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Be Kind to Our Earth

Earth Day is right around the corner.  If you are still wondering what you should do this Earth Day, we rounded up a great list thanks to Inhabitat’s Tafline Laylin.  Our list included great reminders that help everyone remember what they love most about our planet. We hope you will join millions of people celebrating Earth Day on April 22nd.  You don’t even have to do something big, but if everyone did one small thing that would better the place we live that would make a huge difference.

1. Take a Hike

There is no better way to get back in touch with the Earth’s rhythms than to actually go outdoors and experience its many wonders. This Earth Day, why not take a hike or go for a bike ride? Maybe even go kayaking? The point is, get outdoors, breathe the air, feel the sun on your cheeks and absorb some vitamin D. Even if you live in the city and don’t have easy access to a lot of green space, you’d be amazed how even spending a short amount of time in an urban park will rejuvenate your soul.

2. Get involved in a community garden

If you have never experienced the magic of rolling up your sleeves and digging up some earth, then now is the perfect opportunity. Gardening is a wonderful way to reflect on how much we depend on the earth for our survival. If you don’t have your own garden or you live in a city, don’t fret. A quick google search should lead you to at least one communal garden or rooftop garden and we’re almost certain they won’t turn down your help. Plus you’ll get to meet new people who love the planet as much as you.

3. Do a Home Energy Audit

Not everyone has their own home, but if you do, nothing tells the planet “I love you” more than a home energy audit. Since most of the world is still powered by fossil fuels, that means your home is too, and if energy is pouring out of it because of poor construction, you are inadvertently releasing unnecessary greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. Don’t feel guilty about it because it’s not your fault, but you can make a difference by calling up a certified auditing company to audit your home. They will tell you exactly what steps you need to take in order to tighten up your energy efficiency, like sealing windows and unplugging appliances.

4. Clean Out your closet and donate to a charity

It may not always be so obvious, but manufacturing new clothing requires both energy and water, and there are many people who don’t have money to buy their own. So this Earth Day, why not clean out your overstuffed closet and then donate those t-shirts and shorts you haven’t worn in years to a local charity. Not only will this make you feel good about lightening your load, but the people who receive your lightly used clothing will so thankful you’ll wonder if it’s Christmas and not Earth Day!

5. Write a letter to your government representative

The original Earth Day was organized by Gaylord Nelson, a US senator from Wisconsin who was eager to mobilize the kind of energy that made the Vietnam-era protests possible in order to demand environmental justice. In the spirit of this history, why not use Earth Day as an excuse to write that letter you’ve been meaning to send to your local government representatives. Although it doesn’t always seem so, every person matters, so whether you are particularly concerned about water issues or fracking, write your letter on April 22, 2012 and make your voice heard.

6. Plant a Tree

It might sound like a bit of a cliché, but planting trees is by far one of the most important gifts we can give back to the planet and to ourselves. Global warming is caused by a buildup of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere (such as carbon dioxide and methane), which traps heat on the planet. But trees have the ability to suck up carbon dioxide, which is why the Amazon and other forests are so important. If every person on the planet plants one tree, that amounts to nearly 7 billion new carbon sponges. You can plant a tree in your own backyard, or join a group.

7. Volunteer for an environmental charity

Earth Day is an excellent day to volunteer. There are countless charities all over the planet that are raising money, cleaning up rivers, teaching classes, and in general engaging in the kind of earth-friendly work that will not only last today, but that will continue throughout the rest of the year. If you’re not sure about where to spend your valuable resources, contact the Earth Day organizers and they will direct you to the most suitable program for you.

8. Watch koyaanisqatsi

Sometimes we get so caught up in the rat race that we fail to take stock of the damage we, collectively, are doing to the planet. It’s times like these that we might need a little creative and there’s no better place to get that than Reggio’s first film in the Qatsi Trilogy- Koyaanisqatsi. Named after a Hopi Indian word that means “life out of balance,” Koyaanisqatsi explores the relationship between technology and the environment in an apocalyptic film that doesn’t look so different from today’s reality. It will give you a serious wakeup call and inspire you to do everything on this list every day of the year.

9. Go vegan or vegetarian for the day

If you’re already a vegetarian or vegan then this might not be for you, but if you eat meat then this is something that you can do that will make a staggering difference. Both raising beef and the pesticides used are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention meat’s harmful impact on your health. For one day, why not try eating a delicious vegan or vegetarian meal. If you keep an open mind you’ll be surprised how delicious it can be. If you’re not confident about your own cooking, go with a friend to a vegan or vegetarian restaurant in your area. Just for a day. You never know, it might become a habit.

10.  Throw a green party

We forget sometimes that life is something that is worth celebrating. The very fact that we exist is one of the greatest miracles imaginable, so why not use this day as the perfect opportunity to hang out with your favorite green mates. Pull out the biodegradable silverware, or buck up and use your own, brew some organic beer, cook some good wholesome food, and spend time with the ones you love. Being part of a community is one of the most important aspects of eco-conscious living that not only benefits the planet, but you as well.

Prepare for going out of town

Tis the season for holiday travel to start to appear on everyone’s mind. Thanksgiving is around the corner and that means people from far and near will be traveling to see their families. This is the perfect time to review some of the most basic things you can do to make sure your home is vacation safe so you can sit back and enjoy your time away.

1. Place Mail & Deliveries on Hold

USPS has a very easy to use online mail hold form that is available for most addresses.  If you don’t have the online option, you can fill out a form at your post office or ask your postal carrier for a form.  If you’re expecting a UPS or FedEx delivery, contact them with your tracking number and they should be able to hold your packages for a limited time at one of their facilities.  Also place other deliveries like newspapers, water, or food on hold.

2. Outside Your Home 

Do a cleanup of the outside of your home.  You want it to look lived in, not abandoned.  See if you can set up your exterior lights on timers.  Especially if you have holiday lights.  If you might get snow while you’re gone, ask a neighbor to walk around your door and property so they leave footprints.  You can even ask a neighbor to park in your driveway while you’re gone.



3. Tell a Trusted Neighbor 

If you have a neighbor who you know and trust, let them know when you’ll be gone and ask them to keep an eye on your property.  Leave your contact information so they can reach you if there are any problems.

4. Interior Lighting 

Place light timers on some lamps.  I like the ones that have a random setting so that it’s more realistic when you’re gone.  There are some that will use a set time and then vary it by a random 1-30 minutes so it’s not coming on at the same time every day/night.  These can be found at your local home improvement store or even online.

5. Dishes 

Don’t leave any dirty dishes sitting around while you’re gone.  You don’t want to come home to any mold or stink!


6. Food & Garbage 

Empty out your fridge of any perishables that could rot while you’re gone.  Also get rid of any fruits or vegetables that may be on your counter.  It’s a good idea to take your garbage out just before you leave too.

7. Unplug Electronics

Go ahead and unplug most of your basic electronics and appliances (tv, toaster, computer, etc).



8. Thermostat 

Adjust your thermostat so you can save money on heating or cooling when you’re gone.  Take into account that you don’t want to go too extreme on your settings.  We like to set our heater to 50-55 degrees when we’re gone.  We don’t have air conditioning, but I would suppose you could set it to 90 degrees in the summer.  Keep in mind that if you have any pets, you’ll have to keep your thermostat at a more moderate temperature for them.

9. Check All Your Windows 

Make sure they’re all locked and close the blinds/curtains.




Do you have any other tips you do each time?  Let us know in the comments below.

Stay Sane During The Holidays pt. 2

One of the best ways to get through the holiday season is with some good sleep under your belt each night.  Sometimes its nice to have a little refresher on tips that might help us sleep that much better as we transition into days where it isn’t so sunny and easy to get out of bed in the am.  Enjoy these six tips to help you feel motivated and refreshed when its time for you to get out of bed each morning.

1. Set A Sleep Schedule

Having the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends helps to regulate your body's clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.



2. Meditate or Breathe Deeply

This technique helps reduce your heart rate and blood pressure, releases endorphins, and relaxes your body, priming you for sleep. Inhale for 5 seconds, pause for 3, then exhale to a count of 5. Start with 8 repetitions; gradually increase to 15.

3. Blackout Shades & Other Light Sources

Light tells your brain that it’s time to wake up, so make your room as dark as possible for sleep. Even a small amount of ambient light from your cell phone or computer can disrupt the production of melatonin (a hormone that helps regulate sleep cycles) and overall sleep.

4. Circadian Mood Lighting to help with Sleep & Energy

When circadian rhythms are disrupted by improper illumination, melatonin production decreases. Consequently, so do the hours of restful sleep. Grouchiness and moodiness follow. And we’re not very fun to be around.  On the other side of the coin, sunlight also increases the production of serotonin, the hormone that elevates mood and enhances alertness. Under its influence, we’re the life of the party.

5. Aromatherapy to Relive Stress

Certain smells, such as lavender, chamomile, and ylang-ylang, activate the alpha wave activity in the back of your brain, which leads to relaxation and helps you sleep more soundly. Mix a few drops of essential oil and water in a spray bottle and give your pillowcase a spritz.

6. Dawn Simulation Alarm Clock

There is something beautiful about waking up naturally to the sun or break of dawn. It is different from when an alarm wakes you up too early.  A simulation alarm clock is the perfect alarm clock. It radiates low intensity light at first and then increases the intensity with time.

What new tip are you going to try?

Bark Away the Heat this Summer!

Glorious summer is upon us. And, while some of us may be looking forward to soaking up the sun in hopes of catching a tan, the same can’t be said for our furry friends. Animals have a different reaction to the warm weather than we do. After all, when’s the last time Fido seemed interested in donning a bikini and lathering on the SPF? Today’s post is all about keeping our pets happy and healthy on even the hottest of days. This means learning the telltale signs of overheating and pledging to be mindful of our animals’ needs before our own. Read on for easy tips that could just save the life of your four-legged friend!

1.     Learn the signs of overheating to prevent heatstroke

Dogs are more susceptible to heatstroke than humans because they don’t sweat like we do. If it’s especially hot outside, watch out for sluggish or confused behavior, hard panting, or a tongue that appears bright red in color. These warning signs will tell you that your dog is overheating and needs to be tended to.

2.     Invest in a cooling mat

One simple way to offer your pet a break from the heat is to invest in a cooling mat. The benefit here is that this mat will be for your pet and your pet only, so it will always be in the same place and your pet will always know where to find it. Cooling mats are an especially great option for pet owners who leave the house for large amounts of time to go to work. Don’t leave your best friend alone in the heat; consider a cooling mat!

3.     Fresh water and shade

If you’re ever in a situation asking yourself ‘is this a safe environment for my pet?,’ double check for the bare necessities: fresh water and shade. If your animal has plentiful access to these two things, breathe a little easier.  If you’ve provided these two resources, along with continual supervision, your pet will be much more comfortable in the warm temperatures.

4.     Do the asphalt test

Before you decide to saunter out for a mid-afternoon walk with your pet, make sure to do the asphalt test by firmly pressing the back of your hand against the asphalt for at least 7 seconds. If it’s too hot for you to handle, it’s too hot for your pet.

5.     Safe rather than sorry!

Never delay treatment for an animal you suspect to be suffering from heat exhaustion or heatstroke. As pet owners, we are the only ones responsible for helping our animals. Never neglect your duty as the primary caretaker of your pet — see your local vet in any questionable circumstances regarding the health of your pet.

Have any pro tips on keeping your animals cool in the heat of summer? Share with us in the comments below!


Beat the Heat: Summer 2016 Edition

We all know the feeling: it’s the middle of summer and your thermostat and pocketbook are playing a nasty game of tug-o-war. The heat is unbearable and there’s nothing worse than paying the price of sleepless nights and sweaty days (well, other than paying the actual price of the astronomical air conditioning bill). Already dreading this all too familiar charade? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered this summer! Read on for five effective ways to beat the heat without breaking the bank.

1. Close the blinds!

            Don’t forget to close the blinds (especially on a side that’s in direct sunlight during the hottest parts of the day)! Sunlight streaming through the windows for hours at a time can send indoor temperatures skyrocketing, so make closing the blinds a part of your morning routine.

2. Turn off the lights!

            Lights have a lesser effect on indoor temperatures, but it’s 2016, people! If you haven’t made a habit of turning off the lights before you leave your place, now is the time to start. Plus, we’re trying to cut costs here, remember? Let’s not be paying for our lights to stay on while no one is home, friends.

3. Set the thermostat while you’re away!

            Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually more efficient to leave your thermostat set between 83° and 85°F while you’re out. This does mean that the air conditioning will be running while you’re at work, but it also prevents it from going into override when you arrive home to a sweltering apartment. Once you’re home, your air conditioner will reach a comfortable temperature in less time with less required energy — a win-win for your bills and patience!

Quick tip: The most cost effective temperature to set your thermostat to is 78°F. Even a 5 degree difference can mean a difference of 40% in your electric bill.

4. Run your ceiling fans!

            Running ceiling fans while you’re at home circulates the cool air from the AC at a reduced cost. This way, your entire apartment can enjoy every penny you’re spending to generate cold air. This one is a no brainer!

5. Consider a portable air conditioner!

             Consider turning off your central air at night and relying solely on a portable air conditioner to cool your bedroom in the evenings. The initial investment could save you big time in the long run.  

With the help of these five tips, your summer is sure to be cool and cost effective. So, go ahead — treat yourself today, because your summer piggy bank just grew a little cushion thanks to your friends at Hayden Properties.

How will you #beattheheat this summer? Tell us all about it in the comments!