Hot Tea!

Tea is tasty, nutritious, medicinal and “hot” right now.  So is compost tea for your lawn, trees, gardens and shrubs!

What is compost tea?

Compost tea is a natural organic fertilizer made from compost, or more specifically a water extract of compost that is brewed to give the bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes a chance to increase in number and activity using the nutrients present in the water.   It is also a highly effective natural insect and disease inhibitor.  Compost tea is inexpensive and often an easier method of applying compost, especially to your trees and shrubs.

How is compost tea made?

Aerobic water steeps the biology off of the compost through an extraction process. Food-grade molasses, garlic, kelp, and fish emulsion are then added to the mix. The foods activate and cause the biology to multiply, creating a powerful, nutritious food for your plants.

How do you apply compost tea?

Compost tea can either be applied as a foliar spray or as a soil drench. As a foliar spray, nutritious compost tea deposits beneficial organisms to plant surfaces so disease-causing organisms cannot find infection sites or food resources. As a soil drench, compost tea develops a biological barrier around roots to prevent root disease-causing organisms from being able to find the roots. The tea introduces organic matter, which provides nutrients for the roots to improve plant growth and moisture retention.

Where can you get compost tea?

If you are in the Boston area, our tree care company, Boston Tree Preservation, offers compost tea treatments and serves as a tea center where homeowners can purchase the tea to apply themselves.  As the organic movement grows, many tree care and landscape companies understand the value of compost tea and are starting to offer compost tea treatments.  You can also find recipes on-line to make it yourself if you have access to healthy, rich compost.

Click on the video below for a demonstration on how to make compost tea.

Compost tea is vibrant, alive and wakes up your soil!  This spring, give your garden a treat with compost tea.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Information compiled from bostontreepreservation.com.

Celebrate Earth Day!

 

 

Mark your calendars for Earth Day next Tuesday, April 22, a day to commemorate the earth, celebrate green acts, raise awareness and work towards a more sustainable future.  If you read my blog regularly, I imagine you already practice green acts.  Earth Day is a good time to commit to adding new green habits.

 

What else can you do?

 

  • Adopt “meatless Mondays”. The meat industry is responsible for nearly one-fifth of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • Spring is a good time to start composting your kitchen waste.  This time next year your compost pile will have turned into dark, rich compost with which to pot your spring plants or to spread on trouble spots on your lawn. By contrast, when food goes into the landfill, it rots and emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.
  • In addition to your reusable water bottle, bring along a reusable mug when you buy a coffee or tea (Many coffee shops charge you a reduced price when you do so.)  Paper cups are less toxic than polystyrene cups, but they still use a significant amount of resources.  Twenty million trees (a renewable resource) are cut down annually to manufacture paper cups, most of which are coated with a fossil fuel-derived plastic, and 8,095 gallons of water are used to make 10,000 paper cups with sleeves.
  • Think about the amount of electricity you use every day – the coffee maker, blender, hair dryer, hair straightener, electric toothbrush, iron, computer,  printer, tv,  air conditioning, lights, etc.  Try and reduce your usage by unplugging your appliances when not in use; consider power strips to help control  vampire energy.  Encourage your family and friends to do the same.
  • Test drive a hybrid or electric car when you are next in the market for a new car. I drive an electric car and feel so good driving my carbon emission free car and love not paying those high gas prices!  (It doesn’t significantly increase your electricity bill.)
  • Start an Earth Dinner tradition serving local, organic foods, using real cutlery and cloth napkins, and eating by candlelight to save energy.  Find out who grew your food and the history of the recipes you are cooking from.  Connecting to your food makes the experience more meaningful.  Of course you will be washing your dishes with non-toxic detergent, right?

 

With every passing year, I notice greener living  becoming the new way of life.  That’s encouraging!

 

Want to know your ecological footprint?  Click here to find out (and how to reduce it).

 

http://www.earthday.org/footprint-calculator

 

Some information compiled from earthday.org.

 

Organic Lawns – What Kind Do You Want?

 

About this time of year, we’ve had enough of winter and are anxious to start gardening and working on the lawn. There are lots of creative options for lawns and now is the time to start planning.

Though conventional lawns are a perfect medium where kids can play as well as provide a nice, kempt look to your landscape, to get that perfect, weed-free golf course look requires time, expense and unnecessary chemicals and nitrogen-based fertilizers.  Many of these chemicals are known carcinogens and linked to health problems in children, pets and adults.  These chemicals get tracked into our home, seep into our waterways and kill beneficial life in the soil.

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Turf grass is our largest irrigated “crop” using as much as half of all fresh water used in urban areas each year.  With drought striking much of the country, this is an awful waste of water. Lawns also use 20 times more pesticides per acre than farms.  Additionally, the fuel used to power mowers and other fume-belching equipment required to maintain a perfect lawn emits toxic emissions into the air.

 

You can have a beautiful, lush, green lawn where your kids and pets can safely play without the use of chemicals and save money too.  How?

 

  • Feed your grass naturally with organic fertilizers available at your local nursery.
  • Spread a thin layer of compost over the turf, particularly on the trouble spots. The beneficial bacteria in the compost wake up your turf miraculously!
  • Throw down some extra seed.
  • Add plenty of calcium to your turf.
  • Leave your grass clippings, a natural source of nitrogen, after you mow.  Cornell researchers have shown that mulching leaves on to the lawn in the fall results in faster green up in the spring.
  • Mow high.  Longer grass encourages longer roots, which require less water and food.
  • When you water, water deeply and infrequently.
  • Learn to live with a few weeds, or wild herbs.  Dandelions actually add a bit of color,  don’t last long, and in fact are a highly nutritious, edible weed (only on an organic lawn however).  Monocultures like a lawn are not typical in nature and only invite problems.

 

Alternatives to Conventional Lawns

 

  • Edible Landscapes with sustainable, self-perpetuating vegetables, herbs, fruits and nuts.  There are edible landscape companies available to consult and/or install.
  • Wildflower and perennial gardens that attract beneficial bees and butterflies.
  • Cool season or warm season ornamental, drought-tolerant grasses that need no mowing.
  • Low maintenance ground covers like myrtle or nitrogen-enriching clover that stays green even in the driest part of the summer.
  • Trees and shrubs
  • Xeriscapes, or landscapes with an emphasis on water conservation, soil improvement, limited turf, native plants, proper mulching and low-maintenance
  • Or a combination of the above

 

This spring, take a safer and healthier approach to lawn maintenance!

 

Some information compiled from: http://eartheasy.com/grow_lawn_alternatives.htm#c. www.ediblelandscapes.net, and http://www.bostontreepreervation.com.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mass Save Refrigerator Recycling Program A Big Hit!

Strong Start in 2014 for Mass Save® Refrigerator Recycling Program

Limited-time promotion prompts thousands of residential customers to recycle old, inefficient refrigerators and freezers.

BOSTON, Mass. (March 25, 2014) – Throughout the months of January and February 2014, the Sponsors of Mass Save – Cape Light Compact, National Grid, NSTAR Electric, Unitil and Western Massachusetts Electric Company – offered residential electric customers $100 for recycling old, second refrigerators and freezers through the Mass Save® appliance recycling program. This special offer helped the program get off to a great start, with more than 6,600 units recycled as of February 28.

“We are very pleased with the response to this promotion, and we encourage all residential electric customers to consider participating in the Mass Save appliance recycling program if they have an old, second refrigerator or freezer in their home,” said Tilak Subrahmanian, Vice President of Energy Efficiency for Northeast Utilities, parent company of NSTAR and WMECo. “Older refrigerators and freezers consume as much as four times more energy than newer, efficient models, and that can really add up on your energy bill.”

In addition to energy and cost savings, recycling old refrigerators and freezers is good for the environment. After pick-up, the old units are transported to a recycling facility where harmful materials are removed and properly disposed of, while the rest are recycled. Approximately 95 percent of the materials are reclaimed and repurposed.

“During a winter when energy costs have been challenging for everyone in Massachusetts, saving money and energy through Mass Save is a fantastic opportunity for customers,” said Marcy Reed, president of National Grid in Massachusetts. “Enabling residents to reduce their electric bills, get rid of old appliances, and receive a rebate at the same time will help the Commonwealth be greener and more prosperous going forward.”

The Mass Save appliance recycling program runs year-round and offers customers free pick-up of their old refrigerator or freezer, as well as a $50 check.

To qualify for the recycling program, refrigerators and freezers must be clean, empty and in working order with an inside measurement of between 10 and 30 cubic feet, which is standard for most units. One must be a residential electric customer of a Mass Save Sponsor to be eligible to participate.

Customers can call 1-877-545-4113 or visitwww.masssave.com/recycle to learn more about the program and to schedule free pick-up at their homes.

About Mass Save: Mass Save® is an initiative sponsored by Massachusetts’ gas and electric utilities and energy efficiency service provider. The Sponsors of Mass Save work closely with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources to provide a wide range of services, incentives, trainings, and information promoting energy efficiency that help residents and businesses manage energy use and related costs.

Check your area for a similar program!

www.masssave.com/recycle

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com

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Try Oil Pulling!

I recently discovered oil pulling.  Oil what?

Oil pulling is an age-old remedy started in India thousands of years ago that uses oil to clean, detoxify, and nourish teeth and gums; it also whitens teeth. Oil pulling removes excessive and bad bacteria from your mouth, which also helps with detoxification of the entire body.  It is well known that bacteria in the mouth can lead to other health related problems besides gum disease.

 

How Do You Do It?

Basically you swish a teaspoon or two of oil – coconut, sesame and olive oil work best – in your mouth for up to twenty minutes.  Ten to fifteen is okay too, but twenty is optimal to break down plague and root out bacteria.  After you spit out  (in a paper bag if you are concerned about your plumbing), rinse with warm salt water and brush as usual.  Oil pulling is best done first thing in the morning before breakfast.  Twenty minutes is a long time to spend swishing, so I use that time to go about my morning routine, all while swishing, and before you know it you’re done.  My husband loves the quiet while I swish!

 

How Does It Work?

Unlike mouthwash, oil is viscous and therefore picks up saliva and pulls out bacteria while it works its way deep into the crevices of your gum tissues. The oil cuts through plaque and removes toxins without disturbing the teeth or gums. Be careful not to swallow the oil because you will reintroduce the bacteria back into your body.

 

My dentist always mentions my inflamed gums and deep pockets, so I decided to give oil pulling with coconut oil a try. photo (4)It takes a little getting used to, but it’s not bad.   I swished for several weeks before a second appointment with my periodontist. She noticed that my gums were less inflamed than previously, and when I mentioned that I had been oil pulling, which she had never heard of, she wouldn’t exactly attribute the decrease in swelling to the oil pulling.  She did say however, to keep it up if I thought it was working.

Oil pulling is an easy practice to help heal teeth and gums and one that possibly benefits your entire system.  I love how clean and glossy my teeth feel after swishing too!  Why not give it a try and let me know what you think!

 

Information compiled from http://wellnessmama.com/7866/oil-pulling-for-oral-health/ and http://coconut-oil-pulling.com/.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

 

 

 

If You Can’t Garden, Clean!!!

Happy Spring!  Whether it feels like spring or not, there is a psychological lift to just spotting a crocus or two and knowing that winter is officially over.  It may be too early to start gardening, but it’s not too early to start a thorough spring cleaning!

If you don’t already use non-toxic cleaners, now is the time to switch!  Indoor air pollution, partially caused by the use of chemical based cleaners, is a much more serious problem than people realize and one of the reasons for increased cases of asthma and allergies among other diseases. Fortunately you can find several brands of non-toxic cleaning supplies at your local grocery store and many of the conventional brands are now making a less toxic product.  Be sure to read the ingredients though; some products claim to be “natural” when they really aren’t. Visit Environmental Working Group’s Cleaners database “Hall of Shame” for the worst offenders in cleaning products.

Seventh Generation, Mrs. Myers, Shaklee’s full line of biodegradable concentrated cleaning products, and The Optimist Company, a local Cape Cod company whose owner makes pure cleaning and laundry products in her own kitchen with cool biodegradable packaging, are all effective “clean” (toxin-free) products.  Start with an all-purpose cleaner, an abrasive scrubber, and a toilet cleaner.  You really don’t need a different product for each surface in your home.

Making your own cleaning supplies using baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice is a fun and easy option too!  Baking soda cleans nearly everything from stained kitchen sinks to mildewed showers to tea stained coffee mugs to flatware to fruit or even teeth, and it’s cheap!  White vinegar works great on hardwood floors.  Easy, long-lasting microfiber cloths lift off dirt, dust and grime with no need for additional products.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that if there is no “clean” smell, then it’s not effective – fragrances are part of the chemical danger. (There are some organic cleaners containing safe, essential oils as a fragrance.)

Happy spring cleaning!

Recipe for All-Purpose Cleaner

All-Purpose Cleaner: Mix 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup baking soda (or 2 teaspoons borax) into 1/2 gallon (2 liters) water. Store and keep. Use for removal of water deposit stains on shower stall panels, bathroom chrome fixtures, windows, bathroom mirrors, countertops etc.  Keep out of reach of children.

Check out the short video on green cleaning your kitchen.

Some information compiled from http://eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_solutions.htm#substitutions and http://www.greencleaningcoach.com/ 

For more green living  tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

Is Your Shower Curtain Toxic?

Don’t be fooled by the “new shower curtain smell” emitted when you buy a new plastic one.  That smell is actually an indication of the toxic substances that are released, or off-gassed.  Most shower curtains and curtain liners are made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, which contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs), phthalates and metals, all of which cause a host of problems like respiratory irritation, damage to the central nervous system, headaches, fatigue, dizziness and even worse.   You also want to avoid shower curtains with anti-mildew treatment, antibacterial or antimicrobial claims.  Who knows what’s been added to make these unregulated claims and you don’t want to inhale chemicals in the shower curtain!

In a study recently published by the Center for Health, Environment & Justice entitled “Volatile Vinyl: The New Shower Curtain’s Chemical Smell”, claims more than 100 chemicals are released into the air when consumers open the curtain packages. The level of total VOCs measured was over 16 times greater than the recommended guidelines for indoor air quality established by the U.S. Green Building Council and Washington State Indoor Air Quality Program.  Seven of the chemicals released by shower curtains are classified as hazardous air pollutants by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Air Act.  The heat and humidity in the shower may make the VOC concentrations even worse.

Alternatives to toxic PVC shower curtains?

Cotton, (organic cotton is even better), duck cotton, recycled sailcloth or hemp shower curtains, are best and available on line. If you can’t find cotton ones, synthetic materials are okay as long as they are made of the more environmentally friendly EVA, PVA, nylon, polyester or microfiber. Retail giants like Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond are now aware of the problem with PVC and are carrying non-PVC shower curtains and liners.  I just bought an inexpensive curtain liner made from 100% EVA Vinyl produced without chlorine.   So – stop inhaling toxic substances and replace your shower curtain now!  You’ll be happy you did!

Some information compiled from  http://healthyhomefocus.com/?p=925

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

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