Tag Archives: tips

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.

Posted in Going Green, Holiday Ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Go Green for Back to School

The summer months are coming to a close and students and parents alike are looking towards the start of a new school year. Typically, back to school time entails lots of shopping and preparation. The “starting on a clean slate” mentality engenders cravings for new school supplies and clothes. However, in today’s day and age, it is becoming increasingly important and fashionable to save resources, monetary and otherwise. Luckily, with the development of new and more creative ways to conserve it’s easier than ever to go green while remaining on a budget. Approximately 56 million children will attend elementary and secondary schools this year and each one will produce approximately 240 pounds of waste, so it’s important to save and reuse where we can. Here are some helpful ideas and products to help you save this school year.

The first important step to leading a greener lifestyle is to stay organized. Make a list of all the things you need (or think you will need) before doing any shopping. This will keep you from going overboard when you see all the shiny new equipment offered at Target or Staples.

Secondly, take stock of what you already have. Most times, at some point another, you’ve overbought pencils, pens, paper, notebooks and other school supplies. Using them now will not only save you money this year, but will also free up the house of a little clutter.

If you must purchase new back to school products, there are plenty of ways to go green. Everything from lunch boxes and pencils, to clothing and backpacks exist in an environmentally-friendly form and include such developments as a solar paneled backpack from Voltaic that can charge your cell phone, laptop or iPod while you walk. Big name brands have also embraced the green trend; just check the labels and avoid excessive packaging.

Posted in Going Green | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.
Posted in Going Green | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tropical Holiday Decorating Ideas

One of the greatest things about this time of year, that can also be stressful is the back to back holidays.  Right after Thanksgiving, in addition to tasty leftovers and an abundance of sales, comes the bittersweet task of planning for Christmas and New Years.  Prepping your home for the holidays doesn’t have to be an expensive, time consuming or brain wrenching project.  Here are some ideas on how to get the most out of your holiday decor and save money at the same time.

Bright Lights

White twinkle lights are a perfect way to dress up your home or garden accents for the holidays and the best part is that they can be re-used all year round.  Many gardens, restaurants and trendy neighborhoods use white lights to dress up trees and create a magical atmosphere.

To create your own backyard “candy cane lane”, line your thatch umbrella kit with lights to not only create a tropical holiday look but also light up a table setting or walkway.  White lights, unlike the colored ones, are versatile to use all year long.

Decorate Creatively

Instead of going the traditional route, merge classic iconic holiday items with a tropical twist.  Add Holly or Poinsettias to Tiki Statues to accent an area, or make a wreath out of Bamboo and Thatch for your front door.

Don’t want to clean up after the holidays are over?  The classic popcorn garland can bring the family together to make a yummy decorative treat.

If you don’t have a fireplace to hang stockings from and don’t want to put holes in the wall, line your wall with bamboo fencing and use hooks to hang decor and various items from it.  This way you can re-use the bamboo for both indoor and outdoor purposes.

Posted in Holiday Ideas | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment