Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fort Lauderdale's Hilton Beach Hotel to power up wind energy soon

Jermaine Goldson of Farrell Electric works on one of six wind turbines atop Hilton Fort Lauderdale
Beach Resort (Susan Stocker, Sun Sentinel) August 22, 2013

Hilton Beach Hotel to power up wind energy soon
Six wind turbines were recently installed on hotel's roof

By Arlene Satchell, Sun Sentinel

A new rooftop attraction is turning heads at one South Florida hotel.

The Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort has installed six wind turbines to plug into the natural breeze blowing from the Atlantic Ocean and help power its facilities.

It's the first Hilton of more than 500 properties to have installed wind turbines, executives said. They also believe it's the first hotel in South Florida to get them.

The turbines are now undergoing inspections to be operational by mid-September, a hotel official said Tuesday during a tour.

The Fort Lauderdale resort invested more than $500,000 on the energy savings project, which is expected to help it reduce the amount of power it uses primarily in common areas such as the lobby.

"We are proud of this renewable energy initiative as well as other eco-friendly programs that implement sustainable practices that will help future generations," General Manager Andreas Ioannou said.

The use of wind turbines as a source of renewable energy is still rare in the lodging industry, but is increasingly becoming a viable option for lodging establishments, according to Green Lodging News.

"The technology has improved with innovation in design, and costs are coming down," said Glenn Hasek, editor and publisher of the Ohio-based industry publication.

In July 2011, 15 U.S. properties were listed on Hasek's website as having incorporated wind turbines in their energy mix.

The Hilton's wind turbines are new arsenal in its energy conservation efforts.

Standing 52-feet tall when erect, the turbines are strategically placed on the corners and center of the rooftop to capture maximum wind velocity, and are expected to produce 24,000 kilowatt hours of energy.

With their addition, the hotel is anticipating to cut its more than $500,000 annual electric bill by 5 percent to 10 percent, Ioannou noted.

The custom-design wind turbines, which Ioannou called "whimsical, beautiful structures," were originally slated for installation in September 2012, but this was delayed to ensure their supporting mechanism was strong, he said.

The project received support from the city and surrounding community, and reaction from hotel guests has been positive, Ioannou said.

The move demonstrates the hotel's commitment to protecting the local environment and preserving its resources, a city official said.

"The wind turbines will showcase the hotel's sustainability programs and serve as a model for other businesses, and the city appreciates this innovative approach," said Mayor John P. "Jack" Seiler.

Nicki E. Grossman, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau said the resort's wind turbines join the Gold LEED-certified Broward County Convention Center are "as models of community sustainability furthering the greening of tourism."

Since opening in 2007, energy conservation has been a key mandate of the 374-suite resort. In 2008 it became the first resort on Fort Lauderdale Beach to be designated a Florida Green Lodging property.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection program recognizes and designates lodging facilities that make a commitment to conserve and protect the state's natural resources.

"We love to see hotels who are participating in the Florida Green Lodging Program go above and beyond the minimum requirements and implement innovative technology and initiatives in their facilities," said JoAnn Shearer, program coordinator.

As a member of Hilton Worldwide's flagship Hilton Hotels & Resorts portfolio, the Fort Lauderdale beach property uses a proprietary system called "LightStay," to track and analyze its sustainability performance.

"We can see the savings," Ioannou noted.

The resort's "Green Team" spearheads and monitors its environmental efforts and implements waste reduction, resource conservation and energy efficiency programs. Previously implemented initiatives include the recycling of all paper, florescent bulbs and batteries, and the installation of automatic water flush meters in all public restrooms.

While the hotel's initial goal is to "evaluate the effectiveness" of the wind turbines, plans also call for adding rooftop solar panels within the next two years, Ioannou said. By year-end, it will install a food composting machine to turn food waste into a nutrient-rich water product, which will help save on waste, and trash disposal costs.

"We are committed to implementing innovative programs and making continual improvements to our overall sustainability results each year," Ioannou said.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

No reason to get all "arachnophopic"!

Giant banana spiders are hanging out in a tree near you

By Susannah Bryan and Ariel Barkhurst Sun Sentinel
7:40 p.m. EDT, August 23, 2013

They are creepily large and spinning their webs in a park near you.
It is, after all, banana spider season.
During late summer, the ladies of this native spider grow bodies up to 2 inches long, not counting their legs, and weave webs as wide as 15 feet. Both genders love wooded areas with dense canopies, all the better to spin their webs.
They're hanging out in the tree branches along Surf Road in Hollywood and near the boardwalk at Atlantic Dunes Park in Delray Beach.
They're greeting kayakers who venture through mangrove trails throughout South Florida.
They're waiting, silently, for you to run across their path.
Fort Lauderdale resident Janine Babich spotted legions of banana spiders recently during a walk near Hollywood beach.
"My husband and I drive down to Hollywood sometimes to check out the cats," she said. "We went down on Sunday and we were treated to a new spectacle. It was just thick with them. We were amazed at the spectacle and thought it was neat."
Banana spiders, also known as the golden silk orb weaver, are more easily seen at this time of year because the females have gotten big enough for us to notice them, says Adrian Hunsberger, an entomologist and Urban Horticulture Agent for the University of Florida/IFAS Miami-Dade County Extension in Homestead.
"What's really cool about this spider, the silk has a golden color to it," Hunsberger said. "That's why it's called the golden orb weaver."
Don't let their size fool you. Banana spiders are harmless.
Their bite might hurt, but it won't kill you, say local biologists.
"I've heard it described as between a bee sting and a mosquito bite on pain level," said Callie Sharkey, naturalist at the Daggerwing Nature Center in Boca Raton.
The males are smaller and more inconspicuous, with bodies measuring no more than half an inch.
"People may think it's the baby," Hunsberger said. "But a lot of times, it's the guy hanging out."
The banana spider, in spite of its size, striking coloring and elaborate web, is a "relaxed" critter, Sharkey said.
"They're not aggressive spiders," she said. "Brown recluses and even crab spiders are going to be aggressive and bite you. Banana spiders are not prone to biting. You can go right through their webs, and they'll just look at you and make a new one that night."
Banana spiders will even share webs, she said, an unusual trait among spiders and another indication that they are not aggressive.
"The people who get bitten are usually trying to swat the animal away, and the spider is trying to protect itself," Hunsberger said. "The best thing to do is not panic."
Sharkey counts the banana spider as being among the coolest of arachnids.
"I love them," she said. "I'm not a spider-hugger, but they're pretty mellow, pretty cool spiders."
They're beneficial too, feasting as they do on mosquitoes and other small insects.
The fact that they're bigger means they can eat more mosquitoes and other insects that get trapped in their giant web, said Joanne Howes, a naturalist for the Anne Kolb Nature Center in Hollywood.
Looking to avoid them anyway?
Steer clear of wooded areas, especially those with dense canopies. Avoid hiking trails, and don't go out first thing in the morning. You may run into a parade of spiders touching up their webs.

Shower head turns from green to red to tell you when it's time to get out

Megan Treacy
Technology / Gadgets
August 28, 2013

A new shower head technology alerts you when you've been bathing for too long and helps you to cut down on the water you use in the shower. A light turns gradually from green to red as time ticks on and when it reaches red, it's time to get out.

"It encourages [people] to take shorter and more energy efficient showers," said one of the co-inventors of the Uji Showerhead, Brett Andler to NPR. "By letting people become aware of how long they're in the shower, we've actually been able to cut shower time by 12 percent."

Of course there's no major consequence like the water shutting off once time's up or anything like that, but just the reminder that a set amount of time has passed helps people to take water conserving action. Currently the prototype hits red at seven minutes so that people will be out of the shower by minute eight, but the inventors are considering having a model with an adjustable time limit once it hits the market.

Priced at $50, Uji's website says, "The Uji showerhead will pay for itself in energy and water savings after only 7 months of use. After this the showerhead will save you about $85/year installed. It’s great for families with smaller hot water tanks or teens who take too long in the shower."
The product received grants from the DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for prototyping and testing and Uji has already gotten commitments from at least four universities to pilot the shower heads in their dorms to save water. As for the rest of us, Uji plans to have the shower head on the market by early 2014.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Read the Label

If you use pesticides, please make sure you are using them properly and sparingly – THE LABEL on the container IS THE LAW!

Read the label.

Today's environmental tip: Read the label! You might not realize it, but on a pesticide container, the label is the law. Pesticide product labels provide critical safety information for handling and use. Pesticides are powerful substances, but when used according to the label they are safe and effective. So … always use pesticides safely, at home or in the field. Always read the label.
More information:

Want more tips? Visit EPA's Earth Day site to learn more about Earth Day, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and what you can do to help protect human health and the environment.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Dishwasher Cooking

by Michaeleen Doucleff
August 25, 2013

My mom is a creative cook. And a darn good one at that.
But when she told me and my sister — way back in 1995 — that she had started cooking salmon in the dishwasher, we just rolled our eyes and shook our heads. Here comes a kitchen catastrophe.
An hour later, mom proved her teenage daughters wrong once again. The salmon was tender, moist and super flavorful. In some ways, it was better than her fish cooked in the oven.
Flash-forward 18 years, and dishwasher cuisine seems to be making a comeback.
A handful of YouTube videos and food blogs are showing off the method. And even Oprah offered up a recipe for an entire lunch — noodles, asparagus and salmon — prepared in the dishwasher.
So how does it work?
You wrap the salmon tightly in aluminum foil or a cooking bag. Add a lemon wedge, oil and some spices — cilantro, ginger or really, anything that you want. Put the foil package on the top rack and start a normal washing cycle, without adding soap.
That's the traditional method. And it works great. The hot water and steam essentially poach the salmon. And at the low temperature, about 140 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, the fish cooks very slowly, so it turns creamy and soft, as Dan Pashman of the Sporkful podcast tells Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin.
But is this really worth the time and energy? Running a dishwasher uses a lot of electricity and water. And if you're not adding soap, then you still need to repeat the wash to clean greasy pots and pans. Seems like just a gimmick to impress dinner guests, right?
Not quite, says Italian food writer Lisa Casali. She argues that the method can be quite environmentally friendly. There's just one trick: Instead of using aluminum foil, as many websites recommend, you should put the food into airtight canning jars or food vacuum bags. Then the hot water doesn't touch the food. So you can add soap to the cycle and really clean your dishes while poaching dinner.
Casali has been experimenting with dishwasher cuisine for a few years. And the result is her cookbook Cucinare in Lavastoviglie (Cooking with the dishwasher), which gives recipes for a whole array of dishes, like couscous, veal, tuna and even fruits and desserts.
Dishwasher cooking is best for foods that need to be cooked at low temperatures, Casali says. "After some experiments, I found that it wasn't just a different way to cook — it was a really particular technique," she says. "Something I was looking for years: the way to cook at low temperature at home."
Unfortunately, Casali's book appears to be available only in Italian. But the innovative chef has put together a few how-to videos on Vimeo, with English subtitles, describing top recipes.
Or you could watch our little stop-motion movie, and see how easy it is to do for yourself. We used the aluminum foil technique (we didn't have any jars handy). Bon app├ętit!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Green Backpacks

At a $120, these backpacks won’t be for everyone but I think the concept is great and hopefully the price will come down in the future. 

Keen Harvest III Backpack

Crafted from repurposed and recycled items, this backpack is made from pre-consumer airbags that are locally harvested and upcycled into this one-of-a-kind backpack. The body fabric is water-resistant and the interior pocket keeps things organized. KEEN's Harvest III bag collection is built in the USA.

<![if !vml]><![endif]>Weight: 1.3 lbs/0.6 kg
Type: Backpacks
Shell: Repurposed Materials
Lining: Polyester
Dimensions: 16" x 13" x 4.75" l 40cm x 33cm x 12cm
Capacity: 1404 cu in / 23
Built in the U.S.A.: All, All
The collection also includes a messenger bag ($120) and tote ($70).  The only color available is white/grey.

In doing a search online, there are many other backpacks that are made eco-friendly by using natural cotton and organic materials and they are about half the price of the Keen backpack. 

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

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Why 2012 was a bad year for the Arctic and all of us

by Steve Williams             August 9, 2013

During 2012, the Arctic broke several climate records, including a level of unprecedented warmth that created rapid ice loss.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is warning in its "The State of the Climate in 2012″ report that last year was one of the 10 hottest since the beginning of recording global average temperatures.
In addition to this, Arctic sea ice melted to reach record lows during the annual summer thaw. To illustrate this, the report points out that in Greenland, around 97% of the region's ice sheet melted: this a figure that is four times the expected figure based on the melt in previous years. We're still feeling the effects of this and continued warming today, with the North Pole Environmental Agency issuing a warning that the summer ice has melted so fast and by so much that a shallow lake has formed.
Also, greenhouse gas emissions rose to worrying levels. In early May, the carbon dioxide ratio in the Earth's atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million in readings taken at Hawaii's Mauna Loa Observatory — this is! thought to be the highest concentration in millions of years.
"Many of the events that made 2012 such an interesting year are part of the long-term trends we see in a changing and varying climate — carbon levels are climbing, sea levels are rising, Arctic sea ice is melting, and our planet as a whole is becoming a warmer place," Acting NOAA Administrator Kathryn D. Sullivan, Ph.D is quoted as saying.
This year marks the 23rd edition of the report, which is produced as part of a suite of climate services offered by NOAA for the U.S. government and wider academic research.
Other concerning observations recorded in the report include a continued rise in sea levels that reached a record high in 2012 — this even withou! t the contributing effects of the phenomena known as La Nina that saw a significant rise in 2011.
At the same time, rising ocean salinity trends have continued.
Ocean salinity (the concentration of salt water) levels were first observed changing significantly in 2004 when saltier than average readings in areas like the North Pacific were recorded, while there were fresher than average readings in high precipitation areas including the north central Indian Ocean. This trend continued in 2012. What this means in its simplest terms is that precipitation is increasing in already wet areas while evaporation is intensifying in drier locations.
For instance, Brazil saw its worst drought in the past three decades, according to the report, while the Caribbean had! an extremely wet dry season. Furthermore, the Sahel region of Africa saw record precipitation and flooding during its wet season, while nearly 87% of the American West saw drought conditions.
Sullivan is quoted as saying these findings "caution us, perhaps, to be looking at a likely future where extremes and intensity of some extremes are more frequent and more intense than what we have accounted for in the past."
However, the report did yield a small piece of encouraging news. The NOAA analysts found that the climate in Antarctica remained "relatively stable overall." Also, the warm air actually allowed a further positive in that 2012 saw the second smallest ozone hole observed in t! he past two decades.
This, of course, does not ameliorate the worrying trends observed throughout 2012 but does illustrate that when we talk about climate change, it is a complex picture.
Perhaps, to put this in perspective, the final word should go to John P. Abraham, professor of thermal sciences at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, who was not involved in this study but who says it is a firm answer to climate change deniers:
"The latest 'State of the Climate' report shows that the Earth continues to heat, the atmosphere is heating, the worldwide ice loss continues, and other symptoms of our warming planet march ! forward, without cessation. A lot of people claim that global warming has magically stopped, but the facts, and the Earth, continue to disagree."

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Top 22 Benefits of Trees

Here are 22 of the best reasons to plant and care for trees or defend a tree’s standing:

Trees combat the greenhouse effect
Global warming is the result of excess greenhouse gases, created by burning fossil fuels and destroying tropical rainforests. Heat from the sun, reflected back from the earth, is trapped in this thickening layer of gases, causing global temperatures to rise. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a major greenhouse gas. Trees absorb CO2, removing and storing the carbon while releasing the oxygen back into the air. In one year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the amount of CO2 produced when you drive your car 26,000 miles.

Trees clean the air
Trees absorb odors and pollutant gases (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone) and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark.

Trees provide oxygen
In one year an acre of mature trees can provide enough oxygen for 18 people.

Trees cool the streets and the city
Average temperatures in Los Angeles have risen 6°F in the last 50 years as tree coverage has declined and the number of heat-absorbing roads and buildings has increased.
Trees cool the city by up to 10°F, by shading our homes and streets, breaking up urban “heat islands” and releasing water vapor into the air through their leaves.

Trees conserve energy
Three trees placed strategically around a single-family home can cut summer air conditioning needs by up to 50 percent. By reducing the energy demand for cooling our houses, we reduce carbon dioxide and other pollution emissions from power plants.

Trees save water
Shade from trees slows water evaporation from thirsty lawns. Most newly planted trees need only fifteen gallons of water a week. As trees transpire, they increase atmospheric moisture.

Trees help prevent water pollution
Trees reduce runoff by breaking rainfall thus allowing the water to flow down the trunk and into the earth below the tree. This prevents stormwater from carrying pollutants to the ocean. When mulched, trees act like a sponge that filters this water naturally and uses it to recharge groundwater supplies.

Trees help prevent soil erosion
On hillsides or stream slopes, trees slow runoff and hold soil in place.

Trees shield children from ultra-violet rays
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Trees reduce UV-B exposure by about 50 percent, thus providing protection to children on school campuses and playgrounds - where children spend hours outdoors.

Trees provide food
An apple tree can yield up to 15-20 bushels of fruit per year and can be planted on the tiniest urban lot. Aside from fruit for humans, trees provide food for birds and wildlife.

Trees heal
Studies have shown that patients with views of trees out their windows heal faster and with less complications. Children with ADHD show fewer symptoms when they have access to nature. Exposure to trees and nature aids concentration by reducing mental fatigue.

Trees reduce violence
Neighborhoods and homes that are barren have shown to have a greater incidence of violence in and out of the home than their greener counterparts. Trees and landscaping help to reduce the level of fear.

Trees mark the seasons
Is it winter, spring, summer or fall? Look at the trees.

Trees create economic opportunities
Fruit harvested from community orchards can be sold, thus providing income. Small business opportunities in green waste management and landscaping arise when cities value mulching and its water-saving qualities. Vocational training for youth interested in green jobs is also a great way to develop economic opportunities from trees.

Trees are teachers and playmates
Whether as houses for children or creative and spiritual inspiration for adults, trees have provided the space for human retreat throughout the ages. 

Trees bring diverse groups of people together
Tree plantings provide an opportunity for community involvement and empowerment that improves the quality of life in our neighborhoods. All cultures, ages, and genders have an important role to play at a tree planting or tree care event.

Trees add unity
Trees as landmarks can give a neighborhood a new identity and encourage civic pride.

Trees provide a canopy and habitat for wildlife
Sycamore and oak are among the many urban species that provide excellent urban homes for birds, bees, possums and squirrels.

Trees block things
Trees can mask concrete walls or parking lots, and unsightly views. They muffle sound from nearby streets and freeways, and create an eye-soothing canopy of green. Trees absorb dust and wind and reduce glare.

Trees provide wood
In suburban and rural areas, trees can be selectively harvested for fuel and craft wood.

Trees increase property values
The beauty of a well-planted property and its surrounding street and neighborhood can raise property values by as much as 15 percent.

Trees increase business traffic
Studies show that the more trees and landscaping a business district has, the more business will flow in. A tree-lined street will also slow traffic – enough to allow the drivers to look at the store fronts instead of whizzing by.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Reduce your water bill with a rain barrel!

Also help reduce harmful runoff with rain water harvesting.

If you are not ready to install a green roof yet, you can achieve some of the same benefits with a low-cost solution: a rain barrel, which captures rain water that would otherwise run off of your roof.
One of the main benefits is to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff. Typically rain water flows off roofs, driveways, parking lots and other "impervious surfaces" into storm drains, which discharge either into community sewer systems or into nearby streams. In the first case, rain over-burdens sewers, leading to overflows that can contaminate public swimming beaches. In the latter case, rushing stormwater can erode stream banks, introduce pollutants and ruin habitat for fish and other aquatic life.
A second benefit is for your wallet. You can use water captured in rain barrels to irrigate your lawn and garden, saving on utility bills. (In water-stressed regions, or during droughts, this water-conservation technique may be a necessity, given the imperative to conserve water.)
The drier the climate, the more water gets dumped outdoors, according to research by Aquacraft. In the desert Southwest, as much as 60% of home water usage occurs outdoors, whereas the figure is as low as 20% in wetter regions, like the Northeast. In summer, not surprisingly, the percentage of water used outdoors spikes, as we water lawns and gardens.
As Environmental Work Group recently pointed out, if we use tap water to irrigate, we're essentially wasting our own tax dollars, which have gone toward treating that liquid to drinking water standards.
Commercial rain barrels can be attractive, and can be built to prevent mosquito breeding and make hooking up gardening hoses easy. But you can also make your own rain barrel (The Environmental Protection Agency offers a how-to pdf. Some of the commercial options on the market include:
> Smartware's 48-gallon recycled plastic rain barrel with a classic look ($119 at
> Algreen's 65-gallon plastic rain barrel, clay-like appearance and space for a containter garden ($151 at
> Great American Rain Barrel's handsome 60-gallon barrels can be easily linked to increase storage capacity ($199 at
> Grow and Make's 50-gallon barrel made from recycled olive oil bins ($150 at
> SpringSaver's 51-gallon rain barrel, in five styles ($130 at
> Santa Fe's 47-gallon rain barrel, in a terracotta-style finish ($149 at
> Gardener Supply Co.'s faux sandstone 75-gallon rain barrel ($199 at
Also, (daily deals) often has rain barrels at good prices!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Bust Runoff with a Rain Garden

By Brian Clark Howard

Homeowners and businesses can stem the tide of polluted runoff threatening our waterways by setting up a simple "rain garden," which is beautiful as well as beneficial.
The concept of a rain garden, which mimics natural systems, was crystallized in Maryland in the 1990s. The idea is to create a depression filled with plants that collects the rainwater that runs off a building and its landscape. The plants — such as sedges, rushes, ferns, wildflowers, shrubs, trees and so on — absorb the water and release it slowly. This reduces the surge of water running off the landscape, which picks up fertilizers, pesticides, motor oil and other contaminants and carries them into waterways.
Rain gardens reduce the risk of flash floods, and they help stabilize the flow that enters waterways, both in terms of volume and temperature. That leads to healthier streams and rivers. Plus, the plants naturally filter the water, neutralizing some of the toxins that are present. They also provide valuable wildlife habitat.
No two rain gardens are exactly the same. They can be large and interconnected, with different levels and features, or very small and simple. Normally, they are placed in natural low spots, near where gutters drain. Ideally, they are populated with plants that are native to the local area. Sometimes they have swales to maximize their ability to hold water. Get tips on starting one here.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tree Thursday - 5 Ways to Look at a Tree

5 Ways to Look at a Tree

1. Commodity   According to the Wisconsin Paper Council, an "interesting rule of thumb is that an acre of forested land may yield an average of 10-15 cords of wood when harvested at maturity—depending not only on the size of the trees, but how productively the land has been managed." One "cord" could typically yield any of the following:

  • 12 dining room table sets (seating eight)
  • 250 copies of the Sunday New York Times
  • 942 one-pound books
  • 460,000 personal checks
  • 4,384,000 postage stamps
  • 7,500,000 toothpicks
2. Oxygen Source             One estimate: Over a 50-year lifetime, a tree generates $31,250 worth of oxygen and provides $62,000 worth of air pollution control. The process is rather fundamental: During photosynthesis, a tree "inhales" CO2 from the air and then separates the carbon from the oxygen molecules. The carbon is absorbed by the tree, which then "exhales" pure oxygen back into the air for us to breathe. In the process just described, trees also serve as carbon sinks, e.g. as Wise Geek tells us, trees "naturally absorb carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, sequestering the carbon and converting it into mass while releasing the oxygen back into the atmosphere." Such carbon sinks offset carbon dioxide emissions and reduce climate change.
3. Home               From nearly microscopic insects to camouflaged reptiles to feathered friends to wily primates and beyond, each tree is a vast, thriving eco-system in and of itself. The destruction of even a single small tree not only disrupts natural cycles, it also sentences countless creatures to death. More than 1000 different species of insects have been living in just one kind of rainforest tree.
4. Flood Prevention        Deforestation negatively impacts the amount of water in the soil and groundwater and the moisture in the atmosphere. Without tree roots to hold soil in place and fight erosion, we are seeing more runoff and less sediment deposit after storms. This results in higher levels of chemicals in our water and far more flooding. Over the course of a half-century, a single tree can recycle $37,500 worth of water and controls $31,250 worth of soil erosion.
5. Beauty             As Henry David Thoreau says: "I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines."
"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now."
(Chinese Proverb)

Reality Check: 80% of the World's Forests Are Already Gone


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

3 Ways To Make Yard Work Greener

I like his thoughts on yard work:
<!1.   Whenever possible, try using manual tools.
>2.    There are many natural methods for warding off pests and killing weeds.
<!3.    Use what resources you have instead of going out and buying manufactured supplies. 
April 2013
It’s very easy to get dirty when working in the yard yet what ends up on our hands and clothing isn’t true guck and grime. That’s because in reality the earth is clean and nature is constantly renewing itself as a place for life to exist.
Ironically, because of limited time but a desire to keep our properties looking somewhat respectable, we try to speed up the process that harm our environment. We use machines that run on or derivatives of fossil fuels which pollute, harsh substances that contaminate, and misuse natural resources.
In many ways what ends up happening is that we leave the ground a little worse off than when we started. That’s why there is no better time than now to make a few adjustments to our landscaping and gardening practices and bring about a greener future for our communities and the environment at large.
Consider the following three points to help achieve this goal:
The automatic tools we use in the yard like lawn mowers, weed whackers, and bush trimmers make cleaning up  a lot easier but depending on their energy source can negatively impact the ecosystem around us.
How so? Take the models that use gasoline. They burn it just like vehicles driving down the street and depending how big a lawn is studies have shown the average lawnmower can create as much pollution as a car on the freeway. That means the person holding the lever is breathing in fumes until the last blade of grass is cut!
Electric power is a better option but during the summer electricity is in high demand. Additional pressure on the grid equals more pollution, especially for power plants that run on coal.
The bottom line: Whenever possible, try using manual tools. They may require a little extra effort but when juxtaposed with the effects automatic tools have on our health and environment they are worth a few extra minutes outdoors.
Pesticides are a common problematic chemical used on a homeowner’s property. When they are sprayed on plants producing food they can be absorbed by fruits and vegetables and scrubbing and washing won’t remove what's under the skin. Also, pesticides not only kill pests but beneficial insects as well which means they can drastically affect the local ecosystem.
A second category of chemicals is weed killers, which don’t always discriminate between weeds and desirable plants. They can make pets and wildlife very sick and potentially contaminate soil by tainting aquifers when absorbed into the ground.
Exposure to both weed killers and pesticides are believed to cause uncomfortable symptoms in people like itchy eyes and dizziness and repeated contact with these substances may result in serious long term health problems.
The bottom line: There are many natural methods for warding off pests and killing weeds including store bought products and solutions made from household staples. Make one of these your preferred choice for striking back at pests or unwanted vegetation. Also, keeping plants healthy can control weeds and avert disease.
A third point for greening yard work involves focusing on resources. On the one hand resources need to be used wisely, such as water, which should be distributed near a plant’s roots.  When water it poured on leaves or sprayed with a garden hose it creates a lot of waste.
Another consideration about water usage is the types of plants in the yard including the lawn and how needy they are as some species require less water than others.
Meanwhile, resources aren’t just about keeping certain things in check but also checking what’s available for improving overall efficiency. For example, it’s very easy to go to a home improvement store to buy fertilizer, mulch, and other landscaping and gardening products but usually unnecessary.
Depending on your surroundings many of these items can be made on site. Food scraps can be composted and clippings and trimmings can be turned into mulch. Doing so is simply another form of using and reusing that makes the world a better place.

Jakob Barry is a home improvement journalist for He blogs about Green topics for professionals across the U.S. like fencing contractors in Scottsdale, AZ.