Eco-Friendly Summer Travel

familybeachIt’s the best time of the year!  SUMMER.  Our days will perhaps be filled with sandy toes, salty hair, waterfalls, hiking, fishing, camping, sailing and dreaming under the stars.  One thing is for certain, though, most all of us will be traveling to reach at least one of our Summer destinations.  As such, we thought we would put together some of our favorite tips on how to travel a little greener as we embark on our adventures.  (Photo credit: coastalliving.com)

Overall Eco Tips:

  1. Bring your own water bottle!  
  2. If you’re staying at a hotel, don’t have the towels washed.
  3. Pack lightly!  Don’t weigh down the car (or aircraft) as it increases fuel consumption.
  4. Use Eco Sunblock.  Most conventional sunblock is harmful to the environment (and your skin).  See our previous blog post on DIY Sunscreen to make your own.

Air Travel:

if you’re flying to your destination, try to fly on a bigger aircraft as they consume less fuel (per capacity pound mile), and try to fly non-stop.  Aircraft use the most fuel during take offs, so if you limit your take offs to two for your trip, you’re saving fuel. (justenergy.com)  From the International Council on Clean Transportation, here is a ranking of the most fuel efficient airlines:

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Car Travel:

Keep those tires inflated!  Properly inflated tires decrease fuel consumption by three to four percent.  Also, don’t be in such a rush!  Slow down and enjoy the scenery.  Reduce your speed by ten miles per hour and save around ten percent on fuel. (justenergy.com)

Eat Local:

When you eat at restaurants that source their foods locally, your food has a smaller carbon footprint, and you’re supporting the local economy!  You’ll also be experiencing the cuisine of the region you are visiting, making your experience more authentic.  Use this Eat Well Guide to find the restaurants using local foods in the area you are visiting.

…and since we are approaching the 4th of July Holiday…  Here are a few tips specifically geared toward July 4th!

  1. Repurpose your decorations.  Use fabric or cloth for decorations that you can turn into other useful items around the home.
  2. Keep the grill green.  Load the grill with veggies and if you must grill meats, buy local, grass fed, non factory farmed meats.  Also, use propane instead of charcoal, it’s three times more efficient!
  3. Having a picnic?  Bring reusable dishes and silverware instead of disposable ones.
  4. Attend a community fireworks event.  Traditional fireworks are very polluting, fraught with harmful chemicals, don’t buy or use them.

Have a fantastic Summer everyone!  We wish you safe and green travels!

Tradition, Craftsmanship and the Best US Sourced Materials: Our Story

TIM MAKING MATTRESS

It seemed timely to us, with the current conditions in our job market and many people struggling to find work in what were once great manufacturing areas of the county, to write our story and speak to the “why’s” of what we do at My Green Mattress.  Everyone is familiar with the trends in manufacturing over the last 20-30 years that have deployed many manufacturing and production jobs and businesses overseas.  At My Green Mattress, we have not only extended a legacy of an outstanding local business in Illinois, but have helped suppliers nationwide by way of our purchasing practices and commitment to finding the finest organic and natural inputs, sourced almost entirely here in the US.  The story begins with Tim Masters, founder of My Green Mattress.

Tim attended Township High School in La Grange, Illinois, and shortly after, took a mattress crafting apprenticeship under the tutelage of Mr. Brixie, owner of Quality Sleep Shop, a local mattress manufacturer that began business in 1969.  Tim was honored to work with Mr. Brixie, who to him was a businessman of exemplary order; he was honest, and a true “stand-up guy,” in Tim’s own words.  The art of making mattresses spoke to Tim from the beginning, he loved that he could create something tangible, be innovative and work with his hands.  He also enjoyed fixing the machines in the shop and ensuring the entire manufacturing process ran smoothly.  

After five years of honing his craft, Tim decided that he wanted to open a mattress factory of his own.  When he approached Mr. Brixie with the idea, Mr. Brixie happily sold him Quality Sleep Shop, saying he could not continue the business without Tim.  And so, Tim carried on the traditions in craftsmanship and an heirloom local business, maintaining local jobs and even created more.  My Green Mattress employs 11 people, some who have been with the Company for 11 years.

Together, Tim and his workers carefully create each mattress by hand, each made to order.  To make the perfect mattress, they maintain time honored techniques, taught to Tim by Mr. Brixie.  As a full cut and sew factory, they hand quilt the fabrics with a multi-needle quilter.  Cotton batting, natural latex and wool are all carefully layered over an individually wrapped innerspring coil system, covered, then closed by a tape edge machine.  The quality of all materials and their craftsmanship are controlled from top to bottom of the mattress.

The result?  The perfect mattress.  Tim has taken great care in discerningly selecting all of his material inputs, and our customers can rest easy knowing that almost all of these materials were sourced right here in the US.  Our steel components for the innerspring systems and box springs are from Hickory, North Carolina, our fabric also hails from the South, cotton from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and foam is sourced in Omaha, Nebraska.  US based companies, large or small, depend on companies like My Green Mattress, to maintain and grow prosperity.  Tim and his family are very proud to offer a product made with the finest US sourced organic and natural inputs, made in their hometown of La Grange, Illinois.

It has now been 25 years since Tim started making mattresses, and his dedication to creating the perfect mattress is still evident as he continues to work side by side with his employees every day, making mattresses and speaking to his customers to ensure they each receive the perfect bed.

At My Green Mattress, the product isn’t just a mattress that feels good, we truly produce good feelings.  Moreover, to offer someone a perfect night’s sleep, well, what could be better than that?

The NEW Pure Echo Mattress

An echo by definition may be interpreted as “a close parallel or repetition of an idea, feeling, style or event.”  It was 10 years ago that our fearless leader, Tim Masters (AKA, the Bedhead) started the Pure Echo line and thus My Green Mattress, as a true labor of love when his second oldest daughter suffered from eczema and other medical conditions.  Tim and his wife Cindy felt that a chemical free mattress made from organic and natural inputs would help their little girl, as it would reduce her exposure to any toxins and irritants as she slept. The Pure Echo was created, perfect in itself, with organic cotton, 460 count coils, Joma wool and natural latex, but now, perfection is echoed in this new iteration. May we present, the NEW Pure Echo.

pure echo USE Pocket Coil Close Up

Still hand crafted with love in Chicago by Tim and his mattress makers (who have been making mattresses for over 30 years), the new and improved Pure Echo boasts 760 count individually wrapped coils.  Yes, it’s true.  This is almost double the industry standard in count, and you will notice the difference. Individually wrapped coils create a sleep system that eliminates motion transfer; ie – when your partner, or cuddly toddler, or puppy, or cat (you get the idea) moves around during the night, you won’t even notice.  Only the coils directly beneath the downward pressure will depress, as opposed to a normal innerspring mattress that diffuses the motion throughout the bed.  In addition to eliminating motion transfer, these coils will perfectly contour the curves of the body, keeping the spine in alignment.  Extra individually wrapped springs in the bed makes for extra spring in your step in the morning.

Beyond this improvement, we are very pleased to announce that we will now be shipping all of our mattresses via FedEx, roll-packed for easy delivery, and shipping will remain free!  Now your new mattress will arrive wrapped in heavy duty plastic without a box, to reduce the carbon footprint.  Apartment dwellers will be able to receive their mattresses with ease!  You’ll also only have to wait about a week to receive your new Pure Echo.  Please note, if you purchase a mattress and box spring set, your mattresses will be shipped via courier in a full dimensional box as we cannot roll pack a box spring!

From our family to yours, we wish you sweet dreams.

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The Yin and Yang of SLEEP!

We make mattresses, so obviously we love everything about sleep and getting the “best” sleep possible.  Here’s a great take on how to achieve optimal sleep, written by my amazing, holistic healthcare practitioner, Eutimia Cruz Montoya.  

You’ve heard about Yin and Yang.  They represent the duality that is present in all of nature.  Yin represents the female principle; it is cool, solid, yielding, dark, water and earth.  Yang represents the male principle; it is hot, moving, forceful, airy, fire and sky.  Everything on this earth has components of Yin and Yang.  Yin and Yang oppose one another, depend on one another, consume one another, and transform into one another.  Our entire picture of health depends on how we are able to accommodate the shifts of Yin and Yang within our own bodies, and within our environments.

Sleep is a Yin activity.  Sleep is restorative and restful.  It allows for the renewal of our energy through quiet receiving.  Night is also Yin.  Night is dark, cool, and quiet.  According to the Tao, or, the laws of how all life is interwoven and progressing, we are all always affected by the movements of our internal and external environments.  The nature of every season, every food, every emotion, every sound, has an energetic pull on us, and our body, mind, spirit complex.  In order for us to be without uncomfortable symptoms, the qualities of these internal and external energetic pulls must be enhancing and balancing one another.

Therefore, my friends, the best, most enhancing, restorative and regenerative sleep, happens at night.  That is, we get the most support from our external and internal environments, during Yin processes (like sleep) when we sleep during Yin hours (at night).  According to Traditional Chinese Medicine all organs function at their optimal capacities during specific hours of the clock.  The blood restores itself at Yin time, in the Liver, between 1-3am.  Yang functions, like eating, that require an active process, such as digestion, are more apt during Yang time, during the day.  For example, the most optimal time to eat is during Stomach time, from 7-9am, therefore, Chinese Medicine looks favorably upon consuming a large breakfast, as the Yang energy of the morning helps to facilitate our digestive functions.

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If it is absolutely unavailable for you to be asleep by around 9pm, you can still create the most conducive Yin environment for your sleep.  Make your sleeping space as dark, silent and comfortable as possible; make your space like a safe nest, so your body feels present and in-tune for the Yin process of sleep.  If you have a hard time sleeping in general, you can add to the Yin principle of your constitution by participating in restorative practices like deep breathing, foot baths and self-massage. Yang energy, like heat, rises in the body.  Therefore, generally, if we are having a hard time sleeping, we must descend Yang energy, and augment Yin energy.  This can be accomplished with visualization and some lifestyle shifts.

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To get better sleep:

Give yourself a nightly, warm foot bath.  This will both send Yang energy down, and rise Yin energy to the Yin organs, offering the feeling of calm and support, and draining the go, go, go, do, do, do from the head, for easier, more restful sleep.

Do not eat before sleep!  Digestion is a Yang activity.  When we fill our stomach before sleepy time our system will be unable to digest to full capacity.  This not only leads to unrestful sleep (with many vivid dreams), but could also exacerbate metabolic and digestive pathologies.

Lay off the spicy foods!  Spicy foods have a HOT quality.  Once again, heat rises.  If we have too much Yang energy up top, it will be harder to fall into the depths of sleep.

Give technology a break before sleep.  For the same reason of Yang energy activating the upper region (mind and heart) in the form of fast moving pixels, it will be easier to fall asleep after having offered a more calm (Yin) mental environment.

Consume fewer stimulants.  You guessed it!  Stimulants are full of Yang energy!  Drinking lots of caffeine and consuming nicotine or other stimulant drugs (prescriptions included) will lessen the capacity for fully restful sleep.

Take some nice deep breaths intending energy downward.  Deep breaths are known to slow the heart rate on their own.  When coupled with intention to release excess Yang energy, and bring in calming Yin energy, our sleep will come sooner and be more restful.

May your sleep be dark, quiet, restful and restorative!


Eutimia Cruz Montoya is a curandera (spiritual healer), herbalist, licensed acupuncturist, and Real Foods Activist.  She grew up participating in indigenous American song, dance and prayer traditions, giving her an inborn connection to, and understanding of, Body and Source.  Eutimia is a Stanford-trained anthropologist, and has been studying and practicing Classical Chinese Medicine since 2004.  Most recently she has come home to her maternal Curanderismo (American indigenous medicine) roots and integrates all aspects of her medical knowledge in her private holistic healthcare practice in Denver, Colorado.  As an educator, Eutimia is passionate about reigniting the fire of agency in Personal Well-Being through teaching the importance of environmental influences on whole body, mind and spirit health.

facebook.com/museinmedicine  |  Eutimia@gmail.com

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Pea Season, Easter… SALAD!!!

iStock_Sweet Peas

(photo credit: bonnieplants.com)

It’s Spring and things are green, literally.  This is a green blog, green things are growing, Easter is almost upon us.  What better way to celebrate all things healthy and green than with a recipe showcasing fresh peas, which are at the peak of their season.

We like peas.  Peas are green, peas are good for you and peas are tasty.  Peas are packed with anti-cancer phytonutrients that also provide key anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.  Peas have a low glycemic index coupled with a high fiber and protein content which, combined with their phytonutrients, makes the benefits of eating peas far-reaching.  Peas are also beneficial to the soil in which they are grown.  They are considered a “nitrogen fixing” crop, taking in nitrogen from the air and with the help of bacteria in the soil, converting it into more usable forms, thus increasing essential nitrogen levels in the soil and eliminating the need for fertilizers.  Now, back to the “peas are tasty” part.

This fresh pea salad showcases them in their freshest form, with lemon brightening up the flavor and heirloom carrots adding a pop of color.  I’ve set forth this recipe in a less structured manner, so that you can adjust it to whatever number guests you have.  As it is currently, the recipe will serve 2 people.

For this recipe, you’ll need the following:

A handful of pea tendrils (or pea shoots) if you can get them.  If you’re looking, don’t go to Whole Foods in El Segundo, they’re not there.
1 lb fresh, organic garden peas in the pod
2 organic heirloom carrots (grated)
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 lemon
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 springs of mint, (about 10 leaves), julienned
salt
pepper

Directions:

Remove the peas from their pods, rinse and set aside.  Rinse and julienne mint leaves.  Rinse and grate carrots.

Make vinaigrette – zest the lemon (be careful to only scrape off the top layer, the white part of the rind is very sour), mix the zest with juice of 1/2 the lemon, salt and pepper to taste.  Emulsify with olive oil.

Mix the peas, (pea shoots if you’ve got ‘em), carrots, mint and feta cheese in a bowl, dress with vinaigrette and serve.

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Not only is this fresh pea salad incredibly tasty, but it will leave you energized and better looking.  (Just kidding about the better looking thing, you’re perfect as you are.)  If you eat meat, this will be a refreshing compliment to your Easter rack of lamb.  Have a great weekend everyone!

Eco-Friendly Easter Eggs

We now have only 2 days to prepare for the annual celebration of egg hiding and discovery that we call Easter.  For those of us who would like to try something different and leave behind the fizzy Alka-Seltzer-on-steroids dye tablets, I have just the thing for you.  From the folks at DIY-Enthusiasts, I found several eco-conscious egg decorating ideas that have brilliant results.

Making Egg Dye from Plants, Fruits and Herbs

natural dye eggs

(Photo Credit: kitchn.com)

Making your own natural egg dye is a great way to teach children about green living, and the results are just as fab, if not more so, than the store-bought alternative.  The recipe to make dye is essentially 1 cup of each particular veggie or fruit per 1 cup water.  For herbs (say for example, turmeric) you’ll only need a few tablespoons of the ground herb.  You can also use tea bags to make your dye, in which case you’ll only need 1 bag per 1 cup of water.  Boil the dye material in the water for 15-20 minutes, until the liquid is a few shades darker than your intended final color, strain the solids and then chill the dye.  Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to each cup of strained dye liquid after chilled and you’re ready to go!

Here are some ideas for colors and what to use.  Please note that the color listed is the color you’ll get if you’re using white eggs.  Brown eggs will result in a different color!

Blue: Purple Cabbage

Gray: Dried Hibiscus Flowers

Pink: Shredded Beets

Mustard Yellow: Ground Tumeric

Lavender: Red Onion Skin or Grape Juice or Red Zinger Tea 

Orange: Yellow Onion Skin

Brown: Coffee

Rich Yellow: Carrot

Pale Green: Spinach

Various Shades: Bags of Chamomile or Green Tea

Decorating with Seeds, Cereal and Pasta

WTF Easter Eggs

(Photo credit: DIY-enthusiast.com)

This is an advanced move, no seriously, it’s difficult.  To start, you use raw eggs, but blow the egg yolk and whites out so it’s an empty egg shell.  (This is accomplished by poking a small hole in each end of the egg and blowing out the insides.)  Totally easy, right?  I remember trying this when I was 10, it didn’t go well.  Just be prepared for a certain level of…frustration.  That being said, the end result is spectacular, I mean, just look at that photo!  If you have the patience of a saint, some experience with mosaic tile laying, a full set of surgical tools and 2 assistants, you can create works of art that will rival the ones in the photo.  

I decided that I should give this egg decorating method another try.  It’s been 28 years since my last attempt to disembowel a raw egg and decorate it, and I figure with this much life experience it’ll be “in the bag” this time around.  Here goes!

Because this is an eco-friendly DIY project, I selected my seeds and beans from the bulk section at Whole Foods, because when you buy in bulk you reduce your carbon footprint.  I chose “Lundberg Family Farm” Organic Olde World Pilaf, baby lima beans, and sprouted mung beans.  I also picked up some chocolate covered chia seeds to give my egg that healthy but “fun” design element.  Note: don’t use chocolate covered anything in this project, the chocolate melts.  Also, don’t use sprouted mung beans, their skin falls off, it’s no good.

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Removing the innards of the egg was less tricky than I remembered.  I took two thumbtacks, poked holes in each end of the egg, one larger than the other.  Here’s the important part: you must stab the inside of the egg with a chopstick to break up the yolk, otherwise it will NOT come out.  After “scrambling” the inside of the egg, blow into the smaller hole and the insides will come out of the other one.  This process is not for the faint of heart.

Decorating the egg.  If you use Elmer’s glue, you have to glue one side at a time, allowing the first side to dry completely before attacking the second side.  The egg decorating process will then take at least a day.  If you use Krazy Glue or a hot glue gun, you will achieve a quicker and higher success rate, but the toxicity level of your faux fabergé egg will be increased.  I elected to use Krazy Glue, in the interest of saving time.  I also attempted to create an egg with Elmer’s and sadly I don’t recommend it; the decorations oozed all over and I was unable to achieve any sort of “design.”

That aside, I think my egg turned out OK!  This is the “good” egg. 😉

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I hope you enjoy trying some of these eco-friendly egg decorating techniques.  I can honestly say I had a great deal of fun preparing mine! 

Here’s a link to the full article on DIY-Enthusiasts: Eco-Friendly Easter Eggs

DIY Fruit Facials for an At-The-Spa Glow!

facemask

(photo credit: themissinformation.com)

OK, we have all committed the crime of going to the grocery store (albeit with the best of intentions), and buying far more fruit than we can consume before it starts to go bad.  Well, redemption comes in the form of glowing skin!  Now, instead of composting the fruit or just feeling guilty about it, or making more banana bread than is safe for human consumption, you can use your left over fruit to make amazing DIY fruit facial masks!  We have also included some non-fruit masks, because of their awesomeness factor.  Store-bought facial products are primarily so expensive due to the cost of their fancy packaging.  With just a trip to the grocery store, you can produce a DIY treatment that rivals a $300 facial.

For the following recipes be sure to use organic fruits, raw unfiltered honey and organic food products!

Cleanse and Nourish with Bananas

Vitamin packed bananas cleanse and nourish the skin and work well with oily or combination skin.  Use those bananas for a rejuvenating facial!

Ingredients:

1/2 ripe banana

2 tablespoons of raw unfiltered honey

2 tablespoons of organic lemon or orange juice 

Directions:

Blend ingredients together and smooth over the face.  Leave on for 15 minutes and then rinse off for an instant glow!

Coffee & Cocoa Facial Mask

Has Friday night yet again sought revenge upon you in the form of a puffy face come Saturday morning?  Fear not, we have just the thing for you!  When you need to pull out all the stops, use this coffee and cocoa mask to de-puff and detox your skin.  Sorry, it won’t help your liver, however it WILL rehydrate your skin and bring it back to that healthy glow we love and respect.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons freshly ground coffee

2 tablespoons pure cocoa powder

1 tablespoon honey

3 tablespoons of plain yogurt or sour cream

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients together and smooth over the face.  Leave on for 10 minutes and when rinsing, gently massage the face to exfoliate.  

Lemon & Strawberry Skin Brightening Mask

Strawberries contain natural salicylic acid to gently exfoliate and remove the skin of dead cells.  Lemon juice helps tighten up pores and decreases the appearance of brown spots over time.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup mashed organic strawberries

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon yogurt

1 tablespoon honey

Directions:

Mash all of the ingredients together, apply evenly over face and let sit for 8-10 minutes.  Remove with a warm, damp washcloth and rinse with cool water.

Avocado & Honey Mask

Avocados are rich in vitamins A, B, D and E, to moisturize, heal and reduce fine lines.  You an also use avocado and honey to soothe sunburned or dry skin.  Coconut oil prevents infection and provides powerful antioxidants to prevent cell damage!

Ingredients:

1/2 very ripe avocado

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon coconut oil

Directions:

Mash the avocado until it’s a smooth paste, then blend in the other ingredients.  Smooth over the face, avoiding the eyes, and leave on for 10-15 minutes.  Remove with a warm wash cloth and rinse with cool water.

We hope you have fun with these facial ideas and that your skin looks its absolute best!  For these and more natural facial ideas, visit our friends at http://www.pioneerthinking.com, and don’t forget to use your sunscreen!  See our previous post on DIY sunscreen to protect that beautiful, fresh skin!