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Tips for Growing Organic

sprout from seed

image by vaivirga/shutterstock


Starting from Seed

They have fancy seed starting kits you can purchase, but if you’re more into the upcycling route, you can start seedlings in things like egg shells, K-cups, jars, or even newspaper.


Getting started with seeds:

  • Try & find non – hybrid seeds as tend to be cheaper. Choose an organic seed, if you can’t find any in your local hardware store, there are many reputable websites that carry them.

  • Some good seeds to start with: Basil, tomatoes, marigolds, beans, beets, carrots, cucumbers, kale, lettuce, peas, radishes

  • Make sure you have good light – they need proper light so place near a sunny window, without good light, they will be weak.

  • Take note of the directions on the back of the seeds – planning & timing is crucial for seeds to thrive – there will also be directions on how deep you need to plant your seeds. Smaller seeds are usually sprinkled on top while larger seeds are usually buried, but again, double check!

  • Start with FRESH soil. Don’t re-use soil, this way you can ensure healthy and disease free seedlings

  • Keep containers moist but not soaking wet – use a mister or small watering can. You can speed up the germination process by covering your planting containers with plastic wrap or a plastic container, this will help keep everything nice and moist. Remove once you see some green starting to sprout.

  • Keep soil moist – but let dry between watering. You can even set up a fan to develop good air movement. You can also feed the seedlings an organic fertilizer.

  • Don’t forget the light! Rotate regularly if using natural sunlight. A desk lamp can even do, just make sure they aren’t too close to the seedlings and keep lit for about 15 hours a day.

  • When ready to move outside, put them in a protected spot – somewhere partly shady and away from high wind areas – keep them here for a few hours and bring them back in at night time. Over 10 days or so, gradually introduce them more and more to the elements. This is called “hardening off”

Easy compost

Plants really love eggshells! Next time you are going to compost or toss these out, feed them to your plants – they will thank you!

Organic Fertilizers

It’s important to keep the proper balance of nutrients for your plants. You can always use compost as a natural fertilizer, however, there are multiple organic fertilizers you can purchase as well. To start you own compost pile – check this blog out.


Organic gardening usually goes hand in hand with weeds. Don’t be discouraged! There are tons of natural ways to kill weeds

  • Homemade weed killer – 2 cups white vinegar, half cup of salt, and a tad dish soap. Shake well in a spray bottle and make sure salt is dissolved. Use only on weeds – as this could kill any veggie plants you’re growing!

  • Pull em out! – Pull them out from the root. This is usually the best way to go when you have a raised veggie bed or container. Always use gloves for this to prevent any splinter type stalks/roots you may come across!


Use leftover boiling water (like from pasta or a tea kettle) and dump right onto the weeds – do it right away so the water is still at a high temperature. Be smart about it, and watch for your feet and lower legs, children, and pets.

Grow what you eat

Plan your garden with things you love to eat and buy often.

Starting Small

Start small with your garden if you’re a beginner. I suggest starting with a 10x10 area, or raised bed. You will be able to harvest more if you take care of a smaller area in the beginning – just until you learn the ropes! You can also opt in for container gardening – this is super ideal for apartment living or saving money by avoiding creating a raised bed. Make sure the containers have holes at the bottom for proper drainage.

Primp & Prune

To keep plants healthy, make sure to prune as needed. Spinach, lettuce and other greens can be harvested multiple times if the outside leaves are snapped off.


Growing organic is one of the best things you can do. Not only do you get the satisfaction from watching something grow, but you are created a healthier environment, and a healthier you!

 Some other articles you might enjoy:

 Common Compost Questions & HOW TO Compost

Why Cigarette Butts Are a Big Threat to Marine Life

25 Ways to Conserve Water at Home

40+ Things You Can Compost


Sources used:
  • Gabriella De Luca

Why Donating & Buying Used is the Way to Go

Why Donating & Buying Used is the Way to Go

Think of how many times you purchased an item and ended up getting rid of it either by tossing it out, selling it, or donating it. The majority of people throw out items that could be put to good use in someone else’s hands or home. Sometimes, our pile of stuff we’ve been wanting to sell or donate sits and sits, and accumulates more items.

Donating these items offers an opportunity for others to find new treasure in your unwanted items. When looking for places to donate, try locating a non-profit establishment such as Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity. Yes – these donated items do get sold, but they get sold at a reasonable price that’s affordable. We are talking items like: clothes that no longer fit, housewares such as pans or tea kettles or coffee tables. There are also bins that are popping up on sidewalks and in parking lots of some shopping centers – these bins are a great way to recycle clothing as well.

Americans send 10.5 million tons of clothing to landfills every year. Donating items such as clothing, also creates an opportunity for you! You’re not just donating, you are reusing and recycling. This opportunity creates the capability for your clothing to be worn second hand, cut down and used as industrial rags, or ground down and reprocessed.

Americans now buy five times as much clothing as they did in 1980, according to Mattias Wallander, CEO of USAgain, a textile-recycling company. And between 1999 and 2009, the volume of textile trash rose by 40 percent. Particularly due to the advent of cheap, disposable clothing, charities have seen themselves transformed into dumps that accept clothes of varying condition in ever-increasing volumes

 A good way to reduce waste is to buy less and buy used. Buying used items found at garage sales, second hand stores, consignment stores, ebay, or even re-selling apps is an awesome way to contribute to our ever-growing waste issue. When we buy things, we accumulate more trash; trash from packaging and trash when we’ve decided the item is no longer useful to us. Start shopping smart, search second hand websites, second hand stores, or garage sales for items you may need, they’re usually cheaper and usually just as useful as buying brand new.

To sum it up, here are 5 benefits to donating and buying used:

1. Benefits the Environment - clothes and items are re-used AGAIN. When it's too "used up" it can be recycled into other textiles and be used for other items. 

2. Benefits your Wallet - you can find some pretty awesome used goods for an extremely reasonable price. From designer items, to your everyday basics. Online search for some upcycled clothing stores near you, or check out new apps - there are so many that keep popping up. 

3. Benefits the Economy - you're helping the economy by supporting a discount store or donation plant - this is because the person giving the item is not losing out on anything by donating - they are giving something away that they don't need or no longer want. 

4. Benefits the Less Fortunate - people with smaller incomes can afford to pay for everyday basics (like clothes, kitchenware, etc) on their own. People with lower incomes can save money by shopping used, VS. shopping at places like Nordstroms or Macy's. 

5. Benefits the Community - you are creating affordable options for your community, supporting jobs of local thrift stores and donation centers, and supporting neighbors and peers who shop these places. 


Donating not only feels good, but does a lot a good! 


Related Posts:

10 Questions to Help You Declutter

Items to Remove From Your Home

The Importance of the 3 R's


Sources: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/07/where-does-discarded-clothing-go/374613/
  • Gabriella De Luca

Why Cigarette Butts Are a Big Threat To Marine Life

Why Cigarette Butts Are a Big Threat To Marine Life

Ocean Butts

It’s no secret that each year, and increasing amount of litter and debris can be found in the sand, or in the water. Of that debris, cigarette butts seem to be the most common, and one of the most harmful to aquatic life. Cigarette butts are also littered out the windows of cars, parking lots, on sidewalks, pretty much everywhere. These end up in our gutters, carried by traffic, wind, and water, and eventually end up in our waterways. The toxins in the butts and filters leak out, threatening water quality as well as marine life. Not to mention animals mistaking these for food, or even curious children.  Over 4.5 TRILLION cigarettes are littered worldwide each year – they are the most littered item in the world.

Cigarette butts may seem small, however, with several trillion butt littered each year – the toxic chemicals add up quickly. Cigarette butts are composed of cellulose acetate (a form of plastic) and take an estimated 2 -25 years to decompose. They also contain over 165 chemicals.

A study in San Diego was performed and a single butt was introduced to a liter of water and resulted in high toxicity levels, and the death of 50% of the fish in the water – this is just from ONE butt. This suggests one smoked cigarette butt in a single liter of water is sufficient to kill both marine and freshwater fish

Some of the chemicals in cigarettes:

  • Benzo[a]pyrene: found in coal tar and cigarette smoke and it is one of the most potent cancer causing chemical in the world.

  • Arsenic: deadly poison that causes diarrhea, cramps, anemia, paralysis and malignant skin tumors. It is used in pesticides.

  • Acetone: It's one of the active ingredients in nail polish remover.

  • Lead: Lead poisoning stunts growth, causes vomiting, and causes brain damage.

  • Formaldehyde: causes cancer, can damage lungs, skin, and digestive systems. Embalmers use it to preserve dead bodies.

  • Toluene: highly toxic, commonly use as an ingredient in paint thinner.

  • Butane: highly flammable butane is one of the key components in gasoline.

  • Cadmium: cause damage to the liver, kidneys and brain, and stays in the body for years.

  • Ammonia: causes individuals to absorb more nicotine, keeping them hooked on smoking.

  • Benzene: found in pesticides and gasoline.

In 2014, ICC volunteers collected some 2 million cigarette butts – a huge amount, but just the tip of the ice berg. Approximately 4.5 trillion of the 6 trillion cigarettes consumed annually are littered across the globe. 

It’s important to realize that plastics are overwhelmingly being ingested by marine life. Plastic pieces are being found in the stomachs of birds, fish, whales and other marine creatures because they are being mistaken for food. People who eat an average amount of seafood are estimated to ingest up to 11,000 tiny pieces of plastic per year according to a study from the University of Ghent.  


Ways YOU Can Help Eliminate the Butts:

  • Get educated & spread the word

  • Encourage smokers to dispose of their butts properly, responsibly and safely

  • Volunteer and pick up when visiting a beach, walking your dog, or out and about

  • Set an example and not litter - encourage the same for your peers




 Sources Used:

  • Gabriella De Luca

Things You Can & Cannot Recycle - Information Guide

Things You Can & Cannot Recycle

An informational guide to things you can, and cannot recycle.

 Recycling Basics

Do Recycle:

  • Aluminum cans – Cans are awesome because it can be returned on the shelf as quickly as 60 days after it’s recycled! Definitely recycle these! Aluminum can be recycled indefinitely.

       Americans, on average, drink one beverage from an aluminum can each day, but we only recycle just over 49% of the cans we use. 2.7 million tons of aluminum is discarded each year, and of that, only 50% is recycled.

  • Aluminum Foil – make sure to wipe clean of any food particles. Foil can also be cleaned off easily and re-used.

Americans discarded about 460,000 tons of foil in 2010

  • Steel Cans or Tin Cans

    • Coffee cans, soup cans, veggie cans, etc.

Americans use about 100 million steel cans every day – that’s 36.5 billion cans a year. About 71% of these are recycled making them one of the most recycled packaging products in America. Recycling steel also saves at least 75% if the energy it would take to create steel from raw materials – this is enough energy to power 18 million homes.

  • Cardboard boxes - with all the online shopping, food meal prep to your doors, we have never had so many boxes in our lifetime.

*REMEMBER – break boxes down before putting them in the recycling bin*

Recycled cardboard makes cereal boxes, paperboard, paper towels, tissues, printing and writing paper, and more cardboard boxes.

  • Magazines – Recycled magazines are used to make newspaper, tissues, writing paper & cardboard

Only about 45% of magazines are being recycled today. Some people think they can’t recycle magazines due to the gloss and high ink – but the times have changed!

  • Chip Bags – but only if done through a special program like the Terra Cycle

  • Office Paper & Paper – computer paper, letterhead paper, and notebook paper can all be turned back into paper if it’s separated from other recyclable paper. This other recyclable paper we are talking about is newsprint, colored paper, file stock and found wood paper – these can be made into cardboard, tissues, newspaper, and toilet paper.

  • Newspaper – recycled newspaper can be made into cereal boxes, egg cartons, pencil barrels, grocery bags, tissue paper, and other products, such as more newspaper.

  • Paperboard – mostly made for food packaging like cereal boxes – one side of paperboard is usually gray in color.

  • Cardboard Dairy & Juice Cartons – made from 80% high quality paper fiber and 20% polyethylene to keep the paper from getting wet. Only a small fraction of these get recycled – so add these to your recycling bin whenever it’s empty.

  • Junk Mail – this includes paper flyers left of your door knob, catalogs for things you’ve never shopped for or heard of before. Recycle these too please!

  • Phone Books – by recycling just 500 books, we can save between 17 and 31 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 463 gallons of oil, 587 pounds of air pollution, and 3.06 cubic yards of landfill space.

  • Glass bottles – clear, brown (beer bottles), and green (wine bottles), and blue.

  • Glass Jars – coconut oil jars, pasta sauce jars, salsa jars, etc. If you don’t want to upcycle these, recycle them instead.

  • Plastic bottles, jars and jugs – make sure it’s clean! One dirty product, or one with food waste still in it can contaminate an entire bale containing thousands of pounds of collected plastics.

  • Batteries & Bulbs

    • Car Batteries – typically made with 60% lead and about 3 tons of plastic. Go to an automotive retailer to recycle your car battery

    • Household Batteries – Check with your municipality to find out a place near you to recycle batters. Do not throw them in the garbage.

    • Rechargeable Batteries – To help keep toxins out of the environment, check with your municipality to find out where to recycle these.

    • LED & Incandescent Bulbs – This is another where we recommend reaching out to your local municipality on proper recycling, as it varies from city to city.

    • Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFL) – These bulbs contain a small amount of mercury and if it’s broken before it’s properly recycled, people can be exposed to the mercury. Some states have even outlawed putting these bulbs in the trash. Look to your municipal or check out this link to an easy disposal Think Green From Home

  • Electronics

    • Computers, monitors, keyboard – These should never be dumped in landfill. Make sure you are working with a reputable e-waste program to properly recycle this.

    • Photocopiers, Printers, Fax Machines – Donate or recycle these. Including printer cartridges. There are many places that will take electronic waste – research an area near you or a curb side pickup.

    • Tv’s, Telephones, Stereos – Research an area near you for e-waste pick up or a curb side pick up

    • Cellphones – Again, this also takes a special e-waste program. Make sure to recycle these as cell phones contain valuable metals such as copper. Recycling these saves resources and energy.


The Following Cannot Be Recycled:

  • K-cups or instant coffee pods for the coffee machine – only 2 parts are recyclable, the aluminum lid, and the paper filter – the paper cup itself, is not.

  • Individual use coffee creamers – opt in for a larger jug, or creamer in a carton, or use good ole’ fashioned milk or nut milk.

  • Plastic Coffee Stirrers – Wooden ones are compostable, but plastic ones cannot be recycled – these are equivalent to plastic straws – they just sit in landfill!

  • Plastic straws

  • Paper Towels – These aren’t able to be “cleaned” before they are recycled, it’s better to compost these instead

  • Tissues

  • Food Wrappers – Candy wrappers, chip bags, sandwich wrappers from delis. There is a new program where you can collect your chip bags and send them in to be recycled, check it out https://www.terracycle.com

  • Zip lock/plastic bags – Refuse these entirely if you can, or reuse them whenever possible. We have a great post about reducing and reusing plastic bags

  • Any plastics with food on it – rinse your containers before tossing them in the recycling, like yogurt containers, salad containers, etc.

  • Styrofoam – of course!

  • Paper insulated cups

  • Food - Food is not Recyclable, it is in fact, compostable though!


Last minute tips

  1. Wash out your plastics before recycling

  2. Put cream in before you add your coffee, the coffee stream will mix it – no need for a stirrer

  3. Be prepared – bring your own shopping bag when shopping

  4. Get a reusable water bottle

Some helpful articles to help you along your sustainable journey:

Recycle Numbers On the Bottom Of Plastics

Recycling Basics

20 Tips To Go Green In The Kitchen

Why Are You Still Using Plastic In Your Kitchen

Pollution From Plastics And How You Can Help


Proper recycling saves energy, resources, and landfill space.


Thanks for doing your part to help our current environment and future generations




Sources Used:
  • Gabriella De Luca

10 Tips For Living With Less Plastic

Tips for living with less plastic

Plastics in landfill

While the plastic epidemic is a mammoth issue, it’s easy to get discouraged and question ourselves if there is actually anything we can do personally to make a realistic difference.

While you may feel so small on our planet, your daily habits accumulate over time, and can add up to a big difference, especially when our habits and actions are picked up by our family members, and peers. There are a lot of people with similar interests in being more sustainable, so your efforts, with like-minded individuals can add up to a big impact.

Plastic waste pretty much ends up all over – on and off freeway onramps, in the ocean, in our landfill; it’s something that never really goes away. And when it’s out of site and out of mind, it’s still there, lingering somewhere, and has been since plastics were created, and will continue to remain there for quite a few generations after us. Not only is the pollution adding up, but it’s causing a negative side effect all around on human health, wildlife health, and the health of our planet Earth.

According to Ocean Crusaders, it’s estimated that plastic bags alone kill over 100,000 birds and marine animals a year. It’s now estimated that there are 5.25 TRILLION pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Of that mass, 269,000 tons float on the surface, while some four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer litter the deep sea (1). When plastics break down due to waves, and sediment, it becomes so small that fish and wildlife start mistaking it as food and it begins the cycle of polluting not only their food chain, but ours as well.

We know that plastic is hard to avoid and get away with, I mean let’s face it –it’s almost 2018 and people still don’t know how giant this epidemic is! With a little education, and small changes, we can work together to help eliminate unnecessary plastic waste.

Creating small changes in your everyday life can reduce the plastic output waste that your lifestyle creates.

Join on us on a few small doable changes to help make a difference for our Earth:

1. B.Y.O.B – As in Bring Your Own Bag-

Sounds easy enough right? But we are human! We forget things, like our reusable bags when we make a spontaneous trip to the store. Try keeping a few stashed away in the trunk or door of your car, or opt into compactible ones so you can throw them in your laptop bag, backpack, or purse. Once this becomes a habit, you will be more disciplined at bringing your own bag to purchase your necessary items.

2. Use Non-Plastic Food & Beverage Containers-

Carry a reusable water bottle, they have so many different ones now, there’s no excuse not to have one that fits your style. Choose a reusable coffee cup, the majority of coffee joints even offer a discount if you bring your own tumbler or mug. Skip out on buying the plastic food containers for leftover – there are awesome glassware containers available, and mason jars or upcycled jars from pasta sauces, coconut oil, jam, etc. make great to go containers for a variety of breakfast and lunch options. One awesome perk to also using glassware for food storage, is that it won’t leach chemicals or toxins into your food once heated!

3. Avoid Convenience Foods –

I’m talking mostly about the quick frozen meals you can make. They have excessive packaging waste. The whole meal itself is in packaging that the majority of the time, isn’t even recycled. Got a Pinterest? No? Well I suggest making one or at least exploring it. They have tons of make ahead frozen meals that are a healthier option for your body, and for the Earth.

4.Use Natural Cleaning Cloths –

Opt in for a natural fiber cloth to clean instead of the popular scrub brushes you can find. Not only are these reusable, but they’re handy for more than just kitchen duties. These are also a healthy swap for petrochemical wipes you can buy in bulk – they aren’t soaked in chemicals and won’t create nearly half the waste as these chemical filled wipes will.

5. Know Which Plastic You Can Recycle -
Save your recycling center money & time by knowing which plastics can actually go in your bin and be recycled. This includes no plastic bags, no Styrofoam, and #7 plastic bottles or containers (keep in mind SOME #7's are biodegradable and compostable - usually you can tell or it clearly states this). (See guide here)

6. Wash Your Plastic Recyclables -

Make sure you wash out your recyclable containers like peanut butter jars & soda bottles. Don't worry about getting them sparkly clean, but they do need a quick rinse. When workers sort through recycling bins and items, most of the times they have to send soiled plastics (and papers contaminated by foods from plastics) to landfill.

7. Make Your Own Condiments –

Just open up your fridge – how many condiments bottles or containers do you have in there? Another reason why Pinterest, or a good recipe blog should be your friend. Making your own condiments is fairly simple, and way healthier for you! Store them in glass jars, and skip the accumulating cost of condiments and accumulating waste of their empty containers. From dressings, to relish, to chocolate sauce, become your own condiment master!

8. Shop in Bulk –

Buying in bulk saves packaging! The majority of super markets now have a bulk section – to see what stores near you have a bulk section, check out this link. Bring reusable bags to buy things like nuts, beans, or trail mixes. Ask your store if you’re able to bring your own glass jar or container for bulk purchases to really eliminate the need of plastic bags.

9. Avoid Non-Stick Cookware –

Nonstick cookware contains toxic perfluorochemicals that are released when it’s exposed to heat – which is primarily always when you cook with it! Replace it with cast iron – as cast iron will last for YEARS, and is just as good as a non-stick when taken care of properly. Stainless steel or copper cookware is also a good alternative to non-stick as well.

10. Share These Tips With Your Family & Friends –

It’s always useful to share with our loved ones why we make the choices we do regarding our lifestyle. Raise awareness by talking about the plastic pollution issue, and how you are doing your part to contribute to the reduction of it. This may spark inspiration in others to follow a more sustainable path.

Related Posts:

40+ Things You Can Compost

22 Ways To Reuse Plastic Bags

Pollution from Plastics & How You Can Help

20 Tips to Go Green In The Kitchen

(1) http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/01/150109-oceans-plastic-sea-trash-science-marine-debris
Photo - Dalibor Danilovic
  • Gabriella De Luca

Why You Should Wash Your Fruits & Veggies

Why You Should Wash Your Fruits & Veggies

 Washing your Fruits & Veggies

Whether you’re purchasing your produce from a farmers market, or the grocery store, it’s important to wash them before consumption. The FDA recommends washing with cold water – but it’s been proved that it’s not enough to wash away pesticides, especially from conventional (non-organic) produce.


According to the EWG - the highest amount of pesticide residue have been found on: Strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, celery, grapes, pears, cherries, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, and potatoes.  


On the other side, the cleanest produce you can find least likely to contain pesticide residue are: Avocados and sweet corn, pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions, cabbage, mangoes, eggplant, and kiwi

If you cannot afford to buy organic, opt into cooking them first if possible, typically pesticide levels diminish when food is cooked.


A quick and effective way to clean your fruits and veggies without purchasing a fancy-smancy veggie cleaner is quite simple:

  • Create a clean wash basin – (I use a big stock pot or bowl for this)

  • Create a 90% water and a 10% White vinegar concoction

    • I typically use 3 cups water and 1 cup distilled white vinegar

  • Add 1 Tablespoon lemon juice (lemon juice isn’t necessary if you don’t have it on hand)

  • Let sit for 10-20 minutes

  • Rinse

  • If vinegar smell lingers – add a bit of lemon juice as this will help eliminate the smell

This mixture is safe to use on all fruits and veggies – even leafy greens. What’s awesome about this recipe, is that it can be created and used in a spray bottle. Just mix, shake well, and apply to produce and scrub away using a veggie brush or designated sponge just for veggies. Rinse with water before cooking or serving.

This mixture is reported by Cook’s Illustrated to kill 98 percent of bacteria on food. This is superb for leafy greens because greens have a higher potential to hold bacteria such as E. Coli bacteria. According to a study in Journal of Food Protection, adding a tablespoon or two of salt to this mixture increases vinegar's ability to kill E. coli bacteria when salt is added to the mix.


Some of our favorite Fruit & Veggie Tools:

  • Reusable Veggie Bags - one of our top sellers! Reduce plastic produce bag waste - shop and store right in these - drawstring closure, AND machine washable
  • Veggie Scrub Brush - Scrub away pesticides, dirt, and debris - made with 100% bamboo and palm tree bristles 
  • Paring Knife - Plastic & BPA Free paring knife perfect for slicing apples!


  • Gabriella De Luca