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Where you buy your roses matters. All Kroger roses are Rainforest Alliance certified. Click through to learn more about #KrogerRosesWhen I first started going green the availability of ethical sources and safe products was limited, at best. I lived in a rural area with a few big box stores, small town grocers, and Kroger. Admittedly, much of my previous grocery budget was made up with convenience foods and my familiarity with the produce section was largely limited to things like corn on the cob, apples, grapes, peaches, and watermelon. When I started going making healthier, safer buying choices my world opened up and I fell in love with Kroger. Not only did they offer the healthier foods I was looking for, but they also offered other products that were in line with my new ideals – like paper products made with recycled paper, non-toxic cleaners, etc.

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to visit some pretty cool naturally minded stores, but Kroger has always remained my constant. I am always pleased with what I can find and am impressed by the way they continue to listen to their customers and grow their offerings. Their sustainability efforts even extend to their floral department. Until recently I didn’t know this, but when I was offered the chance to learn more, and to work with them, I was more than eager to do so. 

Did you know that all roses sold in Kroger stores are Rainforest Alliance certified?

What that means to me, is that I can feel confident that the product I’m buying was grown with a conscience. The growers that Kroger work with are committed to meeting, and even exceeding, the Rainforest Alliance certification standards. 

So, what exactly is the Rainforest Alliance and what are their standards?

The Rainforest Alliance is a nonprofit organization that works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods. Their standards were designed to conserve wildlife, safeguard soils and waterways, protect worker, communities, and increase livelihoods. Rainforest Alliance certified farms and forests are managed according to extremely thorough environmental, social and economic criteria to meet those strict standards.

And it has a real impact.

As the largest florist in the US, Kroger supplies roses for the most important days in the lives of people all over the county. From weddings to births, “I love you”s to “I’m sorry”s — and, of course, traditions. Each rose in their store is ethically sourced. For 30 years, Kroger has been providing the rose garland for the Kentucky Derby. Each year approximately four hundred and sixty-five roses make up this iconic garland. 

Kroger’s sustainability efforts are one of my favorite things about them. As I mentioned, I’ve been a customer for years, and it certainly feels good to know how much they are doing and to watch those efforts grow.

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Is a Latex Mattress Right for You? A comfortable mattress can alleviate back and neck pains, allergies and stress. However, the materials that make up the mattress make a big difference, too.Since most adults spend more than 3,000 hours annually sleeping and one third of their life in bed, it’s easy to say that our beds are pretty important. We often overlook the effects that a mattress might have on our health, as well as the chemicals it brings into the home and any environmental impact disposal may pose. As long as it offers a soft, cozy place to land at the end of the day, who cares?

But, a mattress can actually have a bigger impact than you think. Health-wise, a new, more comfortable mattress can alleviate back and neck pains as well as allergies and even stress. It also allows you to sleep longer, which is connected with weight loss, improved memory, and a longer lifespan. However, the materials that make up the mattress you choose makes a big difference.

Many mattresses dating back to the 1960s have been made with the use of petroleum-based polyurethane foam. Those with chemical sensitivities can experience respiratory issues and skin aggravation with exposure to this material. Another big health offender is formaldehyde, used in mattress adhesives, and can be linked to various cancers, asthma, and allergies. Add pesticides and flame retardant layers and your bed can have you swimming in chemicals for a large chunk of your day.

Tests have even shown there to be 61 different chemicals in a memory-foam mattress model, including several known carcinogens. Ack!

Eco-Friendly Options

Every year, there seem to be more and more viable eco-friendly options on the mattress market. What makes for a truly healthy, eco-conscious option? According to Sleep Junkie, you’ll want a mattress that meets these traits:

  • No VOCs
  • Zero-Emissions Manufacturing
  • Made of Renewable Resources
  • Natural and Organic Materials
  • Durable to Reduce Waste
  • Efficient Shipping Methods

Some materials meet these qualifications, such as plant-based memory foam, improved inner-springs, and natural latex. As with most green products, they all vary in terms of actual eco-friendliness.

We happened to be in the market for a new mattress when we were given an opportunity to try out a latex mattress from Sleep On Latex. I had done some research and latex was a big contender. We have now sleeping on this mattress for about 8 months. While each type of mattress has its pros and cons, I have been extremely pleased with latex so today we’re focusing on that.

What Exactly is Natural Latex?

If you like a bed that feels somewhat foam-like without all the chemicals, natural latex is your friend. It’s created by slicing rubber plants at a diagonal in order to cultivate the thick serum that is collected for about an hour a day before the cut heals. More serum is then collected the next day. After being processed, the substance is whipped in a centrifuge, creating the ingredients that make up the mattress.

Allergen note: Latex allergies are typically a “touch” allergy. If you have a contact allergy to latex you may still be able to use a latex mattress, like Sleep On Latex, that has a wool topper and organic cotton covering on the entire mattress. Obviously do not handle the raw latex (inside of the covering); have someone else handle that if the cover needs washed. You could also look for models that have organic cotton, hemp, etc. If you have a more severe latex allergy, of course this would not be the option for you.

How Are These Mattresses Eco-Friendly?

Manufacturers of natural latex mattresses use sustainable practices like renewable harvesting of the rubber plants and low-impact manufacturing. Most makers utilize organic plants to create their product, as well.

And if you’re going to go through the trouble of finding an eco-friendly latex mattress, be sure that it includes organic cotton and/or wool coverings. This ups the green and health factors. These mattresses can have a long life (often working great for over 30 years), which also adds to their eco-friendliness.

Also check to see if the mattress layers are truly made only from 100% latex. Some mattress claim 100%, but they’re only referring to the top layer of the mattress (so yes, technically they do use some 100% latex but, as my research found, many make it difficult to know that they use a thick base layer of polyurethane foam.) For example, some models offer 6” of polyurethane foam as a base layer with a 2-4” 100% latex layer on top. The best latex mattresses will be 100% latex on all layers, and if they include a top layer it should be organic cotton, wool, or other natural topper for comfort. If in doubt, ask.

How Do They Compare?

There’s a lot to consider when you’re thinking of purchasing an earth-friendly mattress. Cost-wise, a natural latex option is generally more expensive than other green choices, but they may be more budget friendly than “luxury” mattresses at your local mattress store. The price will vary by company and offerings, but Sleep On Latex ranges from $650-1150, depending on size. As stated, since these have a lengthy lifespan and can effectively hold its shape for up to 20-30 years, this should be taken into account when considering value. Longevity is a huge factor both in terms of disposal and value.

While not part of the cost – it should be noted that setup is a breeze. Latex mattresses often arrive rolled up. Simply lay them on your boxspring or foundation, carefully clip the plastic wrapping away and let it unroll. They spring to life in a few minutes, with full form in a few hours or so. Also worth mentioning, they do sometimes have a bit of an odor when first opened. Do not worry! This goes away very quickly and your mattress will not smell like anything within a day. It’s hard work being cooped up in plastic straight from a factory.

So of course, compared to traditionally-made mattresses, latex mattresses are light years ahead. When paired with a chemical-free covering such as organic cotton or wool, the fact that production-wise the toxic waste will be minimal and your own personal space will have a far greater impact on you and your family’s health and well-being, there’s almost no comparison.

Final Thoughts

No matter what mattress option you consider, do your research. Many companies will greenwash a product – using, for example, an eco-friendly core but a standard, pesticide-laden covering to cut costs – or as mentioned above, a synthetic core and thin “green” covering. So don’t just take a company’s marketing at its word – read the fine print, look for reviews, and ask questions. Since a mattress is a pretty important investment, determine exactly how much you’d like to spend and see which green choices fit your needs.

That said, if you’re able to invest in more expensive yet super comfortable, green option, a natural latex might just be right up your alley.

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My Year with Iris, the DIY Smart Home {& Security} SystemNo matter how hard we try to green our houses, when it comes to raising children it’s just as important to consider home security. And, thanks to technological advancements, it’s getting easier and, at times, cheaper to do just that.

The Perks of Today’s Security Systems

After trying out some products from the Iris by Lowe’s line, I can vouch for the ease of installing and using a simple DIY security system. I always considered trying out a security company but was turned off by the high cost and annoyance of a monthly subscription plan. While there is an option with Iris to purchase a plan that works for your family, the idea that I could simply make a one-time purchase and have control over a level of security that meets our needs appealed to me most. In this case, yes, cheaper can be better.

When people hear that a system is DIY, they sometimes go running in the opposite direction, even thinking that the product will have less effectiveness. This is another area that I was pretty impressed, though. Every time someone opens a door or window with a sensor it is logged and I can see right away on the app on my smartphone, whether the alarm is engaged or not. Let’s just say that parents with teenagers may just find some additional peace of mind with Iris. Regardless, alerts are super fast, so no issues there, whatever the issue and with the paid subscription you can even extend those alerts to other family members.

Another perk of this system is that common false alarms don’t have to result in officers making a needless trip to your property. If you have pets or little kids who like to trip alarms, for example. Sometimes, even if you know the cause a tripped alarm on other systems can result in unwelcome visits. I’ve never personally had this type of system but I have been at the home of others when these types of situations have happened.

When It Might Be Good to Purchase the Added Subscription

While I do wish there were more flexibility in the free level of the app, there is a whole host of options available to you with the added subscription – particularly when it comes to the automation of your home. If that aspect of the Iris system interests you, the upgrade is a must, and doesn’t mean you have to be locked into a contract (it’s totally month to month!).

On the security and peace of mind side, if you have elderly or disabled family members living on their own, the upgraded subscription would help tremendously. The Pro allows for other individuals to be immediately notified if the service is tripped, whether by the individual in the house during an emergency (panic buttons and pendants are both available) or by an intruder. I like the fact that it allows for independence while still maintaining safety. We just had a close elderly relative endure an accident in which her hip was injured and this feature’s panic button could have been a huge asset if she had had it. The value here is not even a question.

Another important thing to note is that if you do choose to opt for the paid plans, you can cancel at any time — you are never locked into a minimum monthly plan. This is just one more way that this system is truly customizable for your needs.

Connected Home, Connected Life

Iris by Lowes App HistoryIt’s hard to find a balance in the 21st century between too much technology and keeping that all-important connection to nature and oneself. Some of us may strive to go off the grid and make a homestead while others are happy to live by their smartphones and social media. Truly, there’s no right or wrong way.

I prefer to find the resources that work best for me and my family, to weed out the useless, wasteful technology and just use what I deem to be a good fit for us. Having a foundation of security with this simple system allows me the freedom to turn my attention to our priorities of finding eco-friendly, sustainable ways to live. I do feel those two things can coexist. It’s about balance and finding what works with your flow.

Final Thoughts

I love that this system was easy to install and to integrate into our home. After using the system for about seven months now, I am certainly happy with how the items have held up. Only recently did our first battery die – and that was on our most used entrance. If I could change one thing, it would be more features on the free version of the app. While the system is already affordable, I feel that it would be a better value with more features to try out before deciding to upgrade. It would also appeal more to me as a DIYer who doesn’t like to be tied to monthly subscriptions, and I think others would feel the same.

Overall, my original skepticism over security systems has melted away after using Iris by Lowe’s. I had hoped for a DIY system that would meet my needs and I found it. Thanks to its flexibility in service choices, I don’t feel weighed down by a monthly subscription and I can feel confident that my family is in a more secure environment. To think that there are additional add-ons in the future that might work as our family goes through new transitions is an added bonus.

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Pokémon Gopocalypse { a.k.a. a Slew of Free Pokemon Go Printables! }Pokémon Go mania is in full swing and as much as I’d like to say that we were totally immune, that’s just not the case. My kids have been playing with and trading Pokémon cards since Ethan was in first grade, more moons ago than I’d like to admit. So when the game hit the app store, my kids were all too excited to ‘see’ the Pokémon they love in the real world.

If I know anything about my kids, it’s that their newest favorite thing quickly becomes the thing that they simply MUST have as their birthday theme. I typically start receiving requests for their next theme about 3 months after their previous birthday. While we’ve never really gone totally Pinterest party on any event, we do like to have some fun touches and since I have some skills, I love being able to design their invitations or other misc. things that can make the day a bit more special.

So that’s my long way of saying “here are some things I made in anticipation of Pokémon Gopocalypse. You can easily print these at home or head to your local copy store if you prefer.

Simply click the photo of the project you’d like to download below to be whisked away to a page with a bit of detail, instructions and, of course, the most important part – the downloadables. There may be more to come, we shall see. I hope you enjoy them!

Pokémon GO: Birthday GO InvitationsPokémon Go HorizontalPokémon Go Teams via EFFblogPokémon Go Vertical

Pokémon Go: PokéBingo Bingo Game

Pokebingo

Pokémon GO: PokéBanner Birthday Banner

PokeBanner Randomized Orientation

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