KAB Asks: What is Your Green Resolution?

by Cindy Pantea

Happy New Year’s Eve Day! Are you making any green New Year’s Resolutions?

Me?

Well, I purchased a Sodastream soda maker on sale and also received a rebate. Even though I do not drink soda, I love seltzer water and was happy to learn that the Sodastream even has an exchange program for the CO2 containers. This little gem is really cutting down on my plastic bottle recycling. I have also made the sodas for guests, and they really enjoy the taste.

My other plan is to put my a few paper or reusable grocery bags in the seat pocket of the car. I noticed that many times I stop at the grocery store on the way home from work for just a few items. With making an effort to have the bags always in the seat pocket, I won’t need to worry about recycling so much.

Other Green Resolutions

Since I was thinking about green resolutions, I decided to check out what others are planning for a green New Year. Here are some good ideas:

  1. Avoid hygiene products with triclosan. According to an article in the New York Times, this chemical, found in many antibacterial soaps, may be harmful to humans. Side note: Purell handwash from Akron, Ohio’s GOJO Industries contains no triclosan.
  2. Meatless Mondays. Being a little vegetarian on Mondays is healthy, animal friendly and environmentally friendly.
  3. Gardening. Whether you decide to grow an herb indoors – like, perhaps a medicinal calendula or start a tomato plant from seed or plan a whole garden for the spring, it is a really good feeling when you successfully grow something yourself – also a great family project.
  4. Save energy. Plug electronics into a power strip and turn off the power strip at night or when you leave the house.

What other good ideas can you come up with? Share by posting a comment. Simply click on the bubble in the upper right corner of the post or click the Leave a Reply link below.

Have a Safe and Happy New Year from all of us at Keep Akron Beautiful.

Great KAB Holiday Party and our Favorite Natural and Eco-Friendly Gifts

by Cindy Pantea

The Keep Akron Beautiful – KAB staff had a lovely holiday lunch party. For Paula, Elaine, Jacqui, Bill, Tim and me, it was great to see Polly and William, Chuck, and Tim from our seasonal staff, our Educational Specialist, Pam, and Pat, our retired Administrative Assistant. It was fun to share a lunch and talk about our holiday traditions…and then…PRESENTS.

While some of us handed out the made-with-love cookies and candies and other crafty, practical gifts like a homemade microwave baked potato bag, others gave beautifully scented talcs and candles and still others gave delightful keepsake ornaments. However, we could not stop talking about the great gift ideas that were natural and/or eco-friendly – calendula salve, homemade vanilla, and Skoy cloths.

Calendula Salve

Calendula salve was a favorite gift of KAB staffPolly Kaczmarek, Keep Akron Beautiful Flowerscape Director, gave homemade calendula salve, which is wonderful on minor scrapes, dry skin, diaper rash and more. After researching online, I found that there are several recipes that are all similar, and it is fun to make as a family. Below are a couple of sites that have nice instructions to follow. Notice that they add lavendar essential oils – I also found that you can substitute rosemary oil, peppermint oil, and other essential oils, too:

http://adelightfulhome.com/how-to-make-calendula-salve-and-why-you-should/

http://mountainroseherbs.com/newsletter/06/heal-from-the-outside_in.php

Homemade Vanilla

Jacqui, Keep Akron Beautiful Program Director, made homemade vanilla, which is 5 whole split vanilla beans soaked in 8 oz. of 35%+ alcohol for 8 weeks. Vodka, is most commonly use, but rum, brandy or bourbon can be substituted. Unlike store bought vanilla extract, there are no imitation flavors or chemicals, and, as Jacqui put it, it is the gift that keeps on giving, because you can keep replacing with more alcohol as you use the vanilla. Here is a good site to keep for your homemade gift giving file: http://www.beanilla.com/blog/homemade-vanilla-extract.

Skoy Cloths

Skoy cloths were another favorite gift at KABWe all had to rave about Elaine, Keep Akron Beautiful CFO, though, who gave this practical and eco-friendly present as part of her gift. She gave the 100% biodegradable and natural Skoy cloths. One of these cloths saves 15 rolls of paper towels, they are reusable and machine washable and each can absorb 15 times its own weight.

I don’t know about you, but I am stealing some of these ideas for gifts throughout the year. Meanwhile, I still may have a couple days to find some Skoy cloths for an added Christmas present and/or for stocking stuffers.

Have a joyous holiday from the KAB staff.

Forest Bathing: Recycle and Save a Tree for Your Daily Forest Walk

by Cindy Pantea

America Recycles Day Poster Winner

America Recycles Day first place poster.

You may think this is another Keep Akron Beautiful post about recycling to save the environment, but it isn’t – well…not exactly. It is actually about you, the environment and your well-being. It is about a project that is studying how trees, flowers and overall nature can really be beneficial to you healthwise, especially when it comes to reducing stress.

The project, by the Forestry Agency in Japan, funded by their government since 2004, is proving that shinrin-yoku or forest bathing is lowering blood pressure, reducing cortisol (the stress hormone), decreasing heart rate, lowering sympathetic nerve activity, and hopefully eliminating, karoshi — death by overwork.

What is shinrin-yoku?

Shinrin-yoku is similar to aromatherapy, yoga and/or meditation and is inspired by Shinto and Buddhist practices. It involves taking in nature through all your five senses and breathing in nature’s essential oils.

Sixty-seven percent of Japan’s landmass is covered by forest, and right now 48 official Forest Therapy trails are designated for the Forestry Agency and their rangers to collect data from visitors, like blood pressure, heart rate, etc., for the shinrin-yoku project. It is their goal to have 100 of these sites within the next 10 years.

Their data of 600 research subjects is proving that compared to urban walks, the visitors/research subjects of their Forest Therapy trails have shown a:

  • 12.4 percent decrease in the stress hormone cortisol
  • 7% decrease in sympathetic nerve activity
  • 1.4% decrease in blood pressure
  • 5.8 percent decrease in heart rate

On subjective tests, study participants also report better moods and lower anxiety.

Of course, now I have to say it: All the more reason to recycle paper and save the trees ;-).

Keep Akron Beautiful is for Quality of Life

downtown Keep Akron Beautiful flowerscape

Downtown Akron Keep Akron Beautiful flowerscape.

At Keep Akron Beautiful, our mission is: Improving Akron’s quality of life through beautification and responsbile environmental management. We hope that our beautiful Flowerscapes do their part to lower your stress and improve your quality of life, but don’t forget to take time to get away from town, too, and do a little forest bathing.

Thank you to America in Bloom whose article on the subject first caught my attention. Click the link below for the originating article: http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness/wellness/Take-Two-Hours-of-Pine-Forest-and-Call-Me-in-the-Morning.html?page=1

 

 

Norfolk Pine Houseplant: Eco-Friendly and Versatile

by Cindy Pantea

norfolk pine houseplant, another good environmental choiceJacqui made great points with her blog post: Real Christmas Trees: The Environmental Choice. Yet, I was still dreading having to clean up those needles as they dry out. So, I decided to buy a Norfolk pine houseplant.

From my research, I found that the Norfolk Pine likes high humidity, full or indirect light, its soil kept moist to the touch and fertilizer in the spring and summer months only. It is also slow growing but can reach a height of 8 feet.

Grocery store floral departments carry Norfolk Pine houseplants around the holidays…already decorated. Once Christmas is over, you can replace the decorations with another seasonal theme, enjoy it on the patio in the summer months, and/or reap the benefits of added oxygen in the air of your home.

Will the houseplant really last? I asked the lady in the grocery store floral department who said that she had given her daughter one 10 years ago and she still has it.

I was sold!