Real vs Fake Xmas Trees

Real or fake Christmas trees

Many people choose fake trees over real ones because they believe that plastic trees are better for the environment, but are they really the more eco-friendly option? Fake trees are convenient and reusable. However, they’re made from PVC plastic, which creates a number of environmental problems. Production of PVC triggers the release of toxic chemicals such as dioxin, vinyl chloride, and ethylene dichloride, and additional chemicals that are used to make plastic trees more pliable have caused damage to the kidneys, livers, brains, and reproductive systems of laboratory animals. Many fake trees contain lead, which can cause brain damage if… read more

Mother Nature’s Children

Children living with nature

“I like to play indoors better ‘cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are” (A fourth-grader in San Diego, cited in Richard Louv’s “Last Child in the Woods”) As a young child, I spent most of my days living and playing outdoors. I lived part-time with my grandparents on a small farm in the Waikato, then a rich agricultural region in the central north island of New Zealand. Days were spent playing in the fields, navigating elephant grass, and no doubt tormenting the fowl and pigs and lambs and calves that I considered my best friends at that time. I… read more

Green Thanksgiving

Sharing and preparing for Thanksgiving

One of the most important things to keep in mind when shopping for your Green Thanksgiving is to go local. Local not only will help support your local farms but the use of local products does not have to be driven across the country to get to you. Check for farmers’ markets, family farms, community-supported agriculture programs and U-Pick options in your area for the freshest produce, eggs, dairy and grass-fed meat. When shopping use reusable shopping bags to cut down on the waste polluting the oceans. Portion control can be a huge key to a successful Green Thanksgiving. Over… read more

Growing a Winter Garden

Growing vegetables in winter

Growing your own food is not just for warmer, sunnier months. Produce can be grown during cooler periods with a few materials and sun power. Considering produce found on the shelves throughout colder seasons can sometimes be lackluster and overpriced, a winter garden may be worth cultivating. Though a bit of invention is needed to sustain a garden in cold climates, it can be done. Having one was routine in past eras out of necessity, where some sort of planting had to be going on at all times in order to make sure there would be enough food to eat…. read more

What Leaves Reveal

Leaves

Leaves can seem little more than accessories to flowers and trees. However, they provide much more than colorful foliage or shaded escapes. They are essential to a plant’s health and we can benefit a lot from learning about the role leaves play in plant life. Doing so allows you to identify not only the condition of your plants, but of your living environment. It is true, plants need a good plot of land and plenty of sun. But they are also fueled by sugar. Leaves are essential in supplying them with the sugar they need as their blades are like nets of… read more

The Sustainable Garden

Chives, Jennifer Copley

Here are five tips for those who care about the environment and would like to develop their gardens with sustainability in mind. 1. Compost: Instead of throwing away food scraps and plant trimmings and buying plastic bags filled with compost, make your own. There are a number of methods, the simplest of which is to bury kitchen scraps, leaves, and trimmings from healthy plants in the garden and let the process occur naturally. You can also use a compost bin or tumbler, a worm composting system, or a bokashi composting system to speed up the process. Don’t add meat, dairy… read more

Growing Your Own

Cherry Tomatoes

Most people know that driving generates carbon emissions, which contribute to global warming. However, not everyone is aware of the impact that our current food system has on the environment. A UK study conducted in 2001 found that while a typical family’s year of driving generates around 4.4 tons of CO2, producing, processing, packaging, and distributing that family’s food generates 8 tons of CO2. Our current food system is unsustainable. While traditional agricultural methods require the equivalent of half a calorie of energy to produce a calorie of food, the modern system typically requires around 10 fossil fuel energy calories… read more

Garden Centerpieces

Flowers in tree stumps

Removing an old tree stump can be costly, averaging a hundred dollars if you do it yourself  (using a rented stump grinder) and more if you hire a professional to remove it. But the landscaping opportunities a tree stump brings can eliminate the need to dispose of it altogether. Though I don’t recommend chopping down a healthy tree for the sake of ornamental purposes, an existing stump makes a great host to a variety of plants.  Tree stumps can also serve as natural seating or tables. To create a nook for flowers and other plants, make sure you have handy… read more

Eating Foods in Season

Seasonal produce

The ability to retain food quality, with the aid of preservatives, means we have access to a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains year-round. Still, it is healthier and more practical to eat foods when they are season. In season produce is more likely to have come from local resources. This means less time spent being transported to stores. It may also infer that less, if any, pesticides were used as they would be to preserve produce that is not in season. While locations vary, here are some of the best times to get fresh fruits and vegetables: Spring… read more

The Tasteless Tomato

The story of the tomato

If your senses have ever had the pleasure of smelling and tasting a farm-fresh, sun- ripened tomato, then you not only recognize the distinct tomato plant smell but you also know what a tomato is supposed to taste like. In stark comparison, there is a strange hue of red, plastic-textured versions of the tomato, imposters if you will, that exists. You can find them readily available at most mass market food retailers, even oddly out of season. How do they take an innocent tomato and transform it into something, well, tasteless? It is a sad little story that starts with… read more