Artist of the Month: Paige Mattson of Sprout Bottle

IMG_6104The following was written by Paige Mattson of Sprout Bottle.

Sprout Bottle is a handcrafted, reclaimed beer bottle, garden kit.  Each 4-pack is uniquely blended with organic soil, fertilizer and seeds and packaged with recycled materials to lighten our impact on the planet.  All of our ingredients are sourced in the US and distributed from Virginia.

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Sprout Bottle strives to provide a high quality, unique product that is sustainable and affordable. As part of our commitment to be sustainable, Sprout Bottle has partnered with 1% for the Planet.  This means that 1% of all Sprout Bottle sales goes to save land, protect forests, rivers and oceans, make agricultural and energy production more sustainable, getting toxics out of the environment, plastics out of the oceans and more.

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You can find more about Sprout Bottle on their website, Facebook Page and Twitter Feed.

In Celebration of National Water Quality Month

pondThe following post is by Herban Lifestyle interns, Maggie Mascarenhas and Chelsie Lawrence.

August is National Water Quality Month, so we will be dedicating the next few weeks to posting tips on easy ways to conserve and protect our most precious element!  We also thought it would be fun to share with you some of the ways that we at Herban Lifestyle strive to do our part to save water.

Our Products
Herban Lifestyle products are free of chemical preservatives like parabens and phthalates, which are known endocrine disruptors (hormone-mimicking compounds that interfere with your body’s normal hormone function stimulating cancer development and triggering immunity, fertility, metabolic, developmental and cognitive problems). Endocrine disrupting chemicals can be found in a wide variety of personal care products, cleaning products, toys and even food. Not only are these chemicals bad for human health, but when we use them, they end up in our water systems, polluting the water and causing health problems for fish and amphibians.

All of our plant-based ingredients are carefully screened to make sure they are grown without pesticides, which prevents water pollution through runoff from the farms where they are grown. By preserving these water systems, we not only protect the animals that call these systems home, but also help ensure that future generations of people will have clean water to drink. And since all of our products are made with natural ingredients, such as certified organic vegetable oil, instead of harsh chemicals, they are all completely biodegradable.

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Our Process
Our rain barrel captures waters for our gardens, we use ENERGY STAR appliances (ENERGY STAR qualified dishwashers save, on average, 1,300 gallons of water over their lifetime), we filter water for drinking rather than buying bottled water, and we don’t make water-based products (which saves water, uses less packaging, costs less to ship and negates the need for preservatives).

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Our 55-gallon rain barrel

Our Suppliers
At Herban Lifestyle we carefully research our suppliers to make sure that they use environmentally sustainable practices, including water conservation. One of our main essential oil suppliers, Mountain Rose Herbs, is also a Green America Gold Certified company and embraces sustainability and environmentally responsible manufacturing processes. The Mountain Rose Herb River Project, for example, focuses on cleaning and sustaining river ecosystems, stream health, and fish habitats. By only using suppliers that adhere to a strict standard of water conservation and preservation, we further cut down on our water waste and help minimize water pollution.

We realize there is always more that we can do to protect this most precious of commodities. What are some of your favorite water-saving/preserving tips?

Artists of the Month: Michael and Mary Devito, Naked Botanicals Apothecary

The following post is by Michael and Mary Devito, Owners of Naked Botanicals Apothecary, the Herban Lifestyle July 2014 Artists of the Month.

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ABOUT NAKED BOTANICALS APOTHECARY

We’re an organic skincare company dedicated to the prevention of violent, brutal attacks by mosquitoes and other little buggers. Our natural insect repellents harness the mighty superpowers of…lavender! Lemongrass! And peppermint! Which smells like you ran nekkid holding candy canes through lavender fields in Provence. (That’s in France.)

Rise up, friends! We’re empowering adults, children, pets–anyone with skin!–to take a stand against unwelcome advances by would-be predators. We’re arming you with certified organic ingredients and intoxicating aromas, straight from our nation’s capital. YUM.

 

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ABOUT ORIGINAL LAVENDER INSECT REPELLENT
Our organic bug spray harnesses the mighty superpowers of…Lavender! Citronella! Peppermint! Which smells like you ran nekkid holding candy canes through lavender fields in Provence. (That’s in France.) And look, Ma! No itchy, nasty mosquito bites. Best. Summer. Ever.
We take a bold, citrus bouquet of lemongrass, citronella plus energizing peppermint then round it out with woody lavender and cedarwood notes to create our signature intoxicating scent. YUM. Not only does it repel biting insects, but the witch hazel-based elixir also refreshes and purifies your skin in high heat and humidity.
  • Certified organic essential oils of lavender, cedarwood, citronella, lemongrass and peppermint are potent, naturally-occurring insect repellents.
  • Effectively repels mosquitoes, ticks and biting insects for up to 4 hours.
  • Biodegradable, vegan and DEET-free.
  • Contains NO nuts, gluten, dairy, chemicals, dyes, fragrances or preservatives.
  • Safe for the whole family: adults, children over 6 months of age, those with sensitive skin, even pets!
  • Proudly made in small batches in the USA.
  • Each durable, recyclable PET plastic bottle contains 4 fluid ounces. Please recycle.

You can find more about Naked Botanicals Apothecary on their website 

Artist of the Month: Emily Landsman, EHL Creations

The following post is by Emily Landsman, Owner of EHL Creations, the Herban Lifestyle June 2014 Artist of the Month.

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I have been a photographer for more than twenty years and enjoy finding new ways to look at ordinary objects. I love taking kooky pictures with my many different Polaroid cameras and using the images to make greeting cards, belt buckles, tiles, magnets and more. Polaroid transfer prints are made by under developing Polaroid pull-apart films and transferring the images to non-photographic surfaces. The resulting images have an antique or ethereal quality. Polaroid image lifts are made by developing Polaroid pull-apart films as normal, soaking the image to remove it from the paper backing, and transferring the emulsion to non-photographic surfaces. Each print is different and has its own characteristics.

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You may have heard that Polaroid is no longer producing instant film. I collected dozens of packs of several different types of film for my artistic usage before they became unavailable. Once all existing film is used, this transfer process will no longer be possible, making these images all the more unique.

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You can find more about Emily’s pieces on her Etsy Store and Website 

Green Festival Coming to Pier 94 in NYC on April 26th

600x250_NYC-BannerOn Saturday, April 26th, and Sunday April 27th, thousands of New Yorkers are expected to attend Green Festival New York at Pier 94. Green Festival will bring together the most trusted companies, innovative brands, national and local NYC businesses, pioneering thinkers, and conscious consumers to Pier 94 to promote the best in sustainability and green living.

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Green Festival offers something for everyone, with the widest selection of products and services to work green, play green and live green – from food, fashion, pets, kids, yoga and health, to energy, construction and design. People can shop and enjoy vegan, vegetarian, organic foods, hands-on demos, educational activities and learn from inspirational speakers.

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There will be speakers and performers throughout the day, including following. More speakers will be announced as we get closer to the event dates.

  • Matthew Dillon, Agricultural Policy & Programs Manager at Clif Bar & Company
  • Erin Schrode, Millennial Inspiration
  • JustFood.org Executive Director Jacquie Berger
  • NYCVegFoodFest.com founders Sarah Gross and Nira Paliwoda
  • Holistic Moms network President Nancy Peplinsky Massotto
  • Performances from DJ NappyG

And this year, Green Festival will introduce the new “Green Festival Award,” which will recognize the achievements of companies and brands that are transforming the way we live with innovative green solutions.

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The Green Festival will be held on Saturday, April 26, 2014 & Sunday, April 27, 2014 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. at Pier 94 in midtown Manhattan at 55th Street and the West Side Highway. The best subway stop is the 59th Street, Columbus Circle.

For more information about Green Festivals, visit http://www.greenfestivals.org. You can also follow them on Twitter at @GreenFestival.

Green Festivals, Inc. organizes Green Festival®, America’s largest and longest-running sustainability and green living event. Green Festival is a vibrant, dynamic marketplace where companies and organizations come to showcase their green products, services and programs, and where people go to learn how to live healthier, more sustainable lives. Green Festival is inspiring and empowering consumers, communities and businesses to work green, play green and live green. Based in Asheville, North Carolina, the organization produces Green Festival events in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C.

Artist of the Month: Cynthia Brevil of Karmalades, Household Cleaners with a Conscience

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The following post was written by Cynthia Brevlin, Owner and Founder of Karmalades, the  Herban Lifestyle Store Artist of the Month. During the month of January, Cynthia’s eco-luxurious cleaning products will be featured at our new brick and mortar store in Fairfax, VA.

Physical Therapist by day, eco luxury cleaning maven by evenings/weekends, I take old school ingredients that grandma used to clean her house…baking soda, vinegar,etc and whip them up into fun, natural…and even a little luxurious dare I say … household cleaning products. My concoctions are not only effective but will surely bring a smile to your face every time you use them.

I believe that being green can and should = luxury. I also believe in Karma, or simply put – what goes around comes around. The contents of every bottle that we pull off of the shelf will eventually have some effect on our precious earth.

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With this in mind when developing my line, it was really important to me that my ingredients were easily recognizable to the customer and naturally derived…absolutely no synthetics!  It was also clear that the packaging had to be sustainable. Glass and tin not only look and feel luxurious, but they can also be indefinitely recycled.  And if these materials happen to end up in landfill, they have no adverse effect.

Cynthia Brevil, founder of Karmalades, is a physical therapist, health conscious crafter, painter, tiler, cook, foodie … and a true lover of all things eco-friendly and luxurious.

Cynthia Brevil

Three Tasty Trees For Your Yard

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image copyright Georgia Pecan Trees

The following is a guest post by Liz Nelson, a freelance writer based in Houston, TX.

When it comes time to plant a tree you might have your mind on things like shade, fast growth, or pretty flowers in the spring time. However there are many trees that offer edible benefits as well. Here are three trees that look great and give you something to snack on:

  1. Pecan Tree – The Pecan tree is not only a large shade tree but it also produces very tasty nuts. The Pecan tree typically produces the biggest harvest in warmer climates and does well in areas with lots of rain and sunshine. Pecan nuts form with a bright yellow-green skin over the nut. As it ripens the skin starts to pull back until the ripe nut falls out of the tree. There are several varieties of Pecan trees, some of which have larger or more flavorful pecans.
  2. Walnut Tree – Like the Pecan tree, the Walnut tree also produces tasty nuts. The Walnut tree grows better in cooler climates with less rain however so it can be a great alternative to Pecans if your area does not support them. Walnuts also form with a green skin that falls off as it ripens. The nuts are significantly tougher to shell than pecans however. There are also several varieties of Walnut trees, some of which produce bitter and inedible nuts so be aware of the variety you plant. [Editor’s Note: Dr. James Duke points out that many varieties of seeds and nuts contain tryptophan, an important amino acid that the brain converts to serotonin]
  3. Date Palm – This tropical tree grows best in hot, dry climates. Like most Palm trees, the trunk of the tree is bare and the leaves are clustered at the top. When dates form, the seeds of this plant, they hang down from the crown of the tree in large clusters. Dates are very sweet and are used in many ethnic cuisines. They are best kept and eaten when they have been dried. The sap of the Date Palm can also be used to create a syrup or sweet drink if desired.
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image copyright Better Homes and Gardens

As you can see it all depends on your growing zone but you can easily find a tree that gives you both shade and food. Fruit trees are another great option and you can choose climate appropriate ones that serve both your needs and the needs of your environment. Plant a tree and reap the rewards!

[Editor’s Note: If you are short on space, Better Homes and Gardens has a great article on growing fruit trees in pots. This is perfect for the apartment-dweller!]

This is a guest post by Liz Nelson from WhiteFence.com. She is a freelance writer and blogger from Houston. Questions and comments can be sent to: liznelson17 @ gmail.com.

Greetings from Sustainable Brands 2013!

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The following post is by Katie Peige, Herban Lifestyle’s Sustainability Associate.

This year, I was most fortunate to be a volunteer again at the Sustainable Brands Conference from June 3-6. I cannot begin to articulate how excited I was to spend four days amongst the leaders of the Sustainable Business and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) movement.

SB is held in San Diego at Paradise Point which is an island resort. Last year, I stayed nearby and had my first Airbnb experience, which was wonderful, but this time I stayed on the island with a fellow SB volunteer alum, so I did not miss a second of action! The conference is a four-day, packed-to-the-gills extravaganza that included over 180 speakers on panels, workshops, and TED-esque presentations, an expo that included over 80 vendors, and what seemed to be an infinite amount of networking opportunities and side events, including a yoga paddleboard session!

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This year, I was so excited to see that William McDonough was a speaker and was signing his book, The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability- Designing for Abundance. McDonough is the father of the cradle to cradle concept, and one of my all time heroes. I was also in line to get Hunter Lovins’ signature for her new book, The Way Out- Kick-starting Capitalism to Save our Economic Ass.

Last year I was blown away by the keynotes from Chipotle, Coca-Cola, the Shelton Group, and many more. You can watch videos of the plenary sessions online. You can also check out @SustainBrands or myself @theKatiePages on Twitter for info on the conference. I will be back with a full report of my experience!

How to Make Violet Cordial

It’s that wonderful time of the year when violets make their brief appearance, and my yard is filled with the beautiful little deep-purple flowers. A few years ago, I posted a tutorial on how to make violet syrup, and I thought it would be fun to revive that recipe with a twist. I made the same basic syrup, but added some vodka to the mixture to make a lovely violet cordial that can be sipped by itself or added to other beverages to make a light floral cocktail. The variety of violets I have in my yard are only slightly fragrant, so the cordial has a mild floral flavor. Different varieties will yield different tastes.

violetsyrup02I began by gathering 2 cups of violets, making sure to choose only those blooms that were open and free of bites and blemishes. When you are harvesting edible wild flowers, make sure that you are picking them from locations that are free from pesticide or other chemical applications.

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I placed the violets into a colander and rinsed them thoroughly.

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Then placed them in a Mason jar and covered them with 2 cups of boiling water. The water almost immediately began to turn a gorgeous sapphire blue! I let the violet infusion cool, then placed it in the refrigerator and let it steep for 24 hours.

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After 24 hours, I strained out the violet blossoms, squeezing them to get out all the gorgeous purple hue. I placed some in a bowl so that I could show you what a brilliant color it made.violetsyrup07

I placed the strained liquid into a heavy-bottomed saucepan.

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Then added 2 cups of organic cane sugar and let this mixture come to a boil.

violetsyrup11I then turned down the heat to medium and let it cook at a low boil for about 10 minutes, stirring often.

violetsyrup10I removed the syrup from the heat, then added the strained juice of half a lemon. The acid from the lemon made the syrup go from deep violet to a beautiful magenta color.violetsyrup09

I then mixed the syrup, 50/50, with organic vodka and bottled it in sterilized capped glass jars, which I bought at the Container Store.

violetsyrup12After letting it sit for 2 weeks, it was ready to decant. It is very sweet by itself, but makes a lovely addition to champagne or sparkling water. Enjoy!

The Benefits of a BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) Habit

bagmonsterThe following post is by Katie Peige, Herban Lifestyle’s Sustainability Associate.

You are sitting in a park enjoying a lovely picnic. You are taking in the peaceful moment: the birds are chirping, children are playing on the nearby swings, a butterfly flitters by, and then you look up and your stomach lurches. It’s the lurch you feel when you see a plastic bag stuck amongst the highest branches of the maple you are sitting under. You start thinking about the birds that could get tangled in the plastic, the turtle that thinks he is about to chow down on a jelly fish, and your mind starts flashing images you have seen of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and all you have your mind set on is how long it would take for that bag to eventually break down and where can you find the nearest ladder.

Plastic bag pollution is a serious problem the world over. It is estimated that 1 million plastic bags are used every minute of every day worldwide. Plastics in the ocean is a terrifying situation as today there are more pieces of ocean plastic than plankton (you know the little guys who are responsible for our every other breath). Of the 100 million tons of plastic that are manufactured each year, ten percent finds its way to the ocean, and only 20 percent by means of ships and platforms. That means that 80 percent of the plastic in the ocean comes from the land. With all of this plastic floating in the ocean that does not go away but rather break up into smaller bits (46,000 pieces per every square mile according to the United Nations Environment Program), it is no wonder that a million sea birds and 100,000 sea mammals and turtles die each year from plastic bags and other plastic pollution.

Some quick facts about plastic bags and the environment

Some quick facts about plastic bags and the environment

So what can you do and what should be done? The first thing you should do is bring your own bag to the store. It is estimated that one reusable bag can replace 1,000 plastic bags in the reusable bag’s lifetime. Keep a small foldable bag with you in your purse or on a keychain, so if you are out and about and decide to do some impromptu shopping, you are prepared. ChicoBags makes some really cute ones that fold up super small. Next, keep a stack of bags in the trunk of your car so you have them with you when you head to the grocery store or any other store where you would need more than one bag.  For the non-car owners keeping a stack by the door is a helpful reminder as well. For the ladies, you can get a little drastic and stuff them in your bra, however, I am not exactly sure what the most lady like method of removing the bags would be when you actually need them. Once you have the BYOB habit down, start bugging your friends to remind them as well, you have a vast, powerful network, use it to help the planet out (and while you are at it, get your friends to start a campaign to ban plastic bags in your city!).

If you have a ton of plastic bags under your sink, try to reuse them as trash liners or packaging material. And if you have a desire to get creative, check out these crafts that all use plastic bags! You can also take them to most grocery stores and Staples to recycle them.

Just remember, for every bag you refuse to take you are taking a direct action to help stop the plastic pollution problem and subsequently saving resources, animal lives, and keeping those plastic bags out of our trees and waterways!

Editor’s Note: For more information on the issue of plastic bags, presented in a fun, entertaining way, we highly recommend Bag It!, the movie.

A globe made of plastic bags, as seen at the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival

A globe made of plastic bags, as seen at the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival