By Courtney Lindwall
If you're one of those people cooped up safely at home, with creative energy and free time to spare—count yourself lucky. Here, we've rounded up a list of two dozen environmental projects that can make your time indoors, or right outside, a little brighter. Whether you're ready to start rescuing more of your kitchen scraps, sewing your own cloth napkins, or documenting those backyard butterflies, we hope these simple green ideas will provide a calming means of coping during these unprecedented times. Have fun and stay safe.
Experiment in the Kitchen<p><strong>Spice up mealtime with recipes from </strong><a href="https://savethefood.com/recipes/" target="_blank">Save the Food</a> that will also help prevent your food from going to waste. Make a fromage fort to spread on your crackers, or "scraps falafel" to use up wrinkly onions and wilted herbs. And for dessert, how about some <a href="https://savethefood.com/recipes/leftover-mashed-potato-apple-cider-donuts" target="_blank">leftover mashed potato apple cider donuts</a>? </p><p><strong>Rescue wilting herbs.</strong> Make <a href="https://savethefood.com/storage" target="_blank">herb oil ice cubes</a><a href="https://savethefood.com/storage" target="_blank"> by </a>packing diced herbs into an ice cube tray, covering with olive oil, and freezing. Thaw for ready-made flavor in your next dish. You can also transform less-than-fresh herbs into sauces, like chimichurri or pesto, or roast them and mix with salt to create longer-lasting seasonings. </p><p><strong>Start a windowsill herb garden. </strong>You'll need some seeds or a small plant, an upcycled container like a coffee canister that leaves room for growth and drainage, and a sunny ledge. (The Herb Society of America can help you determine <a href="https://www.herbsociety.org/hsa-learn/intro-to-herbs/hsa-gardening-for-kids/light-indoor-gardens.html" target="_blank">the right dose of light and water for each species</a>.) In a few weeks' time, you'll be ready to add a sprig of fresh basil to your bowl of pasta or diced cilantro to your batch of guac.</p><p><strong>Arrange a plant-based recipe swap</strong> with friends and family, which will reduce your diet's climate impacts while creating some virtual community. (Remember: If <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/sujatha-bergen/saving-planet-starts-our-plates" target="_blank">every American cut just one hamburger</a> or about a quarter pound of beef out of their diet each week, we could reduce emissions by as much as taking about 10 million cars off the road each year.)</p>
Enjoy a Dose of Nature<p><strong></strong><strong>Make your own basic bird feeder</strong> using pine cones, twine, nut butter, and birdseed. <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B-rxsVfAvaa/" target="_blank">This video from the Feminist Bird Club shows you one way to do it.</a> Hang it on a nearby tree you can spot through your window, then grab a pair of binoculars and do some armchair birding!</p><p><a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/how-and-why-be-seed-savior" target="_blank"><strong>Create an herbarium</strong></a>—a scrapbook of pressed, dried flowers or other plants. To prepare your samples, press the plant matter in a large book or between sheets of newspaper and place a weight on top. When the leaves are dry, mount them on acid-free paper to preserve them, and label each specimen on the page. You can also include illustrations, photographs, seed packets, and notes.</p><p><strong>Sharpen your naturalist ID skills.</strong> Try to identify every species of plant in your backyard or on a neighborhood walk. You can do the same for wildlife—and share your findings through <a href="https://www.projectnoah.org/" target="_blank">Project Noah</a>, a citizen science platform to discover, share, and identify wildlife.</p><p><strong>Grow new indoor plants</strong> with the use of stems and leaves, rather than seeds. Though it <a href="https://www.bbg.org/gardening/article/how_to_propagate_houseplants" target="_blank">depends on your individual plant</a> species, propagating houseplants is often as easy as cutting off a stem or leaf from an existing plant and sticking it in soil or fresh water. If it takes, a new root system should form within a few weeks—leaving you with a hearty second plant within a few more months. (Pro tip: This works for green onions too! Nearly submerge their sliced-off roots, end down, into a glass of water that you change every few days. Voilà: a nearly endless supply of scallions.)</p><p><strong>Observe monarch butterflies</strong> in your backyard and share your findings with Monarch Watch, an organization devoted to their <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/monarch-butterflies-get-head-start-schoolyard" target="_blank">conservation</a>. Each year, monarchs make a remarkable 3,000-mile trek from as far north as the southern parts of Canada to the mountains of Mexico and back—but these pollinators are <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/sylvia-fallon/monarch-butterfly-numbers-fall-again" target="_blank">in danger</a>. Register as one of Monarch Watch's citizen scientists to <a href="https://monarchwatch.org/calendar/?fbclid=IwAR1bawlAoraeMokwdiZa_GVONQqtDnqQxc_EM_UwzbO0zhq733PT6CQIgLc" target="_blank">help track the population's health</a>.</p><p><strong><a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/how-turn-your-patch-earth-barren-bountiful" target="_blank">Boost your backyard biodiversity</a>. </strong>Plant some milkweed—the main food source for monarch caterpillars and egg-laying habitat for the butterflies. Hang a bee nesting box somewhere it can get sunlight and warmth. Add a barn owl box or attach a simple roosting perch to a pole. For reptile enthusiasts, set up a small wood pile, using brush or old logs as shelter for lizards and snakes (plus fungi).</p>
Do Some Handiwork and Art Projects<p><strong>Make face masks </strong>for your friends, family, and workers on the frontlines. This <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/DIY-cloth-face-covering-instructions.pdf" target="_blank">Center for Disease Control guide</a> breaks down different techniques. If you're comfortable sewing, you'll just need two 10-by-6-inch rectangles of fabric, two pieces of elastic, and a needle and thread for each mask. The no-sew option only requires a T-shirt and scissors. Remember: Cloth masks should be cleaned regularly (the CDC says a washing machine is sufficient) in order to remain effective.<strong></strong></p><p><strong>Get your crayons out </strong>and do some therapeutic coloring. In honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and as part of a collaboration with NRDC, Studio Number One and its creative director, artist Shepard Fairey, have converted some of its archival activist artwork into <a href="http://www.studionumberone.com/free-downloads" target="_blank">black-and-white printouts for at-home coloring.</a></p><p><strong>Tackle your plastic bag stash</strong>, especially if your city or town is among those that recently banned the bag. Since current conditions may eliminate collection and recycling programs for plastic bags in your area, consider upcycling them instead. There are plenty of online tutorials for how to make outdoor pillow cushions stuffed with plastic bags, weave bags into <a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/Make-a-basket-out-of-plastic-bags/" target="_blank">sturdy baskets</a>, or wind them into jump ropes.</p>
Build Your Community<p><strong></strong><strong>Start an environmental movie club.</strong> Various apps let you host movie nights with friends online, so you can chat while you watch. You can find our recs for standout environmental films on <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B-QNBxqJAUR/" target="_blank">Instagram</a>—including <em>Poisoning Paradise</em>, <em>Virunga</em>, and <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/how-turn-your-patch-earth-barren-bountiful" target="_blank"><em>The Biggest Little Farm</em></a>—with short summaries and tips on where you can find them online.</p><p>Document the environmental changes in your community<strong>, as they relate to climate change, through the </strong><a href="https://earthchallenge2020.earthday.org/" target="_blank"><strong>Earth Challenge </strong>2020's online portal</a>. The project will collect billions of observations in air quality, plastic pollution, and insect populations, and your insights will help promote policy change to address our warming world.</p><p><strong>Tune in to a new podcast</strong>. We recommend <a href="https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/range/hot-take-4#/" target="_blank"><em>Hot Take</em></a>, featuring NRDC's own Mary Heglar and her cohost Amy Westervelt, which takes a critical but constructive, intersectional look at how climates issues are being covered in the media. And despite the weighty content of the podcast, laughter is one of its defining sounds.</p><p><strong>Connect with climate justice activists</strong> by following along with <a href="http://thisiszerohour.org/our-actions/#actions" target="_blank">Zero Hour's Getting to the Roots digital series</a>. Each week, it focuses on a different theme that is a root cause of the climate crisis as well as ways to solve it—through digital leadership training, webinars, virtual open mics on Instagram and Twitter, art competitions, and podcast releases.</p><p><strong>Write a </strong><a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/how-write-successful-letter-editor" target="_blank"><strong>letter to the editor</strong></a> that tackles one of the environmental issues facing your community that's close to your heart. The letter can be written in response to a piece that's already been published by a given media outlet, or it can be a proactive statement of support for or opposition against a particular issue that affects fellow readers. It's the perfect way to reach thousands of individuals and still remain publicly engaged without having to leave the comfort of your home.</p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD
Yeast is an essential ingredient in many bread recipes, including dinner rolls, pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, and most loaf breads. It causes dough to rise, resulting in pillow-like soft bread.
1. Baking Powder<p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/baking-soda-vs-baking-powder" target="_blank">Baking powder</a> is a staple ingredient in a baker's pantry. It contains baking soda and an acid, usually cream of tartar.</p><p>Like yeast, baking powder acts as a leavening agent. It works in two ways:</p><ol><li><strong>Reacting with liquid. </strong>When moistened, the acid reacts with the baking soda to produce carbon dioxide bubbles.<a href="https://www.johnson.k-state.edu/health-food-safety/agents-articles/3-key-chemical-leavening-agents-in-baking.html" target="_blank"></a></li><li><strong>Reacting with heat. </strong>When heated, these gas bubbles expand and cause the dough to rise.<a href="https://www.johnson.k-state.edu/health-food-safety/agents-articles/3-key-chemical-leavening-agents-in-baking.html" target="_blank"></a></li></ol><p>Baking powder reacts immediately when exposed to liquid and heat. Thus, unlike when using yeast, using baking powder does not require additional rise time. For this reason, it's used to leaven quick types of bread like pancakes, cornbread, biscuits, and cakes.</p><p>In baked goods, you can replace yeast with an equal amount of baking powder. Just keep in mind that the leavening effects of baking powder will not be as distinct as those of yeast.</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Baking powder causes baked goods to rise rapidly, but not to the same extent as yeast. You can replace yeast with baking powder at a one-to-one ratio.</p>
2. Baking Soda and Acid<p>You can also use <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/baking-soda-benefits-uses" target="_blank">baking soda</a> combined with acid to replace yeast. Baking soda and acid work together to cause the same reactions as baking powder.<br></p><p> However, using baking soda or acid separately will not make baked goods rise — you need to combine them for the reaction to occur. </p><p> Examples of acids to use alongside baking soda to replicate the leavening action of yeast include: </p><ul> <li>lemon juice</li> <li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/buttermilk" target="_blank">buttermilk</a></li> <li>milk and vinegar mixed in a one-to-one ratio</li> <li>cream of tartar</li> </ul><p> To substitute baking soda and acid for yeast in a recipe, replace half of the required amount of yeast with baking soda and the other half with acid. </p><p> For example, if a recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of yeast, simply use 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of an acid. </p><p> Like when using baking powder, using baking soda and acid does not require a rise time, and the leavening effects will not be as powerful as those of yeast. </p><p> <strong>Summary</strong> </p><p> <strong></strong>Baking soda and acid cause the same reaction as baking powder does, resulting in a quick rise. To use it in place of yeast, use 50% baking soda and 50% acid as a one-to-one replacement. </p>
3. Sourdough Starter<p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sourdough-bread" target="_blank"><br>Sourdough</a> starter contains naturally occurring yeast. It's made from flour and water and used to make sourdough bread, which boasts a slightly tangy flavor from the natural fermentation process of the yeast.<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27470533" target="_blank"><span></span></a></p><p>Some sourdough starters are maintained for years, continually fermenting to provide a strong flavor and soft, chewy texture to artisan sourdough bread.</p><p>Fermentation by a sourdough starter works in the same way as instant yeast, forming bubbles of carbon dioxide in the dough to make it rise.</p><p>You can use 1 cup (300 grams) of sourdough starter to replace one 2-teaspoon package of yeast.</p><p>If your starter is thick, reduce the amount of flour in the recipe, and if your starter is thin, either reduce the amount of liquid or increase the amount of flour to achieve the correct texture. Using sourdough starter instead of yeast also requires about double the rise time.</p><p><strong>How to Make Your Own Sourdough Starter</strong></p><p>Growing a sourdough starter takes a minimum of 5 days, but once you have one, it's easy to maintain and use. Here's what you'll need:</p><ul><li>at least 2 1/2 cups (600 grams) of all-purpose flour</li><li>at least 2 1/2 cups (600 mL) of water</li></ul><p>Here are the steps to make your own sourdough starter:</p><ul> <li><strong>Day 1: </strong>Combine 1/2 cup (120 grams) of flour and 1/2 cup (120 mL) of water in a large glass container and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Leave out at room temperature.</li></ul><ul> <li><strong>Day 2: </strong>Feed the starter with 1/2 cup (120 grams) of flour and 1/2 cup (120 mL) of water and combine well. Cover loosely and leave at room temperature. By the end of day 2, you should see bubbles forming, which means the yeast is growing and fermenting the flour.</li></ul><ul> <li><strong>Day 3: </strong>Repeat the steps in day 2. The mixture should smell yeasty and have a good amount of bubbles.</li></ul><ul> <li><strong>Day 4: </strong>Repeat the steps in day 2. You should notice more bubbles, a stronger and more sour smell, and that it's growing in size.</li></ul><ul><li><strong>Day 5: </strong>Repeat the steps in day 2. Your sourdough starter should smell yeasty and have many bubbles. It's now ready to use.</li></ul><p>To maintain your sourdough starter beyond day 5, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Use or discard half of it every week, and feed it with another 1/2 cup (120 grams) of flour and 1/2 cup (120 mL) of water.</p><p>Sourdough starter with any contamination of fuzzy, white, or colored mold should be discarded.</p><p>Given that it takes a minimum of 5 days to produce a sourdough starter, this yeast substitute is best if you already have a sourdough starter on hand, or if you can wait 5 days before baking.</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>You can use 1 cup (300 grams) of sourdough starter to replace 2 teaspoons of yeast. Still, you may need to adjust the amount of flour or liquid in the recipe and double the rise time. Making your own sourdough starter from scratch will take at least 5 days.</p>
The Bottom Line<p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/brewers-yeast" target="_blank">Yeast</a> adds airiness, lightness, and chewiness to baked goods, but in a pinch, you can replace it with alternative ingredients.</p><p>Baking powder, as well as baking soda combined with an acid, react in liquid and heat to create bubbles and leaven baked goods. These yeast substitutes react quickly, so they don't require a rise time. However, they may not result in as distinct of a rising effect as yeast would.</p><p>Sourdough starter can also be used, with results comparable to those of yeast. However, sourdough starter needs approximately double the rise time and you will need to adjust ratios of liquid and flour based on the thickness of your starter.</p><p>Although none of these ingredients will completely replicate yeast in a recipe, they're great alternatives when you don't have any yeast on hand.</p>
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By Tyler Wells Lynch
For years, Toni Genberg assumed a healthy garden was a healthy habitat. That's how she approached the landscaping around her home in northern Virginia. On trips to the local gardening center, she would privilege aesthetics, buying whatever looked pretty, "which was typically ornamental or invasive plants," she said. Then, in 2014, Genberg attended a talk by Doug Tallamy, a professor of entomology at the University of Delaware. "I learned I was actually starving our wildlife," she said.
SaSavanna Syndrome<p>In lieu of monocrops, landscapes with a larger, more diverse biomass of native species help support pollinators, sequester carbon, capture runoff, and rebuild habitats. <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190905094056.htm" target="_blank">One recent study</a> found habitats with two or three native tree species are on average 25 percent to 30 percent more productive than monocultures, meaning they contribute that much more food and energy to an ecosystem. Habitats with five native tree species were 50 percent more productive. Wildlife is drawn to lands teeming with native plants.</p><p>For individuals who'd like to live a more sustainable lifestyle, the simple message of planting more native species is both productive and rewarding — a refreshing contrast to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/true-north/2017/jul/17/neoliberalism-has-conned-us-into-fighting-climate-change-as-individuals" target="_blank">consumerist </a><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/true-north/2017/jul/17/neoliberalism-has-conned-us-into-fighting-climate-change-as-individuals" target="_blank">exhortations</a> that blame the collective problem of environmental collapse on individual shopping choices. Like anything else, real change has to happen at the macro level, especially when it comes to turfgrass — a crop with deep cultural, even evolutionary roots.</p><p>Sociobiologists refer to the preference humans have for vast swaths of low-cut grass as "Savanna Syndrome." Open grasslands allowed our primitive ancestors to keep an eye out for predators. So even today, on a deep level, we feel safer when we can see to the horizon.</p><p>Until the Industrial Age, the demands of agriculture kept lawns at bay. They were seen mostly as status symbols that said a person had enough money to brush off the territorial demands of farmland. The invention of the lawnmower democratized the lawn, and further embedded its pathological hold on our psyches.</p><p>But lawns require huge quantities of water and often chemical treatments to maintain them — not to mention the emissions produced by two-cycle lawnmowers. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, running a lawnmower for one hour <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010529234907.htm" target="_blank">emits as much air pollution</a> as driving a typical car 100 miles. This resource allocation becomes more and more difficult to justify as climate change continues to dry up once-productive habitats. As a monocrop, lawns displace landscapes that could benefit people, plants, animals, and insects. It's time for us to reconsider lawns on a grand scale, several researchers have concluded.</p><p>Considering how entrenched lawns are in the American imagination, to uproot them will require some give-and-take. Advocates say we need a culture shift as well as policies that support it.</p><p>"As climate change and droughts worsen, we might get to a point where there's political support to outlaw lawns," said Sarah B. Schindler, a professor of law at the University of Maine, who has written several papers about the legal authority of municipalities to ban lawns. "I do think we're seeing a change in norms, and I think part of that is tied to rising awareness of climate catastrophe."</p><p>Part of that work is simply raising awareness. Many people don't think about the possibility of their yards as anything but turfgrass. As Tallamy puts it, lawn is the default landscape, but it doesn't have to be. "People don't realize there's an alternative."</p>
Choosing Native Plants<p>Some communities are beginning to impose alternatives. In <a href="https://www.latimes.com/home/la-hm-ga-turf-removal-class-20190307-story.html" target="_blank">California</a>, <a href="https://www.coloradoindependent.com/2019/07/18/rebate-turf-replacement-water-conservation/" target="_blank">Colorado</a>, and <a href="http://cronkitenewsonline.com/2013/10/cities-offering-rebates-to-encourage-residents-to-convert-yards-to-xeriscaping/index.html" target="_blank">Arizona</a>, where water shortages are a growing crisis, cities offer rebates for each square foot of lawn replaced with native or water-saving landscapes—a process known as "xeriscaping." In wetter climes, <a href="https://doee.dc.gov/service/raingardenrebate" target="_blank">Washington, DC</a>, and cities in <a href="https://lincoln.ne.gov/city/ltu/watershed/grant/landscape.htm" target="_blank">Nebraska</a>, <a href="https://www.12000raingardens.org/about-rain-gardens/incentives/" target="_blank">Washington state</a>, <a href="https://www.cityofames.org/home/showdocument?id=3456" target="_blank">Iowa</a> and <a href="https://www.southstpaul.org/680/Rebate---Rain-Barrel-Rain-Gardens" target="_blank">Minnesota</a> have implemented rebate programs for the planting of rain gardens, which capture and infiltrate more runoff than grass. The city of <a href="https://www.alexandriava.gov/uploadedFiles/recreation/parks/Managed%20Meadows%20and%20Grassland%20Habitats%20in%20the%20City%20of%20Alexandria,%20Virginia.pdf" target="_blank">Alexandria, Virginia</a>, recently changed its municipal mowing to allow for the growth of meadows and glades in city parks. </p><p>Throughout the country, local groups are advocating for the planting of natives on roadsides, medians, campuses, and parks. Some, like <a href="http://www.foodnotlawns.com/" target="_blank">Food Not Lawns</a>, encourage homeowners and neighborhoods to replace lawns with edible plants to establish food sovereignty and food security within their communities. Others take a more clandestine approach by planting "guerrilla gardens" or tossing "seed bombs" into abandoned lots and properties where they don't have the legal right to garden.</p><p><span></span>"One thing that we've learned with our research is that there is room for compromise," Tallamy said. Native planting doesn't have to be all or none to make a difference. He gave the example of chickadee reproduction: If you have at least 70 percent native plant biomass in a given habitat, you can have sustainable chickadee reproduction. "That gives you 30 percent to plant perennials and exotics and other ornamental plants."</p><p>Tallamy's research into the relationship between native plants and insects has inspired gardeners to do more than just turn their yards into native oases. Many are now creating resources to empower others to do the same.</p><p>The National Wildlife Federation created a <a href="https://www.nwf.org/nativeplantfinder/" target="_blank">native plant finder web tool</a>, which allows users to plug in a ZIP code to find trees, shrubs, and plants native to their region. Following her horticultural revelation, Toni Genberg created <a href="http://choosenatives.org/" target="_blank">ChooseNatives.org</a>, a resource to help users find, purchase, and learn about native plants. Since switching to natives, Genberg herself has seen all sorts of wildlife return to a property that, before, was only a suburban simulacrum.</p><p>Matt Bright founded the nonprofit charity Earth Sangha with the goal of propagating and restoring local native plant communities in the DC area. "We've set records for total plants distributed from our wild plant nursery for four years running," he said. "And overall, the trend has been towards more demand from all corners, whether that's from park managers and ecologists, homeowners, or landscaping companies."</p>
Biodiversity Among Buildings<p>But shifting away from lawns is complicated by the fact that municipalities have long adopted rules called "weed ordinances," which require short ground cover for purely aesthetic reasons. This effectively mandates the planting and maintaining of lawns, as do many local zoning laws and HOA bylaws. And these rules aren't always taken lightly. In Michigan a few years ago, a woman <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/julie-bass-may-face-jail-time-for-planting-vegetables/2011/07/08/gIQAZZOv3H_blog.html" target="_blank">faced jail time</a> for growing a vegetable garden in her front yard instead of lawn.</p><p>People don't want to be told that they can't have their lawns, but they also don't want to be told that they have to have a lawn.</p><p>The elephant in the room, of course, is property rights. Limits and requirements can inspire backlash. As Genberg points out, "Americans don't want to be told what to do, especially when it comes to their properties."</p><p>That's why Tallamy has focused on talking to the public instead of advancing top-down regulation. Laws, especially bans, need public support to pass. To even think about regulating lawns you first need to change the culture around them. As people like Toni Genberg and Matt Bright show, Tallamy's message is resonating.</p><p>"What you do on your property affects everybody," Tallamy said. Nonnative or ornamental plants may not look like pollutants, but from an ecological standpoint, they are. Tallamy's research bears this out: A new paper from his team shows just how effective nonnative plants are at destroying local habitats.</p><p>"We compared caterpillar communities in hedgerows that were invaded with non-natives versus hedgerows that were mostly native," he explained. "There's a 96% reduction in caterpillar biomass when they're nonnative, so if you're a bird and you're trying to rear your young, you just lost 96% of your food."</p><p>But there's a flip side, he said. If you take the invasive species out and put the native plants in, you've just created 96 percent more food.</p><p>And this isn't some gardening trend reserved for America's suburbs and conservation lands. In Manhattan, the most densely populated urban center in the country, officials converted an abandoned railway line into a public park called the High Line, with a policy of planting at least 50 percent native species.</p><p>"There are monarch butterflies there, there are all kinds of native bees, which really surprised me," Tallamy said. "If you can do that in Manhattan, you can do it anywhere."</p>
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The aloe vera plant is a succulent that stores water in its leaves in the form of a gel.
Here’s What You Need<p>Aloe vera gel is easy to make using either the leaves of an aloe plant you have at home, or ones you've purchased at a grocery store or farmer's market.</p><p>To make aloe vera gel, you need:</p><ul><li>an <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/can-you-eat-aloe-vera" target="_blank">aloe vera</a> leaf</li><li>a knife or vegetable peeler</li><li>a small spoon</li><li>a blender</li><li>an airtight container for storage</li><li>powdered vitamin C and/or vitamin E (optional)</li></ul><p>It's best to only use one or two leaves at a time, as the gel only lasts about 1 week without additional preservatives.</p><p>If you plan to keep it longer, you need to freeze it or add a preservative in the form of powdered vitamin C or E.</p><p><strong><strong>Summary</strong></strong></p><p><strong><strong></strong></strong>To make aloe vera gel, you need some common kitchen items, an aloe vera leaf, and — optionally — powdered vitamin C and/or vitamin E.</p>
Directions<p>Once you have gathered all of the materials you need, it only takes about 30 minutes to make your aloe vera gel.</p><p><strong>1. Prepare the Aloe Leaves</strong></p><p>To use a fresh aloe leaf from a plant, first cut off one of the outer leaves from the base of the plant.</p><p>You can also use a store-bought leaf.</p><p>Wash it well, removing any dirt, and then stand it upright in a cup or bowl for 10–15 minutes. This allows the yellow-tinted resin to drain out of the leaf.</p><p>The resin contains <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/latex" target="_blank">latex</a>, which can irritate your skin, so completing this step is important (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26986231" target="_blank">1Trusted Source</a>).</p><p>After the resin has drained completely, wash off any remains on the leaf and peel off the thick skin using a small knife or vegetable peeler.</p><p><strong>2. Make the Gel</strong></p><p>Once the leaf has been peeled, you will see the natural aloe vera gel.</p><p>Using a small spoon, scoop it into your blender. Be careful not to include any pieces of the aloe vera skin.</p><p>Blend the gel until it's frothy and liquefied, which should only take a few seconds.</p><p>At this point, your gel is <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/7-amazing-uses-aloe-vera" target="_blank">ready to use</a>. However, if you plan on keeping it for more than 1 week, you should add preservatives.</p><p><strong>3. Add Preservatives (Optional)</strong></p><p>Vitamins C and E are excellent preservatives that can greatly extend the shelf life of your aloe vera gel.</p><p>Though the gel naturally contains some of these vitamins, it's not enough to preserve the gel for longer than 1 week.</p><p>Still, you can add more of one or both of these vitamins to extend your gel's shelf life.</p><p>Plus, both contain antioxidant and anti-aging properties, so these additions can help boost the skin-protecting power of your aloe vera gel (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29104718" target="_blank">2Trusted Source</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27559512" target="_blank">3Trusted Source</a>).</p><p>For every 1/4 cup (60 ml) of aloe vera gel you make, add 500 mg of powdered vitamin C or 400 International Units (IU) of powdered <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/vitamin-e-for-skin" target="_blank">vitamin E</a> — or both.</p><p>Simply add the powdered vitamins directly to the blender and mix the gel once more until the additives are fully incorporated.</p><p><strong>Storage Directions</strong></p><p>Prepared aloe vera gel without added <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-c-benefits" target="_blank">vitamin C</a> or E can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.</p><p>However, adding one or both of the vitamins significantly increases the shelf life to up to 2 months in the refrigerator.</p><p>What's more, you can freeze aloe gel in small batches — for instance, in an ice cube tray — to have small amounts at the ready. Frozen aloe gel can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>To make aloe vera gel, prepare the leaves, scoop out the natural aloe gel, blend it, and add preservatives if desired.</p>
How to Use Aloe Vera Gel<p>Aloe vera gel can be applied directly to your skin to address immediate skincare needs, such as <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/skin/aloe-vera-for-sunburn" target="_blank">sunburn</a>, minor cuts, and skin irritation.</p><p>It's an excellent moisturizer for your face and hands and can provide a protective antibacterial barrier for minor wounds (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26151005" target="_blank">4Trusted Source</a>, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26090436" target="_blank">5Trusted Source</a>).</p><p>Plus, it has antioxidant properties that may help protect your skin from the damaging effects of excessive sun exposure. Therefore, it's commonly used to provide sunburn relief (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26815913" target="_blank">6Trusted Source</a>).</p><p>Aloe vera gel is rich in unique polysaccharides, which are long chains of natural sugars that researchers believe give aloe its many <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/aloe-vera-for-eczema" target="_blank">skin-healing properties</a> (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18794775" target="_blank">7Trusted Source</a>).</p><p>What's more, it's rich in various vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, and E, which can help promote wound healing and healthy skin (<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2763764/" target="_blank">8Trusted Source</a>).</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Aloe vera gel can be applied directly to your skin to provide moisture, healing properties for minor cuts or wounds, and relief from sunburns and skin irritations.</p>
The Bottom Line<p>Aloe vera gel is a great moisturizer for your skin and may help heal and prevent skin damage.</p><p>Homemade varieties are a healthy alternative to store-bought products, which may contain <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/carcinogenic-ingredients-your-personal-care-products" target="_blank">harmful additives</a>.</p><p>It's easy to make this skin-nourishing gel at home using fresh aloe leaves, a blender, and a knife or vegetable peeler.</p>
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By Brian Barth
Many root vegetables are considered "cool weather" crops — they grow lush and juicy when daytime temperatures are in the seventies, but barely muddle through hot weather. Which is why we plant them as early in spring as possible. But fall is just as suitable a growing season; this is when, in times past, we would be filling our "root cellars," after all.
1. Purple Daikon<p>Shorter and plumper than the usual long white varieties, heirloom purple daikons are an excellent choice for adding to kimchi and pickled vegetables. 40 days to maturity.</p>
2. Oasis Turnips<p>Similar to the famed Hakurei turnips, this is a small, sweet variety suitable for eating fresh in salads. 50 days to maturity.</p>
3. Chioggia Beets<p>Also known as candy cane or candy-striped beets, this heirloom may be cooked, but is often consumed raw or pickled. 60 days to maturity.</p>
4. Watermelon Radish<p>The color alone makes this radish worth growing, but it is also known for being on the sweet side. 60 days to maturity.</p>
5. Cosmic Purple Carrot<p>There are many purple carrot varieties out there these days, but this newer one, which has yellow-orange flesh, matures faster than most, making it an ideal choice for fall gardening.</p><a target="_blank" href="https://www.facebook.com/share.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fmodernfarmer.com%2F2019%2F08%2Ffive-root-crops-to-plant-now-for-a-fall-harvest%2F"><span></span></a>
By Brian Barth
Where I come from — the Deep South — iced tea is a religion. Traditionally, most Southern families make it with Lipton tea bags, a little lemon and a lot of sugar. The sole ingredient in those Lipton bags is black tea, which comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. The species was once grown on a limited commercial scale in the South, but today it's produced primarily in Asia. Gardeners in mild-winter areas can grow the traditional "tea" plant (warning: it's finicky), but green thumbs everywhere can easily grow perfectly suitable substitutes that combine into a delicious, caffeine-free iced tea.
1. Mint<p>There are innumerable mint varieties and most spread like weeds, so you might want to confine your mint to a pot or planter. Spearmint has a sharper flavor, with an abundance of that prototypical clean-feeling minty taste. Peppermint is a little less minty and more vegetal — in other words, it adds more of a "tea" flavor to your tea blend without making it overly minty. It's worth experimenting with different flavored varieties, such as grapefruit mint and chocolate mint. Mint is a cold-hardy perennial that thrives in moist, partly shaded areas with rich soil.</p>
2. Lemon Balm<p>Also called Melissa officinalis, this herb combines the slightly bitter flavor of green tea with lemon flavor. It can be used on its own for iced tea (it just needs a bit of sweetener) or in combination with other herbs. Closely related to the mint family, it thrives in partial shade and is prone to spreading throughout the garden.</p>
3. Lemon Verbena<p>A lemon-flavored herb for gardeners in mild-winter areas, lemon verbena leaves have a similar flavor to lemon balm but are sweeter, with no bitter aftertaste. The plant grows into an upright head-high shrub but can be easily kept smaller in a container so that you can bring it indoors for overwintering.</p>
4. Anise Hyssop<p>This knee-high cold-hardy perennial bears attractive foliage and large purple flower clusters that are adored by bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects. As the name suggests, the herb has a licorice flavor. It's a bit much to drink tea made entirely from anise hyssop, but it adds a complementary sweetness when blended in small quantities with mint and lemony herbs.</p>
5. Tea<p>All green, black and white teas originate from this attractive evergreen camellia bush. Many gardeners find that it fails to thrive unless a narrow set of growing conditions are provided: light shade, high humidity, acidic soil (a pH below 5.5), excellent drainage and high organic matter content. Realistically, most home gardeners harvest white tea (the tiny growing tips in early spring) or green tea (the fully developed leaves later in spring and summer), as black tea involves a lengthy drying and fermenting process.</p><a target="_blank" href="https://www.facebook.com/share.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fmodernfarmer.com%2F2019%2F07%2Fgrow-your-own-iced-tea-this-summer%2F"><span></span></a>
By Jillian Mackenzie
Spraying chemicals in the yard is a tempting shortcut for many a home gardener looking to protect a tasty crop or a bed of flowers. But weed killers aren't necessary, and they may be linked to health risks.
Embrace a Shaggy Lawn.<p>Want to make your weekend chores a little less burdensome? Learn to appreciate longer grass. Mow less frequently, and with your mower on the highest setting — at least two inches, said <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/jennifer-sass" target="_blank">Jennifer Sass</a>, a senior scientist with NRDC's Health program. (Sass sometimes lets hers grow even longer, with benign neglect.) "A longer lawn will crowd out weeds," she said, since the taller blades of grass <a href="https://homeguides.sfgate.com/control-kill-weeds-mowing-52579.html" target="_blank">block the light</a> weeds need to grow. "It will also ensure that you don't harm the clover, which attracts pollinators. Longer grass also holds soil moisture better and can even reseed itself."</p>
Make Peace with (Some) Weeds.<p>Along with a little benign neglect, Sass doled out some tough love: "Get used to how your lawn looks with weeds," she said. "A lawn that's dotted with some clover and dandelions is a safe, nontoxic place for pets and people to play." In addition to providing some nourishment for the <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/8-ways-attract-bees-and-butterflies" target="_blank">pollinators we all depend on</a>, some of the most common and vexing weeds can have upsides. "Even dandelions are quite beneficial," said <a href="http://www.barbarapleasant.com/" target="_blank">Barbara Pleasant</a>, an expert on organic gardening and author of <em>Homegrown Pantry. </em>"They can have roots 18 inches deep that act as biodrills" to loosen compacted soil.</p>
Try Hand-to-Hand Combat.<p>If weeds are stealing too many nutrients from your lawn, vegetable garden or flower bed, start by hand-picking them. You don't need to dig into the dirt; just lop them off at the surface, Pleasant said. You'll need to be more aggressive if you find yourself with an invasive species issue — as when a plant that's not native to your area starts to dominate the landscape, with no natural control on its growth. Pull those plants out by the root, but don't toss them into your compost pile if you plan to sprinkle that mix back onto your lawn.</p><p>Bill Hlubik, a professor of agriculture and natural resources at Rutgers University, recommends chopping the invasive plants up into tiny bits with gardening shears so they don't reroot or germinate. Sass said she leaves them on a paved pathway to fully dry up in the sun before throwing them into her yard waste bin for curbside pickup. Either method should do the trick.</p>
Spread Some Mulch.<p>Shovel mulch on vegetable or flower beds. The extra layer not only helps the soil retain moisture but also blocks the sunlight that weeds need to start sprouting. "Mulches also look better than bare ground, and any mulch made of natural materials will improve soil as it rots," said Pleasant. "Grass clippings are great when applied in thin layers, especially in veggie beds." Pleasant likes to place a layer of damp newspapers under the clippings for even more light-blocking weed prevention. As for flower beds, she said, they "are all about looks, so there, you want to use a long-lasting woody mulch like wood chips, spread two to three inches deep. Any weeds that manage to establish themselves are easy to pull out, and the wood chips give beds a tailored look while maintaining soil moisture."</p>
Carpet the Ground with Cover Plants.<p>Ground cover plants will also choke out weeds, and they're especially great "for areas where grass, flowers, or veggies won't grow because of summer shade [or] shallow roots from big trees, or [on] slopes that are difficult to mow," said Pleasant. But ground cover plants are picky — they'll only grow if you find just the right plant for the right site, and they will take a few years to fill in properly. Some flourish in shade, others need full sun; gardeners working in hot climates should consider planting drought-tolerant varieties, such as <a href="https://www.bhg.com/gardening/plant-dictionary/perennial/sedum/" target="_blank">a creeping sedum</a>. The commonly used <a href="https://www.bhg.com/gardening/plant-dictionary/perennial/betony/" target="_blank">lamb's ear</a> may even help you repel another garden nuisance: deer. In addition to these animals finding the plant distasteful, "it's attractive, a draw for butterflies and hummingbirds, self-propagating, and needs almost no care," Sass said. "Make that the front border of your garden."</p><p>"Local nurseries can advise you on the best ground covers for your area, but the best way to explore possibilities is to look in other people's yards," Pleasant said, and see what's thriving there. Seeking out local native ferns may be a good place to start.</p>
Get Goats! (Stay with Us Here ...)<p>Perhaps the most adorable nontoxic weed solution, goats will happily munch your weeds away — and there are companies that <a href="https://www.beyondpesticides.org/assets/media/documents/alternatives/factsheets/Least%20toxic%20control%20of%20weeds.pdf" target="_blank">rent the animals out</a> for just that purpose. Goats' least favorite food is grass, so they will eat everything else first. They're otherwise not too selective, so you need to protect anything you don't want them to chomp. Of course, renting a herd is practical only if you have a lot of land or, said Sass, "if you have poison ivy, kudzu, and other noxious weeds."</p>
If You Must Spray, Use Natural Products.<p>Skip the herbicides. <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/stories/what-would-monsanto-bayer-merger-really-grow" target="_blank">Glyphosate</a> (better known as Roundup) is the most commonly used one — primarily a tool of farmers growing genetically engineered crops of corn, soybeans, wheat, and cotton but available for home use as well. Recent studies confirm it <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/jennifer-sass/atsdr-report-confirms-glyphosate-cancer-risks" target="_blank">carries a risk of cancer</a> and may be linked to other adverse health effects on reproduction, child development, and internal organs.</p><p>Instead, Sass recommended applying vinegar, which can be effective in eradicating <a href="https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2015/06/lawn-care-without-the-chemicals/index.htm" target="_blank">dandelions, kudzu or fig buttercups</a><a href="https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2015/06/lawn-care-without-the-chemicals/index.htm" target="_blank">.</a> Some <a href="https://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/gardens/planting-and-maintenance/make-your-own-natural-weed-killer" target="_blank">DIY weed-killing recipes</a> contain regular household vinegar, others the much stronger horticulture vinegar. If you're using the latter, we recommend wearing heavy-duty gloves and goggles due to potential skin and eye irritation. (And always follow the safety instructions on the label.) Pleasant notes that vinegar works best on young weeds and may damage nearby plants, so spray precisely — or try her preferred weed killer, plain old boiling water.</p>
By Brian Barth
Most gardeners accumulate a cornucopia of partially used seed packets. After all, who's going to plant 500 lettuce seeds? After a few years, the germination rate drops significantly after the expiration date and you end up buying new packets. A "chaos garden" is the lazy person's way to use up those old seeds that may or may not still be viable.
Step 1: Prepare the Planting Area<p>The point here is to be lazy, so don't wear yourself out digging up every last weed and forking in tons of compost. If some seeds don't like the growing conditions, that's fine. As long as you start with soil that's somewhat loose and bare on the surface, some will sprout and take root. Consider it a game of survival of the fittest.</p>
Step 2: Sort and Plant<p>You'll have better luck if you plant the larger seeds (corn, beans, squash, melons) first. Scatter them on the surface and cover them with half an inch of soil. Scatter the smaller seeds (greens, tomatoes, peppers, root crops) on top of that and cover with another quarter inch of soil. Running a rake back and forth through the soil after each layer will help distribute the seeds evenly. Don't hesitate to add flower seeds to the mix.</p>
Step 3: Play Mother Nature’s Helper<p>Regular watering will ensure optimal germination. Alternatively, take your chances with the rain and see what happens. If Mother Nature cooperates, you'll soon have a tiny jungle of seedlings. Thin out some of the baby greens for salads (seedlings of beets, radishes and most other root crops are also edible), spacing them out enough to allow the rest to mature to full head size. Taller crops, such as tomatoes and cucumbers, can be trellised up, leaving smaller crops to grow at their base.</p><p>Or, you can let everything sprawl in a self-sorting tangle. You may be surprised at how well some crops share space. Many of the smaller, less vigorous plants will get crowded out as the season progresses, but that's ok — the point of a chaos garden is to labor as little as possible for maximum harvest.</p>
By Brian Barth
There are insects that feed on plants and those that feed on other insects. In your garden, you want as many of the carnivores as possible so that the herbivores won't devour your crops. Unfortunately, the predators don't always show up in time to save your broccoli seedlings from those little white bugs sucking the life out of them. But if you create the right habitat, you'll increase the chances that the good bugs will be on hand when the bad bugs show up to feast.
1. Yarrow<p>This perennial flower attracts a wide array of predatory bugs, along with butterflies who delight in the large nectar-rich blossoms. The flowers, which come in a range of red and yellow shades and white, rise from a spreading mat of lacy foliage that has a pleasing herbal fragrance when crushed.</p>
2. Marigold<p>A petite annual, this orange- and yellow-flowering species is easily mixed in with vegetable beds to add color and pest control services. In addition to helping with aboveground pests, marigold roots are toxic to root-knot nematodes, a common pest that attacks vegetables from below.</p>
3. Sweet Alyssum<p>Honey-scented white flowers completely cover this ground-hugging annual for months on end during the growing season. Because it is small and low-growing, some gardeners plant it as a groundcover around taller vegetables, such as kale and chard. Sweet alyssum often seeds itself — plant it once and it will sprout again year after year.</p>
4. Coneflower<p>Also known as echinacea, these two-foot-tall flower stalks are best positioned in a perennial border adjacent to a vegetable garden. You'll likely see butterflies touching down for a sip of nectar, but the elegant purple blossoms also attract a range of smaller, beneficial insects that quietly go about their work.</p>
5. Goldenrod<p>The flowers above bloom mainly in spring and summer, while goldenrod starts blooming in late summer and continues into fall. This is crucial, as beneficial insects are likely to move on if the habitat is no longer optimal. Its loose yellow blossoms are a striking late-season addition to a cottage-garden-style flower border.</p><a target="_blank" href="https://www.facebook.com/share.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fmodernfarmer.com%2F2019%2F04%2F5-flowers-to-attract-beneficial-insects-to-your-beds%2F"><span></span></a>
Is your closet filled with clothes you don't wear (and probably don't like anymore)? Are you buying cheap and trendy clothing you only wear once or twice? What's up with all the excess? Shifting to a more Earth-conscious wardrobe can help simplify your life, as well as curb fast fashion's toll on people and the planet.
1. Shop Ethical and Eco-Friendly Brands<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQxMjAyMi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTIzMzc4NH0.Ar8HlW72hUK9gq-Lp0_ycvWuA1xKN0yDAllsuJrV3HI/img.jpg?width=980" id="93683" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6c8b174eafd25e714930a500e8ff5286" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Thomas Barwick / Stone / Getty Images<p>When buying new clothing, ask yourself, "Is this brand sustainable or not?" Consider what brands you have been supporting up to this point.</p><p>Getting educated on which brands to support is an important step in curbing fast fashion. To find out if your go-to brand is eco-friendly, check out <a href="https://www.consciouslifeandstyle.com" target="_blank">Conscious Life & Style blog</a>, which has a list of more than 200 ethically driven brands.</p>
2. Take a Minimalist Approach to Your Wardrobe<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQxMDExNC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMTI0Mzk1M30.lYZGxQAAeSI8QS-3pn0kvXeIUBl1eLnBG8sDb165P9E/img.jpg?width=980" id="b7942" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f7fcb8703b357880123a4569e1a2d6d0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Svetlana Khokhlova / EyeEm / Getty Images<p>By 2050 the fashion industry is set to consume a quarter of the world's carbon budget. Consumer overconsumption is harming the planet. A <a href="https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability/our-insights/style-thats-sustainable-a-new-fast-fashion-formula" target="_blank">2016 McKinsey report</a> found that three-fifths of all the clothes produced gets disposed within a year of being produced. </p><p>Transitioning to a wardrobe that reflects quality pieces that last a long time, instead of cheap trendy pieces, can help make getting ready in the morning easier and is less of a strain on the planet. A quality over quantity attitude can lead to a more sustainable wardrobe over time.</p><p>The YouTube channel <a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCES8U3Hy6VUxU0kwKBdxSWQ/featured" target="_blank">Heal Your Living</a> by Youheum is inspiring people to live a more minimalist lifestyle. Check out her video below and see how Youheum, a former shopaholic, manages to own just 15 pieces of clothing and two pairs of shoes.</p>
3 - 4. Mend and Repurpose Your Clothing<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQxMDA5My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2ODIxMzQxM30.sTY54qevUCcvzL6UR3UOcWuwczcONrY0e_nXsnGj_NI/img.jpg?width=980" id="44746" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb08d1749a766a17073cfbed33f661b8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Pedro Venâncio / EyeEm / Getty Images<p>Before you spend, make sure you mend. Mending clothes is a great option, and you'll avoid wasting your time shopping. </p><p>If you don't know how to patch up your clothing, support a local tailor instead.<br></p><p>You can also get creative with your clothing. For a simple start, change a pair of old jeans into new summer shorts and add your favorite patch for a fresh look. Upcycling clothing can be a fun way to maintain a sustainable wardrobe.</p><p>Check out these Instagram accounts for more upcycle inspiration!</p>
5. Host or Attend a Clothing Swap<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQxMjA0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNzU0OTQ5OH0.vjj4FIH3zM1LB88ajCURsQN_ziU6kaSwH373_qxUnHw/img.jpg?width=980" id="cea25" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="36508d17d68ea29eed826c5c541c13e5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
AleksandarNakic / E+ / Getty Images<p>One person's trash is another person's treasure. Attending a clothing swap or taking the step to host one is a smart (and fun) way to recycle clothing and get a new wardrobe fast. </p><p>Want to host a clothing swap? Here's how to host the <a href="https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-to-host-the-ultimate-clothes-swap" target="_blank">ultimate clothing swap</a>. </p>
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By Brian Barth
The world of fruit is far more expansive and exciting — not to mention flavorful — than the dozen or so varieties on offer at your local supermarket would suggest. Ever try a translucent white mulberry? How about a jujube — the fruit, not the candy?
1. White Mulberry<p>Dried white mulberries are occasionally found in health stores, where they are sold as a "superfood" at astronomical prices. The fresh fruit, which is produced in copious quantities on small, attractive trees that are used to cultivate silkworms in Asia, has a less acidic flavor profile than its dark-colored counterpart. There are several white-fruited mulberry varieties available, including Tehama, Beautiful Day and Sweet Lavender, which is graced with a hint of this beloved herb's flavor. USDA zones 4–9.</p>
2. Jujube<p>This Chinese fruit, which resembles a small red apple, gave its name to the popular candy. Jujubes can be eaten raw, but they are consumed dried in Asia, which gives them a chewy, candy-like texture that goes with their satisfying sweet-sour flavor. They grow on spindly, thorny trees with a narrow, upright growth habit. Highly drought tolerant, jujube trees thrive in hot, dry areas. USDA zones 5–9.</p>
3. Cider Apple<p>These days, you can find all sorts of interesting heirloom apple varieties at your local farmers' market. In theory, you can make cider out of any of them. But real cider makers use special varieties that have been bred for centuries with the unique flavor profile suited to the beverage (which is very different from the flavor profile of an apple meant for eating fresh). If home brews are your thing, you might need to grow your own. Varieties to look for include Ashmead's Kernel, Northern Spy and Muscadet de Dieppe. USDA zones 4–9.</p>
4. Pawpaw<p>This little-known native fruit is found in isolated patches throughout eastern forests. It is distant cousins with tropical fruits like cherimoya and custard apple, with which it shares an exotic flavor (often described as a cross between banana, pineapple and mango) and a creamy texture. The size of a mango, this fruit grows sparsely on small, slow-growing trees with attractive foliage and a uniform pyramidal shape. Pawpaws are far too finicky for commercial growers, but they've garnered a cult-like following among foodies and backyard botanists. USDA zones 5–9.</p>
5. Pineapple Guava<p>The fruit of this small, attractive evergreen tree tastes like, well, a pineapple-flavored guava. Its large red-and-white tropical blossoms are also edible, adding a sweet, cinnamon-like flavor to desserts and summer drinks. The only catch is that pineapple guavas (also known as feijoas) are not cold-hardy. You can grow them outdoors year-round in much of California, southern Texas, Florida and the Deep South, but elsewhere you'll need to keep them in a pot that can be brought indoors for winter (potted pineapple guavas are easily maintained as small shrubs). USDA zones 8–11.</p>
6. Quince<p>You might say that quince is so old-school, it's new again. In past centuries, northern European households were just as likely to grow quince as they were to grow apples and pears, to which the fruit is related. Perhaps its appearance — like a bloated and tumor-laden pear — has something to do with its loss of popularity, plus the fact that you have to cook it to enjoy it. But the flavor is nonpareil: It's like a baked apple with cinnamon and allspice flavors and a touch of lemon zest. USDA zones 4–9.</p>
7. Loquat<p>Not to be confused with a kumquat (a type of citrus), a loquat is a distant relative of apples and pears from subtropical parts of Asia. The fruit looks like an apricot, with a similar texture and flavor but tangier. These evergreen trees have decadent tropical foliage and require a warm climate. While they're not huge trees, they are a bit large to grow in pots and bring indoors for winter. USDA zones 8–10.</p>
8. Arctic Kiwifruit<p>The fuzzy kiwifruit you find at the store requires a mild-winter climate, but this is, by no means, the only kind of kiwifruit available. Arctic kiwifruit (also known as 'Arctic Beauty' or 'Kolomikta Kiwi') hails from the frigid mountains of Russia and possesses a similar flavor to fuzzy kiwifruit, except that it lacks fuzz and is typically consumed whole, skin and all. This shade-tolerant vine possesses spectacular white-, pink- and green-variegated foliage. USDA zones 3–8.</p>
9. Chocolate Vine<p>Also called akebia, this shade-tolerant vine has delicate lobed foliage and bears vanilla-scented flowers in spring. In summer, sausage-shaped pods appear, which split open when ripe to reveal a soft, white pulp flavored with notes of banana, lychee and passion fruit. Scoop it out like custard, seeds and all, and mix it into fruit salads or simply eat it by the spoonful. The pod is inedible raw but may be cooked like a vegetable. USDA zones 4–9.</p>
10. Maypop<p>The passion fruit you find in the store requires a subtropical climate, but it has an American cousin that grows wild throughout the eastern part of the country. The vines are nearly identical to their tropical counterparts, with frilly purple and white blossoms up to three inches in diameter. Mix the yellow flesh of the fruit in smoothies, daiquiris and desserts. As a bonus, the leaves of maypop are considered an herbal aphrodisiac. USDA zones 6–10.</p><a target="_blank" href="https://www.facebook.com/share.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fmodernfarmer.com%2F2019%2F04%2F10-new-fruit-trees-and-edible-vines-for-your-garden-this-spring%2F"><span></span></a>
By Brian Barth
Early spring is the time to dream big about your garden. This year, I'm going to grow 10 varieties of tomato — and I will not let a weed be among them! But any grand vision, if it is to be executed, must be matched with the right implementation plan and tools. Here are a few ideas to help you brainstorm.