Did You Know These Recycling Facts?

According to Recycle Across America, only 35 percent of households and 10 percent of businesses recycle. This simple act of collecting the items that your family uses and putting them in a designated container can make a huge impact on our planet. As Ilchi Lee teaches, our resources are finite, and making changes to our lifestyles can make a big difference in creating a sustainable world. Did you know these interesting facts about recycling?

Recycling Reduces Landfill Waste
You've probably driven down a highway and seen a massive landfill. These hugs areas of land contain all the things we throw in the garbage. Trucks bring the materials here where they are spread onto the dirt and then mixed in with other items. Some things like food scraps and paper decompose here. Others, like plastic and glass, simply take up room. When you chose to recycle them instead, they go to a plant that melts them down to raw materials and makes new containers. An aluminum can, for instance, can be recycled and back on a store shelf within six days. 

Using recycled materials is Better for the Environment
According to the source, it takes 95 percent less energy to recycle a can than to create a brand new one. By recycling, you are not only lessening the need for new materials, you are saving electricity. Paper is another commonly-thrown away item. While it is much less harmful to the Earth than plastic, it is still better to recycle it. When companies use pre-existing paper to make new pages, they create 95 percent less air pollution than if they were to make entirely new paper.

Glass is Infinite
As you browse the grocery store shelves looking at the many varieties of beverages you may notice that some are made of glass. When you can, choose these drinks. Glass can be recycled repeatedly and never loses it's integrity or ability to be reused. It is simply melted down and reshaped. Using recycled materials to make glass reduced the potential water pollution caused by the process of making new glass by 50 percent. While there are fewer food and beverage options available in glass (it is heavier and may be slightly more costly to purchase), they can be found everywhere. The grocery store, gas station and likely even your local coffee shop offers some kind of drink that comes in a glass bottle. Choose that one over plastic every time and you'll be taking a major step towards preserving our natural resources.

Be Eco-friendly Even When You Rent Your Home

According to the National Multifamily Housing council, about 35 percent of Americans rent their homes. Often, this means they are not able to make major sustainability decisions involving their space, such as planning a garden or choosing energy-efficient appliances. Many people who rent their homes don't think they can do much to be eco-friendly either. However, there are many ways to make less of a negative imprint even when you don't own your home. Here are some small things to do that can add up to a major positive impact:

Use Recycled and Reusable Materials
One of the biggest threats to the environment is the creation of new things. There are so many items that are already in existence that can be reused, there is no reason to continue making brand new products. When you need to buy clothes, consider shopping at a local thrift store or resale shop. There is plenty of clothing that's in good condition. If you're going out to eat, bring a reusable container with you in case you want to bring home the leftovers. Then you won't have to use a Styrofoam one that cannot be recycled and takes over a million years to decompose. Heading to the store? Bring bags from home so you don't have to use plastic or paper.

Try Green Cleaning Products
Bleach and other harsh chemicals that are often a major part of store-bought cleaning products can harm the Earth and are not good for your family's health. Instead of using these items, make your own with baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice. Add salt as an abrasive if you are trying to scrub something really dirty like your stove, and you can even make your home smell nice by adding a few drops of your favorite essential oils. 

Ilchi Lee considers working towards a sustainable world to be of utmost importance. The spiritual leader teaches that the Earth is a place that needs to be protected in order for human beings to continue living and thriving. We get our energy from the sun, the universe and the plants and animals that we consume, and working to make our daily lives more sustainable is of utmost importance, even if you don't own your own home.

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

Your carbon footprint is a number made up of the amount of greenhouse gasses that were produced because of you. This includes gasses caused by the agriculture production that feeds you, city busses that transport you to work, the post office's emissions when bringing mail to your house and more. Even your breath emits CO2. The ozone layer is constantly becoming depleted because of these greenhouse gasses. You can reduce your carbon footprint with these tips, promoting a sustainable world like Ilchi Lee teaches:

Ride Your Bicycle
One of the most common causes of greenhouse gasses is vehicular traffic. Your car, no matter how new or "energy-efficient," emits carbon dioxide. While you can drive it less to decrease your carbon footprint, the best way to try this is to ride your bike instead. Pump up the tires, strap on your helmet and start commuting to work via the bike lane. You can even get groceries with your ride so long as you have the proper carrying method like panniers or a backpack.

Purchase Energy-Efficient Appliances
Your refrigerator, stove and microwave are also contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer. All of these appliances use electricity, whether you are using them or not, so long as they are plugged in. Your computer is also a culprit, even when asleep as it is still connected to the grid. When you buy new appliances like these, The Carbon Fund recommends looking for ones with the Energy Star logo. This means the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency deemed it energy-efficient. 

Insulate Your Home
Unfortunately, many homes are not properly insulated. This means that hot or cold air you are paying for is finding ways to seep out, depleting your wallet and using a lot of unnecessary energy. Have a professional come to your home to be sure it is properly caulked, weather-stripped and insulated to keep the air in your home at the temperature that you prefer. If you have the necessary tools, DIY. You should also take a look at your windows. If they are older they may need to be resealed to keep them weather-proofed. Some glass is better than others, so look for the Energy Star logo when purchasing windows as well.

Compost These Items to Reduce Your Waste

In order to sustain life, we must pay more attention to what we are throwing away. Our natural resources such as land and water are becoming polluted with trash and chemicals. If we don't pay more attention to what we throw away, Mother Earth may not be able to recover. 

"Your body is a flower that life let bloom, a phenomenon created by life." Ilchi Lee said in his book, "The Twelve Enlightenments for Healing Society." To let life continue blooming, we must try our best to return nutrients to the earth. A good way to do this is by composting. Learn how to do so below.

Make Your Own Compost
Many people don't realize how easy it is to make their own compost. You don't even have to keep it at your home, many cities have large urban composting facilities that will come pick up your waste and use it to grow plants and feed animals. Some urban dwellers choose to do their own, using worms to vermicompost in their refrigerators or other cool places. There are some rules to composting, like what you can put in it. 

Compostable materials include:

  • Vegetable scraps
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Fruit rinds, peels, etc.
  • Grass clippings
  • Manure from healthy herbivores
  • Newspaper
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Sawdust
  • Straw
  • Tree bark
  • Wood chips
  • Leaves
  • Egg shells
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Tea bags
  • Weeds
  • Tree needles
  • Moss
  • Hair
  • Fur
  • Seaweed
  • Brown paper bags
  • Cotton
  • Wool 
  • Silk

It is common that the following items are not allowed in compost:

  • Meat
  • Thorny plants
  • Treated paper or wood
  • Walnut shells
  • Waxy plants
  • Bones
  • Cheese or dairy products
  • Cat litter
  • Manure from any animal that is sick or is not an herbivore
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Grease
  • Oil
  • Fat
  • Dishwater
  • Infected or diseased plants
  • Coal, ashes or charcoal

Uses of Compost
People who make their own compost often use it to give their garden or even house plants some extra nutrition. To do so, simply sprinkle some of the freshly decomposed dirt onto your plants and watch them grow. Make sure that the compost is finished, meaning it is a dart color that easily crumbles. You shouldn't be able to spot any of the original parts of the mix (like banana peels, food particles, etc.) once it is completely processed. This can take from three to 12 months, depending on what is in it and how moist the compost is.

Each composting company or particular compost environment is different. One item may work for a vermicomposter but not for a company that feeds the mix to livestock or uses it to fertilize their plants. Be sure to check that your particular setup doesn't have special requirements for the compost mix. 

4 Steps to Eating More Local Foods

Ilchi Lee believes that it is important to preserve our natural resources and nourish Mother Earth, but many people don't realize the environmental impact of the food they consume. The entire process of agricultural production, from planting seeds to keeping them alive and eventually packaging them and transporting them to a store has an affect on the climate. Eating locally-grown and produced meals can greatly reduce the consequences of your diet. Try the following steps to eat closer-to-home.

1. Read Labels
Often, we don't even realize where our dinner is coming from. To start the process of eating locally, we must first learn where our foods originate. To do this, read the labels on every edible item you purchase. They should all have a "grown in" or "manufactured in" part on the label. You may be surprised to learn just how far away your produce, meat and other items are grown or made.

2. Set a Boundary
"Local" is a term that has no specific distance. To you,  it may mean within your town. Others consider anything within their state to be local. To start eating items that have traveled less of a distance, you'll need to set a boundary of how many miles away you still consider to be local. Starting with food that has been grown or made within 100 miles of your home is a good bet. You'll likely be able to find most of the things you need within that area.

3. Cut Out Things That Aren't Local
When working within just 100 miles of area, you may realize there are some items that you can't access in that boundary. For example, if you live in the Midwest, you'll probably have a hard time finding pineapples or mangos. Spices are another grocery store purchase that don't often originate anywhere near our homes. Cumin, paprika and others tend to come from India and other faraway places. You'll have to make an exception for these as they aren't cultivated anywhere nearby. Just use them sparingly to reduce your environmental impact. 

4. Find Stores with Similar Goals
As you first start on your diet localization goals, you may find it take a lot of time at the grocery store to find edibles within your boundaries. There's an easier way to do this – find the right store. You may have a farmers market or co-op near home that purchases much more local goods than your typical grocer. Locate a place like this and you'll find your shopping is much easier and has a wider variety of foods that you can eat.

April 22 is Earth Day

Ilchi Lee believes the Earth is a sacred place. In order for the planet to continue creating energy and hosting living things it must be in good condition. Wednesday, April 22, is Earth Day and you can help keep our planet alive by doing these activities:

Earth Day Activities

  • Pick up trash in your neighborhood. Don gloves and bring garbage bags to clean up all the fast food bags, dirty cups and other detritus that is clogging up your community. 
  • Plant trees. Trees turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, which helps to filter out harmful pollutants from the air and make it more breathable for living beings. 
  • Calculate your carbon footprint to see how much of an impact you are making on the world. Now see if there are ways you can reduce this number, like biking to work instead of driving or purchasing local goods instead of ones manufactured overseas.
  • Visit a nearby shop to buy groceries. Much of what is available at supermarkets and grocery stores comes from faraway places and is made with a lot of packaging. Instead of choosing vegetables that are wrapped in plastic and were shipped in from another state, look for locally-grown organic veggies that come as they are. This will help to protect our natural resources, and reduce waste.
  • Consider purchasing only things that are made with recycled materials. Instead of looking for a new pair of jeans or a blanket for your sofa, seek out items that have been made from other, already existing ones. 

Ilchi Lee and the Earth
"This is a beautiful and hopeful time to be alive. We are at a turning point, and your contribution to the world is needed more than ever. All of your struggles, all the struggles of your ancestors, all the struggles of all life have led to this moment right now. You are the culmination of life's great yearning; you are the hope of the world." Ilchi Lee wrote in his book, "Brain Wave Vibration: Getting Back into the Rhythm of a Happy, Healthy Life."

Ilchi Lee teaches that it is important to value the Earth as we respect ourselves. Instead of taking this into consideration once a year on Earth Day, keep the thought close to your heart at all times. Treat the planet how you would want to be treated and always look for ways to make a more sustainable world.

Celebrate Air Quality Awareness Week

April is an important month as spring occurs and nature awakens after many cold months. From April 27 to May 1, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Weather Service celebrate Air Quality Awareness Week. During this time, it is important to learn about air quality and what you can do to keep Mother Earth happy and healthy.

Air Quality Tips
We don't always think about how the products we use and things we do on a daily basis affect the planet and ecosystems. During Air Quality Awareness Week, try these tips to improve the air around your community:

Plant Some Greens
Leaves filter out the bad qualities of the air, including the carbon dioxide, and produce life-giving oxygen. They also grow fruits and vegetables that feed livestock and humans and keep us growing physically and spiritually. To improve the air quality in your home, consider purchasing leafy plants to place throughout the space. They will filter the air and bring in some positive energy.

Buy Non-Toxic Cleaning Products
Many of the ingredients in common cleaning products are harmful to the air and humans. Look for labels that are more green and eco-friendly. Avoid aerosol spray cans, as they can deplete the ozone and you can even make your own home cleaning solutions to totally avoid exposing your family to questionable ingredients. Vinegar water works well for cleaning countertops and surfaces in kitchens and bathrooms. It's a lot cheaper than ready-made solutions, too.

Clean Up After Your Pet
Animals can offer wonderful companionship and many pets are considered to be a part of the family. Our furry friends can be hazardous to our health, however. To keep the air clear, be sure to vacuum frequently so their hair and dander isn't causing breathing issues. Give your pet and his or her bedding a wash regularly to keep germs and dirt outside of your home. Plus, your house or apartment will smell much better when your pets and their areas are clean.

Do the Laundry
Don't forget to add curtains, bedding and blankets to your weekly laundry load. This large pieces of fabric can hold on to dust, allergens and even dust mites. A quick wash in hot water can minimize the effect of these air pollutants and make your home effortless to breath in. It's much easier to feel calm and at home in a space that doesn't make you sneeze or feel stuffy.

Save the Earth by Helping the Bees

Bees are dying in large numbers because of the multitude of chemicals and pesticides that both home gardeners and big agriculture companies are using on their plants. Without the bees, much of the produce we enjoy would not be available. There would also not be food for animals because it wouldn't get pollinated.

In his book, "Brain Wave Vibration: Getting Back Into the Rhythm of a Happy, Healthy Life," Ilchi Lee states he believes that humans have the Noble Desire to help others without expecting anything in return. Although we need not require the bees to help us because we have made efforts to assist them and create a more sustainable world, their existence is vital to our survival in that they have a major role in helping food production. Help the planet by helping the bees. Here are a few ways to assist the insects in living and thriving:

Plant Some Flowers
The habitat that bees flourish in requires plenty of flowers. Whether you have a couple acres to till or a few pots on your patio, planting these flowers will feed bees:

  • Basil
  • Flowering broccoli
  • Snowdrops
  • Sunflowers
  • Dandelions
  • Tomatoes
  • Winter squash
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Lavender
  • Strawberries
  • Chives
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Pumpkins

Don't Use Chemicals
Many pest control solutions that can be purchased at your local gardening store contain amounts of neonicotinoid, a harmful pesticide that can cause colony collapse disorder and decimate the bees in the area. Instead of turning to store-bought options, use natural solutions to rid your garden of unwanted visitors. If you have a slug problem use a lime to make a juice trail around your plants. The slimy gastropods will not cross the line. You can also try placing shavings of ivory soap and a sprinkling of vegetable oil throughout your garden to deter nibblers like rabbits and deer. If you have a mite problem, add cayenne pepper and hot sauce to the ivory soap and you'll find they leave your garden alone.

Use Safe Bee Removal Techniques
When someone spots a beehive in their yard they may want to immediately kill the bees with an aerosol spray can type pest control. Instead of eliminating the bees from the planet, consider contacting a local beekeeper or beekeeping club to see if they offer safe removal services. If they do, they can come to your residence and take the bees and their hive away to a better place. This way the bees are out of your yard and don't pose a danger to your family and they will live on somewhere away from humans.

3 Sustainability Tips for Spring

Spring is a wonderful time of year that prompts people to head outside, soak up some sun and explore the beauty of nature. As people spend more time outdoors, they are often reminded of the grave importance of protecting the planet's natural resources.

As Ilchi Lee teaches, living with the earth as the center of your principles is an integral part of being an Earth Citizen, not just during spring, but every single day. If you're looking for ways to live a healthy, sustainable life all year-round, try some of these suggestions:

Carry a Water Bottle
The warm weather and heightened activity may prompt you to drink more water, but avoid purchasing disposable water bottles that are a detriment to the environment. Rather, carry a sealable bottle with you and, when it's empty, fill the container up at a nearby water fountain. If everyone did this, we could spare the world of much of the non-biodegradable trash accumulating in the Pacific Ocean.

Spring Clean Wisely
This time of year is when you bring out the cleaning supplies to clear away the dust that has settled during the winter. However, you should stick to products that are environmentally friendly. Avoid cleaners that contain phosphate, chlorine or bleach, which are toxic to the earth. Fortunately, organic cleaning products are growing in popularity and can be purchased at increasingly affordable prices. Another option is to make your own cleaning supplies – nontoxic ingredients such as vinegar and baking soda can be combined to created a potent yet environmentally friendly all-purpose cleaner.

Choose Sunscreen with Sustainability in Mind
Protecting your skin from harmful UV rays is essential, particularly when the weather begins to warm and you spend longer hours outdoors. When shopping for sunscreen, make sure to review the ingredients to ensure that the list does not include nanomaterials, which have been shown to be destructive to the environment. Organic, non-toxic varieties are generally best in terms of sustainability.

These simple tips can help Earth Citizens greatly reduce the negative impact on the earth. Pass these suggestions on to others to help further the efforts to save the world's natural resources.

Earth Citizens: Celebrating Earth Hour and Raise Environmental Awareness

Reducing humanity's carbon footprint is a growing concern as climate change becomes more evident each year. The emission of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide and methane, eats away at the atmosphere and leads to global warming, drastically upsetting the natural balance that makes this planet livable for human beings.

With climate change looming closely overhead, now is the time to take real, tangible action to save Mother Earth. As Ilchi Lee teaches, recognizing your role as an Earth Citizen is key, as is spreading the word to raise awareness among others. That's precisely what the Earth Hour movement strives to do.

Earth Hour is a worldwide event that asks all people to turn off their lights for the same span of 60 minutes. It began in Sydney, Australia, in 2007, though today it is based in Singapore and is backed by the World Wildlife Federation. In the past eight years, has grown to reach 138 countries and territories around the globe. The aim is not to make a massive reduction in the amount of energy used within that one hour (though a massive amount is saved), but rather to raise awareness and, in effect, make a much larger, long-term environmental impact.

In 2015, Earth Hour will take place March 28 at 8:30 p.m. local time. Join the millions of others who flip their light switches off to demonstrate their commitment to the planet.

Earth Hour, by helping teach others about the drastic effects of energy consumption and waste, aligns with Ilchi Lee's teachings. People must put Mother Earth at the core of their personal value systems, as Lee explains in "Earth Citizen: Recovering Our Humanity."

"Human beings need to acknowledge that their greatest allegiance should belong not to a human-designed government but to the power on which their very existence depends," explained Lee. "People must identify themselves as Earth Citizens before any other designation of identity. Through this simple, painless shift in thinking about ourselves and one another, I believe we can make great changes in the world and its destiny."

With awareness, effort and a shift in our set of values, humans can help maintain the world's valuable resources and keep Mother Earth alive and well for future generations.