Put a Spring in Your Step! 4 Ways to Curb Allergies This Season

 

exclusive - allergy concept in spring

Spring is here! The sun is bright, the flowers are blooming, and I finally feel like I can venture outside again as the winter chill subsides.  Then it happens…my eyes start to water, my nose starts to itch, and all of sudden, I sneeze. Spring is definitely here and with all the beautiful blooms and lush greenery, it ushers in allergy season. Allergies are like the awkward photobomber in the background of a perfect “besties, night-on-the-town” selfie. They are just so disappointing. My days should be full of long hikes in the woods, picnics at the park, and I should not be afraid to take a long, deep breath of fresh air each time I walk outside.

4-Natural-Remedies-for-Seasonal-Allergy-Relief_1

There are many ways to control your spring allergy symptoms. It usually entails going to the drugstore and perusing aisles and aisles of medications in search of the one pill or syrup that will soothe your symptoms without breaking the bank or transforming you into a character straight out of The Walking Dead. Fortunately, there are many natural ways to get relief from spring allergy symptoms, many of which have the added benefits of boosting your energy and your immune system.

Saline solution is an affordable and easily attainable natural option to combat nasal allergy symptoms. Most saline sprays are isotonic, which means the solution is the same saline concentration as in your body. It can help clear the nasal passages of mucus without harming the cilia (the little hairs in your nose that humidify air entering your lungs), trap bacteria to prevent them from entering cells, and aid your sense of smell. Using a saline spray or flushing your nasal passages with a neti pot on a regular basis can reduce inflammation and the risk of infection.

Steam is another great natural solution to spring allergy symptoms. A hot shower is probably the quickest way to clear your sinuses. You can also add a few drops of peppermint or eucalyptus oil to a bowl of hot water, cover the back of your neck and head with a towel, and breathe in the vapors. The steam helps moisturize dry nasal passages while the essential oils alleviate sinus congestion and respiratory symptoms.

530316492_6626d205e7

Diet can play a big role in controlling and/or eliminating allergy symptoms, as well. There are many foods with properties that can help your body rid itself of histamines. The body reacts to an allergy stimulus by releasing histamines, which can cause inflammation of the nasal tissue, runny nose and eyes, and an itchy nose or mouth. Vitamin C is a natural and gentle antihistamine. It is found in leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, and most fruit. Flavinoids, especially Quercetin, are a group of plant pigments that give many fruits, vegetables, and flowers their colors. They work to block the production of histamines and eliminate them in the body. Great sources of flavinoids are citrus fruits, onions, garlic, apples, parsley, tea, tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce, legumes, berries, and wine. Bromelain is found in pineapples and is another great anti-inflammatory. Spicy foods, especially those with cayenne pepper or chili powder, help to reduce nasal congestion and stuffiness. Lastly, omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, grass-fed meat, flax seed oil, hemp seeds, and canola oil have many anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce allergic reactions, too.

Tea, specifically green tea, rooibos, and those containing yerba mate are good choices for allergy sufferers. A recent study in Japan showed in lab tests that EGCG, a in green tea, helped prevent allergic reactions. Rooibos tea is a naturally caffeine-free herbal tea that contains two flavinoids, rutin and quercetin, that block histamine production. Yerba mate is a South American herbal bush or tree that stimulates the adrenal glands to produce corticosteroids, which suppress autoimmune reactions in the body, decrease inflammation, and open respiratory passages. Make sure to avoid chamomile tea if you suffer from hay fever, as its properties can increase the severity of your symptoms.

Power in nature

Now you have a good list of natural ways to fight spring allergies! Don’t be afraid to enjoy the blooming trees and flowers and breathe in all the beautifully-scented air you would like. Happy Spring!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Wool? The Benefits of Using Wool in Bedding & Mattresses

Icelandic_sheep_summer_06

Why is wool becoming such a popular material in the mattress and bedding industry? Wool has many beneficial properties, many of which contribute to restful sleep.

sleeping-1159279_960_720

One of the most well-known benefits of using wool in bedding and mattresses is its natural tendency to regulate body temperature. No more sleeping with one leg out of your covers or stealing your partner’s covers to stay warm.

images

Wool is also hypoallergenic. It is resistant to bacteria, mold, and mildew because the wool fibers naturally wick away moisture. No moisture means no dust mites! Dust mites love warm, moist areas. Wool is dry and not always warm.

Wool is naturally flame-resistant. It difficult to ignite, it does not melt, and flames are easily extinguished. For this reason, OMI uses certified organic wool as the natural flame barrier on our mattresses so that we do not have to use harmful chemical flame retardants.

images-1

Wool is also easy to clean and keep clean. Its fibers generate very little static electricity, so it repels dirt, lint, and dust, and stays cleaner longer. Dirt that accumulates sits on the surface of the fiber, and is therefore easily removed.

sky-earth-galaxy-universe

Lastly, wool is eco-friendly, biodegradable, and sustainable. Sheep produce wool yearly. As long as there are sheep, we’ll have wool. Wool is 100% biodegradable as well, so it is a great choice for the Earth!

10 Tips to Keep Your Valentine’s Day Green

Romance is in the air as Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. But rather than planning on grabbing a bouquet of flowers at the check stand of your grocery store, try to keep your romance eco-friendly.

Here are 10 ideas to make your Valentine’s Day green!

  1. Plan a fun outing, like a trip to a new museum, art show, concert, etc.
  2. Cook a special dinner rather than going out. food-vegetables-meal-kitchen
  3. Give a handmade gift like this DIY wine rack.Wine_on_the_Wall
  1. Paint a picture.
  2. Write a poem.writing-923882_960_720
  3. Plan a picnic in the park if the weather is cooperative.Platbos_Reserve_Oak_Tree_Picnic
  1. Frame a favorite photo ot the two of you together.
  2. Skip the bouquet of flowers and give a potted plant that your loved one can enjoy longer and even plant in the garden.9090127853_2dcf4d902f_o
  1. Buy a unique gift from a local artisan or vintage store.Distressed_finish_vintage_dresser
  2. Give your full attention to your loved one(s) by making it a device-free night in with no interruptions.

However you spend Valentine’s, be sure to make it a memorable experience!

Eco-Conscious New Year’s Resolutions

2016 is almost here, and with the New Year come New Year’s resolutions!  Many people opt for popular resolutions like losing weight or traveling more. But what if this year you tried something a little different and tried to incorporate some eco-conscious resolutions?

Here are 15 resolutions to help get you started on becoming more eco-conscious:

  1. Implement a recycling system, or ensure that your current system is the best it can be
  2. Stop buying water bottles and use a reusable bottle bottles-774466_960_720
  3. Add some indoor plants for better air qualitySpider_Plant_Blades
  4. Unplug unused appliances and turn off unused lights
  5. Make your home more efficient by switching out old bulbs for longer-lasting energy-efficient light bulbs, or install a new digital thermostat for more accuracy and to better regulate the temperature while using less energy4473348751_55a915d276_o
  6. Go Paperless – stop paper bills
  7. Pay bills online
  8. Lower water temperature to conserve energy
  9. Repair, restore, and reuse items, when possible
  10. Use rechargeable batteriesbattery-1071317_960_720
  11. Adjust your thermostat one degree lower in the winter and one degree higher in the summer to help conserve energy15114147602_fb7e282435_o
  12. Buy local produce to reduce your carbon footprintFarmers_Market_and_Occupy_Eugene
  13. Take shorter showers
  14. Try to include a vegetarian meal in your weekly menu6933047123_ddefeb7037_o
  15. Enjoy the outdoors

This is only a short list of ideas. However, there are hundreds of ways we can make our lives more eco-conscious.

May your 2016 be a happy and healthy year!

Go Green for the Holidays: Eco-friendly Holiday Decorations

Screen shot 2015-12-03 at 10.03.41 AM

It’s time to deck the halls for the holiday season. It’s time for sparkly lights, twinkly candles, and beautiful baubles that transform your home into a cheery, cozy holiday wonderland. This year, I am looking for ways to reduce my environmental footprint. Here are a few fun ways to go green when decorating this season.

LED Lights and Candles

christmas_lights_by_ssandiiee-d4hjoxf

LED lights utilize a lot less electricity than incandescent lights. They are also known to last longer than traditional lights.

LED candles provide beautiful, soft light without the potential fire danger or messy burning of wax candles. They are available in all shapes, sizes, and colors. There are even models that flicker to replicate traditional candles.

Christmas Tree Alternatives

Brazilian-christmas-tree

There are many green alternatives to cutting down a tree for your home. Though you can buy an artificial tree that could be reused each year, it is not the greenest option because of the materials used and the manufacturing process to make it. If you are not opposed to a smaller tree, a potted rosemary tree is a good option. Rosemary has a delightful aroma similar to pine, and you can plant the tree after Christmas. You can also make a corrugated cardboard tree or felt tree, or buy a recycled aluminum tree.

DIY Hanukkah Gelt Tree and Garland

250px-Chanukah_gelt

You can easily make your own gelt tree and garland this holiday. I found a really cute DIY gelt tree on the blog “Yesterday on Tuesday.” You can also easily make a beautiful garland for your mantle or banister by attaching layers of gelt to a pretty piece of yarn or gold string.

 Bake Your Own Ornaments

Screen shot 2015-12-02 at 2.12.05 PM

One of my favorite family holiday traditions is baking. I am really excited to try something a little different this year by baking some cookie ornaments. You can easily find cookie ornament recipes online. You make them with a non-edible salt dough and food coloring, or applesauce and cinnamon. My favorite recipe is for non-edible gingerbread cookies that I found on the Allrecipes website. You can decorate them with glitter, too, to make them look like they have colored sugar on them.

Wintry Window Décor

4228337819_9d0966c562_b

Make a pretty vintage collage in your front window with doilies of different sizes and shapes. You can also get the whole family in on the fun and cut out a variety of snowflakes to hang in your window, from your ceiling, or in a garland.

Now take these eco-friendly ideas and have fun and decorate for a greener holiday season!

 

 

 

Give a Green Gift for the Holidays

During the holidays shopping for gifts can be fun, but also a bit overwhelming at times. What do you buy for your picky Aunt Bea or the wealthy relative who already has so much? How about your young nephew whose closet is already stuffed to the brim with games, stuffed animals, and other toys?

In recent years, there has been a trend in gift-giving that supports a more minimalist approach by celebrating gifts that are earth-friendly. There are many amazing gifts that do not add to our environmental footprint.

 

Give An Experience

Create lasting memories with your loved ones by giving them tickets to a concert, play, or sporting event, signing them up for a cooking or craft class, or paying their registration for a race or membership to a club. You could also give them a ski pass or movie tickets. This type of gift is my favorite, because whether I give the gift or receive the gift, I get to spend time having fun and building bonds with my loved ones.

Donate

This is probably the easiest green gift idea. You can make a donation in the name of the recipient to his or her favorite charity, or you can go a step further and donate to an organization that has conservation as its main goal. Some of these earth-friendly organizations include The World Wildlife Federation, The National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, and The Sierra Club.

Eco-Friendly Tech Gifts

For all those techies on your list, there are gifts that help conserve energy and the environment. You can stuff their stockings with wooden headphones made and packaged with recycled materials, solar gadget chargers, or a cell-phone charger that shuts off its energy-sucking capabilities once your phone is fully charged.

My all-time favorite eco-friendly tech gift is an e-reader. A book is a great gift for all age groups. An e-reader will allow the recipient to collect an endless library without amassing a huge footprint. There are also household tech gifts like smart light switches and energy-saving thermostats that can lessen energy use and make great eco-friendly gifts.

Do It Yourself

Another recent trend in gift-giving is DIY. You can whip together a batch of your favorite treat, package it in a recycled box or re-gifted vessel, and attach the recipe. You can also crochet a scarf, make a digital photo book or any other photo gift, or even write a personal letter or memory book. The gift-giving options are endless with DIY.

16288608363_cd0580ea1f_b

Plants and Flowers

A gift back to the Earth is probably the greenest gift idea of all. Plant a tree in the recipient’s name, give an avid gardener some gardening tools made with recycled materials, or gift someone with seedlings, an herb garden, or a terrarium.

Clearing Out

In the months leading up to the holidays, I also like to clear out my home to make room for holiday gifts. To keep from filling my local landfill with all of my discarded items, I sell or donate as much as possible. Selling items online is a great way to earn some extra holiday cash. Donating items to your local thrift store, church, or shelter is a great way to benefit those in your community, too.

Lastly, you can always re-gift items.  I like to follow a few guidelines when doing this:

  1. The item is in new (or excellent and unused) condition.
  2. The item is something the recipient would like or could use.
  3. You received it within the last six months.
  4. The recipient would not be able to tell that it is a re-gift.

Now that you have some good green holiday gift ideas, check off that list!

FTC Cracks Down on Labeling

One of the luxuries of being an American consumer is that we have many choices. Should I choose a 4-door sedan or an SUV, a wool sweater or a cotton sweater, organic food or non-organic food? Information displayed on products and in advertising can affect the decisions we make as consumers. Many consumers trust that the information provided on the labels of products they purchase is correct, but how can we know for sure?

The FTC recently mailed letters to five certifiers and 32 businesses warning them that the certification seals displayed on their products that claim the products are “green” or “eco-friendly” did not provide consumers with enough information and do not meet the FTC’s environmental marketing guidelines.   We, as consumers, deserve to know what we are buying. We deserve to be provided with correct and thorough information on product labels.

The main concern is that the companies mentioned above are displaying “green” certification seals without providing information about how the product is “green” or “eco-friendly.” These graphics and seals are easy to obtain.   I quickly found the logo above by using a popular search engine. According to the online press release on the FTC website, Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, explained, “…if the seals’ claims are broader than the products’ benefits, they can deceive people…”

The FTC publishes “Green Guides” that help to explain how to better communicate a product’s “green” attributes. Click on the link below for more information and to see a comparative example between a good seal display and a bad seal display.

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2015/09/ftc-sends-warning-letters-about-green-certification-seals