Don’t Drink Your Wallet Dry!

man pouring water from a water purifying pitcher into a glassIt’s hot out, so make sure you’re drinking up!

You probably already know water is the best beverage choice for your health and for your money. But did you know bottled water may be costing you a fortune?

It’s true: Many people pay exorbitant amounts of money for bottled water without even realizing how inflated the price is.

So, let’s take a look at the costs of bottled water when compared to ordinary tap water.

For 1,000 gallons of tap water, it will cost you approximately $11. With that amount of water, you could fill 7,570 bottles of water at 16.9 fluid ounces each, with each bottle costing you just $0.0014!

Assuming you drink three 20-oz bottles of water a day, you’ll need 1,095 bottles a year. If you’d fill those bottles with tap water, you’ll only pay $1.53 a year!

There are many ways to get sweet-tasting water without busting your budget. Here are some options to consider:

DIY chilling
Love the taste and convenience of bottled water? Save big by buying your bottles in packs of 24 and refrigerating them at home instead of buying them cold on the go. Instead of $1 a bottle, you’ll pay just $0.16.

Water coolers
Water coolers cost an average of $170 and can help you fill all your water needs at home. After springing for the machine, you’ll only be paying for refills.

A 5-gallon refill of spring water will run you approximately $7. Order multiple bottles at once, and you can get discounts as steep as $5 a bottle. With each gallon filling 7.5 water bottles, you’re getting more than 37 bottles worth of bottled water for the price of one purchased bottle!

Pitcher filters
These contraptions snap right onto your pitcher of water and filter it on the spot. You can also purchase a pitcher with the filter already attached. Either way, you’ll have your bottled water needs met with just a one-time purchase averaging $20.

The downside here is the minimal amount of water a pitcher filter can purify in one shot.

Water treatment system
Having an indoor water treatment system installed in your faucet will give you access to unlimited amounts of filtered water. These filters average $250 to $400, but usually work with only one faucet. Some companies will install a purified water tap alongside your existing faucet instead of filtering it.

Take the tap challenge!
Tap water is definitely the cheapest way to drink up. If it’s a safe option in your area, try drinking only tap water for a month. It may just become a lifelong habit!

Here are some ways to make tap water more palatable:
Slice some citrus fruits and let them float in your pitcher.
Invest in a SodaStream to add some sparkle to your glass.
Freeze pureed blueberries and strawberries and use them as ice cubes.

Drink wisely this summer and save big!

Your Turn:
How do you hydrate? Share your own cost-effective water sources with us in the comments!


Is an Electric Vehicle Right for You?

The pros and cons of owning an EV
If you’re considering167427226 a new ride, you owe it to yourself to check out an electric vehicle (EV). Here are some of the pros and cons of owning one.

Electric vehicles have come a long way in a short amount of time and can eliminate the need for gas. With significantly fewer parts than traditional gas-powered engines, EVs require significantly less maintenance too. EVs have zero tailpipe emissions, so they enable you to do your part in helping the environment.

Many people believe that EVs don’t offer the range that they need in terms of miles they can drive on a single charge, but that’s simply not the case. According to the United States Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, the average American commutes fewer than 40 miles per day. Most EVs get far more than that.

Here are a few examples.

Nissan Leaf
The Leaf starts at an MSRP of $29,010 and offers 107 miles of range when equipped with the 30-kWh battery. Standard features include Nissan Intelligent Key with push-button start, Bluetooth wireless connectivity and heated front seats. You can also add the NissanConnect system with Navigation, a Bose audio system and leather upholstery. If you download the LEAF EZ-Charge app, you can locate over 20,000 charging stations nationwide so you’ll never be worried about running out of power.

“While it has a limited driving range, in most other respects the Leaf is quite similar to a conventional gas-powered compact hatchback, offering a comfortable interior and surprisingly snappy acceleration (albeit with zero emissions),” says LeftLane News.

Tesla Model S
The Model S has revolutionized the way people look at EVs. It’s not as much of a great luxury EV as it is a great luxury vehicle that happens to be electric, which was designed to be safer and more exhilarating than anything else on the road. It also offers electric all-wheel drive, autonomous driving features and technology that make it the envy of its peers. Driving range starts at up to 218 miles per charge in base form and can go all the way up to 315 miles. This is impressive in its own right, but even more so when you consider the Model S can go from zero to 60 mph in as little as 2.5 seconds.

Kelley Blue Book says that the “Tesla’s Model S for 2016 is a game changer, offering everything a traditional combustion-engine luxury sedan does without the harmful emissions and unpredictable fuel bills. . [T]he Model S can win over the most skeptical enthusiast.”

Mitsubishi i-MiEV
An MSRP of $22,995 gets you into a new 2017 i-MiEV, and after the federal tax credit of $7,500, the i-MiEV comes in at an impressively affordable $15,495. That’s significantly cheaper than popular models like the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Focus. Its 60-mile driving range may not be as impressive as that of the other models mentioned, but it allows for fuel-free driving for less than many traditional gas-powered vehicles cost, making the i-MiEV a great second vehicle for people who don’t tend to travel very far.

Other options: You can find electric versions of popular models, including the Kia Soul, Volkswagen Golf, Chevrolet Spark and Ford Focus.

The Drawbacks
While there are many advantages of owning an EV, there are still some factors some people can’t overcome. The architecture of the grid is improving, but if you’re looking to travel long distances, many EVs aren’t ideal because of their long charging times and limited ranges. Another factor can be price, which puts a lot of buyers out in the first place. And if you’re looking for variety, many manufacturers don’t even offer an EV in the first place.

Regardless of what you’re looking for, your financial institution is arguably the best place to get financing, so stop by and let us know what you’re looking for, and we’ll do our best to get you the money you need so you have one less thing to worry about.

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5 Vehicles With Excellent Fuel Economy

If you’re looking to spend less on fuel, these vehicles should be at the top of your list
Even with the averageFuelEconomy_Featured gas price below $3 per gallon, everyone is always looking for ways to slash their fuel bills. You could drive less, or, better yet, you could carpool whenever necessary, but for those who don’t have that option, there are plenty of fuel-efficient vehicles to alleviate some of the wallet strain your vehicle may be causing.

When many people think about fuel economy, the first vehicle that comes to mind is the Toyota Prius. It’s no wonder the Prius, with four models and over 200,000 units sold in 2014, is a top choice. The standard Prius starts at an MSRP of $24,200, and fuel estimates check in at 51 mpg city and 48 mpg highway. There’s also the Prius v wagon and the Prius c compact, as well as a plug-in hybrid model that gets 95 MPGe.

For those who want affordable transportation, the 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage is the most fuel-efficient gasoline-powered car in America, and its asking price is a downright affordable $12,995. Thanks in part to its light curb weight and 1.2-liter, three-cylinder engine, the Mirage can achieve up to 37 mpg city and 44 mpg highway.

For those who prefer diesel models, the 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI recently traveled the 48 U.S. contiguous states on less than $300 in fuel, setting a Guinness World Record in the process. The most awarded car of the year, the Golf TDI starts at an MSRP of $22,345 and can achieve up to 30 mpg city and 45 mpg highway.

If you don’t want to compromise on luxury, there’s arguably no better vehicle on the road today than the 2015 Tesla Model S, ranked No. 1 by US News in both the “Luxury Large Cars” and “Hybrid Luxury” categories.

“It’s attractive, comfortable, fast, practical, technically fascinating, and not overpriced. Most important, it’s not just a good electric vehicle, it’s a good car,” according to Car and Driver Magazine. And with a zero-to-60 mph time in the low threes, and up to 265 miles on a single battery charge, fuel efficiency and luxury live harmoniously.

Arguably the best blend of affordability, reliability, amenities and value is the 2015 Honda Accord Hybrid, starting at an MSRP of $29,305. With comfortable seating for up to five and a 50 mpg city/45 mpg highway rating, it’s little wonder the Accord Hybrid was named No. 1 by US News in the “Affordable Midsize Cars” and “Hybrid Cars” categories.

“With the 2015 Honda Accord Hybrid, you give up virtually nothing in return for its outstanding fuel economy rating of 47 mpg. The Accord Hybrid doesn’t even cost that much more than the gasoline-only model,” according to Edmunds.

There are plenty of fuel-efficient models, so just do your research and be sure to contact us to get an auto loan when it’s time to get the vehicle of your dreams.

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How to Make Your Own Natural Cleaning Products

Natural cleaning products that get the job done at a reduced price
Whether you’re on GreenCleaners_Featureda tight budget or just trying to help the environment, natural cleaning solutions made from regular household items such as vinegar, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide can make your house cleaner and keep your bank account considerably fuller. Best of all, creating your own natural cleaning products allows you to control the ingredients of your cleansers, so you can avoid the toxins found in some name brand cleaning products.

White vinegar mixed with water
Combine one cup of white vinegar with one cup of water in a spray bottle for a diluted vinegar solution that is great for cleaning kitchen counters, backsplash areas, bathroom floors and toilet exteriors. The gentle acidity of this mixture is able to dissolve hard water deposits, dirt and soap scum from smooth surfaces like bath tubs and restroom counters. According to, another great feature of this diluted vinegar solution is that it’s a natural deodorizer, absorbing odors rather than just covering them up. This product would be ideal for cleaning a mattress used by a bedwetting toddler. No need to worry—the vinegar smell disappears after it dries.

Lemon infused vinegar
Soak six or seven lemons in a jar of white distilled vinegar for two weeks, and then strain the lemon infused vinegar and mix it with an equal amount of water. This lemon-infused vinegar is exceptional at cleaning sinks because of its germ-killing abilities. It is also harsh on grease due to its acidity. According to, this citrus vinegar can also be used in conjunction with baking soda to give a thorough cleaning to stove tops. Apply the citrus vinegar first to remove grease, and then apply baking soda paste—made by mixing baking soda with water—to treat burn marks. The stove top cleaning is completed by wiping away the baking soda after it has settled.

Hydrogen peroxide
There is no mixing involved here. Hydrogen peroxide straight out of the bottle can be a great natural cleaner. Some people already use it to remove ear wax and highlight hair, but few know that it can also be used to clean cutting boards and refrigerators. Simply add a spray nozzle to a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, and it becomes a non-toxic and cheap cleaning tool, according to Spray the inside of a refrigerator, let it sit a couple of minutes, and then wipe away all the dissolved mess. Hydrogen peroxide can also be sprayed on a cutting board to make the leftover food particles bubble up; then they can easily be wiped away.

Making and using your own natural cleaning products is a great way to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle without breaking the bank—a win-win situation for everyone.

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Recycle Plastic Bottles with DIY Projects

Simple DIY projects to recycle those old plastic bottles

According to the EPA,Plastics_Featured about 2,480,000 tons of plastic bottles and jars were disposed of in 2008. What if those millions of tons of plastic could be put to a new use? Below are seven simple do-it-yourself projects to recycle those used plastic bottles.

This especially works for plastic milk jugs. Simply cut off a large, diagonal section of an empty milk jug and you have a light-duty scoop with a nice handle included. This also works especially well using old (rinsed out) bleach bottles, laundry detergent bottles, and any other bottle with a built-in, sturdy handle.

Watering can
This project is probably the easiest one to do – poke holes through the cap of a large bottle or jug. Fill with water and tilt for an easy recycled catering can. Other plant-watering options for recycling old bottles include drilling holes in the sides of a milk jug and burying it next to young plants as a drip watering system, or attaching a bottle with holes poked in one side to the end of a hose as a homemade sprinkler head.

Plastic bag sealer
This project is for use with bottles with stronger caps (especially old Gatorade or Powerade bottles), so this would not go well for milk jugs. To make the sealer, just cut off the bottle below the mouth (don’t forget to save the cap). To use it, feed the plastic bag up through the mouth from beneath, reverse the edge to fold down all around the sealer, and then put the sealer’s cap back on.

Phone charger holder
This easy project is best for use with thin, deep bottles like shampoo bottles. Use a pair of scissors to cut straight across the front of the bottle and cut a high loop into the back of the bottle. Cut a hole through the back loop large enough to fit over the outlet adaptor for your phone charger. To use, slip the loop over the adaptor while it is plugged in, then plug in your phone and set it in the pocket. Make sure you decorate your phone holster to match your taste.

The Internet is full of plant-growing ideas for recycling old bottles. Some cut milk jugs horizontally across, place them in vertical rows, and add rubber hoses to create an easily-watered garden. Others cut the bottles lengthwise to create a recycled planter tray. Or, you could create a hanging garden by slicing sections from the sides of large bottles and using string to hang them from a beam.

Bird feeder
This one can go a number of different ways – if you have a milk jug, just cut large holes in the sides, fill with birdseed, and hang your new birdfeeder from the cap. For smaller bottles, cut small holes straight through the bottle and thread wooden spoons through to make easy places for the birds to perch. Cut the hold on the side with the bowl of the spoon a little larger to let birdseed fall out more easily. Fill the bottle with birdseed and suspend it by its cap.

The next time you finish off your bottle of soda, get creative with the can and try any of these innovative ideas.

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Green Ways to Stay Cool in the Summer

Relief from the heat can come in many forms

Operating an air conditionerKeepCool_featured is an $11 billion a year venture for Americans. What’s more, those a/c units release about 100 million tons of carbon monoxide into the air annually — two tons for each home using one, according to WebMD. You can, however, reduce your own carbon footprint while staying cooler this summer, and save some money on electricity costs while you’re at it.

Reducing body heat
“The lowest-tech ways to keep cool this summer start with your own body,” said Camille Peri in a WebMD feature provided in collaboration with Healthy Child Healthy World.

Wear clothes made from natural fabrics such as cotton, hemp and linen, which breathe better than synthetic fibers and naturally wick away moisture. Dine on ‘cool,’ light meals like salads and sandwiches instead of protein-rich meals that warm up the body, not to mention the oven or the stove, working against your goal. Use cool water to decrease your body temperature by soaking your feet in a tub of cold water, wearing a wet bandana or taking a cool shower. A spray bottle of cold water to spritz yourself throughout the day is a good idea, as well.

Furthermore, remember that warm air rises; therefore, the basement or ground floor is the coolest story of your home or building. Plan to spend most of your time there, or embark on trips to air-conditioned public places like the mall or the library.

In-home techniques
If you ever plan to start caring about your home’s décor, now would be the time. Use window coverings to your advantage by keeping your dark-colored curtains or shades pulled throughout the heat of the day, as that can block up to 80 percent of solar heat. Appliances inside the home such as the aforementioned stove add to the internal heat and energy consumption of your household, so utilize microwaves or toaster-ovens, which use up to two-thirds less energy.

Also, consider changing your light bulbs to energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs or halogen infrareds. Lastly, use fans inside the home, especially when it starts to cool down in the evening. Portable fans placed in front of an open window can bring that cool air inside, and a ceiling fan will help circulate it. Even if you have an air conditioner, turn on your ceiling fans to help make the room feel cooler.

Outside the home
“Shading from the inside with curtains and blinds is a good first step, but shading from the outside can be even better,” Peri said.

One of the least expensive ways to do so is to install awnings. The Department of Energy estimates that awnings can reduce solar heat gain in the home by as much as 77 percent. Woven mesh solar, solar control windows, and reflective window film are some additional, yet more costly options.

Maintaining your air conditioner
If you do opt to use an a/c unit, keep the filter clean so airflow is not limited and the appliance lasts longer. Filters should be cleaned or replaced every month or so, depending on usage. Similarly, make sure the air conditioner gets a tune-up from a professional every few years to make sure it’s still running efficiently. Install a programmable thermostat to turn on right before you come home, and set it a bit higher than normal for when you’re home. A few degrees make a big difference, in terms of energy, but your body won’t notice the difference. Finally, a shaded air conditioner uses up to 10 percent less energy to operate, so don’t place your central a/c in direct sunlight.

Going into a cool room on a hot day is among the most enjoyable feelings you can experience. Follow these helpful suggestions and make this summer your best yet.

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Go Green in 2015

Basic Tips for Eco-friendly Beginners453897319
If one of your New Year’s Resolutions was to take better care of the environment, there are many places from where you can start. How you eat, how you travel, how you shop and how you live in general can all impact the great planet on which we live. While that may all seem a bit overwhelming, the best tip for going green is to start small. Here are a few basic tips to become more Eco-conscious.

Practice the Three “R’s”
Recycle, reduce and reuse. Pro-green website has stated, “This classic mantra is still the most important one.”

WebEcoist suggests knowing what materials can be taken to the local recycling center, and buying products with containers made of only those resources. Moreover, reduce the amount of resources that you use in all areas of living.

Whether it’s how long you shower or how many two-liters of soda your family consumes per week, ‘reducing’ in these areas will not only help you reduce harm to the environment, but it will reduce costs for you (on the water and grocery bills).

Finally, reuse items throughout your household. “Upcycling” is a recent term meaning to make something new by reusing it for a different purpose. Furthermore, do you use disposable cups and plates very often? Maybe you should begin using (and reusing) the permanent versions to save resources and money. The bottom line is to observe your habits and begin making changes based on the three R’s.

Utilize Public Transportation
Petroleum is a non-renewable resource. That being said, every time you get in your car to go to work in the morning, you are contributing to the depletion of that energy reserve. Add in the exponential increase in carbon and greenhouse gas emissions produced by the use and manufacturing of cars, and you have the environment’s worst nightmare. And let’s not even get started on the price of fuel. Yes, mass transit may cost money and not be the most comfortable of situations, but there are other options to go green with transportation such as carpooling with friends, neighbors and co-workers and telecommuting. More advanced environmentalists may opt to look into an electric vehicle or at least a hybrid or something more fuel efficient.

Be a Savvy Shopper
As mentioned above, read labels when shopping. Buy products that have been made from recycled materials. “Eco products” have been a consumer craze for a while now, so many brands have opted to market their goods as such; therefore, it shouldn’t be too hard to find everything from greener technology, which will be a higher quality so as to last longer, to local, fair trade produce, for which the manufacturing resources used are decreased.

Eat Smart
A common misconception is that eating all organic products is the best way to be a green consumer of foods. However, that is not entirely true. In fact, WebEcoist noted that “Green food should be healthy, cheap, delicious and accessible — and it can be.”

To start, cut back on overly processed fares like fast food and unnecessarily packaged goods. Also, shop at the famers’ market as often as possible to ensure safer, healthier, cheaper and localized meat and produce.

Lose the Excess at Home
There are so many ways to go green within your house. First, and most importantly, it is better for everyone to watch your utility use. Turn down your heat or air conditioning if you are going away for more than a day or two, remember to shut off lights when exiting a room, and use a compost bucket to minimalize trash going to a landfill, among other benefits. Those are just three of the many ideas not already discussed above to minimalize your carbon footprint at home.

The above tips and hints are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to going green. Once these new suggestions soon become second nature, look even deeper into your lifestyle and habits to see where else you can help the environment. But remember, even the smallest gesture can make a huge difference to our planet.

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Go Green for the Holidays

Ways to be eco-friendly this season
People sometimes155959925(1) tend to indulge over the holiday season, increasing their waistlines and decreasing the amount in their bank accounts. But when it comes to being environmentally safe, that is one area where you should NOT indulge. According to the Green America® organization, waste disposal in the United States increases 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, causing an extra five billion pounds of waste to enter the landfills.

While holidays are a special time to give thanks and celebrate with the ones you love, they don’t have to have a negative impact on our atmosphere. There are numerous ways covering a variety of topics to go green throughout the season.

Turn off holiday lights during the day. This will save energy and allow your lights to last longer. There’s no sense in wasting energy when no one is around to appreciate the lights, or when they aren’t well-displayed in the daylight.

Use LED lighting. “LEDs are exceptionally energy efficient when producing individual  colors, many using up to 90 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb to produce the same amount of light,” stated the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Close up your fireplace when not in use. While not technically a decoration, ornamented mantels are a staple this time of year, and a nice warm fire sure does make you feel cozy on a cold winter’s night. Just be sure that when you are not using your fireplace, close the flue and block the hearth to prevent heat loss.

Buy items with minimal packaging or packaging made with recycled materials. As for the product itself, check labels to see if it is recyclable. Better yet, give personal gifts like donating your time and talent to friends and family, or make donations to your loved ones’ favorite causes in their names.

Avoid toys made with PVC plastic, as it is toxic. “Vinyl chloride, the chemical used to make PVC, is a known human carcinogen,” stated Green America®. ”Also, additives, such as lead and cadmium, are sometimes added to PVC to keep it from breaking down; these additives can be particularly dangerous in children’s toys. PVC is also the least recycled plastic.”

Bring your own bags on shopping trips so stores won’t have to give you new ones with your purchases. Furthermore, keep gift boxes for next year and don’t accept new ones with the store employees offer them.

Don’t buy wrapping paper. Save and reuse old paper, when possible, or use newspaper, fabric, magazines or calendars. Reusable gift bags are also a solid choice.

Consider products’ durability before purchasing as a gift. Cheaper usually equals lower quality, so keep that in mind when debating over items. Also, when thinking about purchasing electronics as gifts, just recall that the manufacturing and disposal of these items create substantial human health and environmental threats. Green America® noted that the Recycled Video Games Network is an invaluable resource if looking to  dispose of old equipment.

Compost scraps and store leftovers in reusable containers.

Buy food ingredients with the least amount of packaging, and go for organic when possible.

When eating your holiday meal, put your food on non-disposable tableware. Use cloth napkins and set the table with reusable dishes, glasses and silverware. It may be easier to go paper and plastic, but it is definitely not the most efficient.

Buy holiday cards made from recycled paper and printed on white stock with non-toxic inks and without metallic or plastic coatings, as they are not very efficiently made. There are also cards out there that are completely tree-free, made from kenaf and hemp.

Send holiday postcards instead. Eliminate the need for a paper envelope with this method, or you can skip the post office altogether and send e-cards over the Internet.

Don’t know what to do with the cards you receive in the mail from friends and family? Cut it apart, recycle the back of it and use the front, designed side as a gift tag going forward.

The U.S. EPA recommends the following tips regarding fir trees over the holidays:

Buy a living tree you can later plant outside or keep as a houseplant after the holidays.

Buy a tree grown locally to save energy associated with transportation.

Buy a smaller tree. There’s less to dispose of when you take it down, and shorter growing time translates into less land required.

Other tips include using mass transportation when traveling to see family, and also do so when out doing your shopping, or walk, bike or carpool there instead. Cutting down on the millions of miles Americans travel over the holidays will eliminate a ton of greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, remember the basics — recycle, reduce, reuse. Recycle cans, paper, glass, etc., as well as cardboard packaging and Styrofoam packing peanuts. Doing any of the above activities can leave a positive impact on our environment and your future.

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Be A Green Pet Owner

Tips for being a more environmentally friendly dog and cat owner

We love our pets,IMN23523A2 so naturally we want to do everything we can to make them happy in return for the joy they bring us. Pet ownership can take a toll on the environment, however, so there are some things you should keep in mind in to be sure that you are as kind to the environment as you are to your cat or dog.

Many people do not realize the magnitude of the effect that our pets can have on the environment.

“They can have a big impact, especially when you consider that there are about 175 million dogs and cats in the U.S.,” says Katherine Miller, an animal behaviorist with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Fortunately, there are easy steps you can take to lesson your impact. Here are a few to get you started:

Go biodegradable
If you use waste bags to pick up after your dog, make sure that they are biodegradable so they don’t clog up landfills. The difference that biodegradable baggies make is tremendous.

“They typically break down in about one month as opposed to an estimated 1,500 years for a plastic bag in a landfill,” states Kristine Lacoste from Pets Adviser.

If you have a cat, also make sure you are using biodegradable products.

“Cat litter is available in all-natural and biodegradable forms, and you can even consider making your own pet waste compost container,” states Lacoste.

Purchase eco-friendly supplies
When you first took home your pet, you may have been shocked at the variety of supplies you needed. One leash is never enough, and many dogs are picky about the types of beds and toys they will play with.

Fortunately, there are many manufacturers that make green pet products, such as by using organic and recycled materials, lessening your pet’s environmental footprint. Furthermore, if you buy toys and gear that are made in the US, you will prevent the need for unnecessary shipping.

West Paw ( and are two companies that prioritize the environment, but there are many others, so look for them next time you are at the pet store or shopping online.

Purchase locally made food
“The best pet foods are meat based, and meat production takes up precious agricultural land,” according to “Try to compensate for this by using minimally processed foods that contain meat from locally raised animals and organic vegetables.”

In order to reduce the amount of shipping that it took to produce your dog or cat food, read labels carefully. Look for packages that state the food is both made in the US and uses ingredients sourced here. If the label only says made in the US, then the ingredients may still have been sourced from another country.

Lastly, if you avoid beef-based food, you will also lessen your pet’s impact.

“Beef production reportedly uses more resources than other forms of protein, such as chicken or rabbit,” states Lacoste. “Switching to a pet food based on proteins other than beef helps lower the environmental impact of the food.”

Make your own treats
While it can be difficult to make your pet’s own food while still achieving the right nutritional balance, treats should only account for a very small portion of your pet’s diet, so they don’t have to feature the same balance of nutrients as food. This means that you can make your own pet treats and seriously decrease the amount of fuel required to bring your pet’s rewards to your door.

Depending on what your pet prefers, you can use your oven or a dehydrator to make chicken jerky, you can freeze low sodium broth in an ice cube tray for hot days, or you can even bake cookies using one of the pet-friendly recipes that are easily found online.

Here are some recipes from Martha Stewart online to get you started:

Save your scraps
Even if you don’t want to cook your own treat cookies, you can save any pet-safe food scraps to use a treats. Leftover lean meat and egg can both be great treats, for example. Make sure to avoid fatty and salty foods and to not feed too large of a portion of your pet’s calories as treats.

Many owners are surprised that their dogs love vegetables and fruits, so save your scraps and give it a try. Just be sure not to feed grapes, raisins, onions or any of the other foods that the ASPCA lists as harmful to pets at

It is easy to be a green pet owner when you follow these tips, and you’ll surely be inspired to learn more ways to be earth friendly once you get started.

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Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Five Easy Green Beauty Swaps

Quick changes to your beauty cabinet to save time, money and your carbon footprint

Eliminate questionsTeenage Girl Applying Make Up about some of your favorite commercial beauty products by switching to natural alternatives for your beauty routine. Consider these five easy green beauty swaps.

Reduce eye puffiness with cucumber slices
Cucumbers have been proven to help with the swelling and puffiness of eyes. Because cucumbers are usually cool, the cold from the cucumbers can help reduce puffiness of the skin. Ingredients within cucumbers may also help reduce skin irritation. Slice two thick pieces of cucumber and place each piece over eyes for at least 10 minutes. Choose cucumbers over your typical eye cream, and you have a natural product that costs only pennies and can be thrown in the compost pile for recycling after your mini spa treatment.

Treat acne with strawberries
Struggling with skin breakouts? Clear your skin with strawberries. Mix a half cup of diced strawberries with a spoonful of sour cream. Rub gently onto your face and leave as a mask for at least 10 minutes. The strawberries will help remove dead skin cells, tighten pores and give your skin a healthy glow.

Use teabags to highlight hair
Before picking up a box of hair brightener at the drug store, consider soaking your hair in black tea. The tannic acid in black tea can highlight your hair if you soak your hair regularly over time. Start by making several servings of very strong black tea. Pour the tea carefully over your hair and allow it to sit for 30 minutes before rinsing.

Combine corn meal and banana for a foot cream
Soften your feet naturally with items from your pantry. Begin my mashing a ripe banana in a bowl Add several tablespoons of corn meal, until the banana has a gritty consistency. Spread liberally on feet and allow to sit for 30 to 45 minutes. Wipe off the mixture and rinse well with water.

Reduce frizz with banana and avocado
Does humidity make your hair a frizzy mess? Before buying a bottle of anti-frizz hair product, make your own in just a few minutes by mixing banana and avocado. Begin by mashing one ripe banana with a fork. Cut an avocado in half, remove the seed, and scoop out the green fruit. Mash the avocado with the banana. Apply to hair and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes, and then rinse hair thoroughly.

Some beauty items are a little more difficult to swap with natural items (like makeup or hairspray). Check the eco-rating of your beauty products at found here: With just a few easy changes, you can reduce the cost of your beauty routine while making choices that are better for your skin and hair, as well as the environment.

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