Ten Ways To Go Green And Healthy At The Same Time

Living a healthy lifestyle and helping the environment go hand in hand. These are two goals that you can accomplish at the same time, without having to spend a lot of money on expensive exercise equipment or diet plans that you'll end up shirking within days. We've assembled a list of 10 ways to go green and improve your health simultaneously that are easy and cheap or free:

  • Air-dry your clothes: Washing machines use a lot of energy and fabric softeners often contain skin allergens that can result in irritation.
  • Buy local: The more products you buy that were manufactured far away from your city, the more gasoline was burned to bring it to you, which results in poor air quality.
  • Don't buy bottled water: Water from the tap is cheaper – and often healthier – than bottled water, according to Readers Digest. Bottlers are often less regulated than municipal water departments.
  • Don't eat meat: Meat is high in saturated fat and cholesterol, and clearing land for livestock has been devastating for the environment.
  • Eat vegetables instead: Veggies are far less resource-intensive than meat, and they're a lot better for you.
  • Go outside: According to PsychCentral.com, researchers have actually proven that simply being outside in fresh air will improve your health.
  • Plant trees around your house: Not only do trees act as natural air purifiers, they also cool the area around them, meaning that your home will need less air conditioning in the summer to stay cool.
  • Recycle as much as possible: Things you throw away end up in landfills, which cause major public health problems for nearby communities, including your own.
  • Use baking soda… for everything: Baking soda is non-toxic and can replace many household products. See this list of 51 things you can do with baking soda.
  • Walk to your appointments and errands: Exercise gets you out of your gas-guzzling car and helps you slim down and improve cardiovascular health.

Keep checking back with LifeIsGreen.com for more information on going green.

Are The FDA’s New Limits On Antibiotic Use For Livestock Enough?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced new rules that would limit the use of antibiotics in livestock feed, giving in to increasing pressure from green business and public health advocates who are alarmed by the agriculture industry's reliance on these chemicals. HealthDay.com reports that the new rules will encourage farmers and their veterinarians to use the antibiotics only when animals are actually sick, rather than simply adding them to the feed of all livestock.

However, it's debatable whether the specific changes that are being implemented will do enough to curb use of antibiotics. The FDA is essentially asking drug companies – particularly Zoetis and Elanco, the biggest suppliers of these medicines to farmers – to voluntary change the labeling on the drugs so that there are more visible warnings about the effects of overuse. In addition, veterinarians are being asked to exercise greater oversight of the application of antibiotics.

Those in favor of stricter enforcement are so far unimpressed by the FDA's new rules.

"There's no reason why voluntary recommendations will make a difference now, especially when FDA's policy covers only some of the many uses of antibiotics on animals that are not sick," Avinash Kar, the health attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. " FDA is failing the American people."

Environmental activists are concerned about the use of antibiotics because over reliance on them can allow certain strains of bacteria to develop resistance to antibiotic remedies used for humans. This could lead to the creation of a "super germ" that doesn't respond to treatment, resulting in an epidemic. If you're concerned about the use of these chemicals in raising food, the best thing you can do to put a stop to it is to purchase only organic food items that specifically state on the packaging that antibiotics were not used. These are now widely available at most supermarkets.

For more news and information about environmentally friendly products, keep visiting LifeIsGreen.com.

What Are Some Natural Ways To Purify Indoor Air?

If you live in an older building, or your roommates aren't particularly clean people, you may be having problems with air quality in your home. While it's tempting to simply ignore the problem and continue living your life, it should be noted that poor air quality indoors can cause a number of long term health problems, including the development of allergies and even cancer. But purifying air in your house, apartment or room doesn't have to involve purchasing a bunch of expensive eco friendly products.

Instead, consider addressing the issue by trying the following approaches:

  • Dehumidify: Keeping your room below 50 percent humidity will prevent the collection of moisture, which can lead to mold and mildew gathering in corners.
  • Get some plants: Plants are good at removing certain toxins from the air, including ammonia and benzene. According to NASA, the five best plants for air purification include the areca palm, bamboo palm, lady palm, rubber plant and Janet Craig dracaena.​
  • Quit smoking and don't let others smoke inside: You've p​robably heard since you were a child how bad smoking is for your health, but it can't be overstated how disastrous it is for indoor air quality. Among other things, cigarettes contain formaldehyde, which can result in skin irritation, rashes, coughing and sore throat.
  • Ventilate your kitchen: Cooking produces a number of chemicals, including nitrogen dioxide, so it's a good idea to ventilate while you have the stove top or oven going.

Purifying the air in your home will help you achieve a healthier lifestyle without having to make a major investment or effort.

LifeIsGreen.com is your number one source on new ways to think green, so keep visiting!

Study: Organic Milk Contains More Helpful Fatty Acids Than Conventional Milk

A new study conducted by researchers at the Washington State University's Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR) found that organic milk contained much higher levels of healthy fatty acids, also known as omega-3 compounds, than conventionally cultivated milk. The findings reinforce the notion long argued by, green living advocates that organic products are not only environmentally beneficial and of higher quality, but are also fundamentally more nutritious.

The study, which was published by the journal PLOS One, analyzed 384 samples of both conventional and organic milk from farms all over the country over a period of 18 months. The researchers used whole milk, as nonfat milk contains no omega-3 or omega-6 acids. They found that organic varieties contained 62 percent more omega-3 fatty acids and 25 percent fewer omega-6 acids. While omega-6 acids are also nutritionally beneficial, some dieticians believe that humans should consume a higher ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. Drinking organic dairy seems help to accomplish that task.

The reason organic milk contains more of these fatty acids has to do with the fact that cows raised on organic farms are required to spend a certain amount of time outdoors eating grass, which is rich in these nutrients. Conventionally-raised cattle spend most of their time indoors eating corn, which is high in omega-6 compounds.

While there is some debate among scientists about the benefits of a high omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, the New York Times found that the scientific community largely supported the contention that organic milk was nutritionally superior to conventional milk.

LifeIsGreen.com will continue to provide news and information about the benefits of going green and using organic products, so check back with us regularly!

Is The Cost Of Healthy Eating Offset By Long-Term Healthcare Savings?

If you've ever had the general perception that healthy, organic and locally-grown unprocessed foods are more expensive, you're not dreaming. The Mother Nature Network reports that a recent study conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health determined that those with healthy diets spend an average of $1.50 more per day than those without.

The study analyzed data from 27 other reports that had compared the costs of healthier foods. For individuals on more wholesome diets, the average cost of food was about $1.54 per 2,000 calories, the recommended daily intake recommended by health professionals. In the United States, that number was slightly higher, at $1.79.

There are two points to make about such expenses:

  • Healthcare costs for those who are obese are significantly higher than for individuals who are not. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the annual medical costs for a person suffering from obesity are $1,429 higher on average.
  • If you extrapolate for the whole year, $1.79 per day comes out to $653 annually. That's not a trivial amount of money for low-income families, who typically experience a higher rate of conditions such as obesity and heart disease.

What these facts indicate is that the country's food system needs to do a better job subsidizing healthy foods and taxing items that are bad for you. Making fruits and vegetables more widely available and accessible, while making high-fat meats and dairy products more pricey, would reverse these trends and reward healthy eating rather than penalizing it.

These statistics also indicate that, although a healthy diet may require a higher initial investment, it is more than offset by the savings one would experience in healthcare costs.

Keep checking back with LifeIsGreen.com for more healthy and green living tips!

Is Big Oil Coming Around On Climate Change?

Historically, the most aggressive opponents of green energy solutions and public policy aimed at curbing climate change have been oil companies, particularly the biggest firms such as ExxonMobil and Shell. In addition, Koch Industries, owned by Charles and David Koch, has been a major sponsor of advocacy groups that seek to undermine any legislative attempt to tax greenhouse gas emissions.

However, a recent New York Times article seems to call into question the assumption that the oil industry will always be opposed to any attempts to implement climate change legislation. The Times reports that five of the biggest oil companies, as well as many corporations outside the energy industry such as Microsoft and Google, have begun to factor into their financial projects the prospect of a carbon tax, as a way of hedging against a future in which the U.S. Congress actually passes climate legislation.

"It's climate change as a line item," Tom Carnac, North American president of the Carbon Disclosure Project, told the source. "They're looking at it from a rational perspective, making a profit. It drives internal decision-making."

Koch Industries, which has funded many campaigns to unseat lawmakers who support climate legislation, remains a strong opponent of such efforts and in some ways has pitted itself against the rest of the oil industry. But the article speculates that the other firms could eventually come around to support efforts at mitigating the effects of global warming, such as carbon taxing or cap-and-trade.

Does this mean that Big Oil has suddenly become altruistic? Not exactly. The main goal of these financial plans seems to be maintaining supremacy in the industry rather than making the world a cleaner, safer place. Additionally, it should be noted that these companies have received a lot of pressure from investors and regulators to revisit the evidence on global warming and assess their position in a world where temperatures rise, ice caps melt and widespread destruction of coast lines threatens world security. As noted in a recent piece by UK news source The Guardian, these companies are finally hearing criticism from the only people whose opinions they truly care about: Shareholders.

"Companies across the economy and institutional investors are among those recognizing the need to transition from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources," notes The Guardian. "As part of this effort, 70 global investors with collective assets totaling $3 trillion made the first ever joint request to the world's 45 largest oil, coal and power companies… to assess the financial risks that climate change and these other trends pose to your business plans."

It's going to take many years to reverse the effects of decades of lobbying and investment on behalf of climate skepticism, however. According to Pew Research, only 40 percent of Americans believe that climate change is a major threat, much lower than the percentages of Europeans and Latin American residents who believe it is a significant concern. Convincing the public of something that they have long been told to disbelieve is going to require extended, vigorous efforts on the part of all stakeholders, including Big Oil.

However, the fact that oil companies are finally coming around on climate change, even if it's cynically motivated, is a spark of positive news from an industry that has had such a negative influence on world events over the last several decades.

For more news on green business, check back with LifeIsGreen.com regularly.

New Report Shows That Climate Change Increasingly A Global Problem

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released a new report which states that developing countries will account for 65 percent of the world's energy consumption by 2040. This is an increase of 20 percent overall from 2010, when developing countries, or those not belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), accounted for 54 percent of worldwide energy use.

OECD countries will continue to see a growth in energy consumption, but only at a rate of 0.5 percent per year, which aligns roughly with population growth. Non-OECD countries, particularly China and India, will see a much higher rate of growth at 2.2 percent. The main reason for this expansion is the fact that developing nations have the largest section of the world's population, and will continue to grow much faster than OECD countries.

At the same time, both developing and non-developing nations will become more efficient, requiring less energy to produce the same GDP over time. In 2005, the world used about 8 British thermal units (BTU) of energy for ever dollar of GDP. By 2040, the EIA predicts that only 4 BTUs will be used for each dollar.

What the new data shows is that climate change is much more of a global problem than many people realize, and that it won't be enough for the United States to become more efficient and switch to renewable energy sources. While doing so would certainly be a positive step, it is evident that reliance on coal power in China and India is going to have drastic consequences for the environment if alternatives are not quickly identified and deployed in those countries.

LifeIsGreen.com will continue to provide you with news about the challenges and benefits of going green, so keep visiting!

10 Ways To Save Energy When Cooking

Cooking can be one of the most energy intensive tasks that you perform in your home. If you're looking to limit your carbon footprint and lower your utility bills, one of the areas where you can easily cut back is in the kitchen. If you're not sure how to achieve this, we've assembled a list of 10 ways to save energy when you're making your next meal:

  • Cook twice as much food as you need, and reheat it later, instead of cooking from scratch each time you make something.
  • Cover your pans while cooking to reduce heat loss.
  • Defrost meat in the refrigerator or in the open air, rather than on the stove or in the microwave.
  • Don't open your oven frequently to check how food is doing.
  • If you have a gas stove, make sure the flame on the burner is blue. Yellow flames indicate blockage and that it should be checked by your maintenance or warranty company.
  • Keep your burner pans clean, as this maximizes the amount of heat that is reflected back up to the pan.
  • Purchase flat-bottomed cookware. The more the pan touches your stove burners (or coils, if you have an electric stove), the less energy you lose to the air.
  • Turn the oven off a few minutes before your food is done baking. Ovens retain heat for quite some time, so whatever you're making will continue to cook even after the flame goes out.
  • Use a pressure cooker, which reduces cook time significantly.
  • When reheating food, it's best to use either a microwave oven, toaster oven or stovetop rather than putting it back in the conventional oven, which uses more energy.

LifeIsGreen.com is your number one source for green living advice, so keep checking back for more energy-saving advice!

Massachusetts Close To Passing Fracking Ban

A bill is currently making its way through the Massachusetts state legislature that would put in place a 10-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," a natural gas extraction process that has been extremely controversial among environmental activists. Having been approved by the Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, the bill will now go before lawmakers for a vote, after which it will need to be signed by Governor Deval Patrick to go into effect, according to CBS Boston.

Fracking has led to a boom in natural gas production in the United States, but many view it as a threat to both the environment and public health. The practice involves injecting highly pressurized, chemical-laden water into the ground to separate natural gas deposits from rock. Many believe that this method contaminates ground water supplies and despoils natural landscapes. It's also viewed as a perpetuating the country's reliance on fossil fuels for energy, thus leading to more carbon emissions and accelerating warming trends.

Massachusetts itself is not seen as having much potential for producing great quantities of natural gas. The only areas where fracking is being considered are in the western parts of the state, including Pioneer Valley. However, passing the ban would make Massachusetts the second state in the country to do so, following Vermont, which also possesses limited natural gas resources.

Despite the Bay State's relatively small natural gas deposits, the ban shows that the legislature there is committed to developing its renewable portfolio and increasing the availability of clean energy technology, rather than relying on sources that pollute the environment and endanger public health.

For more information on green technology, keep checking back with LifeIsGreen.com.