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21 posts from February 2013

February 19, 2013

Garbage Patches--in the Desert?

RattlesnakeGarbage patches foul not only oceans, but deserts, too, according to study published this month in the Journal of Arid Environments. Study author Erin Zylstra found more windblown plastic bags and latex balloons than desert tortoises and western diamondback rattlesnakes in Saguaro National Park in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. Like marine trash, desert debris could threaten wildlife and ecosystems.

Zylstra originally went to the desert to conduct fieldwork on desert tortoises. At the same time, she and her colleagues spotted not just tortoises, but litter — lots of it. “We just started to notice that there were a lot of these balloons and plastic bags around,” said Zylstra, a Ph.D. student at the University of Arizona.”  That’s when the researchers figured that while surveying tortoises, they might as well survey the trash, too.

So for two summers, Zylstra and colleagues surveyed selected tracts of desert from two study areas on opposite sides of Tucson. They used a technique called distance sampling, which allowed them to closely estimate the density of trash in each tract, even if they missed a few pieces. They recovered refuse ranging from fully intact bags and balloons to dried-up fragments. Most balloons turned up as deflated bouquets tied with string, some so disintegrated they looked like lichens growing on rock. 

Contrary to what she expected, Zylstra didn't find more trash alongside roads than she did further away. Her results suggested that wind could carry plastic bags and balloons more than two kilometers into remote wilderness. She also observed that dispersal of the trash followed seasonal winds.

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February 14, 2013

Green Your Valentine's Day: DIY Dinner for Two

V-day DinnerIt is Valentine's Day! And just in case you forgot to make plans, the Green Life has one final tip to ensure that you enjoy an eco-friendly day of romance. Don't forget to check out yesterday's tip on all-natural fragrances.  

Tip #4: Make a Dinner for Two 

No dinner plans for Valentine's Day? Well, it's nothing that a quick stop at your local market can't fix. We have a romantic, planet-friendly dinner menu featuring Sun-dried Tomato and Spinach Pasta and Zesty Sauteed Kale, that's sure to impress that special someone. Not only does this option allow you to support your local agriculture, it is also cost effective and is sure to give you plenty of leftovers for Friday's lunch. Make sure you find your local farmer's market before you head out to collect your ingredients.


Sun-Dried Tomato and Spinach Pasta

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February 13, 2013

Green Your Valentine's Day: 4 Natural Fragrances

NirvanaValentine’s Day is almost here, so we're sharing some sweet ideas for a planet friendly day of romance. Yesterday we discussed eco-friendly bedroom essentials, today we will focus on green perfumes.

Tip #3: Find a Sweet Green Aroma

Since some fragrances are packed with harmful chemicals and toxic ingredients, a number of people just opt to steer clear of perfume products all together. But wouldn’t it be nice to have some “smell goods” for your special night out, or maybe to give as part of a romantic gift? Well good news, we’ve found some wonderful all-natural perfumes that will help you smell amazing without contaminating the environment. And yes, we have a cologne option too.

Love Train — Rich Hippie Eau De Parfum

The California based company, Rich Hippie, used 100% natural and chemical-free ingredients to create this flirty, romantic fragrance. Instead of using cheap alcohol made from petroleum, their scents are made with wine alcohol that is created right in California. You can find this fragrance on Rich Hippie’s website for $48.


DIY Perfume

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February 12, 2013

Green Your Valentine's Day: In the Bedroom


With Valentine’s Day approaching, The Green Life is dishing out tips to help you enjoy an eco-friendly day of romance. Yesterday we discussed environmentally friendly candle options, today we will focus on topics that are a bit more. . . intimate.

Tip #2: Go Green. . . in the Bedroom

These four products will help you stay green while enjoying intimate activities with your special someone. 

Good Clean Love  Organic, Vegan Personal Lubricant

While other lubricants often contain harmful chemicals, this organic lubricant is paraben, glycerin and petrochemical free. Additionally, the vegan product is not tested on animals. Good Clean Love products can be found at your local Whole Foods Market for around $15.

Continue reading "Green Your Valentine's Day: In the Bedroom" »

February 11, 2013

Green Your Valentine's Day: DIY Soy Candles

Candle and HeartsLove is in the air! With Valentine’s Day approaching, many of us are planning a day of romantic activities with that special someone — or just looking for ways to pamper ourselves. But who says romance only comes in shades of red? This week, we'll share some eco-friendly Valentine’s Day ideas that will show you just how romantic green can be.

Tip #1: Green Your Candles

Nothing sets the mood like a candlelit room. Unfortunately some candles use paraffin, a product derived from petroleum, making them not so eco-friendly. But we have a great alternative that won't require you to sacrifice that romantic atmosphere. Soy candles are all-natural and are said to release a more pure, pleasant scent then other candles. Additionally, the US is the world’s largest soybean supplier, so it is likely that the soy used to make your soy candle was grown domestically. A good brand to check out is Pacifica Soy Candles, this company hand makes every candle with vegetable soy wax and lead-free wicks. Beeswax Candles are another eco-friendly option. Like soy candles, they are au naturel, void of byproducts of petroleum like paraffin, and artificial fragrances.

Have a little extra time on your hands? Watch the video below to learn how to make your own soy candles right at home.

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February 08, 2013

The Gentle Gardener: Healthy Habits

OmToday, we're wrapping up our week of gardening tips from George Gibbs. Yesterday we covered composting. Today, we'll help you find your gardening zen. 

Tip #4: Care for every element.

“You have to have the right conditions for almost anything.”

That includes measuring soil pH and lead levels, and perhaps using a raised bed. That includes observing your garden’s sun exposure — Gibbs has a northwest-facing space — and working with plants that thrive in your garden’s available sunlight. And that includes having a healthy gardener.

Gibbs recommends the “great, great, great book” Gardener’s Yoga: Bend & Stretch, Dig & Grow by Veronica D’Orazio. He practices the illustrated poses for about an hour every other day, and it stretches every joint.

Continue reading "The Gentle Gardener: Healthy Habits" »

February 07, 2013

The Gentle Gardener: Composting with Critters

CompostThis week, we're sharing a series of tips from organic gardener George Gibbs. Yesterday we pondered furry and feathered pests. Today, we're talking about compost. 


Tip #3: Compost with critters.

Gibbs did use fertilizers while working with his dad’s New Jersey landscaping and lawn-care company growing up.

“I never liked the way they smelled,” he said. “They didn’t smell like the earth.”

Now he lets the littlest guys do the work.

“I knew that I wanted my yard and garden to smell like the forest, like nature,” Gibbs said. “I wanted to encourage as much of the natural world as possible to be here.”

Remember the snail and slugs that Gibbs says you should put work in the compost bin? Instead of a rotating compost bin, Gibbs uses one with trays, so the mollusks on top and the worms in the middle can work unperturbed. Like this 5-Tray Worm Compost Bin, for instance.

Gibbs avoids adding animal manure, which he says can harm new, young plants.

“The concentration of uric acid in factory-farmed animals is high. Without water diluting it, you’ll burn the leaves and maybe even kill the plant.”

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February 06, 2013

The Gentle Gardener: Furry and Feathered Pests

furry pestThis week on the Green Life, pro gardener George Gibbs is sharing a few practical tips for organic gardeners. Yesterday we discussed small pests. Today, we're pondering bigger critters. 

Tip #2: To deter bigger pests, irritate them.

"I always try to encourage people to not kill animals," he said. "We're all inter-related. I think we all have a purpose."

Still, you gotta guard your garden. For the furry and feathered, Gibbs tries to repel them through the art of vexation.

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February 05, 2013

The Gentle Gardener: Organic Pest Control

SlugFor professional gardener George Gibbs, organic gardening is a practical application of his general philosophy of treading softly. Gibbs eschews pesticides, herbicides, and killing creatures, in general. For him, human prosperity isn't separate from protecting the planet and its other inhabitants.

This week on the Green Life, we're asking Gibbs to share a few practical tips for organic gardeners.

Tip #1: Relocate and redirect pests.

If a snail or a slug is munching on one of your plants, pick it up and put it in your compost bin. According to Gibbs, whatever they eat, “they excrete compost for you. It makes sense: Put them to work for you.”

If even gloves can’t make plucking up mollusks palatable, construct a barrier. Rimming planters and beds with copper foil deters slugs, but only if the foil gets enough sunlight. Warm foil turns slugs away; otherwise, they’ll just scoot over your miniature blockade.

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February 04, 2013

Profile: Gentle Gardener George Gibbs

SF viewProfessional gardener George Gibbs is more of a Buddhist who practices organic gardening than a small-business owner with a gentle touch.

Gibbs, 58, has run his eponymous gardening and landscaping business in San Francisco since 1981, and he maintains 20 organic gardens throughout the city. Gibbs works with nature, and he doesn’t like to kill things, even bugs.

“When you grow things organically, you’re going to have to share it with nature,” he said.

It takes delving into the flora surrounding Gibbs’s 142-year-old house, swathed in Virginia creeper and flanked by a “spittin’ plum” tree, to appreciate his gardening ethos.

“Kind of an eco-gingerbread house, I guess you’d call it,” Gibbs said. He laughed. As for the tree: A bird ate a plum, excreted the pit, and later out comes a tree. And so, a “spittin’ plum.”

Gibbs introduces a few of his backyard’s myriad green beings, explaining which plants are which, that plants have moods, and that, like people, they need an environment to be just right in order to flourish. Gibbs talks and runs his fingers along one of his crocosmias like it’s a cat’s tail. The plant's alive — it just won’t purr.

Asking him why organic gardening matters feels silly. Gibbs looks confused.

“Why would you want to buy something that’s coated in poison?” He said. “It doesn’t make sense.”

Continue reading "Profile: Gentle Gardener George Gibbs" »

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