THE IMPORTANCE OF CARING FOR TREES

Originally posted on What's Green with Betsy?!?:

The large and majestic trees along our streets, on your property and in parks make up the urban forest. While we are aware of their beauty and benefits, we might not realize that many of our larger trees are suffering from environmental stress and neglect.

Unless we protect them, a majority of our heritage trees will disappear within twenty to thirty years. Air pollution, soil compaction and contamination, construction injury, exotic invasive insect pests and limited water, oxygen and nutrient availability has taken a toll. Mother Nature also causes stress with sudden ice storms, high winds, extreme low temperatures, a devastating spring snowstorm or summer drought. Many new large growing trees are planted in confined spaces with soil devoid of essential micronutrients.  And the life expectancy of newly planted street trees is only 25 years; it is unlikely they will ever reach the grandeur of the majestic trees today.

Trees…

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Bottles Made From Reclaimed Ocean Plastic?!!

 

Next time you need cleaning products, take a look at Ecover in the organic section of your grocery store.

Ecover Dishwashing Liquid

Ecover, a Belgian natural cleaning products company has been manufacturing phosphate-free, plant-based products for over three decades.  Their factory runs on green electricity and is covered with a flower roof, which acts as insulation to reduce energy needed for heating and cooling, and their renewable, reusable and recyclable “PlantPlastic” bottles are made from sugarcane and recycled plastic.  And now, to highlight the dangers of dumping plastic into the oceans, which is killing fish and threatening ecosystems, they are manufacturing the world’s first dishwashing liquid bottle made from reclaimed ocean plastic!

Along with manufacturer Logoplaste, Ecover is working to combine plastic trawled from the sea with “PlantPlastic” and recycled plastic, “a world-first for packaging” according to UK’s The Guardian Weekly.  Initially 10% of the plastic will be from the sea, though Ecover hopes to increase that amount.   It supposedly went on sale in the UK in May.

Plastic can take thousands of years to degrade, and as it does so can leach harmful contaminants into our waterways and soil, including the endocrine disruptor bisphenol A (BPA).  You might have heard about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch which scientists estimate is two times bigger than the state of Texas.

Ecover took an important step towards helping to clean up our oceans.  We need more ingenuity and corporate responsibility like that.  Hopefully other companies will follow suit.  Congratulations Ecover!

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com

 

Information compiled from: http://us.ecover.com/http://science.howstuffworks.com/, and The Guardian Weekly, 16.05.14

 

The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen

 

Whenever possible, eating organic food is always preferable.  Organic food is grown without chemical pesticides, may contain more natural antioxidants and nutrients linked to reduced risk for cancer, stroke, and heart disease, and tastes more flavorful.  But, organic food is usually more expensive than conventional food and many people can’t afford it.  While I still maintain you can’t afford not to eat organically (it’s cheaper than the doctor),  I of course understand.  That’s where the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean 15” guidelines developed by the Environmental Working Group come in handy.  The EWG is a non-profit watchdog organization, which uses “the power of public information to protect public health and the environment” and “empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment”.

The Dirty Dozen are the 12 fruits and vegetables most heavily sprayed with pesticides – they contain 47 to 67 pesticides per serving – and the ones you should always buy organic. These foods are most susceptible because they have soft skin that tends to absorb more pesticides. They are, starting with the worst:

  • apples
  • strawberries
  • grapes
  • celery
  • peaches
  • spinach
  • sweet bell pepper
  • nectarines – imported
  • cucumbers
  • cherry tomatoes
  • snap peas – imported
  • potatoes

+ 2 more

  • hot peppers
  • kale/collard greens

 

The Clean 15 are the fifteen fruits and vegetables lowest in pesticides and not necessary to buy organic.  They are, starting with the best:

  • avocados
  • sweet corn
  • pineapples
  • cabbage
  • sweet peas – frozen
  • onions
  • asparagus
  • mangoes
  • papaya
  • kiwi
  • eggplant
  • grapefruit
  • cantaloupe
  • cauliflower

The organic food market is growing and organic foods are now easily found in conventional grocery store chains as well as natural food markets.  To be sure the produce you choose is organic, check the sticker on the fruit or vegetable. If the code number starts with a “9” ,then it is organic.

Next time you go grocery shopping, bring your Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen shopper’s guide.  You’ll find it’s cheaper than you think to eat safely!

Visit the Environmental Working Group website to download the EWG Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce and to see their full list of all 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue data. Their website also contains shopper’s guides to safe cleaning products, safe cosmetics, safe sunscreen and a variety of other important topics.

 

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

Information compiled from ewg.org.

 

Concord Museum Guild of Volunteers presents Its 25th Annual Garden Tour Friday, June 06, 2014 – Saturday, June 07, 2014, 9AM – 4PM

 

 

If you are looking for a fun thing to do in the Boston area next weekend June 6 and 7, consider a visit to  the beautiful and historic town of Concord and check out the Concord Museum’s Garden Tour.  This New England tradition is for all garden lovers and offers something for the accomplished landscapers, the novice gardener and those in between.  Each of the 7 private gardens reflects the interests and passions of the owners and their families with acres of “garden rooms”.  The garden tours are self-guided, beginning both days rain or shine at 9:00am and continuing until 4:00pm.

While you are in Concord, make a day of it and visit the Concord Museum (including their newest exhibition opening April 18 – The Shot Heard Round the World: April 19, 1775), and plan to have lunch or dinner at one of Concord’s fine restaurants.

Advance purchase discount price through May 30: $30 Concord Museum members, $35 Non-members.  Reservations online at www.concordmuseum.org .

 

About the Concord Museum: The Concord Museum is where all of Concord’s remarkable past is brought to life through an inspiring collection of historical, literary and decorative arts treasures.  Renowned for the 1775 Revere lantern and Henry Thoreau’s Walden desk, the Concord Museum is home to a nationally significant collection of American decorative arts, including clocks, furniture and silver. Founded in 1886, the Museum is a gateway to historic Concord for visitors from around the world and a vital cultural resource for the town and the region. Visit www.concordmuseum.org

 

 

Eating Fish Is More Complicated Than You Think!

 

Fish is not a health food, according to Dr. Furhman, a board-certified family physician, NY Times best-selling author, nutritional researcher, and an internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing.  He maintains, “If you eat fish regularly, your body is undoubtedly high in mercury, which can damage the heart and brain. Pregnant women may compromise their babies’ brain development by mercury exposure associated with eating fish, and eating more fish is also associated with increased breast cancer risk.”  He recommends to either avoid fish or eat it no more than once a week and choose those lowest in mercury such as flounder, scallops, trout, sole, squid, wild salmon or sardines.

Fish is a healthy and delicious alternative to meat and obviously some choices are safer than others.  Still, reading Dr. Furhman’s report is jarring.  I went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch website, which helps consumers and businesses make choices for healthy oceans and for consuming safe fish, to read their recommendations.

The Seafood Watch program categorizes fish into “Best Choices”, “Good Alternatives”, and which ones to “Avoid”.

Their Super Green or “Best Choices” lists seafood that meets the following three criteria:

  • Has low levels of mercury
  • Provides at least 250 milligrams per day (mg/d) of omega-3s
  • Is classified as a Seafood Watch “Best Choice” (green)

Best Choice List includes:

  • Atlantic Mackerel (purse seine from Canada and the U.S.)
  • Freshwater Coho Salmon (farmed in tank systems, from the U.S.)
  • Pacific Sardines (wild-caught)
  • Salmon (wild-caught, from Alaska)
  • Salmon, Canned (wild-caught, from Alaska)

Next Best choices:

  • Albacore Tuna (troll- or pole-caught, from the U.S. or British Columbia)
  • Sablefish/Black Cod (from Alaska and Canadian Pacific)

Click here for the “Good Alternatives” and “Avoid” list, as well as a seafood search for detailed information regarding specific fish.  You can actually download seafood watch lists for your  region of the country.  

The “Best Choices” list isn’t very long.  Sadly, eating safe, nutritious food is getting harder.  Staying informed by reading information from trusted sources is one solution, eating local, organically grown whole food is another.

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Information compiled from:  peacefuldaily.com and

http://www.seafoodwatch.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/sfw_recommendations.aspx

 

Gardening with Charcoal and Epsom Salts

 

A few weeks ago I did a post on gardening with baking soda.  I recently came across more clever organic gardening tips using common household products – charcoal and Epsom salts.     Read on….

 

Charcoal

 

And yes, I’m talking about the charcoal you’ll barbeque with this Memorial Day, as long as it’s additive-free (natural hardwood charcoal, not briquettes)!                 photo

1.  Activated carbon and water remove pesticides from the soil.  This is good to know if you are putting in a vegetable garden and are not sure if the area was treated        with pesticides in the past.  Combine 1 pound charcoal with 1 gallon water, transfer to a spray bottle and mist directly onto the soil. The charcoal/water combination  absorbs the chemicals.

2. Use charcoal as mulch.  It keeps the soil moist and deters weed growth. Anything that helps control weeds is worth a try!  Simply break the charcoal into small chunks about an inch in diameter and sprinkle around the plants.

3.  Charcoal helps cut flowers last longer.   Put a charcoal chunk in the bottom of a vase to extend the freshness of the water and flowers.

 

Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulfate)

 

Like baking soda, Epsom salts is an economical and unbelievably diverse product.  Throughout time, not only has it been used to treat a variety of human and animal ailments, but is has also been known as a great garden supplement, especially with organic gardeners.

Tomatoes, peppers and roses need high levels of magnesium for optimal growth and are particularly responsive to Epsom salts.  Tomatoes are prone to magnesium deficiency later in the growing season and you’ll notice this with yellowing leaves.  Epsom salts help with plant chlorosis in general, the loss of chlorophyll in the leaves, even your lawn’s yellowing leaves. According to the National Gardening Association,  “Don’t rely on Epsom salts to correct large soil magnesium deficiencies, but rather use it as a supplement to soils with adequate or slightly low magnesium levels to boost plant growth, flowering, and fruiting.”

Epsom salts enhance the soil’s and fertilizer’s capabilities in much the same way a gourmet salt enhances the flavor of food.  Your houseplants, vegetables, herbs, (with the exception of sage – don’t ask me why), flowers, shrubs, trees and lawn will benefit from their application. You can either apply 1 tablespoon of granules around each plant or spray a solution of 1 tablespoon Epsom salts diluted in 1 gallon of water.  As a foliar spray, it is taken up more quickly by the plants.  Apply after the initial planting, about a month later when the plants begin to grow, and then one more time as the vegetable matures.  For detailed information about specific plants, visit saltworks.us.

Another great property?  Epsom salts also deter slugs!

Learn from the organic gardeners who consider Epsom salts a  “secret ingredient” to a lush, bountiful and affordable garden.

Try both the charcoal and Epsom salts and let me know you think!

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Information compiled from:

http://www.saltworks.us/gardening-with-epsom-salt.asphttp://www.garden.org/articles/articles.php?q=show&id=68&page=3 and http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-surprising-uses-for-charcoal.html

Plant a Tree for the Future


The social, aesthetic, and environmental benefits of trees are numerous.  They manufacture oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide.  They provide shade in summer and windbreak in winter.  The beauty and serenity of trees have been shown to help hospital patients recover more quickly. Trees reduce crime in low-income urban areas and increase property values.   Trees help us save energy and improve air quality, conserve water and provide homes to wildlife.   Large and majestic trees are an important part of the community.

According to American Forests, the national urban tree deficit now stands at more than 634 million trees.  Unprecedented environmental stresses are making it more difficult for trees to grow and flourish in today’s world.  Because trees sequester carbon and offset our carbon footprint, or the amount of energy a person consumes in their day-to-day activities, it is more important than ever to plant trees.  The average person produces 26 tons of CO2 per year.  6 twenty-five year old pine trees absorb 1 ton of CO2.  36 twenty-five year old maple trees absorb 1 ton of CO2.

Planting trees is a way for people to give back to the environment for future generations and to offset the damage done by their carbon footprint. Spring is the perfect time to plant.  Plant a tree for a new grandchild, in memory of a beloved pet, or to honor a special anniversary.  When it comes to planting, the smaller the tree the better.  Smaller trees develop a better root system and you’ll be amazed how quickly they  grow.    If you live in a condo, an apartment or have no place to plant a tree, americanforests.org will plant a tree in your name with a small donation.  Makes a great gift too!

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