Three years ago, a visionary project called the Urban Tree Forge almost toppled with the death of founder John Metzler. It could have disappeared altogether if not for others who shared his passion for trees. Today, artist Jason Boone carries on that vision at Urban Tree, a new name and a new location in Pittsburgh.
Q: Every winter the windows in my home are so cold that I have to place blankets over them to keep the room warm. The windows are in a 1950s home and there are storm windows, but there is such a draft around the windows that I have to keep the rooms closed off. What I can do myself?
Patrick Swanson has launched a covert operation to rid his house of reusable shopping bags that his wife keeps bringing home from the grocery store. He brings a bag over to a friend's house and, when no one is looking, "forgets" it there.
The table lamp, with its fizzling light bulbs, was built like a tank and about as attractive. Its base was so heavy that not even the cats could knock it over -- and therein lay its beauty.
As you make out your list New Year's resolutions, consider including your home when you think about making healthy changes.
"Fallow ground" is the term that farmers use when a field needs a vacation. "Fallow" simply means "uncultivated for the growing season," and when ground is so deemed, the land is freed to its own ends. A fallow field will give life to all sorts of weeds, volunteer veggies and native species that are allowed to flourish. Underground, the microbial activity increases due to the diversity of plant roots compared to the monoculture that was there in previous seasons.
Someone once said that the only living vestiges of the American tallgrass prairie stand over the dead in pioneer graveyards. The thick covering of sod was built up over the ages. The graveyards were also fenced against grazing livestock, which further protected the thick layer of native grasses and perennials.
An old expression goes that if you put a frog into a kettle of hot water, he'll jump out immediately. But if you put him in cold water and gradually heat it up, he'll cook to death. If I had known from the start how much pruning was involved, I might have planted just three trees, not 30!
Q: My family and I recently moved into a small, older home connected to our local water and sewer utilities. Well, I was very surprised to see our first water and sewer bills, and now realize we have to start conserving water to lower these costly utility bills. Can you please give us a checklist of water-saving suggestions that we can follow? -- Don, Pennsylvania
With water scarcity is a growing issue around the world, so making the most of water resources is critically important even in regions where drought conditions haven’t been declared. Using water responsibly ensures that there’s enough to go around for agriculture as well as the natural environment, and reduces the risk of a drought emergency.
With the recent warm winter, early spring, warming planet and mosquitoes liking 80-degree weather, it is likely an abundance of mosquitoes is in our future. Besides being annoying, mosquitoes have been known to carry Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile virus, although rare, and other diseases.
Americans generate 25 percent more garbage than average during the holidays –– an extra 1 million tons a week –– according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Most of that waste is gift wrap and bags. In fact, the amount of ribbon thrown away each year alone is enough to tie a bow around the Earth.
Clearing snow and ice from the driveway and sidewalk is one of those times when concern for the environment tends to take a backseat. No one wants to spend time in the cold, chipping away at a packed-down, icy crust when we can throw some ice melter on it. And it might seem foolish to struggle with a shovel when you can fire up a snow blower. But there are tradeoffs, of course. According to the EPA, snow blowers emit high levels of carbon monoxide as well as hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides. The latter are pollutants that contribute to ground-level ozone, which impairs lung function, inhibits plant growth, and contributes to smog. Most chemical ice melters are made of some type of salt. This may sound benign, but all that salt isn’t good for the environment: it can harm plants and soils and pollute waterways. Try these ideas instead:
Bird-safe building criteria are in the process of being incorporated into Minnesota's Sustainable Building Guidelines, Eckles said. (New York, Toronto, Chicago and San Francisco have already adopted standards for bird-safe buildings.)
As with all types of gardening, success is based on choosing the right plant for the right place. There are a number of houseplants that are not only beautiful, but they help reduce indoor air pollution, too. Here are 10 tough houseplants that thrive with a minimum of care.
Whether we’re aware of it or not, our choices at the grocery store can affect the health of the world’s oceans and marine life. Poor fishing practices do serious damage by depleting fish populations, destroying marine habitats and unleashing water pollution. In fact, overfishing and mismanagement have already compromised the populations of many consumer favorites like orange roughy and Chilean sea bass. For seafood lovers, this means it’s wise to put purchase dollars toward seafood that’s well-managed and minimally damaging to the environment.
Often it seems that being kind to the earth means paying more. Many “green” goods come with a much higher price tag — in everything from food to building materials.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) really can save you money and reduce waste. They use two thirds less energy than incandescent bulbs, and when used properly can last ten times as long. According to the EPA, replacing an incandescent bulb with an Energy Star qualified CFL can save you $40 in energy costs over the life of that bulb. But if you’re still a little unsure about making the switch, you’re not alone.
A meatless diet has long been considered a positive step toward reducing our impact on the environment, and a 2010 United Nations study confirmed that consumers can help fight climate change by eating less meat. But even those Americans who are deeply concerned about the environment are often unwilling to commit to a strictly vegan or vegetarian diet.