Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Bees

Welcome to Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)!

Wondering how to live greener? You've come to the right place. Each week we challenge ourselves to try a new task ... or "amp up" something we're already doing. We raise our awareness, learn from each other and develop Eco-friendly skills which will improve our lives and protect our planet. Doing so together gives us power ... the power to Change The World!

If this is your first visit, please click HERE for information and a complete list of all the challenges we've taken on so far.

This post contains great information and I encourage you to read through it at your leisure ... however, if you are short on time, you might find the following quick links helpful:

Last week we protected our kidneys, and the health of the planet, by going vegan for a day. I'm a full-time vegan and have shared many delicious recipes on Reduce Footprints (you'll find them all HERE). A plant-based diet is (in my opinion) satisfying, and I enjoy knowing that I'm doing something good for my body. I also enjoy knowing that my food choices reduce the stress on the earth (raising meat, or any animal-products, takes a lot of natural resources). Better health and kind to the planet ... sounds like a WIN-WIN to me!

The Honor Society are those people who help us spread the "green" word by writing an article about our challenges and/or leaving pertinent comments.

In support of our air pollution challenge, Katie wrote Why We Don't Take the Bus [#CTWW]. The post reminds me that we are all affected by negative connotations and the often unfair views of society.

Deborah wrote Change the World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Air Pollution - 9 Green & Easy Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality. She offers some great tips like one about wallpaper glue and another about carpets. For this week's challenge she shares this, "This week's #CTWW Challenge really resonates with me because several friends and family members have had from kidney disease. As I watched loved ones suffer through months and sometimes years of this deadly disease--enduring dialysis treatments; waiting for compatible donors for organ transplants; suffering from painful and debilitating symptoms.This really made me think what we can do to keep our kidneys healthy naturally; how we can try to prevent the onset of kidney disorders? This blog post explores some natural ways to keep our kidneys healthy. Concerned about Kidneys? Natural Ways to Keep Your Kidneys Healthy "

In Change the World Wednesday, My Most Serious Health Issue Lois reveals that she has one kidney which doesn't work. Diet has played an important role in keeping her healthy. But here's the amazing thing ... her doctors knew that a plant-based diet would help but never gave her that information. Their reasons might shock you!

Argentum Vularis admits "The only malady that I can attribute to animal products is gout (high uric acid because the kidneys can’t process it all), in my case not serious, manifesting slightly at times and going again." Was this reason enough for him to turn to a plant-based diet? Find out in Change the World Wednesday – 16th Apr ... and be sure to read through the comments for more great info.

Cody accepted the challenge and offers a lot of information in Change the World Wednesday - Eat Better for Health & Earth. She also talked about something she'll do this week to eliminate meat for a day! Can you guess what it is?

I found a CTWW article in this edition of Shopping Charity. Was it yours? This Edition gives CTWW a nice mention!

Lisa stopped by and shared this, "The picture of the muscular man holding vegetables is great! My husband runs about 6 miles a day and weight trains two days a week and hasn't had any drop off since we have switched to an almost vegetarian diet. (I exercise daily, too, just not as intensely as he does.) It's a shame that athletes believe they can't exist without meat protein."

Our Twitter friend, @VioletsBuds, joined the conversation and shared the following:

- I missed posting for last week's #CTWW air pollution challenge! We do our part here by gardening, having indoor plants and..
- Did you do the #vegan challenge from #CTWW? I had 4 vegan breakfast, 3 lunch, and 2 dinners, not bad!

The #CTWW Gang are those folks who tweet our challenges using the hashtag #CTWW. If you're a Twitter member, I recommend following them ... they share great things. Let's meet them:

@a_kiasi @adriennewarren5 @allnaturalkatie
@altfashionweek @barrydarrdixon @bicyclehsv
@bike2power @bkind3 @bstoneblog
@bylittlenea @caitlyndawney @cmg_bedding
@collegegogreen @counselorholley @crazykids6
@debsmikdav1 @dehelen @drifterjournals
@ecoexpert1 @ecothrifty @factorydpromos
@familybetty @freshcleanersaz @ginavalley
@givetreegifts @green_vibes @greenageworld
@groovygreenlivi @guayaba @healthyvoyager
@herbgir1972 @hismerecry @johncbader
@kaitlingarder @kayelleallen @kiser_krafts
@krmbalclothing @laalicia @lady_bren
@ladyjcmuses @leeindustries @leslieveg
@lorcadamon @lu_and_ed @magnushrm
@marikokoloco @marjoriemcatee @mendy7
@michaelinla3 @mimibarbour @mitlamoda
@momfindsout @momgamerwriter @mommiesnetwork
@mzazeela @newworldfilmsco @orendamagazine
@pamela_o_plays @pberk @pedalgadgets
@pinecone_grove @rckweddings @realityarts
@reciperadar @rulesofgreen @sbs_brands
@sensuouspromos @sfcouncil @shannongrissom
@soulfullab @spafloating @superbsolutions
@susanheaney @tammycurry @theurbannatura1
@theworld4realz @trashn2tees @treesgroup
@variationsbaker @violetsbuds @vivegan41
@wencdj @whopaysthepiper @witteeme

My Final Thoughts:

When I was asked to try a vegan diet, my immediate response was "NO". I loved meat! Yes, doctors suggested that eating less of it would benefit my health since my family had a history of high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol ... but I LIKED meat. I even ignored the fact that after eating, my whole body seemed to "flush" ... I turned red and got hot, and joked that my body was working overtime to process the meal. I didn't know how truthful that statement was. After watching a particularly telling program, I decided to try a plant-based diet for a month. I had every intention of going back to my meat-eating ways but decided that, for 30 days, I would embrace a vegan diet ... to give it a serious try. I never went back to eating meat. Sometimes, the true beauty of our challenges is simply trying something new. Do I expect that everyone will turn vegan? Not at all. But hopefully everyone learned that a plant-based meal, now and again, is quite doable ... even enjoyable. Every little effort matters ... for our health and for the planet.

Thanks, everyone! If you wrote an article, I Stumbled, Tweeted, Facebooked and posted it on Google +. You can help spread the "green" word by using the share features located below this post.

This Week's Challenge:

Change the world by protecting honey bees.
Intensive agriculture and the use of pesticides/herbicides
contribute to a loss of habitat and food for bees
We've all heard that Bee populations are declining. Since bees pollinate the majority of our food crops, worldwide, their decline is a cause for great concern. Why are they in trouble? Research points to GMO agriculture and the use of pesticides. It's time to take action! Here's your challenge ...

This week, take action to protect honey bees. Please choose at least one action from the following list:
  • Plant at least one native, flowering plant in your yard. Avoid hybrid plants ... they don't produce enough nectar or pollen and are useless to bees and other pollinators.
  • Plant a vegetable garden.
  • Let pests live (natural pest controllers, like Lady Bugs, need them for food).
  • Keep your lawn and garden pesticide-free.
  • Eliminate chemicals in your home.
  • Provide a year-round, clean source of water for bees (rainwater collection, a small garden water feature, bird bath, etc.).
  • Leave some dead trees or plants in your yard ... bees will nest in them. Or, place a bee house in your garden.
  • Buy organic food.
  • Take up beekeeping.

Let's help these hard workers! Are you with me? I know that you are!

Sneak Peek: We asked how you maintain your health. Tomorrow we'll reveal the answers.

Until then ...


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Guest Post - The People's Movement

The People's Movement
Grace Wedge Abierto
Can a stylish, casual shoe line change the world? Mark Wystrach is committed to making just that happen.

This former Hollywood soap opera hunk (NBC-TV’s “Passions”) and current model/ actor co-founded The People’s Movement, a line of hip, casual shoes made with natural materials (including natural dyes, organic cottons and chemical free elements) and even upcycled plastic bags from beaches in Bali and California as part of their packaging and shoe elements.

But what makes this shoe different from any other shoe on the market is that the product & packaging is tied to the fight against single use plastics, and passionately encouraging its customers to commit to a greener, more aware lifestyle.

Mark knows firsthand the destruction these plastics can have on ecosystems and ocean areas of the world. It was a visit to one such polluted world beach that led to a pivotal moment in Mark’s life. While surfing in the waters of Southern California in his 20s, this strapping healthy ex-college football player suffered a heart attack, directly tied to boarding in polluted waters.

The wake-up call incident stayed with him, & after a trip to Bali where he saw first hand how "western" habits of convenience were destroying the oceans globally, he decided to do something. A few years later when the opportunity came to form The People's Movement (MOVMT) with co-founder Kevin Flanagan, Mark jumped at the chance.

The People's Movement
Marcos Hi
The vision and mission was simple. First and foremost, Mark and Kevin were committed to designing a line of shoes that were comfortable and stylish on their own, made with top of the line materials. “Our shoes are shoes first, “ Mark explains. He and Kevin then created a lifestyle component, asking their customers to transform themselves from shoe buyers to committed citizens. “We didn’t just want someone wearing our shoes, we wanted them to wear a Movement towards a cleaner planet!” The upcycled trash bags are incorporated into design detail in some models and in the bags that the shoes come in. And just like the Tom’s Shoes business model, there is a giveback component: a portion of all purchases triggers a donation to 5 Gyres, a non-profit that enables systematic reduction of plastics through oceanic research, collaboration and action.

The new spring line has just been released, and from ballet-style flats to hightop boots to leather shoes to simple casual shoes (in men and women’s styles) The People’s Movement is definitely creating a national conversation through fashion.

All shoes and accessories are available at

Friday, April 18, 2014

Holistic Wellness - Dealing With Stress Naturally

Dealing With Stress Naturally
Stress can cause headaches,
fatigue, and anxiety
Stress is a normal part of life! It is our physical and emotional response to pressure. Most of us can handle some stress and, in fact, would probably be bored with life if we didn't experience any. It also helps us stay safe, giving us the ability to take action if we need to. The trouble comes when we have to deal with too much.

Holistic Wellness - Dealing With Stress Naturally
Stress helped early humans
react quickly when danger looked
them in the eye
When we are under pressure, the body releases neurochemicals and hormones which prepare us to take action (the fight or flight response). That was perfect in cave-man days when a person's safety was in constant jeopardy. To survive, early humans had to recognize danger and be able to fight it off or flee. But in today's world, we aren't fighting off dinosaurs or running for our lives. We are typically dealing with stressful situations while doing such things as sitting at a desk or driving. So, the chemicals released in our body simply stay there. And that causes us harm.

What causes stress

There are some situations which are expected stressors, like the loss of a loved one, trouble at work, divorce, or financial problems. Other situations might include bad service in a restaurant or heavy traffic when you're in a hurry.

Holistic Wellness - Dealing With Stress Naturally
Happy occasions, like a wedding,
can cause stress
Stress is not, however, just about the "bad" stuff that happens. The birth of a baby, a marriage, a new home, or even the holidays can cause stress. It's all about how we deal with situations.

How to recognize stress

Since we each respond to situations differently, how does one know if they are experiencing stress? Here are some common symptoms:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of enthusiasm or energy
  • Muscle tension and/or muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nervousness
  • Stomach problems
  • Changes in eating habits (over- or under- eating)
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Mood changes (irritability, depression, sadness, etc.)
  • Trouble remembering or concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless and/or helpless

The important thing to remember is that we all react to pressure differently. The above list is not, by any means, definitive. It is up to each of us to evaluate our response to determine if we are reacting normally or in an unusual manner.

Strategies to naturally deal with stress

If at all possible, leave stressful situations. For example, walk away from an argument or take a break from a particularly uncomfortable business meeting. If traffic is heavy, take an alternate route or visit a park until traffic clears.

Remember the "fight or flight" response and the build up of chemicals in our bodies? Exercise helps remove them and, in fact, helps slow their production. It also is an antidepressant, combats anxiety, and helps us sleep. If you can't manage daily exercise, try for 30 minutes a day, 3-5 times a week.

Eat foods high in B Vitamins like nuts, potatoes, bananas, lentils, chili peppers, beans, molasses, and whole grains. Reduce alcohol, caffeine, sugar and junk food. Drink a lot of water to stay hydrated.

Have you ever noticed that when you're stressed you breathe quickly and shallowly? Quick, shallow breaths deplete the brain of oxygen. Take five deep breaths to bring your body back to normal. Deep breathing will also improve your mood.

Get Busy
Sometimes we can divert our minds by simply doing something ordinary, like cleaning house, reading, gardening, or cooking. Even watching TV can stop worrisome thoughts.

Talking to a close friend or a trusted family member may help relieve our anxiety. Simply airing the problems we face can minimize their impact on our lives.

Relax both the body and the mind. Try guided meditation or yoga. Take a scented bath. Focus on the positive in your life and list the things you are grateful for. Take a nap. Listen to soothing music or take a walk in nature.

Holistic Wellness - Dealing With Stress Naturally
Laughter is the
best medicine
Laughter tends to relax your whole body. It also increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies. And, remember those stress chemicals and hormones? Laughter decreases them while, at the same time, causes the release of endorphins into our system (they are the body’s natural feel-good chemicals). So, watch a comedy, call your funniest friend, or read a funny book. Or simply start laughing ... before you know it, you'll be doubling over with a good belly laugh.

Stress is inevitable. Managing it properly can be the difference between using it as a motivating, learning tool or letting it cause illness.

William James, an American philosopher and psychologist, said this of stress: "The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another."

How do you manage stress in your life?

Sneak Peek: Have you heard of The People's Movement? Join us next week for an introduction!

The information presented in our holistic living series is not, and should not be used as, a substitute for medical advice.