Eco-Friendly Landscaping: 3 Storm-Water Solutions

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Rain happens. Apart from blessing it for watering our plants — or cursing it for keeping us indoors — many homeowners don’t think much about where all of that water goes once it hits our property. However, as our neighborhoods become increasingly covered with impervious surfaces (roofs, patios, roads and driveways), that needs to change.

Roofs and other impervious surfaces change the way rainwater behaves, increasing the volume of runoff and accelerating the rate at which it flows through our local watersheds. This ultimately leads to erosion of stream banks, degraded wildlife habitats and the introduction of pollutants picked up along the way.

If you want to make your home more Earth-friendly, one of the most significant things you can do is incorporate storm-water management techniques into your landscape. By combining some of these methods, you can help diffuse the runoff from your home in order to minimize its impact on the environment. Or, as eco-conscious cities such as Santa Cruz, Calif., put it: “Slow it. Spread it. Sink it.” …

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Oceans of Plastic Stew

July 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Environment, Front Page, Litter, Ocean, Slideshow

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It’s mighty easy to throw away a plastic bag or plastic cup-lid, and then think nothing of it. Into the wastebasket it goes — out of sight, out of mind — and then into the trash bin, and then into the waste truck, then to the landfill. Plastic indefinitely clogging our terrestrial landfills constitutes its own problem, but an alarming amount of this detritus ends up in our drainage systems. It may take years, but these scraps may eventually find themselves adrift in the ocean — ultimate receiver of the continents’ freshwater output — thousands of miles from their factory origin, let alone the site of their discarding.

In recent years, firsthand observation has borne out the predictions of oceanographers: Much of this marine litter, as it’s called, ultimately turns up contained in and by the loops of rotating currents called gyres that mark each ocean basin. The spin of the earth and the heat-driven coasting of winds help create these prevailing current configurations. Ocean-borne debris is drawn into the encircling “highways” of the gyre, then edged into the calm waters of its center — where they remain….

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Notes from Iowa: It’s Hard to Be a Caped Crusader When You’ve Got a Day Job

July 3, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, Notes from Iowa, Slideshow

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Just how do superheroes manage to hold down day jobs and save the world?

Frankly, I haven’t a clue (other than the obvious one: It’s fiction). If you’re a full-time working person, a full-time parental unit, a full-time student, or a full-time-searching-for-a-job person, you may be experiencing what I am: fatigue.

There’s so much to do to try to right the wrongs of the world. So many environmental causes to defend. So many social justice battles to fight. And there’s just so little time….

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