The season for all things pumpkin has arrived, and many of us in America will make (or at least eat ) a pumpkin pie this autumn. But what to do with all the leftover pumpkin after Halloween and Thanksgiving have passed? Did you know that pumpkin can be used to make all-natural beauty products your skin will love just as much as your stomach? For about the same price as a commercial bottle of body scrub (around $10), you can make an effective, deliciously scented natural scrub that has no harmful parabens or preservatives in about 45 minutes. In addition to making a great personal beauty product, jarred pumpkin body scrub decorated with a ribbon and personalized tag also makes a great homemade holiday present.
INGREDIENTS: 1 small pumpkin • 1 cup brown sugar • ¼ cup organic coconut oil (other oils can be used, but coconut oil is thicker than others at room temperature) • 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spices (I combined cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger)
DIRECTIONS: Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds (but save them to roast!). • Roast pumpkin for 30 minutes or until tender. Canned pumpkin puree can also be used, but I prefer fresh. • Scoop the pumpkin puree into a bowl and add the sugar, oil and spices. • Mix well and jar. You now have a great exfoliant that smells just like pumpkin pie! –Holly Young
Home gardening is becoming increasingly popular as we learn more and more about the dangers of genetically modified foods. But did you know that many commercial fertilizers are made from ammonia, which is extracted from natural gas, or that the extraction process releases carbon dioxide? Even worse, nitrates in these fertilizers can harm humans and marine mammals by seeping into groundwater, and ultimately deplete the soil’s nutrients.
Fortunately, most of us have the basic ingredients needed to make homemade fertilizer sitting around the house, including dried coffee grounds and unused vegetable matter, which can be used to create compost. But one of the best tricks for all-natural homemade fertilizer is to use ground up egg shells, which consist primarily of calcium carbonate (or, in fertilizer terms, lime). In addition to the calcium carbonate, egg shells also contain small amounts of nitrogen, phosphoric acid and other nutrients.
To use them, simply save your egg shells by storing them in a pot in a dry place such as the oven. Once they have dried out, blend the shells into a powder, which can then be sprinkled on your lawn, garden or potted plants. If your plants are frequented by snails, jagged shell pieces can be scattered in a border around your plants to ward off hungry snails. Soon, you won’t just be making your garden grow, you’ll be making it greener as well! –Holly Young
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Love to garden, but don’t feel like you have enough space? Here are some simple steps for apartment gardening that can help turn even small-scale deck or patio garden into a wildlife haven beneficial to local birds, butterflies and other creatures.
• PROVIDE FOOD- A bird feeder is a great way to attract birds and provide them with food. If you live in an apartment complex with limited deck space, there are bird feeders specially designed for hanging off balconies. There are also special hooks you can use to mount conventional feeders to your deck. Hanging feeders filled with nectar are also a great way to attract hummingbirds.
• PROVIDE WATER- Another integral part of your backyard haven is providing the wildlife with water. Birdbaths and watering containers are a great way to replenish our feathered friends and keep them cool in the summer heat. For homes with limited spaces, you can mount birdbaths to your balcony or deck with special hooks. You also may consider hanging a waterer from a mounted light fixture, ledge or overhang.
• PROVIDE SHELTER– Container gardening is a great way to provide your wildlife visitors with shade and protection. Potted trees and shrubs will provide them with shade and cover. Fragrant flowers and herbs will also help attract butterflies and beneficial bugs. In addition to any potted flowers you have, consider choosing some native plants, which are great for local wildlife and will grow well in your environment. Ensure all pots have a hole in the bottom to encourage good drainage. –Holly Young
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Other than reading or meditating, few things are more fun without a group of friends or family… especially when that group is working towards a greater good together. That’s the idea the folks at Organic Soul promote, encouraging communities to get together to go green. And we don’t mean just organizing an organic tea party with your pals, either. We’re talking about how to go green in your neighborhood and get everyone together to change their way of thinking (and living). Here are a few ideas for getting you out of the house and into your local ecosystem, whether you’ve got a green thumb or just good intentions.
• Buy Local/Organic- Not only does this support the local community’s economy, but also when done on a large enough scale, it sends a pretty big message to the big-name producers (at your grocer’s) who aren’t practicing organic growing.
• Grow A Garden– Don’t have enough time to prune your tomato plants on your own? Those intentions might make a bigger difference if the garden belonged to the neighborhood and everyone did their part. And just think of the potluck dinner all those fresh veggies would produce!
• Raise Awareness- You throw block parties every weekend. Party with a purpose next time by sharing information on local green efforts, or ways your community can play a more active role in the neighborhood’s eco vitality. Celebrate nation eco-based holidays and set goals for your community to meet once their thinking goes green!
• Create A Community Cleanup Day- Whether you live on the beach, near the park or along a main road, you know one stray paper cup is just the beginning of a trash pile-up. And even though picking up that one cup to do your part is a good start, imagine what you the whole neighborhood could? “Adopt” a section of your community and dedicate days to get everyone together for cleaning/upkeep. –Jenni Williams
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