Saturday, March 27, 2010

50 Things to Do During Earth Hour

Every last Saturday of March is Earth Hour. The goal of Earth Hour is to raise awarenes towards the need to take action towards climate change. Business and homes everywhere participate by shutting off their lights and lowering their energy consumption in any way that they can. Every year, the participants in Earth Hour have grown in numbers, as more people become more aware of the changes our planet are going through (and the Earth Hour event itself).

Think Earth Hour sounds like a great idea, but you're struggling to find things to do? Here;s a list of 50 things to do during Earth Hour, from candlelight dinners to scary ghost stories. You're bound to find something on the list that you'll find fun and interesting!

1. There's never been a better excuse to cook up some Smores by the fire.
2. A game of flashlight tag feels even more justified and fun during Earth Hour.
3. Tell some scary ghost stories in the pitch black of the night.
4. Cook up a late night BBQ and serve some of your family's favorites.
5. Get the whole area involved and throw a neighborhood party for Earth Hour.
6. Kids and adults alike can appreciate the simplicity of candelit shadow puppets.
7. While you have your candles burning, you can also plan your own romantic candlelight dinner.
8. Experience the phenomenon of glow in the dark Lifesavers at night.
9. Let the kids bring out their collection of glow in the dark stickers to fully appreciate the glow.
10. Play with glow sticks, tons of fun in the pitch black dark.
11. Listen for owls at night and learn the different calls. Just be very quiet and go into the woods with your call tape (wait a few minutes after each call to wait for them to respond).
12. View constellations and try to find some of the popular ones like Orion's Belt and the Big Dipper.
13. Go camping in your own backyard for the night.
14. Start a campfire and enjoy those Smores and tell ghost stories. It will be a night to remember!
15. Play board games by candlelight.
16. Plan a night hike, a thrilling experience that's far different from any day hike you've ever gone on.
17. View the beautiful, natural wonder of tidal pools lit by moonlight (bring a flashlight, too).
18. The first warm, rainy night of spring is when the salamanders walk to the vernal pools to breed. This is a sight to see (and might not happen during Earth Hour, but it's around this time of year).
19. Listen for animals near your home, or in the woods. Like owls, you'll just need to be quiet and patient.
20. Turn off everything in your home and go grocery shopping. You'll enjoy the short lines at the grocery store!
21. Go to the movies. They'll be using the electricity in the theater whether you go or night.
22. Tell one of these scary ghost stories and terrify everyone around you.
23. Attend a restaurant that is participating in Earth Hour. Google your local area plus "earth hour restaurants" for more information.
24. Sleep. The average American could use more of it. Why not tonight?
25. Hold a blind taste testing for beer, wine and cheese.
26. Ask for a massage, or give a massage. They're even better in the dark (and a great way to relax during Earth Hour).
27. Plan a scavenger hunt at night in your yard, in the woods, in the city, or wherever you find fun.
28. Listen to your favorite music on your ipod in the serenity of the dark.
29. Walk around to see who else is participating in Earth Hour.
30. Break out those scented candles that you've been storing and actually use them.
31. Play board games that you've never played before, maybe even the scariest one of all, the ouija board.
32. Read by candlelight (not too close though!).
33. Reminisce about your past, talk about it, and share it with your kids, partner or friends.
34. Let the kids play outside late. They'll be thrilled.
35. Play horseshoes in the dark. It's much harder.
36. Go thermostat free and bundle up (if you need to).
37. Read up on reducing, reusing, and recycling on your charged up Blackberry or iphone.
38. Use your Kindle to read without any candlelight.
39. Play new video games on your Nintendo DS or portable game system.
40. Take a bath. They're even more relaxing in the dark.
41. Pamper yourself with all of your spa and beauty products, then recycle the containers.
42. Take a walk along the beach if it's low tide and take in the fresh air.
43. Take the train into the city and walk around.
44. Enjoy the free lights and electricity at your local coffee shop.
45. Make campfire food.
46. Use the time to talk about what you'd like to plant in your garden (or indoor garden), or other green ideas for the coming spring and summer months.
47. Look up at the nighttime sky to notice how dark or not dark it really is.
48. Listen for frogs and spring peepers.
49. Make some fondue.
50. Start making your own list of things that you did during Earth Hour, then share them here or on your own blog!

Did you participate in Earth Hour? If you didn't, you can make plans to participate in Earth Hour next year, or just plan your own personal Earth Hour on a different day. It's all about reducing our impact on the environment and educating others. You can also read our other post on things to do during Earth Hour for more ideas.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Are Salon Shampoos Killing Your Skin and Hair?

Sitting in the waiting room in any salon, you'll see product after product available for sale, to keep the color in your freshly dyed hair, to keep that teased, perfected hairstyle in place, and to moisturize your hair after all those treatments. These products are made by professionals though, so how bad can they be for you? After all, the bottle says "the true professional," so that must mean they know what's good for us, right? Maybe not.

As it turns out, those hair products could be destroying your hair more than fixing it, all the while depositing a range of chemicals into your scalp, skin, nails and hands. What chemicals? The internet is full of conflicting information about chemicals. At the very least, the chemicals could be doing nothing (though many articles and studies have suggested otherwise). Worst case scenario, the petrochemicals in salon products and shampoos could lead to severe skin irritation, cause birth defects, and potentially shampoo could cause Alzeheimer's Disease. Are salon products going to kill you overnight? No, you have a better chance of winning the lottery and then being struck by lightning while seeing a flying pig in your last moments. Over long periods of use, your salon shampoo that contains petrochemicals cause some annoying irritation, weaken and damage your hair, strip it of vital nutrients, and expose your hair and scalp to unncessary agents (and some of the potential risks described previously).

What About Animal Testing with Shampoos?

One brand that doesn't test on animals is Paul Mitchell. However, you do have to be careful when a product says that it "has not been tested on animals." The final product itself may not have been tested on animals, but the individual ingredients may have. How can you be really sure your product hasn't been tested on animals? Look for the little bunny. Products that have the "leaping bunny" logo have met standards where the product is cruelty free, including suppliers, all ingredients, testing, and manufacturing.

What are the alternatives to traditional salon shampoo?

There are some alternatives out there for salon shampoo. An organic shampoo is a great choice, but you have to look at the ingredients just like any other product. Just because the product states that it's organic, that doesn't mean it's healthy. First, you'll always want to look for certified organic products. Some companies cannot attain organic certification because some of the ingredients simply aren't made organic, or the price difference in certain ingredients is astronomically different. If you have questions about any product, check the cosmetic database, and check reviews from other consumers online by doing a quick google search for the company name + reviews. There's also biodynamic shampoo, which is not just organic, but a product that is made from a self sustaining ecosystem. In other words, nothing comes from outside of the farm. The herbs are grown on the farm, and all of the other ingredients in the shampoo. The cost of the biodynamic organic (which you can find here) shampoo will also be comparable to that of a salon product, but will be far higher quality - and won't damage your hair.

If you're interested in reading more about what chemicals might be lurking in your cosmetics, you may want to read the following posts from our blog: