SPOTLIGHT on the Land and Water Conservation Fund

Posted by Ecogardens


When was the last time you walked through a national park and thought to yourself ... “Boy, good thing the Land and Water Conservation Fund is here to make sure these wild places get their full funding?”

If you answered “never,” then you’re in good company. Most people don’t know exactly how our outdoor areas receive their vaunted protection.

Well, spoiler alert: It doesn’t come free.

Rather, it’s the result of hard work and hustling on the part of Dedicated Parties ranging from citizen coalitions to national conservation organizations to even, if you can believe it, our elected officials.

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Topics: Stewardship

A Day Without Water

Posted by Ecogardens


This year, it’s not much of a stretch to imagine a Day Without Something. Remember when you thought you’d have to go without toilet paper? Or hand sanitizer? And the run on potatoes and pasta was something to see!

We don’t mean to poke fun. Back in the spring, when it felt like suddenly we might not have access to whatever modern day or basic supply we might want was shocking, and a little scary.

Which makes this year’s Imagine a Day Without Water a little close to home for most of us, and incredibly relevant as we think about what we want our world to look like in the coming years.

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Topics: Stormwater Management, Stewardship

What Is Eutrophication and Why Should It Matter More?

Posted by Ecogardens


Algae blooms are a serious problem, mucking up waterways, killing fish and endangering humans. What can we do?

Red tide (not to be confused with Red Dawn, which is an awesome movie) is a phenomenon pretty much all of us have heard of.

Likewise, almost everyone has experienced a bummer of a summer day or two, in which the local lake or river was closed to swimming due to algal blooms.

If you’ve ever walked along the shore of a normally crystalline body of water, only to witness a murky green more appropriate to The Creature from the Black Lagoon than to a picnic, you know what we’re talking about.

Algae blooms, also known as algal blooms, are a serious problem these days. They deplete oxygen in the water supply, choking out the organisms that live there. Some species of algae may even produce neurotoxins, which is dangerous to fish, wildlife, other plants and even humans.

While some blooms occur naturally, much of the issue comes down to eutrophication. Today, let’s turn our attention to this critical concept so we can make a game plan to change the future and make the world a greener place.

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Topics: Stewardship, Floating Wetlands

Cradle to Cradle as a Way of Life: An Interview with Jack Pizzo

Posted by Ecogardens


If you’ve long believed that you must choose between a garden that looks like a magazine spread and one that helps the Earth, think again: Jack Pizzo is here to set you straight.

(Download a free PDF of this interview to take with you, and share it with family and friends!)

With the global climate crisis in full swing and environmental panic mounting, more people than ever are asking: “What can we do?”

When they’re told to change their gardens, plant more natives and keep a weather eye on their pollinator populations, however, many folks become a bit wary. They like their gardens how they are, thankyouverymuch.

That’s where The Pizzo Group comes in, self-described as “a family of four companies that restores ecosystems and provides sustainable landscape solutions that are both beautiful and functional.”

Jack Pizzo, president and senior ecologist of all four companies, as well as the past president of the Illinois Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, is happy to report that interest in natural landscapes is rising, from residential backyards to large swaths of public land.

Increasingly, individuals, organizations and municipalities are reaching out to design landscapes that, as Pizzo says, look “like Martha Stewart’s perennial garden except that it’s native plants. People are beginning to see nature as an asset and not a liability.”

A development of which, it goes without saying, we are huge fans.

That’s not to say we’ve fixed every problem in the landscape industry or that we’re perfect stewards, however. Far from it. Recently we were lucky enough to sit down with Jack and have a heart to heart on these issues.

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Topics: Stewardship

Transforming the Landscape Ethic: An Interview with ILCA

Posted by Ecogardens


The landscape industry is rife with environmental problems, but several big organizations are stepping up to change that. Prime among them is the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association (ILCA), a leading voice since 1959.

Download a free PDF version of this report to share with your colleagues and friends!

It’s no secret that the landscaping industry is one of the most problematic for the ecosphere, though it is sadly less talked-about than it should be. Even green roofing, ostensibly a purely environmental effort, adds to the issue.

Among the leading troubles, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are higher pesticide concentrations in urban and suburban areas than agricultural ones. (If you’re gobsmacked by this, you’re not alone.)

Pesticide exposure – affecting non-target plants and humans alike – is also a major concern. As the EPA says, “more than 31,000 pesticide exposure incidents related to the use of pesticides on lawns were reported from 1995 to 2002.” And because people don’t know enough about these issues, they don’t know what to do instead.

For decades, the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association has striven to be a voice of change, fighting for the rights of the environment. Today, that message is more important than ever.

Recently, we were lucky enough to catch up with several members of the ILCA Sustainability and Ecological Landscape Committee to talk more about it.

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Topics: Stewardship

SPOTLIGHT on Water Pollution: The Biggest Problems + What We’re Doing

Posted by Ecogardens


That water pollution exists is hardly a state secret. What form it takes and what we should do about it, however, are facts a little less well-known. Here’s the skinny.

The Blue Planet got that name for a reason (and it’s not because it’s full of Democrats.)

Earth earned its moniker for the simple reason that it is largely composed of water – 71 percent, according to our good friends at NASA. It’s spread out across the oceans, lakes and rivers of the world, and trickles through soil, aquifers and Other Underground Spaces.

Sadly, that water is not as pure as it used to be. Not by a long shot.

Today, water pollution is one of the biggest issues we face, and solving it is crucial for the wellbeing of people, wildlife and the planet as a whole. As with most things, knowledge is the first step in becoming good stewards. Let’s take a look at where water pollution is found and what forms it takes today.

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Topics: Stewardship

Citizen Scientists with the Monarch Community Science Program

Posted by Ecogardens


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Topics: Stewardship

SPOTLIGHT on the Living Shorelines Act

Posted by Ecogardens


As our coastlines face increasing threats from climate change, threatening to submerge natural areas and displace people, a new bill proposes putting nature to work for change.

You already know we’re huge fans of nature. Walking in it. Barbecuing in it. Bathing in it, even. You get the picture.

Now it’s time to put nature to work protecting our shorelines, oceans, coastal inhabitants and wildlife.

How? Well, that’s just what the Living Shorelines Act proposes to answer. Before we look at that, though, let’s take a gander at why shoreline restoration is so important and the role nature plays in stormwater management.

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Topics: Stewardship

What Can You Do to Help Earth TODAY? (A Citizen Action Sheet)

Posted by Ecogardens


Being a good Earthling sometimes feels impossible, but there are some surprisingly easy steps you can take to improve your environmental stewardship today. That’s why we’re giving you this Citizen Action Sheet for free!

Download our free checklist to share with family and friends today.

Okay, let’s just take a second and acknowledge: Do-gooders can be annoying.

Yes, even to those of us in the green roofing industry. When they ask about where our coffee came from, how our shoes were made, what kind of mileage our car gets, we become a little fussy. The temptation to reply snottily slowly rises – and sometimes, not so slowly.

Okay, but like, you want to say, what are YOU wearing right now? Is it a handmade coat of finest carbon-offset wool woven on a sustainably sourced bamboo loom using natural dyes that only exist as a byproduct of friendship and goodwill?

No? It’s not??


... Ahem. Just us?

We thought not. The good news is, by integrating the following quick tips into your lifestyle, you can shut the invasive do-gooders up quick. (Though probably not for good. It’s best to live in reality.)

On a more serious note, we all have to live here. At the moment, this is the only planet we have. And while we’re not into climate alarmism, neither are we willing to stand by while our world warms due to human activities (that’s just science, people). Instead, we advocate rational steps in the direction of meaningful change that can aggregate over time.


If you want to be a good steward, you can start here. Ready to download your free Citizen Action Sheet today? All you have to do is click that link!

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Topics: Stewardship

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

Posted by Ecogardens


If you’ve ever strolled down the Lake Michigan shoreline, you know how impressive the Great Lakes can be. Cognitively, you understand it’s just a lake – a landlocked body of usually fresh, not salt, water – but the breadth and majesty of it might as well belong to an ocean.

This intuitive awe of the Great Lakes is even better deserved than you might think. These huge bodies of water comprise a whopping percentage of the Earth’s fresh water. Plus, they are a “strategic opportunity” to better Chicago’s economic standing – and the Midwest’s in general.

That’s not to say we should simply capitalize on a neighborhood resource. Rather, we have a responsibility to be good stewards of our environment by doing right by the Great Lakes.

Let’s take a look in today’s spotlight.

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Topics: Stewardship