Tag Archives: organic

Wind energy over the oceans could power the world, geophysicists say.

Sorry to ruin the party, but a report from the Food Climate Research Network casts doubt on recent suggestions that pasture-raised cattle could sequester massive amounts of carbon in the soil.

By nibbling plants and stimulating new root growth, the old argument goes, cows can encourage deeper root networks, which suck up more carbon. Proponents of grass-fed meat have embraced these findings, saying that pasture-raised livestock could mitigate the impact of meat consumption on the environment.

The new report — cleverly titled “Grazed and Confused?” — acknowledges that pastured cattle can be carbon negative, but this depends on the right soil and weather conditions. In most places, according to the report, grazers produce much more greenhouse gas than they add to the ground. It is an “inconvenient truth,” the authors write, that most studies show grass-fed beef has a bigger carbon footprint than feedlot meat. “Increasing grass-fed ruminant numbers is, therefore, a self-defeating climate strategy,” the report concludes.

Fortunately, grass-fed beef is not the only solution being bandied about: Research shows that a small dose of seaweed in livestock feed could drastically reduce methane emissions. And if you really want to reduce your impact on the climate you could, you know, stop eating meat.

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Wind energy over the oceans could power the world, geophysicists say.

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5 Zero Waste Swaps to Make in Your Bathroom

Going zero waste can feel daunting ? trust me, I remember the feeling! The average American generates 4.5 pounds of trash every single day (that’s 220 million tons total each year).?How in the world does a person shrink down all that?household waste into nothing? Are there really?sustainable alternatives to everything I use in my daily life?

Truth is, going zero waste happens over the course of a lifetime ? baby step by baby step. One day, you decide to stop accepting plastic straws at restaurants; the next you locate a bulk shop in your area and start shopping exclusively package-free. And every day in between you gradually replace disposable, limited-use items with reusable, lasting ones.

Why This is Important

Our world is hooked on disposables. We manufacture and purchase?vast amounts of unrecyclable goods that are?designed to fail on us, then we throw them away without a second thought. Many of these are?single use plastics?that will not?decompose?for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

As such, most of these swaps involve replacing plastic with something better (often stainless steel, natural fibers or bamboo) that will stand the test of time or decompose naturally when it’s time to toss it.

Ready to join the party? Start by using up your old products (recycling, giving them away or selling them online), then gradually introduce these new options into your routine. Take care of them and you’ll be able to prevent all sorts of bathroom garbage from going to the landfill. Yipee!

10 Zero Waste Swaps to Make in Your Bathroom

1) Handkerchiefs vs. Tissues

Whether you’re fighting a cold or just dealing with allergies, it’s likely you go through a lot of tissues in your daily life. Grab a hankie instead! You can rinse?these as you go, then boil and line dry to get rid of any bacteria. Plus, they’re so much softer on the nose.

Related: 6 Potent Healing Herbs for Cold and Flu

2) Safety Razor vs. Disposable Razors

Disposable plastic razors are non-recyclable and extremely expensive. Plus, I’ve found that they tend to deteriorate remarkably quickly. Keep your skin smooth with a durable, stainless steel safety razor like this one instead and stop tossing razors for good.

3) Bulk Shampoo vs. Packaged Shampoo

Did you know you can buy hair and beauty products in bulk at most?bulk health food stores? It’s true! Just pour?what you need into a refillable glass pump bottle and use till it’s time to top off again. I purchased mine from Amazon, but you could likely find these in the bath aisle of any department store.

4) Coconut Oil vs. Makeup Remover

I’ve never found an eye makeup remover I like better than pure, organic coconut oil. It’s multi-purpose and dissolves?whatever tough makeup I have on at the end of the day. Buy your coconut oil in glass, then reuse or recycle the jar when you’re done with it.

Related: 15 Surprising Uses for Coconut Oil

5) Bamboo Toothbrush vs. Plastic Toothbrush

It’s time to be done with plastic like this for good! Standard plastic toothbrushes with plastic bristles are non-recyclable and wasteful. Look for a bamboo option instead. They are 100 percent biodegradable, eco-friendly and sustainably sourced and produced. Cool right? My favorite brands include Brush with Bamboo, WowE?and f.e.t.e. Huge fan!

Which zero waste swaps will you be making in your bathroom this fall? I’d love to know which ones stand out to you!?

Related:
How to Host a Zero Waste Dinner Party
3?Essential Zero Waste Items to Keep in Your Car
10 Ways to Start Living Zero Waste

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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5 Zero Waste Swaps to Make in Your Bathroom

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After burning for months, Montana looks like a fiery apocalypse.

On Thursday, explosions and black plumes of smoke were seen coming from a chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, 15 miles east of Houston’s city center.

Arkema, the company that owns the plant, said there was nothing they could do to prevent further explosions. The volatile chemicals stored onsite need to be refrigerated at all times to prevent breakdown, but flooding from Harvey cut the plant’s power. The “only plausible solution” now is to let the eight containers, containing 500,000 pounds of organic peroxides, explode and burn out, Arkema CEO Rich Rowe said at a press conference on Friday.

That’s bad news for Arkema’s neighbors. On Thursday, 15 public safety officers were taken to the hospital after breathing in acrid smoke from the plant. After local officials took a peek at Arkema’s chemical inventories, they ordered everyone within a 1.5-mile radius of the plant to evacuate. We don’t know precisely what’s in the noxious fumes, as Arkema has refused to release details of the facility’s chemical inventories.

In the worst-case scenario documented in the company’s 2014 risk-management plan, the air pollution coming from the plant could put the 1 million people living within 20 miles radius in danger. That seems unlikely — but then again, Harvey has outdone plenty of worst-case scenario predictions so far.

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After burning for months, Montana looks like a fiery apocalypse.

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Yikes, 13 of Houston’s Superfund sites flooded during Harvey.

On Thursday, explosions and black plumes of smoke were seen coming from a chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, 15 miles east of Houston’s city center.

Arkema, the company that owns the plant, said there was nothing they could do to prevent further explosions. The volatile chemicals stored onsite need to be refrigerated at all times to prevent breakdown, but flooding from Harvey cut the plant’s power. The “only plausible solution” now is to let the eight containers, containing 500,000 pounds of organic peroxides, explode and burn out, Arkema CEO Rich Rowe said at a press conference on Friday.

That’s bad news for Arkema’s neighbors. On Thursday, 15 public safety officers were taken to the hospital after breathing in acrid smoke from the plant. After local officials took a peek at Arkema’s chemical inventories, they ordered everyone within a 1.5-mile radius of the plant to evacuate. We don’t know precisely what’s in the noxious fumes, as Arkema has refused to release details of the facility’s chemical inventories.

In the worst-case scenario documented in the company’s 2014 risk-management plan, the air pollution coming from the plant could put the 1 million people living within 20 miles radius in danger. That seems unlikely — but then again, Harvey has outdone plenty of worst-case scenario predictions so far.

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Yikes, 13 of Houston’s Superfund sites flooded during Harvey.

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12 of the Best Cover Crops for Your Garden

Also known as green manure, cover crops are plants grown for the purpose of adding organic matter to your soil.

Organic matter from broken down plant material is vital for soil health. Not only does it contain essential nutrients for the growth of new plants, organic matter also stores carbon in the soil. This is important for maintaining the earth?s atmosphere and mitigating climate change.

Cover crops are typically planted in the fall or early spring when your garden beds are empty. You can also plant them in open areas during your growing season.

They can either be pulled up or tilled under when finished, or left in place to die over winter. It?s best to wait 3 to 5 weeks after tilling for the cover crop to decompose before planting any food or ornamental plants.

Almost any plant could be used as a cover crop, although the plants given below stand out because they?re fast, easy to grow and have proven benefits for your soil. You can get seeds at most garden centers or online retailers.

1. Alfalfa

Scientific name: Medicago sativa

Benefits: Alfalfa?s long tap roots are good for breaking up hard soils, which improves soil aeration and drainage. The long roots can also bring up trace minerals from deep in the soil. Alfalfa is a legume that fixes nitrogen in the soil.

Hardiness: Perennial in USDA zones 3 and higher.

Best time to sow seeds: Spring

Maintenance: Can be tilled under in summer or fall. Good to shear the plants periodically to prevent flowering and seeding.

2. Barley

Scientific name: Hordeum vulgare

Benefits: Barley has a short growing season, so it is ideal for northern gardens. It produces more biomass in a shorter time than other cereal grasses used for cover crops. Barley is also drought resistant.

Hardiness: Annual, but can live over winter in USDA zones 8 and higher. Barley will die over winter in lower zones.

Best time to sow seeds: Spring in lower zones, or fall for zones 8 or higher.

Maintenance: Barley does not reseed very well, so you can let it grow throughout your regular season, and let it die over winter in lower zones or till in spring for higher zones.

3. Berseem Clover

Scientific name: Trifolium alexandrinum

Benefits: Berseem clover builds the most nitrogen in your soil compared to all other legume crops. It also creates the most biomass of all the clovers.

Hardiness: Annual, but can live over winter in USDA zones 8 and higher.

Best time to sow seeds: Spring or early summer in lower zones, or fall for zones 8 or higher.

Maintenance: If you cut or mow the plants prior to seed set, they can grow back at least 2 to 3 times over your growing season to provide more organic matter.

4. Common Buckwheat

Scientific name: Fagopyrum esculentum

Benefits: Buckwheat can germinate within days of planting if planted in warmer weather. It can tolerate drought and poor soils. It will start to bloom after about 5 weeks and is excellent for supporting bees and other pollinators.

Hardiness: There are a few different varieties of buckwheat. Some are perennial, but common buckwheat is an annual. This is ideal because it dies over winter.

Best time to sow seeds: Spring or early summer

Maintenance: Mow or cut down buckwheat within two weeks of the first flowering if you want to avoid setting seed.

5. Crimson Clover

Scientific name: Trifolium incarnatum

Benefits: The fastest growing annual nitrogen fixer, which makes it great for fall seeding. Grows well in many conditions, including shade.

Hardiness: Annual, but can live over winter in USDA zones 8 and higher.

Best time to sow seeds: Due to its rapid growth, you can seed in spring, summer or fall.

Maintenance: Cutting or mowing when crimson clover starts to set flower buds will kill the plants. If you want it to flower and reseed, it will naturally die back after flowering.

6. Fall Mustards

Scientific names: Sinapsis alba (aka. Brassica hirta), Brassica juncea, or Brassica nigra

Benefits: All plants in the cabbage family have been shown to release biotoxic compounds that act against bacteria, fungi, insects, nematodes and weeds. These compounds are especially high in mustard crops.

Hardiness: Annuals, but may live over winter in USDA zones 8 and higher.

Best time to sow seeds: Spring or summer

Maintenance: The biotoxic compounds of mustards are only released when individual plant cells are ruptured. In order to maximize this, it?s best to till the plants under to break them up and incorporate them into the soil during your growing season.

7. Fall or Winter Rye

Scientific name: Secale cereale

Benefits: Rye is the hardiest cereal crop, so it makes an excellent winter cover crop in most climates. Rye quickly establishes a dense root system, which effectively suppresses weeds and breaks up hard soils.

Hardiness: Annual, but will live over winter in USDA zone 3 and higher.

Best time to sow seeds: Spring or fall

Maintenance: Beneficial to cut the plants periodically to prevent flowering and seeding.

8. Field Peas

Scientific name: Pisum sativum subsp. arvense

Benefits: Field peas grow rapidly in cool, moist weather. Their succulent stems break down easily for a quick source of available nitrogen.

Hardiness: Annual, but will live over winter in USDA zone 6 and higher.

Best time to sow seeds: Early spring

Maintenance: Field peas tend to stop growing in hot weather, so they?re best grown in spring and tilled under in early summer.


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

9. Hairy Vetch

Scientific name: Vicia villosa

Benefits: Hairy vetch is the hardiest legume cover crop, so it overwinters well and provides plenty of soil nitrogen for spring.

Hardiness: Annual, but will live over winter in USDA zone 4 and higher.

Best time to sow seeds: Fall

Maintenance: Hairy vetch grows slowly at first, but will continue establishing roots over winter. In spring, it grows long, vine-like branches up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) long. This provides great biomass as long as you have a tiller strong enough to break them up. Otherwise, cut hairy vetch early to prevent its extensive growth.

10. Marigolds

Scientific name: Tagetes species

Benefits: Marigolds can control a variety of pests, including nematodes, fungi, bacteria, weeds and insects. Research has shown marigolds are most effective when planted in large quantities as a cover crop.

Hardiness: Annual, will die as soon as temperatures reach freezing.

Best time to sow seeds: Spring

Maintenance: Can be tilled under in summer or fall.

Related: Do Marigolds Really Repel Garden Pests?

11. Oats

Scientific name: Avena sativa

Benefits: Oats grow well in cool weather, so they can be planted in the fall. They also can improve the productivity of legumes when planted in a mixture.

Hardiness: Annual, but can live over winter in USDA zones 7 and higher.

Best time to sow seeds: Summer or fall alone, or spring as part of a mixture with legumes.

Maintenance: When planted in spring, oats can be tilled under with your legume crop. If planting in summer or fall alone, try to seed them 40 to 60 days before your first frost. This will give them enough time to mature, but they will be winter killed before they set seed.

12. White Clover

Scientific name: Trifolium repens

Benefits: White clover can make a good living mulch in areas such as footpaths, between shrubs and trees, or on slopes. It only grows 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) high and does well with regular mowing or foot traffic.

Hardiness: Perennial in USDA zones 3 and higher.

Best time to sow seeds: Spring or summer

Maintenance: Can be tilled under in summer or fall, or left as a long-term, nitrogen-fixing groundcover.

Related
How to Share Extra Bounty from Your Garden with the Community
9 Mistakes to Avoid When Planting a New Vegetable Garden
Which Type of Mulch Is Best for Your Garden?

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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12 of the Best Cover Crops for Your Garden

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University Recycling 101: How College Students Go Green

earth911

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University Recycling 101: How College Students Go Green

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Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day – Diane Ackerman

READ GREEN WITH E-BOOKS

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Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day – Diane Ackerman

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Edible Landscaping: A Delicious Way to Garden

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Edible Landscaping: A Delicious Way to Garden

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USDA to employees: Don’t mention climate change.

Apparently, U.S. Department of Agriculture staff are now supposed to say “weather extremes” instead.

In emails obtained by the Guardian from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a unit of the USDA, a department director told employees to make the following phrasing replacements in their work: “reduce greenhouse gases” with “build soil organic matter, increase nutrient efficiency”; “sequester carbon” with “build soil organic matter”; and “climate change adaptation” with “resilience to weather extremes/intense weather events.”

Basically, any reference to climate change or CO2 is a no-no.

Employees were understandably confused, and some were against the change — including one employee who expressed a desire to maintain scientific integrity. But the USDA insisted that it’s not intending to obscure data and studies, and that similar procedures had been executed under other administrations.

Surprise, surprise — these new procedures began days after Trump’s inauguration. The first email obtained by the Guardian, sent by NRCS Deputy Chief for Programs Jimmy Bramblett on Jan. 24, advised of the new administration’s “shift in perspective” with regard to climate change.

That perspective appears to be: Don’t mention it.

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USDA to employees: Don’t mention climate change.

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9 Mistakes to Avoid When Planting a New Vegetable Garden

Growing your own vegetables is an excellent way to have an abundance of fresh, organic produce right outside your door. But it can take some effort to reach that point.

Whether you?re just starting your growing season, or troubleshooting an existing garden, avoiding the following mistakes will help get your garden on the right path to a successful harvest.

Mistake #1: Improper watering.

Water is important for your vegetable plants to flourish and develop your crop. But too much or too little water can be fatal.

A general rule is to give your veggies 1 inch of water per week. You can measure how much they?re getting by putting a rain gauge or a bucket in your veggie patch.

Although, this rule doesn?t take into account your local soil and climatic conditions. Check these guidelines to figure out how much water your plants actually need.

Mistake #2: Putting plants in the wrong place.

The amount of sun or shade on your veggie plants can make a big difference in their health.

But if you have limited space, it can be tempting to try and fit plants in wherever you can, regardless of how much sun they?re getting. Plants like lettuce and cabbages will be fine in those shady corners of your garden. Whereas, plants like tomatoes and squash will suffer.

Read the seed packages or labels of your vegetable seedlings to find out how much sun they need. And if you don?t have a good place for a certain variety, move on and find one that will thrive in the space you have.

Mistake #3: Choosing the wrong plants for your climate zone.

Most seed packages or plant labels will tell you what are called the days to maturity, or how long it takes to grow from a seedling to a mature vegetable crop.

This is an important number because many lower hardiness zones have a limited number of frost-free days for vegetables to grow. Longer-season vegetables, such as sweet potatoes or tomatoes, might not have enough time to mature before frost hits.

The United States Department of Agriculture has an excellent interactive tool to find out your local hardiness zone. Then you can look up the typical number of frost-free days for your hardiness zone.

Mistake #4: Waiting too long to weed.

It can be easy to put off mundane tasks like weeding, but this is one of the most important things you can do to support your veggies. Weeds left to get too big compete with your vegetable plants for water, nutrients and sunshine.

It?s best to pull out or lightly till weed seedlings as soon as you see them. You can either add them to your compost pile or leave them on the soil surface as a mulch.

Mistake #5: Ignoring your soil.

Vegetables get their nutrients directly from the soil. Adding organic matter is the best way to create healthy, fertile soil. It also improves the texture of soil and makes it easier to work with.

Mix some organic matter into your soil before you plant anything. You can buy commercially prepared bags of compost to mix in, or make your own compost.

You can also add organic mulches on top of your soil, such as grass clippings, shredded leaves or a living groundcover. These will provide ongoing nutrients as they break down over time.

Related: Which Type of Mulch is Best for Your Garden?

Mistake #6: Not rotating crops.

Certain vegetable diseases live in the soil, such as mosaic viruses. These viruses often specialize in one type of vegetable, such as cucumbers or beans. One of the best ways to rid your soil of a mosaic virus is to rotate your crops. If the virus doesn?t have a host plant for a few years, it will often die out.

Also, every vegetable needs different types of nutrients. Growing one vegetable in the same spot every year will deplete the area of the same nutrients. Whereas, rotating your crops will give all your veggies an opportunity to get the nutrients they need.

Karen?s Garden Tips has a good overview of how to rotate your vegetable crops.

Mistake #7: Spacing plants improperly.

Mature vegetable plants should gently touch each other and leave no soil visible. This helps retain moisture in the soil while giving the vegetables enough space to develop.

Vegetables planted too close together may have poor yields and an increased risk of pests and diseases because of reduced air circulation. On the other hand, wide spacing between plants can leave too much exposed soil, which increases evaporation and watering needs as well as potential sun scald.

To avoid these issues, refer to your seed packages or plant labels for their recommended spacing.

Mistake #8: Planting at the wrong time.

Deciding when to plant your seedlings or seeds can be challenging.

When you plant seedlings outside in the spring, you need to wait until the frost risk has passed, but not so long that your seedlings start to outgrow their pots. And if you grow your own seedlings from seed, you often need to start them months before your last frost date.

Directly planting seeds in your garden is also finicky. If they go into the ground too early, they could get hit by frost when they sprout. But planting them too late may not leave enough time for the vegetables to mature before harvest.

This is another area where finding out the days to maturity is helpful.

Mistake #9: Planting the wrong amount.

Overproduction or underproduction of vegetables are problems even well-seasoned gardeners often face.

In the planting frenzy of spring, it?s easy to plant what seems like just a bit extra to make sure you have enough. Those few extra plants can produce way more than you expected, which only benefits your friends and neighbors as they receive your excess veggies.

Planting conservatively can also backfire if you lose the few plants you started to pests. To prevent this, keep in mind your final use for your vegetables. Are you planning on preserving them for winter, or simply using them fresh? This can help you decide exactly the right amount to grow.

And if you don?t like a certain vegetable, any amount is too much. Vegetables like zucchini are often recommended for new gardeners because they?re easy to grow. But if you don?t like zucchini, it?s alright to say no.

Related
Do You Have to Stake or Cage Tomatoes?
Do Marigolds Really Repel Garden Pests?
12 Ways to Get Rid of Aggressive Weeds Without Resorting to Roundup

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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9 Mistakes to Avoid When Planting a New Vegetable Garden

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