Being Mindful: Recycling

Making a Difference – One Piece of Trash at a Time

You’ve probably heard the story “The Star Thrower” by Loren Eiseley at some point. It’s the one where a man is throwing stranded starfish back into the ocean one by one and when told it won’t make a difference, he replies, “It made a difference to that one.” Every day each one of us is also making a difference, good or bad, in even the most mundane things we do and yet we often don’t realize it. For instance, when you are throwing a glass bottle into your recyclables, you are saving enough energy to “run a 100 watt light bulb for 4 hours”(Recycling Revolution). When your alarm clock needs new batteries and you simply toss the old ones into the garbage, you are actually contributing to the addition of potentially hazardous compounds to the air that we breathe and the water that we drink. I try to be mindful about recycling and the way I discard of my trash because I know that in some small way my efforts are actually helping this earth and my fellow human beings. I also know that my small efforts are a part of one big effort that millions of people partake in, and that makes a big difference!

Because the majority of us are pretty savvy when it comes to the basic recycling components (cans, paper and such), I thought I would touch upon items that people usually don’t think about recycling, as well as items that if discarded improperly can have a negative impact on our environment. After all, the more you know, the more mindful you can be, thus keeping your environment safer.

 

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Books

Having graduated from college as an English major, it pains me to see books in the garbage! Used books in good condition can be donated to your local library. Depending on the library, the books are reused in different ways. Sometimes they are put on the shelves, sometimes they are sold and the funds are used to support the library, and sometimes they are given to charity.

Batteries

Among other things, batteries contribute to heavy metals that potentially may leach from solid waste landfills (EHSO). For hazardous waste material, such as batteries, compact fluorescent light bulbs or fertilizers, go to http://www.Earth911.com. Type in your zip code and you’ll get a list of places you can bring these items in to recycle. I was surprised to see how many local locations there are accepting these items. For instance, libraries are one place that often accept the alkaline, or single use batteries. Because it wouldn’t be practical to drive to one of these places for every battery or light bulb that needs replacing, keep a box in a safe place away from children or pets where you keep a collection. Once the box is full discard of them all at once!

Fertilizers

According to many State Departments of Public Health and Environment, throwing fertilizer in your trashcan is the least desirable method of getting rid of it. The solution? Only buy what you need and if you have extra see if a neighbor can use it. Otherwise, you should dispose of it through your town’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Program. On a side note, this should make you think twice about using non-organic fertilizer on your lawn, especially if it is a place where children and pets play. Fertilizers and pesticides have been linked to the increase of childhood leukemia and brain cancer. Really, it’s best to find an alternative option to chemical fertilizers because just using them causes damage to the earth.

Medication

So you can’t recycle medication, but you can save the water that we drink from becoming contaminated. When medicine containing any form of mercury is flushed down the toilet, it ends up in our waterways (where it comes to us via the water we drink and the fish we eat) and when thrown in the garbage, it ends up in the air we breathe. Mercury turns into methylmercury, which is extremely toxic. To discard of medication properly, take it to your local police department where they will dispose of it safely.

Even the smallest step forward is a step in the right direction. By recycling and helping to discard of hazardous waste properly, you are helping to make a positive difference in both our present and our future.

The Stars of Sleep

The Stars of Natural Sleep Remedies
It happens to us all. Sometimes there are nights where it seems impossible to either fall asleep AND stay asleep. We can will ourselves all we want, but when it comes down to it, the sleep process involves a lot more than willpower.
There are actually four different chemicals that aid in proper sleep. The first, tryptophan, is what is needed to start the process of sleep. Tryptophan is the only one of the four chemicals not produced naturally by the body. This is one chemical that you must consume. Once it’s consumed, it gets converted into 5-HTP, which then converts into serotonin. The serotonin then converts into melatonin. It’s the melatonin that tells our body when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to wake. If you don’t get enough tryptophan to start your sleep process, your body will be lacking in the other three essential sleep chemicals.
If you regularly have trouble sleeping, make sure that you are consuming foods that contain tryptophan. These include: cheese, chicken, eggs, fish, milk, nuts, oats, peanut butter, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, soy, and turkey.
Once you know that you are eating foods that give your body the tryptophan it needs to start you on your sleep journey, you can look further into how to naturally increase your sleep time and quality. Many answers can be found in plants and minerals.
Stars
The Two Stars of Sleep Remedies 
These two seem to be the most powerful of natural remedies. In fact, the first, tart cherry juice, has been found to provide better sleep than Valerian Root, a commonly prescribed natural sleep aid. 
Tart Cherry Juice – Two studies, one performed in 2009 and one in 2011, show that drinking tart cherry juice every day increased melatonin levels and provided participants in the study with more sleep time and better sleep efficiency. Why does it work? Cherries help to increase the availability of tryptophan, an essential amino acid that coverts to serotonin, which then coverts to melatonin. Cherries are also a source of naturally occurring melatonin. Concentrated tart cherry juice is the best as it is a much smaller serving size with a lot less sugar than the not from concentrate. This ‘remedy’ is particularly helpful for staying asleep through the night.
Magnesium – Magnesium plays a huge roll in calming the nervous system, thus getting the body ready for sleep. Surprisingly, many people are deficient in this mineral. If you are experiencing muscle spasms or heart palpitations, these could both be signs that you need more magnesium in your diet. Magnesium can be found in foods such as dark leafy greens, nuts, fish, dark chocolate, avocados and bananas. Though important to ingest through foods, you can also get it through soaking in an Epsom salt bath. In this way you are absorbing the mineral into your skin. Make sure to follow the dosage directions that come with the salts.
Two Herbal Remedies for Sleep
These two provide great sleep on a lesser scale of potency than the two aforementioned remedies. While the cherry juice and magnesium can both be used with children, these two herbals/oils can be used on very young kids and babies as well.  
Chamomile – Chamomile contains properties that act as a mild sedative and helps to aid in calming. The properties of the plant can be used in two ways to induce sleep. It can be made into a tea, or the essential oil can be used on the bottom of the feet or diffused in the air. Chamomile is great for inducing sleep.
Lavender – For sleep purposes, lavender is best used as an essential oil as it is the inhalation of it that helps to reduce stress and to provide a calming and sedative effect. It can be diffused or put directly on the soles of the feet to be absorbed into the skin.
It’s important to note that a great night’s sleep starts with your sleep environment and the routine you have for getting to sleep. Please see “Bed-time Tips for Your Child” for more information on this because the same tips that apply to children also apply to adults!
Resources
Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. NCBI. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/
Effects of a Tart Cherry Juice Beverage on the Sleep of Older Adults with Insomnia: A Pilot Study. Journal of Medicinal Food. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3133468/
Lavender, University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/lavender

DIY Mattress Freshening

At least one third of our lives is spent sleeping on a mattress. Add in time spent reading, watching television, cuddling, nursing, and playing on one and the amount of time that we spend on our mattresses increases significantly.

If you think about the activities that take place in the bed, be it a bed you sleep alone in or one that you share with another adult and/or children, you will see how a mattress needs to be refreshed every now and then.

Many mattress are found to contain sweat, blood, urine, and other bodily fluids, along with dirt and dust. Some without a good, natural moisture barrier also contain mold and mildew.

Gross to think about? Absolutely. The good news is that it’s easy to freshen a mattress, even though it’s not something many of us think to doYOU SAID THERE'S

Here’s How You Can Freshen Your Mattress

1. Start with washing all of the bedding including the mattress protector. In order to insure that any nasty germs are killed off, add about 10 drops of tea tree oil to your laundry detergent. Tea tree has been proven to kill off everything from the flu virus to MRSA!

2. Vacuum the mattress in every crease and crevice with the upholstery attachment. This will get rid of any dead skin cells, dust and other debris that have made their way there.

3. Mix some baking soda with 10 drops of tea tree oil and 10 drops of lavender oil. You can use a mason jar, shaking the mixture to combine the oils with the baking soda. Sprinkle the mixture over the bed and let it sit for a few hours. The baking soda will neutralize and odors and absorb any moisture. The oils will help to kill any germs on the surface of the mattress.

4. Vacuum up the baking soda once again using the upholstery attachment.

5. Spot clean any stains. The stains on mattresses are usually those of body fluid, and if you are finding them after freshening your mattress for the first time, then they have most likely been there for a while. You may not be able to fully remove them at this point, but here are some recipes to try. Please note that you do not want to get a lot of fluid on your mattress, so use as little as possible when cleaning it.

For blood: Make a paste of 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide, 1 tbsp liquid dish soap and 1 tbsp of salt. Rub it in, let it sit and then scrape it off.

For urine and sweat: Mix 3 tbsp baking soda into 8 ounces of hydrogen peroxide with 2 small drops of dish soap. Mix until the baking soda is dissolved and dab this on the spot.

For vomit: Make a paste using hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Set it on the stain, let it sit and then scrape it off.

If you needed to do any spot treatments, wait until any damp spots on the mattress are dry before putting any bedding back on.
When you are sure that your mattress is dry from any spot cleaning, put all of the bedding back on and relax knowing that you will sleep ‘fresh’ tonight!

 

 

 

Sweet Sleep

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Taking the Big Kid Bed Plunge – Strategies to get a Child to Move into a Big Kid Bed

While there is no ‘right’ age for moving your child into his or her own big kid bed, there does come a point where it’s simply necessary for one reason or another. The appropriate time is different for each family, depending on their sleeping arrangements and what’s comfortable for the family and the child.
Timing is Everything. Moving into a big kid bed is a big transition for a young child. While exciting, it can also be scary and overwhelming. The move has to happen when everything else in the child’s life is consistent. Do not do it if the child is experiencing another major change at the same time. If he/she is potty training, weaning from nursing or a bottle, or starting school or daycare, wait until the child is comfortable with that transition first. If the move to the bed is coming because a new baby is expected, do the move months before the baby comes.
 How to make the-2
Continue with your bedtime routine. If you don’t have a routine, now is the time to set one up. For ideas on what this routine should include, you can see Bed-Time Tips for your Child.
Let your child be involved in the process. When a child is involved, it gives him ownership over the situation and allows him to feel that he is part of the decision. This can mean letting him pick out the bed, the comforter or a pillow cover and perhaps a stuffed animal to keep on the bed to snuggle with.
Talk about it. Start the big kid bed conversation a couple of weeks before the actual move. Start talking about other family members or friends who sleep in big kid beds. Get some children books, such as Your Own Big Bed and A Bed of Your Own to read together.
Expect that it will take some time. Chances are that your child won’t just go into his new bed and sleep through the night right away and that’s okay. Give him positive encouragement just for staying in it however long he does, even if it’s only a minute. Then remind the child he has to stay in his own bed. It make take a week or two before he/she is comfortable enough to stay put.
Stay with your child. You want your child to feel safe. The first few nights, get in bed and cuddle until he/she falls asleep. Then gently walk away once the child is asleep. If he/she wakes, go back in and cuddle. After a few days, if you decide that cuddling is not to be part of the bedtime routine, you can stay by the door to reassure your child you are still there, spending less time at the door each night.

Bed-time tips for your child!

Instilling healthy sleep habits in children helps to set their foundation for proper mind and body development for the rest of their lives. It also enables parents to get some down time and a better night sleep for themselves. Many parents of toddlers to pre-teens are in a situation where it takes hours to get their children to bed and/or their kids aren’t sleeping soundly through the night. Fortunately, there are ways to help children to transition better from awake time to sleep time, as well as steps parents can take to make sleep more restful.

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Set a routine – Start with making sure that there is ample time between the end of dinner and bedtime, giving the body time to digest before trying to send it off to sleep. Also keep in mind that sugar is only going to stimulate a child’s body, so it’s not the best idea to end the evening with a sugary treat. Once dinner is over, set up some relaxing activities along with the essentials of getting ready for bed. This can include bath time, getting pajamas on, brushing teeth, reading books and possibly listening to some relaxing, meditative music. There are some great music and meditation programs designed specifically for children to listen to at bedtime. As addressed below, television should not be part of the bedtime routine, so if watching a show is something that you want to incorporate in the evening, make it either right before or right after dinner, before the nighttime routine actually begins.

Provide the proper sleep environment – It’s important that the place where a child sleeps is conducive to relaxation. The bedroom should promote rest and a sense of peace with subtle colors and not too much clutter. It should also be free of too many electronic devices. A room painted red, filled with toys and video games stimulates a child’s brain, while a bedroom painted in a light, peaceful color, with toys put away and no electronic devices to be seen promotes a sense of rest. In addition, the darker the room at night, the better a child can sleep. Any light coming into the room at night, be it from a hall light, a nightlight, or from the windows, can confuse the pineal gland, which results in it making a lesser amount of melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that is essential to a good, healthy night’s sleep. So forgo any lights and invest in some darkening blinds for your children’s bedrooms; you will see a difference.

No television, iPads or computers before bed – One mistake parents often make is letting their children watch a television show right before bed. Any device that emits blue light, such as iPads, television, computers and smart phones, actually inhibits the body’s self regulating release of melatonin, which usually starts to occur a few hours before bed. This makes it hard for a person to feel sleepy. Leaving any thing that emits a blue light on in the bedroom can inhibit the pineal gland from producing the melatonin at all while the light is being emitted.

Add essential oils to the bedtime routine – There are some great essential oil combinations that can help the body to relax. Two that are safe for children are lavender and roman chamomile. You can diffuse some by the bedside or apply a drop or two to the bottoms of the feet. Both oils have calming, soothing and relaxing properties.

Shop “Small” with My Green Mattress!

Did you know that My Green Mattress, a division of Quality Sleep Shop, is a small, independently owned business in LaGrange, IL?  Quality Sleep Shop is owned by Tim and Cindy Masters who are both Illinois natives and are busy parents to 5 young children. The company has 11 dedicated employees, 6 of which, including Tim, are full time.  Quality Sleep Shop opened its doors in 1969 with the My Green Mattress division starting in 2006.  Tim started working at Quality Sleep Shop shortly after High School and immediately fell in love with making mattresses. After working at Quality Sleep Shop for 5 years, Tim purchased the business from its original owner, Mr. Brixie.

What this means is that with every My Green Mattress product purchased, you are not only buying a high-quality, natural, handcrafted mattress; you are supporting an independently owned, small American business!   Those who work at My Green Mattress take great pride in their work as quality tradespeople making every single bed in LaGrange, IL with a majority of USA sourced components.

Instead of buying an imported bed or mass-produced mattress from a larger corporation, take into consideration the possibility of purchasing a handcrafted, made-to-order mattress from My Green Mattress.  You can sleep well on your new natural mattress knowing that your dollars will stay in the USA and will directly support American jobs!