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Why You Should Stop Using Synthetic Pesticides Today

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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.

 

8. You

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.

10 Must-Have Items When Hiking With Your Dog

Hiking and backpacking are fun. But hiking/backpacking with your dog is even better! Unfortunately, forgetting to pack the necessary equipment and gear can easily ruin this otherwise fruitfull experience. For the safety, health and enjoyment of both you and your furry friend, here are 10 essential items you need to take on every hike (as recommended by Rover.com).

 

Collapsible Water Bowl and Fresh water—Enough For Both Of You

You can purchase collapsible water bowls from pet stores, specialty shops and various online retailers. They’re portable, lightweight and easy to clean.  Of course, fresh water is also essential. Because it’s not always safe for dogs to drink directly from natural water sources like creeks and ponds, be sure to bring plenty of water for both you and your furry hiking partner. You’ll both be burning a lot of energy, so bring enough water to account for the extra physical exertion.

Snacks

Speaking of energy, you’ll run out of it fast if you don’t bring enough snacks to replenish your reserves. Don’t forget about your best hiking pal—dogs love (and need) snacks, too! Tip: bring snacks the two of you can share, like bananas and peanut butter.

 

Dog Booties

Hiking booties are a good item to have on hand in case your dog tears his foot pad, or injures a toenail. Putting that paw in a bootie will help prevent the wound from getting debris or bacteria in it, or otherwise becoming worse. It’s often a good idea to put these on your pet as a precautionary measure anyway, if only to prevent such injuries. These can be purchased online or at your local pet or outdoors store. Tip: bring a small,  dog-specific first-aid kit, too, just in case.

 

Leash

Even if your dog is great off-leash, trail etiquette asks that all hikers use one on their pups. Nowadays, even most dog-friendly hiking trails require leashes—it helps preserve the trail itself, and generally makes other hikers more comfortable. In the event you pass another dog on the trail, a leash helps ensure the encounter remains safe and under control.

Natural Insect Repellent

Hiking is an easy way to pick up bugs & bug bites. Ticks can transfer a number of serious diseases to your dog, and mosquitoes bites can lead to deadly heartworm disease. That’s why preventing bug bites when hiking is absolutely essential. Treating your dog with an all natural, nontoxic insecticide and repellent is the safest way to keep bugs off your pet when hiking. Choosing a natural alternative to chemical pesticides is important, as most insecticides—even those specifically marketed to dogs—contain toxins that are dangerous for people, pets and the environment.

 

Brush (For Removing Plants, Burrs, Etc)

If your dog gets a burr or other object stuck in their fur, you’ll need a brush on hand to remove the item. Having a foreign object lodged near their skin can make hiking an extremely uncomfortable experience for your dog.

 

Dog-Approved Sunscreen

Your dog’s exposed skin—like on their nose, lips and other hairless parts—is susceptible to sunburn. Applying sunscreen to these areas before every hike is a must. If your dog gets wet or if your hike is unusually long, you’ll likely need to apply another layer of sunscreen. Caution: only use sunscreen intended for canine use; common human sunscreen ingredients like zinc oxide and para-aminobenzoic acid are toxic to dogs.

Plenty of Poop Bags 

As every hiker/backpacker knows, all trash needs to be backpacked out—including your pup’s poop. The delicate ecosystems surrounding hiking trails can be easily disrupted by foreign waste like dog feces. Hiking etiquette dictates that all hikers leave no trace behind. This applies to your dog, too.

Dog pack

This isn’t a necessity, especially if you have plenty of room in your own pack. However, having your dog carry their own items (water bowl, snacks, booties, etc) can really help lighten your own load. Make sure the pack fits your pup snug and that the weight never exceeds ⅓ of your dog’s body weight.

Camera

Okay, so this isn’t explicitly “for” your dog, but taking photos of the hiking experiences you share with your dog is something the both of you will cherish for years to come.

10 Ways You Can Honor American Heroes This Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a time to honor those who defended our country with their lives. For those veterans, soldiers and first responders who put others before themselves—for those ancestors, friends and loved ones that helped make our country the bastion of freedom that it is today.

With time, Memorial Day has also become a day for celebrating the start of summer: for BBQs, for swimming, for other carefree fun. Unfortunately, the real meaning of Memorial Day is often lost in the middle of all this celebrating. In remembrance of what Memorial Day truly stands for, here’s 10 ways that you and your family can honor the true spirit of this patriotic holiday.

 

1. Fly the American Flag

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Of all days to fly the flag, Memorial Day is among the most important. Because Memorial Day is traditionally a day of mourning, etiquette dictates the flag should remain at half-staff from sunrise until noon (to honor our fallen heroes), and full-staff for the remainder of the day (to honor our living veterans). However, remember the American flag should always fly higher than all others, including state and county flags.

 

2. Visit a Cemetery or War Memorial

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Memorial Day is a day to celebrate the courage of our fallen veterans. Whether it belongs to a family member, a friend, or even a stranger, decorating the graves of American soldiers with flowers or flags is a meaningful way to show that you care. You can find the closest VA National Cemeteries for Memorial Day Ceremony by visiting the U.S. Dept. of Veteran Affairs website.  

 

3. Send a Care Package or Make a Financial Donation

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Sending a care package to a soldier in the armed forces is a powerful way to show you appreciate their service and sacrifices. Friends, family and even strangers can benefit from the thought and your generosity. Including a handwritten letter will only make the gesture that much more moving. Organizations like Operation Gratitude will help you with the process.

Veterans and pro-veteran organization are always in need of financial support. Visit Charity Navigator for more information.

 

4. Attend a Memorial Service

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Nearly every city has some sort of Memorial Day celebration—whether it be a parade, a picnic, a concert, or a formal ceremony. Show your support by joining your community in celebration of our soldiers both fallen and living.

 

5. Join Us For Carry the Load

One of the ways we at Cedarcide celebrate Memorial Day is by participating in Dallas’ Carry the Load March. This 20-hour walk honors military service of all shapes and sizes, with proceeds benefitting suitable charities. Find out how you can volunteer here.

 

6. Personally Thank a Veteran

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A personal “Thank You” to those who served our country is a heartfelt way to express your respect and gratitude. If you don’t have a family or friend involved in the military, you can visit a local veteran’s hospital and show your appreciation face-to-face. A small gesture like flowers, a card or baked goods will make the experience all the more special.

 

7. Observe a Minute of Silence At 3 p.m.

The National Moment of Remembrance was established in 2000 to commemorate those we honor on Memorial Day. At 3 p.m. local time, take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices and bravery of the soldiers that served to safeguard the integrity of our great nation.

 

8. Help Preserve Soldiers’ Legacies

Have a family member or friend who served or is serving in the military? Whether it be over the phone or in person, take a moment to sit down with them to share in their stories. Not only is this a kind gesture, you’re certain to learn a great deal. Recording these stories on tape or on paper is a useful way to help preserve the valiant efforts of our country’s many heroes.

 

9. Volunteer

Donating your time to veterans and veteran causes in need is an incredibly thoughtful tribute to our nation’s’ soldiers. You can learn more about volunteering by visiting The United Service Organization’s website, or The U.S.Dept. of Veteran Affairs’ volunteer site.

 

10. Buy And Wear a Red Poppy

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The red poppy has come to symbolize soldiers and the great sacrifices they’ve all had to make. To benefit soldiers and various veteran agencies, purchase a red poppy and display it proudly on Memorial Day. It’s a touching way to outwardly show your support.

8 Ways To Get Rid of Termites Naturally

 

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.

 

Prevention

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.

Sunlight

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.

 

Cardboard Trap

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.

Beneficial Nematodes

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

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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.

 

Vinegar

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 Insecticides
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Natural insecticides are usually the best 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.

 

 

Wood Treatments 

One of the very best ways to prevent an infestation is to make your home’s wood unappetizing to termites. A non-toxic 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:

 

10 All Natural Ways To Get Rid Of Ants

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It’s estimated that over 20,000 species of ants exist. 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

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 those jam, sauce and honey containers).
  • Never leave food remains or dirty dishes in the sink.
  • Take out the trash regularly, and keep all trash cans clean and sealed.
  • Any spilled food should be cleaned up immediately.
  • Seal any cracks, crevices and holes—all potential ant entrances—with caulk or another sealant.

 

Essential Oils

Ants use pheromone trails for navigation and communication—it’s also the way they 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. Use this to wipe windowsills, baseboards, the perimeters of countertops, door frames, and any potential entry points. Repeat daily until ant population disappears. Your chosen oil can also be diluted with a carrier oil to create an ant-killing spray.

 

Vinegar

Vinegar is an extremely effective natural ant deterrent. It disrupts ants’ pheromone trails and the smell prevents 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 the process daily or as needed to repel ants. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and multi-surface cleaner—so feel free to use this spray liberally.

 

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 in 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, while the baking soda naturally kills them (for chemical reasons, baking soda is deadly for ants).

 

Cinnamon & Cinnamon Oil

Not unlike the previously mentioned 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 windowsills, baseboards, near doors and alongside countertops, cinnamon helps prevent ants from entering your home.

 

Cornmeal

Like baking soda, cornmeal is a natural ant pesticide (they can eat it but not digest it, which is what ultimately kills them). Broadcast cornmeal near possible ant entrances, as well as windowsills, doorways, and other locations ants commonly frequent. This method can take some time, but it’s quite effective in the long run. Continue to dispense cornmeal until your ant colony dies or moves on to more promising terrain.

 

Boiling Water

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 into the ants’ mound (this can be dangerous, so please exercise extreme caution). Adding a natural and water-soluble insecticide, essential oils, or soap to the boiled water serve to make this method even more effective. You may have to repeat this process two to three times to completely eliminate the colony.

 

Soap & Water

A simple mixture of soap and water is toxic to ants. Mix one part natural dish soap to two parts water in a spray bottle. Spray as needed to kill ants and eliminate their pheromone trails. Continue to treat problem areas until the ants no longer return.

 

Non-toxic Insecticides—Both Indoor and Outdoor

All natural, over-the-counter insecticides are often the easiest and most effective option for completely eliminating an ant colony. The best approach is to treat both outside and inside your home. Inside insecticides can be used as both a repellent and a spot killer. Natural outdoor insecticides also work as both deterrents and spot killers. For best results, apply non-toxic outdoor pesticides alongside fence lines and your home’s foundation; this will create a repellent barrier to keep ants from entering your home. Treating your entire yard will help to eliminate any active ant colonies.

 

Diatomaceous Earth

Made from crushed algae fossils, Diatomaceous Earth is a well known natural pesticide. This abrasive material damages the exoskeleton of any ants 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.

 

Coffee Grounds

Used much like cinnamon, coffee grounds can be spread on 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.

6 Surprising Facts About Heartworms & Heartworm Medication

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Heartworms are one of the leading causes of death in both dogs and cats in the United States. Heartworm disease occurs in all 50 states and, especially in southern regions, is a year-round threat. Once they find their way into your cat or dog, these sometimes foot-long parasites mature and then navigate to your pets’ lungs and heart. If left untreated, these worms will wreak havoc on your pet’s health, causing severe organ damage and possibly even death. Heartworms can live inside your animal for up to seven years—it’s not unheard of for a single dog to have upwards of two-hundred heartworms. Whether you’re currently dealing with a heartworm situation or just doing a little research, here’s six surprising facts about heartworms and heartworm medication.

1. Heartworms Are Only Spread By Mosquitoes Bites

The only way for your pet to get heartworms is through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes are both hosts and vectors for these tiny parasitic roundworms. Heartworms cannot spread from animal to animal, even if a mosquito bites one and then the other. In order to contract heartworms, your pet must be bitten by a mosquito that is itself already infected with heartworms—these heartworms will had to have already undergone a two-week maturation process inside the body of the mosquito. The process goes like this:

  • First, a mosquito picks up heartworm larvae by biting a dog, cat or wild animal infected with heartworms.
  • Next, the heartworms begin to mature within the mosquito. This process takes about two weeks.
  • Then the mosquito passes on the heartworms by taking a blood meal from a dog, cat, or wild animal.
  • The heartworms continue to mature, becoming fully developed roughly six to seven months after entering your pet’s bloodstream. This process can cause serious, often irreversible, damage to your pet’s organs.
  • Soon after maturation, the heartworms begin to multiply and the new larvae are released into your pet’s bloodstream, where they can remain for up to two years.
  • Lastly, another mosquito bites your pet, infecting itself and starting the whole process over again.

2. People Can Get Heartworms, Too!

Although rare and almost always harmless, humans can also contract heartworms. Unlike dogs, humans are not productive hosts to these parasites, meaning heartworms cannot reproduce within our bodies. The risks associated with human infection are so minimal that treatment is almost never recommended.

If they’re able to survive long enough, heartworms sometimes find their way into the lungs of their human host. While this poses virtually zero threat to the infected person, there’s concern that the slight inflammation associated with the heartworms’ presence in the lungs could be confused for more serious situations,like cancer or tuberculosis. In rare instances, humans have undergone invasive surgery to inspect what was believed to be cancer, but turned out only to be a relatively harmless heartworm.

 

3. The Only FDA Approved Heartworm Medication is Arsenic-Based

While preventative medications do not contain arsenic, the medication used to treat dogs already infected with heartworms does (there is currently no such treatment for cats; the medication is simply too toxic for their immune systems). Called Immiticide, this arsenic-based treatment is the only FDA approved method for ridding your dog of adult heartworms.

The medication is administered to your pet through a series of two to three injections. Unfortunately these injections are not only expensive but harmful to your pet. In fact, the medication is so risky that your pet must first be evaluated to confirm they’re capable of surviving the treatment. Merial, the company that manufacturers Immiticide, themselves describe the drug as having “a low margin of safety.” Side effects include lethargy, vomiting, fever, coughing, even death. During and after treatment, your pet will need to remain inactive for weeks, possibly even months. This is because exertion can cause dead worms to become lodged in your pet’s lungs, which can lead to death.

 

4. Heartworms Are Becoming Resistant to Medication

Not only are heartworm medications toxic, but they’re slowly becoming less effective, too. “We now have proof there is resistance,” says Dr. Byron Blagburn, a parasitologist at Auburn University. “It’s accepted by the entire industry now.” In warmer regions like in the Southern U.S., where mosquitoes and therefore heartworms are much more common, many people choose to treat adult heartworms with preventative medication instead of the prescribed Immiticide. It’s cheaper and comparatively less dangerous, but it’s also far less effective. It’s because of this approach—and the subsequent missed monthly doses that inevitably occur—that mosquitoes have started to build resistance to heartworm medication.

 

5. You Shouldn’t Believe Everything The Pharmaceutical Companies Tell You

The American Heartworm Society and pharmaceutical manufacturers advocate year-round preventative medication for the life of your dog or cat. But is this really the best, most healthy option for your pet? As veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker points out “The American Heartworm Society has three ‘platinum’ sponsors and five ‘bronze’ sponsors. All eight are major pharmaceutical manufacturers.” It’s this conflict of interest that Dr. Becker argues should make us think twice about the AHS’ recommendation. Dr. Becker recommends consulting with a holistic veterinarian before resorting to toxic, chemical-based heartworm treatments (a directory of these vets can be found at www.ahvma.org).

Dr Karen concludes, “This information is not intended to minimize the need to protect your dog, but only to point out the actual potential for heartworm disease is less than you’ve been led to believe by financially-motivated marketing campaigns designed to scare pet owners into buying 12 doses of preventive, year in and year out, regardless of where you live.”

 

6. There Are Natural Alternatives

Under the guidance of a holistic veterinarian—along with monthly or bi-monthly heartworm screenings—there are in fact natural ways to combat heartworms. Considering the potential damages of traditional heartworm medications, you owe it to your furry friend to at least research and explore alternative methods for controlling heartworms. However, because natural preventatives and treatments are not always one-hundred percent effective on all pets, please consult a vet before choosing this approach. For more information on natural alternatives and how they work, read here.

The most obvious natural method for avoiding heartworms is to regularly apply a non-toxic insect repellent to your pet. Because mosquito bites are the only source of heartworm infection, consistently protecting your pets from such bites is crucial. Cedarcide recommends applying an all natural insect repellent to your pet before—and preferably after—going outdoors. Whether hiking, going to the dog park, or simply playing in the backyard, keeping your pet shielded from harmful insects should be a top priority.

Anne Frank’s White Horse Chestnut Is a Beacon Of Hope

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AnneFrankSchoolPhoto.jpgIn honor of Arbor Day, we’re taking a look at one of our favorite trees: Anne Frank’s White Horse Chestnut

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.

How To Grow Clean Air: The 10 Best Air-Purifying House Plants

How To Grow Clean Air: The 10 Best Air-Purifying House Plants

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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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.

Garden Mum (NOT Pet Safe)
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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)
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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)

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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)
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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.


English Ivy (NOT Pet Safe)
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Most people are accustomed to seeing this climbing vine outdoors, where it regularly streaks up the sides of houses and college buildings. However, we now know that English ivy is essentially an invasive species, and therefore it’s best kept inside the home. Although toxic for pets if ingested, English ivy can be extremely beneficial for pet owners because it helps reduce airborne fecal matter. It’s also known for helping to remove formaldehyde and mold, too.

Here’s 41 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Recycle

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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.

 

1. Carpet

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.

2. Batteries 

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.

4. CDs/DVDs

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.

5. Clothing

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.

8. Toilets

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.

10. Computers

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.

18. Bicycles 

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.

19. Crayons

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.

23. Trophies

A thorough guide on recycling your trophies can be found here.

24. Bras 

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.

28. Inhalers

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.

30. Cosmetics

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.

31. Mattresses 

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.

35. Backpacks

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?

37. Keys

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.

38. Crocs

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.

39. Hairdryers 

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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFeJAM0Je88

42. For everything else, TerraCycle has your back!

5 Ways To Reduce Your Eco Footprint Today: With Earth Day Texas’ Michael Cain

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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.”

Eat Organic

“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.”

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