Tuesday, April 30, 2013

New Technique: Vertical Farming

Spacing has always been a problem to gardeners in the city or even in just small living areas. There are plenty of solutions out there now for planting and growing even if you are lacking in space. One of the new technique to gardening in small areas is vertical farming.This idea has been around for some time now, but only been making buzz these last few years. This new technique of growing and planting your favorite plants is space-saving and convenient. Vertical farming is about utilizing the space we have and making it all work together. Some gardeners have even taken it a step further by making it look artistic and home d├ęcor-like.
As numbers of buildings are growing and cities are expanding there could be a problem with farming in the future. Some believe that vertical farming is the solution to farming in the urban city community. Very similar idea to greenroof gardens in the urban city and we do see that becoming more and more popular. It is more sustainable for us to grow our own food closer to home as it is beneficial for the environment too. Food that is grown closer to home will not have high transportation cost, which will help decrease the price of food and it will also be fresher too. This will take stress off of farmlands that is growing profusely to keep up with high demands for more food.
Here are some interesting ways people has done with vertical farming done at home that you can do too!

This pallet garden is a great idea for planting in small spaces and it looks awesome!

This is a clever idea that turned a shoe holder into a hanging garden for herbs. This would be great in a small backyard area as it only hangs and doesn't take up much space at all. 

Yes, those are gutters and this is certainly a innovative way to garden on the side of the house.  It is proven to work and the results are amazing.

Monday, April 29, 2013

What's best?

Despite the assumed similarity inspired by their names, there are many distinctions between the act of reusing a material to that of it being recycled.

Both acts can be distinguished by their definition as well as the inherit impacts resulting from each one.

For starters, reuse can be viewed simply as using an item on multiple occasions, rather than disposing of it prematurely after a single use. Reuse can also include employing a material for multiple purposes.

Recycling, on the other hand, involves the melting down and re-manufacturing of a material. This requires significantly less energy than manufacturing virgin materials; taking only 5 percent to recycle an aluminum can than is used to produce a new one. However, recycling does consume more resources re-manufacturing materials, which may not have needed to be discarded, than would be the case if you were to hold on to materials until their useful lives have diminished.
For this reason, many people are considering ways in which to reuse an item before they place it in the recycling bin; either by utilizing its talents elsewhere, or giving the material to a reuse center or thrift store. This is another improvement to shipping an item off to be recycled; as most new and recycled items are manufactured in factories overseas, where one cannot be sure whether humane working conditions are being instilled.
By contrast, reuse centers and thrift stores are often local and therefore contribute to a strong, local infrastructure.
In addition to saving and reusing old items, you can further reduce waste by buying materials and appliances second hand.  Buying second hand furniture actually has the benefit of releasing fewer fumes in your home than newly made furniture, having already off-gassed before you purchased it.
This isn’t to deface the reputable successes of energy saved from recycling; but it is important to evaluate the energy used on a case by case basis.
Recycling one ton of paper, for example, can save 7,000 gallons of water and the equivalent of 17 trees; while recycling glass saves only 30 percent of the energy used producing new glass items.  An improvement, yes, although not nearly as resourceful as washing out a used glass jar for other household purposes.

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Office of Sustainability
Office - (954) 828-5785  Fax - (954) 828-4745

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Happy Arbor Day

 Tomorrow the City of Fort Lauderdale, along with many communities throughout the US, will be celebrating Arbor Day.  The last Friday in Arbor is National Arbor Day.  National Arbor Day is a holiday on which trees are honored. The origin of Arbor Day lies in the 19th century. The driving force behind National Arbor Day was J. Sterling Morton. The history of Arbor Day is a history of the celebration of the importance of trees to human life.

The first Arbor Day was held in Nebraska on April 10, 1872 and an estimated one million trees were planted that day.  On April 15, 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt issued an Arbor Day Proclamation to the School Children of the United States about the importance of trees and that forestry deserves to be taught in U.S. schools.  Since then, Arbor Day celebrations have been widely connect with children, but the contributions of trees to our lives is far from child’s play!

Why celebrate trees?  The importance of trees on our planet cannot be overstated.   I could go on and on about trees.  The list of benefits that trees provide is so long you might think it’s an exaggeration, but it is not.  Reduced pollution, erosion control, wildlife habitat, energy saving and enhanced human comfort are all well known long term consequences of tree planting.  Just look around from where you are reading this and count the number of things that are products of trees.  You’ll be amazed at how many things in your daily routine have ingredients derived from trees.   Planting trees is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to bring about widespread improvement in the environment and the quality of life of an area.  Trees also provide a sense of place and community.

The celebration of Arbor Day started in the US but has spread to countries throughout the world.  Why don’t you celebrate tomorrow by planting a tree or at least thanking a tree!

Happy Arbor Day!

Fort Lauderdale’s Arbor Day program will be at Colee Hammock Park, 1500 Brickell Drive, at 10:00 a.m.   We are expecting around 150 children.  Please join us!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Happy Earth Day from Johnny Galecki

The Big Bang Theory star's advice for eco-friendly living.

Many watched Johnny Galecki grow up on TV’s Roseanne. Now 37, Galecki stars as nerdy physicist Leonard Hofstadter in CBS’ hit comedy The Big Bang Theory. Like his character, Galecki is passionate about the environment. In honor of Earth Day, April 22, here’s his advice for eco-friendly living.
I am pretty obsessive about recycling because it is one of the easiest things you can do. It truly is,” he says. “I just got a tankless water heater this year. It wasn’t cheap initially, but it will pay me back. And one benefit is you never run out of hot water.”

“Start out doing what you can. I think that is the most important thing. It’s much easier to change behavioral patterns than we tend to believe.”


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Get Green in a Month - Week 4

The final installment…

Get Green in a Month - Week 4

By Natalie Cook
New York, NY, USA | Oct 20 2008

  While a month doesn't seem like much time to tackle a major project, read how you can go green by just making one simple change each day. Here are your tips for week four of your eco-transformation.
22. Carpool. Sharing is caring especially when it comes to transportation. When neighbors and co-workers ride together, everyone benefits.
23. Read the ingredients. Knowledge is power. Knowing what's in the products you buy will help you understand their impact on the environment.
24. Use less. When you are able to use only what you need, you help reduce unnecessary waste. Keep a journal of your food, fuel, and material consumption to better understand where you can cut back.
25. Use more. Enjoy the great outdoors more. Plan a hike or picnic instead of languishing indoors. When you use outdoor spaces more you use less energy to heat or cool the inside of your home.
26. Go low flow. Purchase low flow shower heads, faucets, and toilets to conserve water.
27. Support greeners. Stay informed and involved with local and national environmental efforts. Find out how you can support greening initiatives in your area.
28. Phone a friend. Share your environmental advances with friends and co-workers. When going green, it's great to have your own support network of eco-stewards.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day Funny

I know, I didn’t do a Friday Funny last week so here’s something to make up for it.  Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!

The first Earth Day was in 1970 but was an idea started in Senator Gaylord Nelson’s mind years before.  He looked around and saw the degradation of the environment and the seemingly lack of concern.  In 1962, Senator Nelson was able to persuade President Kennedy to go on a national conservation tour.  While it didn’t give the environment the spotlight he had hoped, the idea of Earth Day was started. 

To those too young to remember the 1950s and 60s, lots of bad things were happening to the environment.  Untreated industrial waste was being poured into our rivers and lakes resulting in rivers catching on fire, massive fish kills, and rivers and lakes so polluted that humans couldn’t enjoy them.  Our air was being filled with all types of toxins from factories and automobiles.  Smog was almost a daily occurrence in many of our large cities. 

As a result of Earth Day and the activism it started, the Clean Air Act got regulatory “teeth” and the Clean Water Act was passed.  Yes, nowadays there’s a cry for less regulations but do we really want to go back to flammable rivers and smog-filled air?    (Gene)

Today is Earth Day! Over one billion people in 192 countries are participating from London to Sao Paolo, Seoul to Babylon City, New Delhi to New York, Rome to Cairo; people everywhere are taking action in their communities and helping depict The Face of Climate Change.

How can you get involved? Attend an Earth Day event in your community, start doing something to lower your carbon footprint, and take a photo of yourself being part of the solution and upload it to The Face of Climate Change Wall.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The City of Fort Lauderdale's Earth Day and Arbor Day Events

In celebration of Earth Day, the City of Fort Lauderdale, in partnership with Kids Ecology Corps, HandsOn Broward, and Keep Broward Beautiful, invites you to participate in a series of free activities during the month of April that promote the values of sustainability, community, and fun! Students who participate will receive community service credit.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Electronics Recycling
Whole Foods Market
2000 N. Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale, FL
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Free disposal for Broward County residents.

Removing Exotic Plants and Replanting Native Plants
Snyder Park
3299 SW 4th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315
9 a.m. to noon
Special parking passes will be provided on the premises
Help remove exotic plants to make way for native ones. Participation in this activity is limited to 30 people and registration is required. To register for this activity, please visit HandsOn Broward. Registration will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.  (Registration is full on this event! Thank you for the support!)
Earth Day Tree Giveaway
Snyder Park
3299 SW 4th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315
1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
In the spirit of Earth Day, the City of Fort Lauderdale invites residents to pick up a free tree to plant at home! Only residents of the City of are eligible to receive a free tree, and proof of residency (i.e., driver’s license, utility bill, electric bill, etc.) will be required at the time of pickup. Limit one (1) tree per household.
Plant species include:
  • Bald Cypress
  • Bulnesia
  • Coconuts*
  • Dwarf Mangos*
  • Live Oak
  • Silver Buttonwood
  • White Geiger
*limited number available

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Dune Restoration and Sea Oat Planting
Central Beach
Oceanside of A1A, in the vicinity of NE 9th Street, across from Primanti Brothers
8:00 a.m. to noon (Sign-in starts at 7:30 a.m.)
A limited number of special parking passes will be emailed to registered volunteers.
Plant sea oats on the beach to preserve and protect the City’s shoreline from natural disasters and create a nesting area for sea turtles too! Registration for this activity is required and will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The first 50 participants to register for the sea oat planting will receive a free t-shirt at the event. Register online now! For more information, please call (954) 828-4750.
Keep Broward Beautiful Beach Cleanup
Fort Lauderdale Beach Park
1100 Seabreeze Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
8 a.m. to noon (Sign-in starts at 7:30 a.m.)
Help keep Fort Lauderdale’s beach beautiful, safe, and litter free. Registration for this activity is required and will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Please bring a completed Volunteer Application to participate.
For more information go to: RENOURISH FORT LAUDERDALE

Arbor Day
Also, Fort Lauderdale will have its annual Arbor Day program at Colee Hammock Park (1500 Brickell Drive) on Friday, April 26, at 10:00 a.m.  The program includes the Happyland Day School, Fort Lauderdale Garden Club and local Arborist L. Thomas Chancey.  The City of Fort Lauderdale is celebrating its 34th year as a Tree City, USA!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Make Earth Day Resolutions

Earth Day is next Monday so let’s start thinking of what we can do to help the environment!

Challenge yourself to helping the environment every day.

I don't want to rain on the parade, but I'm not 100 percent in love with Earth Day. Don't get me wrong—I love the awareness and the fact that projects get done on (and around) April 22. But what about the other 364 days of the year? So this Earth Day, I am challenging you to make Earth Day every day.

Sit down on April 22 and make your own Earth Day Resolutions—a list of day-to-day eco-friendly goals and challenges that will help you live a greener, cleaner and healthier life over the next 365 days. Don't know where to start? Naturally Savvy has some great suggestions.
  • Ditch plastic wrap (some of it contains PVC—yikes!)
  • Stop using paper plates. This is one of my biggest pet peeves. It's wasteful and completely unnecessary. If you're worried about family time, make washing dishes or loading the dishwasher a rotating chore that you do with one of your kids each evening.
  • Use public transit
  • Walk or take your bike whenever possible
  • Stop using chemical cleaners. Switch to natural products or homemade solutions.
  • Choose organic foods—particularly when it comes to pesticide-heavy produce and genetically modified foods.
  • Grow your own fruits and vegetables to eliminate pesticides and a huge part of your carbon footprint.
  • Start composting!
  • Stop using chemical fertilizers and pesticides. There are tons of natural alternatives on the market and all sorts of home remedies. (Trust me, people with chemical sensitivities will thank you.)
  • Use cloth diapers.
  • Volunteer with a local recycling program or environmental group.
  • Paper or plastic? Neither. Always take along a reusable bag when you leave the house.
  • Learn one new thing about the environment every week, then pass it on. Knowledge is power.
  • Reduce your garbage to a maximum of one bag per week. (It's the limit in my town, and with four people in my house, we rarely fill the bag.)
  • Send one letter or postcard to a politician—local, state, federal or international—each month concerning an environmental issue. A politician once told me that one letter or postcard represents about 50 people who feel the same way. Politicians won't take the environment seriously unless you show them you do.
  • Cut your paper footprint and switch to recycled paper products—paper towels, toilet paper, printing paper.
  • Ditch wrapping paper and paper gift bags in favor of eco-friendly and reusable alternatives.
  • Refuse to use polystyrene (Styrofoam). If a restaurant or take-out joint uses it, point out that it's unhealthy and bad for the environment.
  • Don't buy products made with PVC (polyvinyl chlorate). PVC is difficult to recycle and a recent study links the phthalates in vinyl flooring to autism. Other places PVC is lurking include: shower curtains, rain gear...

    This list could go on and on. Mother Nature Network has tons of great advice on living a little greener, so take some time to browse the site if you're looking for other options.
So what are my resolutions? I already do a lot of the things listed above, but there's definitely room for improvement.
Cara's Earth Day Resolutions
  1. Plant a fruit and veggie garden
  2. Switch to organic, free range chicken and eggs
  3. Find a non-toxic, natural hair dye
  4. Send one letter per month to a politician concerning an environmental issue
  5. Always carry a reusable bag (I'm forgetful, but I'm vowing to remember!)
Cara Smusiak writes on behalf of Naturally Savvy.com about how to live a more natural, organic and green lifestyle

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

10 Year-Old Boy Launches His Own Recycling Business, Donates 25% Of Profits To Homeless Children

If you don’t think you can ever make a difference, read about this 10 year-old Boy

At an age when most youngsters are just beginning to get acquainted with the world they've inherited, 10-year-old Vanis Buckholz was already thinking of ways he could help make it a better one for others -- and grown-ups have taken notice.
After learning about the importance of recycling on Earth Day at his elementary school a few years back, Vanis began to to notice how much reusable stuff people were throwing away every day, and decided to try to make a difference. So, at the ripe young age of 7, he became one of the nation's youngest eco-entrepreneurs, launching his very own recycling business to serve his hometown of Corona del Mar, California -- thus, "My ReCycler" was born.

"The idea for my business name came from 'cycling' and riding my scooter around town picking up trash on our beach, streets and parks then hauling it home to recycle," says Vanis. "My mom and dad taught me to never pollute so picking up trash was something we always did but now it's a part of the business."

After three years in business, My ReCycler has expanded with the help of his family, friends, and folks from throughout the region -- and a trailer attached to his bike to collect his customer's recyclables. In fact, that nowadays his trips to the recycling center are by the truckload.
But if all that wasn't remarkable enough for such an ambitious youngster, Vanis then decided to donate a portion of the recycling profits Project Hope Alliance, an organization that provides outreach to homeless and underprivileged kids.

It’s so easy to do nothing. But it’s really good to do something! I always tell my new customers that “every little bit matters”. Even ONE bottle helps. I love my job. I’m a very lucky kid but there’s a lot of kids who don’t have much luck.

"Project Hope Alliance is both amazed and humbled by the contributions and support given by Vanis to our organization," says Executive Director Jennifer Friend. "With his support we are educating and empowering homeless children in Orange County to end the cycle of poverty. Thank you Vanis for being a shining example of hope in action"

Monday, April 15, 2013

Get Green in a Month: Week 3

Third in the series...

Get Green in a Month: Week 3

By Natalie Cook
New York, NY, USA | Oct 13 2008

While a month doesn't seem like much time to tackle a major project, read how you can go green by just making one simple change each day. Here are your tips for week three of your eco-transformation.
15. Buy local. Purchasing locally grown fruits and vegetables reduces the amount of processing, packaging and transporting required to get food from the farm to your dinner table.
16. Plant a plant. Having house and office plants are not just aesthetically pleasing, they also help keep air clean and fresh.
17. Collect your cans. During the first week of your green plan, you started recycling paper. Now you're ready to graduate to cans. Before you place them in the bin, make sure they are clean and dry.
18. Repurpose your rubbish. Before you throw out or give away the great items you have lying around your house, think about creative ways to reuse your treasures. You may find that your old bucket makes a great new chair!
19. Handle with care. Taking care of what you have is an essential part of being green. The longer you are able to use existing items, the less waste you'll create buying new things.
20. Go paperless. With on-line bill pay, e-mail and internet shopping, there aren't many reasons left to sort through mountains of mail each year. Use the net as much as you can to eliminate the need for paper waste.  In Fort Lauderdale, you can do this and get a free tree:  Save A Tree, Plant A Tree
21. Take it in or let it out. Find a tailor in your neighborhood who can re-size your clothes when necessary. This will save the time and money you'd spend purchasing a new wardrobe every time the numbers on the scale change.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Tree Thursday - Champion Trees

Florida State Champion Trees

Every wonder what the largest tree in Florida is or the largest tree of a certain species.  The Florida Forest Service maintains a list of trees that have been registered as the largest of their species in Florida and in some cases, the second largest.  There’s even a list of native trees that don’t have State Champions.  You never know, you may have a State Champion tree in your backyard!  For information on nominating a tree go to Nominate.
Here’s some background on the program taken from the State website:

The Champion Tree Program was created by the American Forests organization in 1940, to recognize the largest known tree of each species in the United States. American Forests publishes their National Register of Big Trees every two years. The 2012 edition of the Register includes 111 Florida species, many of which are only found in the tropical region of the state. Florida now has the most national champions of any state. The largest National Champion tree in Florida is a native Shortleaf Fig, or Wild Banyan, located in Monroe County. This tree measures 444 inches in circumference, stands 48 feet tall, and carries a crown spread of 76 feet.
Florida began keeping a state register, the Florida Champion Tree Register, in 1975 to recognize the largest tree of each species within this state. It now contains hundreds of trees, including the national champions. All native and non-invasive naturalized tree species are eligible for nomination.
Although not a national champion, The Senator was the largest native tree of any kind in Florida until its demise in January, 2012. This gigantic baldcypress overlooked Big Tree Park in Seminole County from a height of 118 feet.  It measured 425 inches in circumference, and spread its crown over an average of 57 feet.

Search for a champion:
Note: Where the ownership type for a tree is listed as private, please obtain permission from the property owner, in advance, before visiting the location.
Can't find a particular species?
  • ·Listed invasive exotics are ineligible.
  • ·Non-native trees not recognized by American Forests can be certified as state champions.

A number of native Florida tree species currently do not have champions. We especially encourage people to nominate trees from this species list.

Get out and enjoy Florida’s natural resources and give special attention to the trees in honor of National Arbor Day that’s coming up on Friday, April 26.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Save A Tree, Plant a Tree - Paperless Utility Billing

Going paperless is a trend that is not going away.  I’m sure in a few years, the younger generation will look at us and wonder why we like to hold that paper bill in our hands and then file it away in a cabinet!  Many companies are starting to offer incentives to their customers to go paperless in billing and bill payment.  Going paperless has many advantages – it reduces costs, reduces paper waste and reduces carbon emissions by not having to be delivered through the postal system to name a few.  The City of Fort Lauderdale has recently rolled out “Save A Tree, Plant A Tree” to encourage its utility customers to go paperless by offering up to two free trees if they sign up for the program.  If your utility is not offering a paperless alternative, you need to encourage them to do so!

Save a Tree, Plant a Tree
Build a Canopy. Go Paper-Free!

The City of Fort Lauderdale presents Save a Tree, Plant a Tree, an innovative program that merges environmental protection and resource savings by offering free trees to Fort Lauderdale customers who switch to a paper-free utility billing process.
Save a Tree, Plant a Tree offers many benefits, including:
1. It promotes and encourages sustainability through paper-free services that save energy and natural resources.
The City of Fort Lauderdale prints approximately 54,000 utility bills each month, which equals 108 reams of paper. It takes 6 percent of one tree to make one ream of paper and one tree makes 16.67 reams of paper. If every City of Fort Lauderdale utility billing customer received an e-bill, he or she could help save approximately 6.5 trees per month or 78 trees per year1.
2. It increases the City’s tree canopy to cool, shade, and beautify homes, neighborhoods, paths, parks, and roads.
Twenty-one percent of the City of Fort Lauderdale is canopied by trees, and the City’s goal is to increase that to 25 percent by 2018. The tree canopy is vital to the health and beauty of the City, as it has many positive impacts. Trees provide shade, which helps reduce the heat island effect, a phenomenon of urban areas being warmer than surrounding rural areas due to the amount of concrete and asphalt being heated by the sun. Trees also help reduce stormwater runoff, filter pollutants, absorb carbon dioxide and provide oxygen, conserve household energy, save water, prevent soil erosion, and create a food source and safe home for native wildlife.
Trees also give a rural feel to urban areas, create recreational opportunities, and help increase property values. They also serve as landmarks that give neighborhoods a unique identity, as well as character and charm through their diverse shapes and sizes. Visually, trees help transform areas of brown, black and white into beautiful canopies of green.
3. It is a fiscally responsible alternative that helps “green” Fort Lauderdale while reducing expenses.
The City of Fort Lauderdale has 50,9862 utility customers and just 3,052 are signed up for e-billing. If the remaining utility billing customers only signed up for e-billing, the City of Fort Lauderdale would save approximately $183,499 per year, or $15,292 per month, on paper and postage needed to send out utility bills.

1. Calculations are based on a 40-foot tall tree that is six to eight inches in diameter.
2. Calculations are based on the number of utility customers as of 03/22/13.

Getting a free tree is easy. Fort Lauderdale utility customers just need to sign up for Automatic Bill Payment and/or E-billing and then pick up their tree, or two trees if signed up for both services, on the prescheduled day set for the timeframe they signed up in. Three types of trees are available as part of the Save a Tree, Plant a Tree program, and they are native and Florida-friendly. This means the trees are adapted to Florida’s climate, are not invasive, and require minimal water, chemicals, and fertilizers.

For more information on this program go to http://www.fortlauderdale.gov/saveatree/index.htm .

Monday, April 8, 2013

Get Green in a Month - Week 2

By Natalie Cook
New York, NY, USA | Oct 2008

While a month doesn't seem like much time to tackle a major project, read how you can go green by just making one simple change each day. Here are your tips for week two of your eco-transformation.
8. Donate it. Instead of throwing away old clothes, electronics or house wares, donate them to a local charity organization. Remember to ask for a receipt so you can count the deduction when you file your income taxes.
9. Repair it. If you have a pair of pants that are in need of tender loving care, try repairing them before getting rid of them. Most dry cleaners have tailors on site to let you know how much it will cost to make your pants look new.
10. Share it. If you prepare more food than you can consume, feel free to share it with friends and neighbors. Sharing meals keeps great food in tummies and out of trash cans.
11. Switch it. When your incandescent bulb burns out, replace it with an energy-efficient florescent or LED light bulb.
12. Research it. Before purchasing big ticket items, research the how the product manufacturers are making environmental considerations. A quick on-line search can help you make the greenest purchase.
13. Collect it. Set a large container outside to collect rain water. This water can be used to hydrate your family's plants or pets. (Make sure you treat it to keep away mosquitoes.)
14. Return it. Buying biodegradable items means when you must throw something away, it will easily decompose. The decomposition process returns materials back to the earth.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Drink with a reusable straw

(Okay – I’m tired this morning and accidently sent out a Green Thought I was working on for next week so you get a bonus this Friday!)

One think I stopped doing a few years ago was using straws and the disposable lids on my drinks.  So far I haven’t had a major spill and I’m hoping this not only helps the environment (reducing waste) but I won’t have the wrinkly lips when I get old! J

Why This Matters
A lowly plastic straw may not seem like an environmental menace but consider this for example: 500 million straws are used in the United States every day. That’s enough to fill 127 school buses daily and 46,400 buses a year, and it means the average American will use around 38,000 straws between the ages of five and 65.
These straws end up as waste shortly after we plunge them into our drinks. Most of them become the worst kind of trash there is: lightweight bits of plastic that are easily windblown, able to float, and frequently end up loose littering the environment where they choke wildlife and threaten marine species. A recent Plymouth University study of fish in the English Channel found that over one third had ingested plastic.
That literally sucks. If you like straws, the trick is to use more sustainable varieties.

How To
There are lots of reusable plastic-free options available for slurping smoothies. Straws made from stainless steel, shatterproof glass, and even bamboo are eco-friendly and dishwasher-safe. You'll also avoid the chemicals in plastic getting into your drink of choice. Sip on.

Some alternatives to plastic (I haven’t used or purchased any of these but just wanted to let you know products like these are available.  Always to your own homework before buying!):

Strawesome Reusable Glass Straws  Dress up your lemonade, smoothie, or mixed drink with an elegant--yet durable--glass straw from Strawesome. Handcrafted in the USA from borosilicate glass, Strawesome says they are non-toxic, dishwasher safe, and guaranteed against breakage, so you can use them over and over.

Onyx Stainless Steel Straw Hmm, a single-use, shoddy plastic straw versus a reusable, indestructible, dishwasher safe, sleek stainless steel straw? It really is no contest. And, frankly, icy drinks just taste better when sipped through stainless particularly when it comes with a built-in bend--now that's easy living! I couldn’t find a website for them but they are available through Amazon. 

If anyone knows of a local store that carries reusable straws, please let me know!  One thing I know I need to get better at is letting the the wait staff know I don’t use or need straws!

If you want to get serious about being straw-free check out want a 9 year-old started http://www.ecocycle.org/bestrawfree .

Friday Funny

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tree Thursday - Yellow Tab

Silver Trumpet Tree or Yellow Tab
Tabebuia caraiba

This tree falls under the “what’s blooming now?” category.  Most of you in South Florida have probably notice this tree with the beautiful yellow flowers that has been blooming for the last few weeks. Commonly referred to as the Yellow Tab, at least by me, this tree gives a spectacular burst of color in the spring.  The “Silver Trumpet” common name refers to the silver color of the leaves and the trumpet shape of the flowers.  Most Tabebuias, and there are many – Gold, Purple, Pink, have “trumpet” in their common name because of the flower shapes.  The Yellow Tab was once planted prolifically around South Florida, it has fallen out of favor somewhat due to soft wood and the tendency to blow over.  This species was introduced to Broward County, Florida by the same woman, Annie Beck, which started the first Garden Club here. 

The Yellow Tab is an excellent tree for around utility lines due to the fact that it only gets to be 20 to 25 feet tall.  Avoiding specimens with circling roots at the time of planting can help the tree be more wind resistant.  This tree is originated from Paraguay, so it’s not native to South Florida but it hasn’t proven to be invasive. 

Growth Rate –                  Medium
Drought Tolerance –        High
Salt Tolerance –               Medium

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Never Throw These 5 Items in the Trash

Never Throw These 5 Items in the Trash

Read these tips for items that must be recycled.

By Sara Novak
Columbia, SC, USA | Apr 24 2009
Unless you've been sleeping under a rock for the past 20 years you know the importance of recycling. Now more than ever our landfills are filling to the brim and running out of room when nearly 70 percent of what we would consider trash can be recycled. But there are some items that because of their toxic nature should never be thrown in the trash according to Eco Village Green. Read this list of items that for the good of our ecosystem must by properly recycled.
  1. CFL light bulbs. Yes the rumors are true. CFL bulbs do have some mercury and while I think it's important to use them versus regular bulbs, when it comes to disposing of them, you should recycle. Home Depot has a CFL recycling program so you can just bring your old CFL bulbs to your local store. Of course, since they last so long, you won't have to do this very often.
  2. Lithium-ion batteries. These are not your traditional batteries but rather the rechargeable variety. The chemicals in them can leech into the soil and the water supply polluting the ecosystem. Take these to Best Buy, which collects and recycles them.
  3. Electronics equipment. These guys are often filled to the brim with poisonous substances. These include TV’s, stereos, speakers, and mobile phones. Check Earth 911 to find out where they can be recycled. Mobile phones can often be taken back by your cell phone dealer.
  4. Car-related fluids. Things like antifreeze, wiper fluid, engine oil, or anything that comes from your car is usually terribly toxic as you might imagine. You can recycle these normally at your local government hazardous waste collection point.
  5. Paints. This includes varnishes, stains, and paints. All of these should go to your local government's designated hazardous materials collection point. Today, though you don't have chunks of glass floating in your can of semi-gloss Rustic Red, there are some things you should be aware of before you toss it to the curb. In fact, it is against the law in most places to put free-flowing liquids (such as paint) in the trash.

Gene Dempsey, City Forester
Office of Sustainability
Office - (954) 828-5785  Fax - (954) 828-4745

Think before you print!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Get Green in a Month - Week 1

In April, many people start thinking of flowers and trees and being green… 

Here’s the first of four to help you be green not only in April but for the rest of your life!

Get Green in a Month: Week 1
By Natalie Cook
New York, NY, USA | Jul 29 2008

While a month doesn't seem like much time to tackle a major project, read how you can go green by just making one simple change each day.

  1. Start with your paper. While there are a ton of items you can recycle, start with a commonly used material.  Recycling paper is easy because it does not require anything but sorting.
  2. Keep it dark. When you leave for a day at the office or a night on the town, save money and energy by turning off your lights.  Placing reminders on your light switches can help you remember until you get in the habit of doing so.
  3. Bring your own bag. Eliminating the need for plastic grocery and shopping bags is a great way to reduce waste. Don’t feel pressured to purchase reusable bags at the store if you aren’t up for the investment right away. You probably have a suitable bag at home to get you started.
  4. Dine in. If you frequently call upon the services of your local restaurant delivery guy, try cutting back at least one or two meals out of the week.Making your own food reduces food container waste immensely.
  5. Walk there. Find at least one neighborhood destination you can travel to on foot.Save gas and the environment by hiking there instead of heading out in your hot rod.
  6. Get muggy. Have your favorite coffee mug or reusable water bottle on hand at all times.Save the paper cups and reduce waste.
  7. Shut off the spigot. Make sure you completely turn off the water every time you finish using it.