“Love Letter to the Earth is Zen Master and Peace Activist Thich Nhat Hanh’s passionate and personal call to develop an intimate relationship with the source of all life. He shares why our personal happiness is intricately tied to the happiness of our planet and offers clear and concrete practices for connecting with ourselves, each other, and the world around us.”
Sure, all the hearts and cupid’s arrows are meant for people, but you can make sure the planet gets some love, too, with these tips for an eco-friendly Valentine’s Day:
1. Think local. Flowers are a sweet way to tell someone you care about them. However, buying cut flowers from the supermarket may not be as environmentally friendly as you think — big flower companies don’t always grow their flowers sustainably and may use a ton of pesticides. A great green option is buying local, organically grown flowers from your neighborhood farmers market or locally sourced flower shop.
The same goes for planning a nice dinner at home. Grab ingredients from local providers and skip the hustle and bustle of a night on the town with a meal of fresh food. If cooking’s not your cup of tea, find sustainable restaurants nearby with the help of Eat Well Guide.
2. Give a card that represents your blossoming love. Long after the day is over, the Love Birds Seed Paper Keepsake Card will serve as a reminder of your devotion. Each card is made of plantable seed paper and includes a removable, 100 percent recycled printed insert so the recipient can keep your special message while enjoying the wildflowers that bloom.
3. Make a handmade gift from the heart. Instead of buying an impersonal box of chocolates or stuffed animal, strive to make all of your gifts yourself this year using materials you already have on hand. Handmade V-Day gifts are also a great activity for kids.
4. Spend the day in nature. A date in the great outdoors is always one you can appreciate — just think about how a hike to a beautiful vista, complete with a romantic picnic, will enchant your athletic sweetie. Spend your evening watching the sunset, sipping on a local fine wine, and gazing at the stars together. Mother Earth would be proud.
5. Take a sustainable getaway. If you want to escape for the weekend, do your homework to find an eco-friendly resort or hotel to stay at. You might even be lucky enough to live near one of these 30 gorgeous eco-hotels.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American writer who lived during the 1800′s. He led a movement called Transcendentalism, a philosophy he wrote about in his published essay titled “Nature”. He wrote that the foundation of his philosophy is based on a deep appreciation of nature and he believed that we can only truly understand reality by studying our environment and spending time outside. Emerson thought that spending time alone in nature was the best way to come to truly understand and appreciate the beauty that the Earth brings.
There are lots of great things about the fall season but cleaning up tons of leaves is not one of them. Don’t let all of those crispy leaves on the ground get you down! Dolphin Blue has pulled together some great tips on having some autumn fun and disposing of leaves the eco-friendly way.
DON’T FORGET TO HAVE FUN FIRST
Who needs a gym membership when you can get great exercise at home just by raking your front yard? If you’ve never jumped into a giant pile of autumn leaves you’re missing out on some green fun and a great photo opportunity with the kids! And if you want to get those creative juices flowing, why not go on a hunt for the prettiest or biggest leaves around and make them into an art project to remember. Check out some of these craft leaf activities for kids!
USE FALLEN LEAVES AS MULCH
Protect your vegetable or flower garden from harsh winter weather. Spread leaves over bare garden soil during winter for an extremely cost effective, eco-friendly mulch! Decaying leaves will deplete garden soil of nitrogen so in the spring make sure to add an organic source of nitrogen like Neptune’s Harvest Organic Hydrolyzed Fish Fertilizer.
MOW OVER LEAVES TO SHRED THEM
To keep bags of leaves out of the landfill gather dry leaves into low piles with a rake then mow over them with your lawnmower. Leaves will decompose on their own, eventually turning into compost. And if you spread them evenly over your yard they’ll disappear in no time!
CHECK OUT COMMUNITY COMPOSTING
If your bags of leaves are piling up, check to see if your neighborhood offers curbside leaf collection or maintains a central area where residents can drop of unwanted leaves. Bag your leaves using compostable bags and drop them off or leave them curbside. Leaves will typically be composted by your community center and then made available to residents as free compost!
WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T BURN YOUR LEAVES!
Even though you may have seen neighbors burning huge piles, burning leaves is a terrible idea. Even smaller piles of burning leaves can release large amounts of toxic fumes that can aggravate respiratory problems such as allergies and asthma attacks. The air pollution caused by burning leaves can also corrode paint and metal siding and release a chemical called dioxin that causes cancer. The American Lung Association found that burning a pound of leaves produces more air pollution than burning a pound of coal! Burning leaves can also spark brush fires, forest fires, or even house fires. So remember to mow them, mulch them, or bag them but never burn your leaves!
Albert Camus was a French writer and philosopher who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. As autumn is now in full-swing, his quote is able to capture the subtle beauty of the season by comparing fall leaves to spring flowers. We can find so much inspiration in the natural cycle of nature. Don’t forget to stop and enjoy the changing colors this month by taking a walk around your neighborhood or in your favorite park!
E. E. Cummings was a famous American poet, painter, and author. His work is filled with beautiful images of nature and he often turned his eyes to the environment for inspiration. He was able to capture both the awkwardness and the harmonious elements of nature and convey its beauty to the reader with his unique style.
Air quality in China is bad, it’s really, really bad. The air quality is so poor that residents rarely see the sun and in some cities, the dense air pollution is mistaken for snow! What is causing all of the pollution? It’s coal-burning smog. And until China can ween itself from fossil fuels and implement more sustainable energy practices, other energy solutions are desperately needed. One designer named Daan Roosegaarde may have an ingenius solution.
Roosegaarde has an idea to create what he is calling an “electronic vacuum cleaner”. Copper Tesla coils buried underground would help to create an electrostatic field that would pull smog particles down from the polluted sky, creating a clear space above where sunlight could shine through.
His smog vacuum would attract pollution particles much like a strand of hair is pulled toward a statically charged balloon. Copper coils would create a field of static electric ions which would magnetize the smog, causing it to fall down to the ground below. Roosegaarde plans to capture all of the smog on the ground and compress it, hopefully making it easier to create awareness of how much smog residents are living with and to rally opposition to the causes of the polluted air.
This week Roosegaarde created a working prototype with the help of the University of Delft. They were able to take a 5×5 meter room full of smog and create a smog-free hole of one cubic meter with their device. Now the challenge is how to apply it on a grander scale. Roosegaarde would like to see it installed in parks and public spaces where everyone can enjoy a smog free sky.
Over the course of the next 12 to 18 months, Roosegaarde will be working to perfect his device and many will be watching, waiting, and hoping for his success. Roosegaarde acknowledges that the smog plaguing China is “a human problem not a technological problem” and he hopes that his smog-cleaning vacuum will help raise awareness off the issue while also taking a small step to make the air quality and quality of life a little better for the residents of China.
Captain Charles Moore was taking part in a yachting competition across the Pacific when he accidentally discovered what some have called the world’s largest “landfill” – an endless floating waste patch of plastic garbage known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Double the size of Texas, the water-bound swath of floating trash is trapped in a slow whirlpool called the Pacific Gyre, outweighing the surface water’s biomass by as much as six-to-one in some areas.
Since his discovery, Captain Moore has become dedicated to analyzing the huge litter patch and the harmful effects it has on ocean life. He founded the Algalita Marine Research Foundation and captains his research vessel, the Alguita, as he documents the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Through his research, he hopes to raise awareness about the plastic litter problem in our oceans and help to find ways to reduce it.
Follow this link to learn more about Captain Charles Moore and how he’s working toward a plastic pollution-free world!
If you’re planning your fall garden this month why not add a compost pile to the mix? Composting is a natural way to dispose of organic waste by breaking down organic material and transforming it into a nutrient rich soil additive, known as compost. Compost is a great, eco-friendly fertilizer for your garden. It loosens heavy clay so plants can thrive and helps sandy soil hold onto nutrients and moisture. Compost also encourages beneficial microorganisms that help your plants grow strong and healthy.
Getting your compost pile started is easy. Dolphin Blue has put together an easy to follow guide to help you take your fall garden to the next level!
Choose a spot. Select a warm, sunny spot for your compost. The composting material you put in will break down more quickly if the compost pile is warm and higher temperatures will help kill off any weeds that try to grow. The microorganisms at work in your compost breaking down organic materials prefer warm temperatures as well.
Build your compost bin. You can create a successful compost pile directly on the ground but many people choose to keep a compost bin because it looks neater, can discourage animals from getting into food scraps, and also helps to regulate moisture and temperature. Your compost pile or bin should be at least 3 x 3 x 3 feet. A pile this size will have enough mass to decompose whether in a bin or on the ground.
Gather your composting material. Start by gathering two shovel-fulls of garden soil to help introduce the correct bacteria to start the compost cycle. Then collect a balanced mixture of “green stuff” and “brown stuff” for your compost pile.
- Green stuff is high in nitrogen and helps to activate the heat process in your compost. These materials include young weeds, barnyard animal manure, grass cuttings, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, teas leaves, and plants.
- Brown stuff is high in carbon and helps to serve as the fiber for your compost. These materials include autumn leaves, dead plants and weeds, sawdust, cardboard, dried flowers/straw/hay, and animal bedding.
Fill your compost pile.
Start by spreading a layer several inches thick of dry brown stuff, like straw or leaves, where you want to build your pile. Add a layer of several inches of green stuff on top. Then add a thin layer of garden soil and another layer of brown stuff. Moisten the layers with water. Continue layering green stuff and brown stuff with a little garden soil mixed in until the pile is 3 feet high. Aim for a mixture of anywhere from 3 parts brown stuff to 1 part green stuff to half and half, depending on what composting materials you have.
(Click here for a list of things you can and cannot compost.)
Turn your compost pile every week or two. The goal of turning your compost is to keep air flowing inside the pile which encourages aerobic bacteria and decomposition. Anaerobic decomposition will smell very sour (like vinegar) and decomposes materials more slowly than aerobic bacteria. Turning the pile helps to encourage the growth of the right kind of bacteria and makes for a nice, sweet-smelling pile that will decompose faster.
- Move your composting material from inside to outside and from top to bottom. Break up any clumps. Add water or wet, green materials if it seems too dry. Add dry, brown materials if your pile seems too wet.
- Take the opportunity while you turn your pile to introduce new composting matter and mix it well with the older matter.
When you first turn your pile, you may see steam rising from it. This is a sign that the pile is heating up as a result of the materials in it decomposing. If you turn the pile every couple of weeks and keep it moist, the center of the pile will turn into black, crumbly, sweet-smelling “black gold”. When you have enough finished compost in your pile to use in your garden, shovel out the fertilizer you have created and start your next compost pile with any material that hadn’t fully decomposed in the previous one.
- For faster break-down, shred leaves or clippings and crush egg shells
- Add some red worms to your compost pile to aid in the decomposition process
- Keep a mini compost bin indoors near your meal preparation area that is easy to fill up, transport daily to the compost bin, and keep clean
- Collect the grass trimmings when you mow your yard to compost, unless you have a mulching mower
- Cover your compost pile with a black garden cloth to help raise the temperature. If you live in town, this keeps the area looking tidier while still allowing the necessary airflow
- Don’t add materials to the compost pile that are marked as “never compost”
- Add more garden soil to help reduce any smells coming from the compost pile
- Keep your compost heap moist, but not soggy or wet. The precious microorganisms can die if they dry up and the composting process will slow down