Friday, July 23, 2010

Immerse Yourself In Nature

What are your favorite ways to reconnect in nature?

My three favorite practices keep me and Mother Nature healthy:

1.  Find Sanctuaries--a place or activity that allows you to step away from the day-to-day demands and recalibrate your internal and spiritual responses. 

2.  Free Yourself From Commitments—people and obligations you “should” do. Make sure all the things in your life are small, few, and simple enough to take care of yourself—your home, car, clothes, diet, finances.
3.  Do Something Other than be Entertained and Amused. 85% of North American households didn't buy a nonfiction book in 2007--and 90 percent of those who did didn't read it. But our TVs run an average of six hours a day.

National Geographic: The Wildlife Collection

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Good Home is a Healthy Home

Healthy home decorating can be a challenge. With most big box stores carrying the same inexpensive products from the same suppliers—what's a health conscious shopper to do?  How do you find fabrics and window treatments that don’t outgas harmful chemicals? And let’s say you do find some home-spun cotton—how do you know it’s from suppliers that treat workers and the earth with respect?

Black out fabrics may keep out the sun--making it easier to sleep late and lower your air conditioning costs.  But fabrics are frequently treated with flame retardants, sizing, and stain guards. These toxic additives are—at best—irritants to your respiratory system and at worst—disruptive your endocrine system or even carcinogenic. The chemicals get absorbed through the skin or released into the air when activated by heat from the sun shining in your windows. Who wants to breathe that? No wonder the EPA reports 90% of indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air.

One way to make healthy home decorating easier is to use The Ethical Shopping Guide which accredits and publishes a list of companies with responsible sourcing processes. The Natural Curtain Company, for example, uses 100% natural fabrics wherever possible--often inherently more attractive and ethically superior to synthetic alternatives.

“Ethical” means careful examination of how the company conducts business. Accreditation by the publisher, the Ethical Company Organisation requires responsible practices in four areas.

Environment: environmental reporting; pollution; nuclear power; other environmental issues.
Animals: animal testing; factory farming; other animal rights.
People: oppressive regimes; worker’s rights; irresponsible marketing; armaments.
Extras: genetic engineering; boycott call; political activity; alerts.

Check out over 100 fabrics and get free fabric samples at The Natural Curtain Company -- not only a resource for blinds, curtains, and window treatments -- their blog has tips on creating a green home and how to make your own curtains along with ideas for saving energy and improving air quality. Video instructions, "Made To Measure Made Simple" shows how to measure windows.

It’s no longer just people with allergies and chemical sensitivities that are concerned about using natural fibers and furnishings. A good home is a healthy home—for all of us.

Dana's Good News: Top Five Vacation Rental Deals and More

  1. Wow, pull CO2 from the air and use it to make BPA-free plastics?  BPA has been linked to serious health problems, but now researchers have found a way to make plastic without out and reduce greenhouse gasses, as reported in this article.
  2. Green your flight by going to the bathroom before flying?  Apparently, Nippon estimated it would save 4.2 tons of carbon dioxide a month on their planes.
  3. Wondering what to do while the economy gets worse before it gets better?  How about growing your own food in a window? 

4.  Spending more time outside and breathing more air pollution is a bad summertime combo.  Check the Air Quality Index before heading out on hot days with just a click or two on the AirNow site.

5.  Last but not least, save up to $300 a week with a September rate special at the Riverview, St Augustine, Florida vacation rental.  Just $599 when you use the code Slurpee when booking.  Travel is up 25% to the east coast of Florida due to oil on the west coast--the best way to avoid disappointment is to make travel plans early before everything is booked.

Low budget vacation rentals for New England, Canada, and Florida

WAVES: Virtual Vacations - The Best Florida Beaches

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Little Tibet: Inner Journeys...Outdoors

My relentless hunt for earth and health friendly vacation rentals led me to Ladakh, India--long on the map for backpackers who stay in and around Leh--but yet to hit the radar of the adventurous, comfort-seeking travelers. The high altitude desert is dominated by rugged snow capped mountains, deep turquoise lakes, and traversed by strands of green, fast-flowing rivers making this my kind of destination. 

Often referred to as 'little Tibet,' Ladakh is geographically, anthropologically and culturally part of Tibet. However, its remoteness and sheer inaccessibility have meant that it was to have a very different history to the rest of the high plateau. Once part of British India, it was subsequently absorbed into independent India in 1947. Ladakh's geography protected it from the ravages of the Chinese cultural revolution that sadly changed the rest of Tibet beyond recognition. Today it contains one of the most intact Tantric Buddhist societies left on earth.

Responsible tourism outfitter, Shakti Himalaya offers a 'village house' experience that avoids the over commercialization of Leh and takes you out, off the beaten track to three unspoilt villages in the Indus valley.  And instead of driving into the Nubra valley like everyone else, they offer a Shayok River journey along the old Silk Route into the remote Nubra valley--an area rarely visited by any foreign travelers.
The Shakti Himalaya website describes their earth friendly practices this way, "[We're] committed to sharing the rejuvenating effects of remote surroundings – to provide privileged access to places far removed from the noise and clutter of the modern world, where space, peace and epic landscapes provoke the imagination and nourish the soul."
India: In Word and Image
Shakti claims the trips make no environmental impact on the villages or trails. Village holiday homes/vacation rentals have been minimally and authentically refurbished, using traditional materials and crafts, and food and supplies are sourced locally. There is no electricity and ablutions are by bucket shower. The guides and porters are from the local villages and so act as conduits for conversations between travellers and the local people along the trail, as well as interpreting customs, history and folklore. Visitors bring in much-needed income and contribute to the maintenance of the traditional farmhouses. Monies spent along the trail go directly to local businesses.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Inspired by Nature

Staying home this fourth of July? What better way to enjoy a staycation than to transform your garden into a fairytale space for magical al fresco dining? Hang a few tea lights, add pretty butterfly embroidery and intricately crafted table cloths and napkins and you'll feel transported.
Tag Paper Lantern String Lights, Blue and Red with White Stars, 112-Inches Long 

ALSO Home features ethically sourced, hand crafted cutlery and coconut white ceramics inspired by simple lotus leaves. Their Spring/Summer 2010 exclusive collection  of candles, laterns, and ceramics includes a modern take to a traditional Vietnamese design on plates and bowls, with shoals of blue fish hand painted on to white ceramic, hand crafted ceramics, baskets, candles, lanterns and vases.

Tag Henna Paper Die-Cut String Lights, 112-Inches Long