Bamboo is the recent trend for so many home furnishings including floors, bamboo rugs, and bamboo rugs chair mats, and it's no wonder. Bamboo has been used for centuries as major and accent pieces because it adds a warm, tropical feeling to the room. Bamboo is all natural, and it has a beautiful color when it is used with a finish or without. Bamboo lasts longer and is more durable than plastic or fabric. Continue reading
“Going green” surely seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days. We talk about going green in our everyday life, politicians talk about green initiatives, tax breaks are given to business large and small for implementing green practices and public relations representatives everywhere are touting how their respective clients are strengthening the green effort. However, this still leaves out on crucial sector of American society: entertainment and specifically, sports. Our favorite American pastimes oftentimes involve participating and watching countless hours of college and professional sports. But how much are these larger than life organizations hurting our environment? You’ll be happy and maybe surprised to know that some of our favorite sports franchises are giving going green the ole college try.
Going green and Nascar may seem an unlikely pair. The sport is inherently centered on consumption. Fast cars burn fossil fuels at a rate that would embarrass any self respecting conservationist. However, Nascar is making the sport as green as it can. Authorities have implemented green initiatives such as collecting used fuel for recycling along with oil filters, fluorescent light bulbs, metal shavings, aluminum and steel. Some raceways are planting a specific number of mature tress per race to offset carbon emissions and still others are using sheep lawnmowers to trim infield grasses.
In addition to Nascar, both the NFL and the NBA are contributing to the cause. The Washington Redskins hosted the Arizona Cardinals at what was lovingly dubbed the “Solar Bowl” on opening weekend. FedEx Field is home to 8,000 solar panels that provide 100% of the stadiums power on non-game days and 20% of power on game days. The solar panels also provide shaded parking in one section of the parking lot.
The NBA has initiated its NBA Green program that organizes an annual Green Week in April of the last three seasons. This year, in addition to Green Week, all 30 teams tipped off the season in Revolution 30 uniforms, made from 60% recycled materials.
Hopefully, as more fans become educated to the green cause, more will demand these types of efforts from their hometown teams. Whether franchieses are building eco-friendly stadiums or using clever green practices for everyday issues like lawn mowing, we are definitely witnessing steps in the right direction.
Memorial Day is just around the corner and for most of us, that means the start of the summer travelling season. We find excuses to get outside, to go to the beach and to escape the trials and tribulations of everyday life. However, just because our schedules have new values, doesn’t mean we have to give up our green ones. Here are three ways you can maintain your green values even when you’re far away.
Pack Light. Not only will being prudent in your packing choices make your life easier when it comes to moving your luggage around, but it will also reduce the weight put on whatever train, plane or automobile you will be travelling by. The lighter the mode of transportation, the less gas it uses. We have already discussed cleaning out the trunk of your car to get better gas mileage; the same concept applies to larger transporters.
Buy Local. Eating at local restaurants and purchasing authentic souvenirs will not only create a unique travel experience but will reduce carbon emissions required to transport food and trinkets from faraway places. Additionally, you won’t be paying transportation and shipping costs but will put the money back into the local economy for higher quality, authentic meals and products. Besides, who wants to eat at McDonalds again when you can have freshly prepared dish from a recipe perfected by the local culture?
Do Your Airline Homework. Many airlines are doing their part to reduce their carbon footprint. Aircraft initiatives like reducing bulk and actively decreasing taxi times make a big difference in reducing gas consumption and emissions. It is important to support those companies that are making ‘green’ changes.
So travel, experience, learn and stay green this summer!
Christmas is this weekend and if you’re anything like me, you haven’t bought a thing. At Backyard X-Scapes we are always looking for ways to help our customers “go green” without breaking the bank or pushing too far outside the box. We believe that Christmas gift-giving can be meaningful, generous and eco-friendly. The following are 5 of our favorite ideas for green gift-giving.
iTunes or Amazon.com Gift Cards – While it goes without saying that digital gifts cut down on waste by eliminating packaging and carbon emissions by eliminating production and shipping, they are also in high demand in today’s tech savvy society. We all know that both iTunes and Amazon offer gift cards for downloading music, but they can also be used for video streaming. Instead of buying DVDs as gifts, give your loved ones the gift of waste-free entertainment; they can stream almost any movie as well as entire television series.
Homemade Gift Coupons – Give the special person in your life many gifts in one without costing you a dime. Coupons for massages, breakfast in bed and babysitting are all great options that only require time and effort on your part. This gift is ultra-personal, won’t drain your checking account and doesn’t produce an ounce of waste, especially if you use recycled paper to craft each coupon.
Sony Ericsson GreenHeart Cell Phone – The techie in your life will love Sony’s new GreenHeart line of cell phones and accessories. These phones create 15% fewer carbon emissions than traditional phones by eliminating the paper manual (it is stored digitally within the phone), utilizing recycled plastic in the phone’s structure, employing an energy efficient display and waterborne paint. The packaging is also eco-conscious.
Digital Magazine Subscription – While most magazines are going the way of the dinosaur these days, new digital-only ones are proliferating as applications for the iPhone, iPad and other “smart” devices. Your reader will get the same thrill from receiving a digitally updated magazine as from receiving a new magazine in the mail. What’s more, with ever-improving technology, magazines are becoming more user-friendly, lending them to reading at the gym, in the waiting room, at the salon or wherever magazines are consumed.
Transit Pass - Everyone has to get around one way or another. If you live in area with accessible public transit, a year or month long pass will save a rider up to $10,000 a year on transportation, plus reduce carbon emissions and traffic by decreasing the number of cars on the road.
If you must go with traditional tangible gifts, there are some great resources from eco-friendly products as well as gifts made entirely from recycled goods. Remember, the best gifts are always the most personal and considerate, being simultaneously eco-conscious is just icing on the Christmas spirit cake.
For years, California has been in a state of drought – a result of sparse rainfall coupled with intricate irrigation systems and the inherent difficulties in supplying over 35 million people with water. A budget crisis and political unrest have recently added to the states problems but now, there is a bright spot (literally) on the horizon. A proposal by Westside Holdings in California has initiated the construction of the largest solar panel field in the country: the Westlands Solar Park in the San Joaquin Valley.
Westlands will reuse 30,000 acres of land contaminated with salt and other pollutants from years of irrigation and over-planting for a solar panel field capable of producing up to 5,000 megawatts of clean energy. As the largest current solar panel project underway, the field promises enough energy to power almost 4 million homes. By contrast, Spain currently claims the largest functioning solar panel field in the world, with a 60-megawatt capacity.
Phase one of the Westlands project will install solar panels on 9,000 acres of land leased by farmers to Westside Holdings and will generate 600-1,000 megawatts of renewable energy, to be transmitted on existing infrastructure. To complete the project, billions of private and public dollars will have to be invested in both construction and infrastructure development, ultimately creating thousands of jobs.
The project has captured the hearts and minds of developers and environmentalists alike both in California and nationally. Currently, the United States Environmental Protection Agency is investigating landfills and toxic waste sites as potential solar energy fields while the Arizona Bureau of Land Management is looking to its own landfills and abandoned mines as potential sites. Developers are looking to capitalize on the burgeoning renewable energy industry while environmentalists praise the re-use of “dead” land no longer suitable for farming. The fields in question were once used to grow tomatoes, wheat, rice, beans, alfalfa, cotton, stevia and blueberries. These crops are currently grown in various locations throughout the United States, in areas that aren’t as solar panel viable. The prospect of the field has bred an interesting alliance between farmers and environmental groups like the Sierra Club. Typically, the environmentally conscious are concerned about habitat destruction, negative effects on wildlife and pollution caused by development on otherwise pristine landscapes. However, since the fields have already been cultivated, farmed and depleted of natural resources, they are more than happy to lend them to green energy development.
Westlands farmers are also on board with green development. The San Joaquin Valley has been rationing its decreasing water supply for 18 years and farmers feel that they will likely receive more water once the supply is diverted from the Westland field.
Ultimately, the Westlands Solar Park will create jobs, provide California with a huge green energy source and reuse land no longer suitable for farming without disturbing existing ecosystems or landscapes. The project, if done correctly and successfully, will serve as a model for other large-scale renewable energy projects for years to come.
The summer months are coming to a close and students and parents alike are looking towards the start of a new school year. Typically, back to school time entails lots of shopping and preparation. The “starting on a clean slate” mentality engenders cravings for new school supplies and clothes. However, in today’s day and age, it is becoming increasingly important and fashionable to save resources, monetary and otherwise. Luckily, with the development of new and more creative ways to conserve it’s easier than ever to go green while remaining on a budget. Approximately 56 million children will attend elementary and secondary schools this year and each one will produce approximately 240 pounds of waste, so it’s important to save and reuse where we can. Here are some helpful ideas and products to help you save this school year.
The first important step to leading a greener lifestyle is to stay organized. Make a list of all the things you need (or think you will need) before doing any shopping. This will keep you from going overboard when you see all the shiny new equipment offered at Target or Staples.
Secondly, take stock of what you already have. Most times, at some point another, you’ve overbought pencils, pens, paper, notebooks and other school supplies. Using them now will not only save you money this year, but will also free up the house of a little clutter.
If you must purchase new back to school products, there are plenty of ways to go green. Everything from lunch boxes and pencils, to clothing and backpacks exist in an environmentally-friendly form and include such developments as a solar paneled backpack from Voltaic that can charge your cell phone, laptop or iPod while you walk. Big name brands have also embraced the green trend; just check the labels and avoid excessive packaging.
Avoid PVC when buying new items like binders and lunch boxes. This chemical is both harmful to the planet and to children’s health. It is an unnecessary toxic plastic that is dangerous at every point of its lifecycle so just by looking for products that are not made of plastic, you’re maintaining the environment and your child's health. For a complete list of PVC-free products and how to further avoid products containing PVC, download the Center for Health, Environment and Justice’s Back-to-School Guide.
Leftovers from last night’s dinner make great lunches. A little over preparation the night before will guarantee a lunch that your child will not only look forward to eating the next day but will also cut down on waste. Additionally, eliminating pre-packaged foods will save a lot of landfill space and are typically a healthier decision in the long run.
Walking, biking and carpooling are simple and easy way to save gas money, time and the environment. Using a single-occupancy car to drive your child the short distance to school is an incredible waste of resources. Talk to families in the area and see about organizing a carpool system, or even a chaperoned walk to school. Biking is always a good option for longer distances too, and your children will get some exercise in the process. And last, even though buses get less than a mile per gallon of gas, they still have large capacities, making them another environmentally friendly option.
Lastly, don’t set up your new eco-friendly lifestyle to fail. Getting too ambitious can often lead to disaster, so start small and set goals that you can accomplish throughout the year. While we would all like to single-handedly save the planet, it is true that small changes can make a big difference over time.
As the summer months drift lazily on, there are more and more opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Whether entertaining guests in your backyard or simply sitting solo with a good book into the evening is your style, you’re certain to run into a classic summer problem: the weather is still warm and comfortable, but the sun has gone down, forcing you to retreat indoors. Once again, Backyard Xscapes has the answer to your most vexing questions - the use of solar lights can easily and cost-effectively solve your outdoor lighting dilemma.
Solar lights capitalize on one of the Earth’s most reusable resources –the sun. A solar panel within the unit “stores” the energy from the sun’s rays during the day and subsequently emits this energy through LED light bulbs at night. Most solar lights turn off and on automatically with the help of high-tech darkness sensors, making them both easy to use, waste free and an integral part of any intention to "go green."
To make your life even simpler, solar lights don’t require a connection to the house power source and therefore do not require any confusing wiring or outlet planning. Positioning is the only tactical consideration as the bulbs require direct sunlight during the day in order to operate at full capacity at night. They usually consist of two or less parts making them easy to assemble, easy to move and easy to install.
To add to the growing list of benefits to solar lighting, they will not add to your electric bill, produce environmentally harmful emissions or become dangerous in any way. Children and pets cannot be electrocuted or burned because there is no electricity involved and the bulbs are always cool to the touch. The lights can be placed anywhere that is lit by direct sunlight during the day, with no consideration for potential water spills or contact with upholstery or other flammable materials.
Because these lights are so safe, they are also extremely versatile. Solar lights can be used as “place markers” to illuminate potentially dangerous objects like rocks or piping at night, they look great lined up along walkways or down stairs and can even be used to create ambient light for party or dinner areas. They come in enumerable styles, shapes and colors, so you’re sure to find one perfectly suited for your lighting needs.
At Backyard Xscapes, we are always looking for ways to make your life easier, more cost effective and more environmentally friendly. The installation of solar lights is not only a clean and safe alternative to electrical lighting, but will also wind up saving you money in the long run. The environment will thank you too.
It's nearly impossible to not hear about going green, the 3 Rs (reduce reuse recycle) and the infinite ways in which you can help the planet. For your next home decorating or landscaping project, we wanted to give you 5 reasons why we are buzzing about Bamboo and what makes it so great!
1) Bamboo is STRONG
Different species of bamboo are stronger than oak, harder than cedar and have the tensional strength comparable to steel. By purchasing bamboo, you're getting a quality building material at a fraction of the cost, and is also incredibly versatile.
2) Bamboo is GREEN
Being that bamboo is not a woody tree but in fact a weed like grass, it grows at an incredibly fast rate. Unlike traditional trees that can take years or decades to grow, Bamboo can be grown and harvested at a much quicker rate. It's a renewable resource that serves as an alternative material that can be used for an infinite number of possibilities for goods.
3)Bamboo is VERSATILE
From sheets to cutting boards, fencing, tiki bars, furniture and so much more, Bamboo is being used world wide in various types of production. You can even customize your own building project with rolls of fencing or individual poles.
4)Bamboo is AFFORDABLE
Let's face it, economic times have not been at their greatest in the past few years and investing in upgrading your home or landscape can be a hefty investment. Bamboo offers an affordable way to instantly give your home and garden that tropical or zen revival. Replacing a wall or fencing around your yard can also be quite expensive but at times necessary if you're looking to sell your home or are required by home associations; Bamboo fencing can offer a cost effective and easy solution.
5)Bamboo is an ECONOMIC SOURCE
Rural and tropical environments are prime places for Bamboo to grow, but some of these areas are also some of the poorest areas in the world. Bamboo has become a viable economic resource for developing countries, providing jobs and a livelihood for many people. In addition to the economical benefits, the ecological ones are extremely prevalent as well, by reducing industrial and urbanization impacts.
The advantages and possibilities when it comes to bamboo are endless. The support and promotion of eco friendly products helps individuals today have a viable livelihood, while it is also a renewable resource that will also preserve natural resources for future generations.