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Encouraging North Americans to Pollute Less, Consume Fewer Resources, and Use Less Energy since 2007.

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Lawn and Garden

Lawns and gardens use a good portion of the drinking water in North America. Not only does it require energy to make and deliver drinking water, much more importantly it is also a valuable resource. In addition to water, your lawn and garden require attention and work to be good-looking or successful. Depending on how you do this work (or get it done) you pollute more or less.

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Use sprinkler only between the evening and morning If you water during the daytime a lot of the water may evaporate. Droplets of water in the leaves also will act as magnifying lenses and burn the plant.
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Use soaker hoses rather than sprinklers Soaker hoses deliver the water to the bases of the plants without being sprayed into the air first. Sprinklers result in a good portion of the water being blown away or evaporating before it gets to the plant. Especially in windy or hot weather. Also, sprinklers water everything, not just the plant you want to grow.
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Water with watering can Delivering the water to the base of the plant without spraying it through the air is much less wasteful and allows you to control where the water ends up. In addition, using a watering can enables you to use rain or pond water.
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Share equipment Much of the equipment used in a garden can be shared with a friend or neighbor. If you have neighbors (and good relations with them) find out if you can share tools and equipment. You create less pollution (and save money) because fewer products have to be made/ purchased.
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Have plants that fit your region Don’t plant plants in your area that use more water than is typically available naturally. Water is a valuable resource (especially where it is rare) and it cost energy to make drinking water and deliver it to your house.
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Mulch the ground If you mulch with hay, grass clippings, or wood bark you limit water loss through evaporation.
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Mow your grass on highest setting A lawn with longer grass is healthier and has to be mowed less. If you cut on a shorter setting you will notice that the grass needs cutting much earlier and you will probably mow it more often. This is a perception thing.
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Use hand tools, not power tools Power tools are more complicated, made from more parts, more sophisticated materials, and require much more energy to be manufactured. In addition, power tools pollute because they need energy to operate.
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Mow as rarely as possible Lawn-mowing is creating a lot of pollution. Lawn mowers are not made to be efficient in regard to gas consumption and often use 2-stroke engines that burn oil. Let is grow, it is better for the lawn too.
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Compost your organic waste Composting changes you organic waste into compost which is a fine fertilizer. Keeping organic waste out of your garbage results in less garbage, fewer animals being interested in your garbage, and, most importantly, less pollution because less trash has to be transported or sorted. Every pound of trash pollutes.
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Use natural methods Stay away from man-made pesticides and fertilizers. A lot of energy and resouces are needed to make them, transport them, package them. Natural alternatives may not work as well, but they are clean and require less energy to make. Ideally they are made by you since you then know what went into the mix.
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Pick bugs by hand The ultimate pest control. Picking unwanted insects by hand creates no pollution, and has much fewer negative effects on other animals.
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Use natural materials Unlike many human-made materials, most grown (currently or formerly living) materials will decay in a relatively short period of time and do not require as much energy or resources to be made if they are grown organically.
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Spray with natural poisons It does not have to be human-made to be poisonous. There are natural poisons available that work often just as well or better and create less pollution because they require less energy to be made and because they decay naturally over time.
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Use push mower A ride on lawn mower needs more gas than push mower because it not only has to mow the grass, it also has to move you around, maybe even uphill.
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Use electric mower if you use "clean" electricity An electric mower creates only less pollution where it is used. If the electricity is made by wind or sun, you may have a machine that does not pollute while you use it. Battery powered mowers may create problems after the battery is not usable anymore. Batteries are hazardous waste.
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Use a human powered mower If you have a small lawn you do not need a powered mower. If you want to tackle a larger lawn you can save yourself the trip to the gym. Less pollution all around.
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Get rid of the grass If you have no lawn, you do not have to mow it. Even a reduction in lawn size will result in less pollution.
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Avoid string trimming by design String trimmers are often not necessary if you design your garden so that you can do the work with the mower, or do not have to do it at all. Once upon a time string trimmers did not exist and gardens were beautiful even then. Let the grass grow long where you cannot mow. Design edges so that you can mow there. Gas-powered string trimmers burn oil and gas. Lots of pollution.
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Compost leaves Instead of bagging the leaves and having them hauled away by truck, just pile them up and enjoy fine leaf mulch in a few years. Or mix with 20% manure and it will be compost much faster.
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Mulch with natural materials Using black plastic tarp as mulch has benefits. It warms up the soil and keeps weeds under control. However, it cannot be (or generally is not) reused and cannot be recycled (since it is dirty after it was used). It is made from valuable petrochemical products and pollutes while it is manufactured and after you are done using it. Use natural materials such a hay, grass clippings, wood chips, etc.
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Use netting or fabric If you cover a tree or bush with netting or mesh fabric you keep out unwanted bugs (and birds). The material can often be reused and, unlike many man-made insecticides, does not pollute or damage the air, soil, water during its use.
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Consider using human fertilizer Why flush good fertilizer? If you can and you are healthy, go ahead, compost it. Pee outside. Build an outhouse. Save water, get good fertilizer.
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Use animal manure Great fertilizer, no additional energy and resources are required during production. Less pollution.
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Trim hedge by hand Works just as well than a power tool. If you have so many hedges that you need a power tool, consider letting them grow as they please or getting rid of those plants that require fossil energy to look great.
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Use unheated greenhouse Growing vegetables locally is great if the vegetables can be grown in the area you live. If extending the growing season requires heating a green-house you are possibly using more energy than growing the plants where they grow naturally and transport them by truck to your place. Unheated green-houses extend the growing season and do not pollute while they are used.
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Heat green-house with carbon-neutral methods If you heat your green-house because the sun is not shining for days, heat it with wood. Unlike using fossil fules, you at least do not increase the CO2 content in our atmosphere with this method. Even better: geothermal heat!
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Loosen soil by hand Loosening the soil (without turning it over) by hand may be hard labor but it is better for the health of the soil and if you stay away from a power tool you pollute not at all.
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Use birds and bats as pest control Put up some houses for bird or bats that eat a lot of insects every day. No pollution, thousands of insects eaten.
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