Green Living

Now that summer’s here, you’re probably paying closer attention to your outdoor space. although homeowners spend anywhere from 1% to 4% of their home’s value each year on maintenance and repairs, there are likely to be plenty of improvements you can make around the exterior of your property this year. And if your main focus is to be more eco-conscious, you can improve your yard while supporting environmental endeavors. To that end, here are some tips that will make your lawn and other landscaping look lovely and protect the planet at the same time.

Opt For Natural Pest Control

For the 27% of Americans who rented their homes in 2016, they might not have as much of a say over the pest control methods used by the actual property owners. But if you own your home, you get to choose how you want to protect your yard from pest invasions — and there are a number of ways to do that safely. You can make your own pest control spray with ingredients like garlic, use copper rings to keep slugs away, or unleash some ladybugs to get rid of aphids and mites. By reducing or eliminating the use of harmful chemicals in your landscaping, you can support local wildlife while still allowing your lawn and garden to look their best.

Support Your Local Pollinators

Pollinators like bees and butterflies play an essential role in our eco-system. Unfortunately, the widespread use of pesticides and other human activity has had adverse effects on many populations of these helpful creatures. Incorporating native plants into your landscaping, providing some shelter, and offering some fresh water to drink can entice pollinators to come to your yard and bolster their numbers.

Develop an Irrigation System

Your plants need water to survive, but your watering methods could end up wasting a lot of H2O. Be sure to use mulch to keep plants hydrated between waterings and consider installing an irrigation system that reduces waste instead of relying on sprinklers. You might also consider using drought-tolerant plants, creating a rain garden, or collecting rainwater in barrels to stretch your “watering budget” even further.

Put Your Compost to Good Use

Many people who lead green lifestyles participate in composting — but you don’t necessarily have to drop off your bucket to a compost program. Instead, you can build a compost pile in your yard and use it to keep your garden looking gorgeous. Your compost pile will turn into incredible fertilizer and you’ll be doing your part to reduce your household waste — a true win/win.

Rethink Your Mowing Habits and Lawn Size

Having a big green lawn is something many of us dream about — but keeping your grass looking lush can actually take an environmental toll. Reducing the size of your lawn can help you use less water and be less dependent on mowers that guzzle gas. And whatever grass you do keep should be kept a little longer than you might think. Although one of the most common code violations involves having weeds taller than 12 inches on a property’s lawn, you don’t have to let your grass grow wild. Instead, adjust the mower’s settings to cut the grass to around three inches high. This will keep your lawn from getting stressed, which makes for a healthier yard overall.

By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be able to create a luscious lawn and landscape that adds to your home’s curb appeal and supports environmental causes you care about.

green wall

According to the EPA, Americans spend roughly 90% of their time indoors. These days, with the coronavirus pandemic still well underway, that figure is certainly even higher. Spending too much time inside is associated with all sorts of adverse effects on both our physical and our mental health.

While about 60 million Americans are covered by Medicare, there is a significant portion of the populace that has no coverage. Regardless of health insurance status, it is in everyone’s best interest to remain as healthy as possible. Making your green wall can be a helpful step in your wellness journey.

Carbon Dioxide: An Indoor Health Hazard

One of the reasons time indoors is so detrimental to our health is the higher concentration of carbon dioxide. The typical outdoor concentration of CO2 is roughly 300-400 parts per million, though it can exceed that range in places that have particularly high levels of industrial activity or traffic. Home air conditioners alone release roughly 100 million tons of carbon dioxide into the air, contributing to this figure.

However, concentrations tend to be significantly worse in the home compared with the levels outside. Inside the concentration can sometimes exceed 1,000 ppm when the home has a particularly high occupancy.

Prolonged exposure to carbon dioxide can cause such unpleasant and downright dangerous symptoms as dizziness, restlessness, headaches, sweating, fatigue, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, and at extreme levels asphyxia, convulsions, and coma.

The Benefits of a Green Wall

Odds are your home doesn’t have high enough levels of CO2 to put you in any serious danger. However, it’s always worth it to invest in methods to reduce the indoor levels of carbon dioxide as much as possible. An indoor green wall absorbs CO2 as well as other toxins that may be present in the air, and releases oxygen.

Plants also have a well-documented positive effect on mental health — one of the reasons places such as Florida bring in as many as 100 million visitors each year is the prevalence of lush and diverse flora. Greenery is known to have such valuable benefits as reducing stress and even improving memory and focus. Making a green wall allows you to bring these benefits right into your own home.

It’s no secret that plants are getting a lot of love lately. Like, a lot of love. Chances are you can’t go through a single Pinterest page on interior design without seeing at least one photo of a living room completely decked out in plants.

With the COVID-19 crisis keeping us all inside, there’s no better time than to bring the outdoors in and become a plant parent yourself. Of course, not everyone has the greenest of thumbs. To help set you on the right track, here are a few important things you need to know before you bring a new plant baby home.

You can order plants online

You don’t need to visit your local grocery store or HomeDepot to pick up new houseplants. In fact, you can order plants online right from the comfort of your own home. Up to 39% of global e-commerce traffic comes from search engines. Just be sure to do your research on the plant you’re buying before you hit that ‘complete purchase’ button.

Plant parenting styles vary

Not every plant is for everyone. Many people offer cactuses as an “easy” plant to parent. But many first-time plant owners can end up overwatering their cacti and killing them before they even get a chance to bloom.

Consider what kind of plant parent you are. Are you a frequent-waterer or do you leave your plants to their own devices most of the time? A cactus may be the easiest plant for one person while a miniature rose plant might be the easiest for another. Be sure to look at the care instructions that each plant needs before you assume it’ll be simple to take care of.

Not every plant blooms in the window

If you’re buying indoor plants, make sure to evaluate what the environment is like inside your house. Which part of your home gets the most sunlight? In which parts is sunlight scarce? Certain plants only need partial sunlight and are best kept away from windows whereas others thrive in direct sunlight and would be best kept on the sill.

Consider other features about your home, too, like humidity level and temperature. During the summer months, you might love having your air conditioner cranked up, but your plants might not enjoy the chill.

Gardens don’t thrive wherever they’re planted

If you’re considering more than just plant parenthood and you want to start a garden, it’s important to consider just where you plan on planting your garden. Your first instinct might be to plant flowers just outside your windows. 

After all, 67% of landscaping projects involve single-family homes and can add 14% to the resale value of your house. But depending on the position of the sun and where the rain hits your yard the most, you could end up with more dead plants than curb appeal.

Living with plants, both indoors and outdoors, can reduce stress and make you feel good. Becoming a proud plant parent right now can be just what you need during this stressful time. Just make sure that you do your research on the plants you’re getting to make sure you’re choosing the plants that are best for you.

green living

While much of the world is stuck in quarantine, many of us are just thinking about two things: when is this going to end, and what should I watch next on TV? Movie and television streaming services, already on an upward trend for the past decade, are enjoying popularity like never before. CNBC writes that in their Q1 2020 earnings report, Netflix told its shareholders that their membership growth “has temporarily accelerated due to home confinement.” Other services are enjoying a boost to growth as well.

Coronavirus and the Environment

However, it’s important not to let the current crisis distract us from the most pressing long-term threat humanity faces: climate change. As many have noted, the global trend of reduced transportation and production due to coronavirus is already having a noticeable impact on the environment. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) reported a decrease in air traffic worldwide by a whopping 60%.

And it’s not just air traffic that has been reduced. With 80% of all American products being delivered by trucks, any slowing or halting of domestic manufacturing and imports is immediately felt on the road. This temporarily lessened need for distribution means fewer ozone, particulate matter, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen oxide emissions.

However, unless we emerge from this crisis with more stringent pollution regulations and other environmental protections, this effect will be temporary. Furthermore, these changes alone, while certainly a step in the right direction, are not enough by themselves. We need action at the individual level and focus on green living if we are to tackle climate change in a meaningful way.

If you have been wondering how you can make changes in your own life in order to help mitigate climate change, you can use this green living list to get yourself started:

Tips for a Green Quarantine

Be strategic with dishes

For just about everyone, being stuck at home means cooking more than ever. While it’s important that we all try to support our favorite local restaurants as they try to navigate this partial economic shutdown, staying home all day means that we’re spending more and more time in the kitchen. This can be a great way to save money and eat healthy, but it does have a less enjoyable side-effect: more dirty dishes.

To do your small part to practice green living and help our planet, try to wait until your dishwasher is at full capacity to run it. While it can be tempting to run a cycle after lunch to get your plates, pots, pans, and silverware clean and back in their respective cabinets, try to wait until night time. Dishwashers use up a lot of electricity, so not only will you be conserving water but you’ll be reducing your energy bill as well.

Limit your driving

Food can be one of the greatest obstacles to green living. Purchasing products from the grocery store with excessive food miles contributes greatly to pollution, as do multiple trips to the grocery store per week. Add in trips to the gym, which most members visit at least twice a week, as well as various other errands, and you have a green living disaster. When you can, try to bike, walk, or use public transportation.

Use energy-efficient bulbs

Surveys have found that 48% of home-buyers rank energy-efficiency as the most important quality a home can have. Regardless of whether or not you’re thinking of selling your house, using fluorescent or LED bulbs is a quick and easy green living step that anyone can do. Eventually, bulbs will pay for themselves with the energy savings.

In Conclusion

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to green living ideas, but hopefully it has gotten you thinking about new ways that you can do your part to protect the environment. In many ways, lockdown has given us a special opportunity to reevaluate the way we live our lives. Let green living be at the forefront of these reflections.

The COVID-19 crisis has put a lot of people in financial trouble. Millions are unemployed, furloughed, or stuck at home. Many more are working long, hard hours from their homes. If you’re among the many trying to find ways to save money, going green can actually benefit your pocketbook. There are a lot of cheap and easy ways that you can help save the planet and your bank account

Reusable Water Bottles

One of the best and easiest ways to go green is to cut back on the amount of packaging and plastic you throw away. The best way to do that is to switch from plastic water bottles to a reusable water bottle. Now, water bottles can become quite expensive if you look, but usually, you can find some good ones at a dollar store that you can use to save money and save the planet by using less plastic. Depending on where you live, you may need to buy a water filter to drink tap water. Or you can start buying larger jugs of water to fill from. Either way, you’ll end up saving money in the long-run.

Greener Groceries

If you really want to save money, starting a vegetable garden is a great start, especially in spring when you’re likely to get returns on certain produce rather quickly. However, if you just don’t have a green thumb, you can go green and save on food by buying and consuming less meat. Livestock accounts for nearly a fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions, but don’t worry, you don’t have to cut it out completely. Going meatless just a couple times a week can have a huge impact on both your wallet and the planet. You can also start composting your food waste, instead of sending it to landfills.

Heating and Cooling Costs

Did you know that heating can make up to 42% of your utility bill? You can change that by making super easy fixes. Put caulk and weather-stripping around your windows and doors to prevent your heat from escaping. To save further on heating costs, pull out all of your blankets and sweaters before turning up the heat. During the summer, open windows and turn on fans to cool off rather than using the air conditioner. Your kids may not thank you but your wallet will.

Electronics

Electricity isn’t always expensive but depending on how it’s generated, it may be harmful to the environment. If you can switch to a company that uses wind or solar energy. If you can’t do that, you can save a lot of money and help the environment if you keep lights off as much as possible and use natural light. You can also try unplugging electronics at night and remember to not leave devices charging all night. Appliances like washers and dryers should be used at their coldest settings and dishwashers should always be run as full as possible.

In general, going green is pretty inexpensive and can actually help you save money. And right now everyone could use a little extra money in their pocket.

What Is a Green Roof?

If you’re on the market for a new roof, you’re certainly not alone. Did you know that the need for quality roofing is supposed to increase by almost 5% through 2021? Between harsh weather conditions and older homes meeting their limitations, now is the perfect time to invest in a new roofing system.

The classic roofing option is asphalt shingles. These materials are perfect for repelling moisture and preventing mold and fungal growth across your roofing system. While they do need to be cleaned often, they do a great job protecting your home as long as they are well-maintained.

However, you might have heard of green roofing becoming more of a trend. While this option isn’t for every home, this eco-friendly roofing choice is a nuanced way of protecting your home and giving back to the environment. Here’s what you should know about green roofing and if it’s right for you.

Green roofing: What is it?

To put it simply, a green roof is a type of roof that enables plants to grow on top of it. These roofs are usually inundated with drainage layers to prevent heavy, water-laden soils from putting too much pressure on your home. However, modular green roofing options are becoming increasingly popular among eco-friendly homeowners.

There are two primary types of green roofs and they are determined by the weight of the vegetation. Extensive green roofs spread out the weight so only 25 pounds of pressure are put on every square foot of roof. However, intensive green roofs can hold as much as 150 pounds per square foot. As such, intensive green roofs are harder to maintain then extensive options.

Keep in mind that extensive green roofs are designed to become overgrown and should only be maintained once per year. If you’re more of a hands-on homeowner that wants to enjoy the flora on their green roof, an intensive roofing system might be the better option.

There are a few primary components to a green roof. These consist of the vegetative layer, soil or another type of growing material, a filter membrane, a drainage system layer, a waterproofing layer, and a structural form of roof support. While these roofs aren’t cheap, they can certainly be beneficial to helping the environment and contributing to a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

Why invest in green roofing?

Green roofing offers a few essential benefits to homeowners:

  • Homeowners can appreciate the aesthetics of a green roof
  • Green roofs contribute to lower utility bills since they help regulate home temperatures, especially in hot climates
  • Green roofs can be treated as a garden for the whole family to enjoy
  • This roofing option helps relieve the stress put on storm drains since they catch and use the water effectively

Green roofs are growing in popularity among residential homeowners, but they are already making their way into major cities as well. This is because they make commercial spaces more desirable and disrupt the urban heat island effect that leads to higher temperatures in cities.

Just about anyone can benefit from a green roof, but these roofs work particularly well in areas that get moderate amounts of rainfall. However, the type of plants can also be varied to accommodate hotter environments.

Green roofs aren’t for everyone but they are changing up the way roofers do business. Think about this option the next time you need to replace your roof.

Of all the ways you can make your home more eco-friendly, plumbing is a great place to start. Green plumbing is the combination of a few practices and steps that work together to reduce your water and energy usage. This makes your home and the world more sustainable. You can get starting with green plumbing by addressing the appliances in your home, being conscious about your water usage, and watching for damage in your plumbing.

Benefits of Green Plumbing

You lead a busy life, so why put your time and effort into greener home plumbing? Check out the ways green plumbing could improve your everyday life (and your wallet):

  • Lower utility costs. When you waste less water, you’ll waste less money.
  • Reduce energy use. A home optimized to waste less hot water reduces electricity and gas needed to heat it. Less water use, in general, minimizes your carbon footprint.
  • Make your home healthier. Going green with your plumbing not only protects the environment, but it protects your family from harmful pollutants.
  • Keep costs low overall. Sure, the initial cost of installing green plumbing may be steeper. But you’ll actually spend much less in the long term than you would with traditional plumbing.

Take Care of Your Pipes

Now that you know why green plumbing is a good thing, it’s time to look at the things you can do to get started. One of the first places to look is your pipes, since pipeline damage wastes over $9 billion per year in the United States. It’s especially important to periodically check the pipes in your water heater.

Pipelines move large amounts of water over long periods of time, which often results in the breakdown of the pipe material. Water traveling through pipes may contain chemicals that slowly react with pipe material, breaking it down. Other factors such as the temperature of the water and its speed of movement may cause slow erosion of the pipe material as well.

To prevent pipe corrosion and erosion, test the water that’s being transported through your pipes. You’ll want to make sure it’s not a danger to the pipe materials. Inspect pipes for high-pressure points and weak spots, and then strengthen these areas. Insulate your pipes with pipe wear pads to prevent damage from metal on metal contact and moisture penetration.

Reduce Water Flow

Simply reducing your home’s water flow can make a huge difference for the environment. For starters, install energy-efficient appliances when you can. Energy-efficient dishwashers, washing machines, and water heaters can all help your home reduce water usage. Even updating your water heater with a new one can reduce the amount of water used.

You can also replace traditional showerheads, sink faucets, and toilets with those designed to reduce water flow. You can go from using about 4.5 gallons of water per minute with regular showerheads to 2.5 gallons per minute with low-flow showerheads. Faucet head flow reducers can reduce water flow by up to 40%. While traditional toilets made before the 1990s use about five to seven gallons of water per flush, newer low-flush toilets reduce that amount to just 1.6 gallons.

Watch For Leaks

Leakage is a huge water-sucker, too. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), household leaks waste up to 1 trillion gallons of water per year! Simply reducing leaks in your home is a great effort to become more eco-friendly.

Pay close attention to your water bill, watching for gradual increases or spikes in water usage. If you notice an increase in water usage, inspect your home for leaks. The EPA gives this guideline: during the coldest months of the year, if a family of four uses more than 12,000 gallons per month, there are definitely leaks somewhere in your home.

Another way you can tell is by checking your water meter, waiting two hours with no water usage, and checking it again. If the number has changed, then that water went somewhere. Check for toilet leaks, which can waste up to 200 gallons of water per day, and take a look at other areas like sinks, showers, outside fixtures, and water heaters. Dripping faucets count, too.

Use Innovative Systems

As technology increases, more home systems are popping up that can help you save water and energy. If you want to save the amount of hot water that’s wasted, try an on-demand hot water circulation pump. Instead of storing heated water like a traditional water heater, this pump heats water on demand, sending it instantly to the faucet. You don’t have to run (and waste) cold water while waiting for hot water to make its way through the pipes.

For cleaner water, you could install a whole-house water filtration system. This would absorb chemicals and pollutants from your household water at once, cleaning it before it ever reaches the faucets. Your family can rest easy knowing the water coming from the faucets is safe.

Water that you won’t be drinking, like that used in your washing machine or the shower, can be filtered through a greywater system, which cleans the water and stores it in a take to be reused. With a greywater system, you’re literally recycling your own water.

Change Your Everyday Habits

Once you’ve done what you can to make your plumbing system greener, your household can save even more water by changing some daily habits. Choosing showers instead of baths is a great place to start, as showers use much less water. When brushing your teeth, shaving, or doing dishes by hand, shut off the faucet until you need to use the water again.

You can also use cold water more frequently when washing clothes and choose high-efficiency settings on appliances when available. Dishwashers and laundry machines should be filled to capacity with each load to reduce the number of cycles you use. All of these mindful choices to not waste water and energy will reduce your home’s carbon footprint.

Do What You Can

Your home’s plumbing can have a large impact on the environment. Luckily, it’s a part of the green home equation that has many solutions. You don’t have to implement every single strategy to make your plumbing eco-friendly. Start with just a few steps to begin saving water, and you’ve already begun to make a difference.

vegetarianism

According to experts with the United Nations, switching to a plant-based diet can help in the fight against climate change.

Polyethylene, also known as polythene, is the most common type of plastic produced, with an annual production of around 80 million tons. Between manufacturing and waste, it has a significant impact on environmental conditions, but it’s only one problem of many. Another problem scientists are pointing to is how the animal farming industry impacts the environment.

To learn more about the connection between going vegan and environmentalism, keep reading.

Switching to a Plant-Based Diet Can Fight Climate Change

According to a major report about climate change and land use, the Western world’s high meat and dairy consumption is fueling global warming.

Scientists and officials said that if people would cut down on eating meat, more people could be fed using less land. The document was prepared by 107 scientists for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It states that the land can store more of the carbon produced by humans if used more effectively.

Finalized after discussions held in Geneva, Switzerland, the report stopped just short of explicitly instructing everyone to become vegan or vegetarian. In fact, scientists acknowledged that people in some parts of the world don’t have much choice whether they consume meat and dairy products or not. However, they pointed out that, in the West, it’s obvious we’re eating too much.

The Link Between Climate Change and Food

Climate change poses a serious threat to the world’s food supply, as rising temperatures, additional rain, and severe weather all impact crops and livestock. But it works the other way around as well, with food production having a significant effect on fueling global warming.

The agriculture and forestry industries contribute around one-quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, livestock further complicates the environmental problem, both by producing methane gas and also through deforestation to make room for pastures.

The environmental impact of the meat industry hasn’t gone unnoticed by vegetarians and vegans. #NoBeef, a group based in the United Kingdom, lobbies caterers to remove lamb and beef off of student menus. Meanwhile, in the United States, vegan burger patties that taste shockingly like beef are starting to gain popularity in stores and restaurants.

Soil and Climate Change

When people talk about climate change, the soil itself is often overlooked. But with human lifestyles and industries putting carbon into the atmosphere, it needs somewhere to go, and the soil is the second-largest store of carbon after oceans.

Plants and trees absorb CO2 from the air and then lock the carbon away in the soil. However, deforestation and harmful agricultural practices can damage the soil. This causes it to release carbon back into the atmosphere which compromises future plant growth. Unfortunately, climate change is only expected to speed up this process. In higher temperatures, organic matter in soil will break down faster, boosting greenhouse emissions even more.

According to the UN report, using practices to reduce and reverse soil damage will have an immediate positive impact on local communities. Improved land management, including managed grazing by animals and strategic tree planting, can boost soil fertility dramatically. This, in turn, would reduce poverty and increase food security for everyone.

Trees and CO2 Emissions

It’s widely known that trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. Therefore, don’t the carbon emissions from human industry help to nourish the trees?

While it’s true that the extra CO2 can help mitigate climate change, there are several factors involved that must be balanced carefully for trees to be benefited. According to experts, any positive effects on forests from CO2 emissions will be negated if the Earth becomes too warm. In fact, the UN report says this may already be happening in places near the equator, where vegetation is being lost due to heat stress.

Another problem we’re starting to see is a lack of phosphorus in the soil. Phosphorus is a necessary ingredient for plant growth, and without enough of it in the ground, tree growth would be hindered. As a result, many forests may have already reached their limit for how much CO2 they’re able to absorb.

Personal Factors Involved in Going Vegan

The global pharmaceutical market is expected to reach $1.12 trillion in 2022. However, that number could be substantially lower if enough people adopted a vegetarian or vegan diet and began to take their health seriously.

Going vegan may be good for the earth but it can have countless benefits on individuals and communities at a local level, too. Scientific research has shown that a diet high in unrefined plant-based foods brings about beneficial health outcomes. Enhanced immune function, increased lifespan, and improved cardiovascular health all appear to be benefits of a plant-based diet.

Besides being good for everyday health, many people are finding that plant-based diets can enhance performance for athletes and others involved in frequent strenuous physical activity. Critics have said there’s no real evidence to back it, but many athletes — not to mention health experts — would disagree. In fact, many plant-based products have more protein content than meat does.

Other Environmental Challenges

Meat and dairy production and deforestation are far from being the only challenges facing the earth. Air pollution, especially in places like India and China, is a significant factor in the world’s environmental health. Water pollution and poor waste management are other disturbing problems that we haven’t fully learned to resolve yet.

But in spite of all the challenges, we have made some amount of progress as it is. And every person who begins to live responsibly, whether by going vegan or giving up disposable products, is making a significant difference.

Industries are starting to improve their practices as well. For example, each shipping container that gets recycled means we reuse around 3,500kg worth of steel. It also means saving all of the traditional building materials, such as bricks and wood, which don’t have to be used instead.

Although we’re just getting started, by now you can see that there’s something we can all do to help fight climate change.