Buying Local is Sweeping the Nation Like a Holiday Storm!

Remember the movie, Support Your Local Sheriff? Well, it’s your turn and time to consider joining the thousands of Americans who have decided to Support their Local Businesses.

Local Shopping is not just a regionalized trend, but an increasingly popular phenomenon that is sweeping across America as consumers are turning their backs on big business (franchises and chains) and are shopping at small, local brick and mortar businesses, restaurants and boutiques shops.

The Levitch family from Scottsdale, Arizona made a decision to stay away from national retailers and restaurants for an entire year – no more Costco, Old Navy or franchised food shops.  Can you imagine what a huge commitment that is?  Applause, please.  You can visit the Levitch blog as they post updates on their experiences discussing the impact both positive and negative of only “shopping local.”

Why Shop Local?

There is a trend toward buying more natural, less processed, more locally grown foods from local farmers you will find at Farmers Markets, Food Fairs and small corner grocery stores.  Mindful consumers want to know where their meat, eggs and vegetables come from.  What’s in them?  How was it grown?  Who grew it?  What did the cows and chickens eat?  Can I safely consume this?

When we shop local we

  • Keep money and jobs in our community.
  • Create more tax revenue for the city and state.
  • Have more choices of higher quality products and services.
  • Have access to fresher produce, more natural and less processed, locally grown vegetables, fruits and meats.
  • Are able to ask for details on product manufacturer and production conditions.
  • Meet the owners and growers of your food products; we can even visit their farm!
  • Infuse pride, creativity and passion back into our communities.
  • Have quality shopping experiences with polite, friendly people.  Business owners have a lot more at stake than a clerk in a multi-million dollar chain where they are just another face and employee ID number.

In this holiday shopping season isn’t it good to know that if you shop local, your money (largely) stays in the local economy bolstering businesses on your street and small shopping centers near your neighborhood.  Isn’t it great to know you are helping somebody’s mother, father, brother, son or daughter earn a living and provide local jobs for others?  Just think, somebody may get to “keep” their job because you care enough to shop local.

The impact of big business on our communities can be seen as local job losses occur.  Whenever a national retailer brings in two new jobs, three jobs are lost when a local business closes down.  (2)   Shopping locally owned businesses causes money to be recirculated over and over again creating up to 75% more tax revenue for your city and state.

On Small Business Saturday, President Obama said, “From the mom-and-pop storefront shops that anchor Main Street to the high-tech startups that keep America on the cutting edge, small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the cornerstones of our Nation’s promise.  These businesses create two out of every three new jobs in America…”

According to BuyLocalMN.com when Minnesota shoppers patronize small businesses [shop local] 63 cents of every dollar stays in the local economy as compared to 43 cents when customers shopped at major chain stores. (1)

In Arizona, for every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $73 remains in the local economy, and $27 leaves. For every $100 spent at a non-locally owned business, $43 remains in the local economy, and $57 leaves. (2)

Sew Much More employee Mary Kay Schwartz said. “We understand that if we buy local we benefit ourselves as residents and as business owners.”

Business alliances have now formed in about 140 cities and collectively organizations like Stay Local in New Orleans, the Metro Independent Business Alliance in Minneapolis- St. Paul, and Arizona Local First in Phoenix, have over 30,000 business members. (2)

Where to Shop Local in the Phoenix- Metropolitan Area

One can always find unique and imaginative apparel and  furnishing at local arts and crafts fairs, boutique shops and small brick and mortar businesses.

Local businesses like Shop to be Green can be found at the local farmer’s markets.  Shop to be green is a small green products eboutique that was born out of a love of organic, natural and sustainable products that promote a healthy lifestyle.  Visit them at their booth at the North Scottsdale Farmers Market on Saturdays, between 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM and on Sundays starting on January, 8, 2012 at the Scottsdale Street Fair from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Visit the Glendale shop of  Healthy Baby Happy Earth  Safe, healthy choices for your little ones.  Both Online Store & Retail Store. Healthy Baby Happy Earth is truly a family oriented business owned and operated by a mom and her daughter.

Get the best hand-pattied, all-beef juice burgers, sweet potato fries and all around best cheese steaks from Mike’s Burger and Cheese Steaks in Gilbert.  You’re in for a surprise in this Fifties style diner.

Sound Packaging LLC in Chandler can help you with your packaging needs!  As a manufacturer of custom packaging with state-of-the art equipment, Sound Packaging has the ability to produce the highest quality products with the shortest turn-around time in the industry.

Need help but can’t afford a full-time employee.  Need web research, secretarial/admin services, transcription services, marketing assistance, event planning or a writer?  Hire Your Virtual Assistant Services.

Stressed out from holiday shopping and need a relaxing massage?  Hire Live Well Therapeutic Massage to get the kinks worked our of your neck and your life.  Relax into the holiday and the new year.

For a complete listing of Local Arizona Business owners, see Arizona Local First.

So you can see, it’s a little like “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood,” brought to life.  Do you know who the local businesses are in your neighborhood?  Would you like to support them so they can stay in business and provide you with quality products and services?

There is a richness to be obtained in getting to “know” the corner grocery store owner or the manager of the local clothing boutique.  What about the local butcher shop?  Are there any of those left?  The impact that local shopping provides is inestimable.  Shopping local will build stronger, more supportive local communities bringing creativity and passion back into our local economies and into our lives.

Shop local, be seen, be green, give green.

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Himalayan Salts Light Up Your Life in a Healthful Way

A health trend is rapidly developing around the use and benefit of Himalayan Salt.  For years, many European countries have promoted health and rejuvenation by using hot salt springs and salt mines. Salt mines, often spa-like in appearance, provide a restful place for individuals to rest.  As they relax the dry, negative ion environment of the salt mine improves their mood and promotes an overall calm.

There are salt mines in many places:  Himalayas, Austria, and Germany.  Salt mines have such a tremendous reputation that German companies will often reward overworked employees by sending them to a salt mine for rejuvenation.

Gourmet Himalayan Salt Cooking and Serving TilesNot everyone can travel to Asia or Europe to take advantage of the rejuvenating benefits of salt mines.  You can, however, have the same rejuvenating, calming effects right in your own home as you breathe salt-treated air, cook with salt tiles and bathe in Himalayan salt crystals.

What makes Himalayan salt different from table salt?

Salt is essential for life and we all know that you cannot live without it.  For our bodies to  function properly we need to give them the right kind of nutrients.

If you were to look at a periodic table of elements you would see many elements on that table that the human body needs for proper function.  Not surprisingly, 84 of those essential elements can be found in Himalayan salt.

Himalayan Bath Salt Crystals contain magnesium, potassium, bromide, and calcium that is readily absorbed into the skin. The Himalayan salts are naturally harvested from mineral-rich ocean waters that dried and crystallized 250 million years ago.  Many health benefits result from the use of Himalayan salt.

Ordinary table salt is approximately 97% to 99% sodium chloride and the remaining 3%  to 1% is composed of chemicals such as moisture absorbents, and iodine.  Salt used on your “table” has been heavily processed, chemically cleaned and then dried at temperatures exceeding 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit; the extreme heat alters the chemical structure of the salt.  Table salts are generally depleted of minerals that your body needs and the additives can be harmful when ingested.

Himalayan salts help

  1. regulate water content throughout your body and can assist in regulating blood pressure.
  2. support respiratory and sinus health.
  3. promote bone and nail strength by restoring a healthy calcium balance and increase vascular health.
  4. cure ear infections, lessens acne when used as a face wash, helps prevent bleeding gums and foot fungus.
  5. detoxify your body.  Himalayan salts help with the absorption of food particles through your intestinal tract and the elimination of heavy metals (lead, arsenic, mercury and calcium) in the body.  The salt can break down and dissolve the molecular structure of heavy metals.
  6. minerals easily penetrate your skin and promote a healthy pH balance in your cells (especially brain cells).
  7. reduce signs of aging and regulate your sleep.
  8. prevent muscle cramps.
  9. have a positive effect on your nervous system.
  10. support a natural, healthy libido.

Uses for Himalayan Salt

  1. Himalayan Salt Daily Detox Face ScrubHimalayan salt mixed with organic jojoba beads, calcium bentonite clay from the Death Valley combine together for this detoxifying face scrub leaving your skin re-mineralized, glowing and healthy.
  2. Prevent motion sickness by placing a small pouch of the energy balancing salt around your neck.
  3. Massage a concentrated brine solution (sole) onto your head and neck for a headache.  In the event of a severe headache use a cold compress.
  4.  Asthma sinusitis and bronchitis can be treated with brine inhalation therapy.  Pollutants are expelled by coughing.
  5. Himalayan salts can be used for rheumatism, joint ailments and bites/wounds of insects.
  6. When mixed with essential oils the salts are great for aromatherapy.
  7.  Himalayan salts, used in a bath,  reduce inflammation of the muscles and joints (similar to Epsom salts).  The bromides in the salt relax muscles while relieving pain and soreness. Individuals who experience recurring infections have been known to turn their health around with regular salt bathing treatments.

Globe Shaped Salt Lamp | Reduce Indoor Air PollutionUse a Salt Lamp for Calm, Mood Lighting and Indoor Air Pollution Reduction

Using a salt lamp can help reduce indoor air pollutants.

What indoor pollutants, you ask?

The electromagnetic frequency waves created by the popular use of large HD televisions, cell phones, PDAs and computer monitors routinely bombard our bodies with “indoor energy” or “electro-smog.”

Whether you call the indoor bombarding electromagnetic frequencies “electro-smog” or “electric air pollution,” these invisible frequencies create serious air pollution right in your home.  When watching TV, the frequencies emitted may subject your body to frequency vibrations twenty times higher and faster than your own brain waves. You may experience side effects from the electro-smog such as sleep interruptions, lapses in concentration, nervousness among others.

Beautiful, soothing salt lamps help to counteract the harmful electromagnetic frequencies by cleansing the air and increasing the number of negative ions released.  The negative ions that are released combine with excessive positive ions having a neutralizing effect.

Enhance serenity and ambiance of selective rooms (or multiple rooms) with the strikingly attractive Himalayan salt lamps.

Whether you are bathing, cooking, scrubbing or just plain breathing,
get a pure and organic Himalayan salt that you can trust.

Plastic Bags, Petro-Chemical Are Killing Us and Destroying Our Environment

Plastic bags are killing us and polluting our environmentWe give little thought to grabbing our groceries in the recycled plastic bags or putting our sandwiches and leftovers into baggies.  There is no doubt that we have been provided with many valuable medical and industrial products from the research and manufacturing of the petrochemical industry.  Most of us, however, give little thought to the possible dangerous effects of petrochemicals.

For instance did you know that petrochemicals can be found in many food products, health and beauty products, water, household cleaning products, and even children’s toys? (1)

Of the more than 75,000 chemicals registered with the Environmental Protection Agency, only a fraction have gone through complete testing to evaluate whether they might cause problems for human health. (2)  There are more chemicals in use today than we can categorize.  We have no idea of the effects on humans or wildlife as only a few of these chemicals have gone through any complete testing cycles.

Harmful Side Effects

Harmful side effects of “use and misuse over time” of plastic bags and petrochemicals include:

  • serious health problems including cancers, endocrine disruption, birth defects, liver and brain damage
  • Plastic Bags are Killing Wildlifepoisoning and death of wildlife; thinking it was a food source, animals have died from ingesting large amounts of plastic
  • release of toxic chemical compounds as plastics photo-degrade into the soil and water
  • littering and clogging of our eco-systems: community waterways, roadways and beaches (due to their light weight, plastic bags are easily carried away by winds to become entangled in trees, fences, poles, rain gutters, etc.)

Plastic bags, made from petrochemicals, pose a menace to humans and wildlife alike. The substance, polyethylene (a thermoplastic made from oil), that is used for plastic bag manufacturing is virtually indestructible and never completely degrades like paper products do. However, plastic bags do “photo degrade” (break down into smaller more toxic polymers) releasing their toxins and poisoning the soil, water and eco-system.

Dr. Anthony Andrady, a research scientist and author of Plastics in the Environment, said, “Except for a small amount that’s been incinerated, every bit of plastic manufactured in the world for the last fifty years or so still remains. It’s somewhere in the environment.”(4)

The State of California spends $25 million every year to manage plastic bag pollution, and cities in Southern California cities spent in excess of $1.7 billion for trashed and impaired waterways. City of San Francisco officials estimate that they spend $8.5 million each year to try to get a handle on litter from plastic bags. (3) Director of San Francisco’s Department of Environment, Jared Blumenfeld, said, “There’s harsh economics behind recycling:  It costs $4,000 to process and recycle 1 ton of plastic bags, which can then be sold on the commodities market for $32.”(5) Clearly, recycle plastic bags is not a viable answer.

While less than 1% of bags are recycled (Christian Science Monitor Newspaper (5)), data released by the United States Environmental Protection Agency shows that somewhere between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags are consumed world-wide each year (National Geographic News, September 2, 2003 (5)).

According to U.S. National Academy of Sciences, landfills were not filled to capacity or overflowing because ocean-going vessels dumped 8 million pounds of plastic annually into our seas and waterways. (6)

A world-wide ban has been called as cities, states, and countries have been asked to discontinue the manufacture and usage of plastic bags due to the severe impact to the environment and eco-systems.  Achim Steiner, head of the UN Environmental Program, recently said “there is simply zero justification for manufacturing [plastic bags] any more, anywhere.” (3)

Plastic Bags Banned Across the World

Countries, states and cities that have banned the use of plastic bags or strongly reduced usage include:

  • Bangladesh, and Rwanda have banned plastic bags; China has banned free plastic bags.  China will save 37 millions barrels of oil each year due to their ban of free plastic bags (CNN.com/asia, January 9, 2008) (5)
  • Ireland took the lead in Europe, taxing plastic bags in 2002, since have reduced their consumption of plastic bags by 90% (5)
  • Israel, Canada, western India, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Taiwan, and Singapore have also banned or are moving toward banning of plastic bags – Planetsave.com February 16, 2008 (5)
  • San Francisco becomes the first U.S. City to ban plastic bags – March 27, 2007 – NPR.org (5)
  • Oakland and Boston are considering a ban, The Boston Globe  – May 20, 2007 (5)

I am just a single person, what can I do about it?

Did you know that if you used one cloth bag a week you could save an average of six bags a week, 24 bags a month, 288 bags a year and approximately 22,176 bags over the course of your lifetime? (5)

  • Carry your own reusable cloth bags when you go shopping. Consider purchasing the set of 5 cloth bags for yourself and family members.
  • Use recycled paper bags.
  • Encourage local stores to sell reusable shopping bags, and/or to charge customers a small fee for the plastic bags as an incentive for customers to become “green conscious.”  The money collected by the small surcharge can be donated to a green charity of choice.
  • Write letters to businesses when you notice excessive use of packaging materials asking them to adopt more eco-friendly policies.
  • Write to your local politician as well as your federal representatives asking them to put forward robust eco-friendly legislation designed to eliminate or severely reduce the dependence and usage of plastic bags.
  • Shop at your local Farmer’s Market.  Support local businesses who provide fresh, organically grown produce.
  • Take part in Green America’s Plastic Free campaign by making your own laundry soap, purchasing items such as lip balm in plastic free, biodegradeable containers, returning plastic containers to businesses for recycling, repurposing and reuse, using plain old baking soda and water for brushing your teeth, etc.
  • Talk to your friends and neighbors – you may want to use compelling photos of wildlife or clogged waterway channels, etc. to bring up their awareness level.
  • As much as is practical, stop purchasing items made from plastic – you’ll be long dead, but that plastic food storage container will still be very much intact!

As a side note, if we were simply to reduce our consumption of plastic bags, we would have less dependency on foreign oil – maybe then we wouldn’t have to offer up our first child so we could fill up our gas tanks!

Paper degrades, but polymers are forever.

Sources:
(1) http://thomko.squarespace.com/petrochemicals-in-the-body/
(2) http://ecologycenter.org/erc/petroleum/body.html
(3) http://www.cawrecycles.org/issues/plastic_campaign/plastic_bags/problem
(4) http://moniqueattinger.hubpages.com/hub/The-Problem-With-Plastic-Bags
(5) http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080506/multimedia02/80505016
(6) http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/270/

The Top 10 Hottest Green Gifts Ideas for the Holidays

Yes, it is that yuletide time of year again!  Santa is making his list and checking it twice – who is on your holiday shopping list?  Have they been naughty or nice?  Whichever way you go, remember lumps of coal are totally organic!

All kidding aside, the holiday season gives us another opportunity to consider the circle of friends and family we love, our pets, neighborhoods and our communities at large.  As more people become tuned-in to the challenges facing our planet we find that giving eco-friendly gifts is on the rise.

Those of us who are “green” and care about our environment, have all heard the mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle.”   It is in that eco-friendly spirit we compiled the list of the top 10 hottest green gifts to give or to receive.

  1. Eco-Friendly Reuseable Cloth Shopping Bags Replace Plastic BagsFor Everyone:  Reuseable Shopping Bags and Produce bags – The Italians and Europeans have long been shopping this way.  Reusable mesh and cotton shopping bags were heavily used long before the introduction of the paper or plastic bag.  This is the greatest gift idea of all; I mean really how many plastic bags can one person really utilize? Not only are these reusable bags are perfect for shopping, but they can keep your veggies and fruits fresher longer when you keep them in the bags and store them in the refrigerator. Easily cared for, never bleached or chemically treated – consider giving a set of five full-size shopping bags to the shopper in your life.
  2. For Everyone:  100 % Organic Chocolate Sugar Body Polish – there are two kinds of chocolate in this world, the external kind and the internal kind … and both of them are quite yummy!  This winter, your dry, thirsty skin will welcome the silky smooth finish and glow you will get from using the sumptuous ChocolateSuper Yummy Organic Chocolate Sugar Body Polish Sugar Body Polish.  You will feel totally euphoric and your skin will be invigorated by this rich, thick exfoliating sugar scrub that looks, smells and feels like a fudge batter!  It smells so great, you‘ll be tempted to eat it!  The Chocolate Sugar Body Polish comes in an 11.5 oz. recyclable PET jar.  All natural, organic ingredients include Fair Trade CertifiedTM Brown Sugar/Cocoa Butter/Cocoa Powder, Aloe Vera Juice, Almond Oil, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Honey and Essential Oils.
  3. For Everyone:  Recycle a basket from your local thrift store or estate sale and prepare a Green Gift Basket filled with yummy organic home-made, eats and treats such as cookies, fudge, popcorn balls, banana nut or pumpkin breads, naturally sweetened candies, pestos, home-canned fruits, fresh organic fruits and nuts or even purchased items such as organic gourmet coffees and hot chocolate drink mixes.
  4. For Her:  Along with the holiday rush comes the holiday stress.  A great gift for that special lady in your life is a 100% organic cotton hooded bath robe and gift certificate to the best local spa.  She will melt into the one-on-one pampering and exit dazzling just in time for New Year’s Eve. If she’s more of a “wired” girl, consider buying her the recycled canvas iPad case.
  5. Super Cool and Geeky Watch Gear Cufflinks for HimFor Him:  We tend to think of men as DIYers …  is your guy a gadget guy? If so he’ll be pretty geared up about our Watch Gear Cufflinks that are made from old watch parts, but really work, featuring two watch movements. Not the engineer or programmer kind of guy – then he might enjoy a natural shaving cream or oil that provides a close shave and has an awesome moisturizing, conditioning effect.  Or is he more of a sports fan?  You can always purchase tickets to his favorite sporting or entertainment event (you can even do this on-line, if you can’t fit it into your busy holiday schedule!)
  6. For DIY’ers in Your Life:  Provide them with the materials to make: (1) a Necktie Wreath – using old colorful cotton neckties, (2) Teacup Candles, (3) Laundry Cup Wall Art – a starburst wall hanging made from old magazine pages and plastic detergent lids, or (4) books or guides for making cheese, wine, canning and freezing or other such “how to’s” that match their areas of interest.
  7. Perfect Hostess Gifts:  It’s party time.  You will likely be attending your favorite party this holiday season.  A great Green Gift to give your Host or Hostess is a rich, full-flavor organic wine, and some rich, healthy, dark chocolate and strawberries to nibble on along with it. You might even volunteer to bring biodegradable plates for the gala!  Some good chocolate choices include:  ChocoSol Darkness Eating Chocolate, a rich, 75% dark chocolate that is stone ground with a very earthy deep flavor and texture which encapsulates the Mayan cacao of Southern Mexico.  You can get the 3-Pack Organic Wine Package from Italy which includes a 2010 Pinot Grigio Perlage, 2008 Terra di Chieti Bianco Perlage and a 2008 Sangiovese Marche Perlage.  Bring along fresh, organic strawberries from your local Farmer’s Market.
  8. ImagiPlay Planet Pixies - Perfect Toy for Your Children to Teach Them Eco-Friendly ConceptsChild’s Green Gifts:  It’s the perfect time to demonstrate to your children your commitment to be eco-friendly in ways that are playful and fun for them.  Absolutely great gifts for them include (1)  Eco House by Wonderworld Toy – a wooden toy house, (2) Cardboard Astro Rocket kit,  (3)  ImagiPLAY Planet Pixies,  or (4) Eco-Kids – Eco-Crayons to use on paper made from recycling banana bark.  I suggest you shop around as prices vary widely online.
  9.  Appliances and Equipment for Everyone:  There are so many options now for going green with our electricity and applicance.  More and more manufacturers are concentrating on developing products that make “earth sense.”  Among the plethora of green appliance and technology gifts are (1) Rechargeable Batteries and Battery Chargers (some are even USB compatible rechargeable batteries and can be charged from a USB port on your computer while you are working!) (2) sewing machines for that creative fashionista in  your life who can recreate the latest trend in a jiffy, (3) Kill A Watt 4460 EZ Power Meter  – what a great idea, just connect this to any device in your home to this and you can see for yourself just how efficient the device really is! or (4) Solar Tea Lantern (single) or Solar Glass String Lights (multiple) Let’s get the party started by “lighting up our lives” with these solar delights.  Purchase individual gorgeous hand-blown glass solar lanterns or a string of them and set the mood for any party – and best of all – you use no electricity at all!
  10. For Everyone:  Consider purchasing a sponsorship in an environmental group, or an adoption from sources like (1)  Defenders of Wildlife (“Adopt-An-Animal”), or  (2)  The Nature Conservancy (“Adopt-An-Acre”) Adoption ideas from the Nature Conservancy include: adopting a coral reef in Palau, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, or an acre in Africa, Australia, etc. for as little as $50.

With all this holiday cheer and gift giving, let’s not forget about Green Gifts for Your Pet:  You can pamper your bed by purchasing organic cotton beds,  new leashes, organic healthy treats, and a multitude of other fun pet gifts from e-stores like Abundant Earth.  You will find a broad range of eco-friendly gift options for your pet at Abundant Earth.
You have bought for everyone else, what about your employees or coworkers?

Green Gifts for Your Employees and Coworkers:

  1. Eco-Friendly Therm-O VesselReusable travel mugs – “help them help us” –  to continue to NOT polluting our environment.  Even employees who are NOT really focused on eco-friendly activities will appreciate the beauty and function of the Aquaovo Thermo-o.  You will appreciate the absence of Styrofoam and paper product polluting our streams and rivers.  The beautiful, all-glass water bottle comes with a removable filter so you can have tea without needing to waste filters or cups.  The double insulation keeps drinks hot or cold without being sweaty or “too hot to the touch.”  With a large mouth opening it can easily accommodate ice cubes and is easily cleaned.
  2. Give movie passes, concert tickets or sporting events tickets.  Tickets are always in vogue and are a welcome treat, especially in a time when their money is being redirected to present buying, holiday parties and so forth.
  3. Food Gift Baskets from your local Farmer’s Market, filled with all the organic, fresh and seasonably available fruits, veggies and cheeses is always a great choice. You can prepare them yourself by recycling baskets from your local resale shop or getting great buys from your local Farmer’s Market for already made baskets.  Dress them up with a pretty bow and give them with a joyful smile, and wahla, you have one happy employee!

Above all, please give yourself the gift of time, breath and a sense of knowing that you are making the planet a better place to live today, tomorrow and forever.

Your eco-friendly efforts never go in vain!

Happy shopping and happy “green” holidays.