Welcome to our latest blog post where we’re asking the question – How Green is Your Green Space?
It’s odd: When we talk about ‘being green’ or being ‘environmentally friendly,’ most of us would consider the act of gardening itself a form of eco-activism: you’re tending to a green space, bringing plant-life into the world, and creating homes for insects and critters. It could slip the mind that the gardening tools and the supplies you’re using are potentially detrimental to all of the great work you’re doing.
We’ll breakdown some gardening product no-no’s, and highlight some products that will help you on your way to a greener garden – all round!
Let’s start with Peat Moss. It’s often sold by the bag as ‘soil conditioner’ for your yard. It’s also a great foundation for shipping plants! It’s cost effective, it holds both air and water and it’s somewhat resistant to pests. It also has major pitfalls: Peatlands (from where peat moss is sourced) store a third of the world’s soil carbon, and their harvesting and use release carbon dioxide. A major issue with harvesting from peatlands is their potential for combusting (this already happened in 2015 in Indonesia on land cleared for plantations). Peatland fires account for up to 5% of human-caused carbon emissions, according to the United Nations, which last year launched a peatlands conservation initiative. If you want to hear more about this, The Washington Post put together this fantastic article.
Another lurking negative-Nancy in your garden is you hose! Is your garden hose toxic? Maybe! According to the Ecology Center, the average garden hose delivers a mix of toxins that you really could do without in your life! The team at the Ecology Center tested 32 new garden hoses from Amazon, Home Depot and Walmart (to name just a few) and analyzed levels of lead, cadmium, tin, mercury, arsenic, antimony, bromine, chlorine, phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA). Seek out drinking water safe garden hoses online!
Did you know that your gloves could be adding chemicals to your yard? The very thing you wear for protection – from thorns, dirt, debris and bug bites (maybe!) are corrupting your tomatoes. HealthyStuff.org tested 53 garden gloves for lead, chlorine, bromine, cadmium, phthalates, and bisphenol A (BPA). They found that 70%+ of them contained chemical levels of “high concern.” We’re suggesting you consider replacing plastic gloves with heavy-duty cotton or faux-leather.
This is just the start though, here are some more easy to make changes to make your garden a little greener this year!
1.) Upcycled Planters
Up to half a billion plastic plant pots ending up in landfill or incineration plants every year (CountryLiving). In addition to this, while using plastic plant pots can be ok: some plastics can be harmful and may leach toxins. This can be exacerbated by prolonged exposure to the sun.
Beat these numbers and keep single-use plastic out of your green space with the help of Root Pouch.
Based in Oregon, Root Pouch containers are made from recycled plastic water bottles. These water bottles were destined to end up in landfills. Upcycling these bottles not only prevents them from ending up in oceans and the environment, but also eliminates the need to make additional pots or bags that are petroleum based using natural resources.
What makes Root Pouch the best choice for healthier plants?
Root Pouch fabric does not simply hold dirt it provides a healthier root environment.
- The fabric is breathable allowing oxygen to reach the roots.
- The fabric has superior insulation protecting the roots from heat and cold.
- The fabric weave traps the root tips preventing circling and girdling of the roots, encouraging the plant to produce a dense lateral root structure.
- The fabric disperses the suns rays preventing root tip damage from direct sunlight.
Furthermore, the team at Root Pouch believe it is important for their containers to be food safe. So much so, they pursued rigorous testing (not a mandatory practice!) to make sure their containers are free of harmful contaminants that may effect the quality and safety of the plants grown in them. With that, all Root Pouch grow bags have undergone testing by BACL (Global testing and certification lab) in accordance with FDA.
Here at Random Acts of Green we love the Boxer Brown – Raised Bed. If you’re looking for a raised garden bed without all the construction – Look no further! It comes in a variety of sizes with the ability to make shallower gardens by folding down the pouch.
Learn more at the button below!
2.) Skip the chemical-laden fertilizers
While chemical fertilizers may provide semi-instant gratification, the long-term effects are detrimental not only to your garden, but potentially to your family. Chemical fertilizers can result in soil degradation, nitrogen leaching, soil compaction, reduction in soilorganic matter, and loss of soil carbon. In addition to this, some chemical fertilizers may cause water pollution, and air pollution. Panic not – you needn’t rely on chemical-heavy fertilizers no more: We have included a natural fertilizer in out How Green is Your Green Space? blog post as we felt it was an important gardening issue! … Let us introduce you to Topsy Farms.
Topsy Farms is a multigenerational family farm that produces high quality, sustainable wool products, and offers authentic experiences that promote a connection to the land. “We strive to be ethical, responsible stewards of the land and our animals We have been committed to this philosophy and practice for over 40 years.”
Topsy make their own, organic 9-0-2 grade fertilizer from ‘belly wool.’
Did you know that 100% raw sheep wool pellets will boost for your soil? They hold up to 20 times their weight in water while maintaining oxygen space for roots and fixing nitrogen. Make your soil awesome, minimize chemical use in your garden AND reduce watering by 25%!
Learn more about Topsy Farm’s Wool Fertilizer at the button below.
3.) Select your seeds wisely.
According to Agriculture.com almost all seeds nowadays are treated with a pesticide of some sort.
Combat unknowingly adding pesticides and treatments to your yard with the help of West Coast Seeds !
West Coast Seeds hold a Pacific Agricultural Certification Society as a handler of organic seeds: so you know you’re getting a clean product. Clear documentation follows every seed lot that enters their facility and follows it onto the seed packets that you take home to plant.
No seeds are treated with fungicides, pesticides, or insecticides – all of which can be harmful to soil ecosystems and the greater environment. These products are often used in gardens and agricultural lands to reduce the risk of crop failure due to insects, pests, and fungus in the garden.
West Coast Seeds strive to educate gardeners to consider natural and ecologically friendly methods for producing healthy sustainable crops.
In addition to selling a superior product – West Coast Seeds also support, and partner with charities and organizations that share their commitment to sustainable gardening practices and enable their communities to grow healthy, organic food.
Last but not least, West Coast Seed packets are compostable!
4.) Number four in our How Green is Your Green Space? tips and tricks is a rain barrel!
If you’re a keen follower of Random Acts of Green (thank you!), you’ll know that we’re stans for a rain barrel!
They’re a fantastic act of green for a multitude of reasons:
They can help you protect your property by preventing ponding and flooding in your yard. This can help control moisture levels around your house foundation to reduce the risk of flooding.
Plants prefer rain water: This is since tap water is treated with various chemicals for disinfection purposes.
A rain barrel will help your residential stormwater runoff systems – they have their limits and can reach capacity if there is heavy rainfall or if there is a blockage in sewer system – imagine how great it would be if your whole street had a rain barrel (or two!)?!
They can reduce your water bills: You can save nearly 1,000 gallons of water, this can help you save money on your water bill by reusing this water in a strategic way to water plants both inside and outside. You can also use it to wash your car or your pets! Some homeowners have calculated the savings to be about $485 (CAD) a year!
And lastly your helping keep polluted water from our waterways (toads, fish and birds thank you!).
As rain water runs along a roads, side walks etc. it picks up litter, petroleum, chemicals, fertilizers, and other toxic substances (after heavy rainfalls, some runoff can even pick up sewage and medical waste!). Rain barrels and downspout diverters redirect rainwater to be naturally filtered through the earth and away from these surfaces.
5.) Last but not least – our final tip to guide you in your quest for a greener green space: A Worm Studio!
Hear us out here! While not instantly greenifying – compost can make your plants lush and your vegetables bountiful.
While you can obviously buy bagged compost there are a few potential pitfalls with this: It’s most likely been sitting around a store or warehouse in a plastic bag which could leach contaminants. All this sitting around can compromise the quality, too: bagged compost will become more dense which will makes it less helpful for improving structure. And last (but not least) you don’t know what chemicals the compost may have been exposed to.
With the above being said, a garden composter is a great way to close the loop on the food cycle by composting food scraps into fertilizer. However(!) we realize not everyone is in the position to have a garden composter, or maybe you just don’t want one! That’s aok. There is a housebound alternative.
Introducing The Box of Life! The Box of Life team build beautiful indoor worm bins that empower families to compost kitchen scraps year-round without the hassles that are typically associated with composting. The wormies will do all the work for you without having to manually turn the compost, bad smells or having to deal with annoying bugs.
We want to highlight The Box of Life’s Worm Studio, an upward migration worm bin that makes composting super easy by removing the need to separate the worms from the finished castings (the fertilizer). Food is added to the top bin, and the worms migrate upwards leaving behind castings in the lowest tray which can be removed, emptied and added on top of the stack to seamlessly continue the process.
“Our mission at The Box Of Life is to create compost heroes from ordinary citizens by empowering them to participate in this beautiful process inside their homes. Composting adds back valuable organic matter back into our soil and removes our dependence on chemical fertilizers to grow our food. It’s a simple individual action we can take to show our love to Mother Nature.”
Will you embark on a vermicomposting journey this year? Click below for more info!
It doesn’t end there, however!
If you’re hiring contractors to do some landscaping: Ask them what chemicals they use? Do they recycle plant pots? What salt do they use in the winter?
Do you have a pond or fountain or sting lights? If you really want to up your green-game: Consider switching to green energy with BullFrog Power!
We hope our How Green is Your Green Space? blog has given you some tips and pointers for the summer time. Let us know if you have any ideas to add to this list!