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Americans will spend an estimated $23.9 billion on Valentine’s Day this year.

If you think this Hallmark holiday feels out of control in the money department, here are some stats from the environmental aspect:
1 – Valentines Day activities and purchases result in an additional 9 million kilograms of CO2 released into the atmosphere compared to a “normal” day.

2 – Every cut flower has a footprint – for the 250 million roses produced overseas just for Valentine’s Day in the US, 6.4 million liters of fuel are used and 20,250 metric tons of carbon dioxide are released.

3 – More chemicals are used on cut flowers than food – and a fifth of the chemicals used on imported cut flowers, are banned or untested in the states.

And this doesn’t include the additional waste streams.
You know, the glitter (plastic) covered… everything, that can’t be recycled.
And the cheap chocolate gifts boxes put together by child slave labor.

This Valentine’s Day make sustainable gifting choices like:
💚 a hand made, practical gift from sustainable materials
💚 fair trade, ethically made, sustainably grown chocolate
💚 a living plant or spring-sown seeds in lieu of cut flowers
💚 jewelry that is responsibly mined and ethically produced
💚 time – like a game night, a cooking class, or a sexy outing

Stats come from: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, @thebalancemoney, @petalrepublic, and @plasticoceans

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Did you know that buildings (yes, like the one you’re sitting in) account for an incredible amount of the global carbon emissions?

According to Saint Gobin, a UK based construction group, “buildings account for around 35% of resources, 40% of energy use, consume 12% of the world’s drinkable water and produce almost 40% of global carbon emissions.”

That’s a lot of emissions – and this sector isn’t changing very rapidly because, for the most part, we think about the big changes we need to make as a society away from fossil fuels BEFORE we think about what we can do with our own homes.

So what can you do?

1 – Focus on insulating your home. Old houses were so often built with single pane windows and without insulation that heating and air conditioning are consistently wasted by escaping into the atmosphere, increasing emissions, and driving up your gas bill.

2 – Switch to LEDs. If you haven’t already, make sure that you’re only using LED bulbs in your home to significantly reduce emissions.

3 – Reuse and Upcycle. Try to find reclaimed things for your building materials and furniture. Choosing reused building materials and home goods rather than new helps eliminate items that may otherwise go to the landfill and reduces emissions required to produce new materials.

4 – Watch Out for Inefficient Appliances. Adjusting your refrigerator up a few degrees can help lower overall energy usage without spoiling your food. Unplug smaller appliances when not in use. Air conditioning and heating rely on natural gas, so adjusting your thermostat a few degrees can not only help reduce emissions but also lower your energy bill.

 

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Before you take your clothing donation to the local second-hand donation drop off, we want to call some attention to the mountains of discarded clothing around the world.

Yes, we said “mountains”.

Often times, your well-meaning clothing donation ends up in bales and are exported to places like Chile, Brazil, Ghana, and Kenya.

When importers get their bales, they sell them directly to the merchants who sell at local markets for reduced prices. Merchants sort through their bales to see what they can sell and discard the rest – often 50% or more of a bale!

That leads to THOUSANDS OF TONS of clothing ending up in landfills in the import countries.

While some of the donated clothing is made from compostable materials, most is some form of polyester blend. So not only do they not break down, they leach chemicals into the environment. They also provide breeding grounds for bacteria that cause illness and infection.

These festering cesspools of clothes form literal mountains, miles long and taller than a two-story building.

Check out the incredible short film “Textile Mountain,” shot partially in Kenya that raises awareness about the second hand clothing industry and the clothing that end up in the landfills, on river sides, and rotting in the waterways.

What can you do?

– Reuse and recycle as much of your textiles as possible.

– Only donate clean clothes that can legitimately be resold in your local market

– Reduce the amount you buy all together

Image credit: @textilemountain

Post Credit: @dandelion_branding

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Did you know: in the United States alone, we use nearly 80 million pounds of pesticides and trillions of gallons of water to keep our lawns lush and green. (Clean Water Action & University of Minnesota)

Turf grass is a socially accepted mono-crop that offers almost no benefit to us or the environment. In fact, grass-only lawns are problematic.

1 – Grass has short root systems and needs to be watered more frequently than native plants
2 – A grass-only lawn removes essential plants and flowers that make up a biodiverse ecosystem
3 – It depletes the soil below it, leading to an increase in the need for chemical interference

How can you keep your lush lawn without needing the water and chemical additives?

Renovate your lawn into a bee lawn!

A bee lawn is still nice to walk on, but it needs to be cut less, watered less, and it needs less chemical fertilizers because the plants work together with the soil! You don’t need pesticides because you’ll have a healthy balance of natural pollinators and insects that help keep the balance in your yard.

And it isn’t hard to do.

The University of Minnesota recommends simply adding white clover, self heal, and creeping thyme seeds (rather than grass seeds) to your lawn when it’s time for seeding!

Have you transitioned to a bee-friendly lawn? How was the process for you? Let us know in the comments.

Credit: @dandelion_branding