Monthly Archives: May 2018

Definitive Shopping Guide for Big Feet

If you have larger than normal feet, you know how difficult and frustrating it can be to find shoes that fit. Manufacturers are more interested in creating shoes in common sizes so that they can get the biggest return possible. In the past, this meant that people with larger feet were reduced to shopping at specialty stores for styles made from companies that only made big shoes and not other sizes. The selection was often limited, and the styles not as fashionable as the shoes on the high street. Luckily there are more options available today for people with big feet. Here is the definitive shopping guide for finding stylish shoes that fit your feet.

Styles
Today most major manufacturers create shoes in a range of sizes, from very tiny sizes up to the large sizes that fit big feet. One style that always comes in all sizes are trainers. There are a great range of different types of trainers you will be able to find in your size, from high-tech athletic trainers to the colourful, street trainers that look good with jeans. Dress shoes are a bit harder to find in big sizes, especially larger sized heels for women. When shopping around, remember to look for you size but also keep in mind the width of the shoe. Some companies create large sizes but don’t take into account the extra width of your foot, so you could end up with a shoe that pinches the sides of your feet.

Where to Shop
It used to be that people with large feet could only find good fitting shoes at “big and tall” stores. These shops are still around and are a good option for people who have feet that are both wide and long and therefore really hard to fit. However, you won’t find contemporary, fashionable shoes at these stores. To get shoes that are more on trend with the season, you could consider looking at department stores and asking about larger sizes. Most big stores will stock at least a few big sizes in each style to have on hand. The final and best option is to shop around online. You can go to online shops, auction sites and websites that offer overstocked shoes from various stores to find great deals on stylish shoes.

Green Shopping Guide

When I was in my twenties and thirties, I was a school teacher. I lived and worked overseas. I had many great adventures, but looking back two decades later, I can see that what I most enjoyed about those years was the lifestyle I had as a young mom in my neighborhood in Adelaide, South Australia. We enjoyed the best of a modern Western life without some of the “excesses” of 21st century life in the United States-not too much driving, not too much “stuff”, not too much debt…You get the picture. I had a cute little car which was fuel efficient. I had a cute little house and lovely English style garden. I shopped in my neighborhood, because, believe it or not, there wasn’t a supermarket or mall within 5 miles of the neighborhood where I lived.

What I loved most about how my money was spent in those days was that it mainly supported local people and products. My food came from small, family-owned fruit and veggie shops, butcher shops, and bakeries. All of my fruit and vegetables were grown locally and sold in the shops in my local “high street” or in the year-round farmers’ market. Many things I take for granted today like my washer and dryer, my living room furniture and my office equipment were far more expensive in Adelaide than they were in Seattle, for instance. But, we purchased from local merchants, bought quality to last and often recycled and shared. For months when my neighbor had a new baby, we shared the expense of a diaper service and we shared the use of my new washing machine. When another neighbor moved to a new job in another state, we bought their antique dining table and chairs to furnish our cottage’s kitchen dining area.

So, why am I telling you this story of a past life in another country?

Because–I think we have forgotten that we have the power to shape our lives with the choices we make and how we spend our money. I suppose we think we have to give up things we find “necessary” to save our environment, when really we might find that new choices result in pleasant gains.

At the heart of many of our environmental challenges today are the things we Americans buy and discard every day. Our economy is seemingly stronger the more we buy and the faster we replace things. Living a more environmentally aware lifestyle affects all aspects of our lives, but none more dramatically than our shopping habits.

There are many ways to turn your buying behavior into a force that supports environmentally friendly businesses and practices:

Choose the shop around the corner:

More and more, we’re hearing that carbon dioxide emissions from our cars are polluting the earth and contributing enormous quantities of greenhouse gases to the growing climate change problem. To reduce your carbon footprint, choose to shop close to home. Need some new candles? Check out the local artisan’s workshop. Looking for some fresh veggies? Look into your community’s farmers’ markets. You get the idea.

BYOB:

By that, we mean “bring your own bag” when you’re heading for the store. Whether you’re in the market for groceries or a new pair of pants, try to remember to take your reusable shopping bag with you. This cuts down on the annoying “paper or plastic?” questions and will mean fewer resource-intensive bags entering your community where they either need to be discarded in a landfill or burned in an incinerator.

Choose eco-friendly products:

Regardless of what you’re putting in your bag, whether it’s a new printer for your computer or some binders for your children’s new school year, there’s likely a more eco-friendly option available. Wondering what to look for? Here are few characteristics of earth-mindful options:

  • Look for second-hand or used items. These products require no new resources except the gas it takes you to get to the store. Furniture, clothing, kitchen items, and even electronics can often be purchased this way.
  • Search for items made with recycled materials. The most obvious option is recycled-content paper, but more and more there are products made of recycled products. Soda bottles can be made into fleece for clothing, tires can be turned into playground equipment, milk jugs can be turned into shingles for your roof, yogurt containers are made into toothbrushes and razors, and old barn wood can be transformed into one-of-a-kind tables and chairs.
  • Check out alternative materials. If you can’t find something that’s once-used like those that are second-hand or made of recycled materials, look for options made with eco-friendly materials. This can mean many things, but here are a few principles to keep in mind: Materials grown without the use of pesticides and fertilizers mean less harm to water and soil, so go for organic fruits, vegetables, and cotton products. Any resource that’s renewable is more sustainable than non-renewable options. Metals, plastics, and other petroleum by-products are not ultimately renewable (not to mention they’re production is incredibly polluting). Bamboo, hemp, sea grass, and jute, to name a few, are incredibly fast growing plants that can be used to construct furniture and rugs, clothing and bedding, and much more. Opting for the item made with fewer chemicals is always a good choice, too. It means it’ll be less harmful for you and the earth. So if you’re debating between stain-resistant shirts and those without, go for the more natural, less-treated option. Look for low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) products, natural cleaning products, and so on.

Choose “kid safe” and “pet safe” household products.

Opting for the item made with fewer harmful or potentially harmful ingredients is not only earth-friendly, but also “kid safe” and “pet safe”. Look for household products without the following common but harmful chemicals as ingredients: Naphthalene, kerosene, formaldehyde, phenol, cresol, lye, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, petroleum distillates, benzene, ammonia, paradichlorobenzene, sodium hydroxide, butyl cellosolve, hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid.

Look for concentrated products:

Every bottle of laundry detergent and household cleaner that contains more water than active ingredients cost fuel and human labor to ship to a store near you. Purchase your household products as concentrates and add the water at home.

Look for water- and energy-saving devices:

Choosing products that reduce your consumption of water and energy will not only save you money, they reduce your overall earthly-impact. So go for bathroom and kitchen fixtures and appliances that conserve, opt for electronics that run more efficiently, and upgrade things like light bulbs and faucet aerators to keep your home running on less. A good bet for many of these products are ENERGY STAR rated options since they save significant quantities of both of these resources.

Reduce overall consumption:

Perhaps the most important change you can make in your shopping habits is to buy less. When you’re in the store trying to decide between two great books, or contemplating whether you want green or white sheets, evaluate whether you really need the item in question. Are there ways you can reuse something at home for that purpose? Perhaps you can share a lawnmower with your neighbor, or take books out of the library instead of buying new. There are lots of ways to enjoy the better things in life without taking something new home.

A Non-GMO Shopping Guide

Have you noticed the size of green peppers these days? As a matter of fact, when you walk through the produce aisle you may be impressed with how the fruits and vegetables appear shiny, colorful and larger than life. But did you know that unless you specifically purchase food labeled organic most of the food in the produce aisle (and other aisles as well) has been genetically modified?

Also called recombinant DNA technology, this practice changes the core genetic make-up of the organism. This genetic manipulation gives scientists the ability to create any trait they desire — natural of unnatural. Food marketers have decided tomatoes should be sweeter, peppers larger, and fruit blemish-free. And scientists have met their specifications. If it’s not perfect, food marketers assume, or more precisely, dictate, that we don’t (or shouldn’t) want it. But GM food is far from perfect.

Simply put, GM foods are foods that are grown from seeds whose DNA is genetically altered. An example of gene alteration is the insertion of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) into the seed.

These Biopesticides are touted as being less harmful than chemical pesticides because they are biologically based (being viruses, bacteria, pheromones, natural plant compounds, etc.) in contrast to synthetic chemicals But a pesticide in which the active ingredient is a virus, fungus or bacterium, or a natural product derived from a plant source may well be far from benign – despite its ‘natural’ origins.

Why? In short, the danger lies not in the origins of these pesticides, but from the ramifications of their use. Bts result in increased herbicide usage and resultant herbicide resistance; “super weeds;” traces left behind on and in food crops; genetic contamination of non-GM crops which hurt organic and conventional farmers; and damage to surrounding wildlife.

In addition, Bts combine with our own gut bacteria gene; ingesting food treated with Bts gives birth to a dangerous pesticide in the human body.

What is the role of agribusiness in all of this – certainly not an altruist one? The giant corporation Monsanto is at the forefront of the problem. Monsanto is the largest producer of hybrid or GM seeds. Monsanto is now patenting seeds which restrict the farmer from the use of any seed other than theirs. Farmers have actually been sued by Monsanto for doing otherwise.

GM technology crept its way through the door many years ago when the government mandated the FDA to promote biotechnology. The man that was appointed to lead the charge was actually a former Monsanto attorney!

Unfortunately, there was very little, if any, testing for the safety of GM foods. The FDA claimed it was not aware of any information showing that GM crops were different from non-GM crops and therefore didn’t require testing. Because of an eventual lawsuit, 44,000 internal FDA documents that were made public proved that this was an outright lie.

There was an overwhelming consensus among the FDA’s own scientists that the GM foods were indeed different and could give rise to hard to detect allergens, toxins, new diseases and nutritional problems. Could that explain the sudden rise in food allergies, food sensitivities and digestive problems?

GM food is not just in the produce aisle either. 75% of all processed food contains GM ingredients. Corn and soy are the largest GM crops, and corn and soy is in just about everything. (As always, read the ingredients — you’ll see for yourself.)

The list of GM products is long and getting longer. The USDA decided that GM foods do not need to be labeled for the US consumer (you and me). However, most other countries will not import food from the US unless it is clearly labeled GM or not.

If you’ve read any of my other articles, you know by now just how far the foods in our grocery aisles have diverged from the essential qualities we should have a right to expect — real, natural, healthy, and nutritious.

A Non-GMO Shopping Guide:

Pay attention to those hard to read little stickers on fruits and vegetables. They contain a series of digits that are your key to identifying whether produce is conventionally grown or organic, and, furthermore, if it’s genetically modified (GM).

Translation:

• A four-digit number indicates conventionally grown.
• A five-digit number beginning with 9 — it’s organic.
• A five-digit number beginning with 8 — its GM.

Nearly all of the following foods are GM so do your best to avoid them:

• Soy
• Corn
• Cottonseed
• Canola
• Processed food, period.

Plastic Containers Shopping Guide

Almost every household has plastic containers. They could be used for storing foods or other smaller items to promote organization in the house. However, do you know that some plastics are not really recyclable than the others? Do you use plastic containers that are safe for living? Check out the shopping guide below before you decide to buy plastic containers.

First of all, you need to know the different types of plastic. Plastics are put into categories based on their resin identification code. If you buy something made of plastic, you usually can see this resin identification code on the bottom of the plastic container. It normally comes with a recycling triangle logo that indicates a number in the middle. This number is the one you should be paying attention for.

Number 1 means Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET/PETE). You find this kind of plastic in plastic bottles or disposable soft drinks. When you buy one of those, make sure you dispose it after the first time use. PET is hard to clean and it absorbs and keeps bacteria and flavors.

Number 2 means High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). You can find it in jugs and liquid detergent bottles. HDPE doesn’t transmit known chemicals to your food and normally the municipal recycling program accepts it.

Number 3 means Polyvinyl Chloride (V or PVC). It can normally be found in plumbing pipes, cooking oil bottles and meat wrap. PVC contains phthalates – a sort of softeners – that mess up with hormonal development. Avoid this number 3 in your plastic container if you want to use it to store food.

Number 4 means Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE). Found in grocery bags and cling wraps, this plastic is safe and recyclable. However, there are perhaps less recycling companies that want to take containers made of LDPE.

Number 5 means Polypropylene (PP) as normally found in yoghurt cups and cloudy bottles. This type of plastic is safe and recyclable. But like LDPE, it is not an item most favored by recycling companies to manage.

Number 6 means Polystyrene (PS). If you buy a take-out coffee, you are most likely served with cups made of PS. It is not a recommended plastic type for your containers as it could leach styrene – suspected as carcinogen on human – into the food stored.

Number 7 means other types of plastic resins that are not mentioned above, mostly invented post 1987. It includes Polycarbonate (PC), Polylactide (PLA) and BPA-Free plastics. PLA is fine to use for food-based containers as it is the type of plastic that is made from renewable resources with high starch content like potatoes and sugar canes. It is unrecyclable but since it is made from plants, these plastics can be composted. On the other hand, PC and BPA-Free plastics should stay avoided. Polycarbonate is the only plastic made with Bisphenol A, a substance that has been linked to various health problems like heart disease and obesity.

Leather Recliner Shopping Guide

Do you own a recliner at home? If you don’t have one at home, maybe it is time to get one for better seating and relaxation.

Buying a recliner is not a easy task, although you may not spend as much time as buying a vehicle , it still requires certain amount of efforts to make a good decision. The first thing you need to consider is to make sure the style of the chair matches the style of your room. Narrow down your searches by asking yourself what kind of style are you looking for? The next thing you want to do is to determine how much you are willing to spend. Generally, you can find recliner ranges from $99 to $2000. Make up your mind whether you are looking for a recliner that costs around $300 or a luxury recliner that costs more than $1000. Ask yourself.

The last thing you may want to consider is how much space you have in your room for the recliner. If it’s too close to the wall, for example, a chair that reclines all the way back would not be practical. Make sure you measure the space before going to the store, so that the salesperson can measure the distance needed to recline all the way and relax.

The last but not the least thing to ask is who is going to use the recliner most often? Are you buying the recliner for yourself or buying it for your mom and dad? Make sure you bring the person to the place and let them try it. Keep this in mind, different people simply have different preferences and a recliner that you love may disliked by other people.