Travelling for Memorial Day? Go Green!

Memorial Day is just around the corner and for most of us, that means the start of the summer travelling season. We find excuses to get outside, to go to the beach and to escape the trials and tribulations of everyday life. However, just because our schedules have new values, doesn’t mean we have to give up our green ones. Here are three ways you can maintain your green values even when you’re far away.


Pack Light. Not only will being prudent in your packing choices make your life easier when it comes to moving your luggage around, but it will also reduce the weight put on whatever train, plane or automobile you will be travelling by. The lighter the mode of transportation, the less gas it uses. We have already discussed cleaning out the trunk of your car to get better gas mileage; the same concept applies to larger transporters.

Buy Local. Eating at local restaurants and purchasing authentic souvenirs will not only create a unique travel experience but will reduce carbon emissions required to transport food and trinkets from faraway places. Additionally, you won’t be paying transportation and shipping costs but will put the money back into the local economy for higher quality, authentic meals and products. Besides, who wants to eat at McDonalds again when you can have freshly prepared dish from a recipe perfected by the local culture?

Do Your Airline Homework. Many airlines are doing their part to reduce their carbon footprint. Aircraft initiatives like reducing bulk and actively decreasing taxi times make a big difference in reducing gas consumption and emissions. It is important to support those companies that are making ‘green’ changes.

So travel, experience, learn and stay green this summer!

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Technology and Bamboo – Together at Last

In our ever evolving, technologically-dependant society, we see more and more electrical hardware including everything from DVD players and DVRs to the iPhone and MP3 Players. With all this technological advancement though, there are a number of consequences. Hardware can take anywhere from 420-1000 years to biodegrade in a landfill or other waste facility. So with the rise in technology, comes the rise in hardware waste and thus the opportunity for the centuries old bamboo grass to become relevant in the cutting edge world of technology.

Companies large and small, local and international are creating environmentally sound hardware utilizing the strength, durability, flexibility and versatility of bamboo stalks. The bamboo keyboard and mouse boasts a smooth, comforting look and feel as well as a personalized look to any office of computer desk. Manufacturers claim the laser engraved keys absorbs sweat and oil as you type, offering further comfort and a unique texture. What’s more, the bamboo keyboard is completely biodegradable so when it does wear out (after about two year), you don’t have to find a recycling center or worry about it rotting in the ground for hundreds of years.


The keyboard employs the typical 106 key design, including simple shortcuts to email, the internet, mute and calculator. The set retails anywhere between $30 and $80 not including shipping. Simply plug the keyboard and mouse into your computer using their USB cable and transform your workspace in to an environmentally-friendly zone not to mention the envy of the office.


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Happy Holidays!

To all our wonderful readers, customers and followers,
All of us here at Backyard X-Scapes would like to wish you and yours a very happy, healthy and safe Christmas weekend. We hope that your holidays will be filled with the love and joy that this magical season is all about. Whether you are making a big trip or just staying at home, be safe this season.  Remember that no matter what, the most important things about Christmas are telling those that are special to you that you love them and taking time to appreciate all the blessings in your life.
As always, we would like you to remember the environment during your holiday season and if your situation permits, do something nice not just for your family and friends, but for the planet we all share as well.
Happy Holidays and thanks for reading!!


Cheers,
The Backyard X-Scapes Team

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5 “Green” Gift Ideas

Christmas is this weekend and if you’re anything like me, you haven’t bought a thing. At Backyard X-Scapes we are always looking for ways to help our customers “go green” without breaking the bank or pushing too far outside the box. We believe that Christmas gift-giving can be meaningful, generous and eco-friendly. The following are 5 of our favorite ideas for green gift-giving.


iTunes or Amazon.com Gift Cards – While it goes without saying that digital gifts cut down on waste by eliminating packaging and carbon emissions by eliminating production and shipping, they are also in high demand in today’s tech savvy society. We all know that both iTunes and Amazon offer gift cards for downloading music, but they can also be used for video streaming. Instead of buying DVDs as gifts, give your loved ones the gift of waste-free entertainment; they can stream almost any movie as well as entire television series.

Homemade Gift Coupons – Give the special person in your life many gifts in one without costing you a dime.  Coupons for massages, breakfast in bed and babysitting are all great options that only require time and effort on your part. This gift is ultra-personal, won’t drain your checking account and doesn’t produce an ounce of waste, especially if you use recycled paper to craft each coupon.

Sony Ericsson GreenHeart Cell Phone – The techie in your life will love Sony’s new GreenHeart line of cell phones and accessories. These phones create 15% fewer carbon emissions than traditional phones by eliminating the paper manual (it is stored digitally within the phone), utilizing recycled plastic in the phone’s structure, employing an energy efficient display and waterborne paint. The packaging is also eco-conscious.

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Global Climate Change Conference in Progress in Cancun

Mixed emotions and hesitant results are being emitted from the United Nations Climate Change Conference happening now in Cancun, Mexico. While most of the top ministers are yet to arrive, the United States Special Envoy and the Indian Environment Minister are already in the country and ready to begin working on the loose framework of an agreement designed to “hold the increase in global average temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.” The agreement at hand is currently 33 pages of potential goals that still require debate and compromise on concrete accomplishment methodology. Everything from emission reduction milestones to the recalculation of financial responsibilities from developed and developing countries is up for debate.

One early positive accomplishment was made public by Brazil on December 1. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced that Brazil’s deforestation rates were the lowest on record since tracking began in 1988, totaling 2,490 miles of deforested land between August 2009 and July 2010. This landmark announcement for Brazil makes it the only developed country presenting emission reduction information at the Conference. Brazil will also announce its new policies to promote sustainable development in the Amazon region while simultaneously generating food, jobs and income.

On the other hand, some smaller nations on the short end of the climate change stick are set to reveal a list of demands in order to fulfill their carbon reduction goals, including approximately $3 billion dollars needed by Kenya alone. Another contingency at the Cancun Conference is the potential extension of the Kyoto Protocol that requires major industrialized nations to cut their carbon emissions between 2008 and 2012. The United States signed the deal in Japan in 1997 but the Senate has refused to ratify it, for fear of causing an economic downturn for the sake of complying with steep emission reduction requirements. The United States is unlikely to agree to an extension of the agreement, while China is pushing uncompromisingly for one.

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The Benefits of Bamboo Are Not Lost on Dell

These days, just about everything can be made from some derivative of bamboo. At Backyard X-Scapes we try to make our dedication to the environment and our belief in bamboo as a viable renewable resource apparent in everything we do. With the increase in technology we see more and more of our everyday commodities constructed from better, more eco-friendly materials. Recently Dell Incorporated figured out how to integrate bamboo into their shipping and packaging practices.


Dell’s Inspiron models and their Streak tablet are now packaged and shipped in environmentally responsible, custom designed bamboo shells that fit neatly into an outer box made of 25% recycled materials. Currently, the bamboo casings are constructed specifically for these two Dell products but Dell hopes to expand the use of bamboo across its product line as well as initiate an industry-wide trend.


In addition to its eco-friendly construction, bamboo packaging is entirely compostable. That is, the packaging will biodegrade as well as other all-natural materials and produce soil capable of sustaining plant growth. Composting at home is a virtually effortless way to go green while simultaneously creating all-natural gardening fertilizer. Simply pile organic materials on top of each other outside and wait. After about a year, the bottom of the pile will have decomposed into an effective soil additive. Keep adding organic waste to the pile to ensure you always have a supply of supplement.


Whether or not you are a Dell consumer, their packaging methods and environmental conviction are certainly up-and-coming trends to keep your eyes on. And remember, when it comes to protecting our planets, every little bit helps.

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Save Water This Summer

We are all aware of the country’s dire need for clean water. The summer months are especially tough for dry southern areas, including southern California and the entire southwest. A few simple changes can affect your overall water use immensely. This summer, make the most of your water consumption with the following tips on water conservation.

  • Turn off the faucet – Whether you’re brushing your teeth, shaving or cooking, simply turning the water off when you’re not directly using it can save untold gallons.

  • Reuse where you can – Catch the water your shower wastes while you’re waiting for the temperature to warm up. This water can be reused to water houseplants or for pets.
  • Go natural – Collect rain. Water collection units are a great way to catch and store 40-80 gallons of water at a time. Additionally, these units can serve as decorative accents and are easily camouflaged so they will not ruin your outdoor aesthetic.

  • Work with nature, not against it – Water the lawn early in the morning. By getting up a few minutes earlier, you cash in on the help provided by natural dew that accumulates on grass and other plants and can save up to 25 gallons of water a day.
  • Wait – Only wash full loads of laundry or dishes. By just waiting for enough dirty items to accumulate you can save 15 to 50 gallons of water per load.

  • Get in and get out – Shortening showers by only one minute saves up to 5 gallons a day.
  • Sweep - Use a broom to clean off sidewalks and driveways. Hosing them down just wastes water that can be used for the lawn or washing the car. It also adds more sewage to storm drains which ultimately flow into the ocean. Sweeping helps save water and prevents water pollution.
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The Benefits of Solar Lighting

 

As the summer months drift lazily on, there are more and more opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Whether entertaining guests in your backyard or simply sitting solo with a good book into the evening is your style, you’re certain to run into a classic summer problem: the weather is still warm and comfortable, but the sun has gone down, forcing you to retreat indoors. Once again, Backyard Xscapes has the answer to your most vexing questions – the use of solar lights can easily and cost-effectively solve your outdoor lighting dilemma.

Solar lights capitalize on one of the Earth’s most reusable resources –the sun. A solar panel within the unit “stores” the energy from the sun’s rays during the day and subsequently emits this energy through LED light bulbs at night. Most solar lights turn off and on automatically with the help of  high-tech darkness sensors, making them both easy to use, waste free and an integral part of any intention to “go green.”

To make your life even simpler, solar lights don’t require a connection to the house power source and therefore do not require any confusing wiring or outlet planning. Positioning is the only tactical consideration as the bulbs require direct sunlight during the day in order to operate at full capacity at night.  They usually consist of two or less parts making them easy to assemble, easy to move and easy to install.

To add to the growing list of benefits to solar lighting, they will not add to your electric bill, produce environmentally harmful emissions or become dangerous in any way. Children and pets cannot be electrocuted or burned because there is no electricity involved and the bulbs are always cool to the touch. The lights can be placed anywhere that is lit by direct sunlight during the day, with no consideration for potential water spills or contact with upholstery or other flammable materials.

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