Pollinators: How You Can Help Save The Birds and The Bees

April Pollinators WilcoWellness

Pollinators, like bees and birds, help pollinate the very plants that feed our communities

According to National Geographic, “Pollination occurs when pollen is moved within flowers or carried from flower to flower by pollinating animals such as birds, bees, butterflies, moths, or other animals, or by the wind.” When pollen is carried between flowers of and in the same species, it leads to fertilization. In terms of plants, this means it’s possible for seed and fruit products to occur. The pollination process ensures that full-bodied fruit and a full set of viable seeds will happen.

 

Pollinators are in trouble

Scientist suggest evidence reveal there’s a world-wide disturbance amongst pollinators who have suffered from the following:

  • Loss of habitat
  • Chemical misuse
  • Introduced and invasive plant and animal species
  • Disease and parasites

Like bats and bees, many pollinators are now listed on the federally “listed species,” which shows a significant disappearance of that species in natural areas. In Fact, the US has lost well over 50% of its managed honeybee colonies over the past ten years. Unfortunately, due to a lack of research, we don’t know too much about our pollen-passing-friends. In contrast, European countries have set aside over $20 million investigating the status of pollinators in Europe.

It’s essential to do our research, understand, and share some of the key players in our neck of the woods. And fortunately for you, we’ve gathered up a few key-pollinator members to introduce to you:

 

Meet a few of them now and what puts them at risk:

Bees:

With more than 250 species, bumblebee bees like to fill the baskets on their legs with pollen and bring it back to their hives. Inadvertently, these busybodies carry pollen on their soft abdomens from one flower to another.

A sweet honey treat from the Farmer’s Market most likely began with the help of a honey bee. Did you know that commercial honey bees are transported thousands of miles to help create some of our favorite snacks? Some take the long journey to pollinate for Michigan’s cherry trees or California’s almond trees. Honey bees help grow kidney beans, coffee, strawberries, avocados, and walnuts.

In the past twenty years, managed-honey bee numbers have crashed, partly due to colony collapse disorder which occurs to the sudden loss of colony worker bees. These busybodies are necessary to keep the colony alive. Meanwhile, scientists claim bumble bees in Northern America and Europe are dwindling rapidly. While the reason for the loss of bees is complicated, climate change, insufficient nesting resources, food supply, pesticides, disease, and parasites are likely contributors.

Butterflies:

As ambassadors of nature, these fluttering favorites are tiny yet mighty! Making a significant migratory journey from Mexico to Candida, Monarchs are quite legendary, even here in Texas. Gulf fritillary butterflies use nectar from many native Texan flowers, such as the passionflower. This familiar flower is hung beautifully on display in Georgetown, TX. “Bee” sure to check it out while grabbing lunch at Monument Cafe.

Whether it’s promoting pollinators by taking Winged pictures in Leander or putting colorful plants in the backyard, these beauties need our help. Our butterfly’s pollinators’ survival stands threatened due to loss of habitat and plant diversity, climate change, agrochemical pollutants, and invasive species.

Birds:

From hummingbirds to honeycreepers, the United States relies on colorful crooners to help spread pollen in our wildflowers. Soaring from brightly colored flowers to the next, these “tweeters” help stabilize our ecosystem while enjoying red, yellow, and orange colors.

Climate change, pesticides, and glass window strikes from tall buildings are on the list because birds are not making it as they once would. Especially if outdoor house cats find entertainment in our pollinator bird friends, they tend to raise their mortality rate by ruffling more than a few feathers.

Bats:

Bats are often misunderstood and tend to get a bad rap for carrying disease, but they’re mostly harmless to humans. In fact, many people favor bat feces as fertilizer! They’re naturals at pest control, consuming large amounts of harmful agricultural insects and bugs each year. Not only do bats keep pests off plants, but they also help pollinate and spread seeds. Many Texan bats, like the Mexican Free-tail bat, love bright white or light-colored flowers.

Recently, millions of bats have died due to a fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome in bats who live in caves during winter.

 

What can you do today to protect and promote pollinators?

Go native!

 

Pollinators are more attracted to and can “best” adapt to local, native plants, which often need less water anyways. When planting at home or in the community garden, look for Texas native plants that help produce nectar and larval food for pollinators. Not sure what to plant in Central Texas? Check here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Make a day of it and stroll through the beautiful gardens and discover which plants would best be suited for your little garden slice of pollinator heaven.

Here are a few other suggestions on where to buy flowering plants in Williamson County:

To “buzz” up a conversation, tell them about the article you’re reading and help spread the word!

 

Welcome bees home by making Bee Hotels: Bees don’t know where to live, can you help? Most of them are spending their time trying to make a home in ground nests, while others live in grass or tree limbs.

 

Here are some fun DIY videos to get you started:

 

If you want to start small and easy, include the kiddos on a weekend build for the bees, check out the video link below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0re9o1ZqX8

 

Reduce your impact!

Purchase local, organic food and reduce your consumption by reducing, reusing, and recycling.

Supply mineral licks for butterflies

Attract magic to the garden by providing a salt lick for butterflies and bees. You’ll want to mix a small amount of sea salt or wood ashes and place them in a shallow puddle in the garden (or sheltered area). This provides valuable minerals to our free-flying friends!

Splish, splash! Let’s make a bath

No matter what Pinterest says, don’t use glass in the garden to make a birdbath. We’ve all seen this, right? Place sea-salted sponges in birdbaths to provide additional food sources and freshwater to our pollinators—Brownie points for keeping the water clean by changing the water often.

Ditch the lawn, plant flowers

Make the most of the lawn by planting more flower beds and veggie gardens. If you want to keep it cool, maybe try it mullet style. Business in the front, party in the back if you don’t want the neighbors to see your wild side!

Whatever you do, do something!

Bees and other pollinators help define our entire ecosystem. Without them, the ecosystem would be substantially different or cease to exist altogether. Pollinators are vital to global economies and food supply.

Get to know people within our community who care

 

 It might be through local conservation groups, community gardens, or volunteering at the Farmer’s market. With the dramatic decline in insects and other pollinators, it’s essential we do our part as a community. Be sure to spread the word about pollinators and why they matter.

 

 

 

Simple Tips to Spring Cleaning

spring cleaning Wilcowellness

Ultimate Spring Cleaning!

After a long, cold winter, it’s time to deep clean the home in preparation for the new beginnings that springtime brings. When you take the time to go beyond your regular cleaning schedule, you’ll begin to feel better about your tidy and welcoming home. To get started, we’ve crafted a list to help you clean your home by offering up a room-by-room checklist. All you need to do is schedule the time, grab cleaning supplies, and pick a room! Then, get ready to kick the dust-up in our in-depth cleaning tips and tricks.

How often should I deep clean?

When you’re asking yourself this question, think about your personal life. What time do you have available? Who can help? There are so many different ways to tackle spring cleaning, but it’s ultimately up to you to get the job done.

Keep in mind! Spring is a beautiful time to clean, organize, declutter, but the actual cleaning portion should happen more frequently than once a year. Consider cleaning seasonally or choosing a room or space to tackle every three months for the weekend. You might want to choose one room per month (suggest kitchen in July and Bedrooms in June) or chip away weekly with 1-2 tasks per week.

Be aware that the more people who share your home, the more time you’ll need to put into cleaning. If you live with other people, consider breaking up the tasks.

If your roommates happen to be your children, consider this an excellent opportunity to teach them something new! They will be moving out one day and will need to learn how to clean their own homes anyways.

What do I need to deep clean?

There’s no need to buy all the fancy products from Target – chemicals are not great anyways. Everyday products like dish soap, baking soda, white vinegar, microfiber cleaning cloths, and a scrub brush are easy to find and useful.

Stock your cleaning caddy or cabinet with these times:

  • Plastic bucket
  • Detail brush
  • Cleaning cloths (paper towels, dish towels, or rags)
  • Old toothbrush
  • Mop or steamer
  • Broom or vacuum (for hard floor setting)
  • Glass cleaner
  • Rubber gloves
  • An all-purpose cleaner (or homemade)
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Squeegee
  • Spray bottle

Bathroom

Scrubbing the bathroom should begin with the bathtub, fixtures, and grout.

We recommend using soap and water to clean most of these items, but it’s just not cutting the trick. You can make a paste with baking soda and water. Once you’ve made this mixture, scrub with a detailing brush around fixtures and other hard-to-reach areas. Finish up with a microfiber cloth to help it shine.

A trick to cleaning your shower head is to let it soak overnight in vinegar and water. You can do so by filling a bag with the cleaning solution and tightening it around the showerhead. You can use this same technique to get the grout clean.

Pay close attention to the shower tile. With a little elbow grease, it can look like new. 

Shower curtains

Most shower curtains can be washed in a delicate cycle in your washing machine, but make sure to check the packaging before doing so. We don’t want a bigger mess on our hands, do we? If your shower curtain is gross and not able to be washed, consider repurposing it as a painting cloth drop. You can easily tape it up with painter’s tape on your next project.

If you have a fabric curtain, wash and dry according to the instructions on the packaging. You might be able to Google the directions if you remember the name brand. If you’re feeling wild, go ahead and call the manufacturer for instructions.

Kitchen

Fridge, Cabinets, and furniture

Oh my! It would help if you started your cleaning adventure in the kitchen by cleaning out all food items and unplugging your fridge before tackling this massive task. Once all your food is out and the device is unplugged, go ahead and use dish soap and a rag to get the sticky-icky out! It isn’t odd to use dish soap because it’s a degreaser and helps break down the oils and residue left behind. If your fridge is easy to move, push it or pull it out from its spot and clean underneath it. When finished, toss expired food. Are there items that you can dispose of properly? Check the packaging to see if you can recycle via the Hefty Bag program or locally.

Use a microfiber rag to clean cabinet fronts. Consider grabbing the vacuum with a crevice attachment to go deep into your cabinets and drawers. Once all the junk is out, wipe it down with disinfectant.

Chairs, chair legs, and kitchen table legs can be whipped down with a rag and disinfectant spray. Keep in mind the material of your furniture and plan accordingly.

Wash trash bins and recycling cans with warm soapy water and a rag or sponge.

Oven and stove top

There are three convenient ways to clean the oven. The oven’s self-cleaning setting might be the easiest, but make sure your kitchen is well ventilated, remove anything inside the oven (or that fancy little drawer below it), and run the cycle. If your oven doesn’t have this option, you can clean it with a baking soda paste and a scrubber. If you have to, grab a specialty product from Target (but stay focused on your task at hand! It can get wild in there.)

If you have a gas stovetop, you can soak the metal grates in soapy water and clean them with a scrubby before returning them to the stovetop.

Clean the entire thing if your stove has a glass top or stovetop with electric coils.

Microwave and dishwasher

Grab your sponge and all-purpose cleaner to clean the microwave. Remove the tray and toss it in the dishwasher. Whip the exterior with the same sponge and finish it off with a microfiber cloth. So fresh, so clean!

Usually, the dishwasher is the one working overtime, but not this time, baby!

Empty it, whip the inside and out and clean the filter. A good tip is to splash 1 cup of vinegar in it and run the machine on the highest cycle. When finished, let the machine air out by cracking it a bit. If you’re worried about animals climbing in, consider giving them a break at the dog park or putting them in a room for a few hours. Finish off the dishwasher’s exterior with some glass cleaner and microfiber cloth. And honestly, folks: You should be cleaning your dishwasher monthly like this.

Kitchen Sink and Countertops

Pay special attention to areas around your kitchen faucet. It’s where goobers, like leftover Chinese food and chip crumbs, like to hide! When cleaning the countertops, toss everything on to the floor for my big sweep later or more responsibly into the trash, then scrub stuck-on-food spots with soapy water and a scrubber.

Once I’ve got all the stickies off the countertop, disinfect with an all-purpose cleaner. You can use this method for backsplash, faucets, and countertops. It’s essential to use a disinfectant and follow proper instructions for contact times and reasonable dilution practices.

Pro-tip: Consider dropping lemon juice down the garbage disposal and run it with hot water for a fresher smelling kitchen sink.

Bedroom

Tell Marvin Gaye not tonight! It’s time to throw all your linens into the washing machine according to their manufacturer’s instructions. The Sleeping Foundations recommends washing sheets once per week, and we’re cool with that. It’s a good idea to make sure you have a back-up pair of sheets if you don’t have time to wash (or you’re lazy like me and forget to switch the load for 23 years).

Every six months, you should rotate your mattress. If you need to freshen it up, sprinkle some baking soda on it and then let it sit for an hour before vacuuming it up.

Scoot your bed over and vacuum under it. The Lord only knows what dusty creatures have built up under there over time. You might even find a few socks that are missing their mates (and probably 34 cat or dog toys).

Use a polishing or furniture cleaner and a microfiber cloth to whip headboards, dressers, and side tables.

Pillows and comforters can be washed once a year if your washing machine can’t hang (or if it’s not large enough), considering going to a local laundromat.

Living room and common areas

It would help if you vacuumed the upholstery. Lift cushions, grab anything you might have lost, and vacuum underneath them—Spot clean as needed.

Pro-tip: There’s no need to Google what upholster is (like I did when writing this). It’s furniture with soft coverings made with fabric, padding, springs, and wedding. It’s your couch, chair, and loveseat.

Wipe down furniture with a microfiber cloth. Make sure it’s a bit damp to trap excess dust.

Closets

Take everything out and reorganize it. It’s really the only way. While everything is out and about, vacuum the floor and whip down any organizational units. When you put your items back in, don’t pack them tight. Hang them the correct way.

If you need to donate things, make sure you do it responsibly.

Laundry room

When was the last time you washed your washing machine? Wipe down the exteriors with an all-purpose spray and a microfiber cloth. Clean your washing machine interior according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Throughout the home

More often than not, people miss cleaning baseboards and walls. You can use a simple hack I found on YouTube to clean these.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EKypSreDbM
Don’t Forget the Baseboards

Light fixtures

Dust bunnies LOVE light fixtures. Turn off the light, then use a vacuum attachment to suck those buggers up. You can use a damp microfiber cloth as well.

For ceiling fans, consider the mess you may make when cleaning. Use newspaper sheets or a paint drop cloth (fibers can be washed) to catch any potential dust. Wipe down each blade with an all-purpose cleaner and a damp cloth.

Floors

You should be cleaning, mopping, sweeping, and vacuuming often.

For deep cleaning, focus on pesky hard-to-remove stains and addressing high traffic areas where dirt has built up. Grout tiles may need more time and attention.

However, start with the basics of how you would generally clean hardwood or laminate floors. You can sweep, mop, and let dry. Then, go back in for the tougher stains. It makes things easier.

Carpet set stains may be cleaned with a 1:1 mixture of water, white vinegar, and a few dish soap drops. Blot the spot with a cloth so that you lift it (rather than rubbing it back into the carpet). If you use a specialty cleaner, test it on the spot first because you don’t want it to damage your carpet potentially. We don’t want you to add a new carpet to your list of things to buy. If you’re feeling up for it, consider renting a steam cleaner or borrowing from a friend.

Windows

Let there be LIGHT! It’s a good idea to remove any dirt or dust with a vacuum before spraying a cleaning product. Once you’ve sucked up the dirt, you can roll a towel up and use soapy water and a sponge to clean away the first layer of dirt. Squeegee windows dry, and this towel will catch any excess dirty water. Then use a microfiber cloth and glass cleaner to make the window shine.

Keep in mind! If your windows are wood or metal, you’ll need to care for them a bit differently. Wooden window sills shouldn’t be saturated with cleaning products or aqua. To clean these, use a damp microfiber cloth and spray with a little bit of wood or all-purpose cleaner.

Snacking Sustainably : 11 Snack Hacks to be More Sustainable 

sustainable-snack-tips. WilcoWellness

 

Snacking Sustainably :

Chips, granola bars, and fruit snacks come

wrapped in plastic (which NEVER goes away).

In this blog, learn how to reduce waste while snacking.

Does supermarket waste drive you bonkers? Good. It should! Negative publicity and consumer demand for plastic-free veggie and fruit are creating a ripple across American grocery stores and supermarkets. Slowly but surely, change – big, I might add, is happening. It’s quite encouraging either way.

In this blog, we hope to raise awareness about a topic that doesn’t get too much direct attention. One that is worse for the environment, for animals, and for humans. It’s food waste.

Before diving deep into my hacks to reduce food waste at home, you’ll need to understand why consumer awareness in Western countries is vital.

 

Snacking Sustainably – Are you aware of the dangers of plastic? 

If we hope to prevent 80 billion lbs. of food from going to USA landfills each year, we need to discuss how grocery stores’ unethical practices are leading to vast quantities of edible food being wasted.

Nearly 40% of plastic created each year comes from the packaging of single-use products. These products are typically only used one time before they’re thrown away and forgotten. It’s easy not to think that it makes much of a difference.

If you have the privilege of not living so close to a landfill, it may be easier to pretend your garbage doesn’t have a global impact.

 

LANDFILLS ARE RUNNING OUT OF ROOM!

Landfills are running out of space, and trash companies want to expand the limit on how high they can stack garbage. Think the more garbage being processed, the more money in their pockets. Unfortunately, people that live near these landfills have to deal with the views, and it’s quite unsightly.

What’s the problem? People create garbage. It’s not only in the Wilco area; it’s all over the world. According to the EPA, the average American citizen produces around 5.91 lbs. of trash, with about 1.51 being recycled. As an average, that’s about 4.40 lbs. of daily waste per person. If you’re a family of 4, that is 17.7 lbs. of trash per household per day and over 123 lbs. bs per week!

If families could cut back on one pound per person per day, it means that a family of four’s waste would be nearly down to 96 lbs. in a week. That is huge! However, we need to think big picture. What if we could get our community to reduce waste?

 

Snacking Sustainably – What does it mean to be “sustainable?”

While “zero waste” is impossible, “low waste” is achievable. We don’t need a million people doing “zero waste” or even “low waste” perfectly. We need a million people trying to cut back their waste. Sustainability means avoiding the depletion of our natural resources in order to maintain a good ecological balance. There is no Planet B. We must take care of the one we have. It’s not that difficult to make a few conscientious decisions to help the bigger picture. Establishing a slightly-altered routine would be ideal for helping reduce our global garbage problem.

 

While there are many ways to reduce waste, this blog is about limiting waste with a focus on snacks!

Individually packaged snacks have got to go! Try limiting purchase.

Snacks! Yum, I love snacks. You love snacks. We all love snacks, but it’s unfortunate that they come all tangled up in plastic packaging, which is one of the worst waste generators around. Think about all the goldfish, granola bars, and fruit snacks – all wrapped in single-use plastic! While some packaging can be recycled at home, most of it can’t!

The following suggestions will help give you ideas for how to reduce the amount of food packaging you buy (and therefore throw away) and ideas for how to store snacks without wastefulness.

Note: We do understand that some food packaging is unavoidable, and sometimes lower bargain prices and availability in our area will dictate final choices. Remember, “zero waste” isn’t all or nothing. We encourage you to do the best you can with what you have! That’s all anyone can really do!

 

Invest in Containers!

Investing in alternative containers is a must, especially if you are serious about reducing single-use plastic. Think about where you typically bring snacks. Do you have children? Do you need to snack on the way home from work? There are so many options that can be custom-fit to your needs.

First off, saying that we love stasher bags is an understatement. What’s a word that means more than love? Silicone Stasher bags replace Ziplock bags, seal incredibly well, and can be put in the microwave, freezer, dishwasher, and oven. They’re absolutely incredible.

The price of stasher bags might lag your decision to purchase, but try grabbing one of the smaller versions, and you’ll be hooked soon enough. There are many “like stashers” on the market, but I promise they’re not worthy of your time.

Another alternative would be to grab beeswax wrap, which is an alternative to plastic cling wrap. You can make yourself or purchase from an eco-friendly store. The beeswax wrap is awesome because it’s natural and reusable while sealing containers of any shape.

Additionally, I want to recommend reusable produce bags. As obvious as it should sound, I want to recommend reusable produce bags. There’s no point in going to the grocery store with intentions of reducing your waste if taking home little plastic bags happens every time.

 

How to reduce individual packaging? 

While at the grocery store or farmers market, search for whole foods. Why? Many of these nutritious foods come low-waste and healthy to snack on.

Skip the little plastic bag that helps “keep them together” in your buggy, and consider bringing reusable produce bags.

When you get home from the market, consider prepping your veggies and fruits for meals right away. For example, chop up tomatoes and onions for an upcoming taco meal (and compost the rest). Storing prepared carrots and celery in water in the fridge can help keep them crispy, fresh, and ready to eat. These snack hacks save time, money and earn big “eco-points.”

You can totally use Stasher bags when grocery shopping. If you plan on freezing a product – like meat or veggies, consider filling your stashers with the product, purchasing and directly tossing it into the fridge. It really is more convenient! There’s a “tar weight” written on the side of the bags that the cashier can subtract for the total weight of your products.

 

Reduce waste in Dairy

Let’s be honest! Between all the cheese, milk, and yogurt, Dairy is a big part of a child’s life. Unfortunately, most dairy products come in single-use plastics.

  • DIY: If you’re feeling brave enough, consider making your own dairy products, like yogurt. Not only can you control what goes into the product, but it helps the environment.
  • Cheese: Cheese doesn’t have to be a big “no-no!” Some ways to reduce waste with cheese are to bring in your own stasher bag or beeswax wraps at the deli. Ask them to put your cheese in these helpful products to cut back waste. If this is not ideal, consider purchasing cheese in bulk and slicing off individual servings for snacks.

 

Make & Bake at Home

Snacks made in your cozy kitchen are typically healthier and tastier than store-bought! Not only can we avoid preservatives by using whole grains, but I’m also able to control how much sugar goes into our delicious snacks. In fact, whipping up homemade granola bars and crackers are a staple in our home. Get creative by freezing muffins or “power balls” when Snacking Sustainably.

 

Avoid Single-Use Plastic & Wrappers when possible

Remember those beeswax wraps! Those come in very handy when making homemade snacks.

Learn how to make a snack wrap here:

 

Shop in Bulk!

Not all bulk items are created equal. For instance, Costco offers great discounts for bulk items, but most of it comes in individually wrapped items, but in larger quantities.

However, there are some stores locally that will help you reach your zero waste goals.

Suppose you or your kids love a product, like Veggie Straws, and cannot live without them. It’s okay to go to Costco or Sam’s club and purchase these items. It is better to get the bigger bag and sort them out at home (in smaller, non-plastic containers) than it is to buy individual bags.

Outside of big bulk stores, shop around bulk bin stores for home staples. We’re talking flour, nuts, seeds, chocolates, candies, beans, and rice. It’s a good idea to bring your own jars and, and storage stasher bags. Know the tear weight before filing for easier checkout for Snacking Sustainably.

 

Where can I find these products?

Check out Sanctuary Holistic Kitchen in their new location for products you can pick up in Williamson County.

Screw Plastic makes and sells handmade items to help folks begin the journey towards moving a  little closer to Zero-waste Living. Linda is often found at the Wolf Ranch Farmers Market on Saturdays and she has a website you may order from. Follow her on Facebook for great tips.

 

Here is a list of a few of our favorite sustainable companies online where you can find great products, great ideas, and even great gifts:

 

Earth Hero – Not only products but a few books to provide ideas and more simple tips

Nature Bee Beeswax wrapsIt is all about the best beeswax wraps!

Yes Straws – Love a good smoothie or a frozen drink on the beach? Enjoy your favorite beverage with a Yes Straw.

Samba-Sol – Dress up your party to the picnic with a little Samba in your Sol. Beautiful footwear from beautiful people who know how to really be, well,  Snacking Sustainably!

Bambu – Finish up the Party with eco-friendly dishware from Bambu. Non-plastic and certified organic that you can use every day or just for a picnic.

 

If you’re really ready to snack more responsibly without the waste, there are definitely ways to make it happen. When you are stuck in a rut and finding it difficult, reach out to zero waste groups online. We promise that you are not alone in this journey to contribute to Earth’s better health. We believe any attempt at living ‘greener’ is a step in the right direction. Thank you for reading along!

Thank you for Snacking Sustainably!

DIY Christmas Gifts

Shop with thought - buy nothing

Wilco Wellness challenges you to re-think your annual Black Friday Holiday shopping

Black Friday creeps earlier and early every year, right into the time meant for giving thanks, counting blessings, and spending time with family and friends. International Buy Nothing Day encourages individuals to individuals to protest against consumerism by consuming and producing less waste on this day. Do you really need that $8 toaster anyways? Put a little thought into a gift before you spend and please do not shop just for the sake of shopping.

Wilco Wellness challenges you to re-think your annual Black Friday Holiday shopping with sustainability in mind. Check out these fresh ideas for your loved ones this holiday season:

  •  Reusable straws to cut back on single-use plastic
  • Beeswax food wrap to protect soups and salads
  • Traveling coffee mug
  • Reusable coffee pods
  • Mesh produce bags for the farmers’ market
  • Reusable sandwich bags
  • Candle in jar from local farmer’s market
  • Cast iron cookware

Here’s a video on “DIY” Christmas Gifts People Actually Want: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jK7kVwxmUAY&t=23s

There is an amazing DIY gift at the end of the video! Enjoy

Plastic Dishes and silverware, oh No!

sustainable thanksgiving

Tips on Creating Zero Waste at Thanksgiving Dinner

Welcome to 2019 Thanksgiving, we’re getting eco-friendly and heading towards a zero-waste effort around the holiday season. Include Earth in your list of life’s important things to celebrate (along with family, friends, and food). With consumerism at its all-time high, now is a great time too, not only give gratitude and show serenity but take action against waste with these zero waste tips: 

The Earth will THANK you for these tips:

Buy local from the Farmers Markets.

  1.         Buying local boosts the local economy
  2.         cuts back on plastic waste
  3.         Tastes much better
  4.         More nutritious bang for your buck   
  • Donate leftovers to the college student and their friends.
  • Reusable and multi-purpose cookware and serving dishes are always a good idea. 
  • Boil down your bones to make broth to reuse for a warm meal later in the year
  • Borrow flatware if you don’t have grandma’s fancy china just yet. Or get a great mix match from the local Salvation Army store. They have great serving stuff from glassware to plates to forks and knives. Gift the serving dishes to your local student.
  • Too much turkey? You can make some excellent soups. Hop on Pinterest for more inspiration!
  • Compost what you cannot eat. 
  • Plan ahead and ask for help from some relatives. You shouldn’t have to make such a big meal by yourself! 
  • Use compostable plates and utensils if you absolutely must. 
  • Ditch bottled water and sugary drinks. Honestly,
  • Check out Greenmoxie for more ideas on decorations and earthy fun.

 

10 Ways to go Zero Waste in the Bathroom

bathroom zero waste swaps

How many products do you use in the morning while getting ready for the day?

Typically, there are around 12-14 products used. And each of those products has containers that need to make their way out of the home when finished. These products are typically put on in the most wasteful room in the house – the Bathroom. Products vary from moisturizer, make-up, toothpaste, hairspray, lotion, shampoo, and conditioner.

A few scary, plastic facts:

  • Plastic toothbrushes take 400 YEARS to decompose
  • America uses about 50 lbs annually of toilet paper a day
  • Conditioner bottles take 450 years to decompose
  • Disposable diapers accept 500 years to dispose

When you choose to conserve resources and minimalize pollution, you are contributing to the earth’s better good. If you do not, plastics and “goods” are dumped into the landfill for hundreds and thousands of years to come.

Plastic is convenient and familiar to modern-day. It takes around 1.6 million barrels of oil each year to produce plastic water bottles. Plastic takes way too long to decompose. We’re talking up to 1,000 years to break down! Can you imagine all those water bottles just sitting in the landfill right now? Pointless.

Encourage your family to start small – like with these easy bathroom swaps – to a better life:

  1. One-in-one-out Rule: Use this rule of thumb by not purchasing something unless you run out of a product entirely. Don’t fall into consumer traps by running straight to the store when you run out of one object. This means going through that lotion stash until it’s gone, Karen!
  2. Eco-friendly Menstrual Products: Your period, it’s always a drag – but it doesn’t have to drag down the environment, too. Why not go all-in with a swap to cloth pads, a menstrual cup, or thinx period panties during your monthly flow? Etsy.com for handmade and support to small businesses.
  3. Soap bar: Choose a soap bar to replace your shampoo, conditioner, hand soap by the sink, and body wash. Buy local: Check out natural soaps in our directory!
  4. Deodorant: Another item that you can purchase without the plastic or make your own. Buy local:
  5. Toilet Paper: Overseas, they have it figured out with the bidet attachment. It’s a great addition to getting clean, but it’s expensive. Try buying paper-free toilet paper in bulk or the kind that can be 100% recycled to get started. Who Gives a Crap will donate 50% of profits to help build toilets and improve sanitation in developing countries, and they have fun doing it!
  6. Tooth Brush: You should not have a plastic toothbrush right now – it’s 2019. That plastic toothbrush you use to use is going to be sitting in the landfill for centuries. A compostable bamboo toothbrush is where it’s at! Natural Grocers will have these.

Toothpaste Bites: Spend some time this morning google-ing ‘toothpaste bites’, and you’ll be emailing us a box of thank you chocolates later today. These are little pockets

  1. you pop in your mouth to brush your teeth. Bite toothpaste bits ditches the plastic toothpaste tubes and cares about what ingredients are put go in the body.

Check out this Toothpaste & Mouthwash Tutorial Video!

Don’t forget to choose essential oils that are easy to digest- not all essential oils are created equal. You may find that coconut oil added will smooth some of the taste and make your tummy happier.

  1. Floss: Flossing is essential. However, skip the nylon spool found in the tiny plastic container. You can find silk dental floss on Amazon for relatively cheap. It’ll come in a recyclable, refillable glass container, and the floss itself is compostable (and totally safer for the turtles)!
  2. Paper towels: You don’t need to use paper towels to clean anymore, it’s such a waste. Grab some old t-shirts and cut them up or head to the Good Will to find material to create your own “cleaning rags.” Just wash and toss into the laundry when finished.
  3. Refill hand soap: Buy a glass dispenser and fill it up with your favorite hand soap if the bar soap isn’t your jam. You can buy liquid hand soap in larger containers to cut back on waste.

Did you know that you can actually make your own bathroom essentials? I’ve been learning from Zero Waste Cartel a few tips and tricks!

Going zero waste should not be costly or time-consuming, but an easy swap when things finally run out. It’s not a current trend, it’s a movement. Start making these small swaps in the home, and it will add to the global change amongst us for a safer and healthier world.

In the words of Bea Johnson, “refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot (and only in that order) is my family’s secret to reducing our annual trash to a jar since 2008.”

What’s Buzzing with Honey Health Benefits?

September national honey month

Honey health benefits brought to you by a real busy bee!

Have you ever thought about the Bees that make the honey and the process involved? Turns out every third bite of food we eat is affected by honey bees. There are a variety of insects that perform the task of pollination however the honey bees are the premier pollinators because they work thru a variety of growing seasons and will pollinate from almost any agricultural plant. Keep reading for more honey health benefits. 

One honey bee can produce about 1/8th of a teaspoon of honey in a lifetime. That is a lot of honey bees. I started thinking about all the “local “honey on the shelf at the grocery store and decided to do some investigating. 

Honey bees follow scouts out to rich sources of nectar: flowers from gardens and fields. They collect the nectar, spread the pollen then buzz on back to the hives where the nectar is deposited. Worker bees and drones take over at the hive where fanning, cooling, and packaging takes place in the honeycomb with the final step placing a honey cap over the individual comb cell to store the honey. The Queen bee stays buzzy building the family year-round. 

Buzz- fact: MS. Queen is responsible for creating all the baby bees in the hood. As she ages, a new queen will be chosen however the Elder Queen will remain until she passes. Family until the end.

The Beekeeper is the handler of this amazing honey to you process. They know just how and when to place the honeycomb in the extractor and give it a good spin to collect the excess honey which we use in our diets as food and antiviral assistance. On average, a hive will produce about 65 pounds of honey in a year. During the winter seasons the bees use their store for food and energy, it is during these times the beekeepers will leave their bees alone and return when the weather improves and flowers are abundant again.

Buzz Fact: Honey is an amazing natural sugar and more – Did you know that if all else goes whako, a person could survive off water and honey alone?

Honey and the honeycomb contains many secrets:

Honey is an Antibacterial: the FASEB Journal reports that honey has the ability to kill certain bacteria.  A protein known as defensin-1 has been found in medical-grade honeys and the ability to reverse bacterial resistance to antibiotics is under study. Manuka Honey in Australia has long been used for infections and is being tested as an agent to treat MRSA.

An anti-inflammatory: Some evidence suggests that honey may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers that can benefit the brain.

Is now used for wound healing:  a natural antibacterial and antimicrobial agent. It contains hydrogen peroxide and glucose oxidase and has a low pH level, which means it can kill harmful bacteria and fungi. Also, because of its unique chemical composition, it does not help yeast or bacteria to grow.

An Antiviral agent: People have used raw honey (natural/unpasteurized) from the beehive for health benefits for over 8,000 years. Honey in the raw contains bee pollen and bee propolis, which is a sticky, glue-like substance bees use to hold their hive together.

Dietary antioxidants – compounds that act as antioxidants, including phytochemicals, flavonoids, and ascorbic acid. Antioxidants reduce oxidative stress in the body by mopping up free radicals. Studies suggest that eating an antioxidant-rich diet, people can reduce their risk of chronic disease.

Nutrition benefits and possible effects on cholesterol: When organic farm grade honey is combined with Cinnamon there is an amazing potential to lower your risk of heart disease. The “bad” LDL cholesterol has been shown to decrease by 6 – 11% and triglyceride levels also decrease as much as 11%.  The “good” HDL cholesterol increases by about 2%. Try adding this bit of healthy sweetness to your Wheaties in the morning.

Natural honey also provides amino acids and small amounts of the following vitamins and minerals:

Buzz Fact: Keto Diet- You can use the pollen collected at a bee farm in your cooking to address seasonal allergens and helpful anti-allergen effects

*As long as a person is not allergic to bee pollen, raw honey is generally safe to use*

The Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC)recommends honey should not be given to infants under the age of 1 because of the risk of infant botulism. Honey is safe from the age of 1 upwards. This applies to both raw and regular honey.

Shop Local

Raw honey will have a label that reads “raw honey.” If the label does not include the word “raw,” or does not come directly from a farmer or beekeeper who can confirm that it is raw, the manufacturer has probably pasteurized the honey.  Labels may also describe the type of flowers that the bees pollinated to make that honey. The kind of flower determines the taste, color, and antioxidant, and vitamin content of the honey. Many types of pasteurized honey have labels that read “pure honey.” Others may say “clover honey” or may state that they come from a local area. Even products labeled as “organic honey” may not be raw, as some manufacturers do pasteurize organic honey. It is very important to note once honey has been pasteurized or prepared for mass production the natural medicinal values are greatly decreased. The “local raw honey” in a grocery store is most likely only 2% honey.  If you are seeking the full benefit of honey you must buy from a local honey farm or beekeeper at the farmers market!

Now that you know what an important part of our lives this little blessing from God gives us what can you do to support and protect this little guy?

This falls under the Sustainable category
  1. Plant bee-friendly plants in your garden. Here is a list of plants that will grow In central Texas with ease and Beauty: Russian sage, Lavender, Texas lilac, Rose Rock, Abella, Veronica, Star Night, Honey Suckle, Frog Fruits, Pink Skull Caps, and Verbena
  2. Pull weeds by hand and let the Dandelions grow naturally. Pluck the flowers and place them in a vase for your table. The greens are edible if they are free of chemicals. My dad preferred to keep things natural and would say the “weeds mow also and are just as green”. Spraying chemicals on your lawns affect the bee population in reducing numbers, and a bee will not pollinate on a plant sprayed with insecticide. Fewer food sources -fewer bees – less honey. Every time that chemical sprayed on your yard is wet it is absorbed into whatever touches it including you and your pets. Think about the chemicals you may be ingesting just from the lawn thru your skin. If you have problems with fleas and chiggers try Granular Garlic found at your local feed store.
  3. Bees need water to help make honey. Create a simple “bee-bath” with fresh water in a shallow basin with rocks or marbles for the bees to land on.
  4. Eat more honey. Good natural Honey will not be found in a store. There are beekeepers in your neighborhood who often offer classes and tours as well as sell their honey. To get the best go straight to the source.

In Your Backyard: Shop Local at Jackass Honey Farm – Liberty Hill Texas

We spent an afternoon out at Jackass Honey Farm in Liberty Hill, and want to thank Jodi the Queen Beekeeper for this little informative research paper. Jodi is an amazing wealth of information both for beekeeping and organic tips at the ranch. Jackass honey farm provides services such as beekeeper classes, Agricultural information, classes for kids, and a honey shop for all your honey bee needs and their honey health benefits.

Items for beekeeping, natural organic honey central Texas region, honey pet products which will help with wounds and hot paw pad injuries. Candles, skincare, and more. Check out the website https://www.jackasshoneyfarms.com/shop and order that special basket for your family and a friend. Jackass Honey has a storefront and also a Vendor location at Indian Mound Farmers Market on Saturdays in Liberty Hill.

 

Thank you for reading about the honey health benefits. We welcome you to check out more of our articles like this. Additionally, come stop by our directory for local favorites. 

Palm Oil: Deforestation and Killer of Clean Air

palm oil sustainability

Palm Oil: Causing deforestation and loss of wildlife homes and clean air

Let’s talk about the dangers of Palm Oil. National Wildlife Day is a day to focus on preservation and conservation for endangered species and the environment. Everyone can get involved locally by volunteering or by providing donations. The key idea is just to start somewhere and to expand your horizon on critical issues all around the world.

 Educate yourself through seminars, educational programs, podcasts, and seminars. You can even start by researching in your own backyard for little things that you choose to do that can make a difference. We’d like to focus on palm oil and all that it entails.

What is it? 

Palm oil is one of the world’s most versatile raw materials available. Found in the fruit of palm oil trees in Africa (and more recently Malaysia and Indonesia), this oil is frequently used for cooking and baking as it has a high melting point and a long shelf-life. The vegetable type oil grows naturally in tropical rainforests, but can be produced on smaller farms called smallholders or large plantations.

Palm oil is responsible for 8% of the world’s deforestation. Palm oil is in over half of the products purchased from supermarkets, according to Dr. Emma Keller of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). She explains that you can find it in soap and shampoo to pizza and biscuits. This is because it can quickly be processed and mixed to produce a wide range of products including biodiesel, cosmetics, animal feeds, pharmaceutical products, and in the industrial and/or service industries.

Why is it bad?

Forests are being burned down to make room for palm oil trees – even if it’s done illegally. Palm oil is directly linked to the destruction of precious rainforests. Green Palm suggests that over 8% of the world’s deforestation between the years of 1990 and 2008 is due to palm oil production – destroying the homes of animals and plants.

Elephants, tigers, rhinos, and orangutans are being affected. These animals are losing their homes, and it is disrupting the ecosystem.

Not only are there animals losing their homes, but the smog from the fire is creating extreme air pollution levels. Researchers say that the consequences of deforestation are high CO2 emissions and catastrophic loss of biodiversity. What’s even harder to hear is that the expected use for palm oil is supposed to double by 2030.

What do we do?

Palm oil production will only increase in sales over time – even with work trying to stop it. The WWF helps palm oil producers around the world by providing strict rules on how to produce their palm oil with hopes of increasing sustainability.

Manufacturers need to be selective upon which palm oils they purchase for their products, selecting only sustainability produce oil that hasn’t been created in a way that hurt the planet. It’s hard to know which farmers have followed the appropriate guidelines.

Read more about which products contain palm oil.

Labels help consumers choose which products are appropriate, which hasn’t always been a way to purchase.

Riddle me this: Should we stop purchasing products altogether?

WWF suggests that we should still produce and consume palm oil. This is because it’s more efficient than other vegetable oil alternatives, but do make sure the brands that are purchased come from an appropriate manufacturer, one that is certified and produced with sustainability in mind. You can do this by checking labels and continue to educate yourself on environmental issues.

Thank you for reading this blog