The Art of Gift-Giving

Organic Gift - fabric gift wrap

The art of gift-giving is a delicate one. Gift-giving helps define your association and bonds to other people. It also strengthens relationships. The history of gift-giving is as long as civilization itself. In ancient cultures, people gave gifts to their tribal leaders to show loyalty and affection. They tried to fashion unique gifts from natural materials such as bark, wood, and reeds. So, the first gifts were organic gifts!

A well-chosen present is a thoughtful expression of appreciation and affection. Think about some of the best gifts you have ever received. They are usually things you would never have bought for yourself, or something that utterly surprised you, or something that evoked memories of an earlier time.

Being a good gift-giver is more about your attitude and how much attention you are paying to those around you than anything else. If you see buying presents for other people as a chore or an unpleasant task, then you probably won’t be very good at it. If, however, you see it as a chance to demonstrate your caring and fondness for someone, then you are starting from the correct place.

The biggest thing you must do is resist the temptation to buy for yourself. You are trying to fulfill your recipient’s desires, not your own. This is not the opportunity to point out all the ways the recipient’s life is lacking or to try to improve them. You are not trying to force your value system onto the recipient.

Organic gifts are a perfect example of this. Some people shy away from giving organic gifts because they fear it will make too much of a statement and insult the recipient. But the fact is that you can find tons of organic gifts that are just great to have and would be pleasing to a recipient—whether they embrace an organic lifestyle or not.

By contrast, those who are invested in an organic lifestyle have reported that they have received gifts that were not organic. To them, this demonstrated either a lack of awareness and attentiveness on the part of the giver, or an unwillingness to purchase what the recipient would want.

Organic gifts are easy to give and easy to incorporate into what the recipient deeply desires. Organic products are widely available now. It’s easier than ever before to find organic products, which would be appropriate as presents.

If you are giving organic gifts to someone who does not share your passion for organic living, simply give them something you know they would want—organic or not. When you present the gift, do not make mention of its organic feature. Merely give the gift and let the recipient discover on her own that their beloved item is indeed organic. Let it be a bonus.

Share your gift-giving tips in our comments section.

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5 Tips for Hosting Outdoor Summer Parties

5 Tips for Outdoor Summer Parties

‘Tis the season for … outdoor parties!

Summer is the best time of year to open up your backyard and enjoy a peaceful, balmy evening with friends.  Fortunately, it’s easy to plan such an event.  Here are a few tips to consider for a successful and stress-free get-together:

Location:

Anywhere!  Your own backyard is often the perfect space to host a gathering, but fortunately this time of year offers lots of options.  Try setting up a space at the beach, your nearest park or recreation center, or the neighborhood pool.

Insect Control:

The only downside of beautiful summer weather is the hordes of mosquitoes it draws out.  Although it’s always a good idea to keep insect repellant on hand for guests, small insect-repelling candles are also a great way to keep the bugs at bay.  Light a handful of them throughout the area before guests arrive and check them regularly throughout the evening.  Amazon Lights offers great natural insect repellant choices in the form of incense sticks, cones and candles that have a wonderful scent and are highly effective.

Dining:

Although the food is an important factor to consider, one should also take care to provide plenty of water and other fluids so that party-goers may keep themselves hydrated in the hot summer weather.  Consideration should also be given to the provision of tables or other suitable dining surfaces.  Have some fun and be festive by setting the table with organic bamboo serve-ware.

Lighting:

If a party is being held in the evening, there are all kinds of creative ways you can provide lighting and create atmosphere. One option is to use solar party lanterns and string lights which are eco-friendly and colorful.  Another option are candles, which are great mood-setters and come in all kinds of decorative forms (as well as all-natural varieties)!  Christmas tree lights can also add a unique touch to an outdoor setting when strung in surrounding trees (try using colored lights if you’re feeling really daring).  Tiki torches and outdoor lamps are other viable options and can be helpful in creating a relaxed, casual atmosphere.

Go Green:

Maintain a sustainable lifestyle even while entertaining!  Serve food purchased from your local farmer’s market.  Recycle any empty bottles left over after the party.  Decorate with organic gifts, eco-friendly fluorescent lights, and other environmentally-safe ornaments.

Visit Charleston Naturally to check out more organic and eco-chic items, great for transforming any area into the perfect party atmosphere.

We’d love to hear your tips on how to host an outdoor summer party.  Post your tips in the comment section below!

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3. Beating the Heat

Beating the Heat

Beat the Heat Hot Summer Sun

Living in the humid Lowcountry, we know all the dangers of a full-fledged, hot summer day!

Of course, summer provides certain hazards no matter where you are.  It’s wonderful to enjoy an active, outdoor lifestyle, but be careful not to sacrifice your health in the process!  There are plenty of ways to keep yourself healthy and safe during the dog days of summer.

1. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially if you’re going to be outside!  Remember—if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated!  Prevent this from happening by hydrating constantly.

2. Wear sunscreen: Sunburn is one of the most common repercussions of a long day spent outside in the summer.  Make sure to apply sunscreen BEFORE you step outside, and continue to reapply consistently throughout the day!  Be sure to consider organic sunscreen options for the healthiest and most environmentally-friendly protection.

3. Watch the time: It is commonly agreed that the hours between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. are the most dangerous to be outside and should be avoided if possible.  Plan your days to minimize exposure to heat and sun.  If you must be outside during this time, try to schedule activities near an air-conditioned building in case you become overheated.

4. Use a buddy system: Summer is the prime time of the year for accidents, thanks to the increase in outdoor activity.  Always be safe and take a friend with you on any excursion, particularly if you will be swimming.  Two heads are always better than one.

Check out more ways to protect your body, such as sun-shielding hats, organic sunscreen and more.  A few of our favorite organic sunscreen brands are COOLA Suncare and Erbaviva.  Erbaviva excels at developing and producing organic products for babies and have a wonderful organic sunscreen that works for adults and children.  COOLA specializes in organic sunscreen for special uses such as their Sport Organic Sunscreen and Face Organic Sunscreen.

Is Your Sunscreen Organic?

If you are trying to be more conscious about your skin and hair care choices, you may find yourself puzzled by the terms “natural” and “organic.” Is there a difference between “natural,” “organic” and “regular” sunscreen?

The answer is yes and no.

The FDA has set no standards regulating what constitutes “natural.” Many companies use the terms “natural” and “organic” interchangeably. However, informed environmentally conscious consumers have gotten wise to the label “natural.” Many companies use the term “natural” to entice people to buy their product when in fact most people would not consider the item natural at all. But since “natural” is an unregulated term, the companies get away with it.

Sadly, some products labeled “organic sunscreen” contain chemicals such as octyl methoxycinnamate, which the Organic Consumers Association has deemed as both a chemical and unsafe.

The bottom line is that you need to read the labels. Even if a product claims to be organic or natural, you need to be vigilant. If it’s a company you trust, then you can probably relax a bit. But when you’re buying from a new or unfamiliar company you need to pay close attention to the list of ingredients.

Organic sunscreen should contain non-synthetic or toxic ingredients. The National Organic Program (NOP) is overseen by the FDA. However, the FDA has no set definition of organic either. Like the marketing term “natural,” companies have a lot of leeway. However, the NOP has developed a definition as well as a labeling regulation based upon the percentage of organic ingredients in a product. Keep in mind, however, that the FDA does not enforce any of the policies. Thus, how much meaning do they really have?

So if you see sunscreen labeled as organic, it should have at least a percentage of organic ingredients and be clearly noted in their list of ingredients. It’s up to you to read the label. Natural sunscreen may mean nothing at all. Regular sunscreen will simply say “sunscreen.”

Organic sunscreen made by a reputable company, such as COOLA Suncare, or John Masters Organics, will be absent toxic chemicals and dangerous materials. Its ingredients will be good for the body, enhancing its natural defenses and resources. If you want to buy organic sunscreen, be sure to read the ingredient list carefully and educate yourself as a consumer. Most organic companies have a standard that they abide by. Thus, a company who routinely produces organic products would be a safe bet to produce organic sunscreen.

Organic sunscreen is a great way to protect yourself and protect the environment.

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Gift Ideas for the Organic & Green Lifestyle

If you are looking for organic gifts, then you are in luck. There are more organic gifts available now than any other time. You can find quality organic companies, committed to environmental consciousness. If you have dedicated yourself to living a more green lifestyle, then organic gifts should be part of your routine. Once you get into the habit of buying organic gifts, it will get easier to continue doing so for everyone on your list.

If you’re committed to giving organic gifts for all the gift giving occasions you encounter, then it makes sense to go ahead and get acquainted with companies who provide organic products worthy of gift giving. You want to seek out a plethora of products because you want to honor your recipient’s preferences. You may need to buy for a sports enthusiast or for a young mother.

Organic gifts can be purchased ahead of time and stored until you are ready to for your gift-giving occasion. You will enjoy the look on your loved one face when they peel back the wrapping and see the carefully selected organic gift you have for them. Gifts show our affection for others and express our feelings of fondness and care.

Some companies have begun giving organic gifts to valued customers and employees. Many organizations and corporations have grown environmentally conscious and aware. Organic gifts are seen as the gift that gives back.

Finding organic gifts is not difficult to do. Once you have decided the type of gift your recipient would cherish, try to find the item from a company committed to producing and selling organic products. A quick internet search will likely yield many options in organic products regardless of what you had in mind for your loved one or friend.

When you give organic gifts, you know you are giving something that is not only good for the environment, but for the recipient as well. In fact, many organic products contain ingredients that are actually beneficial to the recipient. Many organic products have ingredients with antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are the gift that keeps on giving. Giving organic gifts makes you feel good because you are doing something good for everyone involved.

Whether the occasion is a birthday, anniversary, Valentine’s Day or Christmas, there are organic gifts to suit your needs. Show you care by buying organic gifts for the ones you love the most. You will be glad that you did and so will they.

Facts About John Masters Organics

John Masters was a natural at cutting and coloring hair. From his humble Niagra Falls beginnings, Masters catapulted into first-rate jobs in Miami and Manhattan. He quickly became the go-to stylist for the stars.

However, his interests quickly turned to organics, in part because of his experience in hair salons. Surrounded by harsh chemicals and toxins all day, Masters easily saw the benefits of natural products. He wanted to create organic hair products. His quest for a toxin-free salon led him to begin styling his clients in his apartment and utilizing European products. He continued to experiment with toxic-free materials.

By 1991, Masters developed his initial organic hair product, which he called Dry Hair Nourishment and Defrizzer.

He proceeded with his study and experimentation with natural products. He branched out into essential oils. Perusing the aisles of health-food stores led him to other plant extracts and healthy living staples. He used these to continue developing organic hair products.

Not long after, he inaugurated his organic line of products, which he called John Masters Organics. His clients were as diverse as the Soho neighborhood in which he lived. He opened his neighborhood salon in 1994.

His salon was touted as a “clean air salon.” No perms were available in his salon due to the necessity of harsh chemicals. No manicures were given in his salon. The only color jobs performed in Masters Salon were the type that uses non-toxic chemicals. The products used by all stylists in his salon were all organic hair products.

By 2001, the salon expanded to the point that a new facility was in order. Masters relocated his Soho neighborhood salon to Sullivan Street. Masters also branched out into organic skin and face care. His paraben-free line was honored in 2004 with the Soil Association Award for Best Organic Product Line in Europe.

Masters’ clean air salon is a concept hair stylists may want to sit up and notice. A USC study revealed that stylists with only a year of experience are 50% more likely to have bladder cancer. Once a stylist has been in the business for 10 years, their increase raises five times to 500%. Stylists who have been working for three years have a three times higher incidence of breast cancer. Other studies show that stylists are at a much higher risk for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and leukemia.

Aside from a cancer risk, exposure to chemicals as a hair stylist can cause other health risks. The incidence of hay fever, asthma and eczema are quite pronounced in the hair stylist community.

The best way to reduce your risk as a stylist is to switch to a clean air salon. Using organic hair products will be so much kinder to your body, your skin, and your system. John Masters line of organic hair products is an excellent choice.

Baby Skin Care Tips for the Hot Summer Months

As the hot summer months approach, the sun becomes stronger, the humidity rises, and the heavy sweaters and jackets are tucked away for next winter. But with the summertime also comes dangers to your baby’s skin. So how can you ensure that your baby is healthy and happy during the summertime?

As many mothers already know, a baby’s skin is extremely delicate and highly susceptible to sunburn and heat rash. But what many mothers might not be aware of are the serious ramifications associated with heatstroke, sunburn, and heat rash. According to an article in Parents Magazine, “Overheating has also been linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), a fatal sleeping disorder. ‘Babies sleep deeply when they’re hot, making them difficult to arouse, which may increase the risk of SIDS,’ explains Bruce Epstein, M.D., a pediatrician in Pinellas Park, Florida.”

To ensure your baby has a happy and healthy summer, here are some tips for keeping your baby cool and smiling:

Dress your baby in breathable clothing: When you’re at home, let your baby’s skin breathe after a bath by not applying clothing for a few minutes. When you leave the house, dress your baby in clothing that covers his / her arms and legs, but be sure that these materials are light and breathable. Cotton is one of the best materials to use on your baby in the summertime. Also, be sure to dress your baby in light colors, which will help to deflect the heat of the sun.

If your baby starts developing a rash, remove his / her clothing, and apply a damp, cool cloth to his / her skin. Let the skin breath by not putting any clothing on the irritated spot for a few minutes.

Keep your baby’s skin cool: Use a damp towel now and then to pat your baby’s skin. This helps him / her to cool down if he / she becomes too hot. Because babies do not have developed perspiration systems, they can become overheated much quicker than adults. Be sure that the temperature of your baby’s environment is always controlled.

Use sunscreen every day: Even if your baby is not outside for long periods of time, you want to be sure to use sunscreen on any areas of his / her body that could be exposed to the sun. Even on overcast days, your baby can be burnt and is often at an even higher risk for UV penetration. Use a little baby hat and sunglasses for extra protection. Not only will your baby look adorable, but these accessories also help to prevent any UV rays from hitting the scalps or eyes.

If you happen to go to the beach with your baby, try to go after 2 pm. The sun is the hottest at midday, so try to avoid this time of day to take your baby to the beach. When you are at the beach, use a mini baby tent to protect your baby from the sun. Use sunscreen and proper clothing in addition to the protection of the tent.

Keep your baby hydrated: Babies, just like adults, need more liquids in the summer months as perspiration often occurs at a much higher rate than in the cooler months. If your baby looks flushed or feels warm, give him / her a bit of formula, or breast-feed to hydrate.

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From Charleston to Africa and Back: One Traveler’s Coolibar Hat Review

Coolibar Sun HatBy Michelle Salater

I’m not one for basking in the sun. Sure, I love being out and about in it, but I do my best to protect my fair skin.

It’s no surprise then that I frequently wear hats. I’ve been through quite a few over the past few summers—one so tight it caused headaches, another so loose it flew off at the slightest breeze—but none of them compare to the Coolibar Packable Wide Brim Sun Hat.

I recently took a 2-week safari through Zimbabwe. Being in an open game-drive vehicle and exposed to the intense African sun meant that I needed to load up on sunscreen and protect my face. The Coolibar hat did the job. Not only did it protect my face from rays, but its brim is also wide enough that it covered my neck and shoulders.

Hands down, it’s the most comfortable hat I’ve ever worn.

The internal sweatband and drawstring kept sweat from dripping down my face, and I was surprised at how cool the hat kept me. Because of the drawstring, I was able to tighten the hat enough that it stayed on without slipping or rubbing while keeping it loose enough to be comfortable around my head.

When I arrived in Harare, Zimbabwe, where I was scheduled to speak at a Big Africa business conference, the hat looked fashionable enough that I could wear it without seeming under-dressed. We went to lunch at a quaint outdoor restaurant, and I fit right in wearing my Coolibar Packable Wide Brim Sun Hat.

From Victoria Falls to the dry sandy Kalahari area of Hwange to the Eastern highlands to the banks of the Zambezi, the Coolibar Packable Wide Brim Sun Hat kept me protected, stylish, and comfortable.

Michelle Salater is an award-winning writer and president of Sūmèr, LLC, a company which specializes in web copy writing, SEO copywriting, and the promotion and marketing of websites after they launch. She shares copywriting and blogging tips for small businesses on her influential blog Copy Doodle.

Fresh Ideas for Your Garden

Tomato - Vegetable Garden

Summer is the perfect time of year for gardening! Warmer weather and longer days make for a great environment in which to spend time cultivating your green thumb. It’s also one of the best times of year to be growing your own food. Enjoy such yummy seasonal vegetables as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, and beans, fresh from your own garden! And, of course, there’s never a bad time to work on making that garden even greener. Gardening provides a great opportunity to implement some creative recycling and maintain a sustainable lifestyle.

Almost any container can be transformed into flower pot or plant grower. Old milk/water jugs, soda bottles, coffee tins, etc. are just a few examples of household items that can be filled with soil and returned to good use! If you keep an outdoor garden, try adding a little life to the area by recycling some of the same containers to hang in the trees as birdfeeders. You can also save your apple cores, banana peels, and other food remains to use as compost for the garden, thus making sure nothing goes to waste and contributing to your plants’ health at the same time.

You can also save space and increase the productivity of your garden by strategically placing different species together. Certain plants, when planted alongside one another, can actually establish a beneficial relationship. For example, corn can be sown alongside beans in order to act as a natural beanpole, a tradition harking back to ancient American civilizations. (For more helpful tips, checkout The Green Garden: Organic Crops in Pots which also makes a fabulous organic gift for the urban organic gardening enthusiast!)

Another factor to consider for home gardening is the pH of your soil. Have your soil tested to determine how acidic or basic it is.  Some plants thrive better in acidic soil, and some better in basic soil. Plan accordingly to best ensure the welfare of your crops or flowers.

Finally, be creative with your garden. Decorate! Make it a project. Birdfeeders, wind chimes, and garden statues make great additions to an outdoor garden. So do hand-painted flowerpots, homemade bird baths, and original artwork.

For more ideas to personalize your own garden or to give an gift to help a friend jump start her own organic garden, explore the wide selection of gardening items online at CharlestonNaturally.com.

Have your own fresh gardening idea? We’d love to hear from you – simply post your idea in the comment section below.

5 Ideas for Hosting a Green Bridal Shower

Azalea Park Summerville South Carolina

Summer weddings are a popular trend.  And why not?  What better time to host a beautiful outdoor wedding or reception than now?

Of course, along with the wedding comes the bridal shower.  Fortunately, it’s easy (and increasingly more common) to host an all-green bridal shower.

How do you create a green bridal shower?

Here are 5 green ideas sure to make the bridal shower you host stand apart from all the more traditional showers.

1.  Go paper-free or recycled-paper-only: Start with the invitations! Do your part for the environment by sending out invites on recycled paper.  Then, if you’re feeling particularly daring, go ahead and make the whole shower either paper-free or recycled-paper-only.  Some ideas for implementation include serving food on organic bamboo plates instead of paper plates and not using wrapping paper for gifts.

2.  Choose a gift theme: Speaking of gifts, try making a theme of organic gifts only. The bride will be certain to receive an array of creative, unique, and eco-friendly items to kick-start her new life!

3.  Find a green location: While you’re still planning, why not complete the theme by holding the shower in a “green” location?  Although it’s often tradition to hold the party in the home of a close friend, or perhaps a hotel or restaurant, try thinking outside the box a little (and taking advantage of the beautiful summer weather) by gathering in an outdoor location—perhaps the nearest botanical garden.  This will also help you to cut down on the stress and cost of decorating; the flowers and other foliage will provide a beautiful, natural ornamentation of their own.

4.  Use eco-friendly decor: If you do choose to host the shower indoors, keep up the green theme by using organic or environmentally friendly decorations.  Light up the room with natural light or energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs.  Avoid paper decorations, and opt to use fresh flowers or real garlands instead.

5.  Give back: Finally, use the shower as an opportunity to give back.  Play games for charity—and then offer organic products, eco gifts and other environmentally-friendly items as prizes for the winners.

Do you have ideas for green events or parties?  Please share them in the comment section below.