Posts Tagged ‘drought’

What’s Old Is New Again

Reducing plastic usage and conserving water are two imperative things we must do to help the environment. Reusable shopping bags help eliminate non-biodegradable plastic bags from ending up in the ocean, and taking shorter showers and turning off the water when brushing your teeth helps conserve water. Bar shampoo is another simple idea that eliminates plastic and conserves water.

Bar shampoo is a solid bar of soap made specifically for hair using natural ingredients. It has been around for a long time and was commonly used before the invention of shampoo and conditioners in plastic bottles. J.R. Liggett,’s a producer of old-fashioned bar shampoo, has been in operation for over 30 years.

According to ethiquebeauty.com, a New Zealand eco-conscious bar shampoo manufacturer, shampoo, bodywash and conditioner can be made up of up to 80% water. It doesn’t make sense to pay for water, and package it in plastic, when there already is water in the shower. So far, Ethique has prevented 50,000 bottles, jars and tubes from being made and disposed of. With their “Give Up the Bottle” program, they hope to reach 1 million by 2020.  

Natural bar shampoos don’t contain harsh chemicals, which are not only bad for you and your hair, but for the earth too. Many people find increased volume, faster growing hair, reduced dandruff and less frizz using bar shampoo. My daughter recently switched to bar shampoo and loves the experience of using it. “With my long hair, I can get a more accurate and even spread of the lather throughout my hair, and with the 100% natural ingredients, my hair has never been shinier. I feel really good about my impact on the environment.“

Bar shampoo is usually cheaper than bottle shampoo with some bars lasting 2 -3 months. It’s convenient for traveling or camping too!

Much of the country has been experiencing severe extended drought; scientists estimate by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. We must act now to help reverse these devastating trends.  While this seems daunting and nearly impossible, reducing your plastic and water usage with bar shampoo is a simple yet impactful step towards that goal. What’s old is new again, and often better.

Bar shampoos can be found on line and in natural food markets.

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Information compiled from https://ethiquebeauty.com/give-up-the-bottle/ and http://www.overthrowmartha.com/.

 

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Conserve Water This Summer!

 

We are having a beautiful summer in Massachusetts – clear blue skies, dry air, not too hot.  Ideal, but we need some rain! Though we have had some rain the past few days, we haven’t had nearly enough.  Several towns are facing mandatory water restrictions and many have voluntary water bans from the Department of Environmental Protection.  Much of the Northeast, parts of the Southeast, and scattered areas in the Midwest are abnormally dry.  The West continues to be in serious drought conditions.  Conserving water is a must!

Here are two major areas where you can conserve water.

Watering Your Lawn

A lush green lawn is lovely, but turf grass is our largest irrigated “crop”, using as much as half of all fresh water used in urban areas each year. Typically, at least half of all water consumed by households is used outdoors. Lawns require two-and-a-half to four times more water than trees and shrubs, and a typical suburban lawn uses 10,000 gallons of water over and above that provided by rainfall in a single year. Wow! Here are a few suggestions to conserve water with your lawn.

  • Mow high.  Longer grass encourages longer roots, which require less water and food. It also holds moisture better.
  • Avoid mowing during the hottest part of the day.
  • Don’t mow if you don’t have to.  Save the gas instead.
  • When you do water, water deeply and infrequently.
  • Water between 4 and 6am when the demand is low.  After 10 am much of the water evaporates.
  • Check your automatic sprinkler system periodically to make sure the heads are actually watering the lawn and not the sidewalk or your house.
  • Since there seems to be a trend towards hot, dry summers, consider re-landscaping to minimize grass areas in your lawn, lowering your demand for water.  Think about “Edible Landscapes” – they make good sense!
  • If you can, let your lawn go dormant during this drought period.  Lawns are supposed to go dormant in the summer – we just keep them artificially green by watering.  If your lawn has a good root system established, it won’t die and will bounce back during the cooler temperatures of fall.

Washing Your Car

When we wash our car at home,  try to avoid washing near the storm drain. Water run off  goes right into storm drains and eventually into rivers, streams, creeks and wetlands.  You can cover the drain with a rubber mat or wash the car on grass or gravel and let water seep into the ground.  If you do this, make sure to use non-toxic, biodegradable detergents.

To cut down on the amount of water you use when washing your car, try rinsing with rainwater collected  in a bucket or rain barrel.  Use a bucket instead of a hose for washing and use the hose only on the final rinse.

Other Ideas

Turning the water off when you brush your teeth or shave, running the dishwasher and washing machine only when full, shortening your shower are a few other easy ways to save water.  Click here for more ideas.

Water is a precious resource – let’s all do what we can to conserve!

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

 

Appreciate Your Trees  

I love watching the trees take turns blooming this time of year. First the magnolia with its lovely pale pink flowers, followed by the cherries with their brighter pink and fuchsia blossoms, then the apples and their tufts of white flowers. Coming along is the golden chain tree with its delicate, dangling yellow flowers. The oaks are also flowering with their tender green leaves slowly emerging. (Did you know that all trees flower, some less conspicuously than others?) The majestic upright horse chestnut flowers are peaking and the fragrant purple lilacs are everywhere. Take a walk in your yard or around your neighborhood and appreciate the gift of trees.

Horse Chestnut Tree

Trees Need Care Too

Trees like humans, need preventative care to ward off disease, especially as they suffer from environmental stresses like air pollution, soil contamination and compaction, exotic invasive insect pests, temperature extremes, devastating storms and drought.

There are several organic approaches to prolong the life of a tree and maintain its good health and vigor.

  • Fix the soil with compost and organic supplements. Raking leaves in the fall removes vital organic matter, and toxic chemicals and high nitrogen based fertilizers deplete the soil of important nutrients.  It is imperative to replenish the soil with amendments or compost.  Healthy, nutrient rich soil determines how well your trees grow.
  • Consult a local arborist – a tree needs to be periodically inspected for structural defects, insect pests and disease.
  • Trees should be pruned properly and focus on removing dead, dying, diseased and broken branches.
  • Proper irrigation and mulching, especially in times of drought, are essential to maintain a tree’s good health.

Trees play a critical role in the health of the planet. They are not living statues – they need care and protection just like any other living thing.  Please help preserve these majestic beauties.

Some information compiled from bostontreepreservation.com.

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

Reboot Your New Year’s Resolutions!

Lately, I’ve been hearing about rebooting our abandoned New Year’s resolutions.  It’s only February after all, and way too soon to let those good intentions fall by the way side.  Hopefully your resolutions included adopting new green living habits, but if not, it’s never too late to add them.

What is the most important green thing you can do?  Think.      

  • Think about unnecessary packaging when you buy something.  Packaging represents about 65% of household trash.
  • Think about where that product came from and under what conditions it was produced.
  • Think about refusing those ubiquitous, non-biodegradable, petroleum-based plastic bags at the grocery store and bringing your own reusable ones instead.  (Plastic bags are banned in some areas of the USA and in some countries.)
  • Think about bringing your own bags on all errands.
  • Before you throw something away, think about whether it can be reused or given away.
  • If not, think about our jam-packed landfills and the importance of recycling.  According to Recycling Revolution, “The U.S. is the #1 trash-producing country in the world at 1609 pounds per person.  This means that 5% of the world’s people generate 40% of the world’s waste.” There is good news however. Efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle are paying off and landfill demand is diminishing.
  • Think about the seriousness of the record-breaking drought in parts of the country and what you can do to conserve water – turn off the water when you brush your teeth, shorten your showers and run your dishwasher only when full.
  • Think about consolidating your errands, walking or taking public transportation in an effort to conserve energy.
  • Think about turning off lights when you leave a room to save electricity.

In our busy, fast-paced lives we usually don’t take the time to think through our daily habits.  They become rote.  It takes about three weeks to develop a new habit.  Make these simple green tips your new routine.  Then, take the time to think and learn about why the time is now to start living a greener life.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Some information compiled from http://www.usi.edu/recycle/solid-waste-landfill-facts; http://postcom.org/eco/facts.about.landfills.htm.

Conserve Water During Dry Conditions

According to a report from the National Climatic Center in Asheville, NC and the Huffington Post,  “The nation’s widest drought in decades is spreading, with more than half of the continental United States now in some stage of drought and most of the rest enduring abnormally dry conditions.”  As I write this post from my farm on Cape Cod, the thermometer says 88 degrees (though it feels even hotter), much of my lawn looks brown and my flowers, vegetables and normally hearty hydrangea look wilted.  And there have been many days this summer just like this.

We obviously need to water to keep our plants alive. However, we need to think about water conservation too in such dry conditions with little or no rain in the forecast. A lush green lawn is lovely, but turf grass is our largest irrigated “crop” using as much as half of all fresh water used in urban areas each year. Typically, at least half of all water consumed by households is used outdoors. Lawns require two-and-a-half to four times more water than trees and shrubs, and a typical suburban lawn uses 10,000 gallons of water over and above that provided by rainfall in a single year.

What can you do?  Lots…

  • Mow high.  Longer grass encourages longer roots, which require less water and food. It also holds moisture better.
  • Avoid mowing during the hottest part of the day.
  • Don’t mow if you don’t have to.  Save the gas instead.
  • When you do water, water deeply and infrequently.
  • Water between 4 and 6am when the demand is low.  After 10 am much of the water evaporates.
  • Check your automatic sprinkler system periodically to make sure the heads are actually watering the lawn and not the sidewalk or your house.
  • Since there seems to be a trend towards hot, dry summers, consider re-landscaping to minimize grass areas in your lawn, lowering your demand for water.
  • If you can, let your lawn go dormant during this drought period.  Lawns are supposed to go dormant in the summer – we just keep them artificially green by watering.  If your lawn has a good root system established, it won’t die and will bounce back during the cooler temperatures of fall.

    Very green grass, despite the drought

    Very green grass, despite the drought (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Information compiled from http://www.bouldercolorado.gov and http://web4.audubon.org/

 

 

 

Fireworks, Drought and the 4th of July

Fireworks #1

Fireworks #1 (Photo credit: Camera Slayer)

4th of July and fireworks – It’s hard to imagine one without the other.  Cities across the country put on fabulous fireworks shows. People celebrate with their own fireworks display and kids “write” in the sky with sparklers!   The Boston Pops performing John Phillip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever followed by an incredible fireworks spectacular over the Charles River is the quintessential 4thof July celebration.

BOSTON (July 4, 2008) Confetti rains down at t...

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, extreme drought conditions are gripping Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois and Colorado.  Severe drought is occurring in much of the west with parts of the South and the East under abnormally dry conditions.  Out of control fires are blazing in many states.  It’s frightening.

Severe drought conditions have forced at least 40 counties in the Midwest to issue burn restrictions and bans; many of these bans include fireworks. From Utah to Indiana, state and local governments are calling off annual fireworks displays and urging residents to not to use fireworks, Roman candles and sparklers.

Fireworks are not exactly “green” to begin with, but this year, under such dry conditions, it’s best not to set off your own and go instead to your local fireworks display.  Celebrate at home with colorful streamers and other decorations.  If you do set off your own, use fireworks rich in nitrogen.  They can cost a little more, but they put out less smoke into the environment.  And, be extra vigilant.

Don’t forget to have a green cookout too.  Click here for ideas.

With a little more consideration for the earth, you can  have an even happier 4th!

Information compiled from www.accuweather.com, http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/, www.cleveland.com, inhabitat.com, and earth911.com.

 

A GREENER WAY TO WASH YOUR CAR

 

 

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, much of the nation is under “abnormally dry” to “exceptional drought” conditions.  In San Francisco where drought is severe,  people are  issued a water allotment and should you go over your allocated amount,  there is  a significant  fine.  Additionally, shut off valves are mandatory on hoses.  You can’t wash your car without one.  My sister who lives there mentioned that everyone’s car is dirty!

Did you realize that car washing is one of the most environmentally unfriendly chores we do?  Water run off from car washing goes right into storm drains and eventually into rivers, streams, creeks and wetlands. Household waste water enters sewers or septic systems and undergoes treatment before it is discharged into the environment.   If you wash your car at home, it is important therefore, to choose a biodegradable soap specifically formulated for automotive parts.  There are several brands such as Simple Green’s Car Wash or No Rinse™ Wash & Shine, a car wash system that only requires 1-2 gallons of water to wash the entire car. You can make your own biodegradable car wash by mixing one cup of liquid dishwashing detergent and 3/4 cup of powdered laundry detergent (non-toxic and phosphate-free) with three gallons of water.

To cut down on the amount of water you use when washing your car, try rinsing with rainwater collected  in a bucket or rain barrel.  Use a bucket as much as possible, which  saves water and use the hose only on the final rinse. Try to avoid washing near the storm drain.  You can  cover the drain with a rubber mat or wash the car on grass or gravel and let water seep into the ground.  If you do this, please use non-toxic, biodegradable detergents.

We are lucky here in the Northeast with no drought problem, but that’s no reason not to be conscious of your water intake!

 

 

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.