Easy Eco-Friendly Home Hacks That Save Money

While many view eco-living home renovations as drains on a bank account, there are a number of ways that going green can actually save you money.

I see a lot of articles online talking (or rather complaining) about how expensive it is to live an eco-friendly life. Sure, installing state of the art solar panels is going to run you an easy $20,000 but no one said you have to go that far just to reduce your carbon footprint.

In reality, choosing to make your home more environmentally friendly can actually save you money every month. Don’t believe me? Well, I have proof!

Cook From Scratch

Its no secret that cooking at home with fresh ingredients saves an incredible amount of money, but have you ever considered it’s eco-friendly benefits? I hadn’t either, but it makes sense when you think about it.

When you use fresh ingredients from the farmer’s market or your garden, you eliminate much of the energy used in processed foods. Processing in an industrial kitchen that certainly eats up energy; then food is wrapped up in plastic and hauled on a truck all the way to the constantly-running freezers at the supermarket. Cooking with local produce is a simple way to save money and do your part to conserve energy.

Use a Pressure Cooker

This was another one that I found surprising. Using a pressure cooker to make meals saves an astounding amount of energy when compared to other cooking methods. It also happens to be much faster way to get the job done.

That means less time waiting for a hot meal, less energy wasted, and less money spent on your electric bill.

Food

Start a Garden and Go Vegetarian

This is a two-for-one win in my book. Growing green beans, salad greens, and cherry tomatoes instead of buying veggies at the store can save you a ton of money in a year’s time. Even growing herbs in your windowsill can save hundreds over time.

Aside from zero-energy consumption, growing your own garden also allows you to make more veggie dishes than meaty ones. Not only is this cheaper, but greenhouse gas emissions have gone up in the past decade from an increase in livestock raised for slaughter. Saving animals, reducing causes of climate change, eating healthier, and saving money all at the same time is about as green as you can get.

My runners up for this list were:

  • Line dry clothes
  • Take shorter showers
  • and switch to organic cleaning products

What eco-lifestyle choices have helped you to reduce your carbon footprint while saving money each month?

What Exactly is Ecotourism?

Maybe you’ve heard of the term ecotourism before, maybe you haven’t. Either way, this post is here to inform you on this absolutely fantastic way of travel.

Everything seems to be going “eco” these days, and that couldn’t make me any happier. From the spur in health consciousness to business adopting environmentally friendly practices, the world is slowly becoming a better, more sustainable place.

Ecotourism is one of the practices people around the globe have been picking up, but what exactly is it? How does one do it? These questions an more are all answered below!

Defining Ecotourism

The International Ecotourism Society defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education.” Essentially, it means leaving only your footprints behind when you visit a location.

The Principles

As with any movement, there are a set of principles to follow when practicing this form of travel. It starts with minimizing any impact you may have on the environment as well as the culture and people of the area. That can be as simple as not leaving your trash on a hiking path, or something more thought-driven like respecting the customs of a particular religion or culture.

Hills

Aside from respecting the people of the area, I try to contribute direct financial support for any conservation efforts they make. Alternatively, I could financially help the surrounding area by choosing to buy from only local small businesses. I would also avidly work to conserve natural resources by using as little power and water as possible.

The end goal is to unite conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. Some even take things a step further by choosing to stay in the area and work to market it as an ecotourist location while helping to construct low-impact facilities and aiding the indigenous people of the area in conservation efforts.

Others choose to become interpreters who uphold the area’s spiritual beliefs and create positive interactions between visitors and indigenous people.

Sustainable Travel Just Makes Sense

Traveling to a new location is always an exciting adventure, but enjoying and preserving the beauty of nature while doing it is even more of an enriching experience. As traveler’s, we have to do our part to preserve environments and cultures around the world before industrialization and mega corporations decimate them.

What are your thoughts on ecotourism? Where have you traveled to recently where you could put these principles into action? I would love to hear about it!

The Importance of Healthy Fats

Fats are something we’ve all been trained to avoid, but there are a group of fats that our bodies need to stay healthy.

During the carb-crazy dieting years, fats received a lot of flack from the general public and dietitians alike. As it turns out, some fats are actually good for you. What foods contain them, and how much should you eat in a day?

If you’ve been searching for an answer to the fat dilemma, then I have the answers you crave.

The Two Fats

Not all fats are created equal, and it is important to understand the differences between them. There are mainly two types; saturated and unsaturated.

Unsaturated fats are oils, meaning that they stay liquid at room temperature. Saturated fats, on the other hand, turn into a gelatinous solid at room temperature. While we do need both in out diet, less saturated fat is what we should be aiming for.

How Fat Helps

Our bodies use both types of fat as a source of energy as well as a way to store it. It also helps us to absorb certain nutrients, like vitamins A and E, along with antioxidants. I was surprised to find out that these fats also help support our cell structure.

So, fat really isn’t that bad for us after all! We need it, we just don’t need it in the same way we need water.

Where to Cut Back

The trick to not letting fats make us fat is by cutting back on the saturated kind. Unsaturated fats are filled with heart healthy Omega-3s. A simple solution would be to avoid processed meats, pizza and fast food, as well as processed snacks.

However, knowing what to eat might be a bigger help. Besides, hearing the things you can eat when dieting, or making a lifestyle change, is a lot more satisfying that hearing the list of the things you should avoid.

Eat Up!

There are more delicious things than I originally thought that have a ton of healthy fats just beneath the surface. If you’ve gone veggie, skip the first four on this list.

  • Grass fed beef
  • Wild salmon
  • Tuna
  • Duck
  • Avocado
  • Walnuts
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Flax and Chia seeds
  • Spirulina

 

The list might not be long, but it’s hard to deny how delicious some of these are. Plus, they can be easily added into any diet without having to sacrifice a hearty meal.

Do you know of any other foods packed full of healthy fats that I could add to this list? What ways do you incorporate healthy fats into your diet?

Healthy Substitutions for Your Kitchen

Looking to take healthy cooking to the next level? Try out these healthy substitutions when cooking at home.

In my never-ending quest to create a healthier lifestyle, I am always looking for ways to improve my eating habits. Even when buying organic groceries and cutting out meat, cooking a healthy meal at home can still be challenging. Is it even possible to take your already healthy cooking to new, healthier heights?

The answer is yes! After some research, I found a few alternatives to tried and true staples that I use to make my recipes and meals even better for my body.

Whole Wheat Flour

I am not on the gluten-free wagon, nor is it a necessity in my home, but using processed white flour isn’t the healthiest option out there when baking or making some pan-fried veggies. By choosing to use whole wheat flour instead, I incorporate the entire grain into my diet. Not only is it healthier, it also adds some much-needed fiber, which helps to keep me feeling full throughout the day.

I did find that some of my recipes needed adjusted, but at least my vegan chocolate chip cookies are as healthy as baked goods get. You can take this alternative one step further by purchasing whole wheat bread and pastas, too.

Unsweetened Applesauce

Finding a butter substitute for baking can be a daunting task, but in trying out vegan recipes I found that unsweetened applesauce makes for a pretty good alternative. By mixing it with a few ground flax seeds, it provides the perfect consistency without all of the saturated fats.

Avocado Everything

It might not be everyone’s favorite fruit, but it is incredibly healthy for you. It contains a variety of healthy fats to keep your heart in tip-top shape and makes a great mayonnaise or cheese substitute with its creamy texture. If you really can’t stand avocados, try using hummus instead.

Keep Your Greens Dark

Looking for a healthier salad or something more nutritious than iceberg lettuce on your sandwich? Switch to spinach, arugula, and watercress. I honestly think all three of them make any sandwich taste better, and they certainly take my salads to a whole new level of deliciousness.

Ditch the Dairy

Milk is used in all sorts of baking recipes, added to cereal, and used to make cookies taste even better than they already do. Choosing skim milk or a plant-based alternative like soy, almond, and rice helps you to cut back on fats and calories. They can even be used in place of heavy whipping cream for recipes like fettuccine alfredo. If you’re trying to avoid glaze or adding additional sugary parts, you can always be creative and try to add decor with some small pieces of candy with no added sugar.

Smoke Your Own Salmon

Sure it super tasty and seems healthy but some smoked salmon is full of additives. Some brands cut corners by injecting salt as well as sugar and some brands even spray on fake liquid smoke. If enjoy smoked salmon, why not try smoking it yourself. Cold smoking can be a bit tricky but we have found it easiest with a natural gas smoker. Knowing exactly what is in your food should be a priority for anyone trying to make a healthy change

These are just a few of the alternatives I’ve started using in my home. Do you have any others you would like to recommend? I always love hearing about new ways to stay healthy!

If you want to learn more about cold smokers check great post by Electric Smoker Guy, too: Best Electric Cold Smoke Generator – Attachment – Box Review

The Nutrition Behind Eating Garden to Table

Canned fruits and veggies are out! Farm to table is in. Growing your own garden is one of the most health conscious choices you can make.

Growing up, my family always bought their produce from the local grocery store. However, my grandmother did tend to a small garden in her backyard and I can remember how incredibly different her tomatoes were than the store bought variety. Not just how they looked, but how much better they tasted.

With GMOs, pesticides, and more plaguing our produce these days, I’ve taken the task of putting vegetables on my plate into my own hands. Aside from looking and tasting a whole lot better, there are a variety of benefits to reap from the Garden to Table , or Farm to Table, movement.

More Variety

I never realized it before, but every time I went to the store I bought the exact same vegetables. My garden has introduced me to a wide variety of veggies I had never tasted before, as well as new variations of some of my favorites.

Instead of buying nothing but beefsteak tomatoes, white onions, and portobello mushrooms, I can enjoy enjoy varieties like chanterelle mushrooms and roma tomatoes. Plus, I can plant all sorts of squashes, broccoli, and even beets in the Fall. It certainly spices up my meals.

More Nutritious

My garden has also introduced me to heirloom vegetables. The way mega corporations have grown vegetables over the years has lead to a decrease in their nutrient content. Heirlooms, on the other hand, have been passed down by private owners for generations, making them immune the flaws in modern day veggies and thus making them more nutritious.

Using different gardening methods like cover crops and integrated pest management to promote the health of my soil also give my plants a nutrient boost. It also feels good to eat healthy.

Ripe and Ready

Who hasn’t bought a vegetable from the store and had to wait until it was ripe, only to find that a few days later that it was brown. Commercial growers pick their crops early to give them a longer shelf life, which makes good sense for a supermarket, however, not always the most convenient at home. When you can pick your produce from your backyard, it’s available when you need it and nothing goes unused. Not to mention, nothing compares to picking fresh tomato or basil to use as an ingredient when cooking a meal.

 

Chemical Free

Research has shown the side effects GMOs and pesticides can have on our health. Since I know what I’m putting in the ground and how I care for it until the day I pick it, and the only shelf life I need to worry about is the time it takes to get a vegetable from my garden to my table, I know that what I’m eating is at its best and free from harmful pesticides.This makes a garden grown at home a save haven from the likes of carcinogens and toxins.

Choosing to grow my own produce has brought a variety of benefits to my dinner table and the health of my family. If you’re property doesn’t have the proper space for a garden, consider container gardens on your deck, indoor herbal gardens, or shop a local Farmer’s Market for fresh produce. What do you like the most about the Garden to Table/Farm to Table movement? Have you noticed any other benefits that I forgot to mention?

Making the Switch: Why Eating Organic Makes Sense

Grocery stores all over the country are swapping out their inventory for organic foods. Here’s why you should make the switch too.

The organic label has become incredibly popular over the last few years but navigating labels and health claims are still confusing to many consumers, myself included. What do all these labels mean, and is organic food actually better for our health and well-being? How are we supposed to know if the items we buy are actually GMO and pesticide free?

If, like me, you’ve ever wondered what the true benefits behind switching to organic foods are, then this article should help.

 

What Does the Organic Label Really Mean?

When you see that “Organic” label, it refers to the way an agricultural product was grown and processed. Here in the states, that means absolutely no synthetic pesticides, genetic modification, petroleum based fertilizer, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers. I’ll give you a moment to let that last one sink in.

When it comes to livestock, whether they are raised for consumption or for their eggs/milk, organic means they have access to the outdoors and have only eaten organic feed. It also means they haven’t been pumped full of antibiotics, growth hormones, and haven’t eaten other animal by-products. A lot of this food has been used as a natural home remedy, but if treated with a lot of chemics they certainly became more dangerous than healthy for you. Let’s focus on why do we really need organic food!

What Are the Benefits?

Aside from not eating vegetables that grew in sewer-sludge, an organic diet offers a lot of benefits to both our mental and physical health.

  • Fewer Pesticides: that means fewer toxins that lead to things like birth defects, weaker immune systems, and cancer.
  • Fresh Food: without preservatives, the food has to hit the shelf and your plate faster. Organic food is often made on local farms near the market. This also supports small business and the local community.
  • Environmentally Friendly: Local, organic farms reduce pollution, conserve water, and consume less energy than their mega-corporation counterparts. This is not only better for the land but also a healthier environment for surrounding animals and people.
  • Nutrient Rich: Studies show that organic foods provide our bodies with more nutrients than mass produced meats and vegetables do. A healthier diet means a healthier you!
  • Non-Chemical Animals: Eliminating antibiotics and growth hormones reduces the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains while keeping this hormone altering substances out of your diet. Not feeding cows animal byproducts also reduces the risk of mad cow disease.
  • GMO Free: Genetic modification alters the chemical makeup of plants, causing them to grow larger and become more pest resistant. However, studies on animals have shown them to damage internal organs, thicken the digestive tract, and slow brain growth. Pumping our bodies full of chemicals isn’t good any way you look at it.

Anti-cancer, anti-toxic chemicals, and beneficial for the environment?! It’s almost like this was the way food was meant to be grown! Now that you know the benefits of making the switch, are you more likely to buy organic produce?