We love our dogs. We share our homes, furniture, sometimes even our beds with them. And while we love all the wild and wonderful things about our fur babies, I’ll admit that when my dog takes a dive into a fresh pile of ivory bird poo (his favorite) I am disgusted and think, “why are you like this?”
With so much research available on dog behavior helping us to understand their wacky and unpredictable antics, the jury is still out on exactly why dogs seem to enjoy rolling around in poop and other nasty revolting stuff like trash, rotten food, and even dead animal remains. Here are some theories to better help you understand this phenomenon.
Whatever the reason, it is a deeply ingrained evolutionary instinct that dates back to well before dogs were domesticated animals. Even wolves, coyotes, and foxes roll in feces and dead animal remains. It is largely believed that they are either seeking to leave their scent behind as a form of marking, or they are trying to mask their own scent as a hunting technique.
They are Leaving Their Scent Behind
This is in line with another well-known dog behavior — marking. Dogs mark with urine to establish their territory and communicate with other animals, especially right after another dog has done so. It can be viewed as a simple doggy communication system in which your dog wants his neighboring animals to know that he’s been there and investigated the smelly odor too.
This is especially interesting when comparing it to the behavior of wolves. Researchers at the Wolf Park facility in Indiana noted that wolves will roll in something smelly, like the remains of their prey, and other pack-mates will sniff the wolf and then follow that scent back to its origin. This is a valuable hunting instinct. It communicates where prey was found and allows them to track future food sources.
They are Hiding Their Own Smell
It’s hard to look at the sweet teddy bear face of my pup and remember that his predecessors had to hunt to survive. He has never had to hunt farther than the kitchen to get a meal. But when I play with him, I see his primal instincts come alive. He will drop his prey (ok, it’s a plush toy shaped like a taco, but go with me on this one) and encircle it. His eyes fixed intently on me, especially my hands. As I inch them closer, he drops down and grumbles out a menacing growl. He is such a wolf in that little 8 lb. body!
By rolling in their prey’s smell, be it remains or poop, a dog can hide their own scent and mask it with a non-threatening odor that allows them to sneak up on unsuspecting game. The desire to hunt and engage in primitive instinctual behaviors of their wild ancestors is still highly active and makes your dog feel like he is doing what he was born to do.
How Do I Stop My Dog from Rolling in Poop?
Perhaps understanding why they do it is not as important to you as inhibiting it from happening in the first place. It is much easier to correct this behavior if your dog is on a leash when they are most prone to drop it low and wriggle in something revolting.
Watch for Cues They’re About to Drop it Down Low
Often your dog will have a particular posture or sequence of behavior that will alert you to their intent to roll before they even hit the ground. For example, sniffing intensely at a particular area. He may begin shaking his head or twisting to one side, alerting you that he is preparing to barrel into a vile mess. That is when you give the leash a tug and use your correction of choice, “no” or “leave it” works.
If there is a particular area that your dog tends find his favorite nasty stuff to roll in, like around a pond with ducks or geese, then make sure to walk them on a leash in those areas.
It is harder to correct this behavior off leash. Establishing a solid training foundation with your dog is imperative. Using the command “no” or “leave it” will let her know it is unacceptable behavior. If it happens in your yard, keep an eye out for dead animals and clean up your dogs’ poop regularly to limit access to yucky stuff.
If you’re away from your home, or with particularly driven dogs, a distraction method may be effective. Offering small treats to distract her from the undesired behavior can help. A travel sized squeeze bottle (the ones for shampoo or lotion) filled with peanut butter supplies endless diversion from the temptation for really determined doggies that like to get dirty.
How to Wash Out the Smell When Your Dog Rolls in Poop and Gross Stuff
There are a myriad of odor-neutralizing shampoos on the market. I use one that includes orange oil, recognized as a safe deodorizer and degreaser. Look for one formulated for your dogs’ particular skin and coat type.
While you may never fully prevent your dog from rolling in poop and other nasty stuff, you can do your best to mitigate the behavior and redirect it. Play with your pup in a way that allows his natural hunting instincts to come alive without engaging in rolling in messy stuff. Correct the behavior before it happens when you sense a roll coming on. And be prepared with a good odor-neutralizing shampoo for when it occurs.
Sustainability in the home is simply an effort to produce zero waste, or low waste, conserve resources, and reuse materials in a way that reduces our environmental impact.Bonus: these hacks also save you money! We have all heard heart-wrenching statements like — a full trash truck’s worth of garbage is dumped into the ocean every single minute. We see sad images of turtles with straws embedded in their noses and environmentalists and government leaders are urging us all to live a more sustainable lifestyle — our planet literally depends on it. But it can be hard to feel like you’re doing it right or doing enough — unless you move into a mud hut and live off of twigs and berries. I promise I am not going to ask you to start wiping your bum with leaves, I mean, unless you want to.
I am an imperfect environmentalist. I make plenty of mistakes on my journey to live greener. However, these five swaps I made last year were easy peasy lemon squeezy, and they were either free or repaid the cost of investment quickly and have saved me money in the long run. I estimate that these swaps saved me at least $3,796 in 2021.
Reusable Food Storage Bags
The average person uses nearly one pound of plastic sandwich bags, about 540 baggies, per year. If you are a parent with kids in school, it feels like double that amount, so this swap was a no brainer. I bought a set of twenty washable, reusable, silicone food storage bags, that came in three sizes, are resealable, leakproof, and freezer approved. Read the reviews and get good bags that will hold up and withstand a lot of washing and use. I paid $17.99 for my set of bags on Amazon and while I have not officially tracked the amount I was spending on plastic bags, quick math will show you that the average cost of a box of disposable plastic bags times 540 bags will set you back around $76 per year! The only downside to these bags is that they need to be hand washed, but that is really not difficult. I use a drying rack and it’s super easy to soap, rinse, and hang them.
If you’d like to read more about the severity of the plastic crisis, this article is a great resource.
2. Repurpose Food Containers
This swap is great because you can start right away, and it costs you nothing! How ironic that we live in a society that regularly disposes of (or attempts to recycle) the plastic and glass containers that we get for free when we buy products like sauces, pickles, olives, condiments, yogurt, whipped cream — the list goes on and on — and then go out and purchase similar plastic and glass containers for food storage. Madness! I save and repurpose as many food containers as possible. In fact, my stash of clean, empty, and available containers is getting a bit ridiculous. I use them for everything. Like organization — my daughter wears a mask to school every day, so an old coffee can has made a fantastic vessel to store and cycle her masks. I also use this technique to keep socks and undies from getting lost in dresser drawers. Glass containers are wonderful for a myriad of things: from storing leftovers to drinking glasses, or craft into a cute gift. Make your loved ones this adorable DIY cookie kit or share a signature pasta sauce, soup, or bangin’ chili.
3. Reusable Shopping Bags and Produce Bags
Many states are pushing hard towards reusable shopping bags by charging a small fee, like $0.05, for plastic bags. Think about it, how ridiculous is it to put our groceries in these awful, flimsy plastic bags that have to be doubled up to hold anything, only for you to then collect them in your home for months, then bring them back to the grocery store to recycle? That is, if they get recycled at all. I love reusable shopping bags because they hold a lot and are super sturdy. If you are team “one trip” like me and load yourself up like an Olympic weightlifter to avoid going back to the car, then these are a vastly superior way to transport groceries. While they typically sell for $0.99 in stores, most of my reusable shopping bags have been given to me for free as a promotion — for example, when you sign up for a customer rewards program at your local store. Last year I bought a variety of mesh produce bags as well to cut down on the use of plastic when buying fresh produce. They are machine washable, and the air flow actually keeps many fruits and veg fresh for longer.
4. Cloth “Paper” Towels
This one took the most getting used to. Using cloth towels for food can be a bit messy. For example, if you used one to wipe up spaghetti sauce, you need to thoroughly rinse it out before putting it in the wash, and particularly messy loads of kitchen towels will need to be washed separately from other clothes. For me, washing my kitchen towels with my clothes has not been an issue. At first, I noticed a less-than-fresh smell from my laundry when I began this practice. Using a small amount of color safe, non-bleach laundry booster has completely remedied this. I purchased a couple packs of microfiber cotton reusable towels because I like the uniformity of size and quality of material for use with food. For all non-food jobs, old t-shirts and outgrown, stained, kids’ clothes make excellent cleaning rags. On occasion, the job is so dirty that I will dispose of the rag, but I consider it a win when I have extended the life and usefulness of that old t-shirt. In total, I spent less than $10 on reusable towels, and another $20 on cloth napkins. Consider this statistic — the average cost of disposable tissue, napkins, and paper towels per person is $123 a year!
5. Buy Less Processed Food
Lockdowns spurred people’s desire to cook and try making things from scratch — sourdough anyone? — and I happily jumped on that bandwagon. I started making things that I had never made before, and when I saw how incredibly quick, easy, and affordable it was, I never went back. This is where the bulk of my savings comes from — my average food cost per month is half of what it was in the beginning of 2020.
Also, the less processed the food we buy is, the lower its carbon footprint. Think about it — when you buy a jar of peanut butter, it has to be processed in a factory, tested for safety and quality, packaged, shipped hundreds or thousands of miles to get to your grocery store’s shelves. When you buy a container of peanuts and zip them up in your food processor at home, you are cutting down on energy use and fossil fuel consumption (not to mention skipping the additives and preservatives that are likely in that store bought product). Thanks to my handy food processor, I make all my own nut butters, hummus, smoothies, and soups. I make quick breads and pizza crusts, sauces, and salad dressings. Sauces and dressings have among the highest markup in price, and because they coat their containers in oils and food residue, generally cannot be recycled and produce a ton of waste.
I hope this has inspired you to try a few of these zero waste, sustainable kitchen hacks, and if you did, let me know how they worked for you. What are five sustainability swaps I should make in 2022? This video great, it shows the swaps I mentioned and gives more kitchen sustainability tips and tricks:
When the topic of meditation arises, people are often quick to remark that they simply cannot “turn off” their brain. They have a stressful job, a lot of responsibilities, and the world is quite chaotic and uncertain. What many fail to realize is that this is precisely why we need to meditate. And the idea that you must shut down your thought processes is the biggest misconception. Meditation has little to do with not thinking, and much to do with training your brain to focus and work for you, rather than being imprisoned by negative, repetitive, and cyclical thoughts.
What is Meditation?
Verywell Mind, a mental health and wellness journal, defines meditation as “a set of consciousness-altering techniques” formulated to encourage a heightened state of awareness and focused attention.
This can be achieved through a host of techniques and styles. You can meditate silently, with a guide, or recite mantras. There are a myriad of techniques to induce a meditative state like mindfulness, transcendental, visualization, progressive muscle relaxation, loving kindness, or with movement, like Tai Chi, Yoga, and walking. You can reach meditative states through creativity — making art, playing an instrument, sand raking, or puzzles. Anything that quiets and focuses the mind for prolonged periods of time can be meditation.
How Does Meditation Change the Brain?
Brain Chemicals Affect Your Mood and Health
The immediate effects felt from meditation are how it makes you feel. Many report an increase in happiness or a sense of calm following a meditative practice. This is because even one meditation session will alter these brain chemicals:
Serotonin: The “feel good” chemical that helps our brain regulate mood will increase
Cortisol: The stress hormone decreases
BHEA: The longevity hormone gets a boost
Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid: A major inhibitory transmitter in your central nervous system is calmed
Endorphins: The “natural high” chemicals increase
Growth Hormone: Levels of this anti-aging chemical are preserved
Melatonin: The sleep hormone is stimulated
The Prefrontal Cortex and Hippocampus
A well-trained brain has a thick prefrontal cortex. This brain center initiates high order brain functions like awareness, concentration, and decision making. A study conducted at Harvard University discovered that after just eight weeks of regular mindfulness training, subjects showed cortical thickening in the hippocampus, the portion of the brain that controls memories and emotion regulation. Note that decreased volume and density of the hippocampus is linked to several mental health disorders like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Through evolution, our ancestors passed on a highly activated amygdala — This survival instinct responds to threats with a fight-or-flight reaction in the brain. While actual life-threatening situations, such as a lion trying to eat you, are likely not a part of your daily life, your brain still reacts to stress with this extreme response. This causes tremendous anxiety in most adults, who suffer from having a panic fight-or-flight response to modern inconveniences like getting reprimanded at work or being stuck in traffic.
Participants of the Harvard University study’s brain scans showed a significant reduction of activity and size of the amygdala after completing an 8-week mindfulness meditation program (see image 1.1 below). Even more encouraging, the study showed that these changes held steady in the brain even when the participants were not meditating. This demonstrates that meditation has the ability to cause lasting effects and improved function in the brain. The control group in this study showed no such results.
Gray matter is found in your central nervous system and makes up most of the brain’s neuronal cell bodies. This tissue is important in areas responsible for self-control, sensory perception, decision-making, and muscle mastery. In a Harvard study conducted on seasoned meditators — those with 20 or more years of mindfulness experience — found that they had significantly more gray matter than non-meditators of the same age. In fact, the amount of gray matter they possessed was similar to the average 20–30-year-old.
White matter holds the myelin, the brain’s “insulation,” and is responsible for neuroplasticity, the connections between neurons that allow the brain to relay information quickly and efficiently. A study conducted at UCLA found that experienced meditators had less age-related atrophy of white matter. While evidence seems to lead to the conclusion that meditation is anti-aging for the brain and could potentially be used to combat dementia and Alzheimer’s, researchers caution that they cannot nail down a conclusive relationship between the two and more studies are needed.
Your brain is a continuous channel of electrical activity, operating at varying frequencies or brain waves. Each type of frequency serves an important purpose, but too much time spent in highly active states can be damaging, desynchronizing, and exhausting. Studies show that meditation allows you to experience more Alpha waves, the ones felt when the mind is calm, relaxed, yet still alert. These are typically present during creative activities, right before you fall asleep, and during meditation. Many studies have correlated a surge in creativity with a higher production of Alpha waves.
The Monkey Mind
According to the National Science Foundation, the average person has anywhere from 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day! Of those, 80% are negative and 95% are repetitive.
When you lay your head on your pillow at night and your brain swirls with thought, this is the activation of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. It is the part of the brain that overthinks, ruminates on the past, and projects exaggerated outcomes onto the future in a self-referential way. This is known as the “me” brain, or the monkey mind, likening thoughts cycling through your mind to the way a monkey bounces through the trees. Mindfulness meditation allows you to rein in this default thought process that causes so much inner turmoil, and in doing so, calm, empathy, and compassion arises.
Loving Kindness and Compassion
Richard Davidson, a University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientist who has spent decades studying meditation said, “If we spent such a short time on our mind as we do on brushing our teeth, this world would be a different place.” One studyfound that after just two weeks of loving kindness meditation training, people made charitable donations at a higher rate.
Another study found that people were three times more likely than non-meditators to give up their seat when they saw someone on crutches. “Loving-kindness also boosts the connections between the brain’s circuits for joy and happiness and the prefrontal cortex, a zone critical for guiding behavior,” Davidson writes in Altered Traits, a book he co-authored on the neuroscience of meditation. “And the greater the increase in the connection between these regions, the more altruistic a person becomes.” It is no wonder that companies like Google, Nike, Apple, and Target have begun integrating meditation training into their business model.
Those that suffer with depression and PTSD show decreased volume and density in their hippocampus. And while brain scans indicate that meditation helps to mitigate this, do these changes prove a real, perceptible shift in the patients’ feelings of wellbeing? Yes, they do.
Participants self-reported their levels of stress decreased and their overall happiness improved after completing mindfulness training. In fact, a study at Johns Hopkins University categorized the effect size of meditation as a treatment for depression as moderate, at 0.3. For comparison, the effect size of prescription antidepressant medications is also 0.3. In Image 1.2 below, you will see evidence from MRIs indicating that meditation serves to alleviate the perception of pain in the brain by 57 percent.
A growing number of studies are reaffirming evidence that meditation directly affects the self-control regions of the brain and is helpful in treating addiction. One study of the American Lung Association’s “Freedom from Smoking’’ program tested the success of its program with the addition of meditation training and found that those subjects were many times more likely to have quit smoking by the end of the program, and at the 17-week follow-up, than those who did the program alone. Through mindfulness training practices, patients were able to detach the body from the emotion, or craving, allowing them to ride out the wave of temptation. Other research has supported the theory that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP) are highly successful in treating many forms of addiction and are often used in rehabilitation and recovery centers.
How Do I Meditate?
The wealth of information available on meditation and its various techniques can be overwhelming. Where do you begin? Just like you cannot get in shape by going to the gym for a week or play Mozart after a couple of piano lessons, it takes small, consistent effort to grow your mindfulness practice. Starting with as little as five or ten minutes a day is ideal for beginners. Try it first thing in the morning when you are still sleepy, and your mind is especially susceptible to influence (and worry).
Meditation music can help you to release your propensity to go down the rabbit hole of wandering thoughts. YouTube has a host of great meditation playlists as well as guided meditations. Apps like Calm,Headspace, or Insight Timer offer thousands of guided meditations to help you get into the feel and practice of mindfulness.
The beauty of meditation is in its simplicity, it does not require a single thing to do it other than your own consistent efforts. And maybe a timer to know when you are done. While as little as five minutes a day will improve your mental state and sense of wellbeing, you may want to set the goal to work up to a 30-45-minute meditation a couple of times per week. The aforementioned Harvard study found that in participants that achieved lasting states of altered brain chemistry and Alpha waves throughout their daily activities, practiced for this amount of time. While participants that meditated for 20 minutes showed improvement in all the same areas of the brain but only while actively meditating.
Meditation is a technique to achieve a heightened sense of awareness through focused attention. Mindfulness training helps to regulate mood, boosts your feel-good chemicals, and reduce the stress hormone cortisol. It thickens the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, which is directly related to fighting depression and PTSD. It shrinks activation of the amygdala, which is our brain’s threat response. It preserves the gray and white matter in the brain that normally atrophies with age. It quiets the self-absorbed “me” brain that tends to cycle in toxic and obsessive thoughts. It increases our capacity for compassion, empathy, and our desire to help others.
The effect size of meditation as treatment for depression is equal to that of antidepressants. And it has been proven to greatly increase the chances of recovering from addiction and preventing relapse. We will never be free of the stresses and uncertainty that life presents— meditation is a way to cope, find peace, and a sense of calm helping you to manage your emotions and improve your quality of life.
The following is an excerpt from a marketing plan prototype for a fictional beverage company. This is the introduction addressing the plastic crisis.
What is the Plastic Crisis?
Plastic is becoming a crisis of monumental proportions, threatening the well-being of our planet and our very existence. Globally we produce more plastic than ever before, about 300 million tonnes annually. Having no way to recycle or accommodate this tremendous generation of waste, the equivalent of a full garbage truck full of trash is dumped into the ocean every minute, and much of it is plastic. Consider the following:
The United States generates more plastic waste than any country in the world. This is especially significant because Americans comprise just 4% of the population but generate 17% of the world’s plastic waste.
70% of plastic drink bottles are not recycled.
Globally, about 20,000 plastic bottles are bought every second, up to 68 billion plastic bottles per year.
Only 3% of discarded plastic bottles are turned into something new.
Plastic does not biodegrade – it photodegrades. This means that it takes up to 1,000 years for every single bottle to decompose, leaking pollutants into our soil and water along the way.
Unlike other materials, plastic loses its quality each time it is recycled, and the process is difficult and expensive. Most plastic collected for recycling still ends up in a landfill as many companies opt for cheaper, new plastic in their manufacturing process.
While this is disheartening, the opportunity lies in the global interconnected platform we have at our fingertips in which we can communicate the desperate need to conserve resources and reduce single use plastic waste. Consider the illustrious quote by Margerate Mead, “Never doubt that a group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
What Can You Do About the Plastic Crisis?
By educating the consumer, we create an unavoidable need for an alternative. Brands like Beverage Buddy appeal not only to the booming trend for seltzers and flavored waters, but also exemplify a low waste and sustainable business model utilizing reusable bottles and a cartridge recycling program.
Empowering the public to understand that their contribution matters, and that they are either aiding in, or helping to reduce the problem with every purchase. Consumers need to understand that they hold tremendous power, and if they can look at the bigger picture and consider the impact that these little, everyday choices have, they can do something monumental for the future generations. You can enjoy your beverages and do it in a way that is entirely sustainable and good for our planet. We thrive on that good feeling we get when we make decisions that are for the greater good and come from a higher collective state of consciousness.
In an increasingly health-conscious world, if you don’t have a healthy immune system, you don’t have anything. How often have you thought about your own immune system? Is it healthy? How can you make it better?
Did you know yoga can dramatically increase your immune system function, as well as detoxify organs, remove waste, and increase the flow of rich, oxygenated blood throughout the whole body? Yoga For Every Body has designed an incredible new workshop, Immune Boost, that will have your immune system thriving.
Immune Boost focuses on twists to wring out the liver and kidneys, inversions to flush the lymph nodes, and pranayama breathing techniques to oxygenate the blood and alleviate adrenal fatigue. Additional side effects of this workshop may include a stronger body, more flexibility, extreme stress relief, improved anxiety and depression, deeper sleep, an increase in serotonin production, and an overall sense of calm and awesomeness.
Immune Boost is so much more than a yoga class, Goddess Madeline will teach you the relationship between the asanas and the anatomy of your body, the sequence with which you practice, and how they work together to achieve maximum benefit. You will receive one-on-one breathwork coaching, an essential part of receiving the benefits of the practice and the one piece of the puzzle you cannot do alone.
Taught by Goddess Madeline — yes that’s Goddess Madeline, the fun, sassy, nurturing, spiritual guru, healer, and mother you did know you always wanted — Immune Boost is an 8-week series beginning on March 1st. Because we care about you and want you to get these amazing health benefits, we want to offer you a little gift, 25% off the total price of the workshop! However, to get this incredible deal you must register this week. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Space is limited, click here <insert link> to sign up. No one ever says, ‘man, I really regret the time I did yoga, got healthy, and improved my life. Should’ve stayed home and watched Shark Tank reruns.’
Peace and Love,
Goddess Madeline and The Yoga For Every Body Studio
Many people view yoga as a lot of stretching and breathing, and that is a big part of it, but the science behind it is complex and intentional. For example, did you know that if you suffer from joint damage, certain poses can flush out built-up toxins and damaged cells, replenishing and repairing the joint with nutrient-rich, oxygenated blood? It is remarkable. And this process of natural detoxification can be applied to every system of the body. There are poses (or asanas, as the yogis say) that detoxify your internal organs, stimulate lymphatic drainage, oxygenate the blood, and improve neural pathways within the body. Physical effects of this include soothing headaches and body tension, alleviating anxiety and depression, deeper, more restorative sleep, and giving your immune system a huge boost. Let’s be honest, Immune system function is paramount in today’s virus-weary and uncertain climate.
Can you incorporate these yoga poses in your daily life to feel better, live healthier, and improve your immune system? The following aims to serve as an introduction to understanding the asanas that aid in waste removal (stimulating the excretory system from the liver, kidneys, sweat glands, and bowels), purification, and restoring the body’s natural functions while replenishing with highly oxygenated blood. It is important to note that if you suffer from physical ailments or limitations, it is best to check with your doctor or seek hands-on guidance from a trained and trusted yoga instructor. If you feel safe to pursue these poses on your own, remember to ease into them, maintain focus on the breath, and show yourself kindness.
Ball your hand up into a fist. Squeeze it really tight, as hard as you can, for 15 seconds or so, and let it go. What happened? Your muscles and joints were stressed very hard and temporarily deprived of its blood supply. When released, they are flooded with freshly oxygenated blood cells. In particular, the knees, where injury is common, asanas like reclining hero pose (shown below) have great results in repairing damaged tissues, lubricating the joint, and improving mobility. This compression technique can be utilized to ease nerve pain and tightness while lubricating the hips, ankles, elbows, wrists, and even the spine. Applying compression to the abdomen, like in child’s pose or bow, will flush the liver and intestines, and promote healthy digestion. Backbends like camel pose will compress the back body, purifying the kidneys.
Think of twists as wringing out the inner organs the way you would a wet towel. They are an extension of compression postures. Twisting and compressing the mid body wrings out the liver, kidneys, and spleen, stimulating waste removal. Our bodies are incredible organisms that naturally excrete waste through sweat, pee, poop, and even in the air we exhale. By stimulating the digestive organs and facilitating waste removal in all systems of the body, you will not only rid yourself of toxins encountered in your everyday environment, but you will achieve a homeostasis of being hormonally and chemically balanced with a thriving gut microbiome. Your gut microbiome is responsible for a host of healthy brain chemicals, including serotonin production. In addition to that, if you spend much of your day hunched over a computer screen, yoga will alleviate the pain associated with this, and reverse slouching.
An inversion is any pose that puts the heart above the head. They can range from a simple forward fold to advanced postures like pincha mayurasana. Inversions encourage blood to flow in the opposite direction, rinsing out the lymphatic system. Draining of lymph nodes is an essential part of immune system function. Inversions increase circulation and oxygen to the brain, clearing up brain fog, relieving stress, and combating depression and anxiety. Inversions are a great way to flip your perspective upside down and see things in a new light. Because inversions reverse the pressure of gravity and increase blood flow to the face, it is praised for its anti-aging, beautifying benefits as well.
Breath work, also known as pranayama, is the most important part of your yoga practice. Deep, slow, controlled, audible breathing creates oxygen rich blood and regulates the nervous system. This aids in the functions of all systems of the body, creating overall wellness and homeostasis. Breath work helps many manage stress and panic attacks, fall asleep faster and deeper, and relieve and manage chronic pain. Pranayama breath reduces adrenal fatigue, which is extremely prevalent in our stressed-out, overstimulated, hustle culture. Adrenal hormones are catabolic, meaning they burn lots of energy and break down cell structures in the body quickly. Repeatedly activating the adrenal glands through stress, stimulants, and lack of REM sleep causes adrenal fatigue and makes you especially susceptible to illness.
My hope is that this information found you at the right time to shed light on the incredible healing and restorative benefits of yoga and has inspired you to incorporate it into your daily life — even if you start with just a few poses a day. As you feel comfortable you may seek out the plethora of free or paid online yoga content or an in-person class to help you understand and grow your practice while learning proper form and sequencing for the greatest benefit. Remember that yoga is not about being able to get into a difficult pose or extreme flexibility, it is about the practice. Through the practice, through the effort, through the breath is where we reap the benefit. Namaste.
When the pandemic hit, life as we knew it halted. All but essential businesses were shut down, and we were told not to leave our houses. We watched, terrified, as the numbers and deaths escalated and hospitals reached capacity. The collective population longed for the creature comforts that many of us took for granted, like hugging our loved ones.
Slowly, life has begun to return to its previous normalcies and pleasures. Restaurants re-opened but with strict regulations on indoor dining and capacity limits. The hospitality industry has suffered tremendously during the pandemic and more than 110,000 restaurants closed their doors for good. Restauranteurs took to every media outlet available and begged the public to order take-out to keep their restaurants afloat. The public listened.
Save The Restaurants
Orders flooded into the four mega-companies that dominate the food delivery market, Grubhub, DoorDash, UberEats, and Postmates. These companies raked in around $5.5 billionin combined revenue from April through September 2020, more than twice as much as they earned in the same period the previous year.
There is no doubt these delivery apps are doing big business. They have been endorsed by a multitude of celebrities like Chrissy Teigen, the whole Kardashian/Jenner clan, and even Prince William. Rapper Post Malone loves Postmates so much he was crowned the most active celebrity user, spending more than $40,000 on the app in a span of approximately one year. DoorDash shelled out millions for a coveted Superbowl commercial featuring the cast of Sesame Street. With a backing like this, Americans all over the world perceived that ordering their Chinese take-out or Taco Tuesday through these apps was doing a great service to a struggling industry in a shaky economy. Unfortunately, the opposite is true.
The Truth About Delivery Apps
Companies like DoorDash are charging restaurants fees anywhere from 13.5% to 40%, the average around 30%, just to process orders. To put that into perspective, profit margins for a restaurant are typically between 3-5%, this means that after completing an order through one of these apps, many restaurants break even or lose money. These companies pretend they are saving the restaurant industry when they are, in fact, bankrupting them.
In an article published by the Washington Post, Pizzaria owner Giuseppe Badalamenti shared his GrubHub receipts showing 46 pizzas ordered through the platform, totaling $1,042.63. GrubHub took their cut of $666.09 in commissions and fees. This left Badalamenti with barely enough to pay for supplies, let alone labor or earn a profit. “I’m sitting there fuming looking at this receipt,” says Badalamenti, “But it’s like an open secret. Owners have been suffering in silence, because they’re ashamed, and they think this is what you have to do because this is what everyone is doing.”
A sizable portion of the fees administered by these apps do not go toward the delivery drivers or any practical business expense, but rather for “promotions” — a restaurant’s way of ensuring that they do not get buried in the app’s search results. GrubHub, over the span of several years, accumulated tens of thousands of URLs related to restaurants and set up fake websites designed to optimize Google’s search engine results. A customer looking to order from a particular restaurant could open the fake website, that looks almost identical to the company’s real website, complete with their logos and full menu (often the GrubHub prices are inflated above the restaurant’s actual price) and they are then unwittingly directed to the GrubHub app for purchase. GrubHub maintains that they have permission in their contracts with the restaurants to do this but have since stopped the creation of faux websites.
Another lawsuit, based out of Philadelphia, accused GrubHub of posting different phone numbers for partner restaurants on its websites and through Yelp, then charging the restaurant commissions for every phone call received, even if those calls did not result in orders. In fact, lawsuits have become the norm for these companies, and they are shelling out millions on legal fees every year. Collin Wallace, a former GrubHub engineer, vented about his ex-business partners, stating that these apps are “not actually in the business of delivery. They are in the business of finance. In many ways, they are like payday lenders for restaurants and drivers. They give you the sensation of cash-flow, but at the expense of your long-term future and financial stability.” He goes on to say, “and there are no repercussions, because these companies spend more every year on legal fees than they will see in their entire life cycles.”
Now restaurants are beginning to fight back. A class-action lawsuit filed in New York in April 2020 alleges that the four delivery apps are forcing restaurants to guarantee their prices will remain the same for both dine-in and app-related purchases, absolving them of having to compete on price. The suit also alleges that these companies have agreed to not infringe on one another’s geographical turf, creating a monopoly, as Grubhub serves the majority of New York, DoorDash claims San Francisco, UberEats has Miami, and so it continues for all major metropolitan areas throughout the nation.
The Gig Workers
Unfortunately, exploitation of restaurants is not the whole of the issues plaguing food delivery services. The pandemic spurred record numbers of unemployment, the highest since the Great Depression, and people have flocked to “gig” work (jobs that pay per gig, such as delivery) by the millions to survive financially. To put this in perspective, shopping service Instacart brought on 300,000 new shoppers in just one month, October 2020, more than doubling its workforce. This means there are millions of people competing for lower and lower paying gigs. Delivery drivers are hired as independent contractors. They have no entitlement to minimum wage, overtime pay, sick leave, insurance, benefits, or reimbursement for work-related expenses. Additionally, they cannot join unions and have no legal protection against unfair treatment or working conditions.
Jeffrey Fang, a DoorDash driver, was delivering on a Saturday night in a quiet residential neighborhood when he encountered a carjacker who made off with his van and two small children inside. Thankfully, Fang’s van and children were found unharmed four hours later. Instacart worker Tyrita Franklin-Corbett was bitten by a customer’s dog while making a delivery. She was forced to stop working for two weeks and received only $60 in compensation from Instacart over the incident. Franklin-Corbett said she used to make around $300 in a few hours pre-pandemic, and on her most recent trip that took her over an hour and a half to complete, she made $9. “I have to work twice as much to make half of what I was making to survive,” she said. Lawsuits have been filed against Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates, Instacart, and more, accusing them of misclassifying their employees as independent contractors because it is cheaper and allows them to skirt laws for employee rights and benefits.
Finding A Solution
As Americans become more informed, many are asking what they can do about it. Ordering take-out from restaurants is great if you order directly from the restaurant and pick it up yourself. If you must have delivery, call the restaurant and ask if they employ their own drivers as many are partnering with neighboring businesses. Restaurants encourage customers to order hours or even days ahead, as it allows for them to plan and account for delivery services. There are some small enterprises attempting to fight the corporate conglomerates. In Washington, DC, the owners of the restaurant Ivy and Coney launched a nonprofit called DC To-GoGo, featuring a collection of local restaurants that will limit fees to 5% for processing and 15% for delivery. Their website touts that they were, “started by a small team of service industry veterans who were (are) naive enough and optimistic enough to think they could take on a multi-billion-dollar industry”. Co-owner Josh Saltzman says, “We went into it thinking, we want to make sure drivers are making at least $18 an hour and that food is hot.” With those goals in mind, “you realize the system as it’s set up doesn’t work.”
The bottom line, your money does the talking and every order counts. Every purchase, be it from a restaurant or a grocery store or clothing retailer, tells a business or organization what you prioritize and value. If you care about small locally owned restaurants, the people risking their health and safety working in these establishments, and the delivery drivers accepting gig jobs for chump change, you must withdraw your support from exploitative delivery services. You must put your money where your mouth (or conscience) is.
Creating an online writing portfolio can be an intimidating task. You might be thinking you need web-design or coding expertise, or that you have to pay someone who does. Perhaps you feel you lack the body of work to create a dynamic and engaging portfolio. Luckily for you, neither is true. This article will guide you through creating your own personalized online portfolio, in just 5 easy steps.
1. Plan Ahead
First, you must do some research. There are so many types of portfolios, and the kinds you will need depend on the job you’re seeking. There are:
Presentation Portfolio – Also known as a PDF Portfolio, is commonly used to submit a sampling of your work to an employer.
ePortfolio — A permanent home for your writing samples that can cater to multiple audiences and showcase your career over time.
Paper Portfolio – This one is rare in today’s paperless society, but good to know about, in case it’s asked of you.
If an ePortfolio fits your objectives, then this article is for you. Maintaining an online portfolio is the ideal format for freelancers, bloggers, and self-published authors and can be viewed by potential employers, buyers, and serves as a networking tool to connect with other writers. Think about the intent for your portfolio and its audience. Is it to appeal to employers as a freelance writer? Is it to get into a University or writing program? Are you an author trying to sell your work? Clearly define your goals, your audience, and the strategies you intend on using.
Next, do a bit of investigating into hosting websites, if you haven’t already. Luckily, there are lots of beautifully designed free hosting sites available that do all of the coding for you — no web developer degree needed. You may decide that a paid hosting site or personalized domain name will be useful, but for now, try out some free ones and play around. I recommend Wix, WordPress, and Squarespace. All are user-friendly for beginners with loads of tutorials available (either on their website, or YouTube) to help guide you through any of the tricky parts. And voila, you have a website!
2. Know Your Audience
Although I touched on this topic briefly before, now is the time to really put yourself into the role of your audience and what appeals to them. What “problem” do they have that you are the perfect candidate to solve? Think about the industry, or industries, you are aiming for.
Many writers choose not to select a niche or commit themselves to a specific genre, and that is great! In that case, your website needs to be neatly organized, easy to navigate, and clearly differentiates your work. Look at examples of portfolios in your industry, or prospective industries. A simple search in the search engine of your choice will give you plenty to peruse. Looking at the work of others will show you what is effective, what tips and tricks you would like to borrow, and what you want to avoid. This is a great way to look at the standards of presentation and professionalism and ensure that you’re meeting those expectations. Once you know what you like, and do not like, and you have established how you want to present yourself, you need to start thinking about the writing samples that will best represent you.
3. Select Your Best Work
Now is the time to go through all of your writing samples and select your best artifacts (that’s industry lingo for the documents or media you will include in an ePortfolio). You may have some pieces that you already love, some that need tweaking, or you might be starting from scratch. Starting from scratch is no big deal. The samples in your portfolio need to be tailored to your target audience or niche – the golden rule of appealing to a prospective employer, admissions officer, or customer, is do not waste their time! You need to peak their interest quickly in order to land the job or make the sale. Even if you have 1,000 samples of perfect technical business writing, it does not make much sense to include them if you have decided to pursue your dream of writing children’s books. Show your audience what they need to see on the first page. Do not expect them to go digging for anything.
If you are creating a portfolio as a novice freelance writer, you may be wondering what to do without any professional writing samples. Simply create your own. You can draft documents based on the type of business or brands you would like to work for and call it a “concept” or “sample.” This allows you to show potential employers that you are equipped to do exactly what they need, regardless of your previous experience. It is important that you are transparent about the work being a mockup. Although there is no set limit on the number of artifacts you will need, I recommend at least five samples to start.
Finally, you must back up your work. Do not wait for a laptop meltdown to leave you high and dry. Find your method, be it the cloud, external hard drive, thumb nail drive, or the like and begin backing up immediately.
4. Build a Simple, Attractive Website
The rule of thumb for ePortfolios, and you may have picked up on this while doing your research, is to keep it simple. The focus is on your writing – graphics and photos need to be minimal and intentional. Font colors should be easily read by all audiences. Keep in mind how the website will look to those with vision issues, color blindness, using screen readers, or viewing it on a smartphone. Make sure that any images used are legally within your right to republish. If you need help with this, search for free Creative Commons images, or use websites that are dedicated to free, shareable, high-quality images like Unsplash.com or Pexels.com.
5. Fine-tune, Publish, and Upkeep
So far, we have selected a hosting site, and crafted a simple yet beautiful website, using free images, with a minimum of five of our best writing samples that are tailored specifically to our target audience. Finished? Not quite. Now is the time to fine-tune. Because no matter how great your work is, broken links, misspelled words, bad grammar, or inconsistency between pages is going to look unprofessional. Go over every page of the site scrupulously. Check that links are working, the font type, color, and size are consistent and cohesive throughout, it is easy to navigate, make sure everything is lined up to a grid for structure and visual appeal, and make ample use of white space to break up the page and direct the viewer where to go.
Proofread! Get the help of an outside source to catch spelling, grammar, punctuation, and clarity issues. Have friends and colleagues you trust go through your site first and give feedback on its ease of use, organization, and design before you post it for the world to see.
Finally, once the site is published, it will need regular upkeep. Think of your ePortfolio as a living journal. As you grow and change as a writer, so should your portfolio. Change and update your samples. Tweak the design or images used to better reflect you and the current trends in your industry. When applying for a particular job, view and navigate your website as that employer and make sure that it will appeal to them and your best work is on the landing page. The greatest part of an ePortfolio is that the ball is in your court. You have the freedom to design, create, and present your art as you see it. Now go be great.
Fast fashion is the fun, trendy, and remarkably cheap clothing brands that make keeping up with trends and social media influencers seem accessible to nearly everyone. It is the byproduct of the new consumer culture, in which people regularly buy more clothes than they want (or need) and dispose of them more quickly. Lines like H&M and Forever 21 release new collections 12-16 times per year. Clothing production has doubled since 2000, resulting in massively overproduced textiles with nowhere to go but the landfill. A staggering 85% of clothing textiles go unused and are usually incinerated, releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Fast fashion brands are notorious for outsourcing labor to unregulated and impoverished countries, or using undocumented workers who are unlikely to challenge their bosses for low pay and inhumane working conditions. Trendy, cheap clothes really does come with a hefty environmental and ethical price tag; creating a perfect storm of consumerism, waste, and a carbon footprint that will not be sustainable for much longer.
Where Does Fast Fashion Come From?
Fast fashion requires incredibly low manufacturing costs, so the majority of production is outsourced to Asia and India, whose lax labor laws are exploited to overwork and underpay garment workers. The majority of these workers are women and girls who, due to the patriarchal and impoverished countries they come from, have fewer rights than men, and very little recourse for change. They are regularly forced to work overtime, are often not compensated for it, and subjected to many forms of abuse and unfit working conditions. The brand Fashion NOVA came under fire when it was revealed they were under investigation for using undocumented workers at dozens of factories producing clothing for the brand in Los Angeles; paying some as little as $2.77 per hour. An investigation from 2016 showed the factories in question owing 3.8 million in back wages to its employees. Fashion NOVA has a net worth over $450 million, owing much of that success to minority populations — yet in a twisted ethical paradox, the very factories that manufacture their product exploit marginalized communities, especially young, undocumented, immigrant women. Retailers have a responsibility to educate the customer about fast fashion’s cruel practicesto change the trajectory of the fashion industry into a more humane standard.
Fast Fashion and the Environment
Churning out new collections as often as every few weeks results in an overabundance of clothing textiles, most of which cannot be sold or donated, so it is incinerated. Burning cheap synthetic fabrics produces large quantities of carbon dioxide and pollutes the atmosphere. “The fashion industry emits more carbon than international flights and maritime shipping combined,” according to an article from The Business Insider last year. Clothing made from cheap materials, namely polyester, produces two to three times more carbon emissions than cotton. Polyester also contains microfibers that shed tiny particles of plastic when washed. These microplastics pollute the water supply and never biodegrade. It is estimated that 31% of all plastic pollution in the Earth’s oceans is a direct result of laundering synthetic materials like polyester.
Cotton, while being a natural material for clothing, requires massive amounts of water to grow. It takes 700 gallons of water to produce a single cotton t-shirt. Think about how many cheap cotton t-shirts the average American owns. The fashion industry is the second largest consumer of water on Earth. In many parts of the world, cotton farming has deserted lakes, rivers, and other water sources that are essential for life in their respective communities.
Textile manufacturing also requires regular use of toxic dyes. In impoverished areas like Bangladesh, it is not uncommon to see children swimming in polluted lakes and rivers that have been dyed various colors as a result of dumping. Textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of water in the world. These dyes not only contaminate water, but can have harmful effects on factory workers that submerge their hands in dyes and breathe chemical fumes everyday in these factories.
We live in a consumer culture. We’ve been conditioned that if something breaks, don’t fix it, replace it. Fast fashion glamorizes the ideology of never wearing the same outfit twice; it is designed to be worn and discarded. Clothing production has doubled since the year 2000, and 85% of all textiles produced for fashion brands goes unused. “The equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped in a landfill every second,” states an article from The Business Insider. The statistics are astounding and embarrassing. The fashion industry mass produces a product that exploits women and children, is rapidly depleting and polluting its water supplies, only to then dump or burn almost all of it, which pollutes the air with carbon dioxide. One thing is for certain, fast fashion is expending resources and polluting the planet at a rate that cannot be sustained for very long.
Where does the blame lie for the injustices fast fashion bestows on it’s laborers and the environment? I believe that a large part of the responsibility is on the retailers, to educate themselves and give a voice to this epidemic. Retailers must put pressure on the brands and their manufacturers, and only sell their clothing if it is made sustainably and ethically. Working with environmentally and socially conscious brands, retailers can create a marketing plan designed to educate the consumer on the dark practices of fast fashion. An educated audience is the only way to change a wasteful consumer culture. We need to change the fashion ideal from “I never wear the same outfit twice,” to “I know my outfit was made by someone who didn’t have to shorten their lifespan to make it.” If the fashion industry sells a lifestyle, then that style should encompass basic human rights for all, and living in a way that is sustainable for the planet.
Below is an excerpt of a mockup presentation of a proposal for a financial grant to be presented to the stakeholders of Northern Virginia Community College.
Dr. Hillbert and Stakeholders,
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the students at Northern Virginia Community College Annandale are facing new and unprecedented challenges when it comes to achieving their academic goals. NVCC enrollment is down 4% this fall (Long and Douglas-Gabriel) most of which is attributed to low-income students withdrawing from their programs of study because of unemployment and financial hardships. With the generous donation of $100,000 that NVCC Annandale has received, we feel that it is imperative to use the funds to directly support those students who cannot continue their education without financial assistance. Funding the education of these struggling students also puts money directly back into the school, as much of it will be used towards tuition and books. In the NVCC Community Development Grant (NCDG) program proposed below, we will cover the current economic crisis facing our campus, the impact that this grant will have, the distribution of funds, and the proposed application and selection process.
Impact of COVID-19 at NVCC Annandale
The Coronavirus pandemic has devastated the world, forcing colleges to shut down temporarily and augment their curriculum to an all-virtual platform. College students are facing more struggles than ever, and for many, continuing their education becomes a distant concern when caring for sick or dying family, struggling to pay bills, or keep food on the table. With unemployment at an all-time high, millions are unable to pay tuition and expenses. According to the Department of Labor report, the U.S. unemployment rate is 7.7%, the worst it has been since the great recession of 2010. (“Latest Unemployment”). Those numbers equate to 12.58 million unemployed Americans, and about 40% of community college enrolled students.
Students of every learning level are attempting to adjust to online schooling, but many don’t have a quiet, safe place to study with reliable Wi-Fi. NVCC offers an education to many who cannot find it elsewhere, including single parents, those working full-time jobs, low-income and immigrant families (many of which are the first in their family to attend college.) These are the people for whom a college education will have the greatest impact, and these are the people who are struggling to stay enrolled because of the pandemic.
In a recent study conducted by the Census Bureau, about sixteen million Americans have cancelled plans for college this semester (Long). Ten million cited financial struggles as their reason for withdrawal. Low-income families earning less than $75,000 a year are twice as likely to cancel college plans. As reported by the Washington Post, NVCC enrollment dropped 4% this fall, with a 16% decline among Hispanic students, and a 20% percent decline among African American students. Since NVCC’s student body in 2018 was comprised of 24% Hispanic and 15.6% African American (NOVA Fact Book, 1-4), this is a huge loss for the school, and for the communities it impacts. Lower enrollment figures are the latest indication of the economic destruction unleashed by COVID-19, that has weighed more heavily on lower-income Americans and minorities. These populations have suffered the highest levels of Coronavirus cases and unemployment. Even more discouraging, on average only 13% of college dropouts return — even fewer will finish.
According to the Washington Post, students who dropped out of college this fall said their number one concern was over virtual classes (Long). Many parents and students alike do not want to pay full tuition prices to take virtual classes at home. They feel there is a lack of support that typically comes from attending classes in person and interacting with teachers, students and counselors regularly. Many students do not have a quiet place to study or the necessary equipment like personal computers or internet access. Out-of-state and international students have sought out alternative education options, which doesn’t bode well for NVCC’s enrollment numbers in the future. With such overwhelming data presented, we ask you to take into consideration how to best use this $100,000, for the greatest possible impact on the Annandale campus, the students, and the community.
COVID-19 has had a particularly devastating effect on minorities and low-income families that comprise a large portion of the NVCC student body. In our proposed plan, there are very little overhead costs or staffing needs and no special equipment or complicated permits are required. We are simply proposing a distribution of grants that will keep students enrolled at NVCC Annandale Campus and put money directly back into the school. The students who apply for this grant may never have another opportunity for higher learning. An education from NVCC Annandale will greatly improve their hiring potential and provide limitless opportunities for them to support their families and respective communities. It is not only a chance to give to those who are truly in need, but to propel a movement to uplift the community as a whole.