Really Make Your Lawn “Green”: Eco-Friendly Tips for a Sustainable Yard

Eco-Friendly Tips for a Sustainable YardThe most commonly irrigated crop—the plant that receives 4 billion gallons of potable water a day, the plant that the average American spends 150 hours a year tending, and the plant that North America alone spends $40,000,000,000 a year on—is not the crop that will feed the world. In fact, it is not a crop that will feed anybody, except maybe some lucky cows.

American’s lawns are often more trouble than they are worth. We spend so much time, effort, money, and resources on keeping our lawns green and kempt, yet lawns do not provide us with food, need poisons and fertilizers to grow well, and decrease the biodiversity of the area. Yet, in most residential neighborhoods, the dream of the perfect lawn doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Lawns are the norm. But, maybe it’s time to rethink this norm, or at least adjust our lawn practices to be more environmentally friendly and less work for you.

Some Alternatives to Lawns
These beautiful, healthy alternatives to a lawn can bring a sense of nature’s true beauty to your home.

  • Vegetable Gardens: For all the time you put into your yard, wouldn’t it be nice if you got something out of it? Replacing part or all of your lawn with a vegetable garden would grow food that could support you, your family, and even your community.
  • Native Plants: Growing a variety of plants that are native to your area instead of the monoculture of grass seeds we have today, will end up being less work for you! Native plants need less water and fertilizers, and they will create ecosystems for the local fauna to form a sturdy, healthy environment.

EPA Suggestions
If you’re not quite ready to uproot your whole lawn, but still want to have a healthier impact on your environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has these handy tips:

Mowing:

  • The ideal height for a lawn is generally 2 ½ to 3 inches. The taller the top of the grass, the longer the roots, making for a stronger, healthier grass that can absorb water much more easily and leaves no exposed dirt in which weeds can grow.
  • Use a push mower instead of the gas- or electric-powered kind that causes pollution.
  • After mowing, leave the grass clippings on the lawn as a fertilizer. Less work for you!

Watering:

  • Your lawn only needs 1 inch of water per week. You can measure this using an empty tuna can!
  • Water before 10:00AM so the grass has time to soak it all up. Perpetually wet grass grows fungi.
  • In July and August, let your lawn go brown. Brown lawns are dormant, not dead!
  • The best rule is to water only when the lawn begins to wilt from dryness—when the color dulls and footprints stay compressed for more than a few seconds.

Fertilizing:

  • If you must fertilize your lawn, remember that fertilizers are NOT water soluble! Fertilize right after it rains (not before) so the fertilizer stays on your lawn instead of running off and draining into our water sources.

An alternative to conventional, petroleum-based fertilizers are all-natural fertilizers like those that Dolphin Blue sells. Check out more ways you can make your life more environmentally friendly at dolphinblue.com!

(This blog was written by Dolphin Blue’s amazing intern, Elisa Rivera.)

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Infographic Friday: Buzzing Off, How Dying Bees Affects You

Honey bees are super pollinators and have an enormous impact on the environment.  Since the mid 2000′s their numbers have been declining rapidly. Scientist are unable to explain their disappearance but one thing is for certain, the absence of bees would leave much of the world’s food supply in question. Without pollinating insect life, fruits, vegetables, and field crops would be obsolete causing extreme hardship for the farm and food industry and leaving their future, and our survival, in question.

See the infographic below to find out more about why honey bees are so important to us and what you can do to save them.

How the disappearance of bees will affect you.

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Infographic Friday: Rise Above Plastics

What Goes In The Ocean Goes In You.

Follow these steps to reduce your ‘plastic footprint’ and help keep plastics out of the marine environment:

  1. Use cloth bags for shopping and metal/glass reusable bottles instead of plastic
  2. Reduce everyday plastics such as sandwich bags by replacing them with a reusable lunch bag, sandwich bag or snack bag
  3. Bring your travel mug with you to the coffee shop
  4. Go digital and buy your music and movies online
  5. Support plastic bag bans, polystyrene foam bans and bottle recycling bills
  6. Volunteer at a beach cleanup (check Surfrider Foundation Chapters to find one near you)
  7. Recycle.  But if you must use plastic, try to choose #1 (PETE) or #2 (HDPE), the most commonly recycled plastics.  Avoid plastic bags and polystyrene foam
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Heroes of Sustainability: Amy Goodman

While the United States typically prides itself on being a country where free speech reigns and journalists are able to chase down stories without government interference, Amy Goodman doesn’t see it that way.

“In the old Soviet Union, people knew that they had to read between the lines of state-sponsored news to get to the truth,” Goodman said at an event in Philadelphia. “But in this country there is the illusion that…”

To continue reading this article, please visit: http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Heroes-of-Sustainability-Amy-Goodman.html

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Green Blowback in Six Steps

Blowback is a concept that usually refers to a negative consequence that occurs because of implementing a particular national policy.

However, blowback can be positive; and we should set our sights on facilitating positive blowback that furthers a green agenda. Below are steps we could take to facilitate blowback that…

To continue reading this article, please visit: http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Green-Blowback-in-Six-Steps.html

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Update: Energy Island, a Solution to Global Warming

Huge amounts of “free,” renewable energy are found in, on, and above the oceans of this world. Inevitably, that energy will be tapped as fossil fuels become scarcer and their use is seen to be incompatible with a sustainable environment for humans and other species of life. Even now, offshore wind farms are…

To continue reading this article, please visit http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Update–Energy-Island-a-Solution-to-Global-Warming.html

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Building it Green: “Holy” Wood

1-heaven's gate countertops

The Kemper Tiny House is continuing to build character, as some of the final touches to its interior are almost complete.

Brad Kittel, the owner of Tiny Texas Houses, found and salvaged some beautiful Long Leaf Pine from a Methodist Church in East Austin dating back to the 1890s. The wood was previously used as a church pew, and was originally 16 feet long without a single knot in the entire plank.

2-heaven's gate countertops close-up 3-sink side cabinets

The wood will be used to build the counter tops inside our home, and Brad has just finished cutting the wood down to size. Brad said he could hear the prayers and feel the passion of heaven’s gates while slicing through the wood. A hole will also need to be placed for our kitchen sick, which is only appropriate, since the wood is already holy.

To view more pictures of our Tiny House, please see our Facebook album

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Building it Green: A Very Unique Bed

1-5-drawer bed frame

Our Tiny House will have a very unique bed, a “Captain’s bed”, which has five drawers to increase storage for linens, bedding, and clothes.  Like the rest of the house, the bed is made of 100+ year-old wood, and…

2-beautiful old wood drawers 3-bed frame nearing completion 2 4-view of bed finished from bathroom

The uniqueness of this bed begins with the way it functions. It will be “dropped” from the ceiling beams by a hand winch and pulley system, lowered by cables to the floor when needed. When not needed, the bed will be raised to the ceiling beams, out of the way during non-sleeping times.

Brad and his crew at Texas Tiny Houses are an amazing bunch. It is a delight watching our Tiny House coming together so beautifully.

To view more pictures of our Tiny House, please see our Facebook album.

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Building it Green: Wood from Deconstructed Homes

1front door and kitchen

It’s simply wonderful, and a total joy to watch our tiny house as it approaches completion.

The wood being used to build the cabinetry, window trim, the ship ladder to the loft space,  countertops, shelves and all other interior and exterior details is longleaf pine, reclaimed  from a tear-down, slated for demolition due to highway expansion through Luling, Texas.  Estimated age of the wood is approximately 100 years.

2Kemper tiny house ancestor 43lofts over kitchen in progress

Most satisfying is knowing that every last bit of wood, windows, doors, fixtures, and flooring comes from very old houses gently deconstructed, rather than being sent to a landfill or waste incinerator.

The beauty, richness, and character of this energy-filled wood will absolutely jump to life once rubbed with Tung Oil, the final step prior to our taking delivery, around January 15.

Brad Kittel and his crew at Tiny Texas Houses (www.tinytexashouses.com) is doing an amazing service for us, and for our planet. 

For more photos of the wainscot bead board inside our Tiny Texas House, please visit our facebook album.

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Building it Green: The Richness of Ancestral Wood

1ceiling view to gable on bathroom-kitchen end

As we anticipate with glee, the receipt of our tiny house, it is exciting to see the progress being made day-by-day.

The richness of the ancestral wood has given new life in the birthing of our new tiny house is becoming so obvious, as the milk paint emphasizes the wood’s energy and character.

The bathroom and kitchen walls are being erected, and both gable ends are now at the point of completion, with
the beautiful wall boards, ceiling boards and wainscot being finished or nearly finished.

To bring forth the final finish of this deeply rich wood, the surface will be lightly sanded, then finished with
Tung Oil.

For more photos of the wainscot bead board inside our Tiny Texas House, please visit our facebook album.  Thanks for following our progress.

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