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How Homeowners are Turning to Eco-Friendly Lawn Care Solutions

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Ironically enough, many homeowners do more harm than good when caring for their lawns. As a result, they’re actually growing their carbon footprint and negatively impacting their property. But there are also plenty of homeowners who are committed to eco-friendly lawn care solutions. Learn how you can fall into the latter category.

Four Ways to Encourage Eco-Friendly Lawn Care

Most people think about cost and simplicity when it comes to lawn care. They want the cheapest and quickest solution so they can get the job done and focus on “more important” things. But the fact of the matter is that lawn care is important. While cheap and quick are enticing, spend some time thinking about sustainability as well.

  1. Think Before You Crank

If you just crank up the old lawnmower and start cutting your grass without any rhyme or reason, chances are, you aren’t giving your lawn what it needs to thrive and truly be healthy.

“The schedule at which you mow and the height will have an impact on the quality of the turf,” Fischer Environmental notes. “The more leaf that is exposed, the more energy that can be transferred to the root system and this will make for stronger roots. Different factors like the type of grass and specific environmental conditions can help to determine the proper mowing schedule and height, so it is recommended that you consult with your lawn care professional on these matters.”

  1. Practice Smart Watering

Did you know that, in the summer, lawns account for roughly 40 to 60 percent of residential water usage? That’s a massive amount of water being wasted.

There are a number of things you can do to reduce your need for using so much water. We’ll call these “smart watering habits.” Consider a few:

  • Always water early in the morning or in the evening after the sun has gone down. This allows more of the water to seep into your lawn, as opposed to evaporating in the hot air.
  • If you’re using sprinklers, make sure you spend some time tinkering with their orientation. There’s no sense in sending half of your water into the street.
  • Try mowing your lawn higher. The higher the blades are, the less water the root system needs to thrive.
  • Making sure that the sprinklers are properly maintained is also important. For example, winterizing the system before the ground freezes ensures that no damage is done during the colder months.
  • In addition, when the time comes to open the irrigation system again in the spring, it should be done in a manner that will not damage any of the components.
  • Backflow testing and regular sprinkler repair and service are of the utmost importance, as they ensure that the irrigation system as a whole is functioning at its highest level, saving water and money in the process.

Simple little tricks like this can save you gallons of water per week, which adds up over the course of a year.

  1. Put Grass Clippings to Use

While many people believe that letting clippings decompose on your lawn causes a thatch buildup on the surface, this simply isn’t true.

“Instead of bagging up grass clippings and sending them to the landfill, invest in a mulching blade for your mower and leave the clippings on your lawn,” compost expert Beth Huxtra suggests. “As they decompose, they add valuable organic matter to the soil and about 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet each season, which means you have to spend less time and money on fertilizing.”

  1. Try Biopesticides

While you should avoid traditional insecticides (like dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, better known as DDT), which can be harmful to pets and people, there are other healthy solutions. Specifically, you should try biopesticides, which are made from natural occurring elements and actively work to control insect populations (rather than kill them).

How Are You Currently Doing?

If you aren’t currently doing a good job of being an eco-friendly steward of your property, don’t stress out about it. Now’s the perfect time to make a change and start adopting sustainable habits that allow you to cultivate healthier grass, save water, and return nutrients back into the ground.

 

 

Economy

Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?

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Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Zapp2Photo | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/zapp2photo

Technologists, engineers, lawmakers, and the general public have been excitedly debating about the merits of self-driving cars for the past several years, as companies like Waymo and Uber race to get the first fully autonomous vehicles on the market. Largely, the concerns have been about safety and ethics; is a self-driving car really capable of eliminating the human errors responsible for the majority of vehicular accidents? And if so, who’s responsible for programming life-or-death decisions, and who’s held liable in the event of an accident?

But while these questions continue being debated, protecting people on an individual level, it’s worth posing a different question: how will self-driving cars impact the environment?

The Big Picture

The Department of Energy attempted to answer this question in clear terms, using scientific research and existing data sets to project the short-term and long-term environmental impact that self-driving vehicles could have. Its findings? The emergence of self-driving vehicles could essentially go either way; it could reduce energy consumption in transportation by as much as 90 percent, or increase it by more than 200 percent.

That’s a margin of error so wide it might as well be a total guess, but there are too many unknown variables to form a solid conclusion. There are many ways autonomous vehicles could influence our energy consumption and environmental impact, and they could go well or poorly, depending on how they’re adopted.

Driver Reduction?

One of the big selling points of autonomous vehicles is their capacity to reduce the total number of vehicles—and human drivers—on the road. If you’re able to carpool to work in a self-driving vehicle, or rely on autonomous public transportation, you’ll spend far less time, money, and energy on your own car. The convenience and efficiency of autonomous vehicles would therefore reduce the total miles driven, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

There’s a flip side to this argument, however. If autonomous vehicles are far more convenient and less expensive than previous means of travel, it could be an incentive for people to travel more frequently, or drive to more destinations they’d otherwise avoid. In this case, the total miles driven could actually increase with the rise of self-driving cars.

As an added consideration, the increase or decrease in drivers on the road could result in more or fewer vehicle collisions, respectively—especially in the early days of autonomous vehicle adoption, when so many human drivers are still on the road. Car accident injury cases, therefore, would become far more complicated, and the roads could be temporarily less safe.

Deadheading

Deadheading is a term used in trucking and ridesharing to refer to miles driven with an empty load. Assume for a moment that there’s a fleet of self-driving vehicles available to pick people up and carry them to their destinations. It’s a convenient service, but by necessity, these vehicles will spend at least some of their time driving without passengers, whether it’s spent waiting to pick someone up or en route to their location. The increase in miles from deadheading could nullify the potential benefits of people driving fewer total miles, or add to the damage done by their increased mileage.

Make and Model of Car

Much will also depend on the types of cars equipped to be self-driving. For example, Waymo recently launched a wave of self-driving hybrid minivans, capable of getting far better mileage than a gas-only vehicle. If the majority of self-driving cars are electric or hybrids, the environmental impact will be much lower than if they’re converted from existing vehicles. Good emissions ratings are also important here.

On the other hand, the increased demand for autonomous vehicles could put more pressure on factory production, and make older cars obsolete. In that case, the gas mileage savings could be counteracted by the increased environmental impact of factory production.

The Bottom Line

Right now, there are too many unanswered questions to make a confident determination whether self-driving vehicles will help or harm the environment. Will we start driving more, or less? How will they handle dead time? What kind of models are going to be on the road?

Engineers and the general public are in complete control of how this develops in the near future. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see all the safety benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road, but without any of the extra environmental impact to deal with.

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Environment

Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family

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Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/maschatace

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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