Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The Best Advice on Growing Trees that Yield Fruit

Image by hr.icio

Most people that want to develop their own fruits become disheartened when their trees do not make great fruits.  Most people that have modest knowledge will feel like the conditions are not right if they have obtained tips from others in the area.  A lot of these individuals get the idea that the plant is malnourished and add more nutrition, but this frequently hurts the plant more than it helps.  Too many nutrients can injure the tree, or it may help but get the grower into incorrect habits that will hurt later.  Fortunately, it can be rather uncomplicated to get a high number of quality fruits in a season with the right care.
Many growers use the technique of fruit thinning to help their tree develop the best fruits possible.  The fruits that develop the best will end up getting more nutrients that would generally be fed to the lesser developed ones.  Even though the tree will not produce fruits in as massive a volume, the ones it does produce will be larger sized and not have the malnourishment that makes them inedible.  Removing around half or a little less of the fruits typically makes for an optimum number, but this quantity can vary.

What To Pay Attention When Fruit Thinning

When fruit thinning, it is necessary to pay attention to the space between fruits.  Based on the kind of fruit the fruit trees produce, this can be between four to eight inches.  The important thing to pay attention to is that they are not bunched up too much, since the tree will have difficulty supplying enough nutrients to each fruit if this is the case.  Some areas will need more focus than others according to the circumstances, and if it is done properly, these fruits will easily surpass what can be found in a store.

There is no distinct method that works best, since every different tree uses different soil in a different area with different climatic conditions.  Do not be too timid to try different pruning techniques well outside what individuals normally do to get the best apples from the apple trees or any other fruit one may be raising.  Sometimes people find the best results in difficult conditions when over half of the fruits are thinned from the tree in the start.  If one finds the fruits are falling from the tree before ripening, then there are likely several conditions that are not working in the tree’s favor.  Unacceptable conditions can be compensated for by pruning more fruits in the beginning almost every time.

Smith's Nursery is America's #1 tree and plant distributor. We carry fruit trees including pear trees, peach trees, apple trees, nut trees, shade trees, berry plants, roses and much more.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Great Sustainable Energy Sources for Your Home

You don’t just have to rely on Electricity and Gas to provide a steady stream of reliable energy to your home anymore.
With the advent and improved development of sustainable energy sources there are now ways in which you can generate electricity cheaply, and in some cases even sell surplus electricity back to the electricity suppliers.

Solar Panels
People tend to think you can only use solar panels if you live in a sunny climate but this isn’t necessarily true. Though more sun does subsequently produce more energy your solar panels will still absorb light during the day.
The great thing with solar panels is that the number of panels you have is only limited by the space you have and you don’t have to put them on your roof, although this does mean they are less likely to be shadowed by surrounding objects.
Solar panels produce enough energy to run many household items and many governments now have schemes in place which allow you to sell electricity back to the board for a reduced energy bill.

Wood Burners
Wood burners are great for heating a room or providing energy to heat your water or central heating systems.
They are sustainable as long as the wood you are burning is sourced locally, otherwise the carbon offset is negligible if you start buying wood that has been imported and transported to your location.
The cost of burning wood is much the same as gas, but wood is more sustainable as it can be replaced more quickly than gas sources can.

Wind Turbines
Wind turbines are a good source of energy for those living in relatively windy areas; however, they don’t require you to live in a hurricane zone to make best use of them.
Like solar panels the electricity they generate can be sold back to the electricity board for money off of your energy bill.

Rainwater Harvesting
Rainwater harvesting is a relatively new concept which allows you to collect rain water from your guttering and immediate vicinity of your house. It then stores this water and uses it for activities such as laundry and flushing the toilet.
The rainwater can also be used for irrigation systems and feeding animals.
In some cases it has been used for human drinking water but this not advised (unless it’s an emergency) due to water sanitation requirements.

Whether you want to find a system to reduce your energy bills or do your bit for the world, choosing one of the above systems is now cheaper and easier to do than ever has been.
Solar panels are a great way to create clean energy for your home or business.

Green Ways to Heat Your Home

With heating oil prices constantly on the rise over the past several months, many people have started looking for alternative ways to heat their homes, but most end up coming right back to what they started with. Avoid becoming one of the many who gets stuck using home heating oil, and do your part to help out the environment at the same time with these suggestions for heating your home the green way.

Use Your Fireplace

Perhaps one of the most obvious ways to steer clear of heating costs but still heat your home is to use your fireplace or a wood stove more often than you currently do. While some may argue that it's not exactly a "green" heating alternative because of the amount of wood each device requires for burning, it's actually not so bad.
There are logs out there that you can purchase specially that are meant to burn longer than regular wood. There are also synthetic logs on the market that still burn longer than their natural counterparts. And by using a fireplace or wood stove, you're dramatically reducing your energy costs, thereby saving the environment from enormous greenhouse gas emissions.

Invest in a Pellet Stove

Perhaps the most efficient way to heat your home aside from a traditional fireplace, as well as a more green answer than burning wood, is a pellet stove. Pellet stoves are generally inexpensive to install because they don't require any ventilation from a chimney, but they can be tricky to put in. They're newer than fireplaces and easier to keep running to use as a full-time heating source during colder months.
The Environmental Protection Agency names pellet stoves the most environmentally-friendly heating device because they burn cleanly. They actually pollute so little that they don't even require EPA certification for their emissions. They burn little compressed wood pellets that are cheaper to buy than firewood or even electricity.
A pellet stove does require some electricity, though, to keep the motor running to burn the pellets, but it's a tiny fraction of the cost of electric heaters.

EcoSmart Bio-Ethenol Fireplaces

These trendy new fireplaces burn bio-ethenol fuel instead of wood or gas, making them incredibly eco-friendly. Plus, they're so new and modern that they make an awesome aesthetic addition to any home.
EcoSmart fireplaces can either be built into an existing fireplace so it looks like a real fireplace, or they can be free-standing so you can do as you please with them. They're a great alternative way to heat your home because they do produce real, warm flames - just without the harmful emissions. The bio-ethenol that they do burn is a completely renewable and sustainable resource.

Fill in the Cracks

If you feel any drafts coming into your home while it's cold, make a point of filling in the spaces where the cold air comes in. This is easily accomplished by stuffing blankets or (safe) insulation into the cracks.
You can also cover your windows with plastic that keeps the cold air out. It may look a little strange, but all you need are some good, decorative curtains that take attention away from the plastic. And speaking of curtains, buy a set that's thermal to trap the heat inside and help keep the cold out. You'll be able to manage the heat in your home much better if you try just these simple changes.

Cuddle Up

The easiest way to stay warm during the cold months - cuddle up under a nice comfy blanket! Better yet, get a buddy or a significant other to snuggle up next to and share some body heat. Pets also make wonderful natural heaters, so get close!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Top 5 Modern Technologies That Can Cut Household Costs

With credit squeezed, salaries frozen and unemployment rising we are all feeling the economic pinch these days. Once, household technology was solely about buying the latest gadget, be it home cinema or a new smart phone, before the old one had even approached the end of its useful life. But in the last couple of years, with the credit crunch, people have become increasingly aware of what technology has to offer to help them actually save money. Some of this technology has been around for a while, whilst other developments are decidedly cutting-edge.

Here is our top five of modern technologies that can cut household costs:

  • 1. LED and Compact Fluorescent Lamps - energy saving bulbs last far longer than traditional incandescent bulbs and have lower running costs. The initial higher cost of each bulb is recouped within an average first six months of the bulb's life and then one starts to enjoy the savings this technology provides. LED lights are very efficient and are readily available in sizes that can be used in standard household fittings. Some users, however, find that the colour range of light from cheaper LEDs is not pleasing. Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) are a proven technology which, again, offers the consumer savings by providing longer bulb life and cheaper running costs for the initial higher outlay. CFLs reach full brightness more quickly than LEDs and, in many people’s opinion, are more aesthetically pleasing.

  • 2. Double Glazing and Home Insulation - two different technologies, but both address the same issue: once you've paid the energy costs of heating your home, it makes sense to make every effort to stop that heat escaping. Double glazing involves a high initial cost, but will, for the average house, bring energy savings of around £165 pa, year on year. Some 33% of a home's heat is lost through the walls and another 20% through the roof. For a relatively modest outlay, cavity wall insulation and full 270mm loft insulation can give significant savings.

  • 3. Solar Water Heating - once installed, this provides your home with a free source of warm water. The installation will pay for itself within 7 - 15 years and then begin to provide savings.

  • 4. Solar Power by Photovoltaic Cells - solar power is a major investment, taking the average household some 20 - 30 years to recoup. Some of the cost, however, can be offset by linking some of the electricity produced to the national grid.

  • 5. The Internet - or, more specifically, price comparison sites and smart phone apps. This technology offers the consumer the chance to compare prices and secure the best deal on a whole range of goods and services.

  • This article was written in association with Geothermal International, experts in geothermal energy.

    Friday, 17 February 2012

    Moderate air pollution raises stroke risk by a third

    Environmental concerns can often seem to be completely separate from issues surrounding health. But a new study has suggested that there may be some close links in place.
    The Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center studies more than 1,700 patients for more than a decade. The study found that even moderate levels of air pollution can increase the risk of a stroke by more than one third.

    Study conducted in Boston
    Stroke victims in Boston, for example, would found to be a far greater risk of an attack at times when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had issued a yellow warning on air quality levels.
    The senior author of the study noted that the increased stroke risk levels associated with specific particulates “can be observed within hours of exposure.”
    As a result of this study, there are suggestions that any considerations of air pollution levels simply must take into account the health risks that are associated with them.

    The research team compared the stroke symptoms experienced by each patient with levels of particulates, as monitored on an hourly basis by the Harvard School of Public Health.

    As a result of this research, the team have been able to calculate the patients are at the greatest level of risk is they are exposed to pollution around 14 hours prior to a stroke event.

    Vehicle pollution is seen as being particularly worrying, with black carbon and nitrogen dioxide both being closely linked with stroke risk.

    Stroke causes around 53,000 deaths each year in the UK, so it’s clear that this research has some significant implications.

    It’s clear that air pollution warnings may need to be strengthened, in order to ensure that the public are aware of the dangers that they may be facing at certain times.

    Indeed, it’s thought that cutting certain forms of air pollution by around 20% may be enough to save thousands of lives in America each year. It is admitted, however, that further research is required in order to be able to reach more definitive conclusions.

    This research study was backed by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Environmental Protection Agency.

    The implications for the UK
    Although this study was carried out in the United States, it’s clear that it will inform policy makes here in the UK. With the environment very much on the political agenda, these sorts of links to health issues are bound to have an impact in terms of political thinking.
    At present, there seems to be some concern within government that environmental issues are being seen by the public as a way to raise taxes. This link to health risks may start to change that thinking.
    Keith Barrett takes an interest in environmental news and also studies the actions of politicians and other policy makers in this area. He also writes extensively on a range of green issues.

    Thursday, 16 February 2012

    4 Great Reasons to Recycle

    When you finish a can of soda or a bottle of water, where do you throw the remains? Does the container go in the trash can with the rest of your garbage, or in its own separate container for recycling?
    The answer should be the latter, and if it's not, then you should really reconsider your disposal methods. Recycling can never do any harm, and in fact, here are 6 reasons why it's a great idea to separate out those plastic, aluminum and glass containers from the rest of your trash.

    It's Good for the Environment

    Probably the most obvious benefit, recycling is the best thing you can do for the environment. Studies show that nearly 60% of your garbage that you throw away on a daily basis can actually be recycled, otherwise it ends up in landfills where it's left to decompose to nothing. Problem is, it takes forever for recyclable materials to decompose, so all they do in the landfills is take up space where other garbage should be going.
    By keeping your recycling products out of the landfills, you're leaving more space for your actual garbage, keeping extra garbage off streets and sidewalks. It will also take less energy to recycle an old product and use it for another purpose than it would to create a new product for the same purpose, so recycling saves energy.

    It Saves Money

    Think about if you were to use every container you're done with over and over again for different purposes. It makes sense, right? Maybe you finish a jam jar one day, and you need to store some leftover soup the next day. If you saved your jam jar, you can save yourself a trip to the store for some Tupperware by just using the jar you already have.
    If you buy bottled water, think of other things you can use the bottles for before you throw them away. Maybe you drink 1 case of bottled water, then purchase a filter for your faucet or a filter pitcher and continue to refill your empty water bottles for several months following their purchase dates.
    You can also do all kinds of fun arts and crafts with kids using recycled products. Kids can figure out some of the most creative things to do with recycled bottles, so instead of having to go out and buy extra arts and crafts products, use what's already in your recycling bin next time your kids have an itch to craft.

    It Makes Money

    We've all seen the little 5 cent deposit for can return messages on the sides of our bottles and cans, but how many of us actually collect up our containers and take them to a recycling center to redeem our change? A few cans or bottles can really add up to a good payout!
    Start collecting now! Create bins to store all of your recycled containers in, and twice a year take the contents of the bins down to your nearest recycling center to deposit them. You'll be surprised how quickly the change adds up - depending on how many recyclables you collect, you could end up walking away with up to a couple hundred dollars!

    It's Easy

    Recycling is probably one of the easiest things on the planet to do. All you have to do is be conscious of what you are throwing away. Before you toss something in the trash, think to yourself, "Could I actually recycle this?" If the answer is yes, sort it into a recycling pile. Recycling trucks come back just as frequently as garbage trucks, so it's really no hassle for you to collect your recyclables and bring them down to the curb every week just like you would your trash.
    The next time you go to throw an empty container away, think of all of the other things you or someone else could be doing with it, and seriously consider starting a strict recycling routine.

    Looking To The Future: Urban Farming

    The world today
    As you read this the world’s population is booming. Advances in medicine and technology have meant that more of us are living longer and less people are dying. As a result the increased pressure on the planets natural resources is set to create new food and water shortages, a crisis in the provision of food and water could lead to tensions over resources, which is bad for the future prospects of humanity.

    Urban areas are set to become the homes for 61% of the Earth’s population by 2030. Whilst farm land is taking up more and more of the remaining wilderness on the planet, there has to be a point where rural agriculture will not be sustainable. The challenge facing mankind is how to increase food production whilst protecting the environment.

    What are urban farms?
    Enter the concept of Urban Farming. Urban Farming has the potential to revolutionise the way we produce food and the way we view agriculture. Simply put urban farms will essentially be greenhouse skyscrapers growing fresh produce right in the heart of the metropolis. The potential to start a boom in sustainable green architecture as well as promote sustainability to the heart of our cities is an amazing opportunity and it is looking more and more likely that the increase in demand for organic locally sourced produce will make Urban Farming the most viable solution for city planners to solve the problem of future food provision.

    The benefits
    Cities are densely populated areas, space is a valuable commodity and Land prices are sky high. Urban Farming would have to be supported in vast sky scrapers in order to make the scheme financially viable. The city of the future will be filled with vertical farms. A huge benefit to this scheme is the reduction in food miles. The fresh vegetables you buy from the shop could be grown less than a mile away and therefore not need to be transported and thus reduces carbon emissions.
    Having healthy numbers of vegetation in the city would also go a long way in improving air quality in our inner cities. Urban Farming is no longer a concept from science fiction, the city of Vancouver in Canada is piloting a multilevel tower which will grow and provide food for local markets. If successful the tower could potentially be as high as 30 storeys with solar panels and irrigation systems.

    The world will be watching and eagerly anticipating the outcome because if the scheme works then urban farms will be set to change the skylines of all of the world’s cities. The concept of urban farming is not just limited to skyscrapers. Roof terraces, apartment blocks and potentially any flat roof space could eventually be used to benefit the environment.

    The future
    Urban Farming offers the opportunity to benefit the environment whilst providing a secure food source for future generations. It is a great milestone in architecture and agriculture and can potentially help feed the growing population and allow access to fresh, organic locally sourced produce which is the most beneficial to us. A healthy resource, A healthy population, A healthy planet.

    L.A.'s Lost School Gardens

    School gardens have recently made a comeback in an unusual place: urban Los Angeles.

    With summer school canceled at many L.A. campuses, parents, politicians and child volunteers have been learning about growing food from scratch. This isn't a new idea, however. L.A. schools featured a number of school gardens that produced award-winning crops and taught children the skills they'd need to grow food as adults.

    Humble Beginnings

    One of the city's first public schools was built in 1889 at the corner of Wilson and East 7th streets in downtown L.A. Originally just four rooms, this school quickly grew to two stories, crowded with as many as a thousand students. In these kinds of conditions, it may seem impossible to get an education. However, teaching philosophy at the time focused not only on classroom time, but on learning outdoors, too. This allowed students to get out of their overcrowded classrooms and find out more about the world around them.

    At the time, most children went only partially educated. Some received no education at all, going straight to work as soon as they were able. Philanthropists at the time argued that America would never be a global success until all children, not just those belonging to rich families, received a basic education. The children of factory and store workers only began receive basic education in the very late 19th and early 20th centuries.

    Then still an agricultural region full of orchards and fields, late 19th century L.A. allowed teachers to take their students outside and expand their horizons. In 1910, teacher Marie Aloysius Larkey was hired by the Board of Education. Larkey had previous training in agriculture economy and knew how to manage gardens. She single-handedly pioneered the school garden movement, initially buying an empty lot just 100 feet long at the back of the school on 7th street.

    The First School Garden

    This property didn't look like a good place to plant. All around it were polluting factories and railroad yards. The lot itself had been allowed to deteriorate and was full of weeds and little else. Located in a rundown, low-income neighborhood, it was surrounded by the gardenless wood-framed homes of working class families. The streets around the school were devoid of trees or pavement. Many of the students had never grown anything at all. This humble lot, however, turned out to be ideal for teaching the children that they could transform a barren area into a beautiful, productive landscape.

    Larkey got the help of the press, public officials and local women's clubs. They hired workers and signed up volunteers, who installed irrigation and cleared off the trash and debris crowding the lot in just one week. Gardening supplies and seeds came from the Los Angeles Board of Education. The students planted vegetables and flowers, and the gardens eventually grew to take up 150 previously-abandoned lots. Garden study was integrated into a wide range of classes. Produce from the gardens went to soldiers in WWI.


    Garden programs declined after the war, though some survived into the 1940s. Many of the school gardens were eventually replaced by playgrounds and children began to take all their lessons indoors. Now, schools are environmentally-controlled boxes surrounded by asphalt and few trees or plants. The revival of garden programs could change that, teaching children to beautify L.A. once more.

    Wednesday, 15 February 2012

    Choosing the Right Meat: Why Green Meat is Your Best Choice

    So you're a meat-eater. Most of us are (sorry all you vegetarians out there - this article is geared toward us carnivores, but you herbivores may benefit from it a bit, as well...just read). Do you know where your meat is coming from? Do you know how it got from the farm to your plate? Do you even know what's in it?
    These are all questions that most shoppers don't tend to ask when they go to the grocery store for meat, and certainly don't think about as they're eating it. Here's the shocking truth about where the current meat you're eating likely comes from and some advice on how to make a healthy, humane, permanent change.

    Your Typical Meat

    Whether you're buying chicken, beef or pork, you're going to want to know the truth about where most of that grocery store meat comes from. On many farms that are in business for the sole purpose of breeding animals for slaughter, the animals are kept in cages that are jam packed together and very overly crowded. The animals have little to no room to move about and are subjected to a life of confinement. This tactic is known as factory farming.

    The animals in factory farms live their lives under the most miserable conditions until they are finally sent off to slaughter. Farmers use a number of tactics to further confine their factory animals. Debeaking is a process used on birds that removes their beaks without anesthesia, a very painful procedure for a bird to endure. Many birds stop eating from the pain after debeaking and die of starvation.

    Tail docking is a tactic used on pigs that clips their tails short so they don't nip at each others tails. Again, the procedure is performed without anesthesia and is very painful to the pig. Battery cages are used for egg-laying hens and are extremely tight quarters for a number of hens so they can't ever spread their wings. With limited human contact, birds that fall out of cages or get stuck in between stacked cages often die from lack of food and water.

    A female pig that is raised for breeding will often be kept in a gestation crate that is so small that she spends her entire life without ever having the room to stretch out her limbs or even stand up. She gives birth to many litters from the gestation crate before being sent to slaughter.
    Other crates are used for baby cows. Male babies that are born for the purpose of becoming dairy cows, after they are born, are often subjected to a veal crate, where they are fed synthetic formulas and never allowed to be around their mother or drink their mother's milk.

    When the animals on factory farms are finally put out of their misery and slaughtered, it is done so in a careless and painful way. This is just scratching the surface of the inhumane practices used by factory farmers, and the meat that they produce is the most commonly found meat on the market in grocery stores. On top of all of these practices, animals are usually pumped up with hormones to make their meat bigger and thicker and given antibiotics to fight the naturally living diseases that filter through their packed quarters.

    This is the meat that you consume on a daily basis. Not only are these inhumane practices, but they're bad for the environment and they're bad for your health. Vow to make a change now, and switch to eating less, more healthy meat in the future. Here's how.

    Humane Meat

    While the term "humane meat" is considered an oxymoron to some, there really exist practices for slaughter that are more humane in terms of how the animals are treated and how they are slaughtered. And with the public becoming more aware of factory farms (hopefully you are now, too, after reading the first half of this article), humane meat is growing in popularity.
    Here's what to look for if you want to buy humane meat, which is healthier for you and better for the environment:
    • Free Range: The term free range can actually apply to both meat and dairy products, and it means that the animals are allowed to roam freely on the farm instead of being contained. Free range products often get confused with pasture products, but free range means no fences at all, whereas pastures involve the use of fences but still give animals plenty of space to roam around. While free range farming isn't used for cattle quite as much anymore, it's a very popular method for raising poultry.
    • Grass Fed: This term speaks for itself. Instead of being fed synthetic products and hormone-enriched foods, animals are allowed to eat their natural diets of grass. It generally refers to beef products, but it means the cow itself eats a natural diet and therefore there are no additional ingredients in the meat you purchase at the store or butcher. The USDA defines that a grass fed diet must consist of at least 95% natural grass.
    • Certified Organic: This meat falls under a strictly regulated category by the USDA and is arguably the healthiest option. First, a farmer must keep track of the animal's breed, family history, veterinary care and feed and the animal must be raised on a certified organic pasture. The animals must have unrestricted outdoor access, they never receive antibiotics or hormones and they are fed only a diet of certified organic grasses and grains.
    • Certified Humane: The certified humane label insures that any meat, egg or dairy product stamped with the label has come from animals that were treated humanely. It insures that the animals had access to natural food and water, their health was in no way endangered by their environment and they had sufficient room to move around naturally and freely.
    If you're totally against the practices of factory farms, you could even stand your ground by eating less meat in general. Switching to more humane meat is obviously the easiest option, but it wouldn't kill people to skip meat for a day each week.
    These more humane types of meat, though, can often be difficult to find in the grocery store. If you can't find it, ask your grocer. The more people that ask for it, the more it will become available.
    Also consider buying local meat at a farmer's market or local butcher shop. The chances are very high that local farmers treat their animals humanely, and by purchasing meat locally, you're supporting your local market and agriculture and it will give you a chance to speak directly to the butcher or farmer that your meat is coming from. Ask as many questions as you feel you need answered - it's their job to know about their meat, and you'll only benefit from asking.

    Humane Slaughter

    On top of being raised properly, humane meat is also slaughtered differently than it is on a factory farm. While factory farm animals are often slaughtered in painful manners that cause the animal suffering, humane practices are those that care more about the animal welfare and understand the scientific fact that animals can feel fear and pain.
    Humane slaughtering practices require the animal to be deemed unconscious before the actual slaughtering. This is usually done with either one quick gunshot, an electrical shock or with carbon dioxide. The unconsciousness comes on so quickly that the animal never feels it. Once the animal is deemed unconscious (blood is no longer flowing to the brain), it is then sent for slaughter, so it can't feel a thing.
    So the next time you're in the grocery store to buy meat, first reconsider where you're buying from and head to a local butcher or farmer's market or talk to your grocer, or carefully check the labels on the packaging. Look for the terms discussed above to know that your meat was raised humanely, slaughtered humanely, and contains no hormones or antibiotics that you will then be consuming. It's the morally correct choice in meat and your health will benefit in the long run.

    5 Frugal Sustainable Living Ideas for 2012

    More and more people are getting into the idea of living both sustainably and frugally. It’s easy to understand why we would want to live frugally; the economy is in a fragile state and household income is being squeezed more than ever. But sustainable living is also worth shooting for, particularly as it means we can live successfully without harming the environment around us.
    Here are four ways you can do just that in 2012.

    #1: shop locally and eat local produce
    It’s great to be able to eat food that has been grown in other countries and shipped halfway around the world to reach us. But it is also bad for the environment because the food has to cover thousands of miles to get to where you live, this means a big cost in terms of money and environmental factors too, hence the carbon footprint will be a lot bigger than it would be for food that has been grown locally. So shop locally but eat locally grown produce too.

    #2: grow your own vegetables
    You can grow an amazing amount of vegetables in your back yard, they are great for your health and your finances too. Buy some seeds to begin with and freeze vegetables to make them last through the year. Remember to save some seeds from your efforts, drying them out and keeping them to replant for new vegetables the next year as well.

    #3: shop smart
    Most of us don’t need as many possessions as we think we do. Get into the habit of thinking twice before buying anything, and buy green whenever you can. Luckily we have access to a huge range of eco-friendly products today that can all help contribute to a more sustainable way of living, by buying less, but buying more conciously you can saving money whilst also being able to afford a better quality of product when you do splash out.

    #4: be energy conscious
    Being frugal with your energy usage is essential if you want to live within your means. Unplug all appliances when they’re not being used to ensure they aren’t using any energy at all. Switch off lights when you’re not in a room and make sure you are economical with the heating. Turn the thermostat down a degree or two and make a difference this way as well. Each year this practice can save literally hundreds of dollars, pounds or whatever currency you operate in.

    #5: say no to fossil fuels
    Much electricity is still generated from non-sustainable sources, but you can shop around and pick a supplier who uses green energy sources and it often won’t cost any more than you are already paying.
    On top of that though, why not consider generating your own energy? Installing a wood burning stove and looking for sources of waste wood to burn can save you loads, and if you live somewhere sunny, solar panels are another great way to get free heat for your water.

    Being frugal doesn’t have to mean missing out. Living sustainably is easier than you might think too, and combining the two means you can enjoy a better and happier way of life from now into the future. Live smart and enjoy it!

    Greener waste: How to dispose of your old washing machine

    For many consumers, wasting energy is no longer a viable option within our homes. Thanks to the clear and dedicated focus of eco-friendly groups and the Government, reducing your carbon footprint and energy usage is now a common activity.

    For those of us concerned about the impact our behaviour has the environment, this focus is incredibly positive but it doesn’t mean that the battle for environmental preservation is over.
    Despite the fact that energy efficiency ratings are now provided on all electrical goods there are still people who dispose of their old models incorrectly.

    Whilst dumping these into landfill sites might seem more ‘convenient’, this is soon overshadowed by the environmental impacts it could have. Whilst we may not see the effects of our over-zealous waste disposal in our lifetime, it is almost certain that future generations will pay the price for our selfishness.

    A greener disposal method is therefore required and that means that households need to pay more attention to what they are throwing out and how. When any household appliance, whether it is a washing machine or a hoover, breaks down there are a few steps which you should follow to make sure it is disposed of correctly:

    Step one: Diagnose
    Before you do anything with your broken appliance you need to identify what the problem is. There can be many potential causes for breakages, including electrical faults, broken components or even a blown fuse.

    If you are unable to diagnose the fault yourself then get a professional to take a look at it. They can even offer you a quote for how much it costs to repair the damage. If you have invested in protection for your appliances then you could even claim these costs back – meaning you won’t have lost a penny.

    Step two: Repair
    If you can repair washing machine then this should be the course of action you take as it prevents you from generating too much household waste and can also be much cheaper than replacing an entire appliance.

    This is especially the case if the damage to the appliance has been caused by a minor fault or component. Replacing these parts is almost guaranteed to be cheaper than a new washing machine and is the ideal way to save money and protect the environment.

    Step three: Recycle
    If your appliance is deemed as beyond repair then there is only one option left to you: recycle it. Many retailers now offer a collection service for old appliances, meaning that you don’t have to find an appropriate recycling plant yourself.
    Whatever you do, make sure you avoid landfill sites and put your old appliance to good use by having it made into something new.

    Kate Perkins is a regular blogger from Somerset. A keen eco-warrior, Kate is constantly on the look-out for ways to reduce our carbon footprints. Her blog often focuses on the disposal of kitchen appliances and what you should do when to repair washing machine is no longer an option.

    Make your Valentine’s Day More Cheerful with Eco-friendly Gift Ideas

    With the upcoming Valentine's Day, you can celebrate the romantic time of year with full of joys and happiness. And if you want to make this valentine memorable, then pick the eco-friendly valentine's gift for your partner. It proves to be the most inspired and innovative gift that you are probably wondering how to make this day for your special someone. It is the season of love and you can also show your love for your planet and environment as well. You can easily impress your partner with your eco style valentine gift idea.

    To Being Eco Friendly Will Show you Responsible Human Being.
    A green gift will be a unique and original idea that you can give to your loved one.  Presenting Eco-friendly gifts can be fun, practical and shows you as an environmentally conscious and responsible human being.  These gifts can create your Valentine's Day different, special and memorable and shows your care about the nature as well. In fact, you can shop eco-friendly gifts through various online shopping stores or local market as per your liking. This Valentine's Day will become more eco friendly if you choose different kinds of products that are eco friendly, organic or natural.

    Show Your Love By Your Creativity and By Going Green
    There are so many items that one can gift this Valentines Day. You can offer some special greetings cards made from different seeds, stones, herbs, flowers and beads carrying some romantic messages or lines. For the internet lovers or tech-savvy persons, you can send an e-card on their mail account if you want to avoid using paper. If you planning to purchase perfumes or fragrances, then instead of opting for expensive ones you can select products that are specially made from essential oils and extracted from plants, flowers, shrubs, bushes and roots. Regardless of costly gifts, you can buy some Organic eating products as they are healthier and also helps you to maintain the environment as well. Even you consider gifting jewelry to your valentine, but you must ensure that the jeweler is qualified for fair methods and environmental standards.

    Make This Valentine Different!!
    Other gift choices available are bags made from re-cycled paper, handmade artifacts, natural makeup kits or an organically grown flowers bouquet. When you personalize your gifts items with some natural thoughts, it will help you to put your efforts to protect the environment and natural resources. Apart from the above stated eco-friendly valentine gifts, you can plant a tree in the name of your beloved and to honor their love. It will be a perfect green gift which shows your innovation and sincerity towards the environment. If you have some time then you can plan for a romantic candle-light dinner and save energy. For that you can light candles that are made from natural beeswax or vegetables that are recyclable and smoke-free too.

    Jamith Peterson loves to soak into bubbling and warm bath after a tiring day but hates to come out of the warmth to experience the chill outside

    Tuesday, 14 February 2012

    Top 10 Cleanest Countries In The World

    To have a clean country is to have a green country. More and more countries are adopting a clean initiative and in turn a more environmental stance. In this article we look at the top 10 cleanest countries in the world, this was measured through the use of their environment performance index and a poll has been tallied. Some of the contenders are a prerequisite and there are also some surprising appearances. To adopt a cleaner country as a whole will create an environmentally friendly one and one that is sustainable.

    The top 10 cleanest countries in the world  

    10. France

    At number 10 is Frances as one of the cleanest countries. They have environment performance index of 87.8. Their water and forest policies are of high regard and they excel in terms of pollution and the health and ecosystem ozone.

    9. Colombia

    Colombia is ranked 9th in the world’s cleanest counties. They have an environment performance index of 99.9. Columbia’s economy is heavily reliant on coffee and flowers which are farmed in the most sustainable of manners minimizing the amount of pesticides used. Quality of life and the length of it is also high in Columbia.

    8. Latvia

    Latvia’s environment performance index is 88.8. Like France stated above their water and other factors are of high environmental standards.

    7. New Zealand

    New Zealand has some of the cleanest air and water making its way onto the world’s cleanest countries. They also implore high standards of environmental conservation and their environmental performance index is 88.9.

    6. Austria

    Austria, among the cleanest counties in the world scored an environmental performance index of 89.4. They have some of the best water and they heavily regulate the amount of pesticides used.

    5. Costa Rica

    Costa Rica is one of the more environmentally sustainable countries around and want to limit carbon emissions substantially. They have an environmental performance index of 90.5.

    4. Finland  

    At number 4 on the list of the world’s cleanest countries is Finland. In the top 5 we will see many European countries making the list. They scored 99.3 in the environmental performance index and their air is exceptionally clean as well as their water. Their forest policies are some of the best in the world and it is obvious they maintain the highest environmental standards.

    3. Norway

    Norway is in the top three of the most the cleanest countries in the world. They maintain a score of 93.1 in their environmental performance index and this is evident in the environmental policies they have instituted. They are also one of the richest counties in the world so this may be one of the factors benefiting their green approach.

    2. Sweden

    Sweden is the second cleanest country in the world. Sweden boasts an environmental performance index of 93.1 and environmental sustainability is of the highest regard with the government. They have low pollution and harmful gas emissions and they take great care of their forests and greenery.

    1. Switzerland

    Switzerland is the world’s cleanest country with an environmental performance index of a successful 95.5. Their air and water is the cleanest in the world and their environmental regulations some of the most stringent in the world.               


    What are Feed-In-Tariffs (FITs)?

    Whilst most people know that solar panels exist and can be of benefit to them many people feel that they are just too expensive. It is widely recognised that solar panel installation can save you money but if you take into account the cost of installation it can seem like a long time before you see any real return on your investment.

    By taking some time to explore many of the financial benefits available you will see that there are many ways to make solar panels work for you and your household.

    The UK feed-in tariffs are one of the best ways to ease the cost of solar panels and their installation. A lot of the time our household cannot use all of the power that our solar panels generate, which means that previously it may have gone to waste. With the feed-in tariffs that are available, the government or your energy supplier buys this energy from you and re-uses it. This means that you get money for any electricity you can’t use, other people benefit from this renewable energy source and you save money on your own electricity bills.
    You can benefit from these feed-in tariffs in 3 main ways:

    Saving You Money
    It is estimated that the average household saves around £250 a year on the cost of their energy bill. Of course this rate varies depending on individual usage but there can be no denying that it will save you money because you’ll simply be using less electric direct from your supplier

    Generation Tariff
    This tariff means that your supplier will pay you a set rate for each kWh of electricity that you generate. You agree an amount when you sign up to this scheme and it is guaranteed for up to 25 years.

    Export Tariff
    It is estimated that you only use around 50% of the electricity that you generate using your solar panels so your energy supply can buy back the rest of it at a set rate of 3.1p/kWh which helps to counteract the cost of your initial solar panel install.
    The feed-in tariff isn’t just for personal solar panel installations and in fact other renewable energy sources that can qualify include:
    • Wind turbines
    • Anaerobic digesters
    • Micro combined heat and power
    • Hydroelectricity
    If all of this sounds of interest but you aren’t sure where to start then it is time you began to research the options to see what is available to you. There are different resources you can use to do this research and a quick visit to the Solar Contact website should be enough to give you details on everything you need to know. As well as information on the latest feed-in tariff rates and rules they can point you in the direction of local, certified installers who can get you up and running with solar panels as quickly as you would like!