Have a Green Easter: 9 Organic and Eco-Friendly Ideas

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Easter is a holiday of colorful decorations, sweet snacks, increasingly warm weather, and wonderful outdoor activities for the whole family. It is also a holiday that can create a lot of waste because of one-time-use decorations, toys, and wrappers. If you and your family are looking to have a greener Easter, here are some organic and environmentally friendly ideas.

  1. Prepare a delicious organic Easter breakfast, like this recipe for Artichoke-Scrambled Eggs Benedict. It replaces the English muffin with artichoke bottoms for a low-carbohydrate alternative.

Artichoke-Scrambled Eggs Benedict

~Serves 4

Ingredients

            8 canned organic artichoke bottoms

            6 large organic eggs

            4 large organic egg whites

            4 teaspoons organic extra-virgin olive oil, divided

            1/3 cup chopped organic pancetta

            2 tablespoons reduced-fat organic cream cheese

            2 tablespoons reduced-fat organic mayonnaise

            2 tablespoons nonfat plain organic yogurt

            1 teaspoon water

            2 teaspoons organic lemon juice

            1/4 teaspoon organic salt

            3 teaspoons chopped fresh organic oregano, divided, plus garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Toss artichoke bottoms with 2 teaspoons oil and 2 teaspoons oregano. Place artichoke bottoms on half of a large baking sheet, topside down. Spread 1/3 cup chopped pancetta evenly on the other half of the baking sheet. Roast until the artichokes begin to brown and the pancetta is crispy (about 12 minutes).

While the pancetta and artichokes are roasting, whisk lemon juice, water, yogurt, and mayonnaise in a bowl until smooth.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil on medium-high. Add the eggs, stirring and folding constantly with spatula for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and fold in cream cheese, salt, and 1 teaspoon oregano.

Divide artichoke bottoms among 4 plates, topping each with scrambled egg, pancetta, and lemon sauce. Garnish with oregano and enjoy!

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  1. Instead of buying new Easter baskets, reuse baskets from previous years and revamp them with new decorations. If you don’t have any from last year, purchase them from a garage sale or resale store. Or, even better, make your own unique baskets from scrap fabric or any other materials you might have around the house.

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  1. Don’t use plastic grass in your Easter egg baskets. Not only does it go to the landfill after one day of use, but it’s also toxic, and many young children end up ingesting it. Instead, shred some colorful paper from the office or home that was headed to recycling, or use some fabric from old clothing.

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  1. Instead of using plastic Easter eggs, use real organic eggs, round stones, paper mache, or even felt. There are all sorts of creative alternatives to boring, toxic, plastic eggs.

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  1. Rather than using artificial dyes for decorating your eggs, use natural alternatives. A variety of fruit juices can be used to get different colors, or you can try using saffron, coffee, or red wine.

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  1. Use any leftover hardboiled eggs for a delicious Easter snack of potato salad, deviled eggs, or egg salad sandwiches. This way you are not wasting any unused eggs.

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  1. Purchase organic chocolate bunnies and candies. Or for even more Easter fun, make your own organic fruit snacks with this easy recipe!

Organic Fruit Snacks

Ingredients

1 cup organic fruit puree

5 tablespoons raw organic honey

6 tablespoons organic gelatin

Directions

Puree your fruit of choice in a blender or food processor and measure out one cup of puree (about one and a half cups of chopped fruit should make one cup of puree).

Warm puree on the stove at medium heat in a medium-sized pot until the puree is warm, but not too hot to touch.

Mix in the raw honey and then slowly stir in the gelatin until it becomes an even consistency.

Pour the mixture into fun shaped silicone molds, or line a baking sheet with parchment paper and make a sheet that can be cut into shapes with a cookie cutter.

Place in freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to set, and they are ready to be enjoyed!

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  1. Easter is the perfect time to plant a garden. This activity is perfect for kids, who can learn to plant seeds and water them until they grow. It is educational and eco-friendly!

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  1. Adopt a bunny from your local animal shelter. The kids will love it, you will be helping an animal in need, and you will have natural fertilizer for your yard!

The Problem with the K-Cup

k-cupsIf you work in an office, have a busy schedule and drink coffee everyday… then there is a good chance that you used a share of the 9 billion Keurig K-Cups that were sold last year! And who could blame you? In our fast-paced society, it’s hard to resist the opportunity to have hundreds of beverages available at the touch of a button (and without all the hassle of cleaning out yesterday’s pot of coffee).

A few weeks ago I came across an article on The Atlantic website that confirmed the fear that had slowly begun to creep in as I brewed my coffee every morning: eventually these K-Cups are going to take over! I had already noticed the waste building up in our office, but James Hablin’s article, A Brewing Problem, really opened my eyes to just how big this issue is becoming. If we were to line up all of the K-Cups that were sold in the past year alone, they would circle the earth at least 10.5 times! Not only that, but the K-Cups are made using a type of plastic that is not recyclable in the US…which means that the only home for those 9 billion K-Cups is the landfill.

This knowledge is worsened by the fact that several competitors have successfully designed a recyclable or biodegradable version of the K-Cup…and instead of embracing it, Keurig has trumped the competition by launching a second-generation machine that only works with Keurig-brand cups. Last year, Keurig promised to come up with a fully-recyclable version of its K-Cup by 2020. However, that promise was not enough to stop Egg Studios from producing a theater-quality horror movie about the impending “K-Cup Apocalypse.” While it may be a little far-fetched, this video has certainly gotten people thinking and has lead to the #KillTheKCup movement on Twitter.

By the end of this article, you may find yourself considering giving up coffee entirely (I know I was), but wait — there’s still hope! Somewhere in the course of the past few weeks, a lovely little box (like the one below) showed up in our kitchen. Turns out, there is a way to recycle these things after all! Click here for more information about Keurig’s Grounds to Grow On program.

There may still be room for improvement, but I can honestly say that my Keurig-brewed coffee takes a little sweeter now that I know that the K-Cup can be converted into something useful!

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The Story of Stuff

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Released in 2007, The Story of Stuff takes a closer look at the linear pattern of our economy. From our constant reaping of the planet’s finite resources to the addition of toxic chemicals to our products and our overwhelming transition to identifying ourselves as consumers, this unsustainable system cannot and will not last forever.

This video illustrates the current flow of our economy and the role that government, corporations, and individual consumers play in the “big picture.” It points out the problems with our current linear model, and the possibility of change to a more cyclical model based on people coming together to make a difference.

To learn more about The Story of Stuff Project or see more videos, visit http://storyofstuff.org/

3 Myths and Interesting Facts About Sleep

Jackie_Martinez_in_B&W_sleeping_with_a_bookSleep is a complex process, and there is a lot we don’t know or have wrong about it. The Huffington Post just published the article 3 Crazy Myths and Facts about Sleep that clears up several myths with some interesting truths about sleep.

Myth #1: Getting up at night for, say, 15 minutes just means I lose 15 minutes of sleep. Unfortunately, when life wakes you in the middle of the night, you lose way more than just those minutes out of bed. Waking to change your pajamas after a hot flash, answer the phone if you’re on call, or of course, comfort a crying baby is harder on us than we ever thought.

I’m surprised it took until 2014 to officially research this, but a first-of-a-kind study in the journal Sleep Medicine looked at the effects of sleep interruption over two nights. The first night, all the study participants slept for eight hours. Then researchers then measured their mood and ability to pay attention. Good so far.

A few nights later, the participants were split into two groups: half slept for only four hours, while the other half slept for eight hours but got woken up four times for 10 to 15 minutes at a stretch. So technically, they spent at least seven hours asleep — three hours longer than the four-hour group — just interspersed with awakenings. Then everyone’s mood and attention was measured again.

Anyone who’s ever had a newborn or been on call for work knows the results: the mood and attention of folks with interrupted sleep were just as bad as those who slept for only four hours. Both groups felt depressed, irritable, and had a hard time getting going. Plus, performance on the attention task got worse the longer they kept at it. Indeed, whoever coined the term “sleep like a baby” clearly never had one.

Myth #2: My brain holds my internal clock. Yes, the master clock, technically called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN, is in your brain. But almost all your organs, plus your fat and skeletal muscle, follow some sort of daily rhythm as well. Your gut, liver, and kidneys in particular have strong rhythms.

That’s why you feel so lousy when you have jet lag, and that’s why you often wake up groggy or feeling thrown off when you sleep in on the weekend: your whole body is affected.

And over the long term, throwing off your body clocks through overnight shift work, frequent jet lag, or just wacky sleep habits can put you at risk for some serious diseases, including breast cancer and colon cancer

Circadian disruption is also thought to be a final push that sends some of those merely at risk over the edge. For example, only 30 percent of alcoholics develop liver disease. Why? Well, a 2013 study found that circadian disorganization, common in shift workers, increases “permeability of the intestinal epithelial barrier,” or in other words, a leaky gut. In the context of what the researchers called “injurious agents,” i.e., booze, a leaky gut puts folks at higher risk for liver inflammation and disease. They concluded that while there are many factors that determine whether someone with alcohol addiction develops liver disease, circadian disruption may be a swizzle stick that breaks the camel’s back.

Myth #3: If I can’t sleep, I should just wait it out… sleep will come. On the contrary, if you know you’ll be staring at the ceiling for awhile, get up. Yes, your bed is cozy and warm, but here’s why. Much like you probably associate biting into a lemon with puckered lips and Pavlov’s dog associated the bell with food, thereby salivating, you want to associate your bed with one thing: sleep (well okay, two things: I’ll let you guess the other).

When you lie in bed for more than about 15 or 20 minutes without sleeping, you start to associate your bed with wakefulness. And when you watch TV or fool around on Pinterest in bed when you can’t sleep, those too become associations with bed.

With time, bed could mean sleep, or it could also mean CSI, preschool science project pinboards, or planning your day in your head. Yes, even thinking and worrying qualify as activities you don’t want to do in bed.

So what to do? You can still do all these things, just don’t do them in bed. Get them done before you head to bed, and if you can’t sleep after 15 to 20 minutes, get up and do something non-stimulating like reading (on paper, not a tablet!) until you feel sleepy. Then try again. If you still can’t sleep, rinse and repeat: get up again to avoid associating the bed with anything but sleep and sex.

This is what behavioral psychologists call stimulus control and it’s the most effective way to combat chronic insomnia. It may take a week or two, but it’s been shown to break the bad habits that maintain insomnia. Before you know it, you’ll be so good at sleeping you’ll do it with your eyes closed!

For the full article click HERE.