5 Green Living Changes for Earth Day

Today is Earth Day, and the start of Earth Week. I encourage each of you to incorporate one green living change into your daily life. Below are five simple, yet impactful changes you can make.

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1.  Adopt or Donate an Indoor Plant

I have a Golden Pothos from when I first moved to New York City in 2003. I can't even remember who gave it to me, but it was a housewarming gift. This plant is so hardy, it's survived and flourished through weeks of forgetful watering and even a dark ground floor apartment. In feng shui, house plants bring life energy into a indoor space. They can create a softer and more vibrant energy in a home or office.  Living plants are wonderful for improving overall indoor air quality. The Goldon Pothos is said to be particularly good for removing formaldehyde and carbon monoxide.  

What I love about the Golden Pothos is that they are easy to propagate. Simply cut off a 3" or longer piece, just below a leaf or a node (or joint). I like to take cuttings and place them in a glass of water. Alternatively, you can plant them, or you can wrap them in a wet paper towel and give them as gifts.

Orchids are also very common houseplants. What most people don't know is that after the flowers die, the remaining plant is still alive! The plant is dormant, and you can keep it. It's such a reward to see my orchids bloom every year.  

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2.  Switch to a Renewable Energy Provider

An easy way to minimize your carbon footprint is to switch to a renewable energy provider. There are many different companies, and it really depends on where you live. It can be overwhelming to weed through all the companies, but it's worth it. The EPA gives some information on where you can find renewable energy companies for residential and commercial locations.  

Switching to Green Power does not typically mean that you need to install solar panels or a windmill on your roof. Although that is sometimes an option, in most urban areas this simply means that you can call your electricity provider and request you switch to a Green or Renewable energy source. In New York City, there are a handful of Energy Supply Companies (ESCOs) that provide a green option. You may see a small increase in your monthly bill, but in my experience it's very minimal. Probably around $10/month for a one bedroom apartment. You can also look into Renewable Energy Certificates RECS to offset your DIRTY electricity usage.

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3.  Reduce Bottled Water Usage

Contrary to popular belief, the National Resources Defense Council NRDC says that bottled water is “subject to less rigorous testing and purity standards than those which apply to city tap water.”  If health is a concern, plastics are terrible to eat and drink from.  There may be Bisphenol A (BPA)s or other toxic chemicals and substances in plastic containers that will affect water quality.

In New York City, we have excellent quality tap water. I recommend those outside of NYC use a high quality water filter and drink tap water whenever possible. I use reusable glass bottles and my Soda Stream seltzer machine as much as possible at home.

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4.  Buy Post Consumer Recycled Products

Most of us know by now, we need to recycle.  Reduce, reuse and recycle!  Note, recycle is last on that list.  

We put our glass bottles, metal cans, plastic bottles and paper/cardboard in the bins and out on the curb.  But what happens when we recycle? Sadly, not everything gets recycled. The recycling carter or your municipal recycler picks up the waste-- but if no one wants to buy the recyclables, they can put the unsellable material into the landfill. Glass, metals, cardboard and paper are typically easy to recycle. There is a market for these materials. Plastic is another story. Not all plastics are recyclable. The plastics that can be recycled have a shorter lifecycle, require more energy to recycle, and are not as valuable.

So.. what can we do? Purchase more Post Consumer Recycled products! "Recycled" typically means that the content is made from pre-consumer materials, such as the leftover waste from manufacturing. It's good, but not the same as Post Consumer. "Post Consumer Recycled" indicates that the recycled portion is from the recycled waste that you and I have put into our recycling bins. If we make an effort to purchase more post consumer recycled plastics, we in turn create a demand for the recyclable plastics. This will also cut down the creation of new plastics. 

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5.  DIY Water Saving Toilet

My final tip is for those of us with a tank toilet. This is a toilet where there is a tank behind, rather than in the wall or with a flush-o-meter. It's super simple to make your own water saving toilet. Take an old plastic bottle (the ones you're no longer using!), and fill it up with water. Open the toilet tank cover, and place the plastic bottle inside. Be sure to avoid and not obstruct the toilet flap, ball, handles, etc., inside the tank. Voila! The water filled bottle will displace water in the toilet tank and reduce the water usage each time you flush.

As a final feng shui tip - be sure to keep your toilet bowl cover shut. The bathroom is a place where water is always coming in and out of the home. In feng shui, water represents wealth and money flow. Make sure you keep the toilet seat closed, as well as the bathroom door. This will keep the wealth from flowing away from you!

by Anjie Cho 


6 Trees to Plant Indoors for Earth Day

Earth Day is Saturday, and as always, we're excited to celebrate the greatness that is our planet and express gratitude to the universe and Mother Earth for supporting us. One of the most popular ways to honor the Earth and help counter environmental damage is to plant trees. If you own your property or have a yard, planting a tree is easy. Just be sure to care for it after planting! If you're in a New York City apartment, planting a tree yourself may be a bit more difficult. In honor of Earth Day, you can donate to Trees for the Earth or the Canopy Project, or you can choose an indoor tree for your holistic space! We've got a few suggestions. 

Fiddle Leaf Fig

The Fiddle Leaf Fig is enjoying plenty of time in the spotlight right now and for good reason. They're easy to care for, bright and look fantastic in practically any space. The Fiddle Leaf Fig enjoys bright light, isn't so fond of drafts and needs water when its soil feels dry. It's also a good idea to keep an eye out for whiteflies or aphids! Our friends at The Sill have beautiful figs for delivery in NYC. 

Fishtail Palm

If you're craving a tropical touch, the Fishtail Palm is the perfect addition to your holistic space! These trees grow best in bright, indoor light and warmer temperatures (like the temp inside your home), which makes them ideal houseplants. Just be sure to keep a spray bottle nearby for misting, because these tropical trees need lots of humidity!

Madagascar Dragon Tree

The Madagascar Dragon tree gets extra points for being a well-known air-purifying plant. So not only does it brighten your space, it helps remove some of the harmful chemicals we bring into our homes. Like the Fishtail Palm, the Madagascar Dragon tree thrives in average home temperatures and enjoys bright, filtered light. You'll want to keep the soil slightly moist and keep pets away, since the Madagascar Dragon Tree is poisonous! 

Money Tree

This indoor plant gets extra points too, since it is associated with wealth and prosperity in feng shui! Take a look at your bagua and find your Abundance gua, then add your Money Tree to let the universe know you'd appreciate some prosperity! Keep your tree watered regularly, give it bright light and avoid placing it in the bathroom (as water can drain the wealth), the Relationships gua or the Knowledge gua. 

Norfolk Pine

The Norfolk Pine tree is another popular indoor tree with the flexibility to add nature and the Wood element to any room. Like most indoor plants, the Norfolk Pine just wants medium to bright light and water, enough to keep it moist but not soggy. Easy enough!

Rubber Tree

Add some glossy dark green to your space with a rubber tree. These trees grow quickly, especially with bright, filtered light, regular water and well-drained soil, so it may be necessary to repot your Rubber Tree on a yearly basis until it's the perfect size for your holistic space. It's also a good idea to slip your Rubber Tree some weak liquid fertilizer during growing season. 

There are so many more than six trees that make amazing additions to our indoor spaces, and adding a tree anywhere is a great way to thank Mother Earth for keeping us alive all these years! Not to mention, many trees, like other indoor plants, are excellent absorbers of excess carbon dioxide and harmful chemicals that start in our homes and often make their way outside. If you're looking for easy-to-love trees and all-star air purifiers, also check out the Parlor Palm, Ponytail Palm and the Dracaena anita. Then send us pics of your new Earth Day trees!

by Anjie Cho


My Favorite Things: 5 Indoor Planting Tools

Welcome to My Favorite Things! Each month, we highlight products to help you create a holistic lifestyle that inspires and nurtures you, so that you can be happier and feel supported.

April hosts one of our favorite holidays, Earth Day, coming up in a couple of weeks! There are many ways to go green, from making easy, small changes, to checking your carbon footprint or donating to great causes. You can also go green by adding a little actual greenery to your space! Look out for our list of indoor trees next week, but before then, take a peek at my favorite indoor plant necessities!


Hand Pruning Shears

Whether you're just keeping your plants up or sharing them through cuttings (which I love to do!), you'll need pruning shears if you're growing indoors. 

There are many varieties of hand shears, but it's important to make sure you choose a pair that is easy to use for you and strong enough for your plants. I love these pruning shears from Gardenite, because they're high quality, strong and the ratchet feature makes using them a breeze!

Available at: Amazon


Double Macrame Hanging Planter

Some of my favorite houseplants are hanging in windows in my bathroom and kitchen. Double hanging planters are the perfect tool for getting plants great light and brightening your space

This planter is handmade with natural cotton sourced locally in Canada and comes in three different lengths to match your space perfectly! I love the neutral color and gentle material. It's like cuddling your plants!

Available at: FreeFille


EM-1 Microbial Inoculant

My mother-in-law and her husband are plant experts who teach all around the world, and a few years ago, Hugh (her husband) recommended this conditioner for my houseplants. I love it!

EM-1 is great as a general conditioner for all plants and can fight issues like chlorine poisoning and more by creating healthy micro-organisms. Just add an ounce to a gallon of water!

Available at: TeraGanix


Recycled Glass Spray Bottle

Many plants, including at least one of our favorite indoor trees, require significant amounts of humidity in addition to just water in the soil. Keeping a spray bottle of water nearby is perfect for providing this indoors. 

This bottle is made from recycled glass and holds 8 ounces of water for small or larger houseplants. It's also BPA free, handmade and features a clean, holistic design that won't stick out like a sore thumb! 

Available at: Rail19


Ceramic Planter

Don't forget the most important thing for keeping nature in your holistic spaces - planters! The type of planter you use will depend on what your plant needs, but I love this handmade stoneware option from RehnWorks. 

These hand-thrown, hand-glazed planters are made to order, include drainage holes and are even available in larger sizes than listed. Not to mention they add a beautiful Wood element color to your space in addition to the plant itself! 

Available at: RehnWorks



Reduce Your Carbon Footprint in Honor of Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! Earth Day is one of my favorite holidays, because it aligns so perfectly with what Holistic Spaces stands for. As a feng shui practitioner and green design architect, it's so important to me that we take nature into account when designing our spaces. After all, we need to be in harmony with nature to flourish and survive!

We've shared many tips over the years on how to make small changes in your life to save energy, from adding more Earth element to your space to propagating plant life to adjusting your toilet to save water, using real cutlery for takeout and much more. Each of these small changes can make an incredible impact on the energy you use every day to reduce your carbon footprint, or the amount of greenhouse gases you emit on a regular basis through activities, consumption, energy usage, etc. 

This year, we're focusing on knowing where you use your energy so that you can reduce it wherever possible. Take a look below at our favorite places to calculate and monitor your carbon footprint. 

EPA Carbon Footprint Calculator

The United States Environmental Protection Agency provides a relatively simple way to determine your carbon emission impact. This option isn't super detailed, but it does provide a rough estimate of how much carbon (and other greenhouse gases) a household puts off, based on electricity and gas usage, vehicles and waste production. The EPA then offers suggestions for ways to reduce your footprint, including cost savings, at each step. 

Energy We Need

Energy We Need was created by my old colleague, Alexander Frantzen, to make carbon footprint calculation easier. The website offers simple or custom calculations and is very detailed, including scientific considerations like average groundwater temperature for your area. It takes into account each person's use of technology, diet, emissions at places besides the home (school and work), laundry habits, and more. Energy We Need also makes certain steps easier, like figuring out your average water usage in the bathroom. Once you've got a good idea of your impact, the site provides an overview of the reductions necessary to meet national benchmarks, so that you know what to work toward, and suggested options for making changes. Plus, you can compare your first footprint with your new one as you make those changes!

CoolClimate Network

CoolClimate Network, operated by the University of California, Berkeley, is another great option if you're looking for suggestions to improve your carbon footprint. Plus, Berkeley is my alma mater! The CoolClimate system calculates by household, not individual, but it does provide a pretty detailed breakdown of how we produce greenhouse gases, taking things like diet, clothing purchases, services used, public transportation and more into consideration to ensure an accurate footprint. As you enter information and your output is adjusted, CoolClimate shows your energy consumption in comparison to the local average and provides a detailed list of ways to reduce your footprint, including an option to "Pledge" each change as well as calculated dollars saved and the cost to make each adjustment.

Carbon Footprint

At Carbonfootprint.com, you can calculate your energy usage by year (default) or set specific times to show your emission by month, quarter, etc. Carbon Footprint is configured in 14 different languages and uses the metric or standard system of measurement. This website takes diet, recycling habits, activity level and other smaller details into account as well and includes an option to donate as a way to offset your footprint. You can choose from varying causes, like Global Portfolio and Reforestation in Kenya, and the site provides a breakdown of where your donation goes. 

There are countless resources online, including a few phone apps, to measure and reduce your carbon footprint. Now that climate change and sustainability are at the forefront of current issues (finally!), doing your part to reduce greenhouse emissions and contribute to restoring nature has never been easier!

How big is your carbon footprint? What kinds of changes can you make to your space and habits to help restore the balance between us and nature? Check out a calculator, and sign up for the Holistic Spaces newsletter for even more tips on how to use green design and feng shui to reduce your footprint! 

by Anjie Cho


How To Go GREEN Like a New Yorker

featured April 20 on BONDNYMagazine.com

In honor of Earth day on April 22nd, we challenge you to GO GREEN like a real New Yorker! Unsure how to do that? Check out the options below!

1. Adopt a Street Tree!

Did you know that you could adopt a street tree in NYC? Our street trees provide shade in the summer, beautify our city and improve the air quality all year round. But they need care. Million Trees NYC offers workshops on how to care for trees. You can attend a tree-planting, request a street tree, or even pick up your own.

Find more info at: http://www.milliontreesnyc.org/

2. Go Green with Your Delivery (and Take-Out)

I’ll be the first one to admit, I get a lot of meals delivered. We are all busy New Yorkers. An easy way to go green is to ask for no plastic cutlery. Eat your food in style with your silverware, and cut down on the plastics that are produced. Many delivery websites also have a “go green” option that you can select, making this green step even easier!

...read full article

by Anjie Cho