Soap Nuts: Nature’s Detergent

Soap Nuts: Nature’s Detergent

Saponin, found in the soap nut berry from the Chinese Soapberry tree, can be used as an organic alternative to chemically laden cleaners. The shells from the berry, called soap nuts, can actually make soapsuds without any additives. The natural ability of soap nuts as an effective cleanser has been known for hundreds of years, especially for laundry use. They are still currently grown and widely used in India and China, as well as other parts of the world. Soap nuts can be put in a sealed laundry bag and placed directly with clothes in the washing machine. These can… read more

Natural Flea Repellents

Natural Flea Repellents

We have all spotted them, the small black specks that flit across the house, jumping onto your pet’s hair and your own. Fleas are a major concern amongst pet owners and non-pet owners alike. They are wingless but still can maneuver quite quickly as they are world-class jumpers of the animal kingdom – second only to the froghopper. Even in the winter fleas can nest in your home, where they lay eggs, feed off our pets, and burrow into our hair. Is it any wonder we go great lengths to avoid them? Not so much. But there is the question… read more

Which Plant Is That?

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Scientifically appointed plant names are more than a sophisticated, pretentious alternative to a plant’s common name. While vernacular or common names may be more identifiable to gardeners – and easier to remember – they are no substitute for botanic names. As with medical terms, botanic names have information attached to them. Botanical names are binomials that draw on Latin genus and species, and for a binomial to be legitimate, it must conform to the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature. Unlike medical terms, however, what the name makes reference to may be less obvious, as it could pertain to the appearance,… read more

Homemade Hairspray

Homemade Hairspray

Use of commercial hairspray is known to cause considerable damage to the environment. Hairspray contains volatile organic compounds, known as VOCs. These include chlorine, fluorine, and carbon, or CFC’s. Just a few sprays send these chemicals up to the ozone, where they will break apart thousands of ozone particles. This damage reduces our protection from UV rays and will eventually lead to global warming. That’s a pretty potent blow coming from 15km or so below. Hairspray’s immediate damage is found in its negative effects on your health. The formaldehyde found in many commercial hairsprays can lead to migraines, low blood… read more

Can Buildings Make Us Sick?

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A common but under-estimated ailment shared by many is the inability to focus. Whether whittling away the hours at the office or tucked away in your home, a nagging distraction of unidentifiable origins debilitates your daily tasks and rituals. You think it could be attributed to a single source; the lulling hum of the air-conditioner, the low clatter of voices in the other room, perhaps even the buzzing of electronics you employ to conduct your work. Yet, should you remove yourself to another crevice of the building, away from any single commotion, you remain in relatively the same state as… read more

Restaurant Cups: Half Empty or Half Full?

Restaurant Cups: Half Empty or Half Full?

Many restaurants still offer one use beverage containers. Although this may create some apprehension in customers who would prefer not to toss out, sometimes you don’t have the choice. Restaurants alone generate tons of waste. Included in this is packaging from things like cups, in which billions are produced each year. Styrofoam provides one case where toss away convenience has lent to devastating problems. This substance does not break down, and left to sit in landfills can cause environmental and health problems. Though Styrofoam is still continuing to be phased out by laws and regulations, the U.S. still produces enough… read more

Americans Driving Less Each Year

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In 2005, driving to and from destinations was at its peak in the United States. Regardless of just how far that destination was from home, we’d hop in our Ford Explorer’s and Chevy Impala’s and chug away down the street. However, that lifestyle is fading, and we can all breath a sigh of relief. This is good news. In fact, it’s great news. Less driving in cars means more walking, biking, mass transit, you name it. Reducing our planet’s carbon levels is (or should be) priority number one for most countries, especially the worst offending ones (I’m looking at you,… read more

The Bioneers

The Bioneers

Hatched in 1990, the idea of the Bioneers, a word that was introduced by Kenny Ausubel, began to spring into action. Bioneers as defined, seek to uphold biological and cultural diversity, and take a more natural approach to the scientific and medicinal fields. Also biomimicry, or going back to nature as the model for problem solving, is the school of thought. Bioneers include a group of earth aware, educated individuals demanding change and examining new and justifiable ways of arriving at solutions. Initially, Bioneer efforts were interested in native cultural and bio-diversification, sustainable farming and conservation. Bioremediation, or naturally dealing with… read more

Black Rice Benefits

Black Rice

Sometimes found tucked into packets of white rice, if not overlooked altogether, black rice is a sticky variety of rice that offers a vast selection of vitamins and nutrients not prevalent in other varieties. Like other foods of darker shades, it is generally better for you than its lighter colored counterparts like white rice, which pales in comparison. This is not mere coincidence; it owes its dark shade to the anthocyanin antioxidants it contains. Its color also garners it the names of ‘purple rice’ and ‘forbidden rice’. Don’t let the latter deter you. The only reason ever to neglect this grain,… read more

Natural Treatments for Insect Bites and Stings

Natural Treatments for Insect Bites and Stings

Spending time outdoors can unfortunately come with the drawback of pests. Bites and stings are a nuisance, but there are natural treatments to help ease irritation and itchiness without using a fog of chemically laden products. For bites and stings that are bothersome, looking in the kitchen or pantry is likely to turn up some effective natural remedies. Though a normal reaction may be to swat at the area or incessantly scratch it, this can worsen the problem and cause more of an insect’s irritating poison to enter the system. Instead, calmly remove any stingers or remnants and clean the… read more