So Fresh, So Green

With the high supply and demand for the newest technology that is constantly consuming our lives, it causes us to spend more time inside of our homes. We now spend more hours indoors watching tv, on our computers, playing video games, or getting lost in social media on our phones. All of this technology not only distances us from our family but it also limits the amount of time we are spending outdoors getting the proper amount of sunlight and fresh air we need. When we spend time outdoors, it aids in a healthier mind, body and spirit, but those are but a few benefits.

In the article, 10 Reasons Why Being Outside is Important, science writer, Sydney Sprouse listed ten beneficial reasons why spending time outdoors is important. Spending time outdoors:

RELIEVES STRESS

Studies have shown that spending time outdoors reduces the stress hormone, cortisol. Being out in nature is free or low cost and is accessible to everyone. It gives you an opportunity to spend time with your family and friends because you can play outdoor games, go camping or just relax by the water (pool, lake, beach, etc.). Sprouse (2018) also wrote that “Nature can help create more job satisfaction. Office workers with window views are more satisfied and less stressed at work”.

STRENGTHENS IMMUNITY

Spending time outdoors increases your white blood cell count which is needed to fight diseases. According to Sprouse (2018), “They help your body battle germs by recognizing pathogens and harmful intruders with the help of antibodies”. The elevated white blood cells from time spent outside will become more efficient for weeks after your outdoor experience.

SHARPENS YOUR FOCUS

When children and adults spend time outdoors prior to doing homework, household chores, errands or other work, it will help your mind focus more on your tasks. It increases productivity and more concentration, especially when we do outdoor activities that exercise our cognitive function. Many outdoor areas do not even allow you to get great cellular reception, which helps reduce excess distraction. This is one of the reasons why many retreats are outdoors.

HELPS DEVELOP A HEALTHIER DIET

If you would like to start an outdoor hobby that has multiple benefits, try gardening! Not only does it keep you moving and allows you to get an adequate amount of sunlight and fresh air, it also gives you the opportunity to plant fresh fruits and vegetables that you would otherwise buy at the grocery store. You then know exactly what you are eating and it promotes healthier, cleaner eating, all the while saving you money!

CALMS THE MIND

Spending time outdoors allows your body and mind to recuperate from your busy and hectic life. When you breathe in the fresh air and take in the natural beauty, it helps you relieve your anxiety and appreciate all of the positive things in your life. It creates a peaceful mind and a happier you.

AIDS IN WEIGHT MANAGEMENT

When we are outdoors more, we are likely to engage in some form of physical activity whether that be taking a walk, hiking, or playing games with your family. This promotes weight management because you are keeping your body moving in a healthy, productive way instead of being a couch potato. When you engage in more physical activity, you may also motivate your children to spend time outside which will reduce obesity in your household.

IMPROVES SHORT-TERM MEMORY

By just spending 20 minutes out in nature, you can improve your short-term memory and working memory. Srudies have been done that help support this. This is due to the lack of cacophony that the city and our busy routines weigh on our minds. Having a clear, peaceful mind creates room for your short-term and working memory to work more efficiently.

IMPROVES VISION

Because you and your children are spending less time straining your eyes from looking at your electronic devices, you are improving your vision. The dim lighting indoors makes it hard for your eyes to focus but the bright natural outdoor light prevents your eyes from overworking.

INCREASES LONGEVITY

When you spend time outdoors or live near more greenery, you are not only getting a better quality of air but you may also become motivated to exercise more, which maintains a healthier heart and a healthier you.

ALLOWS YOU TO SPEND TIME WITH FAMILY/FRIENDS

Spending time outdoors makes for an opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends. Whether that be hanging by the pool, playing competitive outdoor games, or roasting marshmallows by a campfire, there are endless outdoor activities for you to choose from.

Spending time outdoors is vital to the well-being of your mind, body and spirit. We should all incorporate as much time spent outside in nature as we can. It will help us be more productive and efficient in our daily routine and work because we will feel happier and healthier from the fresh air, sunshine and natural beauty we have afforded ourselves to experience. Just 20 minutes a day could make a drastic change in your life so get outside and get moving!

References

Sprouse, S. (2018, February 26). 10 Reasons Why Being Outside is Important. Retrieved

April 16, 2019, from https://askthescientists.com/outdoors/

There is no “Poop” Fairy!

     After years of being a pet parent and pet caretaker as my occupation, cleaning up after dogs and cats has become quite normal for me. It became apparent while working as a dog walker in the last few years. A well-seasoned dog walker will most likely be able to eat a sandwich with one hand and scoop up poop with the other. Multiple times I’ve actually forgotten that I was holding a bag of poop walking in and out of buildings! Anyone living in an apartment or city setting, who owns a dog understands the need for an Earth friendly options for picking up after their pets. With both Earth Day and National Scoop the Poop Week coinciding, I’ve found some Earth-friendly solutions to cleaning up after your pets!     Since we also have to scoop our cats’ poop, I want to include our feline babies in this article. There are two companies that I recommend to cat owners frequently. Years ago I discovered World’s Best cat litter. It comes in a variety of scented and unscented options. The reason it changed my life as a cat parent is that it’s flushable! It’s a corn-based litter that doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals (I buy the extra strength unscented, and while it does come in pine and lavender scented options, cats can be sensitive to those essential oils so proceed with caution). It clumps very well, so I simply scoop and flush. In addition to that, I keep the litter box in my shower, because Simon is a compulsive digger. He makes quite the mess, but then all I have to do is rinse the scattered litter down the drain.

     The other great litter is made by Weruva. For years, Weruva has made a great canned food for both dogs and cats. If you pop open one of their cans, you’ll see shreds of actual chicken, sometimes with vegetables or another meat, in gravy. It smells like real food because it is real food. Plus, it’s high moisture content makes it that much better. Then, they came out with cat litter! Not only is their litter flushable, but it’s made from Japanese Hinoki wood and green tea. Both of these ingredients are known to have natural antibacterial properties. The only reason I haven’t switched to Weruva’s Tea Potty litter is that Simon does well with World’s Best and I don’t want to disrupt his routine. I’ve been told by countless cat owners about how great this litter smells. If your apartment is small enough, Tea Potty litter provides a fresh green tea scent throughout your home. What other litter can you say that about?

     Both of these brands are free of clay, dust, as well as dangerous and artificial perfumes, so your cats won’t have to suffer with breathing in harsh components while trying to do their business. Of course, you don’t HAVE to flush these litters. Many cat owners use plastic bags to dispose of their cats’ waste, which is why you should continue reading even if you don’t have a dog. I’ve found some great options for Earth-friendly dog poop bags.

     If you own a yard, you’re one of the lucky ones. You can spend time with your dog off-leash and skip the plastic baggies for clean up. The most Earth-friendly option is clearly a scooper! Unfortunately, if you’re like me and you live in a small apartment in a big city, then you may need to buy some poop bags. In my personal, everyday life I make a great effort to produce the least amount of trash, and that includes decreasing how much plastics I use and throw into the garbage. Plastic bags can take about five to ten years to break down once we throw it into a landfill. Our pets are not going to stop pooping any time soon, so the best way to make a difference in the future of our environment is to find other solutions for scooping the poop!

     There are so many companies out there that claim to have biodegradable bags for pet waste clean up. The trouble with this claim, however, is that in order for the plastics to break down, the composition of additives in the plastics need the proper amount of oxygen to do so, and that is not guaranteed when thrown in a garbage bag and then into a landfill. It’s a nice effort, but it does not seem to be the best solution to this issue. I was recently handed a paper poop bag when I took a friend’s dog out to do his thing. I hesitated at first because I hadn’t seen a paper poop bag before that day.

     In my research, I found a couple of paper bag options for pet clean up. The first is made by K9 Clean. There are no plastics in their bags, and if used properly you don’t have to feel the warm poop through the bag at all! Why not just use regular paper bags then? Well, they make their organic paper bags with sturdy flaps at the opening. In order to pick up the poop, you open the bag and pop it over the poop. Then you slide the harder flaps under the poop and flip the bag over, and ideally you have yourself a little to-go eco-friendly baggy of poop. If you have a large dog, the bigger poops may be difficult to scoop up. If I’m being honest, I’ve used two bags for a big dog poop before, so if that’s going to happen I would prefer to use two paper bags! The only scenarios I imagine this product can be difficult to use would be during tummy upsets and in tall grass areas.

     Another paper-based poop bag company that I came across claimed that their product is flushable. This seemed like a great idea for about thirty seconds. If you have an indoor dog that poops on a pad or a dog that has accidents inside, I find it silly to buy a flushable bag when you can just pick it up with toilet paper and flush. Similarly, if I don’t want to collect my dog’s poop just to bring it inside and flush it, instead of using a public trash receptacle. Plus, as I read further about this poop bag, I realized it is a plastic bag with a paper bag inside, to make it easier to pick up the poop and then flushing the paper bag down. My interest with this option faded pretty quickly. I’m sure there are more paper poop bag options out there that are plastic-free.

     I know what many of you are thinking – paper bags sound messy. It very well could be for some, so I have also found some Earth-friendly plastic bags. The first company I want to talk about is BioBag. They make a variety of products that provide compostable alternatives for plastic bags. I actually use their compostable food scrap bags to contribute my food scraps to local gardens to make compost. BioBag uses a resin made from GMO free crops to create their bags, rather than using petroleum-based plastics. The result of a safe option for disposing of pet waste, as well as your own food scrap waste. The bags feel delicate and thin, but are actually pretty durable. I highly recommend this company.

     BioBag is not the only company that makes compostable bags to clean up after our pups. BioDOGradable Bags is USDA Biobased certified company that makes dog waste bags, as well as cat waste bags, diaper disposal bags, and shopping bags. With the push to do away with single use plastic bags, this company provides a great alternative. The Original Poop Bags® claim that they make a compostable pet waste bag as well. The accuracy of that claim aside, they make their bags using plant-based materials, including corn, vegetable oils, and compostable polymers. The last company I’m going to highlight is Flush Puppies. Flush Puppies claims to be certified compostable, as it should be if you’re going to flush it down your toilet. They make their baggies from PVA (polyvinyl alcohol), which is water soluble, allowing it to break down in your septic system. The company even quotes the United States EPA on their website in a statement explaining that flushing your pets’ waste is “the best disposal method.” This makes sense, since I’ve already discussed flushing my cat’s waste. I’m not sure if carrying the poop bag around during your dog’s walk and then bringing it home to flush is a popular option, but it is certainly an option. Always check to make sure your plumbing and septic system is suitable for flushing down these poop bags.

     The benefits of using plant-based plastic bags include, but are not limited to, reducing the damage plastics have done to the environment and reducing our own exposure to chemicals found in plastics. For those who use and plan to use earth-friendly bags, I only caution not to dispose of compostable waste bags into food scrap composters. You do not want to include pet waste in food compost. However, using compostable and biodegradable bags increases the breakdown of those materials, making it safer for the environment. Furthermore, diet also plays a factor when discussing pet waste. If you’re concerned by the qualities of your pets’ waste, they could have sensitivities to something they are eating. Many people, myself included, who have switched to feeding raw, gently cooked or high quality canned foods, have noticed that their pets’ poop is smaller, plus a big reduction in the smell. If you think your pets’ poop is indicating a food intolerance, we can test for food sensitivities using only 10-15 strands of hair!

https://www.rover.com/blog/truth-about-biodegradable-poop-bags-in/

Topics: InsiderBlogsAllergyIntoleranceHair AnalysisAffordableHealthFoodPetNutrition,Weight LossTrainersDietFitnessDeluxe TestInflammationantioxidantsWineCardiovascular,Anti-aging

Laura Boisson

Written by Laura Boisson

No Sleep Today-It's Pajama Day

No Sleep Today-It’s Pajama Day!

Many of us lead very busy lives so it is important for us to get a good amount of quality rest every night. Sleep allows our bodies to recuperate and recover from our day. When we deprive ourselves of quality sleep, it inhibits our bodies to be at maximum efficiency the next day. Many of us are unable to either get the proper amount of rest, find it hard to get to sleep or find it difficult to stay asleep. Getting quality sleep is vital to our well-being for various reasons but many of us do not take the time to make quality sleep a priority in our daily routines.

In the article, Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency (n.d.), it lists several reasons why getting good, quality sleep and getting enough sleep is vital to our health.

Benefits for getting enough quality sleep:

  • Promotes energy throughout the day
  • Helps elevate a healthy mind and memory
  • Reduces the number of times you get sick and the duration of time you are sick
  • Lowers the risk for serious health issues
  • Helps you maintain a healthy weight
  • Aids in physical and mental recovery

These are but a few benefits for why getting enough sleep and getting quality sleep are important, but sometimes we do not know the right amount of sleep we should be getting. From infancy to adulthood, our bodies undergo various changes and types of development, so we require different amounts of sleep at different ages. Typically, the younger we are, the more sleep we need for our growing bodies. Of course, you have to take other factors into consideration like one’s daily physical activity, health factors, etc., but the following list from Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency (n.d.), is a general guideline of the amount of sleep we need at different ages.

How much sleep is enough?

  • Infants aged 4-12 months 12-16 hours a day (including naps)
  • Children aged 1-2 years 11-14 hours a day (including naps)
  • Children aged 3-5 years 10-13 hours a day (including naps)
  • Children aged 6-12 years 9-12 hours a day
  • Teens aged 13-18 years 8-10 hours a day
  • Adults aged 18 years or older 7–8 hours a day

Unfortunately, many of us do not get this amount of sleep and if we do, it is not quality sleep. I know for me, I sometimes have trouble going to sleep, staying asleep or both and I wake up tired as if I didn’t just get any sleep. Fortunately, there are some tips and techniques we can use in order to wind down for bed so we get the right amount of quality sleep. Here are but a few tips that we should try to incorporate into our bedtime routine:

Tips for getting enough sleep:

  • Have a Sleep Schedule. Wake up and go to bed around the same time every day (weekdays AND weekends). Limit the time difference to no more than an hour.
  • For kids, have a set Bedtime and Routine. Do not use their bedroom for timeouts or punishments because they may not be able to mentally block that out at night and be fully comfortable in their room.
  • Avoid Eating, Reading, or using your Phone (talking or texting) in bed. This will train your brain that your bed is only for sleeping and intimacy, so it will not be wide awake when you are in bed.
  • During the day, spend time outside and try to be more physically active. When your body works hard and gets sunlight and fresh air, it will need to recover and will likely be more prepared to rest at night.
  • Keep your room cool, dark and quiet. When we get hot, we typically do not sleep well. Having your room dark and quiet invites peace and allows your mind to wind down. Getting light-reducing or blackout curtains will help your room stay dark.
  • Wind down an hour before bed. Avoid artificial light (phone, TV or computer) and strenuous activity as these things may wake your brain up.
  • Take a hot bath/shower and use relaxation techniques. Easing your body with a hot bath/shower will help your body and mind relax. Breathing techniques or meditation allows for our body and mind to relax as well by relieving tension and the weight of day’s activities.
  • Avoid heavy and/or large meals, drinking caffeine and alcohol, and having nicotine. When you are full, your body has to work to digest that food and therefore cannot fully rest. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, and alcohol will not allow your body to rest.

They say, “work hard, play hard”, but we should start focusing on “work hard, sleep hard” and create an effective sleep routine that we stick to every night. Because many of us are always on the go every day, we owe it to ourselves to get the right amount of good, quality sleep every night. Start off with a few adjustments from these tips and gradually incorporate more of these tips until you are getting the optimal amount of quality sleep. Remember that you work hard, so allow your body to recovery by getting the best rest it can have!

References

Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency. (n.d.). Retrieved April 3, 2019, from

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-deprivation-and-deficiency

Written by Yvonne Sims