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8 Plant-Based Home Remedies for Bug Bites and Stings

We know how important it is for our health to spend time in nature. Unfortunately, it often comes with the risk of getting bitten or stung by bugs. Don?t let that put you off enjoying the outdoors. There are many natural ways to quickly relieve bites and stings, either in the moment or after you?ve come home. And, luckily, you likely already have most of these natural fixes in your kitchen or growing in your garden.

Plantain (Plantago major)

1. Herbal Poultices

One of the fastest herbal poultices you can make is to simply chew a few leaves of plantain and put the mash on a bite or sting. If you have a band-aid handy, you can put it on top of the plantain to hold it in place.

You can also make a poultice out of a number of different herbs by crushing the fresh or dried herbs in a bowl or pestle with a small amount of water or oil. Put the poultice on a bite or sting, then wrap it with a piece of gauze, clean cloth or band-aid to keep the poultice in place until the itch or pain has gone.

Plantain, lavender, echinacea, basil, oregano, calendula, chamomile, bay leaves, witch hazel, thyme and peppermint all make good bite-relieving poultices.

2. Onions and Garlic

Perhaps surprisingly, the natural compounds in raw onions and garlic that can make your eyes water can also calm an insect bite or sting. You can apply fresh onion or garlic slices directly on your bite. You can also chop, grate or crush onions or garlic to make a poultice.

3. Raw Potatoes

Similar to onions and garlic, raw potato that?s been crushed, grated or sliced can be applied to a bite or sting for relief. If you?re in a hurry, simply cut a potato in half and hold it against your skin.

4. Citrus Fruits

Certain natural compounds in citrus fruits have been shown to effectively repel and kill various insect pests, including mosquitoes and ticks. This may be why some people report that citrus fruits can also ease bites and stings.

You can use the juice or the pulp of lemons, limes, oranges or grapefruits directly on your skin. If you don?t have any fresh fruit available, lemon juice concentrate or prepared orange juice may also help.

5. Oatmeal

Oatmeal contains specific phytochemicals that have anti-irritant qualities. Make an oatmeal poultice by mixing equal amounts of quick-cook oatmeal and water in a bowl until it becomes a paste. Hold it on your skin with your hand or a cloth until the itching and pain subside.

If you have a lot of bug bites, an oatmeal bath is another good option. Add 1 cup (240 grams) of instant or ground oatmeal to a regular-sized bath. Soak for about 15-20 minutes. Periodically rubbing some of oatmeal on your bites during the bath can also help.

6. Essential Oils

Many essential oils have been shown to provide relief from pain and itching. Essential oils are typically mixed with a carrier oil, such as sweet almond or olive oil, in a 1:1 ratio before applying to your skin to prevent any burning or discomfort. Some of the best essential oils for bug bites and stings are basil, chamomile, witch hazel, lavender, mint, rosemary, tea tree, thyme and eucalyptus.

7. Tea Bags

A tea bag makes a great pre-packaged poultice to put on bites and stings. Regular teas, such as Ceylon, green or white teas, contain natural tannins that can ease the discomfort. Chamomile, peppermint, lemon balm and echinacea teas can also help calm irritation and promote healing.

It?s best to steep a tea bag in cold water in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Squeeze out any excess water from the bag and put it on your bite or sting.

8. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera contains natural anti-inflammatory compounds that will help reduce itching and swelling, as well as promote healing. If you have an aloe vera plant, you can simply break off a leaf and rub some of the fresh inner gel on a bite or sting. You can also use store-bought aloe vera gel or extract if you don?t have a plant nearby.

Related on Care2

7 Ways to Treat Bug Bites
Why You?re a Mosquito Magnet, According to Science
9 Plants to Grow that Repel Mosquitoes

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8 Plant-Based Home Remedies for Bug Bites and Stings

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9 Commitments to Make This World Oceans Day & How to Keep Them

Imagine getting out of bed in the morning, and instead of hitting the floor, your feet land in a pile of garbage. As you make your way to the kitchen, you become more and more entangled in the debris.

You?eventually get to your destination, but you’ve lost all feeling in your lower limbs. The harder you tug, the tighter the grip becomes. You spot some granola on the counter. If you can’t move, you may as well have a snack, right?

One mouthful and you’re gagging. It looks like granola but it’s actually more trash. Now what? You can’t move, and you’re probably going to die because you ate something you shouldn’t have.

Welcome to the life of our ocean’s many inhabitants.

According to figures published in Science in 2015, between 4.8 and 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enter the oceans each year. To the untrained eye, a lot of that garbage looks like food.?Sea turtles, for example, favor a diet of jellyfish and can quite easily mistake plastic bags floating for jellyfish. Scientists recently?discovered that animals also “eat ocean plastic because?it smells like food.”

Our Oceans are in Trouble

Along with serving as the planet’s largest habitat ? an estimated 50-80 percent of all life on earth?lives beneath the ocean surface ? the ocean also helps to regulate the global climate.

[Watch] Oceans 101 | National Geographic

Climate change is changing that. These are a few of the ways that’s happening:

As ocean temperatures rise, storms increase, delicate ocean life comes under threat and food chains are disrupted.
Rising sea levels cause flooding in coastal regions.
Ocean acidification results in lower levels of carbonate ions, making it difficult for calcifying organisms such as deep sea corals, oysters, clams, etc. to build and maintain shells.
Ocean dead zones (the name given to areas with low oxygen levels) are also increasing, thanks to pollution and climate change.

Humans Are at the Heart of the Problem

Our oceans face a multitude of threats, and human activities are at the heart of the problem. According to National Geographic, “More than 80 percent of marine pollution comes from land-based activities.”

Global warming is causing sea levels to rise. Plastic pollution is choking the ocean and its inhabitants. Agricultural pesticides contaminate our water. Factories and industrial plants dump their sewage in the ocean. Out at sea, oil spills, poaching, overfishing, bycatch, illegal whaling and offshore drilling unleash a whole other set of manmade problems.

On the bright side, if humans are the problem, then we can also be the solution.

At a global level, UNESCO has instituted the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. Taking place between 2021-2030, the decade is being hailed as “a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to strengthen the management of our oceans and coasts for the benefit of humanity.”

[Watch] Explaining the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

How to Fight Ocean Plastic

World Oceans Day is an opportunity for all of us to step up and make a difference. Change begins in our homes, at the grocery store and in the way we live our lives. These are some ways you can “be the change” in your day-to-day life.

1.?Stop Eating Fish and Seafood

Many argue that eating fish and seafood is fine, so long as it’s sustainably sourced. I’d argue (and I’m not alone) that sustainable fishing is a myth. How can we call any type of fishing sustainable when most of the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch comes from fishing gear?

Bycatch is another real issue, resulting in the deaths of thousands of marine turtles, dolphins, porpoises and young whales (to name a few) each year.

2. Support Organizations Working to Save Our Oceans

A super easy way to make a difference is simply by supporting the organizations that work to save our oceans.

3.?Avoid Beauty Products that Contain Microplastics

Microplastics have a devastating effect on the environment, and you can find them in a host of beauty products, from scrubs and eyeliner to lipstick and sunscreen.

Make a point of supporting ethical, eco-conscious businesses that use only natural and organic ingredients. Alternatively, whip up your own DIY beauty products.

4.?Take Care of Your Beaches

Go on regular beach cleanups. You can join a group, create your own or go solo, it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is to get out there and pick up some trash.

If you don’t live near the beach then support an organization that’s cleaning up the ocean.

5.?Be a Responsible Pet Owner

Don’t flush your kitty litter down the toilet. Keep seafood sustainability front of mind when buying food for Fido or Trixie.

If you have an aquarium, wild-caught saltwater fish are a big no-no. And while we’re on the subject, never release aquarium fish into the ocean or river.

6.?Avoid Products From the Ocean

Coastal towns are known for their sea-inspired souvenirs. Some of these keepsakes are harmless, but a lot of times they’re made from endangered marine life.

Never buy tortoiseshell hair accessories, coral jewelry, shark products (teeth, fins, etc.) or cosmetics containing traces of whales or sharks.

7.?Use Environmentally-Friendly Products

When you clean your home, the products you use go down the drain and into our water sources before finally making their way to the sea. Whether you’re doing the dishes or scrubbing the bath, make sure you use something that isn’t harmful to the environment.

You can either buy eco-friendly products or create your own DIY green cleaning kit.

8.?Recycle With Care

Most people nowadays recycle. The problem comes in when we’re lazy about it. Tossing a greasy pizza box or dirty aluminum can into your blue bin?can?contaminate an entire batch of recycling. Something that could have been recycled will end up on the landfill as a result.

Take the time to “up your recycling game” so the right things end up in recycling.

9.?Say Sayonara to Single Use Plastic

With an estimated eight million tons of plastic waste entering the world’s oceans each year, bidding farewell to single-use plastic should be something every human commits to. Living zero-waste?is easier than you think, it just takes a little planning and forethought.

There are plenty of common items that you can replace with zero-waste alternatives. There are also a number of products you can carry with you at all times to help you avoid unnecessary packaging, such as a water bottle, coffee cup and on-the-go cutlery set.

I get that avoiding single-use plastic completely is a huge challenge. Companies package in accordance with their bottom line, and that invariably has nothing to do with the environment. The solution? Create an eco brick. You’d be amazed by how much trash can be squished into one bottle. Take a look at this recent Facebook post of our own ecobrick in progress:

There you have it. A whole lot of reasons to save of our oceans and a bunch of ways to do just that. Happy World Oceans Day.

Take Action

Want to go a step further? Join over 55,000 Care2 members, and?sign and share the petition?to?support efforts to?save marine mammals from being strangled to death by manmade trash.

If?you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can?create a Care2 petition, and use this?handy guide?to get started. Youll find Care2s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

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9 Commitments to Make This World Oceans Day & How to Keep Them

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Can Used Aluminum Foil Be Recycled?

Aluminum foil is a staple in most modern kitchens.?Pliable and easily manipulated, it’s a favorite first choice for wrapping everything from a potato to a casserole dish. Foil is also often?used in disposable packaging thanks to its ability to act as a total barrier against light and oxygen. It preserves things beautifully!

Because of aluminum foil, fats are kept from going rancid, moisture in food items is retained?and?ready-take snacks are shelf stable. Lasagnas get crispy and bubbly on top, fish gets perfectly steamed, quiches don’t get freezer burned. In other words: it’s a staple for a reason.

But what do you do with it once it’s been used? Can aluminum foil with food bits on it be recycled??

Aluminum products are among the easiest metals to recycle because they can be melted down and turned into something new essentially forever. It’s also the most cost-effective choice for most manufacturers. Brand new aluminum is really expensive and energy-intensive to produce; recycling?aluminum is much cheaper.

The main challenge is, of course, food contamination. Oil and grease can damage recycling equipment and create an inferior end product, so food-affected recyclables typically have to be thrown away. That recycling contamination is a risk most facilities aren’t willing to take.

While some companies accept aluminum foil as long as it’s been cleaned, others decide they’d rather protect their equipment than accept it as recyclable. To get your aluminum foil recycled, you’ll need to take the following steps. Even then, getting it recycled?isn’t a guarantee!

1. Check if your city?accepts aluminum foil.

Ask your local curbside pickup company if they take foil.
Use this recycling locator?to find a new recycler if it doesn’t.

2. Clean the foil thoroughly.

Rinse off small bits of food (discoloration from hot water is normal).
Tear off sections that you can’t get clean.
If soiled with greasy foods like meat, gravy or butter,?you’ll have to toss it.

3. Ball it up.

Crumple foil into a ball so it won’t get torn or stuck in recycling machinery.
Save and add to it over the weeks and months. Larger balls are easier to process.
Make sure the aluminum ball is at least 2-inches in diameter before recycling it.
Save foil from yogurt containers, K-cups and takeout containers.

4. Start reusing foil.

Save foil after cooking to use for your next meal.
Clean aluminum foil can be folded up and put in the fridge until next time.
Foil from your cooking dish can be reused to cover leftovers.

5. Eliminate foil from your life wherever you can.

There are plenty of reusable alternatives to aluminum foil.

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Is It Safe to Cook with Aluminum Foil?
How to Host a Zero Waste Dinner Party
How to Lead a Nearly Zero Waste Life

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Grass Alternatives for a More Eco-Friendly Lawn

For some people, their perfectly manicured lawn is a point of pride. But having the greenest grass on the block can come at a high cost.

?Every year across the country, lawns consume nearly 3 trillion gallons of water, 200 million gallons of gas (for all that mowing), and 70 million pounds of pesticides,? according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

That?s why many people are turning away from high-maintenance turf grass and moving toward other groundcover for their lawns. Although the best options depend on your particular environment and community regulations, here are some grass alternatives for a more eco-friendly lawn that will still inspire neighborhood envy.


Groundcover plants spread but stay low to the ground, so they don?t require mowing or much other maintenance at all. Some varieties can tolerate foot traffic, but most aren?t meant to be walked on. That makes them easy-care options for low-traffic areas of your yard.

These plants not only enhance the aesthetic beauty of your yard, but they also can fill in areas where traditional grass can?t grow and control soil erosion and weeds, according to the University of Maryland Extension Home and Garden Information Center. They?re also ideal around buildings ?to reduce heat, glare, noise, and dust.?

It?s best to use an edge barrier for groundcover plants to keep them where you want them, as some tend to spread pretty invasively. As long as you pick the right plant for your area and follow the care instructions, you should have a relatively easy time getting it to take hold and grow.

Here are some examples of groundcover plants commonly used to replace traditional turf grass.


There might already be some clover popping up on your lawn from nearby natural areas. If that?s the case, don?t be so fast to pull it. ?Dutch clover is a familiar face in meadows and lawns and actually makes a terrific lawn replacement,? DIY Network says. ?The deep green plants withstand normal foot traffic, but aren?t an ideal choice for a heavy traffic area, like a play area beneath a swing set.? Clover is both heat and drought tolerant and withstands mowing. In fact, microclover is gaining popularity as a plant to blend with traditional turf grass for a thicker, more weed-resistant lawn.

Creeping phlox

Credit: MaYcaL/Getty Images

If creeping phlox is right for your climate, you?re in for a colorful groundcover. ?Native to rocky and sandy areas of the Appalachian region, these beauties bloom in April or May,? the DIY Network says. ?? Plus, its foliage is evergreen and its typically hardy in Zones 3 to 9, making it a great year-round groundcover for most gardeners.? And as an added bonus, these plants are both resistant to deer and droughts.

Creeping thyme

You might use thyme in your kitchen, but this herb also makes an effective groundcover in the garden. ?The fragrant herb comes in a variety of cultivars that typically grow anywhere from 3 to 6 inches high with dozens and dozens of small, delicate flowers,? HGTV says. It?s good for dry soil and even rock gardens. And it?s tough enough for some foot traffic. Plus, thyme is known to repel mosquitoes and some other pests.

Monkey grass

Credit: seven75/Getty Images

Monkey grass comes in many varieties and goes by several names, including lilyturf, liriope, mondo grass and snakesbeard, according to Gardening Know How. Whatever you call it, it?s a popular groundcover for a reason. ?Monkey grass is easy to care for, it?s heat and drought tolerant, and it?s extremely hardy, growing in many types of soil and surviving under numerous conditions,? Gardening Know How says. ?This thick ground cover resists weed invasions, is rarely affected by pests and diseases, requires little or no fertilizing and performs effectively wherever it?s needed.? It grows to about 10 to 15 inches, though there are shorter dwarf varieties.


If you have moss growing somewhere in your yard, you might want to embrace it. ?Chances are if the conditions are right for moss to grow, significant renovation may be required to get turf grass to thrive in the same area, with no guarantees,? according to turf experts from the Virginia Cooperative Extension. Not only do mosses add color and beauty to spaces where little else will grow, but they also help to prevent erosion and retain moisture and nutrients in the soil. Plus, they?re a sign your ecosystem is doing well. ?A good bio-indicator of air and water pollution, these hardy, yet delicate, plants only thrive in areas that exhibit good air and water quality,? the extension says.


Credit: Ilona5555/Getty Images

Common periwinkle, or vinca minor, is often grown as a groundcover and usually stays at only about 4 inches high. Not only does it add green to spaces that might otherwise be bare, but it also provides a pop of color with its springtime blooms. Plus, it has some very practical purposes for the environment. ?The periwinkle plant is exceptional as an erosion control specimen,? according to Gardening Know How. Once established, the plant is drought resistant and doesn?t require much maintenance besides keeping its spreading in check.


Where turf grass might fail, sedum can grow. ?The Sedum genus of plants includes between 400 and 500 individual species, often known collectively as stonecrops, so-named because these are plants that not only tolerate dry, rocky soils, but positively thrive in them,? according to The Spruce. They range anywhere from 2 inches to 3 feet in height. And the low-growing groundcover varieties spread easily but aren?t invasive, with shallow root systems that make them easy to remove if necessary. ?There is no talent required to grow sedums, and the only way they can be harmed is if they are overwatered or planted in garden soil that is too moist,? The Spruce says.

More grass alternatives

Credit: Gabriele Grassl/Getty Images

Besides groundcover plants, there are plenty of other grass alternatives to make your lawn a more eco-friendly and lower-maintenance place.

The Home and Garden Information Center suggests planting native ornamental grasses, which ?are low maintenance, drought resistant, grow in most soils, seldom require fertilizers, and have few pest or disease problems.? Try creating borders with these grasses or other plants to cut down on the area of traditional grass you have to mow. Or put together a larger display of ornamental grasses of varying looks for a visually appealing patch of lawn.

You also can replace a portion of your lawn with garden beds filled with plants of your choosing. Native plants ? especially ones that attract pollinators ? are ideal for this. Or you could grow your own eco-friendly vegetable garden. Likewise, consider replacing some of your lawn with trees or bushes that can provide habitats for wildlife, among other benefits.

And finally, for a true eco-friendly approach, keep conservation landscaping in mind. For instance, ?a rain garden may be suitable in an area where you want to slow down rainwater runoff and increase water infiltration into the soil,? the Home and Garden Information Center says. Or maybe a rock garden is more appropriate for your climate.

Just make sure that whatever you plant ? groundcover or otherwise ? you?re following your local regulations. Some homeowners associations, for instance, might have rules on how much traditional lawn can be replaced with alternative plants. Or neighbors might not be happy if your plants begin to encroach on their lawns. Be open about why you?re swapping out your grass, and work to change restrictive ordinances. Who knows? You might inspire an eco-friendly lawn trend throughout your community.

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Grass Alternatives for a More Eco-Friendly Lawn

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14 Plastics to Cut from Your Life that You won’t Even Miss

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14 Plastics to Cut from Your Life that You won’t Even Miss

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5 Plant-Powered Cleaning Products Worth Adding to Your Shopping Cart

Green cleaning products get a bad wrap for being weaker or less potent than their traditional counterparts, but these eco-friendly cleaners actually pack quite?the punch. Not only are they free of toxic chemicals, these green cleaning products?are just as powerful as?everything already in your cleaning closet.?Plus, they smell so much better! (Maybe it’s just me, but I like to be able to breathe after I clean the kitchen counter.)

Next time the last drop of your?go-to disinfecting spray or glass cleaner is used up,?consider adding one of these green alternatives?to your shopping list. Replace them one by one and, before you know it, you’ll have an eco-friendly cleaning arsenal ready to go! I’m certain you’ll never go back.

1. Branch Basics?”The Concentrate

If you’re looking to get more bang for your buck, this is the way to do it! Made from plant-derived ingredients like sugar, chamomile flower and baking soda, this concentrate can replace just about every cleaning product in your home. Use it?for everything from removing gunk from your stovetop to washing your dog!

2. ECOS Stain + Odor Remover

Perfect for everyday use, this plant-based stain and odor remover effectively eliminates stains and freshens even the most persistent?of odors. Who knew lemon peel oil was so effective! Use on upholstery, carpets and clothes – wherever those messes show up.

3. Method Daily Shower Spray

This toxin-free spray will have you singing in the shower. Just spray a fine mist on all wet surfaces and it will take care of the rest with its amazing plant power. And this spray isn’t just effective, it’s thoughtful too! Made by a certified B Corporation, this product is?biodegradable, BPA free, compostable and made in the USA. Awesome, right?

4. Bon Ami Powder Cleanser

Bon Ami Powder Cleanser is a wonderful example of non-toxic cleaning power. Made from naturally soft abrasives like limestone and felspar, Bon Ami can be confidently used on most hard surfaces in the kitchen and elsewhere in the house.?There’s a reason it’s been a household favorite since 1886.

5. Better Life Naturally Smudge-Smacking Glass Cleaner

It’s non-toxic. It’s 100% plant-derived. It’ll get the job done. Made from corn, coconut and palm kernel, this cruelty-free cleaner is full of just the good stuff. And it works fabulously – kicking fingerprints, greasy smudges, dirt and rain spots to the curb. And no streaks too!

When it comes to cleaning the house, chemicals aren’t the only way to get the job done. And with?so many excellent plant-based cleaning products on the market, there’s no reason not to jump on this train. Give it?a try!

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5 Plant-Powered Cleaning Products Worth Adding to Your Shopping Cart

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How to Responsibly Dispose of Old Electronics

Let’s try something. Quick! How many electronic products do you own? Cell phones, computers, tablets, televisions…gaming consoles, fitness trackers, thermostats, security systems…they add up don’t they?

If you find that?total?creeping toward numbers in the teens or higher, you certainly aren’t the only one. According to a study conducted by the Consumer Technology Association in 2013, the average American household owns 24 consumer electronic products. And according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), they’re the fastest-growing slice of what Americans are throwing away.

In a world in which a new gadget comes out seemingly every week, it’s no wonder American households are drowning in tech. Throw in a capitalist system that rewards built-in obsolescence and you have an electronics industry that thrives on the quick turnover of new products and a society that can’t get enough. Our?waste management system just can’t keep up, and it’s putting us and our environment at risk.

So what?should we be doing with broken or unwanted electronics? Let’s take a look.

Protect?your data

Before you send those broken electronics to your local recycling facility, make sure you erase all of your personal information. Donate without wiping your data?and your credit cards, social security numbers, family photos and banking information could be out there for the taking.

Recycling required

Electronic products contain toxic substances like lead and mercury that must be disposed of carefully. These materials can be?so dangerous that, so far, 25 states have passed laws requiring that old electronics be recycled. Don’t abide and you’ll be fined.

One company, Call2Recycle, has drop-off locations for rechargeable batteries and cell phones all over the United States. Additionally, many cities have started sponsoring collection days for old electronics. Visit TIA E-cycling Central for a list of events by state!

Keep reading: Do You Know Where Your Electronic Waste is Going?

Give it away

If your electronic device still works, there is a market for it! Start by checking out Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore if you have one near you, or call around to senior organizations and recreation centers.

Here are a few more programs that can?use or repurpose your old electronics:

  1. Dell Reconnect by Goodwill
  2. The World Computer Exchange
  3. eBay for Charity
  4. AmericanCellPhoneDrive.org
  5. Apple GiveBack
  6. Amazon
  7. Office Depot

Keep reading: Top 10 Most Important Items to Recycle

Whether you recycle your device completely or simply find it a new home, giving your old electronics new life is a great way to help curb the waste problem we’re experiencing today. Thanks for doing your part!

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How to Responsibly Dispose of Old Electronics

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9 of the Best Herbs to Grow in Containers

Do you love fresh herbs but lack the space to grow them in a garden? That’s what container gardens are for. Several varieties of herbs can thrive in containers?even indoors on a sunny windowsill.

Here are nine herbs suitable for container gardens, as well as some helpful container gardening tips.

1. Basil

Credit: OlgaMiltsova/Getty Images

Light requirements: partial sun, full sun

If you cook up a lot of Italian dishes, a basil plant is a must. Basil prefers full sun and moist, well-draining soil, but you usually can get away with keeping it in a little shade if you must. A sunny windowsill indoors also can work.

In the summer months, you might see white flowers on your basil that ultimately will produce woody stems and less flavorful leaves. “Snip away flowering stems as soon as you spot them to promote new, tasty foliage,” according to the Better Homes & Gardens plant encyclopedia.

Harvest basil by picking as many individual leaves as you need or clipping sprigs and storing them in water at room temperature, like cut flowers.

2. Chives

Light requirements: partial sun, full sun

Chives are generally a low-maintenance herb ideal for beginning gardeners.

“Chives grow best in full sun and well-drained soil,” according to Better Homes & Gardens. “They tolerate part shade well and will grow and blossom when they receive at least 6 hours of bright, direct light.” They also self-seed and tolerate transplanting particularly well, making it easy to propagate your plant.

Harvest chives by snipping stems near the soil as needed to add a fresh, onion-like flavor to dishes.

3. Lavender

Light requirements: full sun

Lavender isn’t always easy to grow indoors because of its sun requirements, but it can flourish in an outdoor container garden, as long as you use well-draining soil.

“Every part of the plant is infused with aromatic oil, making this a choice herb to place along pathways or near outdoor seating areas so you can savor the fragrance,” Better Homes & Gardens says.

You can cut entire flower stems to dry for use in recipes or aromatherapy.

4. Mint

Credit: Mableen/Getty Images

Light requirements: partial sun, full sun

Mint seems like it can manage to grow practically anywhere and everywhere. And that’s partially why growing it in a container is ideal: It won’t spread to places where you don’t want it.

“For the most productive plants with the most flavor, plant mint in soil rich in organic matter and provide consistent moisture,” according to Better Homes & Gardens. “Although many varieties tolerate drought, they won’t grow as well or have as good a flavor.”

Harvest mint in the morning before the sun has had a chance to dry the leaves. You can either pick leaves as needed or cut back stems to promote a fuller plant.

5. Oregano

Light requirements: full sun

Like lavender, oregano also requires a lot of light and would prefer to be in a sunny outdoor container garden. Plus, good drainage is a must.

Try to harvest oregano frequently to prevent the plant from flowering, which diminishes its flavor and produces woody stems. That might mean cutting some to dry for later use. “To dry a large amount of oregano, cut stems back to 3 inches (before flower buds open); cut again in the same way in late summer,” Better Homes & Gardens says. “Dry the stems by bundling them together and hanging them upside down in a dark place with good air circulation.”

6. Parsley

Light requirements: full sun

Parsley also makes a great addition to outdoor container gardens, preferring sun and rich, moist soil. “Place the container gardens on a patio or deck where they receive at least eight hours of bright sunlight a day,” Better Homes & Gardens says.

When harvesting, cut outer stems about an inch above the soil. Use parsley fresh, wrap the stems in a damp paper towel and refrigerate for up to a month or dry the leaves for later use.

7. Sage

Light requirements: partial sun, full sun

Sage is a tough herb that can tolerate drought and likes well-draining soil. This makes the plant generally low-maintenance?though adequate watering and ample sunlight make for tastier foliage.

Pick leaves as you need them, or take stems for drying, cutting the top six to eight inches of growth. Plus, don’t hesitate to let the plant bloom if you’re not overly concerned about harvesting top-notch leaves. “Sage’s light blue flowers and gray/green foliage help it look at home in any flower border,” Better Homes & Gardens says.

8. Tarragon

Light requirements: partial sun, full sun

If French cooking is your thing, try growing your very own tarragon plant. “With a sunny window and rich soil, you can raise French tarragon indoors,” according to Better Homes & Gardens. “If light isn’t strong enough, stems will likely sprawl and leaf flavor will diminish, but you’ll still be able to savor the licorice taste.”

Cut the leaves as needed ? preferably regularly to encourage more growth. And if you’re adding fresh tarragon to hot dishes, do so right before serving, as heat can lessen its flavor.

9. Thyme

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Light requirements: full sun

Thyme can make a great groundcover in your garden that actually deters some pests. But it also grows effectively in containers, as long as it gets enough sun.

Because the herb is native to Mediterranean areas with poor, rocky soil, it prefers to be in a well-draining container?and doesn’t require much care from you. Just prune it to encourage new growth, taking bunches to dry if you don’t need it fresh.

Container Gardening Tips

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Growing herbs in containers is typically an easy process, as long as you get a few major components right. Here are five container gardening tips from MiracleGro.

1. Harness the sun.

“In general, choose a spot that receives six or more hours of sun, except in the very warmest regions, where herbs appreciate afternoon shade,” MiracleGro says.

Be aware of each plant’s light requirements, and place them accordingly. A perk of container gardening is it allows you to shift plants throughout the day to more (or less) sunny spots.

2. Provide proper pots and soil.

Many herbs prefer well-draining soil, which also means your pot needs plenty of drainage holes.

“Containers must be large enough to contain the herb’s root system and keep the plant itself upright,” according to MiracleGro. “A good rule of thumb is to choose a container that’s at least one-third as tall as the final height of the herb listed on the plant tag or seed packet.”

3. Water and feed as needed.

Although?some herbs prefer drier conditions, you still should keep a regular watering schedule. Follow instructions for individual plant varieties, but in general water when the top inch of soil is dry.

Likewise, some herbs need feeding to continue producing quality foliage. Check the plant’s care instructions to maximize your harvest.

4. Don’t fall in love with the flowers.

The flowers that bloom on herbs are great for attracting pollinators and other animals to your garden. But a flowering plant usually means less tasty foliage for you.

To preserve your herbs’ culinary quality, pinch off blossoms as you see them?though in some cases you actually can use the flowers in your dishes.

5. Learn the best harvesting methods.

It’s important to know how to harvest your herbs to maintain healthy growth. “When you harvest leaves on herbs that grow in clumps (like chives, lemongrass, cilantro, or parsley), pick outer leaves first, working your way toward the center of the plant,” MiracleGro says. “For herbs that have an upright stem with a growing point, like mint, stevia, basil, or oregano, snip individual branches.”

With just a little gardening know-how, you’ll always have fresh herbs at your fingertips.

Main image credit: MelanieMaier/Getty Images

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.


9 of the Best Herbs to Grow in Containers

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6 Delicious Weeds that You Can Eat

The availability of nutritionally-dense food that is free from the clutches of corporate agriculture companies like Bayer AG and Monsanto is a growing concern to many people. And, while food security is indeed something to take seriously, few people are aware of their own already-available food growing in their yards.

That?s why I?m launching FoodHouseProject.com, a food adventure site in which my husband Curtis and I are combining his extensive food security background with my love of nutrition and disgust for Big Agra, and combining our love of foraging, gardening and food, in general to turn our neglected old farmhouse built in 1890 into the ultimate food-growing home. We will showcase the abundance of food all around, demonstrate how easy it is to forage or grow more of your own food to save you money, boost your nutrition, reduce your ecological footprint and start the ultimate revolution in which we reclaim our food sovereignty from Big Agra.

While I encourage you to start growing your own food, either sprouts, microgreens, container-tomatoes or full-blown gardens, I also hope you?ll take a look at the food that?s already around you, in the form of wild edibles, or weeds, as most people call them. Here are some of my favorite weeds that offer delicious and nutritious, as well as free food.


Hard to miss, these pretty flowers often pop up in our lawns if we let the grass grow a bit. While they can be a bit bitter, both the leaves and the flowers are edible and can be eaten raw or cooked. Don’t eat the ones you find in floral bouquets as they’ve likely been sprayed with toxic pesticides.

Dandelion Greens, Flowers and Roots

Even if you?re not familiar with foraging, finding dandelion greens should not be a problem. They?re almost everywhere. Choose the small leaves as more mature leaves tend to become bitter. The immature leaves can be added to salads, soups or saut?ed like spinach, along with a little garlic, olive oil, squeeze of lemon juice and a bit of sea salt for a delicious side dish. The flowers can be added to salads and eaten raw. The roots are absolutely delicious when roasted, ground and added to smoothies or steeped as you would tea. They have a slightly chocolate-coffee flavor, which is why blending them with a handful of cashews, a dash of stevia, some almond milk and a little ice makes my favorite smoothie. Dandelion helps to boost the kidneys and liver.

Dandelion leaves, flowers, stems, and roots are edible

Lamb?s Quarters

Not just for grazing sheep, lamb?s quarters are found in plentiful quantities in most people?s lawns and make a delicious alternative to spinach. Add them raw to salads or saute them in a little olive oil and sea salt for a tasty plate of wild greens.


You won?t miss these herbs, particularly if you try to pick them without gloves. That?s because the fine hairs along the stems of the plant will give your skin a bit of a sting when you touch them. However, when they are cooked, they lose their stinging sensation. You?re left with one of the most nutritional greens you can eat, which are great in soups and stews. Nettles boost your overall nutrition but also help fight off seasonal allergies, which are a nuisance for many people this time of year.

Nettles are nutritional powerhouses that are delicious additions to your diet.

Plantain Leaves

Found in most lawns, you?ve probably stepped on these plants hundreds of time without consideration for them. Yet, they are an excellent addition to your diet. Chop and add to salads, soups or saute them as you would spinach.

Plantain leaves make a delicious alternative to spinach.

Red Clover Leaves and Flowers

Easy to spot when in flower thanks to their purplish-pink flowerheads, red clover leaves make an excellent addition to salads, soups or can be saut?ed for a delicious plate of wild greens. The flowers can be added to salads or infused in boiled water to make tea.

Red clover leaves and flowers are edible.

If you?re not 100% certain you?ve identified the correct plant, it is best not to eat them. If you?re unsure, you might find an herb walk or foraging course helpful. Of course, stay clear of lawns near highways or any that have been sprayed with pesticides.

Related Stories:

15 Green Challenges Just in Time for Earth Day
7 Ways to Make Your Garden More Earth-Friendly
7 Medicinal Weeds Growing in Your Yard

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM shares her food growing, cooking, and other food self-sufficiency adventures at FoodHouseProject.com. She is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World?s Healthiest News, founder of Scent-sational Wellness, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, & Cooking. Follow her work.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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6 Delicious Weeds that You Can Eat

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The Most (and Least) Eco-Friendly US Cities

You might try to live an eco-friendly lifestyle at home. But how green is your community?

According to a Pew Research Center survey, roughly 59 percent of U.S. adults say climate change is affecting their community in some way ? through weather, temperature changes, etc. And that point of view is even stronger in those who live near a coastline. Plus, according to another Pew survey, the majority of respondents think the U.S. government isn’t doing enough to protect the environment, including preventing water pollution, ensuring safe air quality and protecting animals and their habitats.

But not all communities are equal when it comes to being environmentally friendly. WalletHub recently released a study of the 100 largest U.S. cities, comparing 26 “green indicators” ? i.e., factors that made the city more or less eco-friendly. It broke these factors into four main categories: environment, transportation, energy sources and lifestyle/policy. And each city received an overall green score based on points applied to the green indicators.

These are the 10 cities WalletHub found to be the most environmentally friendly, the 10 that could use some green improvements and some tips to make your own community a little more eco-friendly.

The Most Environmentally-Friendly Cities

Here are the top 10 greenest cities in the U.S., according to WalletHub.

10. Portland, Oregon

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Portland cracked the top 10 with a solid performance in some categories and a mediocre showing in others. It ranked 18th in energy sources and 59th in the environment category ? which measured factors, such as air quality, green space, water quality and light pollution. But Portland boosted its overall green score with an eighth-place finish in the transportation category ? in which it received the fourth highest bike score. And it took third in lifestyle/policy, in which it also came in third for the most farmers markets per capita.

9. Sacramento, California

Sacramento fared a little better than Portland in the environment category, coming in 38th place. It also took 19th for energy sources and ninth for lifestyle/policy. But its best showing was its fourth-place finish in the transportation category. That category included factors, such as the share of commuters who drive alone, the average commute time, the city’s walk and bike scores and the accessibility of jobs by public transit.

8. Seattle, Washington

Seattle just edged out Sacramento’s green score for eighth place overall. The city ranked 25th in the environment category, 21st in energy sources and 12th in transportation. And it was near the top of the pack for lifestyle/policy, finishing fourth. Metrics in that category included farmers markets and community-supported agriculture per capita, community garden plots per capita, green job opportunities and the number of local programs that promote green energy.

7. Fremont, California

Fremont was fairly average in two of the categories and stellar in the other two. It came in 52nd for transportation and 32nd for lifestyle/policy. But it took second place for environment ? and within that category it came in first for the highest percentage of green space. Plus, it was No. 1 in the energy sources category ? which included metrics, such as electricity from renewable sources, solar installations per capita and amount of smart-energy initiatives.

6. Honolulu, Hawaii

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Who doesn’t love the environment of a Hawaiian island? Honolulu’s worst category rank was its 24th-place finish in energy sources. But it made up for that by taking fifth in environment, fifth in lifestyle/police and second in transportation. Within the categories, the city had the fifth lowest greenhouse gas emissions per capita. Plus, it tied for first (with Fremont and Alaska) for the highest percentage of green space. And it also tied for first for the most farmers markets per capita.

5. San Jose, California

San Jose’s overall green score just barely put it in front of Honolulu for its fifth-place finish. The city did fairly well in the transportation and lifestyle/policy categories, coming in 24th and 21st respectively. It took 13th for energy sources. And San Jose’s best category rank was its 10th-place finish in environment.

4. Irvine, California

Continuing California’s domination of the top 10 greenest cities, Irvine’s overall score was just a few tenths of a point better than San Jose’s ? landing it in fourth place. The city’s only category rank out of the top 10 was its 27th-place finish in transportation. It took seventh in both the environment and lifestyle/policy categories. And it came in at No. 1 for energy sources.

3. Washington, D.C.

Even though many people wish the government would do more to combat climate change (or even admit it exists), the nation’s capital still is one of the greenest cities in the U.S. Washington, D.C., ranked 35th for environment and 17th for energy sources. It took sixth in the transportation category, in which it had the third lowest percentage of commuters who drive. (Not everyone gets a motorcade to stop D.C. traffic.) And, somewhat ironically, D.C. took No. 1 for lifestyle/policy ? despite the ongoing political arguments on policies that would help the environment.

2. San Francisco, California

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We head back to the West Coast for the top two greenest cities. San Francisco took 20th for energy sources, ninth for transportation and sixth for environment. Within the transportation category, the city had the fourth lowest percentage of commuters who drive, and it received the second highest bike score, only behind Minneapolis. Plus, San Francisco ranked second for lifestyle/policy ? tying for first (with Honolulu) for the most farmers markets per capita.

1. San Diego, California

San Diego took home the title for 2019′s greenest city in the United States ? and underscored California’s dominance on the list. It ranked 19th in both the transportation and lifestyle/policy categories. And within lifestyle/policy, it came in fourth for the most farmers markets per capita. Plus, San Diego’s best category rank was its fourth-place finish in environment.

The Least Environmentally-Friendly Cities

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These 10 cities ranked at the bottom of WalletHub’s list.

10. Gilbert, Arizona
9. Cleveland, Ohio
8. Mesa, Arizona
7. Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky
6. Detroit, Michigan
5. Memphis, Tennessee
4. Toledo, Ohio
3. St. Louis, Missouri
2. Corpus Christi, Texas
1. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Of those cities, Corpus Christi ? along with Houston; Denver; Oklahoma City; Louisville, Kentucky; and Tulsa, Oklahoma ? had some of the highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita.

Plus, Baton Rouge and Lexington ? along with Fresno, California; Laredo, Texas; and Hialeah, Florida ? had very little green space compared to the other cities.

How to Be a Greener Member of Your Community

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Regardless of where your city falls on this list (or whether it’s even on here at all), there are still several ways you can help to make your home a more eco-friendly place. Here are some tips to go green in your community.

Support local establishments

Instead of shopping at big box stores, support your community’s establishments that sell products made from local materials. A prime example of this: Eat at restaurants that source food from the area, and shop at farmers markets whenever possible.


You know carpooling (and using public transit) is eco-friendly, but do you practice what you preach? Start a carpool group for school, work or even trips to the store. Even better, choose more sustainable methods of transportation whenever possible, such as walking and biking. Lobby your city for bike lanes and walking paths if you don’t already have them.

Organize Recycling Drives

Some communities have very accessible recycling and donation drives. But others make it difficult to sustainably get rid of items you no longer want. If your community falls into the latter camp, step up as an organizer. Learn what’s necessary to hold donation drives ? as well as recycling events for items, such as toxic waste and electronics. Your community will thank you.

Connect with Community Members

A strong team can get things done more efficiently than a lone person. Find other members of your community who also care about building a more eco-friendly environment. Learn from each other, and band together to organize events, such as area cleanups, a community garden or even a Food Not Lawns initiative.

Bring issues to Local Government

You and your other eco-friendly community members will likely have to work with local government on many green initiatives. Do your homework, so you’re prepared to lobby for your causes. Ask your government about issues, such as reducing pesticide use, enacting greener building practices, expanding the recycling program or implementing a community solar project. Progress might be slow, but don’t let that discourage you from putting your voice out there.

Main image credit: Ron_Thomas/Getty Images

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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The Most (and Least) Eco-Friendly US Cities

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