Want to shorten your life & be unhappy?… cut down trees.

Well, that was harsh.  But research has shown that it’s true.

treed-street-2I’ve talked about my frustration with my neighbor cutting down all of the trees in her backyard, and then (as if a “tree-hating virus” had attacked the street) my other neighbor cut down healthy trees too!  We were all heartbroken at this senselessness, but there was little we could do to stop the insanity.

I wish I could have shared the results of the latest research with them before the chainsaws-went-to-town.  We all know how environmentally important trees are – for providing oxygen and shade, improving air quality, conserving water, preserving soil and supporting wildlife (as both food and habitat), but the latest research has found that trees actually make people live longer and feel happier… and that doesn’t really surprise me.

According to studies:  (1) treed streets have a lower rate of crime, (2) residents have happier relationships and (3) perform better in tests; (4) trees help us to psychologically rejuvenate and they even (5) impact our “physical, psychological and social well-being”; (6) residents live longer and (7) have an overall better health and (8) children behave better in a “nature setting” than in a treeless area, especially those with an attention dtree-hugeficit concern… all I can say is “amazing”.   The research even showed that those with less access to green space (even if only a nearby park) have a shorter attention span, poor management of major life issues and poor impulse control.

I’m definitely not a supporter of money spent frivolously on silly research but I admittedly like that these studies support what I’ve suspected all along:  aside from the environmental importance of our precious trees, they truly have an altering effect on our well-being.

Today, I’m asking you to… hug a tree, love a tree, feel grateful for every tree you see… and please, don’t cut the healthy ones down… because they have a greater impact on our lives than we ever realized.

*(tree hug photo:  Jim Sabo)

Mom Goes Green’s 100th post… a holiday review!

Wow.  How does one even return after a big holiday?  (And wow!  My 100th post… how did I get here?!?)

It was undoubtedly amazing to see the wonder of Christmas morning through the eyes of our kids as they marveled at all of the goodies that Santa had packed and delivered in his sleigh… but likely quite annoying to them when I insisted that, before playtime began, they needed to collect the wrapping paper for recycling (despite my urging for alternative wrapping, it’s hard to convince a 3- and 6-year old that Santa decided to “go green” and was wrapping presents in newspaper this year!).

Maybe I should talk about how, during all of our Christmas gatherings, I tried to convince our party-goers that “real” plates and cloth napkins were “okay with me” because they don’t create excess waste, and running the dishwasher and a load of laundry was better than the alternative.  Or how, when visiting other’s homes, I tried to use real glasses and plates instead of their throw-aways!

Or maybe I should talk about how kid’s toys are so overpackaged that I am cringing at the fact that, for the first time in a long time, my garbage can is overflowing and I’m cursing all of the manufacturers for their over-abundance of unrecyclable materials… (does one PixOs package really need 17 different plastic bags?!?!).

Or perhaps I should tell you about how Mother Nature gifted us with an extraordinary day of 67 degree weather in Ohio, but I was also grumbling at her(!) because the day was spent outdoors cleaning up all of the leaves that were tucked in every corner of our yard (since an “early winter” prevented us from completing clean-up when the leaves were dry… and clean-up would have been SO much easier!)  She wrapped up the evening with such fierce winds that it bent the support pole of one of our outdoor decorative trees in HALF… could have done without THAT one, lady!

I should thank our families for recognizing that we have so much already that a ton of gifts were NOT needed… and they recognized that money is still an incredible gift when it is given with a “well, we just really wanted you to use this for something you needed, or wanted, instead of buying something you didn’t”… yes, moola is still a good gift!  And yes, an unused gift IS waste.

But I know I need to mention our most thoughtful gift… from our beloved friends, Jenn & Paul, who gifted us with a certificate from Kiva.org.  This certificate allowed us to donate our gifted money to a “working poor” recipient of our choosing.  We selected a man in Tajikistan who desperately needed money to buy seeds for farming and help support his family.  Over the holiday $1.3 million dollars were given and EVERY recipient was granted their full loan!  Once they are able to repay the loan, we are given back our donated money to grant to another needy recipient… and this wonderful cycle starts all over again!  Amazing, what a difference was made around the globe by so many people who thought far beyond traditional gift giving and decided, instead, to help those who really need it!  Thanks, Jenn & Paul!  We LOVED the gift that we were able to “re-gift”!!!

In conclusion, I guess I should just say that it was a wonderful Christmas… because it was, and we are blessed.  We have each other and that’s all that really matters.

I truly hope your holiday was one to remember… and full of cheer, love and the real spirit of Christmas!

‘Tis the season… more ways to “give green”… guilt-free!

Yes, ‘tis the season and the clock is tick, tick, ticking away (a week and counting…. eek!).

I recently wrote about some of my favorite ways to give, with some tangible and intangible ideas for giving the gift of green and/or helping the environment and some of its inhabitants.  Well, as I realize ideas I didn’t give or discover more great options, I can’t help but want to continue to share… especially because of that damn “ticking clock” and the stress of it all.

So, I know a lot of us would prefer to give “something”, but if you give something, there are a lot of great ways to give a gift that doesn’t impact the planet like traditional giving… so, give these some thought:

  • Give a live plant.  Who doesn’t love a beautiful plant to liven & brighten their home while consuming some CO2 and giving some oxygen!
  • Give an organic fruit basket. (Be sure to refer to my do and do not buy organics list!)
  • Give a framed work of art… not from a famous artist… one created by your kids… or YOU, for that matter.  It would mean more than a Picasso to most recipients!
  • Give your best homemade “goodie” and share the recipe! Or simply share the recipes of some of your favorite dishes.
  • Give a “helping” certificate. Whether it’s for running errands, babysitting, cooking a dinner on request or even setting-up a “non-recycler” with all of the tools to start recycling, it will be appreciated!
  • Give CFLs or recycled batteries & a charger. They’re energy saving and keep nasty trash from landfills.  Plus, it’s like handing over $$ because they will save, save, save!
  • Give a handmade gift… like a candleholder made from a glass jar or a pen holder from a can.    Get creative, use recycled materials and remnants… you’re creative, so CREATE!
  • Give something that can be used. If the recipient won’t use it, it’s waste.  Sounds harsh, but    it’s true.

Still not finding something that feels like “the one”?  Well, there are still lots more ways to “give back” and give the gift of green.  Please consider:

  • Change the Present – you can contribute and honor someone by helping to restore a fragile ecosystem in Kenya, purchase carbon offsets, plant trees, preserve wildlands, adopt wildlife or any one of about 1600 causes of your choice!

And if you feel you need to give a more traditional gift, at least check out:

  • Treehugger Holiday Gift Guide – for over 100 green gift ideas, from gadgets to fashions to toys
  • MSN Green – everything under the sun, including a terrific list of 25 great green gifts under $25

Is your head spinning?  Well, just grab that “to do” gift list and look no further for answers… I hope I’ve given you everything you need to cross off the entire list.

(frame image from:  www.kidsartframes.com )

Gift guide: Green gifts that REALLY give back

My least favorite part of the holidays has to be the stress over what to “give”.  I am hard pressed to know anyone who really NEEDS anything.  We’re all pretty fortunate and for that, I am definitely not complaining.

Are you having gift-giving dilemmas too?  (I think the sound of a huge “yes” was probably deafening!) Well, here are a few miscellaneous items that I have given kudos recently, including:

  • The “Starter Kit for Change” – packed full of great green goodies for yourself, the earth-lover in your life or to help a newbie get started (and they’re havin’ a holiday sale!)
  • Cynergreen Bottles – fab, affordable bottles to keep the BPA away from loved ones
  • Movies Wall-e (for kids), An Inconvenient Truth (for adults) and Planet Earth (for the whole family)
  • Memberships – to environmental organizations, zoos, botanical gardens, etc…
  • Any kind of reusable bag

But I also firmly believe that the recipients of gifts don’t always need a tangible gift.  I would much rather know that my gift was a gift of “doing good” for the earth and environment.  Do you know someone like this?  If so, this list may be for you, for them, for our planet!

Also consider THESE amazing gifts:

(If you have a similar cause that is near and dear to your heart, let me know… I’ll add it to the list.)

So this year, consider forgoing that purchase of a socket set (he has six already) or that body & bath set (she has six already) or that sausage sampler basket (the whole family hates sausage).  Instead, give the gift of “green”, “environment”, “eco-“, “earth”, “nature”… call it what you will… just consider it…

Our planet needs gifts more than we do.

Real vs. Fake: the BIG debate…

Hey, where’s your mind?  You know I’m talking about Christmas trees, right?  Of course you did!… sheesh.

But the debate over real Christmas trees vs. the artificial option has been raging for some time.  Both sides give a pretty good argument but for as long as I can remember, my mom and now my own family have gone the route of artificial trees.

Aside from the fact that you can now buy them with the lights already attached (for the “no-cursing-over-the-tangled-light-strings”-factor!) they are easy to assemble so you can get to the fun part of decorating!  And my eco-friendly favorite factor… they get used year, after year, after year…

My husband would probably tell you a different story and that is the fact that I have compassion for literally everything(!) and would never dream of killing a tree!  He has been known to yell “OUCH!” when I bite into a piece of broccoli (to which I scream back “STOP IT!”) because then I feel bad for the broccoli! (Now you think I’ve gone mad, don’t you!)  Don’t laugh.  A friend of mine won’t put anything in the dishwasher by itself because she thinks it will be lonely.  (See, we’re all nuts!)

But seriously, the environmental side of using live trees is the fact that they require herbicides and pesticides for about 8-12 years before they’re a “sellable” size.  Add to that the carbon footprint of getting them to a selling site, unless you live near a tree farm or cut your own.  At the end of the season, they end up in the trash, unless you seek out a source for recycling them for mulch or compost.

On the opposite side, artificial trees are often manufactured in China (with PVC and, some say, lead) and you have to consider the “cost” of getting them to your local retailer, but they do get used again and again.  And often, they get donated to another family or organization before they eventually meet a landfill once they are tattered, old and no longer loved. 🙁   Unfortunately, I haven’t heard of a biodegradable artificial tree just yet.

So what is the answer to the debate?  Simply… I don’t know for sure.

Actually, the most environmental choice would be to buy a live, uncut tree with the root ball still intact and then plant it right after the holidays.  One consideration though (especially in cold climates) is digging a hole in the frozen ground.  For this, I recommend digging the hole ASAP and then you can just plant it as soon as the holidays are over. ( I also recommend talking to a professional about how to move them outdoors and properly plant them, to increase the chance of survival.)

But whatever you choose for your family, do the responsible thing and see that your real tree gets composed or mulched or use your artificial tree for years and years to come.

Now, I have to get back to steaming some broccoli…awww.  Poor broccoli.