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Seattle Natural Awakenings

Natural Awakenings

Make Mulch
October 2014

Enrich Garden Soil Naturally

mulchHomeowners with gardens have many natural, organic and sustainable options for mulching, which enriches soils with nutrients, helps retain moisture and controls weeds. In most regions, many types of trees can provide ingredients. In northern areas, ridding the yard of fall leaves yields a natural mulch.

Apply ground-up leaves, especially from mineral-rich oak and hickory trees, so they biodegrade by growing season. OrganicLandCare.net suggests choosing from double-ground and composted brush and yard trimmings; hemlock, pine, fir and Canadian cedar; and ground recycled wood.

 
Energy Efficiency Improves Family Health
October 2014

Good for the Environment and Personal Well-being

houseResearch from Columbia, Maryland’s National Center for Healthy Housing suggests that adding insulation and more efficient heating systems can significantly increase the health of household residents. The researchers studied 248 households in New York City, Boston and Chicago that underwent energy conservation improvements by trained energy efficiency professionals, including installing insulation and heating equipment and improving ventilation. After the improvements, subjects reported reductions in sinusitis (5 percent), hypertension (14 percent) and obesity (11 percent).

Although a 20 percent reduction in asthma medication use was reported, two measures of asthma severity worsened; the scientists called for further study of the asthma-related outcomes.

A similar study from New Zealand’s University of Otago examined 409 households that installed energy-efficient heating systems. Children in these homes experienced fewer illnesses, better sleep, better allergy and wheezing symptoms and fewer overall sick days. In examining 1,350 older homes where insulation was installed, the research also found improvements in health among family residents.

 
Yoga Practice Pumps Up Detoxifying Antioxidants
October 2014

Three Month Study Finds Health Benefits

yogaIndian researchers recruited 64 physically fit males from the Indian Air Force Academy for a three-month study of yoga’s effect on detoxification. For three months, 34 of the volunteers practiced hatha yoga with pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation. The other 30 volunteers underwent physical training exercises.

At the end of the study, blood tests found significantly higher levels of antioxidants, including vitamin C and vitamin E, among subjects in the yoga group. These participants also showed lower levels of oxidized glutathione and increased levels of two important antioxidant enzymes, superoxide dismutase and glutathione reductase, all indicating better detoxification. Meanwhile, the exercise-only group showed no changes in these parameters.

 
Cell Bill
September 2014

Overcharging Mobile Devices Wastes Money

phoneSmartphone maker Nokia estimates most devices need only about two hours to fully charge, making overnight charging highly wasteful; users also should disengage and unplug chargers from the wall when they’re done. Another helpful tip fromBatteryUniversity.com is not to wait until cell phone power is nearly or completely depleted before recharging, because full discharges put a strain on the battery that can shorten its lifespan.

Umbra Fisk, an environmental columnist at Grist.org, advises using a power strip and even a timer as parts of a central charging area for all mobile devices to facilitate monitoring and reduce overcharging. Energy Star-qualified (EnergyStar.gov) cordless phones demand about half the energy of standard units.

Energy Star reports that the average U.S. household spends $100 annually to power devices while they are off, constituting nearly 10 percent of annual electric utility bills and amounting to an annual total of 100 billion-plus kilowatt hours of U.S. electricity consumption and more than $10 billion in annual energy costs.

 
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