SPOTLIGHT on Antifragility, a Concept with Sweeping Environmental Implications

Posted by Ecogardens

 

Never heard the word “antifragility” before? You’re not alone, but if you’re in the green space, it’s time you change that.

Antifragility (or anti-fragility) is a relatively new concept. Thus far, thought leaders have applied it to both business and personal development settings.

But it is our humble (read: expert) opinion that we need to put this idea to work stewarding the planet stat.

Read More

Topics: Stewardship

What Are the Biggest Benefits of Composting?

Posted by Ecogardens

 

Composting is more than a sixth grade science project; it’s one of the most valuable ways that the Everyperson can help the Earth.

Look, we don’t know much about you. But we do know one thing: You’re an Everyperson, and that means you should compost.

... Is that offensive?

Okay, let’s try again. Um, if you have a pulse and four square feet of space anywhere in your house or yard, you should compost. You don’t even have to do the composting yourself. We will offer alternative solutions in a later post, and will briefly cover them here, so don’t worry about that yet.

Instead, today, let’s focus on why it matters in the first place, and how composting can help you make the world a healthier place.

Read More

Topics: Stewardship

What You Should Know About Monarch Butterfly Recovery, Part II: Taking Action

Posted by Ecogardens

 

The monarch butterfly is a threatened species that serves as a litmus test for the environment. Is it possible that they could make a recovery? And if so, what does that say about our environmental efforts? Join us for the second installment of two-part series.

Download the free PDF to share with your friends and colleagues here!

The monarch is a quintessential butterfly. From grade school classroom projects to bestselling books such as Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior, this North American species has made a significant impression on those of us who live there.

Yet not significant enough. With population numbers down 80-90 percent in the past two decades, monarchs are in major peril. We’re not helpless, though. In fact, there’s a whole lot we can do for these orange-and-black beauties, according to Plant Ecologist Elizzabeth Kaufman of Pollinator Partnership, with whom we were lucky enough to score an interview.

If you missed the first part of the series, we highly recommend you go check it out now and get the brief low-down about why monarchs are struggling and what the means for humans and the environment. If you’re all caught up, read on and learn how to save this important pollinator today!

Read More

Topics: Pollinators

Imagine a Day Without Water: Shining a Spotlight on Earth’s Most Precious Resource

Posted by Ecogardens

 

Imagine a Day Without Water has rolled round once again. While to many of us envisioning a day without water is as mind-boggling as contemplating the grandeur of the cosmos, it is for billions of people an all-too-present reality.

The problem is manifold, although there are two basic prongs to this century’s coming “water wars”:

  1. Water scarcity: Some populations simply don’t have enough water to drink, bathe, hydrate their animals and irrigate their crops.
  2. Water quality: Some regions do have enough (or at least some), but it is filthy and fouled from human and animal waste, trash and pollutants.

Neither situation, needless to say, is desirable. It’s time we did something about it and became better stewards of the Earth today.

Read More

Topics: Stewardship

What You Should Know About Monarch Butterfly Recovery, Part I: The Science

Posted by Ecogardens

 

The monarch butterfly is a threatened species that serves as a litmus test for the environment. Is it possible that they could make a recovery? And if so, what does that say about our environmental efforts? Our two-part series explores just that.

Download the free PDF to share with your friends and colleagues here!

The iconic monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), with its black-and-white-edged wings and bright orange, stained-glass window centers, is synonymous with America. Traveling from Southern Canada all the way down into Mexico on the annual migratory route, these bright and cheerful pollinators truly are airborne royalty.

Sadly, monarch butterflies are also in terrible danger.

Read More

Topics: Pollinators

SPOTLIGHT: The Soil Carbon Cowboys Are Changing Ranching and the World

Posted by Ecogardens

 

There’s a different way to ranch, but you’re probably not familiar with it.

Carbon ain’t where it’s supposed to be anymore. For hundreds of millions of years, plants and other life forms fixed carbon and trapped it in the ground. This environmental balance was once the norm worldwide.

But now we rely heavily on agricultural and industrial practices that release carbon into the air, adding to the greenhouse effect and climate change as a whole. This is true on a global scale.

Among the problems are heavy till operations and ranching, where large herds of beef cattle stomp carbon-fixing plants into the ground, killing them and creating dense and compacted soils that lead to depletion and desiccation.

For that reason, raising cattle has a less-than-pristine reputation these days. The erosion, the deforestation, the methane ... it’s not a pretty picture.

Or is it?

Read More

Topics: Stewardship

How to Create Nesting Habitat for Native Pollinators

Posted by Ecogardens

 

Some 4,000-5,000 species of bees are native to the United States (with around 500 of those residing in Illinois) and their habitat is disappearing quickly. Needless to say, we’re not cool with that.

When you think of bees, it’s a safe bet you see honeybees swarming over the outside of a hive. Videos from elementary school showing them performing their intricate dances to indicate sources of pollen, direction and distance. Perhaps a bumblebee or two.

But these simplistic images of pollinators held by most Americans – and others around the world – are problematic. Not only are they limited in the extreme, but they lend the impression that all bees are social creatures.

The reality is far more complicated. While honeybees and bumblebees are certainly social, most bees are actually solitary. That means aside from mating, they live, eat and sleep alone.

(And not in a sad way. They’re making a choice, okay??)

Even more problematic: Because we fail to recognize the importance of native solitary bees, we don’t do much to accommodate their habitats (many of which are in steady decline). And if we want to keep enjoying, you know, food … then that needs to change. It’s time to learn how to create nesting habitat for native pollinators.

Read More

Topics: Pollinators

SPOTLIGHT on the Great Lakes: 20 Percent of the World’s Water Supply

Posted by Ecogardens

 

Read More

Topics: Stewardship

Why Should You Stop Using Ipe Today?

Posted by Ecogardens

 

Ipe is a supposedly sustainable darling of the landscaping, outdoor living and homebuilding industries, but is it really all it’s cracked up to be? We’re going to be blunt: No.

Ipe.

If you’re even tangentially related to landscape architecture, home and outdoor living design, or carpentry, then you know about ipe. Also known as Brazilian hardwood, a name that hearkens to its origins, it grows in Central and South America, largely Brazil.

In other words … the Amazon. One of the world’s most important ecologies in terms of both genetic diversity and environmental benefits (you know, when it’s not on fire, as it has been recently.) It is bigger than Earth’s next two largest rainforests combined; it covers 40 percent of South America; it’s estimated to have 16,000 tree species and 390 billion individual trees.

It is a total boss of a rainforest, in other words – and we really don’t want to kill it.

Right? RIGHT??!

… right.

And to that end, it’s time to stop using an environmentally damaging wood posturing as a sustainable choice. If we want to make the most responsible choices and steward the world responsibly, we need to take a closer look.

Read More

Topics: Stewardship

SPOTLIGHT: What Is Forest Bathing and Why Aren't You Doing It

Posted by Ecogardens

 

Turns out getting back to nature isn’t just a mood booster; it can actually help you improve your health. Enter forest bathing, the hot new way to commune with Mother Earth.

Anyone who has ever pulled out of a fussy nosedive by going for a walk in the woods already knows that time spent in nature is good for your mood. In fact, research shows that you can even moderate mood disorders with plenty of time outdoors.

If that sounds simple enough, well, it is. Recently, though, health advocates have taken a more prescriptive approach: forest bathing.

Read More

Topics: Stewardship