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Guest Blog Post: Easy At-Home Exercises to do at Home

Guest Blog Post from Cassie Brewer

All of us in this world are striving for a happy, healthy life. This means eating foods that nourish us, spending quality time with the people with love, and moving our bodies with regular exercise. We also need to focus on centering our spirits and having rested, calms minds – which, I must admit, is much more difficult.

But what if there was a way to exercise our bodies, calm our minds, and center ourselves in one fell swoop? We’d be crazy not to jump at the chance! Well, yoga manages to accomplish all of the above. The benefits of a regular yoga practice are many, and anyone can do it.

easy-stretchesIn fact, yoga can be a great way to introduce your kids to healthy habits. With obesity on the rise in countries all over the world, it is more important than ever that your children learn early on to take care of their bodies. Here are a few suggestions for exercising with your kids. With these, you’ll be able to progress in your yoga practice, create healthy habits for your and your children, and spend some extra time with those little ones you love!

Start Their Day With A Little Movement

Think about how you start your day. Do you wake up, trudge into the kitchen, and sit down to a bowl of cereal? Most of us do, but this pattern does not lead us to an active life. One of the most difficult things about creating any habit is starting – for the long term and the short term. If exercise isn’t second nature to you, it can be easy to say “I’ll start tomorrow.” This is particularly true if you begin your day in a sedentary way.

Instead of letting your kids start their day sitting at the breakfast table or in front of the TV, make sure that they are taking time to move each morning. Spend a little time on the mat with them – even 15 minutes will do – practicing sun salutations, triangle poses, or simply stretching they way their bodies want to. You’ll find that you both feel better when you’re done.

Burn Off That Energy

childrenOf course, kids can’t do yoga all the time. They have too much energy (and let’s face it, it’s energy you’d love to bottle). So when your children come home from school, or when you come home from work, make sure you spend a little time burning off all that energy!

Run around in the yard with your kids. Play sports with them. Bust out some old fashioned schoolyard toys, like a jump rope, hula hoop, maybe some chalk for a game of hopscotch. The cardio will be great for you, and the quality time will help form precious memories for your both. Who could pass up an offer like that?

Get Them Ready For Bed

Bedtime can be a struggle for many people who have young children. Often this is because those little ones didn’t have time earlier to burn off all that energy. But let’s say they have, and they still won’t settle down to sleep. What could be the problem?

I’d be willing to bet that the issue is a busy mind. Kids are full of ideas and imagination, and that can’t be shut off just because it’s past their bedtime. This is why a slow, meditative yoga practice can be useful just before bedtime. A breath-centered vinyasa practice can get your child in the right state of mind for sleep. Not to mention the sleep benefits it can hold for busy parents (wink wink).

It is so important that you exercise with your children, exposing them to healthy habits early in their lives. This also gives you plenty of time to spend with your children, creating a bond between you that you’ll both cherish for years.

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4 Ways to Give Back To The Community

November can be a very busy month.

Whether you’re dealing with planning for the holidays, traveling, work deadlines, final exams, or family chaos, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of it all. But really, November is a great month to set an intention of gratitude and service. Thanksgiving provides us with a perfect template to pause and reflect on what we are grateful for in our own lives. And, once we recognize and count our blessings, pay it forward and find ways to give back to the community.

This Thanksgiving, remember what is important in life. Find gratitude for the joys and blessings in your own life, no matter how busy things get. Then, find ways to give back to the community and improve the lives of people around you!

ways to give back to the communityCreative Ways to Give Back to the Community

  1. Support your local food bank

One of the greatest ways to give back to the community is through supporting your local food bank. We celebrate Thanksgiving through food, but many in the world, and even in our own communities don’t have enough to eat. Consider donating to your local food bank this month to uplift those that are in need. You can call the food bank and find out what their most pressing needs are, and then next time you are shopping for groceries, grab an extra little bit of what they ask for. This is a small way to make a big difference. You can also consider volunteering at the food bank as they are always looking for an extra hand this time of year!

  1. Foster an animal

Local animal shelters are always in need of foster families, especially during the Holidays. This time of year, shelters are usually very short staffed, and many animal shelters keep their animals outside in kennels that can get very cold and lonely this time of year. If you have the means, sheltering an animal can be one of the best ways to give back to the community. Not to mention, fostering an animal is a totally rewarding experience! The animals have so much gratitude in their hearts for having a cozy, safe, warm place to stay, and they will likely make your holiday a little sweeter and a lot snugglier.

  1. Give gifts that give back

In November, we often start thinking of holiday gifts for family and friends. And, let’s face it: many of our family and friends already have everything they need! This year, consider gifts that give back; maybe it’s a charitable donation in their name or honor, or a gift from a company that donates proceeds to a good cause.

  1. Take lunches to those working during the holidays

While many of us are blessed with time off, not everyone has that luxury. There are many doctors, nurses, first responders, and even some retail workers who work hard, long hours away from their families during the holidays. Bringing them a lunch or some baked goods can make them feel loved and more connected to the community during the holidays.

There are many creative ways to give back to the community during the holidays! Try some of these ideas out and you might just find these are the best holidays yet.

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Treat Yourself With A Trip To One Of The Best Spas In The World

We have been celebrating women’s self-care throughout the month on our blog. There are many small, everyday ways to take care of yourself; whether it’s taking a yoga class, meditating before bed, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, getting regular health screenings, or spending some extra time with your family and friends, self-care is an important part of living a happy and healthy life. Sometimes, though, it’s nice to treat ourselves in a big way!

A spa vacation is a great way to do this. It lets you get out of your house, work, routine and change things up. With a spa vacation, you will feel relaxed, refreshed, and ready to jump back into your daily life and obligations with a sense of peace.

There are many excuses you could make to avoid a trip like this: money, time off work, family obligations, etc. But, if you can swing it, save the money, request time off, and just go! Your body and mind will relish in the time to renew.

We made a list of the best spas in the world that you can check out!

best spas in the worldAre These the Best Spas In The World?

The Lodge at Woodloch

This Pennsylvania spa and resort is located on 400 acres of woods and a 15 acre lake. There are gardens, waterfalls, pools with floor to ceiling windows looking out at nature, yoga, pilates, aerobics, and a full service spa. They offer couples retreats, girls getaways, babymoon escapes, and mother-daughter getaways. The Lodge at Woodloch is one of the best spas in the world and would make a fantastic vacation spot for any occasion!

Aqua Wellness Resort

This resort is located in the tropical rainforest of Nicaragua. Their accommodations are essentially luxury tree houses that are good for the environment and also incredibly beautiful. Your vacation can be as active or as relaxing as you want, as Aqua Wellness offers spa treatments, wellness classes, and tours, boat cruises, surfing, and day trips. When you visit, be sure to try one of their most popular spa treatments, their “Organic Cacao Body Polish,” a scrub using Nicaraguan cocoa beans, yogurt and honey, which leaves the skin feeling as soft as silk!

Hidden Pond

This Maine spa vacation is located in 60 acres of of forest. This one earns its spot as one of the best spas in the world for the earthy yet luxurious experience it offers. There’s hiking, biking, yoga, fresh vegetables from their garden, and luxurious spa treatments. As a bonus, many of their spa treatments feature fresh herbs from their own gardens, including lavender, mint, and rosemary!

Asclepois Wellness and Healing Retreat

This wellness center in Costa Rica earns its spot as one of the best spas in the world because of its commitment to offering services that are in harmony with the laws of life. There is yoga, meditation, flotation services, spa treatments, relaxation rooms, and a delicious organic restaurant. They offer purifying programs for those seeking a re-set, yoga retreats, romantic getaway packages, and much more.

So, are you convinced yet to take the leap and book a spa vacation at one of the best spas in the world? Let us know in the comments!

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Healing with Yoga for Breast Cancer Patients

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. There is a lot of information out there about breast cancer, early detection, self-checks, mammograms, and wellness for women diagnosed with the disease. Women fighting breast cancer know that it is a terrifying, challenging, and emotionally and physically draining journey. But, there are actions you can do to help alleviate some of the pain and discomforts that come with the diagnosis and treatment; yoga being one of them. 

We’re not talking about acrobatic, hand-stand heavy yoga done in a room set to 100 degrees. When we speak of yoga for breast cancer patients, we mean yoga as it is meant to be: a practice that helps you find union with your body and mind. The physical benefits of certain yoga poses can help with the aches and pains that come with most breast cancer treatments. The mental benefits of the overall practice can help you find inner peace during an incredibly difficult and chaotic time, which is one of the biggest gifts of this practice.

If you are a current breast cancer patient, or know someone that is, consult with your doctor to see if yoga might be beneficial for you. As with all yoga practice, yoga for breast cancer patients should be done carefully and with honor for the body’s limitations.

Yoga Poses To Help Relieve The Pain of Breast Cancer Patients

  1. Bridge Pose

This pose helps build strength in the thighs and back, and because it is a small heart opener, it also very gently stretches the muscle tissue around the breasts. If it’s too much, try it with a block on the lowest level underneath your sacrum. You can hold for five breaths and repeat. Be sure there is no pain in your low back as you do the pose.yoga for breast cancer patients

  1. Cat/Cow Pose

These two poses are great for your back and chest. You can make the moves as big or as small as you’d like, and syncing the movement with the breath also helps calm the nervous system and slow everything down. The chest muscles will slowly start to stretch out as you get deeper into the cow poses, and the back muscles will feel a nice, big stretch every cat pose.

  1. Legs Up the Wall/Chair Pose

This is one of the most relaxing poses in yoga. Lay on your back next to a wall or chair and let the legs relax up the wall for at least 3 minutes. You can make it cozier by putting a pillow under your head or under your back. You can let your eyes close, or use an eye pillow for extra relaxation. This pose invokes a sense of peace and relaxation in the body and mind.

  1. Neck Stretches

Stretch your head gently to the left and right. You can intensify the stretch by placing your hand on your head and applying very gentle pressure. This helps release tight muscles and also increase range of motion in the head and neck, which tends to get tight and hold a lot of pressure.

If you know someone going through treatment or recovering, send them this list of yoga for breast cancer patients. These simple poses can make a huge difference in the mental and physical well being of patients and survivors.

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Have you Tried Yoga for Menstrual Cramps Pain?

This month, we are focusing our blog posts on women’s health, and how living a healthy lifestyle can uplift women from all walks of life. A great source of monthly pain and frustration is menstrual cramps. Most women know that feeling of wishing we could call in sick from work once a month and lay on the couch and eat chocolate. But until that is an option (hey, you never know), we must find other ways to get around the pain and go on with our lives.

There are many ways to relieve pre-menstrual pains, including eating lots of vegetables, medication, staying hydrated, massage, and of course practicing yoga! Certain yoga poses can relieve abdominal cramping, low back pains, leg pain, and overall feelings of discomfort that come with your period. It’s important to note when doing yoga for menstrual cramps that you should honor your body and avoid any poses that bring pain or discomfort.

Next time you are feeling under the weather due to your monthly cramps, try these yoga poses and see if they help!

Try These Yoga for Menstrual Cramps Poses

Malasana (Squat Pose)

The hips can get really tight during your period, so stretching them out with a low squat can be very relieving. Sit down low with your toes and knees pointed out. If it feels okay, take a twist to each side for a few breaths in this pose as well.

yoga for menstrual crampsPaschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold Pose)

This can release some of the tension that builds up in the lower back. Start in a seated position with your legs extended out in front of you, but keep your knees a little bit bent to avoid too much tension. Take a deep breath, and as you exhale fold gently over your legs. Don’t worry too much about where your hands are.

Utthan Pristhasana (Lounging Lizard Pose)

This pose targets the hips and quad muscles and can also be a heart opener. Start in a regular lunge, and then walk the forward foot over to the edge of the mat so that both hands are on the inside of the foot. Drop the back knee. If the hips allow, place your forearms on the ground or on blocks to get deeper into the stretch. You can also bind the back foot with the front arm if that feels nice.

Balasana (Child’s Pose)

This is a pose of rest and ease, which is often just what your body needs at this time. Place your knees wide on the mat, sit your hips back towards your heels, and reach your arms forward. Let your belly just fall in between your legs and breathe ten full, deep breaths.

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (One Legged Pigeon Pose)

This final pose  does wonders for your achy hips and thighs. Bring one shin forward and the opposite leg straight back. Be sure the front foot is flexed and the hips are squared. Make this pose even more wonderful by using props- you can place a block under your front hip and a bolster under your arms and head for maximum relaxation.

Have you tried these yoga for menstrual cramps poses before? We’d love to know if you had an instant gratification feeling or if it gradually helped. Do you have other poses you like to do when you aren’t feeling well? Let us know in the comments!

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How Can We Learn To Relax? Aurorae’s Guide to Peace

This month, we are focusing our blog posts on women’s health issues. One huge part of your overall health is your mental health and well being. In work, family, and relationships, we tend to overwork ourselves both physically and mentally, and it is so important to counteract that with some self-care, relaxation, and “me time.” We came up with five ways you can learn to relax and make sure you are taking care of your mental health.

learn to relax5 Ways To Learn To Relax

  1. Read a book. Ahh, the joy of sitting down at the end of a long day and reading! To many, this joy is lost because of our addiction to screens. Sitting and staring at your phone or TV at the end of the day is an attractive option, because it’s easy and mind-numbing. But, often at the end of a long day, what we need is to be away from screens and constant communication. Learn to relax with a book – it is a great way to log off and get lost in a story. Plus, reading is great for your mental health, memory, and creativity.
  2. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good. You know that saying, “you are who you hang out with?” It’s true! If your co-workers are constantly gossiping, or your friends thrive on drama, you might constantly feel on edge around them, and that will take a toll on your mental well being. Seek out friendships with people who make you feel relaxed and happy – this can make a huge difference in how you feel on a daily basis.
  3. Stretch. There’s something so relaxing about stretching out tight muscles and feeling the whole body loosen up. Whether you sneak in a few minutes at the office or head to a yoga class after work, stretching is an important part of learning to relax. Why? Because it makes you stop what you are doing, clear your head, and take care of your body. Take a few minutes to an hour each day to stretch, and we promise you will feel the effects in your mind as much as your body.
  4. Meditate. When is the last time you sat in silence and stillness? When is the last time you let go of the tendency to plan, take care of others, work, etc? Learn to relax with meditation – it helps us undo the effects of constantly rushing around, planning, doing, and going one hundred miles an hour. Take five or ten minutes in the morning and/or at night and sit in silence and stillness and notice how much more relaxed you feel.
  5. “Me time.” What brings you joy? Cooking? Knitting? Making art? Building something with your hands? Often, the things that bring us joy also bring us a sense of peace and relaxation when we find time for them. Make time for your passions and hobbies so you can prioritize your relaxation.  

What do you do to learn to relax when you know you’ve been on the go so much? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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Vacationing Consciously: Planning an Eco-Friendly Vacation

This month we are celebrating sustainability. We are encouraging our Aurorae family to think outside the box when it comes to going green and making lifestyle changes that positively impact the environment and world around us. You may think that if you are going green that travel is out of the question; after all, many hotels and restaurants are wasteful and expensive.  However, with the rise of ecotourism, there are now lots of eco-friendly vacations out there that allow you and your family to seek out adventure, travel, and relax.

We’ve collected a list of our favorite eco-friendly vacation ideas for you to check out next time your family wants to travel!

eco-friendly vacation

Bardessono Hotel & Spa, Yountville, CA

Eco-Friendly Vacation Ideas

  1. La Leona Eco Lodge in Costa Rica

This lodge is located in the forests of Costa Rica and offers a truly unique travel experience. Costa Rica is a beautiful country with diverse plants and animals, beautiful beaches, hiking, and more. The hotel is surrounded by nature and the staff offers many activities around conservation and preservation.

  1.  Bardessono in Napa Valley California

This eco haven hotel and spa is tucked away in Northern California. The hotel is committed to taking care of the environment and has several environmental initiatives. The building used non toxic materials during construction, they use organic sheets and cleaning supplies, they recycle, and they use organic and sustainable ingredients in their restaurant and spa. It’s a beautiful and green getaway.

  1. The Colony Hotel in Maine

This beautiful getaway overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. The hotel composts and uses ocean water to wash dishes and clean to reduce its water usage. It also eliminated use of styrofoam and aerosol sprays. The best part? It’s pet friendly! So bring your furry friends and enjoy a relaxing vacation on the beautiful coast of Maine.

  1. Aspen Mountain Ski Resort in Colorado

Think a ski vacation can’t be eco-friendly? Think again! The Aspen Mountain Ski Resort is committed to operating in a way that does not harm the environment. They adopt eco-friendly practices in the resort and they also advocate for environmental policy. On Tuesdays, they have a Farm-To-Table celebration with gondola rides and locally sourced meals. On these nights, 5% of their food sales go to conservation organizations.

  1. Camp in a National Park

This one is our favorite eco-friendly vacation. Camping is a fantastic way to travel and seek adventure while being eco-friendly. Head to the National Park Service website and find a park that is calling your name. Make it an extra eco-friendly vacation by hitting up the local farmer’s market on your way there to pick up food and snacks for the whole family. Spending a few nights under the stars will leave you feeling rejuvenated and relax.

We hope these ideas showed you that you can have fun with your family while also staying committed to sustainability in the world. Next time you seek out an adventure, try making it an eco-friendly vacation!

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Upcycled Designs: Turning Trash Into Treasure

This month, we have celebrated sustainability. We encouraged our readers to go green with their lifestyle, travel to eco-friendly locations, and turn their trash into treasures with DIY projects. But, sometimes, you might just want to buy something already made! This is where upcycled designs come in. There are many wonderful artists out there who sell affordable handcrafted repurposed art. They make everything from jewelry, furniture, clothing, accessories, household goodies, art, containers, keychains, and more. These upcycled designs can make great gifts for yourself and others, and they will leave you feeling good about supporting artists who are working hard to be sustainable in their practices.

We have highlighted some artists who work with upcycled designs.

upcycled designsOur Favorite Creators of Upcycled Designs

Upcycled Ashley

Ashley Michele is based out of Sarasota, Florida. She specializes in handmade, customizable products all made from discarded materials. Most notably, her earrings take old bottle caps and turn them into beautiful statement pieces. She has gotten nothing but positive, five star reviews from her customers on Etsy, many of them noting how quickly her custom jewelry pieces are made and shipped. Check out her page to see her beautiful and unique designs.

7StarsCreations

Shop owner Tara Chatterjee of 7StarsCreations is based out of Australia. She specializes in upcycled vegan and leather goods, wallets, clothings, bags, and jewelry. She is passionate about creating quirky and innovative products.

GlassRedux

Shop owner Becca has been selling upcycled and repurposed glass and lighting accessories from Etsy since 2010. She makes everything from lamps, soap pumps, magnets, lights, and ornaments. Her designs are very creative; she even offers a hanging pendant made from an old Absolut Vodka bottle! You can feel good about your purchase knowing it saved glass from a landfill.

NewLifeStyleCreation

Anne-Marie Mcafee is based out of Florida and makes furniture and home decor from upcycled material, reclaimed wood, glass, and scrap metal. Her products range from large and elaborate chandeliers made from repurposed wood to toilet paper holders made from old horse shoes. As she says on her Etsy page, “It’s good for the planet and it’s a new life for some old and forgotten pretty things from the past!”

SneakyPea

SneakyPea is a children’s clothing and accessory company. Bridget, the owner, specializes in baby, toddler, and girl dresses and clothes, bloomers, diaper covers, all using upcycled and vintage fabrics sourced locally in Pennsylvania. She is an Etsy Favorite and has hundreds of impressive 5 star reviews from very satisfied customers. Check out her shop for all your children’s clothing needs!

We hope these artists showed you that upcycled designs are good for the world, and good for you! Supporting creators that use recycled materials and turn them into something new and beautiful is a great way to go green use your purchasing power for good. And the best part is that their products make beautiful additions to your home, jewelry and clothing collections.

Do you have an upcycle design shop? Let us know in the comments for a shout out on social media! 

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Making Things From Junk: How to Make Things Out of Recycled Materials

This month, we are celebrating sustainability! We want to encourage our readers to think outside the box when it comes to being eco-friendly. One great way to go green is through making things from junk: reusing trash and making it into something beautiful. This can serve several purposes. It reduces waste, makes beautiful decorations and gifts, and can be a fun family activity! Next time you are looking for a DIY project, take a look at this list we made and you can see the beautiful things that come from making things from junk.

Making Things from Junk

  1. Make a beautiful vase with pennies.

This idea comes from Lifehack.org. Have an old vase you don’t love anymore? Spice it up and renew it! You can add pennies to the outside using glue and it will shine like new and look great on your mantle.

Making things from junk

  1. Turn your teacup into a succulent container

This idea comes from The Inspired Room and shows that making things from junk can be really simple. If you have old teacups, don’t throw them out! There are many cute things you can do with them, including making a home for your succulents.DIYBlogPost2

  1. Turn an old tire into a planter.

This idea comes from DIY Showoff. This one is super fun and customizable! You can pick the color you paint the tire and the flowers and plants to fill it with. Just be sure you give the tire a good clean before you start!recycle old junk

  1. Make a Dog Bed out of an old drawer.

This comes from DIY Network. Making things from scratch can be good for pets, too! This can come from an old dresser drawer you are giving away, or even one that you see on the street. Your dog will love this cozy, custom bed, and you will feel good about not throwing away a perfectly good drawer.DIYBlogPost4

  1. Turn an old trampoline into a hanging bed swing

This ambitious project comes from Tiny House on the Prairie. This one is is a big project but can have great results. If you are getting rid of an old trampoline or know someone who is, this is a fantastic way to upcycle it into a place where you can relax and unwind from the day. And, it’s beautiful! This would make a fun weekend project for the family. DIYBlogPost5

  1. Wind Chimes Made From Flower Pots

Spice up your porch, yard, or garden with these DIY wind chimes from My Home My Style. All you need is an old flower pot you are not using anymore, some string, some colorful shells, and some tools. It’s a quick project that can add beauty to your outdoor space!

DIYBlogpost6

We hope these projects showed you that making things from junk can be fun and easier than you might have thought. These DIY ideas are good for the environment, will beautify your home, and will provide fun projects to enjoy as a family. Try them out and let us know what you think!

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Easy Sustainable Living Tips To Incorporate Into Your Life

Many of us want to do our part to make the world a better place, and often times this means going green. Sustainable living is a lifestyle that attempts to reduce our footprint and use of the earth’s resources. It can seem like an overwhelming task, but in reality, there are many small, feasible changes we can make that can add up and make a big difference. Here are a few sustainable living tips that will help you feel like you’re contributing in a positive way to our environment.

Sustainable Living Tips

  • Commit to biking or walking to work one day a week

If weather permits where you live, bike or walk to work once a week. This has so many benefits beyond reducing your carbon footprint. It saves you money from gas and wear and tear on your car. It gets your blood pumping and heart racing, getting some cardio in before work. It leaves you feeling awake and energized for your work day. Everybody wins!

Sustainable living tips

Sustainable living tips2Save and reuse your jars and glass containers

Do you buy spaghetti sauces, pickles, or drinks that come in glass containers? Instead of throwing them out when you are done, try cleaning them out and reusing them! They can be used to store food, homemade salad dressings, and cups!

  • Ditch the plastic water bottles

This one seems like a no brainer: plastic water bottles are bad for everyone. It can get expensive and inconvenient to stop and buy a plastic bottle every time you want water. And, they are terrible for our environment. Invest in a reusable water bottle and refill it whenever you are thirsty.

  • Eat less meat

This is one of the most simple sustainable living tips you can try! Eating less meat is good for your body and good for the environment. But, you don’t have to quit meat cold turkey (pun intended!). You can start slow. Try meatless Mondays, or cut out processed meat for a month, then move on to red meat. Slow change is often more sustainable than quick change, anyway.

  • Skip the napkins and utensils when getting takeout

How often do you order takeout only to find the restaurant has stuffed tons of napkins and plastic utensils in your bag? If you are eating at home, ask the restaurant ahead of time to skip out on the plastic and paper goods. This saves them money and resources, and reduces waste!

  • Carpool when you can

If you and friends or family are heading to the same area, try carpooling. It might be a little out of the way, or make your commute slightly longer, but carpooling reduces car waste and can be a lot more fun.

  • Say no to junk mail – or recycle it right away

Junk mail is a huge culprit of paper waste. If there are some magazines or catalogues you can live without, contact the organizations sending you junk mail and ask them to stop. If you are getting tons of unsolicited junk mail, you can at least throw it straight into the recycling bin when you get it to stop it from cluttering your house and ending up in the trash.

These sustainable living tips are meant to provide you with some easy, simple ideas to make a difference in your daily life and a difference in our world. Try them out and see how it goes!

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