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Educate> Slow Down, Green Life at Your Fingertips

Slow Down, a Green Life is Right at Your Fingertips

Where to start? What do I do? How do I do it? These are all of the questions you may start asking yourself as you make steps to living a more sustainable life. Sometimes it’s just as easy to start thinking simple.

We depend on our planet to live
Why reuse?
Stay in style
Think outside the box
Everyday materials for the creative thinker
Hidden dangers in your home
Food for thought
If you can't read the ingredient's, pitch it!
Avoid these ingredients
Stick to the basics
Natural soaps
Home is in more than one place
Kid's can be green too!
Avoid BPA and PVC
Great ideas for your children
Upcycling examples
New wardrobe
Faster isn't always better
Is going green expensive?
Healthy minds, healthy body, happy life
Why go local?


We depend on our planet to live.

We need to eat, drink and breathe in order to stay alive. It is that simple. If the society we live in today is causing us extra health problems then how can we live a healthy life? Start taking small steps to a green life. It can be just as simple as turning off the lights when you leave the room to save energy and money. Here are some of the simple ways to start living sustainably:

1. Turn off and unplug all appliances in your home that are not in use.
2. Make small steps to use rainwater instead of the facet in your kitchen.
3. Use the sun to create your hot water.
4. Use natural products for cleaning. This can be as simple as using vinegar and peppermint!
5. Switch to light-emitting diodes (LED’s) for lighting. LED’s can last up to 50,000 hours!
6. Buy community supported agriculture at local markets and farm stand. There are over 60 in Lancaster County alone!
7. Reuse and recycle everything in your home.


Why reusing helps to save the planet and your wallet.

Reusing items is becoming more relevant in our society today. Most would think, “Why try to figure out ways to reuse something when you can just throw it out?” True. Easy, convenient and fast is the way most look at the world. Reusing products help keep toxic materials out of our landfills.

By purchasing products that can last long helps to eliminate buying the product over and over again which can save you a tremendous amount of money in the long run. Reusing materials around the home also taps into your creativity and reduces your cost of living.

Just buy a new home and thinking about hiring an interior designer for your interior decorating? Think again. Most of the materials in your home that you may want to get rid of can be either recycled or reused in your home with a little creative thinking. If you start rummaging through your home and find old items that you want to get rid of put them to the side and come back to them, you will be able to use it one way or another.

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Stay in Style and Never Go Out of Style

About 90 percent of the items that are found at Mommalicious are reused and recycled. Mommalicious is located on North Queen Street in downtown Lancaster and specializes in vintage clothing, furniture, accessories and much more. Storeowner Alicia finds most of the items in her store no more than 15 minutes outside of the area. All of the items that we may normally view as “out of style” are brought back into style at Mommalicious. Check out this great vintage shoe collection and dining section.

(Photos by Kristina Varnalis)

Mommalicious carries items that we may have forgotten about as adults. The outstanding toy collection and the old school candy selection makes one reminisce of the days when being a child was taken for granted.

Vintage candy shop and toy shop! (Photos by Kristina Varnalis)

Located inside Mommalicious is business partner My Aunt Debbie. My Aunt Debbie uses originality and creativity to craft handmade pieces of jewelry, art, clothing, and home accessories from old artifacts that we may not primarily see as art. If you open your mind to this type of creativity you may waste great pieces of art that are found right in your home.

This ornament is made out of items that you can find lying around the house and also great wall hanging made from Scrabble pieces. (Photos by Kristina Varnalis)

Not only is Mommalicious and My Aunt Debbie a great place to find oldies but goodies you may also feel inspired in a way you might not have been before. You must to learn to think simple to live simple and to open your mind to great ideas.

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Think Outside the Box or Should I Say Junk Drawer…

Take a moment to look through that infamous “junk drawer” in your house and pick out five pieces of “junk” and try to come up with a creative way to use them together. You may be surprised by your innovative abilities.

If you are unable to think creatively at that moment then set the items aside and donate them to places that reuse materials.

Everyday Materials for the Creative Thinker

Lancaster Creative Reuse is a great place for inspiration! It is an arts and craft supply store located in downtown Lancaster on North Queen Street. Locals in and around Lancaster County are able to donate all materials to the store for others to benefit from. So if you are doing some spring or fall cleaning and find old materials that you want to throw in the “junk” pile try donating it to Lancaster Create Reuse for others to be inspired.

Lancaster Creative Reuse is also a place for an artist to visit and a great place for people who are looking for a little artistic encouragement. There are hundreds of fabrics, threads, paints, cards, and old magazines and newspapers that you may use for new ideas or even art.

The Lancaster Creative Reuse store offers an open area where local artists can set up and create pieces of art. Some of the pieces that were hanging from the walls and the floors that caught my eye were ones that were produced from recycled materials.

Can you guess what this might be?
(Photo by Kristina Varnalis)

A swan! (Photo by Kristina Varnalis)

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Hidden dangers in Your Home

  • Mold is a dangerous chemical that can be found in homes through wet and damp surfaces in the home. Mold can float through your home making the air harmful to your health. Some of the symptoms of mold include: Allergic reactions, can spur asthma attacks in people with asthma.
  • Asbestos is a fiber that is used in buildings as insulation and fire retardant. It is hazardous because once it mixes with the air quality and inhaled in significant amounts it can lead to certain types of cancers, typically lung cancer.
  • Carbon monoxide a hidden danger that has been recently starting to become a concern. It is highly toxic when breathed in large amounts and is odorless and tasteless so you will never know if you are inhaling the dangerous substance. Some symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, confusion, and fatigue and in serious cases it can cause seizures.
  • Lead was used in making many home products for years and in most homes in the states it is still present. Lead can typically be found in paint and is extremely hazardous especially to young children. Children tend to explore and put their hands on walls and in many things throughout the house. They then rub their eyes or put their fingers in their mouths. If lead dust gets into their system it can cause growth problems and damage to their nervous system.


Here’s Some Food for Thought

The majority of landfills are made up of hazardous waste that is damaging to human health and some of these can leak into our water systems that we use to brush our teeth, wash our dishes, drink, and bathe in.

Building Character is a warehouse that stores old scraps from other homes to be reused. Whether someone wants to purchase a new door to refurbish it and make it their own or turn an old window into a piece of art, the options are endless. There are hundreds of items in the Building Character warehouse that were found and donated by others.

The purpose of maintaining these items is to keep them out of the landfill and reuse the pieces over and over again.

Aisles of used and windows that can be refurbished, reused, or made into art!
(Photos by Kristina Varnalis)


Here is a window that was made into a chalkboard and another into a mirror!
(Photos by Kristina Varnalis)

All of the materials that went into originally creating these doors, windows, and sinks were mostly made with toxic paints and materials. By keeping them out of landfills it helps keep the environment healthy and it keeps us healthy.

The warehouse also serves as a gallery for local artists and designers to sell their items. It is a great place to go for creative inspiration. Hundreds of items in the Building Character warehouse are dedicated to reusing to create creative art pieces, jewelry and natural materials.

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If You Can’t Read the Ingredients on the Bottle, Pitch it!

(Photo by Kristina Varnalis)

Ever look at the back of your shampoo, conditioner, lotions, makeup and all the other beauty products you own? Most of the words we see on them we are not even able to read ourselves! How refreshing is it to look on the back of a product and read ingredients like; cinnamon, peppermint, lemon, sage and lavender? Sounds almost good enough to eat!

Robyn Atticks is the face and inspiration behind Shear Miracles by Robyn. Robyn has beauty products for everyone including babies, women, men, even pets!

Men and babies can be organic too! (Photos by Kristina Varnalis)

Robyn offers the purest products possible with professional results. Shear Miracles by Robyn is dedicated to spreading the organic revolution and is a nationwide seller. Vision salons are salons that are solely devoted to the revolution and sell and use a majority of Robyn’s products. These vision salons are not only dedicated to providing and supporting natural beauty but they aid in working with organizations to make the world a healthier place.

One example of this is partnering with Matter of Trust to collect and donate hair clippings to help clean oil spills around the world.

Not only is Robyn trying to spread the green beauty revolution but she serves as an educator for salons who are looking to go organic.

When walking into a salon, you KNOW you are in a salon with the overwhelming smell of hairspray, hair dye, bleach, shampoos, conditioners, and other hair products. Walking into a salon that is solely organic is a different experience. It feels as though you are walking into a normal shop that just happens to do hair. You are not bombarded with the fumes of harmful products.

In fact hairstylists that work in a more organic environment are healthier than stylists that work in a salon using damaging products. It is found that hair stylists have the most bronchial problems next to coal miners. Maybe it’s because salons still use dyes that contain ammonia, which can be found in explosives!

Here is a great collection of organic hair and makeup products that will leave your skin and hair
brand new every time! (Photo by Kristina Varnalis)


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Check the label and make sure to avoid these top ten ingredients:

  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Mineral oil
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Sodium Laurel Sulfate
  • FD&C Color Pigments
  • Polyethylene Glycol
  • Chlorine
  • Fragrance
  • Diethanolamine(DEA), Monoethanolamine(MEA), or Triethanolamine(TEA)
  • Imidazolidinyl Urea & DMDM Hydantoin


Try ditching those products that have tongue-twisting ingredients and stick to the basics.

One important ingredient that our bodies need is olive oil. Olive oil is not only great to use for cooking but it also great for your skin and is essential to help keep our skin young. Olive oil contains a great amount of vitamin E and is known to be able to prevent cancer. It is also known to relieve muscular pains, scrapes, burns and small cuts. Try incorporating olive oil into your beauty regimen by adding it you’re your bath, using it for your feet, nails, face, hands and lips.

Aloe Vera is also most popularly known to cure sunburns and burns in general. But it also serves more than one purpose. Aloe Vera can help dry skin become shiny and healthy. It can also block toxins from entering the body and helps oxygen flow into cells throughout the body. Not only does it protect burns and scrapes from getting infections it also serves as a wall for muscle and joint aches.

Ever think of using peppermint to relieve colds? Well now you can start. Peppermint can help prevent the common cold; especially with the weather changing from summer to fall and fall to winter. Peppermint may be just what you need in your medicine cabinet. Not only can you use peppermint as an alternative to medicine you can also use it to help create blood flow throughout that body during the cold winter months.

Try this: Rub peppermint oil on the soles of your feet and see how fast you start to warm up.

One of the most essential oils in peppermint is menthol. Peppermint is especially helpful with stomach and abdominal cramps. Why? The menthol that is contained in peppermint reacts with nerves of the body that sense cold. The cooling sensation can help relieve those nerves from the pain.

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Natural Soaps from the Bathroom to the Kitchen!

Splints and Daisies located on New Holland Avenue is a floral company that finds flowers that are grown locally and use no chemicals. Not only is Splints and Daisies dedicated to creating beautiful floral designs but they also offer a great supply of handmade soaps that will make your nose and body happy.

All of the soaps are created from all-natural products that include milk, honey, lavender, tea tree, peppermint and more. Most of the soaps are helpful in rejuvenating the skin. Natural soap products are known to cure skin problems such as acne, dermatitis and chapped skin. The wonderful scents of these products may also help to relieve stress, fatigue, migraines, and even insomnia.

Regular soap tends to leave the skin dry and tight because of the reactions among the different chemicals. Handmade soap uses all-natural products that are great for healing the skin and great for people who are hypoallergenic.

Splints and Daisies body collection (Photo by Kristina Varnalis)

Using organic soaps and lotions will make your skin not only soft but it will make your skin, your body’s largest organ and the inside of your body super healthy. Having a healthy body makes for a healthier life.

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Home is in more than one place.

When we think about living sustainably in the home environment we try to only incorporate in our actual home. But look outside of the home and figure out where you spend a majority of your time. For most we not only spend time at home but the majority of us spend time at work and/or at school.

In order to start living sustainable in the home we must start at the places that we spend most of our time.


Kids Can be Green Too!

What better ways to spread the green revolution than by having children start their own green initiatives? Most kids these days have toys that are battery operated and include new and ground-breaking inventions. We can start with the basics and give children toys that are simple so they are encouraged to use their imagination.

Teaching your child that hand-me-downs are “in” can help your child value toys and clothing. This will keep the shelf-life of clothing and toys that are not completely ready to be thrown out yet.

Wooden toys are a great alternative for children because they are not only classic they are also durable and longer lasting than toys made from plastic. Wooden toys are made from high quality and eco-friendly woods.

This wooden toy was created right in Pennsylvania
and is one of the first toy companies in America.
This can be found at Mommalicious. (Photo by Kristina Varnalis)

There are many reasons to purchase wooden toys. Toys made from plastic contain harmful substances that are damaging to a child’s health. Here are a few materials in toys that you should avoid:

  • Bisphenol-A (BPA) that acts as estrogen, which can destroy fertility and cause serious health problems. BPA carries the number seven recycling label. BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics and look similar to glass. Polycarbonate plastics are sometimes used to make baby bottles.
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is labeled number three and also poses serious health risks and is found in softer baby toys such as rubber ducks and toys that children chew on when teething. The compound in PVC toys is phthalates which can accumulate in the body and damage tissues and organs. PVC is found in a majority of children’s toys. Children’s’ bodies tend to be more vulnerable than an adult body. This makes PVC especially dangerous to a child’s health.


How to know if your child’s toy is made with these products?

If it says “BPA free” or “PVC free” then it is safe from these chemicals. If it does not state those words then it is most likely not free of the damaging substances.

By avoiding toys and products containing the above ingredients you can tap into your child’s creativity by reusing old items like clothing and toys.

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Here are some great ideas for your children to try:

  • Look around your home and find different items that you can turn into a piggy bank. This will teach your child to reuse items and learn the value of a dollar.
  • You can create art from almost any product in the home. So go on a small scavenger hunt around the house with your child and try to find different materials to create masterpieces. It can be as simple as a shoebox, bottles, or a toilet paper roll.
  • Also, get your child involved with the outdoor environment. Teach them the importance of our environment and get them to plant trees or create a garden that they can learn to take care of.

Children eat more, drink more and breathe in more air than adults based on their weight. It is especially important for children to be healthy in order to live a long, healthy life.

Pollution is everywhere; indoors, outdoors, in school and at home. The organic revolution is important not only to adults but especially children. Children are the future and if they start living a sustainable life and start using natural products today, it is inevitable that they will pass this on for generations and for our world to become greener one day at a time.

Upcycling is the New Recycling!

Why fill up garbage bags when you can upcycle everything! Upcycling is the new term used in the “green world” that is used to describe reusing items.

B.B. Bellezza found in Building Character's warehouse defines upcycling
for us.
(Photo by Kristina Varnalis)

Here are some great examples!

In reality anything can be upcycled and created into something spectacular! Just check out some of these creative ways to do so:

Handmade by Mamou transforms old sweaters into scarves
and can be found in Building Character's warehouse.
(Photo by Kristina Varnalis)


Wearable Art creates purses and wallets from old rugs and can be found
in Building Character's warehouse. (Photo by Kristina Varnalis)

.B.B. Bellezza creates handcrafted jewelry from upcycled game pieces, coasters made from ceramic tiles, magnets made from buttons and bottle caps and also dolls from reused clothing.

B.B. Bellezza's wall of upcycled magnets found in Building Character's warehouse.
(Photo by Kristina Varnalis)

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Looking for a new wardrobe?

Ever read the tag on your clothing. Take a closer look at it the next time you pick out a shirt or a pair of jeans to wear. Do they read wrinkle resistant or stain resistant? What types of chemicals are they putting on your clothing to make them so durable? It would be nice if all clothing could be wrinkle and stain free.

Let your clothes hang dry to save money. Why be in a rush when your clothes can have that fresh clean smell all week long.

With Americans trying to save money green is becoming the way of life for many. It is not about being like everyone else anymore; it is about saving money and living comfortably. A few years back it was cool for everyone to have the latest devices, clothing and technology. Some still live by having new products but most are cutting back a being more resourceful.

One way to start is by cutting back on those designer clothing lines and sticking with the basics. Not only are they unique but they are better to wear on your skin. Most think buying cotton clothing products are better for you. In reality cotton that is typically used in your clothing is grown using insecticides and synthetic fertilizers.

Cotton is known as one of the planet’s filthiest crops due to the dangerous amount of insecticides that are in it; this is the most dangerous pesticide to our health. Almost half of the pesticides that are in cotton clothing are deemed to be carcinogenic. In fact these pesticides are not only dangerous to you but especially for the farmers who grow the crop. Thousands of farmers die each year because of the exposure to the dangerous pesticides found in cotton.


Faster isn’t always better.

Choose organic cotton that selects natural alternatives to facilitate growing. Organic cotton is grown using natural sources such as plant and animal sources instead of dangerous fertilizers. Natural source that come mostly from plants and animals are better for you and the environment because they can breathe better and promote healthy growth, whereas using fertilizers promote faster growth but can leave roots to be toxic.

Not only is it important to buy more organic clothing with organic cotton but it is especially important to keep your clothes natural by using detergents without dangerous chemicals and that contain no phosphates.


You think going green is expensive?

Since hemp does not require pesticides or too much water to grow it is not as expensive to grow compared to other crops. You will actually be saving money in the long run.

Hemp is a great alternative to materials used in making clothing. Hemp is durable, long-lasting and requires no pesticides to grow. It is weather and mold resistant so it will last longer than your cotton clothing. Hemp is also safe to be blended with other clothing materials to create a variety for your wardrobe.

Hemp seeds have most of the necessary nutrients that we need on a daily basis to live. They include protein, carbohydrates, fatty acids, amino acids, calcium, iron and potassium.

Hemp seeds can also be turned into hemp seed oil that can be used to cook or used for your body. Since the fatty and amino acids in hemp seed oil they can be used on skin as well. Using hemp oil on your skin will leave it soft and able to breathe.

Hemp is not only used for clothing or for nutritional value. This versatile plant can actually be used for thousands of different uses. Here are only a few:

  • Paper products
  • Medicines
  • Bedding
  • Energy
  • Fuel
  • Construction materials

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Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Happy Life

To start taking steps toward a more simple life let’s try to sit back and relax for a moment. Meditation can help with this. Also, Reiki treatment is a great way to tap into your imagination and relax you like you never have been before. Reiki treatment is an old Japanese practice that uses energy from a Reiki masters own hands and that energy transfers into another person’s body. It helps to relax one’s mind and to create a more peaceful state of mind.

By using this ancient Japanese treatment technique you can sit down and take a load off. Life isn’t going anywhere as long as you slow down and enjoy it a little more. We as Americans have a tendency to live a fast life and we are always in a rush. For what? This is why simplicity needs to make it in our life.

Instead of taking medicines that make your day drag and make your mind feel muggy try herbal alternatives to those medicines. It can be as easy as growing your own herbs in a garden that are all natural and not harmful to the organs in your body.

If growing these seems like too much of a hassle you can always purchase natural ingredients at the store. They carry all your needs. You can actually find empty capsules at some stores and you can use them to create your own pills and vitamins.

Coming up with an alternative healthy medicine remedy and placing it into the capsules for you to take can help you get your health back in no time.

Creating your own vitamins to take on a daily basis can help avoid many sicknesses. These are just some of the best plants to buy and/or grow to keep your health on track:

  • Echinacea
  • Poultices

Echinacea is generally used to boost you immune system which in turn will prevent colds and fight colds. It can also be used to relieve pain and diminish inflammation. Echinacea is a great herbal medicine that can help treat a majority of infections that include urinary tract infections, ear infections, even athlete’s foot.

Poultices are used to release tension in muscles by creating consistent heat with the body. It helps heal the body by the skin absorbing the herb. Poultices are also used to help wounds heal faster by creating blood flow.

Slowing down is the key to a more sustainable more organic life. Growing up and living in a fast-paced society creates stress because everything we do is based on time management. All it takes is one day out of the week to sit down and think a little about how simple life can actually be. We only have one life to live so just try to enjoy it a little more and don’t let it pass you by with your day to day activities and by trying to be the fastest at something.


Why Go Local?

In this day and age it is hard to come across one-of-a-kind pieces of art, jewelry and home décor. Purchasing from local stores and markets supports the count. Most items are also one-of-a-kind so no one will have the same exact product as you.

Shopping locally is not only gives you rare products, it supports your local economy too!
Many Americans are tied down to their name brand products. If it is not a popular product that you can buy at the convenient store down the street then it isn’t worth buying. This is the thought process of many around the country today.

It benefits everyone!

  • Buying and supporting locally-owned businesses has proven to help to local economy significantly.
  • Most local business do not have to travel far and to make their purchases. This reduces transportation and therefore air pollution.
  • Each purchase is exclusive and different than products that are normally purchased.

Not only is purchasing from local vendors a great innovation, you are also able to build a close relationship with the owners and workers in the shops.

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This site was created by Kristina Varnalis at Millersville University of Pennsylvania

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