The SparkPeople Blog

All Entries For green living

Fun & Functional Gardening Gear for Spring


Gardening season is almost here. Whether you want to start your first herb garden or expand on the number of veggies you grow this year, now is the time to take stock of your tools and accessories and see what you need. And there's no reason why you have to settle for typical hardware store gear. It's easy these days to find cute gardening tools, hats, stools and more. Here are just a few of our favorites:
Posted 4/3/2014  6:00:00 AM By: Megan Patrick : 19 comments   18,733 views
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15 Easy Ways to Go Green on the Cheap


During the past few years, "green" living has gone mainstream. Words like "carbon footprint" are commonplace and many companies are trying to highlight (sometimes even fabricate) how eco-friendly they are so that consumers will view them more favorably.

I have long considered myself an environmentalist, and the fact that eco-friendly options are more readily available and accepted by the masses excites me. But one thing you may wonder, whether you've considered switching to plant-based cleaners, energy star appliances, organic cotton clothing, or a backyard composter made from recycled plastic is this: Why does "doing good" for the earth have to be so darn expensive? Organic, natural, plant-based, recycled, biodegradable, and fair trade do—for the most part—cost more. And that higher expense, unfortunately, deters many consumers from changing their ways.

I care about the planet, but I also live on a budget and want to save money. Luckily, monetary constraints haven't stopped me from incorporating green products and practices into my daily life. In fact, many of the choices I make actually SAVE me money instead of costing more. If you're willing to spend a little time and think creatively, there are plenty of zero- and low-cost options to green your lifestyle, diet and home. In honor of Earth Day tomorrow, I wanted to share some of the cheap ways you can go green to protect our planet.
Posted 4/22/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 126 comments   31,946 views
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The No-More-Excuses Guide to Vegetable Gardening


Spring is here! These sunnier days and warmer temperatures are lifting my spirits and making my runs so much more enjoyable. But the thing that I get most excited about this time of year is my fruit and vegetable garden!

I started gardening for several reasons: to save money, to eat as locally as possible (it doesn't get more local than your own backyard), to have more control over how my food was raised, since I'm a big believer in chemical-free farming. But when I first started out, I was overwhelmed. I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't have a lot of space. I was already busy and thought I didn't have the time to learn or maintain it all.

Despite my fears, this will be my fourth year growing fruits and vegetables in my little yard. While I'm no gardening expert, I have learned a few things. When I talk to others about growing my own food, many say that they wish they could do it, too, BUT [insert excuse here]. If that sounds like you, I'm about to bust the top 5 excuses to not start a garden.
Posted 4/23/2012  9:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 82 comments   16,190 views
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My 7 Best Green Beauty Tips


When I was younger, I loved makeup. I had eyeshadows in every color, dozens of bottles of nail polish, and an overflowing toiletries case. These days, I am trying to accumulate less stuff in this life, and I also pay more attention what's in the products I put on my skin and in my body. Plus, I just don't like wearing makeup and painting my nails as much as I once did.

With Earth Day just around the corner, I thought I would share my favorite green beauty tips with you!

My skin is very forgiving, and I have been able to switch to more natural, vegetable-based soaps instead of fancy face wash. (I love the tea tree oil and peppermint soap from Orange Fuzz.)

Baking soda: Mix a pinch into your face wash or soap and scrub away. It's quite gentle and leaves my skin feeling great.

Posted 4/19/2011  2:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 44 comments   18,886 views
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Reusable Bags May be Hazardous to Your Health


Living an eco-friendly lifestyle is just as much a part of me as living a healthy lifestyle is, and I often think that the two are very much related. While we may all feel differently about how our actions are affecting the planet, I think we can all agree that conserving resources and reducing waste are good steps for everyone. And many things that are good for the planet are great for your body, like walking or biking more, avoiding the harsh chemicals found foods or beauty products, or growing your own food.

One of the first changes many of us have made already was to purchase reusable grocery totes to limit single-use plastic and paper bags from the grocery store. Simple, easy, good for the planet—good all around, right? Well, a recent report found that these bags, while eco-friendly, might be bad for your health.
Posted 6/30/2010  7:14:47 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 286 comments   27,551 views
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Free Reusable Bag Offer from the SparkPeople Store


In case you missed our earlier promotions, I wanted to let you know one more time about the April special going on at SparkPeopleStore.com. For a limited time only, you'll receive a FREE eco-friendly grocery tote (that's it pictured to the left) on all SparkPeople Store orders of $29.99* or more! *Simply enter the promotional code GOGREEN during checkout. This offer is applicable on orders placed April 1-30, 2010 that total $29.99 or more and ship via ground shipping.

You could spend that $29.99 on fitness products (like our Fitness Starter Kit for $29.99), SparkPeople T-shirts ($11.50 and up), or smart portion lunch kits. But to go with the whole "green" theme, I have another idea.
Posted 4/22/2010  6:28:26 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 31 comments   13,103 views
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Poll: Do You Grow Any of Your Own Food?


Like most of you, I love spring—and not just because it allows me to enjoy the outdoors. I am also excited because it marks the start of gardening season! With all the environmental and economic troubles we're facing, gardening is on the rise. Growing your own food on your own land is local food at its best. And it's inexpensive to boot! While healthy food does cost more at the store, growing your own fruits and vegetables can save you tons of money over the course of one season. All you need are some seeds, some dirt and a little water and you can grow your own food!

I am just beginning to plan my new garden and I can't wait to get my hands in the dirt. I've been daydreaming about my garden plans and all the fresh, delicious bounty my little plot will yield in the coming months.

This has led me to wonder: Do you grow any of your own food?
Posted 4/16/2010  7:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 366 comments   20,561 views
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Should You Be Planning a Victory Garden?


Victory Gardens were a popular thing back in the early 1940s. Some referred to them as 'war gardens' while others called them 'food gardens for defense'. In 1943 due to the rationing of canned goods for families, these gardens produced up to 41 percent of all the vegetable produce consumed across the nation.

Several years ago, churches in my area started victory-type gardens to provide fresh produce to food pantries. Not only did this provide a healthier option for folks that were in need of food compared to high sodium canned vegetables, it also renewed an interest in backyard gardening in our suburban area.

Today victory-type gardens are becoming popular once again but with a different goal. Today, self-reliance has become a motivating factor behind home gardening. When you grow your own food you increase the ability to control how it is grown, what you pay and how much will be available. With the hint of spring in the air, now is the time to begin garden planning, planting designs and preparation. Here are some simple ideas to help you plan a victory-type garden for your family.

Posted 3/1/2010  1:32:37 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 170 comments   15,570 views
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3 Creative Ways to Use Your Garden Surplus


There are many benefits to growing your own food in a backyard garden. Early in the summer, many of us are able to keep up with what our gardens produce as we take our precious products from the garden directly to our tables. As the summer goes on, keeping up can become a challenge. We check the garden before heading out of town on vacation and realize there are many things that are ripe and ready for use but we don't have time to do anything with them. Or, perhaps our green thumbs have produced more than we can keep up with at the table and our storage space is already filled to capacity. What are we to do?

Here are 3 creative ideas to help you put your extra garden produce to good use.
Posted 7/2/2009  10:03:43 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 54 comments   10,254 views
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10 Reasons to Spend Your Food Dollars at a Farmers Market


This dailySpark guest blog post was written by a SparkPeople member whose healthy lifestyle is fueled by fresh food from her local farmers markets. Here, she shares tips on eating at a farmers market.

By Christina Certo (BANANAFISH711)

Embracing the bounty of the summer harvest season is a great way to help turn your weight-loss journey into a permanent healthy lifestyle. One excellent way to do this is by seeking out local farmers markets and roadside farm stands in your area.

Here are 10 reasons to buy produce from your local farmers market this season:
Posted 6/29/2009  12:06:48 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 147 comments   15,221 views
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6 Reasons to Visit a Pick-Your-Own Farm this Summer


Last week, my good friend blogged about going strawberry picking with her husband and two kids. They visited a "pick your own" farm and picked 20 pounds (yes, POUNDS) of strawberries. All it cost them was 2 hours of their time and about $30.

If you're familiar with how much strawberries cost at the supermarket—and I surely am, since they are my favorite fruit in the world and I wait ALL YEAR for strawberry season—then you know how expensive they can be. One quart of strawberries (approximately 2 pounds of fruit) at the store can cost up to $4 to $8, depending on the season and region where you live—especially if you buy organic, since strawberries are one of the most heavily sprayed crops).

But monetary cost is only one part of the food equation. In truth, these berries often travel hundreds or thousands of miles from the farms where they were grown to the shelves in your supermarket. That has a high environmental cost—but even if you don't care much about that, it still affects the flavor, freshness and nutrient levels of your food. The longer any fruit or vegetable goes from farm to table, the more vitamins are lost along the way. And I won't even get into the taste! When was the last time you ate a vine-ripened, sunshine-warmed strawberry—or any fruit or vegetable for that matter—straight off the plant? If you said "Never," or that you "Can't remember," then my friend, it is time for you to make like a farmer and head to the fields pick your own.
Posted 6/12/2009  11:46:49 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 171 comments   14,342 views
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Will You Ride Your Bike to Work This Friday?


This Friday, May 15, is National Bike-to-Work Day, one of many events scheduled to celebrate Bike Month.

SELF magazine is celebrating National Bike Month by showing how bicycling can slim you down, save you money and safeguard the environment. Whether it’s the best in biking gear or pointers on proper positioning, SELF gets your gears in motion in time for Bike-to-Work day on May 15.

3 reasons to push pedals
Posted 5/13/2009  5:50:02 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 201 comments   5,765 views
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Quick Tips: Home Remedies That Save the Day


Last week I was feeling under the weather and determined I was suffering from allergies. Well, that allergy attack morphed into a behemoth of a head cold, which then bestowed upon me a wicked sinus infection and clogged ears.

Around the same time I blogged about colds vs. allergies, I was writing an article for our sister site, BabyFit.com, about natural home remedies. Kismet, it was.
Posted 11/6/2008  7:08:16 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 85 comments   8,885 views
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The Great Debate Over Plastic Water Bottles


Plastic water bottles and their potential health risks are a hot topic in the news these days. How do you know if you’re at risk? Is it really something to be concerned about?
Posted 10/1/2008  4:39:33 PM By: Jen Mueller : 107 comments   9,194 views
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The Two-Mile Challenge That Could Save the World


Looking for a simple way to do your health, your pocketbook, and your planet some good in 30 minutes or less?

Try the 2 Mile Bike Challenge.
Posted 8/16/2008  4:24:21 PM By: Dean Anderson : 51 comments   3,699 views
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