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How to Keep Your Pet Safe in Your Own Yard

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Following our post about starting a garden and utilizing your outdoor space, it’s likely that your dog will be eager to join you for some fresh air. Though I’ll be mostly targeting safety for dogs, it’s important to keep in … Continue reading

Time to Prepare Your Green Garden

Spring is here and as society becomes more aware of how to reap the benefits of nature in conjunction with protecting it from further destruction, there are easy and inexpensive ideas you can incorporate into your spring and summer routine.

First, it’s never too late to start a compost bin.  Odds are, you’ll be encouraged to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables now that local farmers markets will be popping up around town.  To encourage your family to join you in the compost adventure, make sure you have a compost bucket easily accessible in your kitchen.  We have ours by our sink so it’s easy to scrape off your carrot nubs and onion skins into the bin before washing the cutting board.  Don’t waste these nutrients when they can feed your tomatoes later.  You can also add fallen leaves, grass and hair clippings, eggshells, coffee grounds and biodegradable filters but it is best to avoid meat, dairy, ashes, pet droppings and weeds.  Layer the different types of compost fodder with soil and natural fertilizers.

Depending on your housing situation, you may want to find a larger self-containing barrel outside or have an open pit to build up your pile.  Be sure to fence this off if you have pets who may be tempted to rummage and be considerate of your neighbors as there can be an odor while the decomposing of vegetation takes place.  So it is best to keep this away from windows and doors, unless you’re Oscar the Grouch and you love the smell of rotting bananas in the morning.  Don’t worry; it’s not that way all the time.  The ideal size to have compost properly decompose is 3x3x3 feet.  Also avoid setting an open compost pit against wood structures, to avoid premature wood decay.

After planting your vegetables, recycle your newspaper a different way by lining the top of your soil with a couple sheets at the base of the plant stems and spread your mature compost on top.  The newspaper acts as a mulch to help retain moisture in your plant bed and gardeners swear the newspaper draws earthworms, which are excellent for the aeration of your soil.

Here are a couple more ideas to keep things green and fresh this spring:

  • Incorporate a rain barrel into your space if this makes sense for your climate.
  • Salvage items can be repurposed:
    • Old gutters can be transformed into lengthy wall mounted plant holders on a shed or empty wall as seen above. Be sure to drill holes in the bottom for proper drainage.
    • Excess wood from home remodeling can be used for a trellis or stakes to support plant growth.
    • Cut flaps into a two liter soda bottle to create a homemade spinner to keep birds away from your vegetation.
    • Old windows can be fashioned into a miniature greenhouse for herbs.
    • Avoid pressure treated wood when building planter boxes for edible vegetation, as well as railroad ties and rubber tires.  These all cause toxins to leach into your soil and eventually into your produce.
    • Use an old coffee can to store your unused/opened seed packets for proper storage, in a cool and dry location.
    • Search craigslist for free items that can be used to transform your space; excess fencing, building materials and interesting items that can be used for decorative planters.
    • Utilize a timer if you choose to water automatically.  Be smart, water early in the morning, before plants are in direct sunlight.  Use mulch to retain moisture and pay special attention to the shade/sun preference of the vegetation you plant, so you waste less time and money and produce something to be proud of.

As the warm weather and sun draws you outdoors, we’ll be here to share more ideas and tips.  We encourage you to post your experience and green knowledge on your member page to share with the Sprawling Roots community.  Thanks for stopping by!

Written by Shannon Hadley, Sprawling Roots Contributor

Photo courtesy of www.backyardaquaponics.com & http://web.extension.illinois.edu/homecompost/building.html

The Long-Term Health Benefits of Organic Living

Ever hear the phrase “organic living” ? It is very likely to have probably crossed your path and has been ingrained into your mind with a bunch of positive associations. You might be skeptical about foods that look completely the same as what you’re already buying, but will cost you more. What you should know is that there are many good reasons to learn the facts about organic foods and make an educated decision when it comes to the current state and future of your long-term health.

1. Non-toxic. The most basic thing to know about organic foods is that producers work very, very hard to make them 100% non-toxic. Fruits, vegetables, and other produce are grown without using chemical fertilizers, pesticide, herbicides or insecticides. They are very often raised on land that has abandoned the use of these toxic chemicals for at least several years (so that there’s no remaining toxins in the soil). Animals used for meat or other products are not given hormones or antibiotics. They are fed only organic grains. Which means in every step of the process, foods remain in their natural state.

2. Better tasting! Foods that grow naturally just taste better! Not only will you avoid the taste of chemicals which can’t be washed off your foods, but you might not know that most fruits and vegetables are picked early on to avoid spoilage in shipping, and then they’re treated with heat or chemicals to make them ripen faster for human consumption. Not only ruining the taste but also being very harmful to your health.

3. Nutritious. In a lot of cases, organic foods have shown that they retain more vitamins, minerals, and vital fatty acids because, they haven’t gone through the same chemical manipulations that “regular” foods are exposed to.

4. They’re everywhere! Just about any food you can dream of, has an organic version. Whether it’s meats, vegetables, or whole grains, if you want something already made like cereal or pizza, you can find it in organic form. You might have to do a little investigating to locate brands at your local store, or start shopping at specialty stores instead.

5. Breaking the cycle. Chemical treatment of foods is a very bad cycle that affects long- term health of humans and the planet. Starting off with toxins that are used to treat crops, they seep into the soil and groundwater, causing damage that will continue even years after these additives are stopped from being used. They don’t just infect the produce treated, but also any animals that have eaten them and the entire ecosystem where they are. When you put toxins into your body, a little bit might be released as waste, but some of them are stored in your body’s fatty tissues, causing unknown long-term damage. Getting rid of these foods from your body will help you stay healthier. Choosing organic also starts the long process of removing toxins from our planet, launching a chain of events that will lead to a healthier future.

As always, stay green!

-The Team at Sprawling Roots

Fast Growing Eco Network Sprawling Roots; Wants To Take You For a Ride

Fast growing eco network Sprawling Roots is automatically entering all new network members that sign up free between March 1st to July 1st to win an eco-friendly Ezip Trailz Electric Bike.Fast growing eco network Sprawling Roots is automatically entering all new network members that sign up free between March 1st to July 1st to win an eco-friendly Ezip Trailz Electric Bike.

The fastest growing sustainable online community on the planet, Sprawling Roots (http://www.sprawlingroots.com); is automatically entering all new network members that sign up free between March 1st to July 1st to win an eco-friendly Ezip Trailz Electric Bike.

Inside the Sprawling Roots’ online community, you’ll find all the features you’d expect in a social network. Friends you can add, groups you can join and create, and activity streams to follow and see what your friends are up to. You’ll also find some great features you might not have expected, including our chat section where you can debate all the latest thoughts on green living.

Sprawling Roots is a green based community development initiative 501c3 (pending) nonprofit charitable organization that invests in environmentally friendly technologies and individuals that collectively support growing towards a greener tomorrow.

How to enter:

1. Log onto: http://www.sprawlingroots.com

2. Sign up for your free profile

3. And you’re in !

The winner will be announced July 2ndat  6pm PST via Sprawling Roots TV at: http://www.sprawlingroots.com

Visit Sprawling Roots today, sign up for your free green profile and get rolling !

Recycled Fashion

What once seemed like an obscure topic and distant from mainstream culture, recycled and/or upcycled fashion has infused itself into our society in a big way.  The idea is to find new uses for old clothing and items, and repurposing them into whatever your heart desires.  It creates less waste and gives new life to items only your grandma considered saving, while creating your own personal fashion statement.  The basic principles of recycled fashion are based on the typical mindset of earlier Americans who did not partake in such a commercial society as we do today.  Green in concept, recycling fashion can be as simple as wearing your Mom’s old flares to re-fashioning any workable material to conform to your current and fashionable needs.

If it is broken, fix it; a logical concept right?  I have met people in our generation who buy new pants when their button falls off or zipper breaks.  These are usually the same people who throw away old clothing, rather than giving them new life at a donation center, which recycles clothing to the general public and supports local programs to assist various causes in the community.  Resale stores are also a great option to get money for your old Seven jeans or purchasing quality items discarded by someone else.  Think of these places for everyday style as well as costume options for Halloween and theme parties.

Consider what you need and what you have.  There are directions online or in craft books to manipulate most of your unwanted items through simple or complex alterations, to create a custom piece you can wear or display.  Just a handful of options to consider:

Think of what you can do for others and how repurposing can serve a purpose to keep memories alive.  My favorite concept is the t-shirt quilt.  From baby clothes to your old college sports shirts, the main design of the clothing can be cut into “patches” to ensemble a quilt of memories and warmth without clogging up your dresser drawers.

If you aren’t crafty, and don’t intend to use a needled yourself, you can support entrepreneurs who are.  Baabaazuzu is one of my favorite upcycling companies.  The founder created the concept when her husband shrank her sweater and turned the un-useable clothing into stylish pieces that give provide warmth and purpose, in the form of hats, mittens, scarves, purses, pins, etc.  It’s a profitable and logical concept that uses discarded materials, decreasing overhead costs right of the bat, allows creativity and saves unnecessary waste.  Thousands of crafty recyclers also await your desire to go green on Etsy.com, where you can stylize yourself, your home and all your electronic devices in one place.

The nice thing about recycled clothing is that you can create fashion as simple or complex as you fancy.  As an adult, you don’t have to settle for junior high hand-me-down style to rock recycled fashion either.  The quality and array of options is staggering, and is only limited by your imagination.  Make an effort to buy from clothing manufacturers that do utilize recycled materials, if you do need to shop.  And if you don’t plan on altering or re-using the items in your closet, give life to them by utilizing donation companies.

Find more ideas here:

Photo courtesy of www.ecouterre.com

So What is a Carbon Footprint?

A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to support human actions, expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).

A carbon footprint is the measurement of the impact our actions have on the environment. It coincides to the amount of greenhouse gases generated in our day-to-day lives through burning fossil fuels for electricity, transportation and heating, etc…

You can view a free calculator here: Carbon Footprint Calculator.

Ok so now that I know what it is, how can I make an impact?

There are so many ways to reduce your carbon footprint! If you are making eco-friendly changes in your lifestyle,  you are already on your way to reducing your carbon footprint.

Here are 5 easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint:

1. Sort your recyclables & recycle accordingly

2. Turn down the temperature on your hot water heater, even a couple of degrees counts

3. Adjust your heat down a couple of degrees & your A/C up a few of degrees

4. Turn off electronics when you leave a room,  tv’s, computers, etc…

5. Unplug electronics and appliances that aren’t used often, just because you’re not using them doesn’t mean they aren’t using some small amount of electricity

Thanks and as always, stay green!

– The Team at Sprawling Roots

How Is the Air Quality In Your Home?

The E.P.A. estimates that people spend ninety percent of their time indoors, but, unfortunately, that indoor air quality can be 2 to even 5 times more polluted than outdoor air. Indoor air pollution can threaten the health and lives of everyone in your home.

The most effective way to keep the air in your home nice and healthy is to keep things out of your home that cause air pollution. This includes cigarette smoke, excess moisture and chemicals.

The second most important plan of attack is to ventilate to draw dangerous pollutants out of your home. You should run the exhaust fans in your bathroom and kitchen and open windows. Make sure you have a good exhaust system in set up for appliances and stoves.

For more tips that will keep you and your family safe and healthy, please vist:

The American Lung Association and as always, stay healthy and green!

-The Team at Sprawling Roots