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.

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Topics: Stewardship

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.

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Topics: Stewardship

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?

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Topics: Stewardship

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

Posted by Ecogardens

 

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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.

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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.

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Topics: Stewardship

Profile of the Lost American Grasslands: Where They Went and How to Bring Them Back

Posted by Ecogardens

 

Most people know that America used to be prairie, but most don’t know the incredible richness of diversity that these endless grasslands comprised.

To hear the colonists of the 18th and 19th centuries tell it, America was at one time a vast expanse of virgin forest and grassland.

Then there are more recent historical accounts, such as Charles C. Mann’s 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, which holds that all that untenanted space was an illusion. Rather, Native Americans had stewarded these lands for 20,000 years – and were only absent due to very recent cultural influences and devastating disease.

Those Native Americans intentionally set controlled burns that held back the advance of forests in the Southeast, Midwest and West, leading to billions of acres of gorgeous and diverse prairie.

Whatever version of the anthropological record you choose to believe, one thing’s for sure: From coast to coast, America used to boast grasslands of epic proportion. Equally certain: Most of them are now gone, with devastating consequences for the health of humans, animals, plants, pollinators and the ecosphere as a whole.

It’s time to bring them back.

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Topics: Stewardship

The Compost Story: Amazing Composting Benefits, According to the Stars

Posted by Ecogardens

 

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Topics: Stewardship

Pharmaceuticals for Fish: What Our Drug Industry Is Doing to Our Waterways

Posted by Ecogardens

 

Have an owie? Pop a pill! We humans rely heavily on drugs that make us feel better, kill pain and put us to sleep … but now animals are paying the price. 

What do you get when you combine aquatic animals and antidepressants?

The start of a really good joke … or at least, so it seems at first. Sadly, that’s as far as it goes. Because believe it or not, Earth’s fishy folk are actually exposed to regular (and sometimes shockingly high) doses of pharmaceuticals.

It’s not just them, either. Mammals, crustaceans, snails and other animals are also affected. And in almost all cases, it’s not an improvement.

If we want to keep our world ecology healthy, it’s time we take a hard look at this issue … and do something about it.

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Topics: Stewardship

How to Make Biodegradable Pots Work for Green Roofing

Posted by Ecogardens

 

Plastic pots are a major bugbear of the landscaping and green roofing industries, but are biodegradable pots really the answer? Today we explore what works and what doesn’t, as well as what YOU can do about it.

You’ve been there. You buy a new plant, perhaps a tomato for the garden or a dracaena for the windowsill. You grab a terra cotta pot, upend your new baby, give it a new home and …

… you’re left with a plastic pot. What do you do?

Most of us dutifully wash it and stick it in the recycle bin for municipal pickup or dropoff. Problem solved, right?

Umm. Well, no.

Unfortunately, our recycling system today is pretty broken. Municipalities might take plastic pots, and nurseries might promise to recycle them, but – not to put too fine a point on it – that’s mostly B.S. What doesn’t get thrown away can clog up sorting machines at recycling plants, or it gets shipped to developing countries, adding to their mounting problems. Needless to say, outsourcing the issue does not get rid of the issue.

No, the responsibility is on us – the American landscaping and green roofing industry – to lead the advance toward a more sustainable future.

*waves torch*

If we want to act as good stewards of the environment, it’s critical we solve this here plastic problem as soon as possible. And biodegradable pots are, in theory, a good way to do that.

But are they really? If so, what do we need to do in order to shift the industry away from chronic plastic use and toward a more sustainable alternative? Let’s take a look.

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Topics: Stewardship