Memorial Day, the classic American holiday for outdoor cooking and the mark of the beginning of the Summer, is just around the corner!

Despite being a good time to celebrate the start of summer with friends and family, the holiday is also notorious for the amount of disposable goods that are consumed during Memorial Day.  My own memories of it are full of disposable napkins, paper and styrofoam plates, and plastic cups and utensils.

This year, why not make the commitment to make Memorial Day a little more sustainable?

GREEN DEPOT SOLUTIONS

1. Compostable Hot/Cold Cups: Wold Centric are constructed from paper, but unlike other disposable paper cups, are lined with NatureWorks Ingeo polylactic acid (PLA) which is corn-derived.  Most disposable paper cups on the market are lined with polyethylene, which makes means they cannot be composted.  These, instead, are fully biodegradable and compostable – and a huge step up from the familiar petroleum-based plastic SOLO cups.

2. Cornstarch Compostable Utensils: World Centric cornstarch compostable utensils aren’t only biodegradable, they’re also heat resistant up to 200 degrees fahrenheit.  They’re made from 70% NatureWorks Ingeo PLA specifically derived from U.S.-grown non-GMO corn, and 30% talc.  Do note, though, that they compost best in a commercial composting facility, to check to see if your local waste management department has a composting program.

3. Wasara Compostable Plates and Cups: Wasara produces a full line of single-use dinnerware that are made from 100% tree-free renewable materials: sugar cane fiber (bagasse), bamboo, and reed pulp.  That means that opposed to their plastic and styrofoam counterparts, they are fully biodegradable and compostable.  They come in many different designs: small and large square plates, small and large round plates, and in bowl, tumbler, and wine cup form.

4. Compostable Bagasse Bowl: World Centric also produces a line of biodegradable and compostable bowls, which are constructed from 100% sugarcane fiber, or bagasse.  Not only are they kinder on the environment for their compostability, but typically sugarcane fiber is burnt to dispose of it, contributing to climate change.  These bowls are soak-proof, and have no plastic or wax lining.

You can get lots more ideas for a sustainable Memorial Day by visiting our outdoor entertainment feature page!

For green building materials, like eco insulation, as well as many other green products for a sustainable lifestyle, visit http://www.greendepot.com.

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credit: flickr user kristine paulus

People always seem to come together through agriculture.  This makes a lot of sense – the advent of agriculture many thousands of years ago gave rise to sedentary communities that were once nomadic and centered around hunting and gathering.  People congregate where there is a project – like farming – to be undertaken together, as a group.

Growing up on a farm, our small town was a tiny slice of rural culture where folks would assemble at the weekend farmers’ market, at the feed store or the agricultural co-op, or at the annual county agricultural fair.

That little slice of agricultural community is something that I’ve sorely missed in New York.  But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t congregating, on a smaller scale, all around the city!

A few months ago, I came across a charming, and moving, story in the New York Times: Chicken Vanishes, Heartbreak Ensues.”  You might have already read it, but it’s a really lovely story of how a community can form around agricultural practice – even if the people in that community didn’t know how much they were coming together while they were doing so!

In the neighborhood of Bed-Stuy, a family was keeping a family of chickens in the front yard of their home, facing the sidewalk.  Having chickens in the front yard caught the attention of the community’s residents, and the author talks to the ability of the chickens to bring folks together: “The admirers came in droves… In a neighborhood fraught with the tensions of gentrification, making people talk to one another, and talk about something other than themselves, is not an insignificant accomplishment. What I’m saying is that these chickens are important in ways that chickens aren’t usually important.  They are Bed-Stuy’s very own peace doves.”

The story goes on to talk about how their prize hen, Getrude, was stolen one night and the tremendous uproar this caused in the community – folks talked about where the chicken might have gone, offered help in finding the thief to the owners, left signs and banners of support on the fence of their property.  Eventually the chicken was returned by a very guilty young man who admitted to stealing the chicken in a drunken dare.  And, wonderfully, the return of the chicken caused a great positive reaction throughout the neighborhood.

Chickens, bringing people together like that, and in a place like New York City – who would have thought?

Chicken keeping in the city is a growing hobby.  The Huffington Post noted a growing trend of chicken keeping in NYC as far back as 2009.  Indeed, for the aspiring chicken-keeper, Just Food, our own local urban agriculture advocacy organization, runs the City Chicken Project.

courtesy justfood.org and the city chicken project

Funded entirely by member donations, the City Chicken Project offers several resources for city gardeners and farmers who raise chickens.  They publish the City Chicken Guide, run chicken workshops, and have a Just Food City Chicken Meetup in NYC which brings together chicken hobbyists from disparate backgrounds.

And what’s again remarkable about urban chickens are the organizations it brought together – Just Food, the Cornell Cooperative Extension, Added Value, and Heifer International.

Urban chickens get people excited!  It’s a strange animal to cause such allure, but it certainly adds a lot of vibrancy to city life.  And, considering the impacts that the industrial chicken and egg industries have on the environment, urban chickens certainly help improve our sustainability here in the city, as well.

For green building materials, like eco insulation, as well as many other green products for a sustainable lifestyle, visit http://www.greendepot.com.

 

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22 years ago, a groups of folks in London got together over drinks to discuss the environment and other issues related to sustainability.  That first event was known as Green Drinks, and since then the event has expanded to become a huge, international event occurring in 801 cities worldwide.

We’ve hosted Green Drinks events at both our Ecohaus and Green Depot locations – and had another Green Drinks event at our Seattle location on the 10th of May!  Each worldwide chapter of Green Drinks is organized by a local person, and attracts a good mixture of academics, activists, businesspeople, and government workers.  The Seattle chapter of Greendrinks was founded in 2003 by Gabriel Scheer, and this branch of Green Depot – formerly an Ecohaus location – has hosted the event many times over the years – sometimes with more than 300 people in attendance.  We have found that these have been a great opportunity for people to talk about some of the green products we offer, as well as plans for our company.

Indeed, Green Drinks has proven so popular and so successful that similar events have popped up on the same model – like the (now defunct, but briefly successful!) Climate Drinks NYC, focused on getting professionals who work in the field of climate change to get together and network.

For those people here in New York City looking for Green Drinks events, look no further than http://www.greendrinksnyc.com/, our area’s well-organized, and well-attended chapter.

For green building materials, like eco insulation, as well as many other green products for a sustainable lifestyle, visit http://www.greendepot.com.

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At the Festival of Ideas StreetFest, we demonstrated how to upcycle old plastic bottles into sub-irrigating planters for your home or office — it’s easy, inexpensive and eco-friendly! Made from 1L, 2L or 3L bottles, these planters are a great way to keep your plants happy without accidental over-watering. So many people asked for the instructions at the demo, we decided to post them here, on our blog!
Def: Sub-Irrigated Planter (SIP) is a generic name for a special type of planter used in container gardening.  A SIP is any method of watering plants where the water is introduced from the bottom, allowing the water to soak upwards to the plant through capillary action (wicking)
What we love about self-watering planters, besides being easy to make, is that we don’t have to worry about over-watering our plants or under-watering them.

 

 

 
MATERIALS NEEDED:

  • Used Plastic Bottle (empty)(1L, 2L, or 3L)
  • metal skewer
  • potting soil
  • permanent marker
  • felt (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Remove the label from your bottle.
  2. Poke a series of holes in the neck and top of the bottle by heating a metal skewer over a gas burner. You can also use a wood burning pen or an electric soldering iron.
  3. Draw a straight line with a permanent marker around your bottle. A 14oz. can is a guide for how high up the bottle your line should be and helps keep your line straight. This is not an exact marker but a guide. The objective is to get the top of the neck to touch the inside of the bottom.
  4. Cut off the top of the bottle where the cap is located to keep the roots from clogging the bottle neck.
  5. Cut 1” of plastic from the bottom of the bottle to make up for the inch of bottle you just cut off. Make sure you cut straight!
  6. Get your soil and plant the top part of the bottle with seeds or your plant. The little holes are for the roots to poke out of so that they can soak up the water you will be putting in the base of the bottle. Don’t worry about the plant roots- they definitely know how to find water!
  7. Put the top of your bottle inside the bottom of the bottle and add water to the bottom part
  8. You’re done. Enjoy your beautiful new sub-irrigation planter.
  9. To water simply lift the top planter section from the bottom and add a measured amount of water, never add so much that it rises to the soil surface. The top ½” to ¾” should be dry. Remember… You are the self in self-watering
  10. For larger plastic containers like 5G water bottles, you can experiment by adding wicking material like polyester batting material (felt). Just pour some potting mix into the planter on top of the wick. Use a finger to push the soil down firmly until the wick protrudes at the neck opening. This will hold the soil in the planter and guarantees contact with the water

Many thanks to Groundworks INC for their help with this demonstration!

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flickr user maggie hoffman

Two years ago, I was living in a loft conversion in the New York City neighborhood of Bushwick.  One of the big perks of living here was our roof access – which we turned into a rather extensive rooftop garden.  We had heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, chard, and any number of other vegetables (and perhaps a few fruits).

But one of the major issues we faced was watering our garden, especially on hot, dry days.  Up on a tar-covered urban roof, raised planters (especially wood planters) dried out quickly.  At the time, our only recourse to prevent our plants from dying was to carry gallon jugs of water up four flights of stairs several times a week.

It occurred to us a few weeks later that we should have collected dew and rainwater in barrels and use those for irrigation!

Even though our plans for rooftop rain barrels never panned out, capturing and reusing rainwater for a garden – or a lawn – is a really great idea.  It cuts down on municipal or well water consumption, reducing your impact on the environment, and on your wallet.  And if you’re watering a rooftop garden, it saves you the torture of carrying dozens of gallons of water up the stairs!

GREEN DEPOT SOLUTIONS

RAIN BARRELS ARE ON SALE THROUGH MAY 1! Here are three options for storing rainwater around the home:

The Bosmere Pop-up Rain Barrel holds 50 gallons of rainwater from the rain or a downspout.  A screen keeps out leaves and other debris.  This collapsible rain barrel can be stored flat in a work shed or garage and pulled out when you need it.  A handy on/off spigot at the bottom can be attached to a hose or the collected water can be accessed through the wide-mouth top which opens with a zipper for easy pail-filling.

The Garden Watersaver rainwater diverter makes it easy to redirect the rainwater flowing down your downspout to a rain barrel. It Installs right onto your downspout in minutes and is easy to activate and de-activate as needed by removing the hose & adding the plug in winter.

The Slim-Line Water barrel holds 26 gallons of water and is made from molded UV-stable plastic. It comes with its own stand so that you can fill your watering can easily from the tap provided. The barrel has snap on-off lid for easy filling and keeping insects & debris out. This tool is designed to be unobtrusive and compact for small gardens, patios and decks.

For green building materials, like eco insulation, as well as many other green products for a sustainable lifestyle, visit http://www.greendepot.com.

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from flickr user: the pug fatherTomorrow, April 22nd, is Earth Day!  To celebrate, here is a quick list of ten ideas to get you started:

  1. Start some compost. Composting is one really good way to reduce the amount of waste you produce in your kitchen, and get a really good byproduct out of!  Compost is rich in nutrients that are great for helping your plants grow strong and healthy.  I recently wrote about the “power of compost,” and you can still take advantage of Green Depot’s sale on springtime green products, including compost supplies!
  2. Plant a garden. Growing your own food is a remarkable way to connect to the ecosystem, and at the end of your project you’ll have grown some fresh, healthy food.  Starting a garden can be easy, if you have the right tools.
  3. Take a walk. Getting outside is one of the best ways to express an appreciation for nature.  Here on the East Coast, springtime is in full swing.  Notice how many flowers and new plants are springing up everywhere!
  4. Read a book. Reading about something environmental can open our minds to new ideas and knowledge about the profound beauty and diversity of the non-human, natural world, as well as ideas on how to live more sustainably (and economically).  Green Depot has a few recommendations for you!
  5. Plant a tree. Planting a tree seems to be the traditional way to celebrate earth day – but it’s one that makes a great difference!  Look to your local garden center or arborist to learn more about what you can do.
  6. Talk to a friend. The environmental movement has grown through the media, for sure, but the most profound contribution you can make to the movement is to talk to the people around you – explain how you came to care about the earth, and what you did to begin making a difference!  With any luck, you’ll change a few minds and continue the great momentum we already have.
  7. Ride a bike. Check out this great video from Grist about “the beauty of just getting on your bike.

For green building materials, like eco insulation, as well as many other green products for a sustainable lifestyle, visit http://www.greendepot.com.

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