Friday, April 17, 2009

Spring green cleaning and growing green

Ideal Bite sends daily tips on greener living. Or read the blog here

Some gardening tips:
* Planting onions and garlic to ward off certain pests.
* Using a small container of beer to trap slugs; apparently slugs like beer.
* Placing cucumber peels next to the place where ants are invading your home and garden.
* Using catnip to repel cockroaches.
* Planting marigolds and chrysanthemums; these flowers are natural bug repellents.
* While you are outside enjoying your garden, light a citronella candle; this will ward off mosquitoes.

Go Green Online offers the top 10 things you can do for the planet:
The top 10 things you can do as an individual to make changes for a more sustainable planet.
Home Energy:
Adjust Thermostat and Water Heater Settings: These are the biggest energy users in the home
When you're heating or cooling, make sure your doors and windows are sealed
Check the refrigerator: It's the number one appliance for energy use

Zero Waste
Comprehensively recycle your paper, glass, aluminum and plastics
Compost all food waste - don't let it into the trash
When you shop, go for zero waste packaging (cut plastics, non-recyclables)
Stop drinking bottled water! Carry your own.

Set a target to reduce gasoline consumption (10%? 20%? 30%?) by driving less, combining trips, car pooling and driving and maintaining your car for efficiency

Shorten your showers by 2 to 5 minutes
Stop running the water for cool drinking water, warm water, shaving, brushing teeth

Also making changes room by room, step by step here.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

End of maple syrup?

TreeHugger reports the possible end of Maple Syrup.
Having lived in the northeastern U.S. for some time before moving to Quebec, certainly some of the best things in these parts include colourful fall foliage and tons of locally-harvested maple syrup. Sadly, thanks to increasingly ‘weird’ and warming weather, the long-standing tradition and $65 million business of “maple sugaring” in the northeastern U.S. is in danger of becoming a historical footnote.

It’s because the cycles of what is called ‘cold recharge’ – where weeks of below-freezing temperatures, followed by warmer temperatures – are shortening to the point where sugar maples are not producing the sap which is later boiled down to make maple syrup.

It this recharge cycle which allows the sap in sugar maples’ limbs to turn to ice, creating an area of lower pressure which in turn pulls up more sap into the frozen areas from the roots up. In this state, the trees convert their stored starches into sucrose that will fuel spring budding. As the warming weather melts the sap ice, liquid sap is pushed in all directions. All one has to do is drill a hole for the sap to flow.

But for some places in the Northeast, the sugar-tapping season is either getting shorter and shorter, sometimes lasting only a week, as it did in Quebec last year.

"This is a weather-related industry," says Sam Cutting, owner of Dakin Farm in Vermont and who has been in the sugar business for 40 years. "There are always problems in the maple industry: gypsy moths, floods, droughts."

Read more here

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Like a prayer: sisters go green

Ideal Bite reports on the Community of the Holy Spirit in NYC and their efforts to be a "green community" in the midst of the city:
If you see the devoutly green sisters from the Community of the Holy Spirit down on their knees prayin' to Madonna (not that one), give 'em a holy high five. These Episcopalian nuns have been buying local, organic food; composting; and hosting a Freecycle-type share program for years, but this month, they've got something else under their organic cotton habits - a new eco convent in Harlem. Sister Faith Margaret takes us there….

Can you tell us about your new eco convent?
SFM: Our building is bigger than we need. The possibilities for a smaller one have been in the works for 5 years. It'll have low-VOC paint and carpeting, water heated by solar power, a rainwater collection, and a green roof…it's my favorite part – like having a park on our roof.

How do you get around the city?
SFM: We walk everywhere, mostly. We got rid of our car years ago and we're a lot better off ecologically and financially without one. When we need to travel further, which isn’t very often, we use Zipcar.

Read more here