas to as much sunlight as possible. If you can locate the termites’ hive outside, clear all brush and clutter to allow as much sun exposure as possible. Even better, dig in and around the hive to expose the colony to the heat of the sun. If you suspect that any furniture or other smaller items have been infested, placing them outdoors in the heat of the day is a natural way to help rid them of termites. While sunlight alone will not likely destroy an entire termite infestation, it’s an effective natural way to reduce population size and help prevent additional termite issues.
Termites are attracted to cellulose, which makes up a large portion of their diet. Cardboard is full of cellulose, and can be easily re-purposed as a handy trap. This is one of the most effective natural methods for helping eliminate termite infestations. Simply take a large, moist sheet of cardboard and roll it into the shape of a tube (stacking several moist sheets atop one another also works). Place these DIY traps in the areas of the home where you’ve witnessed the most termite activity. Within a few days, collect the traps and discard them somewhere far from your house, or treat the collected termites with a natural insecticide. Repeat the process until you no longer see signs of termites.
One of the greener options for termite control involves introducing parasitic roundworms into the termite colony. Also known as beneficial nematodes, these organisms can devastate termite populations. Once they’ve located and entered a host, these nearly microscopic worms release a bacteria that’s deadly to insects such as termites. Once they’ve killed their host they move on to another member of the colony, reproducing in the process. Beneficial nematodes can typically be found at your local home & garden store. Once purchased, release the nematodes into the termite hive and let them do the rest. This approach works best in conjunction with other natural pest control methods.
Orange oil has proven effective at killing termites, particularly drywood termites. Extremely affordable and all natural, orange oil is derived from orange peels and is made mostly of d-limonene—a solvent that’s deadly to termites. When termites come into direct contact with orange oil their exoskeletons begin to dissolve, causing them to lose proteins and moisture, and ultimately die. This method works as a deterrent, too, as termites will avoid traveling in areas saturated with orange oil. Orange oil is also believed to disrupt termites’ pheromones, which they use to communicate. Simply spray full strength or mildly diluted orange oil onto termite problem areas, as close to the hive as possible. If the hive is located behind a wall and you’re not interested in tearing out Sheetrock, many professionals recommend drilling holes in the drywall and dispensing orange oil through the opening. (Always consult a professional before removing drywall or drilling holes for this purpose). Be aware: orange oil can irritate skin and cause complications if ingested, so please exercise caution when using this essential oil.
Along with its countless other uses, vinegar can also be used to kill termites. Mix half a cup of vinegar with the juice of two freshly squeezed lemons; then simply use the mixture in the same manner as the orange oil above, spraying in or around where the termites congregate—preferably the hive itself. The acidity of the solution is too caustic for termites, killing them on contact. This solution also functions as an effective deterrent. Repeat the process as necessary.
Natural-based insecticides are a great option for treating termite infestations. For best results, you’ll want to treat both inside and outside your home. We recommend using Cedarcide Original for all indoor termite issues, and PCO choice for all outdoor applications. Simply spray Cedarcide Original anywhere you’re experiencing termite activity—this will kill all active termites and deter future individuals from returning to the area. If your termites’ hive is indoors, saturate the colony with Cedarcide Original to eliminate the infestation. To manage all outdoor termite problems, treat your entire yard with PCO Choice. With generous application, this cedar-based outdoor pesticide will seep into the soil, eventually reaching any subterranean termite hives. As an additional precaution, we recommend applying a thick barrier of PCO Choice around your foundation to prevent termites from entering your home. Repeat these processes as needed.
One of the very best ways to prevent an infestation is to make your home’s wood unappetizing to termites. A wood treatment that removes moisture from wood is a highly effective method to deter termites from consuming or inhabiting wooden structures. This approach not only preserves wood—making it more structurally stable and resistant to rot—but also transforms it into something termites can no longer eat or destroy. We recommend treating all wood vulnerable to termites with Cedarshield. This can be done either by treating wood before it’s used for construction purposes, or after the fact once termites have become a problem. For more info on how to use Cedarshield watch the video below:
It’s estimated that there are over 20,000 species of ants on the planet. Living in colonies whose populations sometimes number in the millions, ants can be found on every continent but Antarctica. Their unmatched success is often attributed to their carefully organized social structure—which includes division of labor and a highly evolved hierarchy. Because of their wide variety and large distribution, ants and humans commonly cross paths. In fact, ants are arguably the most common insect found in the home. The next time you see these intruders in your home, don’t resort to another can of toxic bug spray. Try some of these ten natural alternatives instead.
Please note: The efficacy of these natural treatments can vary from species to species, but for the most part these approaches should work well on the majority of common household ants.
Prevention is always the best form of pest control. Follow these simple guidelines to keep ants out of your home.
- Keep your home clean, particularly the kitchen, flooring, windowsills and countertops. Without a source of food, ants will have no reason to enter your home.
- Seal all food in tightly closed containers. Keep all food storage areas free of crumbs and food residues (Tip: wipe off all jam, sauce and honey containers, too).
- Never leave food or dirty dishes in the sink.
- Take out the trash regularly, and keep all trash cans clean and sealed.
- Clean up food spills immediately.
- Seal potential entry points—like cracks, crevices and holes—with caulk or another sealant.
Ants use pheromone trails for navigation, communication, and to find food. Essential oils can be used to disrupt these trails, which ultimately disorients and deters ants. Lemongrass, peppermint, clove, cedarwood, tea tree, orange and lemon oil are all effective.
Dampen a cotton ball or kitchen towel with an essential oil of your choosing; then, simply wipe down window sills, baseboards, countertops, door frames, and other potential entry points to repel ants. Repeat daily until the issue improves.
Vinegar is an extremely effective natural ant deterrent. It disrupts their pheromone trails and the smell help prevent them from returning. Mix a 1-to-1 ratio of water to vinegar in a spray bottle (both apple cider and white vinegar will do). Shake the solution and then spray along baseboards, door frames, window sills and countertops. Repeat daily or as needed. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and multi-surface cleaner—so feel free to use this spray liberally.
Non-toxic Insecticides—Both Indoor and Outdoor
Non-toxic insecticides are among the easiest and safest options for eliminating an ant colony. The best approach is to treat both outside and inside your home within a short window. For best results, apply an outdoor pesticide along fence lines and your home’s foundation (this will create a repellent barrier to prevent ants from entering your home). Treating your entire yard will help remove any active ant colonies.
Sugar and Baking Soda Trap
A simple and natural ant trap can be made by mixing equal parts baking soda and powdered sugar. Strategically place this mixture in shallow dishes throughout the locations with the most ant traffic. These traps can also be placed outside, particularly near doors and windows. The sugar in the mixture attracts the ants, the baking soda naturally kills them.
Cinnamon & Cinnamon Oil
Not unlike the aforementioned essential oils and vinegar, cinnamon and cinnamon oil work to deter ants by interfering with their pheromone trails. Dispense the cinnamon in whatever form throughout ant problem areas. When used around window sills, baseboards, near doors and alongside countertops, cinnamon helps prevent ants from entering your home.
Like baking soda, cornmeal is a natural ant killer. Broadcast cornmeal near possible ant entry points, including windowsills, doorways, and other locations ants commonly frequent. This method can take some time, but it’s quite effective in the long run.
This is a natural way to attack the ant colony directly. It’s simple: boil a few liters or more of water and then pour it directly onto the ants’ mound (this can be dangerous, so please exercise extreme caution). Adding a water-soluble insecticide, essential oils, or soap to the boiled water will serve to make this method even more effective. You may have to repeat this process two to three times to completely eliminate the colony.
Made from crushed algae fossils, Diatomaceous Earth is a well known natural pesticide. This abrasive material damages the exoskeleton of insects that come into contact with it, eventually killing them. Spread DE throughout ant problem areas and directly on the colony’s mound if possible. Diatomaceous Earth is also one of the most effective methods for combatting carpenter ants, who will regularly die from consuming it.
Used much like cinnamon, coffee grounds can be used throughout problem areas, various perimeters, and on the ant colony directly. Sometimes blanketing an ant mound with coffee grounds is enough to get the entire colony to relocate. This method works best in conjunction with other natural approaches, like the ones mentioned above.
Thoughts, suggestions, have your own tips to add? Comment below or head over to our Facebook page to let us know what you think!
A dense forest is a beautiful landscape that provides a home for countless living things. Rainforests, deciduous, and evergreen forests are all unique in how they affect the environment as a whole. A single tree from those forests may not have a noticeable impact on the environment itself, but a single tree can have a huge impact on human lives—both individually and collectively.
Through the window in the secret annex where the Frank family hid for over two years, Anne would often look out and see a beautiful white horse chestnut tree. The white horse chestnut was one of the few things Anne could see outside the small space she shared with her family and four others who were also forced into hiding. She references the tree several times in her famous diary, which chronicled her personal thoughts, feelings and experiences during the holocaust.
In Anne’s writings, it’s clear that she viewed the white horse chestnut as her sole connection with nature, that the tree became a symbol of her longing for freedom. “As long as this exists,” she wrote of the tree, “how can I be sad?” It’s easy to imagine Anne spending many an afternoon gazing out at the tree as the seasons changed—leaves growing and falling, birds nesting and hatching, the wind causing the branches to sway.
The white horse chestnut was ordered to be cut down in 2007. It was in danger of falling due to fungal and moth infestation, and had become a safety hazard. However, passionate neighbors and friends eventually stepped in and were able to save the tree by installing structural supports. Unfortunately, just a few years later, the white horse chestnut was destroyed in a storm. Now, only a stump remains at the site.
But the tree lives on.
Before it died, seeds were taken from Anne’s white horse chestnut; seeds that have now been gifted and planted throughout the world—including school grounds named in honor of Anne Frank. Through the enduring image of Anne’s white horse chestnut—and its many saplings—we have a physical reminder that there’s always beauty and hope to be found in the world. Even in the darkest of situations.
House plants have long been prized for their beautiful appearance. They tend to give our homes a more pleasant and comfortable feel—studies show they help improve mood and mental health, too. But did you know house plants can also help with overall physical health? By acting as organic filters, common household plants can naturally improve the air quality within our homes, removing toxins and other pollutants in the process. In addition to helping regulate humidity, house plants can eliminate mold spores, dust, bacteria, synthetic chemicals and other allergens, too. However, as far as air-filtering goes, not all plants are created equal. And, unfortunately, some of the very best air-purifying plants are toxic for pets. So, what house plant is right for you? We’re going to help you find out.
Here are ten of the best air-purifying house plants (Don’t worry—we’ll let you know which ones are pet safe!)
Aloe Vera (NOT Pet Safe)
This ornamental succulent is popular for its good looks, skin benefits and, in some cases, even its taste. Less known, however, is aloe vera’s skill for removing toxins from the air, such as formaldehyde and benzene, which are commonly found in household cleaners and paints.
Spider Plant (Pet Safe)
This resilient and low maintenance plant can remove up to 90% of formaldehyde, benzene, styrene, xylene and carbon monoxide from the air. A single spider plant is able to efficiently filter a room of approximately 200 sq. ft.
Peace Lily (NOT Pet Safe)
Famed for its delicate beauty, the peace lily is one of the most visually appealing ways to purify your home’s air. Benzene, xylene, toluene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde—the peace lily removes all these toxins. It also cleanses the air of acetone, which comes from electronics and adhesives, among other household items.
Bamboo Palm (Pet Safe)
Requiring only moderate sunshine and capable of growing fairly large, the bamboo palm makes for a great house plant. According to NASA, bamboo palm is also one of the most effective plants at removing air pollutants, especially formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, xylene, benzene and chloroform.
Ficus Tree (NOT Pet Safe)
Although this little tree is toxic for pets, it has a wealth of benefits as an air purifier. It can remove bacteria and mold spores from the air, too. Your ficus will do best in indirect sunlight (too much sun can burn the leaves) and in relatively humid conditions.
This cute little perennial is a staple of many households due to its inexpensive cost and vivid colors. But the gorgeous garden mum is also a powerful air purifier, capable of ridding your home of ammonia, xylene, benzene, toluene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde.
Golden Pothos (NOT Pet Safe)
Ideal for offices because it requires little sunlight and can grow in cooler temperatures, the golden pothos is both attractive and useful. Although toxic to pets and people if ingested, this plant is a superstar at improving air quality. It’s especially good at removing carbon monoxide, making it a great fit for garages and other work spaces, too.
Boston Fern (Pet Safe)
The Boston fern has been enjoyed as a house plant for centuries. This small, unusual looking plant needs constant sunshine and fairly humid conditions. Prized as one of the most efficient natural air purifiers, the Boston fern helps remove formaldehyde and xylene from the air. It’s a mild air humidifier, too.
Dracaena (NOT Pet Safe)
Dracaena is ideal for newly carpeted and newly furnished homes because of its unique ability to remove high levels of formaldehyde from the air. This sturdy, easy-to-grow plant also helps fight against benzene, xylene and toluene, all of which are known carcinogens.
In celebration of Earth Day—and Earth Day Texas—we’re taking a closer look at recycling. Many of us recycle the basic things—paper, plastic, cans, etc—but there’s a whole a world of recyclables that most of us are throwing in the garbage.
From batteries and video games, to inhalers and metal keys, here are 41 things you might not now you could be recycling.
Replacing your carpets? Have unused rolls lying around the house? Don’t throw them to the curb. New rolls can go to Habitat for Humanity. The Carpet America Recovery Effort can help you recycle the old ones. Many carpet manufacturers will help recycle your carpet, too.
Throwing away batteries can be terrible for the environment. Recycle them instead. Many office supply stores like Office Depot offer battery recycling. Even some Ikeas have it, too.
3. Cardboard boxes
People always need boxes. Try donating them to nonprofits or shelters—they’re often in dire need of cardboard boxes. Businesses that collect at least 100 boxes each month are also eligible to resell their boxes to UsedCardboardBoxes.com.
A simple scratch is enough to turn CDs into garbage. But don’t place them in the trash—The CD Recycling Center can help you recycle them instead.
Throwing out clothes is a waste. Visit your local Goodwill or other thrift store to donate them instead
6. Clothes Dryers/Washing Machines
Everything you need to know about recycling large appliances can be found here
7. Fluorescent light bulbs
Fluorescent light bulbs leak mercury into the environment when broken in landfills. Home Depot, Lowes, Ikea and similar locations commonly accept fluorescent light bulbs for recycle. Visit search.earth911.com to find a location near you.
Call your city’s recycling center or a local waste management company to see if they recycle toilets. Most Habitat For Humanity locations will also accept used toilet donations.
9. Ink Cartridges
Re-manufacturing plastic ink cartridges requires 80% less energy than making new ones. In other words, be sure to reuse and eventually recycle your cartridges. Many office supply stores will refill them for you. Call the cartridge manufacturer for advice on how and where to recycle them.
Made from a variety of materials, computers are notoriously difficult to recycle. However, most computer manufacturers have take-back or trade-in programs where they’ll collect your computer in order to reuse its materials. Call your manufacturer for more details.
11. Video Games
The aforementioned CD Recycling Center will accept and then recycle any video game discs you might have. For all cartridges, Nintendo offers a take back program where they’ll recycle your games free of charge. They even take non-Nintendo brand games, too.
12. Motor Oil
The EPA has said that “If all the oil from American do-it-yourself oil changers were recycled, it would be enough motor oil for more than 50 million cars a year.” Needless to say, recycling your motor oil can make a real difference. Consult your local service station or auto shop to learn how.
13. Cell Phones
The best way to recycle your cell phone is to donate it to Verizon’s HopeLine program, which benefits survivor’s of domestic abuse.
14. Sports Equipment
Sporting equipment is best recycled through reuse. Sell or donate it to your local Goodwill, thrift store or Play It Again Sports location
15. Athletic Shoes
Don’t throw out those tattered old running shoes. Instead, send them to Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program, which accepts any brand of old sneaker and recycles them into various sport courts and fields so kids around the world have more places to play.
16. Cooking Oil
Many cities offer cooking oil recycling. Call your local recycling center for details.
17. Construction Wood
It’s not always been easy to recycle wood. But now there’s a great resource to show you how and where. Visit reusewood.org to learn the most efficient way to recycle all that extra wood.
Rather than tossing out your old bicycle, donate it to Bikes of the World, which collects, refurbishes and then donates bikes to lower-income people and various institutions in developing countries.
All those unused and broken crayons don’t have to end up in the trash. Crazy Crayons is an organization that will recycle your old crayons into new, fun, multicolored ones.
20. Holiday Lights
To learn how to recycle those old xmas lights, click here. Many Home Depot and Lowes locations will recycle them, too.
21. Christmas tree
There’s tons of fun ways to reuse and recycle your old xmas tree—take a look.
22. Wine Corks
Recycled wine corks can be used to make everything from insulation and car parts, to yoga mats and sports equipment. Several health food stores like Whole Foods have drop boxes for collecting corks for recycling. ReCORK is another option—they’ll recycle your corks into shoe soles and other clever products. Check their site for drop off locations.
A thorough guide on recycling your trophies can be found here.
There are several organizations that accept bras to benefit women in need. Here’s a great resource for choosing what option is best for you.
25. Greeting Cards
St. Jude’s Ranch for Children accepts greetings cards of all shapes and sizes and reuses the materials to create new ones. Funds from the new cards go to benefit abused and homeless families.
26. Packing Peanuts
Most cities don’t have options for recycling Styrofoam peanuts. However, many packaging stores like UPS will accept them for reuse. The Plastic Loose Fill Council can help you find a location near you.
27. VHS Tapes
Recycling tapes can be tricky, but it’s possible. Earth 911 is a great resource for learning how.
Millions of Inhalers go to waste every year. But there’s good news: Inhalers can now be recycled through the “Complete the Cycle” campaign.
29. Brita Water Filters
When it comes to Brita filters, there are several options to choose from when recycling them. Consult this resource for detailed instructions.
Cosmetics contain many chemicals harmful to the environment (including lead), and in most cases cannot be recycled. However, these products can be repurposed in a number of creative ways. As far as the packaging goes, many of the larger makeup retailers collect cosmetic containers for recycling—including MAC, Lush, Aveda, and Origins. Some even give gifts or gift cards in exchange.
Before tossing out your old mattress in favor of a new one, check with your mattress’ manufacturer—chances are they’ll help you recycle it. However, if they don’t, you’re not completely out of luck. Check with your city, many areas have recycling centers that will take mattresses off your hands.
32. Apple Products
Apple products are one of the easiest things to recycle. Apple locations accept all their products back for free recycling.
33. Cars, Boats, and Motorcycles
Junkyards are often the best way to properly dispose of your vehicle in a way that insures most of its materials will be put to good re-use. Junkmycar.com—something of a virtual junkyard—is another viable option. Bonus: both choices are likely to earn you some extra cash.
34. Hearing Aids
The Starkey Hearing Foundation collects all makes and models of hearing aids to benefit the hearing-impaired all over the world.
The American Birding Association will take your donated backpack and give it to scientists who will use it in the field when tracking neotropical birds.
36. Wedding Dresses
Brides Across America accepts recently used wedding dresses and gifts them to United States military brides in need. In addition to dresses, the organization accepts weddings accessories like veils and tiaras, too. Why toss out your dress when it could go to a cause like that?
The Keys for Hope Foundation is a non-profit that donates 100% of its proceeds to help feed those in need by helping to stock community food pantries. Keys can also be recycled as scrap metal at your local recycling center.
Upgrading your ratty old Crocs? Take them to your local official Croc store to be recycled or reused. The company’s “Soles 4 Souls” campaign helps put shoes on the underprivileged and others in dire need of footwear.
You might be surprised to learn that hairdryers are easily recycled. Simply locate your closest scrap metal recycling center, drop it off, and you’re done!
40. Juice Pouches
Strictly speaking, these aren’t recyclable. However, TerraCycle will donate 1 cent for each juice pouch collected, and donate the proceeds to the non-profit or school of your choosing. TerrarCycle provides free shipping for sending in the pouches, too
41. Ziploc Bags
Yep, you can now recycle Ziploc Bags. Just watch:
42. For everything else, TerraCycle has your back!
At Cedarcide, we’re passionate about leading sustainable, environmentally responsible lives. To help share our enthusiasm for environmental education and awareness, we spoke with Earth Day Texas’ Michael Cain about everyday things we could all being doing to reduce our ecological footprint. Cain has been on the founding board of Earth Day Texas, the nation’s largest Earth Day event, since its beginnings in 2010. From 2014 to 2015, Cain served as the organization’s executive director, and is now the president of The Earth Day International Film and Media Festival, which is set to launch this coming April.
Consider Reducing Your Beef Consumption.
“One of the more obvious choices you can make is to reduce the amount of beef you eat. Many will say ‘oh, I can’t do that,’ but the idea is that everyone can reduce their intake even if they don’t want to stop eating beef altogether. In an ideal world, if we were all vegetarians or vegans, we’d see an immediate reduction of about 17% in the amount of carbon dioxide that’s being put out into the planet. Roughly 14% of all greenhouse gas emissions—more than all the exhaust from all the world’s transportation—comes from agriculture. So you can imagine what a change it would make if we all just reduced the amount of beef we consumed daily.”
Be Mindful of the Clothes You Buy
“A lot of people will be surprised to learn that fashion is the second largest source of pollution in the world. Clothing dyes eventually come out of clothes and often end up in rivers and oceans. Another problem is that many clothes are manufactured so cheaply they’re essentially disposable, but if you buy clothes that are of higher quality—that last longer—you’re not only reducing waste but also reducing the amount of unethical labor used in the creation of clothing around the planet.”
“Eating organic, eating locally and seasonally—that’s a big thing that you can do. For example, something like eating sustainable seafood is a change that you could consider making. About 90% of all the world’s fisheries are either fully fished or over-fished. So looking for sources of food that are working within a sustainable model is always the way to go.”
Drink Filtered Water
“This is an easy one: drink filtered tap water, don’t buy plastic bottles. We’ve consumed forty-eight billion bottles of water since 2012. Nearly every piece of plastic that was ever created still exists today. So, even just bringing and reusing your own bottle can make a significant dent. All of those plastic bottles, even the recycled ones, have to be transported, and that’s another source of exhaust. The reality is that we all feel good about recycling, but the majority of those bottles are not being recycled, so they end up in our landfills, rivers, and oceans.”
Monitor Your Home Energy Usage
“75% of the electricity that powers our home electronics is consumed while those electronics are turned off. Unplugging things like stereos, speakers, laptops, and televisions, certainly when you’re not around, is a great way to conserve energy. I think an energy audit from a reputable source is a great way to understand how much energy you may be losing, especially from your roof, for example. That’s one of the largest sources of wasted energy in the home.”
Bonus: Think Beyond Yourself!
“Ever since the birth of my first child, I find myself thinking about what kind of planet I’ll be leaving for my two daughters. I feel that as a father I have a responsibility to lower my eco footprint and to educate my daughters about the need to live responsibly and sustainably. I look forward to leaving them clean beaches and beautiful forests, which I see as part of creating a better life for them. I encourage you to think beyond yourselves, to think about what life will look like after you’re gone, and to do what you can to make the future of our planet a better place.”
Living in the modern world has its advantages and disadvantages. Technologically speaking, we’re far better off than we were, say, 100 years ago. Nutritionally speaking, we’re far worse in many ways.
As surprising as it might sound, nearly all Americans suffer from at least 1 form of nutritional deficiency.
One of the most common deficiencies is Vitamin D. In fact, most Americans aren’t aware they suffer from a lack of Vitamin D. This is partly because we all tend to believe our diets are rich with it (people who drink lots of milk, for example, would never guess they’re deficient). What most people don’t realize is that, despite its name, Vitamin D is not technically a vitamin in the traditional sense. It’s actually a steroid hormone that we’re meant to receive primarily through sunlight, not diet.
Who is Vitamin D Deficient?
Thanks to various scientific studies, we now know more about our body’s relationship with vitamin D. Some of the results are staggering.
· The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that roughly 32% of Americans are vitamin D deficient. This percentage vastly increases when considering the CDC used vitamin D levels not consistent with optimal health.
· The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reported that children between the ages of 1 and 5 were 50% likely to suffer from insufficient Vitamin D levels. They also reported that children between the ages of 6 and 11 were a shocking 70% likely to suffer from insufficient levels!
·Most researchers tend to agree the general population is somewhere around 50% deficient.
· It’s estimated that about 95% of senior citizens are vitamin D deficient due to their lack of sun exposure and the fact that their bodies naturally produce less vitamin D than younger individuals.
· People with an increased level of skin pigmentation, such as from African, Middle Eastern, or Indian descent, are also at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency. It was found that their skin may need as much as 10x more sun exposure to produce the same amount of vitamin D as a person with fairer skin.
Signs You Might Be Vitamin D Deficient:
There is only 1 known way to detect if you’re vitamin D deficient: blood testing. That being said, there are a number of “signs” or “clues” that indicate vitamin D deficiency:
· You have darker skin. Darker skinned individuals are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency
· You’re over the age of 50. As you age, your skin becomes less efficient in converting sun exposure to vitamin D.
· You suffer from bouts of depression. Your brain produces serotonin—a mood-regulating hormone—when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Feeling “blue” can be a sign your brain is not producing enough serotonin due to lack of sun exposure, and therefore vitamin D.
· You’re overweight or unusually muscular Because vitamin D acts more like a hormone than a traditional vitamin, those with excess body fat and large amounts of muscle in turn require additional Vitamin D
· You have a sweaty forehead. One of the earliest signs of a vitamin D deficiency is a sweaty head.
· You have problems with your gut. Because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, having stomach issues can prevent your body from absorbing it.
· You have chronic aches and pains in your bones. A vitamin D deficiency can affect skeletal health. As a result, your bones ache and throb.
What Are the Benefits of Vitamin D?
There are a variety of benefits and health attributes associated with vitamin D. Here are some of the most important:
· It’s good for your bones! Having a sufficient amounts of vitamin D in your system allows for proper calcium absorption.
· It’s important to cardiovascular health. Vitamin D is important for reducing the likelihood of atherosclerotic heart disease, hypertension, heart attack, and stroke.
· Vitamin D is an immune modulator, making it very important for preventing autoimmune disease.
· It helps in fighting infections of all kinds, including the flu
· It helps with DNA repair, which is crucial to a healthy immune system.
What Are Optimum Vitamin D Levels?
An ideal range for general health and regulation is somewhere between 50 and 70 ng/ml. However, without proper blood testing, it’s all but impossible to know exactly what your levels are. If you’d like to know exactly where your own vitamin D levels stand, getting a blood test at a local clinic is the easiest method.
How Do I Reach Optimum Level?
As far as how to reach optimum levels of vitamin D, sun exposure is generally the easiest way. As stated above, taking a supplement orally is not a sufficient substitute to sun exposure. Staying in the sun for roughly half the time it takes for your skin to receive a mild sunburn is usually an ideal amount of time. For example, if you get a mild sunburn after 20 minutes of sun exposure, then 10 minutes will likely be enough time to raise your Vitamin D production. If you have to count exclusively on an oral supplement, then remember to take Vitamin K as well as—it helps the body with vitamin D absorption.
How Do You Get Fleas?
Contrary to popular belief, contracting fleas has nothing to do with the cleanliness or condition of your home—fleas can and do infest everyone. However, fleas usually enter your yard via wild animals, such as squirrels, rabbits, feral cats, possums, etc. Then, either you, your family or a pet unknowingly bring these outside fleas into your home. Dog Parks, neighboring pets and outdoor activities such as hiking, dog-walking and hunting are also common sources of flea infestation.
What Do Fleas Look Like?
Fleas have three primary life stages: Eggs, Larvae, and Adults. Flea eggs are small (about the size of a salt granule) and white; Flea larvae look like small, milky-white caterpillars, ranging between 3 to 5.2 mm in length. Adult fleas are dark-brown to reddish-brown, about 2.5 mm in length, with thin, flat, wingless bodies and long legs.
What Do Flea Bites Look Like?
Flea bites are small, red and extremely itchy. On humans, bites usually occur on the legs and feet, though flea bites can potentially occur anywhere on the body. Skin reactions such as hives, swelling, or rashes near the bite site are a common symptom of flea bites. Although flea bites rarely result in disease in humans, fleas are in fact carriers of various diseases and bacteria, including tapeworm, typhus and cat scratch disease.
What Are the Signs Of A Flea Infestation?
Locating and identifying a flea infestation is normally quite easy. Whether crawling within your pet’s fur or sprinkled throughout your carpet, fleas are not usually difficult to spot. Flea infestations spread quickly, so it’s crucial that you find and treat them as early and as fast as possible. Here are the signs to look out for:
- Excessive pet scratching (this is often the first sign of flea infestation)
- If you suspect fleas have infested your pet, check their skin for adult fleas and red or black dots (flea droppings). Fleas usually infest the hindquarters of dogs, and the neck and face area of cats.
- Flea eggs (these are white, about the size of a grain of salt, and often too small for the naked eye to see)
- Small dark specks on linens, bedding or clothing that appear to jump or fly (these are adult fleas moving throughout your home)
What To Do If You Have Fleas
At Cedarcide, we recommend using only naturally sourced, non-toxic methods for getting rid of fleas, with fogging (indoor) and spraying (outdoor) being our preferred methods of treatment. If you think you might have fleas, you need to act fast before the issue spreads.