• Give to charity without sending money

    (Photo: Jupiterimages)(Photo: Jupiterimages)By Morieka Johnson, Mother Nature Network
    More from Guest Bloggers blog

    Q: My family usually makes a big donation to our favorite charity at the end of the year. But times are tough, and we just don't have the money.

    What's the best way to show my support without sending the big check they are expecting?


    A: Nonprofit organizations know how to do more with less, and most are adjusting their budgets to prepare for fewer donations this season. Unfortunately, the need for assistance has grown exponentially during these tough economic times. That means more families visiting food banks, more abandoned pets, and more crowding in homeless shelters.

    Fortunately, there are plenty of ways for you and your family to help your favorite charity. Hopefully you can find one or two options to try this year.


    Donate office supplies

    Whether it's a food bank or a pet rescue, charities need the same things that most offices require to function. I volunteer for an organization called

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  • Are poinsettias poisonous?

    Poinsettia (Photo: Scott Bauer / USDA / Wikipedia)Poinsettia (Photo: Scott Bauer / USDA / Wikipedia)By Melissa Breyer
    More from Care2 Green Living blog

    Pity the poor poinsettia. All it ever wanted was to be a nice emblem for the holidays: To be patiently wrapped in red foil and hoisted on hostesses, to festoon festive Christmas sweaters, and to be eternally mimicked in plastic. But somewhere along the way it picked up a bad-girl reputation as a lethal beauty -- lovely to look at and terribly toxic if tasted!

    But are the rumors true? Are pretty poinsettias potentially poisonous? About 70 percent of the population will answer yes, and although every year there is a bumper crop of stories explaining otherwise -- the myth persists. And myth it is. Poinsettia's are not poisonous, merely the victim of a popularly enduring urban legend.

    It all started back in the early part of the 20th century when the young child of a U.S. Army officer was alleged to have died from consuming a poinsettia leaf -- a story which was later retracted.

    But, as these things have a habit of doing,

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  • Seven tips for traveling lightly

    (Photo: sundazed / Flickr)(Photo: sundazed / Flickr)
    By Katherine Butler, Mother Nature Network
    More from Guest Bloggers blog

    Anyone who has balanced, dragged or carried a too-heavy suitcase through the airport knows there's a distinct cost to overpacking. What's more, the price of not lightening your load is taxing to the environment, as heavy baggage means heavy planes means heavy carbon emissions.

    Then there's the monetary cost of heavy baggage. Fee-free luggage is like a rapidly melting Antarctic glacier. Most major airlines charge about $25 for the first checked bag and as much as $45 for the second one - if it weighs less than 50 pounds.

    Under the circumstances, a traveler might be inclined to draw the blinds, lock the door, and stay home until it's safe to carry a suitcase once more - if ever.

    Luckily, there are options for all types of travelers, not just unable (or unwilling) to drag a too-heavy suitcase around the planet. Check out these seven easy tips to keep your baggage lightweight and mobile for your next

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  • Chewing gum becomes art

    By Trystan L. Bass
    More from Green Picks blog

    Ben Wilson painting on the sidewalk. (Photo courtesy of Rahid Khan / Flickr.)Ben Wilson painting on the sidewalk. (Photo courtesy of Rahid Khan / Flickr.)For most people, chewing gum on a city street is a nuisance. In hot weather, the gum becomes a sticky trap for your shoes. In cold weather, it's slick as ice. And the disused gum is an annoyance that costs cities thousands of dollars to clean up.

    In 2008, Norfolk, Virginia, purchased an $8,000 machine to remove unsightly chewing gum from the streets. Tempe, Arizona, instituted a daily "clean team" in January 2010 to deal with gum and related messes downtown.

    What these places really need is an artist like Ben Wilson -- he turns chewing gum on the sidewalks of London into miniature paintings. Using acrylic paints and small brushes, Wilson paints abstract art, figures, faces, and custom works. He's been featured in British newspapers and the BBC, and Wilson has created over 10,000 gum-based pieces of public art.

    While this isn't an excuse to spit out your gum on the street, these painting certainly do brighten up an otherwise

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  • By E.B. Solomont, Mother Nature Network
    More from Guest Bloggers blog

    (Photo: Perulsay / Flickr)(Photo: Perulsay / Flickr)Paper clutter poses a challenge for the most organized among us, with seemingly limitless amounts of junk mail arriving daily.

    Short of going paperless (a great and eco-friendly option, if you can pull it off), managing and filing paper can reduce the clutter currently occupying your desk, dining room table or kitchen counter. (And by the way, keeping your papers in shoeboxes isn't the best answer either.)

    Though there isn't a "right way," the following are nine tips from the experts on how to manage the paper stream in your life.


    1. Sort by verb, file by noun

    Believe it or not, grammar can help differentiate between papers you need to deal with now versus those you are finished with and can store away, according to Renee Kutner, a self-described "chaos advisor" and founder of Atlanta-based Peace by Piece Organizing.

    Generally speaking, documents that require action should be sorted by verb -

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  • By Melissa Breyer
    More from Care2 Green Living blog

    (Photo: Tetra Images / Getty Images)(Photo: Tetra Images / Getty Images)In my days of homemade butter and baking bread from scratch (read: before children), I bristled at the memory of my mom's constant employment of the 1970's number one secret ingredient (cream of mushroom soup) and her reliance on frozen vegetables.

    Two kids and a full-time job later, I'm thinking, wow, a can of soup fixes everything, and by the way, where can I fit in another freezer around here?

    Fortunately, you need not surrender to Hamburger Helper or cheese in a jar to save time and money in the kitchen. Even if spending time in the kitchen is one of your favorite pastimes, spending less of it on the mundane chores will leave you more time for the pleasurable tasks at hand, like eating and drinking!

    Here are six places to start:


    1. Master some signature sauces

    In The Art of Simple Food, Alice Waters recommends four essential sauces that you can practically make in your sleep: vinaigrette, salsa verde,

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  • Why does my stomach growl?

    By Chanie Kirschner, Mother Nature Network
    More from Guest Bloggers blog

    Photo: (Getty Images)Photo: (Getty Images)Q: This morning, I was sitting in a doctor's waiting room full of people, and my stomach wouldn't stop rumbling and grumbling. It was loud enough for people to hear! What makes my stomach growl, and is there anything I can do to stop it?

    A: Well, you can't exactly tell your stomach to be quiet like you can your 2-year-old. (Although that might not be so effective, either). Fortunately or unfortunately, our bodies do many things we cannot control.

    Let's travel back in time to ninth-grade biology and find out why our stomach growls in the first place. We will begin by reviewing the details of a digestive process called peristalsis - where waves of muscle contractions propel the food you eat from your stomach down to your intestines and onward.

    Along with the food, though, the muscles are also churning liquid and digestive juices all in one big appetizing mixture called chyme, and sometimes gas and

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  • Seven herbs for indigestion

    By Melissa Breyer
    More from Care2 Green Living blog

    Photo: (Getty Images)Photo: (Getty Images)Common causes for indigestion include overeating, eating too quickly, fatty or greasy foods, too much caffeine, too much alcohol, too much chocolate, nervousness, and emotional trauma. Translation: The holidays.

    Indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, is a term used to describe one or more symptoms including a feeling of fullness during a meal, uncomfortable fullness after a meal, and burning or pain in the upper abdomen; it may cause bloating, belching, and nausea. One thing is certain, it's no fun!

    If that last wafer-thin mint has you cowering on the couch, you may want to try one of these natural aids for indigestion. Herbs have been used for millennia to treat any matter of ailments, and indigestion seems to be one woe that is well-suited for natural remedies.


    Fennel / Fennel Seed
    There is a reason Indian restaurants serve the fennel seed mix, Mukhwas, after dinner. Fennel seed has long been used to help fight

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  • a(Photo: Vi..Cult... / Wikipedia)(Photo: Vi..Cult... / Wikipedia)By Terri Hall
    More from Care2 Green Living blog

    Commonly considered a grain, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a seed which is related to leafy green vegetables such as spinach, chard, and beets. Once considered the "mother seed" of the Incas, this South American native is a nutritional powerhouse, and its wide array of potential culinary uses makes it one of the most practical foods to store in your pantry.

    The remarkable thing about quinoa is that it is one of the rare plant-based foods that supplies all nine essential amino acids, including the elusive lysine, making it a complete protein. While food from animal sources almost always contains complete proteins, vegetable sources of protein are most often lacking in one or more essential amino acids. This makes quinoa an excellent option for vegetarians, vegans, and anyone interested in adding non-meat proteins to their diet.

    According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the content and quality

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  • 10 mistakes people make with heat

    By Steve Graham, Networx(Photo: Getty Images)(Photo: Getty Images)
    More from Guest Bloggers blog

    Even with a constant flow of information about energy efficiency, homeowners make major heating mistakes that end in higher electric bills and larger environmental footprints.

    Here are 10 of those errors, with the cause and effect of each decision.


    1. Maintaining a constant temperature

    Cause: A persistent myth suggests that you can save energy by leaving the house at a comfortable 68 degrees (a widely recommended winter setting), even when you are sleeping or away at work.

    The idea is that it takes more energy for the furnace to reach a comfortable temperature than to maintain that temperature.

    Effect: You could miss out on significant potential energy savings by not using a programmable thermostat and adjusting the temperature overnight and during the workday.

    Though the impacts of adjusting the thermostat vary based on your climate and other factors, studies show that knocking the temperature down by 10

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