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Autumn Maintenance For Your Green Grass

Green eco-friendly gardening is a great way to give back to the planet and keep your family healthy in the process. Traditional lawns are environmentally taxing and have an excessive upkeep process. With winter fast approaching it is important to prepare your lawn now so it will be beautiful for the spring. So why not invest in a “green” lawn and garden that can successfully weather all the seasons.

Making Your Lawn Eco-Friendly

One of the basic premises for all green living is that you are using things in a sustainable way. By using grasses and shrubbery that are native to your climate, you will already be a step ahead in building a successful garden. That being said, you will want to select a grass seed that is inclined to thrive in your area. After you’ve chosen the seed it is important to see that your soil is ready for planting.

The key to creating an organic lawn is to be sure that the soil is bio diverse. This means that it must contain an optimum mixture of live organisms as well as the physical soil itself. Basically it must have bugs such as earthworms and other microorganisms that by their nature keep the soil moving and evolving. This will provide a healthy, rich environment in which your grass can flourish.

Once your lawn is 1 to 2 inches high you will want to mow it for the first time. Keep your mower set to the highest setting so you can leave the grass blades as long as possible. This will result in your grass getting the nutrients that it needs. Grass clippings are a great food source so get into the habit of leaving about 1/3 of them on the grass so it will further break down into the soil. As for watering, in order to be more eco-friendly it is important to water less frequently but when you do, water deeply. Drip hoses are ideal for this method. Always water in the early morning when the grass will retain the most moisture.

Autumn Maintenance

So now you have your awesome green and eco-friendly lawn. But what is the best way to prepare for the onslaught of winter? In autumn, the warm soil, coupled with the cool nights is the ideal condition for seed germination. Reseed your lawn with a native mix ideal for colder weather—ask your local nursery for the proper blend.

After seeding, it is important to tap the seed down with a rake to ensure a good seed-to-soil ratio. Then top with a light layer of paper mulch in order to keep in the moisture. You must keep the soil from getting dry until the seeds have sprouted. The fall is also an ideal time to fertilize—be sure to use an organic product like Garret’s Juice, it will help your lawn grow and is an environmentally responsible option. Your lawn will go dormant after the first few weeks of winter so the key to keeping your lawn healthy through this season is to continue to water every 2-3 weeks. This will give your lawn a solid basis to “spring back” when the weather gets warm again.

Green lawns are a great addition to any home. By using a bio-diverse process with your soil, as well as keeping seeds to a native variety, you can build a lawn that will thrive in your climate. Be sure to use only organic products as well as natural methods to keep your plants and lawn healthy. When you provide the necessary investment into your lawn up front, you can be rewarded with a low maintenance eco-friendly option that is safe for your family and pets.

About the Author

Jonathan McGraw is a natural landscape designer who writes for naturesfinestseed.com, a great source of environmentally friendly grass seed for your home or commercial projects.

*Image: graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Eco-Friendly Alternatives: Cars versus Motorcycles

You might think that the only eco-friendly way to travel is by bicycle or the power of your own two feet. But thanks to the emergence of alternative fuels and electric power, it is now a lot easier for greenies to get around town without increasing their carbon footprint. But when it comes to eco-friendly alternatives to driving vehicles powered by petroleum products, should you opt for an automobile or a motorcycle? Here’s the lowdown on the mode of transportation that will get you from here to there while doing the least harm to the environment.

Let’s start by looking at motorcycles. Where gas-powered engines are concerned, this is probably your best option. For the same amount of fuel, a smaller, lighter motorcycle will go a lot farther than a car. This means you’re virtually burning less fuel to go the same distance, resulting in fewer greenhouse gas emissions. So in this arena, a motorcycle is the clear winner. But what if you have a family that needs to be carted around, not to mention all of their gear? Or what if you don’t feel safe making your commute to work on the freeway with nothing more than a helmet to protect you? You may simply prefer a car over a motorcycle, even though the bike gets better mileage.

Luckily, there are a lot of options. Alternative-fuel vehicles are one choice. The old associations with diesel fuel (like the black exhaust billowing out of big rigs) no longer hold with cleaner emissions allowing diesel to give gasoline a run for its money. These days, purchasing a car that runs on diesel fuel could mean that you nearly double your mileage. Ethanol and other biofuels are also an option, although a lack of support for these types of fuel means that refill stations can be hard to find (although there is an app for that).

Hybrid cars are another route you could go, and the new crop of plug-in hybrids have a lot to offer drivers looking to reduce their carbon footprint (or tire track). The older breed offered electric power is based on the energy generated by stopping, which meant the vehicles still had to use the gas-powered components quite a bit. With the plug-in version, the batteries can be powered up via charging station, giving you up to forty miles of gas-free power, which is a huge improvement.

Of course, even this can’t compare to fully electric vehicles, which come with the promise of zero emissions. And interestingly, there are a whole new crop of electric-powered motorcycles coming onto the market, as well. This means that you can now go even more eco-friendly with your transportation tastes by purchasing either a family or solo vehicle that runs entirely without emissions. While throwing on your leather chaps, your helmet, and your best Tourmaster jacket to take the bike out on the open road is probably slightly greener (simply because it takes less electricity to become fully charged and travels farther), you can still feel good about driving an electric car and cutting back on exhaust pollution.

Top Eco Luxury Resorts

Not all travelers are looking for a manmade paradise when they hit the road. Certainly you want to be comfortable and well provided for when you take off to parts unknown, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you want a whole slew of overblown tourist traps (complete with paid entertainers and lavish synthetic settings). Many people have begun to embrace a different style of travel known as ecotourism. Rather than looking for the next big spectacle to take them away from the drudgery of their daily lives, a lot of travelers want to get away from it all, reconnect with nature, and do less to harm the environment along the way. So if you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint on your next walkabout, even as you enjoy the luxuries to which you have become accustomed, here are a few great resorts that could fit the bill.

1. CESiaK – Sian Ka’an, Mexico. The Centro Ecologico Sian Ka’an (CESiaK for short) is part of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, an ecological model of sustainability located near the Mayan ruins of Tulum on the Caribbean Coast of Mexico. If you thought that white-sand beaches, warm waters, and eco-friendly attitudes didn’t mix, think again. This beach resort situated on a 1.3-million-acre park employed local labor for building (and staffing) and uses solar and wind power for all of their buildings, plus filtered rainwater collected from cisterns.

2. Longitude 131˚ – Northern Territory, Australia. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding this establishment since its geographic location is right in the name; but just in case, look for the world’s largest monolith peeking up out of the desert. Situated on top of a sand dune just a stone’s throw from Uluru, this hotel consists of 15 so-called “tents” that are like little luxury cabanas on stilts. They barely disturb the desert floor and everything runs on solar power. Plus, all the entertainment comes from the natural surroundings.

3. Bardessono – Napa Valley, California. Dubbed the “greenest luxury hotel in America”, this resort has the creds to back up the claim (if their status of LEED Platinum certification is any indicator). Heating for rooms (and water) is geothermal, photovoltaic panels provide energy, a vertical garden covers the walls of the hotel lobby, and a massive compost (called the “Earth tub”) turns kitchen scraps into fertilizer. Talk about sustainable.

4. Camp Ya Kanzi – Kenya. With Mt. Kilimanjaro providing a scenic backdrop, you’ll feel the closeness of nature every time you look out the window. And with an eye on sustaining the view, the “Camp of the Hidden Treasure” used local building materials (cutting down nary a tree in the process). In addition, energy and heating come from solar panels, rainwater is collected and filtered from rooftops, and cooking takes place thanks to eco-friendly charcoal created from coffee husks.

5. Capital Coast Resort and Spa – Paphos, Cyprus. Although there aren’t many Paphos hotels that can claim to uphold any standards of ecotourism, this one has met local certification standards to be listed as a green/sustainable property. Not only is it adjacent to historical Cyprus attractions like the Tomb of the Kings and the Paphos Lighthouse, it also overlooks beautiful Paphos harbor. And in addition to checking its environmental impact, the property is also friendly to diverse communities, actively welcoming LGBT guests.

How to Plan an Eco-Friendly Baby Shower

Do you have a baby shower to plan for an eco-friendly mother? Well, here are several tips that can help you give her a memorable and fun day, and that will make her and Mother Earth very happy.

1. Stick to creative gifts.

This might sound like a cliche, but the best gifts for new mothers are usually those that take time and effort to make. Think about it. How many clothes do newborn babies actually need? Not a lot. So, giving mothers healthy meals in freezer containers that are reusable would be worth so much more to them. After all, new moms need to eat healthily as they relax and enjoy their new babies, right? So, how about throwing a casserole shower instead? Encourage all of the guests to bring easy meals and healthy casseroles in reusable containers that the mother can keep for this. This is sure to keep the baby shower fresh, upbeat and green.

2. Get rid of everything disposable.

Although they might be convenient, do not use any disposable plastic forks and spoons or paper plates at the baby shower. Use cheap melamine plates instead. You can even encourage all of the guests to take some of them home, so you don’t need to wash them. If you want, you can also put heirloom dishes to use instead or hold the baby shower in an actual restaurant if you can afford it. In the end, the choice is yours.

3. Encourage less packaging, if any at all.

Encourage all of the guests to use cloth wrappings and reusable gift bags for their gifts and remind them to write their names on removable cards, too. To really get the guests in the mood, you can give prizes out to the most creative and eco-friendly packaging, as well. To get inspiration for this yourself, just read some books or learn about Japanese wrapping. It’s fun!

4. Go organic.

If you decide to serve your own food, make sure it is organic and locally grown. Fruits tend to be the best choices in this department since pregnant women will have no trouble eating fruits, no matter how green they might be.

5. Go green with the invitations.

Instead of sending out invitations through the mail, use electronic invites instead and ask people to respond through email. Not only will you reduce paper waste this way, but the mother you are throwing the shower for is sure to appreciate the effort.

Yes, it is completely possible to give green moms a fun baby shower and set a great example of eco-friendly stewardship while you’re at it. All it takes is a bit of preparation and some creativity and you can have the most environmentally friendly baby shower on the block.

About the Author

Derrick Webb is an experienced blogger who writes a variety of topics including database development. He is also a writer for Toledo web design , a firm that provides SEO services and web design for small businesses.

*Image: David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Mom” recently had the opportunity to ask Debra Saavedra, the savvy, eco-minded woman behind Hugo Naturals some questions about her planet-friendly company. Founded in 2006, this body care company has just recently introduced baby products to the line, as well! All of the skin care products by Hugo Naturals are Vegan, all-natural, gluten-free and soy-free. Your skin will love you!

An Interview with Debra Saavedra, Founder of Hugo Naturals

Tell us about your eco-inspired company!

My husband and I share a love of cooking, food, and herbs. We had a successful business growing exotic, organic herbs for the top chefs in Los Angeles. Our orientation to food, coupled with our passion for our herbs, lead us to develop our innovative line of handcrafted, artisan body care products.

Our entire line of products is uniquely made from a food-perspective and smells good enough to eat! Each of our products is handcrafted of food-grade ingredients and scented with only pure essential oils and natural plant extracts. Our products are the most natural, pure and luxurious body care products available.

How do you choose to go green in your own life?

We love to garden, and still grow our own herbs and sometimes even some vegetables, but we have an even bigger impact through our products. We make all of our products from sustainably sourced ingredients. We never use things in them which are hard on the environment like petrochemicals, soy or animal products. Over the years we’ve found that what’s harmful to our environment is also harmful to our bodies.
Also, we first started selling our products many years ago in Farmer’s Markets in Southern California, where we also used to sell our herbs. The Farmer’s Market is still our favorite place to shop for our food.

Guilty green pleasure?

Taking a bath in my Mango Guava Effervescent Bath Salts — while eating some organic dark chocolate.

Can you offer any encouraging words for those with a small sustainable business?

Bring a vision of innovation and creativity and persevere, and it will pay off in the long run.

*Image provided by Hugo Naturals.*

Green Furniture for Your Home

When it comes to the prospect of outfitting your home entirely with eco-friendly furnishings, you may be at a loss as to where to start. Will you have to purchase molded chairs and tables made from a multicolored mush of recycled plastics? Or should you buy every stick of furniture from a yard sale or thrift store? Just how many “quirky” recycled-tire end tables can you really add to your space? Although you probably harbor some misconceptions about just what green furniture looks like, you’ll be amazed by the variety of options available to the decorator-in-the-making that’s looking to appoint a living space without harming the environment. Here are just a few of the potential furnishings you may want to consider.

1. Wood. Bed frames, dressers, couches, chairs, tables, desks, cabinets, and many other home goods are made from this less-than-eco-friendly material and most of them add to the deforestation that is slowly eating up our planet’s rainforests. But you have a lot of options to avoid this outcome. For starters, you could repurpose old furniture in different areas of the house, such as by slapping a new coat of paint on a bedside table and using it in the living room. There are also quite a few companies using sustainable sources of wood to create new home furnishings. Bamboo is a great option (grows faster, drought resistant), as is wood from environmentally responsible tree farms.

2. Metal. This is one item that is almost totally recyclable, which means you can often find new pieces of furniture (tables, chairs, bed frames, etc.) that have been made from repurposed metal elements. Of course, it’s also extremely durable, so shopping for second-hand items could yield some good results that may not even need refurbishing (or that really only need a new coat of paint or sealant). Since metal furniture kept indoors is unlikely to rust, it can last a long time.

3. Plastic. When it comes to plastics, there isn’t much good to be found. The only saving grace of this material is that it can sometimes be recycled and molded into new forms. However, there may still be pollution involved in the process that makes it less worthwhile for the eco-friendly consumer. In any case, you definitely have to embrace a modern aesthetic to utilize plastic furniture since it is usually considered “mod”.

4. Concrete. You might be surprised by just how many home furnishings you can find in this eminently green construction material. Certainly you have seen outdoor benches made of molded concrete, and you probably aren’t too keen to bring them indoors. But when it comes to tables of all sizes and shapes, you’ll find that there are many sleek and stylish options in concrete. When it is molded, stained, and polished, it might look more like stone or some other substance. And new lightweight formulas (foamed concrete) mean you don’t have to throw your back out every time you want to move the coffee table.

5. Recycled materials. Literally anything can be recycled and used for furniture. You could have a reclining chair made entirely of CDs, a table created from a washing machine drum, or a bench made out of skateboard decks (minus trucks and wheels). But you don’t have to go so literal. You could also buy a cabinet made from recycled wood planks.

About the Author

Sarah Danielson is a writer for Everlasting Hardwoods where you can find a great selection of Ipe furniture for your home.

Best Eco Movies for Kids

If you want to raise your children with an awareness of environmental issues, you can certainly set up a recycling center in your home, grow an organic garden, and talk to them about turning off the lights when they leave a room. But you can also utilize media as a way to teach them what happens when people abuse the environment. If you’re hesitant to throw them into the deep end of the pool with documentary films like The Cove and An Inconvenient Truth (which could easily scare them), then take a gentler approach by starting with movies that were meant to impart an eco-friendly message to kids. Here are just a few you might want to consider screening in your home.

1. Wall-E (2008). This Pixar hit was and is one of the best kid-friendly movies to convey a warning about the dangers of failing to go green. When Earth becomes little more than a dumping ground for humanity, unable to produce plant life, all the humans are forced to enter space, leaving Wall-E behind to clean up the mess. But with the help of a fem-bot named EVE, he will lead the human race back to the planet they left in order to take responsibility and undo the damage they’ve done.

2. The Lorax (2012). This Dr. Seuss classic-turned-movie isn’t due to hit theaters until March of 2012, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning to take your kids to see it by reading them the book. Take them through the tale of little creature called the Lorax, who “speaks for the trees”, as he tries to stop the deforestation and pollution of his land, and the damage it is doing to the ecosystem (including the animals that live there). At the end, nothing is left but devastation and one seed, the hope of the future. After reading the book, you won’t be able to stop them from seeing the movie!

3. Cars 2 (2011). The story might not seem eco-friendly, what with all the cars burning fossil fuels, but as Lightning and Mater enter the World Grand Prix circuit, it becomes clear that the movie is about more than racing. The plot also includes a storyline about a clean-burning alternative fuel and the oil barons trying to stop it from making its way to the racing scene. It will provide an easy forum for you to discuss the problem of global warming with your kids.

4. Free Willy (1993). This movie may be a little dated, but the idea that it is wrong to keep animals in captivity isn’t. Every day mankind is cutting deeper into the natural habitats of animals, causing their numbers to dwindle to the point of extinction. This heart-warming tale of a young boy’s attempt to return a killer whale to its natural environment will serve as a tool to help you teach your kids about the importance of conservancy efforts and treating animals with the same respect and regard they would give humans.

5. Avatar (2009). This one is definitely for older kids, but even young teens can appreciate the message of harmony with nature that is presented in this gorgeously crafted cinematic adventure. Adults may find that the moral of the story is a bit heavy-handed in this three-hour, 3D extravaganza of filmic innovation; but kids will likely be enthralled.

About the Author

Sarah Danielson writes for DVD Copycat which offers blu ray duplication services and an array of other video related services.

Be a ‘Cool’ Mom: Entertain Your Kids with Eco-Friendly Outdoor Activities, Water Sports, and Games

Perhaps you’ve realized that the family vacation, summer camp, and vacation bible school are over, but you’ve still got a lot of summer left, and the kids are whining, “What can we do now…we’re so bored?” Be the cool Mom and entertain them with eco-friendly outdoor activities, water sports, and games!

1. Traditional Outdoor Activities and Water Sports Can’t be Beat.

• Spend the day ‘camping’ by a mountain stream. Take your tent and all of your basic camping equipment, and visit a national park, or watering hole. If hard core camping isn’t for you…gather up blankets or sleeping bags, and ‘camp’ out in the park, for the day. Take plenty of water and snacks. If you’re near a brook or stream get out the water shoes and search for turtles and tadpoles.

• For suburbanites, check with your local fire station to see if firefighters will open up a hydrant. If not, head to your local recreational area, college campus, or park, and play a round of Frisbee golf.

• Don’t forget kayaking, tubing, rafting, or wading. This free activity will keep everyone cool and refreshed. Announce that you are ‘going on an adventure.’

2. Make a Hit with Geo Caching.

• Geo Caching is a modern day scavenger hunt/treasure hunt. Go to the geo caching website, and enter your zip code. The website directs you to geo caching in your area.

• Use this official Geo Caching link: http://www.geocaching.com/

• To download a smart phone app go to : http://www.geocaching.com/live/default.aspx

• The fun for your kids is in the ‘search.’ The benefit for you is that your kids may use logic, science, sleuthing, math, reading, and perhaps even GPS technology, to locate the geo cache. If your kids enjoy this activity, help them write the clues and hide their own geo cache. This is good, clean, addicting family fun for all ages!

3. If You’re Stuck at Home, Try These Cool Water Sports and Games:

• Go Fishin’: Get a large bucket or tub. Put marbles or smooth rocks in the bottom of the bucket. Partially fill the tub with water. Add ice cubes for a cool refreshing treat! Form teams or run a stop watch for a set time period, and see who can pick up the most marbles or rocks with their toes!

• Balance the Bucket: Have two or more kids, who are wearing water shoes, lie on their backs, with their feet up in the air, so that they are touching and making a ‘platform.’ Place a plastic bucket, containing water, on top of the ‘shoe platform.’ See how the kids work together as a team to try to remove their shoes, without upsetting the bucket of water.

• Sponge Tag or Sponge Dodge: Go to the Dollar Store and buy big car washing sponges. Wet the sponges and play ‘tag’ with the wet sponges, or play sponge dodge, like ‘dodge ball’, exchanging balls, for sponges. After the games, recycle the sponges by using them when doing chores.

• Ice Cube Architecture: Freeze water in ice cube trays and grab a salt shaker. Allow your kids to make castles, buildings, bridges, or other art forms, by shaking a small amount of salt on an ice cube which will cause it to melt slightly, and re-freeze when pressed onto another ice cube.

Enjoy the outdoors while you can, when winter arrives, you’ll think back on all the fun you had this summer with eco-friendly outdoor activities, water sports, and games!

About the Author

Susan Cobb Singleton is a freelance writer and mom. She is also a staff writer for rangehoodhq.com, a site with advice on ACH (air changes per hour) and make-up air.

* Image: think4photop / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Keep Your Family Safe with a Green Home Security System

When it comes to keeping your family safe, you’ll go to almost any length to ensure their health and happiness, especially when it comes to creating a carefree home environment. But a large part of protecting your family that you take very seriously concerns doing less harm to the planet in the course of living your life, so that the Earth remains clean and green for future generations. So when you begin sifting through home security system reviews you may be somewhat disappointed to discover that there are few eco-friendly options on the market. But don’t despair; there are ways that you can lessen the impact of home security so that there is less energy consumption and waste involved in the process. Here are just a few things to think about when it comes to the safety of your home and family.

One option is to install a fence (with locking gates) around the perimeter. This is especially important if you have a pool area (and may be required by law). You can easily find reclaimed fencing or sustainably harvested planks to use and by installing yourself (or hiring a local company that shares your eco-sensibilities) you can probably cut down on a lot of the waste and pollution that might otherwise accompany such a project. And another low-tech option is to get a guard dog. Some people are wary of having this type of animal around small children, and unfortunately this bias is not without merit. But that’s just one way you could go.

You may also be keen to try security systems that use alternative energy sources. Flood lights provide for an easy an inexpensive solution in this regard. Many companies have begun offering motion-sensor lights that mount on your home and come with solar panels for energy-gathering purposes. No batteries and no electricity means your security is completely self-contained and waste-free. But did you know that you can also have an alarm system that uses no electricity?

You can install your own battery-operated system or contract out to companies that offer wireless systems. Of course, batteries may be wasted in the process, but depending on what type of cell your alarm circuit runs on, you may be able to use rechargeable batteries. In addition, some companies are now heeding the growing demand for environmentally sound options by implementing green initiatives. ADT, for example, now uses recycled materials whenever possible (both on new system installations and upgrades). They have reportedly kept more than 50 tons of waste (per year) out of the landfill in this manner (including precious metals and electrical components).

So while keeping your family safe is of paramount importance, you don’t need to compromise your eco-friendly lifestyle in order to install the level of home protection you desire. There are options available for every budget that will allow you to reduce your carbon footprint even as you see to the security of your home and family. You may have to dig a little deeper to find a product or company that suits your needs, but the extra legwork will provide for the ongoing safety of your family now and in the future.

Kids in the Kitchen: Activities to Teach Your Kids about Eco Friendly, Healthy Meals

Summer is a good time to start educating your kids about healthy eating, food production and the environment. Kids typically learn best through doing. The following are some activities you and your kids can do together to learn about making healthy food choices and how the foods we choose impact the environment.

Start an organic garden or grow tomatoes organically in a pot on the front porch. You don’t have to be a seasoned gardener or an expert to start teaching your kids about organic foods. Simply explaining to your kids what organic means may not stick as well as showing them. Starting a garden will give you and your kids a chance to learn about organic foods, why those foods better for the environment and why organic foods are better for their health. Have your kids draw pictures of the plants as they grow and the bugs they find in the garden. Harvest your crop and have your kid’s use the fruits and veggies they helped grow to make lunch. The more involved your kids are in the process from garden to plate the more they will learn.

Take a trip to the farmers market. The farmers market is a great place for kids to learn about food and the environment. Many farmers are more than happy to answer kid’s questions about food production. In addition to farmers; cooks and nutrition experts take part in farmers markets. Have your kids ask them questions about eating healthy and why it’s important. While you’re there you can pick up pamphlets on healthy eating and get recipes and advice from chiefs. Many times government and community programs, which focus on nutrition, will have tables set up with information and experts to talk with.

Get online! There are a number of sites dedicated to teaching kids about health, nutrition and cooking. If you want your kids to receive some online training before you take them into the kitchen to fix their first meal check out www.dressupgirl.net; you’ll find virtual cooking games complete with printable recipes. Another good site to check out is Spatulatta.com is full of cooking videos by kids for kids. You can start with the basic cooking techniques and move on to fancy cake decorating ideas.

Create a recipe book. Have your kids create a recipe book and fill it full of their favorite recipes. Have them write an introduction explaining why organic food is better for their health and the environment. Also have them write about why it’s important to them to eat healthy. Fill the book with their favorite recipes and pictures of their creations.

Learning about the environment and healthy eating through fun activities is the best way to teach kids to make healthy choices. The more fun your child has learning, the more willing they’ll be to eat healthy foods.

Image: healingdream / FreeDigitalPhotos.net