Bird and Bat houses

birdhouse_37003Pretty much everyone enjoys the sounds of birds chirping on a warm sunny day.  It’s as close to wildlife as most of us get on a regular basis and it feels good to interact with nature as long as we aren’t getting mauled by a bear or something.

If you enjoy seeing and hearing birds in your backyard then why not invite them to stay?  Birdhouses are a great way to get birds to set up a permanent residence in your yard.  You can build simple ones yourself or purchase them from hardware or specialty stores.  They are an investment which will bring enjoyment and serenity to your home and provide your birds with a safe and predator free environment to live in.

There are many different types of birds out there and you can read up on the types in your region.  This can help you determine what size or style of birdhouse will best suit you.  Larger birds require larger houses and different species may require different designs.

Birds are great to have around because they provide a natural environment to enjoy and they can also help to get rid of some types of pests such as bugs and grubs in your lawn and garden.

bathouseBirds, however are not the only winged creatures you should be inviting over for dinner.  Birds are only the dayshift when it comes to eliminating unwanted bugs.

Bats!  That’s right Bats are the night shift which consume one third of their bodyweight each night in bugs such as mosquitoes.  This can have a positive effect for us since we all hate dealing with mosquitoes.  Less bugs means more time spent outdoors and this can be achieved naturally by bats.

Yes we don’t really like bats right?  Why have them around, they’re disgusting and have rabies don’t they?  Bats are not born rabid and attack people for fun or to drink our blood.  They try to avoid you as best as possible because like most wildlife they are more afraid of us than we are of them.  Bats really are an important and misunderstood creature in our ecosystem.  They help control insect populations which makes our lives easier.  So I say why not encourage them to be around?  If you really still can’t get along with them you don’t need too put up a house for them but I think it’s cheaper and more nature friendly then running an electric bug zapper.

Next time you’re out for a walk or just sitting on the porch try to see what birds are frequenting your neighbourhood and maybe you may decide you would like them to stick around.  Bird feeders are another great way to draw them in and then you can set up some houses for them to stay in.  Try to open your mind when it comes to bats too.  They really are worth having around.  Either way make sure Bird or Bat houses are up high and away from where predators can get them.

Hybrid Cars: A Cleaner Choice

2010 Fusion HybridYou may have seen someone on your street or around town driving a Hybrid car and wonder why they bother.  Well simply put, they’re great on fuel, good for the environment and your wallet as well.

For anyone who may not be familiar with Hybrid technology, it is the concept of merging an electric drive system with a standard internal combustion engined car.  It helps to improve fuel economy and range of a vehicle.  The idea: To save you money!

The problem with Hybrids of the past is mainly battery technology.  The battery systems have always been pretty expensive increasing the price of the vehicle.  Batteries are now better then ever and companies are continuously coming out with newer designs to increase performance.  This is why it is a great time to buy a Hybrid.

Hybrids are still not as green as electric cars though but they do have a much greater range and are much more readily available.

I have recently read and article that has claimed a Ford Fusion Hybrid getting 1445 miles on a single tank of fuel.  This seemed a bit out there but they apparently set a world record doing it.  I’m always sceptical of these crazy claims but if it’s true then it proves how Hybrid technology is such a great way to reduce fuel consumption, green house gases and save money doing it.

With all of our advancements in car technology or even technology in general, there is always something better coming out or on the drawing board to make the current model obsolete.  However, if we were to let that stop us from buying then nobody would ever buy anything.  Now I’m no auto company spokesperson by far but if you are considering buying a new car in the future, consider a Hybrid.  They’ll help you save money and reduce our carbon footprint on the earth.

The Falkirk Wheel

falkirk-wheel 1The Falkirk Wheel is a great example of a low impact piece of machinery that is not only functional but really great looking too.

The Falkirk Wheel is a lock which connects the Union and the Forth and Clyde canals near the town of Falkirk Scotland.  These canals were previously joined by a series of eleven locks.  They were filled in back in the 1930′s due to their poor shape.  This new lock system was opened on May 24 2002 by Queen Elizabeth II.

The operation is pretty simple.  When lined up vertically like in the picture boats enter the ends of the caissons which hold them floating in water and then the doors close and are sealed water tight.  The whole apparatus then rotates 180 degrees and stops.  The doors open and then the boats move on and the process continues.falkirk-wheel-2falkirk-wheel-3 It’s a really cool piece of equipment that is a well designed and works excellent.  On top of that it blends into the surroundings well and isn’t just another concrete eye sore.

It uses very little power to operate this lock system. It is said it only uses about the same amount of energy as boiling 8 kettles of water.  The two electric motors are only just over 30hp.  Much of the work is done just by balancing the two caissons and then rotating them which is why so little power is required.  Smart design!

The system is bolted together for a particular reason: Welds could shear over time with all of the rotating force.

It’s a very cool engineering marvel which is absolutely genius.  It’s pretty electrically efficient and pleasing to see in operation.  I wish we had one of these over here in Canada.

Digital Storage Devices Eliminate Paper Usage

transformers-usbI have used paper like we all have to write notes on and keep as documents and so on for as long as I can remember.  We all have.  It’s the way we grew up.  And it’s unlikely we’ll ever truly stop using paper as a document source.  But it’s the digital age now and we can use computers and digital storage devices more easily than ever.

We’ve had floppy disks for years then we moved to CD and DVD and  USB jump drives or memory sticks.  All are storage devices but the easiest used and most versatile is the jump drive.  They can store tons of info on them and transfer it faster than CD’s or DVD’s.  Information can be added or removed with ease with no burning time like on a CD or DVD.  This makes file sorting easy and there is less risk of losing “paperwork”.  Files are only a drag and drop away.

By using digital storage devices like jump drives there is less and less need for paper in our daily lives.  Sure it won’t likely eliminate the use of paper completely (at least not for some time) but we can eliminate clutter and filing cabinets more and more.  We can scan documents and keep them on file in a computer for when we need them and find them quicker than in a filing cabinet.  After you’re done scanning important documents into your computer you can just recycle all of the original paperwork and have more free space and less clutter around home or work.

Not everyone is good with computers but it isn’t that hard to learn the basics.  Computers are a regular household appliance these days like a stove, clock, or television plus they’re cheap enough these days that almost anyone can get one.  So why not use a computer to store all your information on.  It can reduce the amount of paper we use (or need) and you don’t need some bulky storage cabinet around for your bills and things.  It’s a good way to stay green and clean around the house.  Plus you can get cool jump drives in all sorts of designs like this cool Transformer one ine the picture.  Pretty awesome!

The Omega Garden

10001_bSoil gardening is the traditional way of growing plants and trees.  After all it’s how plants have grown naturally since the dawn of time.  However humans are straying from that path because we have found more efficient ways to grow them.  This is where Hydroponics comes in.  It’s the easiest way to grow plants without soil.

Hydroponics is simply growing plants without soil but with water.  We must supply the plant with all the nutrients it requires because there are no nutrients naturally in the growing media (like rockwool) to sustain it.  There are all sorts of hydroponic systems out there like: Ebb and Flow, Bucket systems, enclosed cabinets, hanging gardens, etc..  But there is a new type of system out on the market now which is so revolutionary it defies gravity.

This new product is called The Omega Garden.  The Omega Garden is a machine which can grow up to 300 plants in only 20 square feet of floor space.  The plants are grown in rockwool cubes which are placed in channels.  These channels are added to two side rings which make up a drum shape when completed and this drum of plants revolves around the light source.

There are numerous benefits to growing with this system.  For one, with plants so close to the light source there is little light dispersion meaning the plants get more light.  Because plants rotate around the light, the directional change creates plants which are stockier and more uniform.  The plants don’t need to fight gravity to get all the nutrients to their extremities more plants can be grown in a smaller space.  The system uses less water that other conventional ones.  It also is claimed that the Omega Garden can increase yields 3-5 times and reduce the amount of time it takes for plants to grow.

This Omega Garden has quite a genius design to it and there are different models to choose from.  There is a basic model and a complete model which can each hold up to 300 plants.  Less expensive is the Volksgarden which can hold up to 80 plants.  If you want to grow commercially check out the carousel unit.  It consists of multiple Omega Gardens on a rotating carousel.  There is even a newer machine called the Foodle which grows up to 24 plants via Aeroponics which grows by spraying water onto the roots directly.

If you want to see more of the Omega Garden go to:

http://www.omegagarden.com/

LED’s – The New Way To Grow

ledexample2300Fluorescent, HID and HPS lights have been the artificial light sources for indoor gardening as long as people have been doing it.  There’s been no major changes in light sources for quite some time.  Now comes LED lighting.

LED or (Light Emitting Diode) lighting is not a brand new source of light.  It’s been around for many years.  You’ve seen them in things like computers and TV standby lights for example but as technology has changed so has their implementation.

The problem with conventional lighting High Intensity lighting is that it uses vast amounts of electricity and produces a lot of heat as well which can harm plants and even kill them if managed poorly.  Fluorescent lighting at least managed to eliminate most of that problem but don’t put out as many lumens as High Intensity lighting.  Given that LED’s don’t produce huge amounts of lumens either they do use less power than High Intensity lighting and produce little heat as well.

The very unique thing about LED’s is their ability to give the plants only what they need to grow.  Plants mainly only use two colour spectrums to grow: Blue for vegetative growth and Red for flowering.  Since all other sources of light produce white light (which contains all colours of the spectrum) a large percentage of electricity is wasted on light spectrum’s not being used by the plant.  LED’s can be made colour specific by using individual LED bulbs of Red or Blue thus using power for more of the light your plant needs.

Very little electricity is used to power LED’s.  LED’s only use about 25% electricity of conventional lighting plus they put off very little heat.  What’s good about less heat?  Well, lights can be placed closer to plants allowing for less light dissipation and more light getting to your plants.  The only strange things about LED’s is that when plants touch the bulbs they seem to grow in strange patterns or just erratically but this still doesn’t harm the plants.

Cool new or at least “newer” technology that is raising some interest in the indoor gardening world.  Less heat, less electricity, lower bills… seems to be pretty smart technology for growing plants.  If you can get 3 to 4 times the lighting for the same electricity.  The down side is that they are expensive to buy these lights but if you have the budget and the ambition LED’s might be right for you.

Find A Green Collar Job

greenjobsmediumAs we all know the economy hasn’t been kind to many people.  So many people out of work.  What are they to do?  Try and find another job of course.  But now is the best time to reconsider your game plan.

You may have been thinking of changing careers for a while and put it off time and time again.  Perhaps because you may have felt uncomfortable with the idea of changing careers.  But now change is upon you.  Now is your chance look into a new industry or go back to school to train for a exciting new field of work.

You may want to consider looking into a green job.  Environmentally friendly solutions and products are hot items these days with so many people turning to money saving items such as wind and solar energy and geothermal heating.  These are industries that have a very positive future and getting involved in any of these will have you sittin’ pretty.  Plus they’re very interesting jobs that are rewarding and good for the environment.  But there are many different types of green jobs out there.

If you want to take a look and see what’s out there just take a look around the internet .  I found one site called Work Cabin.  You can find it at :

http://workcabin.ca

But like I said look around there are lots of unique green careers out there.  You just need to look for them.  Who knows you may just find your calling.

Stop Driving And Start Biking

bicycle_two_1886I know it’s not for all of us but biking is a great way to get around.  Now of course we are not going to ride machines like this bad boy in the picture but human powered vehicles are great ways to commute as well as get some exercise.  We all need exercise!

If you think about the benefits of bicycles and their positive effect on the environment then you may just be persuaded to incorporate it into your daily routine.  Sure not all of us can ride a bike to work.  Many of us have long commutes to get to work and riding in the winter isn’t particularily something I’d recommend.  But if you are going to a friends house nearby or just to the store than you may want to try taking a bicycle instead.  Save money on gas and the greenhouse gases it produces.  Think of how much money you spend on fuel driving in a year and how much you could save just by riding a bike 10% of that time or even just 5%.  It can add up quickly.

Saving money of fuel is great but bike riding is also a great way to exercise.  If you don’t like walking, running or going to the gym than maybe a bicycle is right for you.  Bicycles are fairly inexpensive to buy unless you’re looking for something high performance and you don’t have to beat yourself up to ride them.  Hell, if you don’t like pedaling all the time you can rest a bit and coast it.  Bicycling builds strong leg muscles and gets the heart pumping.  They’re a great cardio machine.

Really after all is said and done Bicycles are a smart way to travel.  Good for us.  Good for the environment.  Saves money.  Saves our health.  Nuff said!

Mulching Is Good For Your Lawn

grassHow important is mulching for your lawn?  It’s a question some of us ask ourselves when we cut our grass but not all of us really look at the benefits of mulching.

Mulching is simply a way for you to return the nutrients of the grass clippings back to the lawn.  The difference between mulching and just simply discharging the grass clippings is that larger clippings take longer to break down and usually just lie on top of the grass turning brown and looking unpleasant.  Mulching is a way to repeatedly chop the grass clippings into finer pieces and distribute them over the lawn allowing them to break down quickly.  Plus you don’t need to bag the grass clippings.

Mulching your grass with your lawn mower is one very easy way to keep your lawn healthy with little effort.  How?  Well if you have a mower that is setup to mulch (the discharge chute for the grass can be closed) than you can mulch instead of just discharging large grass clipping onto the lawn.  It is as easy to mow your grass as you usually do but you don’t get rows of clippings or have to carry around a bag on the mower that will fill up and get heavier as you mow.

Apparently on a 1000 square foot lawn the grass clippings can return 1/2-2 pounds of nitrogen back into the lawn.  The more you fertilize, the more nitrogen you will return to your lawn.  Think of it like a natural grass recycling system.  Throwing out your clippings is a pain because you have to bag them and hold them until they can be removed.  And trust me you don’t want old grass clippings sitting around decomposing in a waste bag.  It stinks!  Even composting them can be annoying because you need a larger composter for frequent cuttings and hauling around the grass bag gets tiresome.

Why try to find a way to remove grass clippings when you can mulch them and help your lawn.  Mulching does not add to thatch as it breaks down quickly and it helps return nutrients to your grass.  It’s an easier way all around to cut your lawn and maintain a nutrient rich ecosystem for your grass.

“A Crude Awakening The Oil Crash”

a_crude_awakening_dvdNot too long ago I stumbled across this film in the movie store and thought I’d check it out.  I love to watch documentaries and this one seemed to look pretty interesting.

When I got home I turned on the TV and tossed it in the DVD player and I was hooked.  “A crude awakening” is about the eminent oil crash we will one day have on our hands and how the earth is being effected by our ever growing demand for oil.  It talks about the history of oil and how oil drives the world economy and what we’re willing to do as a “civilized” people to get it.

I gotta tell ya, this is a pretty terrifying movie that just goes to show you how wreck less and carefree we are towards the environment.  Not that I’m all brainwashed or anything but this documentary brings up some scary facts about our struggle to drain the earth of oil.

It even goes on to talk about how wars are fought to keep countries in power because of their addiction to oil.  Oil is the basis of the economy.  Not Gold.  Big named people in our governments have ties to oil companies and it doesn’t even get too much attention when you think about it.  But that’s all for you to see.

Go rent this movie.  It shows Human beings in a whole new light that is equally interesting as it is disturbing.  This documentary will leave you with a few things to think about and hopefully change the way you think about oil and energy consumption.