10 Benefits of National Bike Month

National Bike Month in May is just around the corner. Although, I’m not in a fancy bike club or have any gear outside my trusty water bottle holder, I LOVE bicycling. It is really the only exercise I truly enjoy. This passion makes me thrilled to celebrate National Bike Month and I hope this post shows you why you should be too.

National Bike Month in May is just around the corner. Check out these benefits of this month and how to celebrate it!

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Why I Love Helping Others

What is the Meaning of Life

There is nothing more important in the world than helping others. As humans, we’re always questioning the meaning of life, but taking care of our Earth, animals and our fellow humans is the only purpose that makes any sense. It’s good to enjoy our life with our family and friends, trying to make the most of our short time, but honestly, when our life is over, what is left?

Helping Others is Key

I’m not sure how others justify the pain in their life, but for me the one that makes it bearable is the idea that it might help someone else. There is a saying that when bad things happen, you can either break apart or break open. The first leaves us broken, shattered, and most likely in a place where hurting others is our only form of communication. The latter leaves us stretched – with a greater capacity to hold that which is still yet to come.

Holiday Project

I am fortunate that I came from a family that also encourages a life of helping others. In the times of hardship and trial, the mentality to reach out and help others instead of withdraw is more easily reached.

At our Christmas 2015 get together, our family decided instead of giving gifts, we would have contest to give gifts for the homeless. This contest criteria was based on creativity, portability and usefulness. Our family is gifted with a wide variety of gifts and talents, so I was super excited to see what everyone came up with.

My grandmother came up with a go-bag. She repurposed a leather bag she had and filled it with every kind of tool and kit a homeless person could need.

My mother used her talent of cooking, making 8 bags of food for her homeless contribution. The bags consisted of homemade banana bread and whole wheat bread and homemade peanut butter. The bread was packaged in a handy carrying case.

My aunt used repurposed jeans, shirts and pajamas to make a beautiful handmade quilt. Her entry ended up winning the competition.

I upcycled plastic bags, cutting into plarn. I used to the plarn and thrift store yarn to crochet bags, so the homeless could carry their goods in them. As much as I love to crochet, I’m pretty slow. I would have liked to make a lot more bags, but time just got away from me and I wasn’t able to keep up the pace. Plarn combines my joy for upcycling and crocheting, and this project was extra special because I got to share that joy and help others. It’s easy to find ways to help others without having to spend a lot of money or time.

Can’t get enough love? Check out what these other bloggers have to say about it!

Affordable Valentine Gift Ideas – House of Fauci’s
A Sign of Christ’s Love for Us – Curbside Overhaul

What gives meaning to life? Friends? Family? Money? Accomplishments? For me, it's all about helping others. Check out the article to find out why.

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10 Easy Steps to a Green New Year

How to Have a Green New Year

There are so many resolutions for a green new year.  Some people choose not to mess with resolutions at all because they know how difficult it is to actually follow through. Making a resolution, especially one to be more green, really doesn’t have to be hard. The trick is to narrow down that resolution to a specific goal and make a plan. It’s also not about overwhelming yourself with resolutions, this can also make it difficult to complete the resolution. Hopefully, this post will give you some ideas for baby steps for a green new year and once you conquer those, come back for the tips to step it up!

here are so many options for sustainable resolutions. If it seems a bit overwhelming, start with these 10 Easy Steps to a Green New Year.

1. Reusable shopping bags

As Americans, we go through 100 billion plastic shopping bags every year, costing retailers about $4 billion dollars.

Although people think plastic bags are “free,” not only do stores hide their cost in higher prices at the register, but plastic bags actually cost taxpayers .17 cents per bag in pollution clean-up costs too. In the state of California alone, public agencies spend more than $25 million annually to manage plastic bag pollution.

As far as sustainable efforts go, I’m sure this ranks high on everyone’s list for a green new year, but there is always one small problem. We can’t ever remember to bring them… This used to be a huge problem for me, but then I started shopping at Aldi’s. For those who haven’t experienced this joy, one of the many joys of Aldi’s is they charge extra for shopping bags. Generally, stores have the price of bags built into the cost of its products, but at Aldi’s they encourage you to bring your own bag or they’ll charge you extra to buy theirs. This practice helped me into the habit of bringing my own.

Tips

But for those, who don’t have an Aldi’s to remind them, having a routine that makes it easy to remember your bags is extremely important. I would recommend always having your bags put back in the car. If you have two cars that might end up with you at the store, then stock them both with your own bags. If it’s too much of a struggle to get the bags back to the car, maybe have a spot by the door to store them, so you can grab them as you go out.

Another solution is to get bags that fit easily in your purse, pocket or on your keychain, so you can have them at all times.

Step It UP

Even without plastic bags, we still bring in tons of plastic items into our homes. To take this step to the next level, you can opt for plastic-shopping. Bring your own produce bags or bulk items sacks.

2. Take your own cup

It is estimated that 500 billion disposable cups are discarded to landfill every year. That’s one million cups a minute, every hour of every day of every year. One-hundred forty-six billion of those are dedicated to our morning coffee.

One way we can easily change this is to simply bring your own cup to get your coffee or drink your water.

Although, I’m not a coffee drinker, I’ve been drinking from a water bottle for about a year now and I love it. I’m never thirsty or searching for the nearest water fountain because I always have a water bottle at my side.

Step It UP

Once you’ve started bringing your own cup for a while, it’s time to spread the joy so others can have a green new year. Having a New Year’s party or some other gathering throughout the year? Don’t use single-serve cups. Be an example for your friends and family with reusable cups and glasses. Sure it might require an extra step, but the benefits for our Earth and future are limitless.

3. Eating at the restaurant

Take out is full of single-use items that have no other purpose than to be thrown away. Generally, restaurants buy food in bulk, so while eating out might not be better for your health or pocket book, eating in actual restaurants is better for the Earth when it comes to packaging. You’ll get extra bonus points for eating at restaurants that serve locally-grown produce.

Step It UP

To take this step to the next level for a green new year, cooking at home is much better for your health and pocketbook. It’s tough to go from a lifestyle of eating out all the time to cooking at home, but it definitely gives you more control over where your food comes from, it’s quality, how it’s packaged and so many other factors.

4. Recycle cardboard

Cardboard is probably one of the easiest things there is to recycle, it also is more valuable for recycling companies, however many people still don’t see the value in recycling it. Recycling centers generally don’t take greasy or dirty cardboard, so it takes little effort just to put clean cardboard into the recycling bin rather than the trash.

Step It UP

Other recyclables take a bit more effort to recycle, but in the end are totally worth it. Once you’ve seen how easy it is to recycle cardboard, take a look at your current habits and see what else could easily be recycled. It will depend on your location and the services offered, but it is a great opportunity to help your local recycling company and help the Earth at the same time with minimal effort.

5. Don’t Litter

This one really should be a no-brainer, but there is no end to the amount of damage litter does to our eco-system. There is no reason to litter, just wait until you reach the gas station or your next rest stop before throwing that cup or cigarette out the window.

Step It UP

A lot of the pollutants out there might not be caused by careless folks, but rather trash that got caught in the wind. No matter how it got there, it can wreak havoc on animals and waterways. If you see a piece of trash, pick it up. It might seem small, but those pieces will add up. Your good example might inspire others to do it too.

6. Walk to places close by

Not just a suggestion for a green new year, but walking is good for your health and  cuts down wear and tear on your car. It’s up to you and your schedule, but a good goal would be to walk anywhere that takes 15 minutes or less to get to. If you have multiple stops within close proximity, you can park the car on one side and walk to the farthest location and work back toward your car.

Step It UP

Again, this is kind of up to an individual’s schedule. But try to add some extra steps to your routine and replace driving time. Plan your route to reduce driving or maybe make a commitment to walking any place within a mile.

7. Donate instead of throw away

Christmas just passed and if you’re anything like me, you have to get rid of some stuff to make room. It’s easy to just toss everything, but donating used items can be better for the Earth and your local thrift stores that probably use that money for charities.

Step It UP

This takes a bit more effort, but a minimalist life style can really be of great benefit for your every area of your life. It’s a lot less stress, requires less cleaning and effort in the long run, and is much better for the planet because you’re not buying as many new things.

8. Buy nothing one day a week

There are so many benefits to not buying things. Take one day a week to assess you budget and purchases for the week. Are these things you really need or that you have money for? Yes, there was probably a good sale, but when you stop and think that you could actually save 100 percent by not buying anything at all, it really is a no-brainer.

For me, buying nothing for a day, week or month is also about showing solidarity to the workers who make it. Especially in the electronics department, there is so many human right’s violations that went into making that. I try to live a simple life so that others might simply live. Buying less and letting go of the mentality of keeping up with the Jones’ is so freeing. I can focus on saving up for a house or investing my money, instead of living paycheck to paycheck for things I don’t really want or need.

Step It UP

Expand your buy nothing day to a week or even a month. This challenge really helps get your focus on planning ahead and only buying what you need, instead of whatever catches your attention. If you expand this practice to a greater length of time, maybe think of a buy nothing new year. Instead of getting new products made, you can purchase used products from thrift stores, Craigslist or maybe even check into a Buy Nothing New Facebook group or site. Finding a new sale is always exciting, but so it the liberation of buying things you don’t need. The hunt can go the opposite way. You can hunt at thrift stores or around your local stores and find the cheapest option.

9. Meatless one day a week

The benefits of eating less meatless are endless. A lot more of the planet’s resources are spent on meat as opposed to veggies. Going meatless once a  week is a great start to a more well-rounded diet. As a rule, eating more vegetables is better for your budget, too.

Step It UP

If you decide doing one meatless day a week is doable, try to expand to do more than one day or as many days as you feel comfortable.

10. Water plants with leftover water

This may seem small, but it can make a big difference over time. Cooking water can be used in a variety of ways.

Leftover non-salted water is a great thing to use to water your plants. Let the water cool down before you disperse it on any plants. If you don’t have any plants that need watered, keep the water for making soup.

Salted or Boiling water can be used as a weed killer.

Ice cubes that fall on the ground are great for small house plants.

Step It UP

Install a water collection system. This can be a huge benefit for your water usage. Once the collection system is in place, you can free, non-chlorinated water. There are many uses for this rain water including using it for garden or agriculture, using it in place of water used for washing pets, cars, driveways and side walks, refill your pond or swimming pool, some people even use to wash their clothes and flush. For more information, check out this great link for Rainwater Harvesting 101.

I hope this list inspired you to live a green new year. Leave a comment below on your tips and tricks for a green new year!

Don’t forget to pin these for later!

here are so many options for sustainable resolutions. If it seems a bit overwhelming, start with these 10 Easy Steps to a Green New Year.

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How to Have a Waste-Free Holiday

Waste-Free Tips

Is it possible to have a waste-free holiday? It’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of the holidays and forget to be careful about the things we waste.  Check out these tips to help cut down waste in the areas of packaging, food, gifts and decorations, and start enjoying your waste-free holiday.

Check out these tips to help cut down waste in the areas of packaging, food, gifts and decorations, and start enjoying your waste-free holiday.

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Why I Don’t Participate in Black Friday Shopping

Oh Where to Begin…

There are so many reasons why I don’t participate in Black Friday shopping, especially when it started on Thanksgiving.

Shopping on Black Friday isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s our attitude that worries me. I wasn’t always the anti- capitalism, corporations, money, greed or commercialism type. To some extent it was always true, but it was more because I was compassionate and wanted to help others. Commercialism has its place, but I could see when I was focused on getting more stuff, I didn’t focus as much on giving.

I can break down my reasons to not participate in Black Friday Shopping to three basic points.

There are many reasons not to participate in Black Friday shopping. Let’s make Black Friday the new Green Friday by working together to consume less junk.

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How to Have Stress-Free Holidays

Is Stress-Free Holidays Possible?

Sometimes I think having stress-free holidays seems is an impossible dream. So many gifts, gatherings, families, meals and budgets that have to be planned for, it just seems like madness.

In the name of a stress-free holidays,  my family did a loose no-spend December plan a few years ago.  It started out that she wasn’t going to buy anything at all. She was going to have all her Christmas shopping done, all her food stocked, everything she needed to enjoy the holiday without being bogged down by commercialism. She wanted these holidays to be fun, not stressful. Sounds good, right? Then she realized stressing out about not being able to buy anything wasn’t fun, so she decided to buy from locally-owned stores or as locally as possible. This means supporting our local restaurants, local stores and artists.

It’s a pretty common practice for people to flow to the bigger city to do their holiday shopping. This can have a negative impact on the economy and also it’s just a waste of gas. Companies decide to locate in cities based on how companies like them are being supported in that particular city. If people always go to another city to buy stuff, then other companies aren’t likely to move there because its citizens aren’t supportive of the companies already there.

Getting everything arranged, bought and paid for can go along way in helping create stress-free holidays, but here are some additional tips that might be helpful.

Sometimes I think having stress-free holidays seems is an impossible dream. But with these ten tips, I have reduced my holiday stress and so can you!

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Be Thankful and Change the World

Why Should We Be Thankful

Being thankful might not change the entire the world, but for the handful of people you see on a consistent basis, you can definitely change their world. I think everyone has experienced the power of negativity. We all have that person that criticizes everything we do and we feel that we can never measure up. But have we ever stopped to consider the power of the opposite? The power of positive words? The power to be thankful? The thing is you have no idea what people are going through and the day you thank them might just be the day that they are at the end of their rope.

To be thankful might not change the entire the world, but for the handful of people you see on a consistent basis, you can definitely change their world.

Believe me, there is nothing more frustrating than that employee, significant other, boss, friend, partner, that just never seems to do what you want or need. You yell, complain, throw tantrums and still nothing changes. Again, you might have no idea what challenges that person is facing. They might have an unappreciative spouse, a demeaning boss, kids that are getting in trouble at school, money troubles or any number of things going on that keep them from doing a good job at what you need.

Try to Be Thankful

If the yelling and fighting has done nothing, try something new. Try thank you. Every one can do something good. Find something about that person that you can be thankful for then tell them. It might seem impossible at first, but not only will it change their world, and it might even change your perception of how you see them. It doesn’t even have to be something they’re good at. Maybe your wife is a terrible cook, but she still tries every night. Everyone is their own worst critic, I’d bet a fair amount that she knows she’s terrible, but still, she tries. A thank you would go such a long way to know that she is appreciated and still loved though she is not perfect.

If you have a terrible employee, but they show up every day, just say thank you. Some times just that small appreciation will go a long way in making them work even harder or believe in themselves enough to get results.

Life Happens

For probably the past 6 months, I’ve been working trying to be thankful, really working on telling people that I appreciate them. It was something that my mom drilled into me for a big portion of my life and I never did really listen. No big shocker there. It wasn’t until about two years after college, I had one terrible job, one job that was ok, but I got fired from, then one job where they promised to help me move up if I did well in their program but that never happened, then finally one really awesome job that I loved but felt pretty inadequate at, then finally the job I have now. As you can imagine that progression got pretty discouraging.

On top of that, I had a roommate, who messed up everything I cleaned, took credit for any progress I made and would always come to tell me how well they were doing, when I was in such a crappy place. It didn’t happen all at once and first I didn’t notice, but I just got lower and lower. Even if no one had seen my struggles, it would have changed my outlook on everything. Fast forward a year or so, I lost the job I loved because the company ran out of money. During the three months I didn’t have a job were the lowest of the low. I desperately needed a job, but everywhere I turned the doors shut in my face.

The Power of Appreciation

I had never felt so useless or so unworthy. All I had was my mom rooting me on and thanking me for getting out of bed and trying. I also had my cat, but he complains about everything, so not helpful. It was then that I realized the power of appreciation. When the world couldn’t care less, we all need that person telling us that they care. We need some one to tell us that we can do it when we think we can’t.

I’m sure everyone has their own story of the time when someone reaching out to show they care would have changed everything for them in that moment. Learn from those moments and be the thing you needed for others. I promise it will change you and that wholehearted goodness will come back to you when you need it most.

Real World Examples

I’m sorry because this is kind of side note, but one that I see all the time. When I am looking at product reviews and I have a choice between a company with no reviews and a company with tons, but they have mixed reviews, I’ll almost go with the company with no reviews. I’ve learned over the years, people are so much more likely to say something negative before they’ll ever say something positive, especially online. People are so quick to tear others down, but they always hold back when saying something good.

It’s so sad that we live in that kind of world and this lack of appreciate can really change someone’s world for the worst.. One-third of businesses fail within the first two years. Although, I have the most supportive family, I have several friends who say they get more support from strangers than their friends and family. Everyone congratulates you when you get a new job, but when you follow your dreams? Not a peep. People! Support each other! Know a friend who just started a business? Try their product or service, SAY THANK YOU and spread the word, leave a positive review, leave comments on their blogs, do something to bring that friend support. Even if you have no use for their product, like their business posts on Facebook when you see them. How hard is it to show support for your friend, who has taken the leap to follow their dreams?

Change the world and be thankful. It will not only change your world, but it will change the world of those around you.

We wrote this post as a collaborative effort. Here are some of other favorite pieces on thankfulness to get in the right mindset for Thanksgiving.

Thankful for Little Things– Little Sprouts Home Daycare

3 Ways Having a Baby Made Me Thankful– Tapestry Chronicles

The Moment We Share With the Children– Hello Daycare

Our Reason to Be Thankful? Second Chances– Curbside Overhaul

Cranberry Glazed Ham and Thankfulness– Cottage Making Mommy

Don’t forget this pinspiration for later!

To be thankful might not change the entire the world, but for the handful of people you see on a consistent basis, you can definitely change their world.

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23 Lessons I Learned From My Mother

23 Lessons My Mother Taught Me- One for each year I've been alive

23 Lessons I Learned From My Mother

Usually, if there is a time where I know every blogger in the world will pretty much be blogging about the same thing (such as Mother’s Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc) I will try to do something still fitting within the theme, but a little different, a little less cliche. I racked my brain for a good Mother’s Day post idea, Googled it, Pinterested it, nada, zilch.

I mean I could give you 15 tips to be a greener mom, my best advice for moms, yada, yada, yada, but my only child is a spoiled rotten cat. Although, I use used plastic bags for his used cat litter and recycle his wet food cans, I’m probably not the best person to go to for that. The only thing these searches helped me do is arrive at the conclusion that my mom is anything but cliche and there is no subject matter more deserving than my own mother.

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…Garbage?

it's beginning to look a lot like garbage

It’s beginning to look a lot like garbage

Ev’ry where you go

Take a look at the nearest dump, it’s more than just a giant lump

With old foods and trivial goods a waste

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like garbage

Toys in ev’ry store

But the worst site to see, is where all the toys will be

Just to be replaced with more

 

Thrown away is wrapping and extra packaging

piling up everywhere

Plastic ware and paper plates used to celebrate

Used once then thrown away without a care

There long after the thought of them is gone never to be thought of again

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like garbage

E’rywhere you go

Crumples of packaging there, more than people are aware

We assume away we’ll have to throw

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like garbage

Soon we realize too late

That the message of the holiday is lost, deep with in the frost

Thrown away with our fate

It's beginning to look a lot like garbage