fertilisers are chemical compounds that provide nutrition to soil and plants. Although plants gain their nutrition from the natural supplements present in the soil, but fertilisers fulfill those needs that are not fulfilled by the soil.

The right types of fertilisers can make your plants green and healthy; whereas a single drop of the wrong fertiliser can ruin your entire garden. Given that your garden’s size is small, the damage will be more drastic.

When fertilising plants, you need to take special care regarding the quantity. If you overdose your plant with fertilisers, they will start decaying. Too little quantity will reduce the plants’ growth. Fertiliser’s impact is dependent on its application as well.

“For example, some fertilisers show positive results when used during plantations while others work best while sowing seeds. Scientific studies have showed that 30% to 50% crops need natural or synthetic fertilisers for their proper growth” according to leading Garden experts ‘Garden Tool Box

Every fertiliser contains the following key components. * Magnesium * Nitrogen * Potassium * Phosphorous * Sulfur * Potassium The other three major nutrients oxygen, carbon and hydrogen are acquired by plants from the soil and water.

Various Fertiliser Types

The fertilising need of every plant is different. Moreover, if your plant is growing in a soil that is rich in nutrients, then you don’t need to fertilise your plants.

Soils that constantly go through harvesting and planting lose their nutrients; that is when fertilisers come in handy. fertilisers are available in solid form as well as liquid form.

Most gardeners prefer using solid fertilisers, which are usually in granular or powdered form. Liquid fertilisers, on the other hand, are more effective and are capable of covering more area in short amount of time.

There are two major categories of fertilisers: organic and inorganic. However, there are a lot of other subcategories which you should know about if you want to build your own miniature garden. Let’s take a look at the various fertiliser types.

Synthetic fertilisers

Synthetic fertilisers are synthesised with the help of various chemical sources.

Generally high chemical constituency is considered harmful for plants, but if your plants are on the dying stage then you should treat them with a dose of synthetic fertilisers so that they can gain instant nutrition from the artificial sources.

Every synthetic fertiliser contains one or more of these three main nutrients: phosphorous, nitrogen and potassium.

The reason why most gardeners rely on synthetic fertilisers is that they provide a consistent supply of nutrients to the soil. Moreover, they are very easy to use and people always choose easiness over other factors. Like all chemicals, synthetic fertilisers also have some negative effects.

These fertilisers are harmful for the microorganisms present in the soil that convert plant and animal feces into organic matter. Moreover, if you are using a nitrogen based fertiliser that has high constituency of phosphorous or nitrogen, it will penetrate in the ground water and increase the toxicity of the soil. Therefore, long term use of synthetic fertilisers is not recommended. If you are using it quite frequently, then you should dilute the fertiliser by mixing water in it. It will minimise its harmful effects.

Organic fertilisers

These types of fertilisers are made up of animal or vegetable materials such as manure, compost etc. If you are not interested in using processed organic fertilisers, then you can sue the ones that naturally occur in the environment such as peat, seaweed, slurry and worm casting.

The raw matter left behind by the animals serve as an excellent food of plants. This is the nature’s way of taking care of its creations.

Organic fertilisers are considered beneficial for the environment as well as the health of plants. The absence of chemicals in these fertilisers make them environment friendly. Moreover, if you accidentally inhale it while fertilising your plants, you will suffer no harm. Same cannot be said about chemical based fertilisers. Multiple times application of organic fertilisers does not harm the growth of the plants but make sure that you are not using it too excessively.

Another benefit of using organic fertilisers is that it can enhance the moisture retaining capability of the soil and save it from going under the draught attack.

Another reason why you should switch to using organic fertilisers is that they are less expensive as compared to artificial fertilisers and are easily available at majority stores.

Phosphorous — Based fertilisers

It is one of those fertilisers that cultivate positive results when applied during planting. Gardeners who use this type of fertiliser recommend using steamed bone meal fertiliser, and that too in powdered form.

Phosphorous based fertilisers are available in organic as well as inorganic forms. In the inorganic category, superphosphates are the best type of fertilisers. You need to be very careful when applying this fertiliser. If you increase the recommended quantity, you will damage your plants.

Phosphorous is an essential requirement for plants; therefore, it does not harm the organic farming methods. However, organic phosphorous based fertilisers are not in chemical form. They are usually made up of manure digested by worms known as vermicompost.

Rock phosphate and bone meal are other suitable options. Bone meal, which is made of bones, is an essential requirement for soils that have pH level below 7.

When applying phosphorous based fertilisers, make sure that your timings are correct. Cost is another important factor that you should consider when purchasing fertilisers.

Organic ones are available at reasonable prices, whereas, inorganic ones can be a little pricey. But the good part about fertilisers is that once you purchase them they can last for a couple of weeks or even months.

Nitrogen — Based fertilisers

Nitrogen based fertilisers are applied to the soil after the plantation process is complete. Once you put this fertiliser in the soil it slowly releases nitrogen in the soil. If you are not willing to use a company manufactured nitrogen based fertiliser,
then you can obtain this from natural sources as well.

Animal and plant byproducts are considered best nitrogen sources, especially when it is in the form of fish manure or meal. Plants need high quantity of nitrogen for proper growth and some of this need is accomplished by the nitrous oxide emitted from the soil, but still you need to make sure that your soil’s nitrogen needs are fulfilled through fertilisers.

In inorganic nitrogen based fertilisers, sodium nitrate is considered one of the best ones. However, it is usually preferred for large scale crop productions.

Since you have a small garden, it is better if you avoid using chemical based fertilisers because their use can be really tricky. You have to stick to the manufacturer’s specifications if you are using inorganic nitrogen based fertilisers. Moreover, animal waste is easier to obtain and it is rich in minerals.

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Environmental sustainability is a key consideration for business operations in the 21st Century. The imposition of emission trading schemes or carbon taxes requires that companies review and streamline their business operations to ensure as little environmental impact. Consumers are also calling for greater environmental sustainability (Ipsos MORI Reputation Centre – Sustainability Issues in the Retail Sector).

Projects that companies can undertake to improve environmental impact outcomes include:

  • eliminating waste in production methods
  • implementation of lean production systems
  • development of new technologies to reduce impact
  • voluntary participation in carbon offsetting schemes

Eliminating Waste in Production Methods

When producing any good, waste may also be produced. This can be eliminated in simple measures through reducing the amount of packaging or providing opportunities for recycling of components not used.

Another way to eliminate waste in the production chain is to undertake a review of current production methods and supply chain solutions and benchmark findings against industry best practice.

Implementation of Lean Production Systems

Lean production systems, such as the Toyota Production System, aim to eliminate waste and improve quality. Efficiency is the key to a lean production system and implementation of a lean production system based on work teams can also improve employee engagement. Based on a concept of work flow and an ordered work environment, lean production systems can improve both quality and output of work.

Lean production systems were originally developed in the assembly line process of the Toyota car manufacturing plant in Japan, however the principles and methods have since been adapted to fit other manufacturing industries and service industries.

Development of New Technologies to Reduce Environmental Impact

Supporting the commercial development of new technologies to reduce environmental impact may be a suitable strategy for companies involved in natural resource intensive production activities, such as brewers, electricity providers and mining companies.

Options for supporting the development of new technologies to reduce environmental impact include

  • participating in venture capital partnerships where the company assists an innovator to bring a new technology to commercial development;
  • creating a working group of employees to research and develop environmentally sustainable practices and technologies; and
  • partnering with a community organisation working in the environmental sustainability field in order to support the work of the community organisation.

Participating in a community business partnership may bring an advantage in corporate social responsibility ratings to a company.

Voluntary Participation in Carbon Offsetting Schemes

Although many governments have imposed emissions trading schemes on companies in heavy industries, any company may voluntarily participate in carbon offsetting.

Carbon offsetting provides an opportunity for a company to reduce its environmental impact by purchasing carbon offsets from a provider. The money exchanged is then used by the carbon offset provider to undertake environmentally sustainable activities such as re-forestation, research and development of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency improvement projects.

There are many benefits for business in improving environmental sustainability practices including an improved corporate social responsibility rating and increased trust among consumers. There is also the opportunity to improve market share through advertising campaigns targeted at the green consumer.

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Our LEP’s vision is

“To create and foster in Gloucestershire, a sustainable, low carbon economic environment in which businesses flourish, communities thrive, and individuals have the opportunity to reach their potential.”

These are laudable words in the ‘Integrated Economic Strategy’ but what does ‘a sustainable, low carbon economic environment’ mean and what will it look like for our £11 bn per annum local economy?

Slowness to adapt and lack of innovation drove retailers HMV, Jessops and Curry’s under. Yet this is also happening throughout all products/services and their supply chains. Suppliers in the built environment have to meet onerous environmental requirements which require massive investment in new skills and technologies often at lower margins. Food manufacturers are required to reduce impacts on energy, packaging, waste and poor nutrition…. in fact there are endless examples in every sector of how we are moving beyond incremental improvements in order to keep prices down and increasingly seeing innovation driving market advantage.

It is this holistic view which is known as ‘sustainable economic development’. The word sustainable applies to longevity – not just environmental considerations, although they are increasingly the key driver as energy prices increase and resource scarcity becomes a concern. For example, Avis recently acquired Zipcar for $500m as car ownership is being disrupted by the city car clubs where for £6 per hour you have the convenience at a fraction of the annual cost of ownership and worldwide accessibility under one membership. This is what’s known as a disruptive model. Providing customer value and creating a market opportunity which forces obsolescence in the traditional model. Great for one business; fatal for the other.

www.zipcar.com

Indeed, ‘ownership’ is one of the biggest issues in our consumer-based economies where intensive resource use and massive waste occur because we expect to ‘own’ things we seldom use. Transforming to these ‘closed loop’ models and their challenges takes strong strategic leadership but the rewards could be great for those who anticipate; and the writing may already be on the wall for those who dismiss ‘the shift’ and arrogantly assume it will fail. Remember HMV wrongly assumed music lovers will always want to browse in a store and own a physical CD – and they did, until they enjoyed the convenience and cost-advantage of downloading. All businesses should be thinking about the indirect, as well as direct risks to their businesses, collaborating with their critical supply chains and planning for proactive responses to create a truly ‘sustainable economy’ for Gloucestershire.

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Green living has become the wave of the future, and as a result a new market has developed. Greener options are available in just about every sector; cars, appliances, and even gifts. Here is a list of the top green gifts to give.

Re-usable Shopping Bags

Plastic bags are a major environmental offender, as they can take hundreds of years to degrade. They often find their way to the ocean where they have been known to kill birds and marine life who get entangled in them or they mistake the pieces of plastic as food. Give the green gift of reusable bags, many people have integrated these reusable bags into their grocery shopping routine. EnviroSax has created a variety of bags in many colours and sizes. These gift worthy bags are not only fashionable but are also made of sustainable fabrics such as

Green I-Phone Apps

For the I-Phone user there’s a slew of green apps to gift, to help anyone live a greener life.

  • GetGreen – sends a green living tip every day.
  • The Find Green App- locates Eco-friendly businesses such as spas, and restaurants. Some users have touted it as the green yelp.
  • GoodGuide – Want to know which product is the greenest? Try this app.
  • Carticipate – Looking for a carpool? This social app helps link people who are going to the same place.

Eco-Friendly, Re-usable Water Bottles

Re-usable products are one of the easiest ways to reduce ones carbon foot print. TreeHugger.com reports that the United States consumes 1,500 plastic water bottles every second. Plastic is not only bad for the environment but also for the consumer as it leaches toxins into the water that have been linked to health problems such as reproductive issues and cancer. For a greener choice, give a reusable water bottle like the Swiss-made Sigg water bottles, they are Eco-friendly BPA-free.

Kindle- The Electronic Book

There is no doubt that the printing and distribution of books leaves a giant carbon footprint. Rather than gifting a book try a greener option; the Kindle. It’s an electronic device that allows you to download and read books often at a discounted price. Recently released books typically go for £9.99 each and older books for closer to £5.00.

Sustainable Household Goods

Looking for a great organic gift? Try handmade kitchen towels and napkins from Branch. The towels are handmade in Transylvania, Romania by local women. According to BranchHome.com, the collective that manufactures these napkins works to preserve traditional Romanian handicrafts while providing jobs for women that allow them to stay home and raise their children. The towels are made from organic hemp and cotton grown on family farms, then harvested, processed and spun by hand.

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Celebrate an eco friendly and green Christmas. Plan ahead and remember to incorporate reducing, reusing, and recycling in daily habits and lifestyle both during the holidays and year round.

Green Packaging

Creating one’s own gift wrap is a good way to ensure that gift packaging is earth friendly. Thankfully, many shipping companies no longer use Styrofoam peanuts. When they do, save and reuse them instead of throwing them away.

Christmas Trees

Taking down the Christmas tree is a huge job. Christmas celebrants with a fireplace or wood burning stove have an easy way to dispose of the Christmas tree. Those who don’t have a safe way to burn wood may either offer the tree to those who do, or find out if the local recycling centre takes wood or old trees.

Recycle Bins

Set up recycling bins before any holiday or Christmas party, big or small. The bins need not be the ones given to households by the city; many types of containers will do:

  • Generic large plastic bins
  • Clean garbage bins or wastepaper bins
  • Paper shopping bags
  • Big cardboard boxes.

Have one bin for each type of packaging:

  • Clear glass
  • Coloured glass
  • Aluminum cans
  • Plastic by number
  • Paper
  • Cardbaord.

Take paper and markers or even crayons and create colourful signs, one for each bin. Label what goes in the bin.

Depending upon how much sorting people are willing to do after the party, less bins may be appropriate.

Reuse and Recycle Cardboard

People send each other gifts in the mail, and these gifts are usually in sturdy, corrugated cardboard boxes. Do not throw boxes and packing material away.

  • Break down mailing boxes for recycling.
  • Break down and keep the mailing boxes. Reuse them next time mailing a package.
  • Give boxes to a friend who is moving.
  • Give extra boxes to somebody who sells on Ebay. Ebay entrepreneurs may also appreciate leftover packing material.
  • Keep boxes for personal storage needs.

Holiday and Christmas Cards

Some cards received are sentimental and remain keepsakes for many years. Christmas cards that come down with the rest of the decorations need not be thrown away or recycled.

Snip off the part of the card that was written on with a pair of scissors. The personal, written on part goes in paper recycling. Offer the colourful pictures from holiday cards to a local preschool or daycare. Many teachers and caregivers will appreciate these free art and craft supplies.

Reuse

Store-bought wrapping paper and bows are easily saved and used again. Stick-on bows almost always remain intact, and affix to a package with a small piece of tape. Nobody wants to save wrinkled or dog-eared gift wrap, but sometimes the paper from a large present does remain intact and can be reused to wrap a small present next year. Best idea is to use recyclable gift wrap.

Sturdy gift bags can be used numerous times. Save gift bags received and use them for gift wrapping or other purposes, such as a lunch bag or reusable shopping bag.

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Most young couples select a few cherished and time-honoured traditions for their special day which are dear to their hearts or beliefs. In the 21st century it is becoming more common for brides and grooms to unite traditional wedding customs with a passion for the environment. With any size budget and a little creativity, having an earth-friendly celebration does not mean sacrificing style and elegance.

Earth-Friendly Weddings: Trading Senseless Pomp for Eco-Friendly

It is a new age – a time to toss aside the “cookie-cutter” weddings for originality and sustainability. It is time to trade senseless fluff (and waste) for mindful indulgence. From the rings to the honeymoon, options that offer environmental value come together with the tradition and style common to most weddings.

It is estimated that most U.K. couples budget an average of £20,000 for their wedding, not including the cost of rings or the honeymoon. Americans spend £72 billion each year on weddings, £19 billion per year on wedding gift registries, and £8 billion per year on honeymoons. Why not take some of that money and add new depth and meaning to an already momentous occasion?

7 Steps to a Green Wedding

1. Invitations

The typical wedding invitation consists of several pieces of paper – the actual invitation, possibly a separate reception invitation, a map, an RSVP card and return envelope. Why not consolidate everything down to one or two sheets and use 100% recycled paper or tree-free paper? An ultra-modern and Eco-friendly way to invite guests to the big day is to create a wedding website, send out electronic invitations, and allow guests to RSVP to the website. There is also the option of sending out a traditional paper invitation and having guests RSVP through a supplemental website.

2. Location

Choosing a location that is convenient to most guests to minimise the amount of travel impact or picking a spot where the ceremony and reception can be held together are great ways to set an earth-friendly tone. Consider picking an outdoor venue if weather permits – the beach, a large garden – it will require less decorating and provides a setting for the pre-ceremony photo session and reception as well.

3. Rings

Consider purchasing diamonds which were synthetically grown in a laboratory versus mined diamonds. They are real diamonds (they just did not take billions of years to form) and they are less expensive. Another option is to melt down an heirloom ring to create a new and unique piece of matrimonial jewellery. Don’t forget about Ebay and local stores that sell vintage jewellery for finding one-of-a-kind pieces.

4. Wedding Dress

One of the most favourable “green” options here is to wear an heirloom wedding gown passed down from the bride’s mother or grandmother. Again, look into Ebay and second-hand stores for finding unique and often considerably less expensive choices. If a used wedding gown is out of the question, consider having a custom gown made from organic hemp-silk or buy a dress that could be worn again for other special occasions.

5. Flowers & Favours

An artistic alternative to fresh cut flowers is to make paper flowers that can be recycled, or use silk bouquets. If fresh flowers are an absolute must, find a local florist that offers organically grown, local in-season flowers or, buy fresh flowers from the local farmer’s market.Low-cost, Eco-friendly choices abound for wedding favours. Here are a few ideas for keepsake and edible favours:

  • Wedding soap favours
  • Seed packet favours
  • CD wedding favours
  • Gourmet organic chocolates
  • Reusable cloth tote bags
  • Small charitable donation in each guest’s name
  • A small plan

6. Food

Going organic, seasonal, and local is the simplest way to provide guests with a green gustatory experience. Have the cake decorated with locally grown seasonal flowers rather than plastic toppers, or choose a keepsake topper that will be kept afterward. Consider renting real linens, glassware and dishes rather than opting for disposables. Donate leftover food to a local homeless shelter or food bank.

7. The Honeymoon

A viable choice for a green honeymoon would be to go somewhere local, or select a destination that could be used for the wedding ceremony, reception, and honeymoon. Many couples today are choosing to engage in ecotourism for their honeymoons. Listings for these green excursions can be found at Conservation International, National Geographic, Planeta.com, and Responsible Travel.

Going Green – A Beautiful Thing

Every couple hopes their wedding day will be a celebration and reflection of who they are and what is important to them. A green wedding is a unique and personable way to make the special day more meaningful and show guests how a sustainable lifestyle can be both beautiful and chic.

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The latest eco-friendly home trend involves “family cloth” – a term for using machine washable fabric instead of toilet paper. And family cloth isn’t just for hardcore pro-environmentalists anymore – it’s an earth-friendly living trend that’s catching on quickly among virtually everyone who’s open-minded enough to try this toilet paper alternative.

What is Family Cloth?

The terminology can be a bit deceiving and household that switch to family cloth doesn’t involve a communal bathroom wipe or sharing of any kind when it comes to this toilet paper substitution.
“Family cloth” refers to the practice of using fabric wipes instead of toilet paper. Most often, family cloth enthusiasts will cut up old T-shirts or old Jersey “T-shirt” fabric sheets for use in the bathroom.

The freshly laundered fabric is typically kept in a basket or neatly folded pile within arm’s reach of the toilet. And once soiled, the fabric is placed in a special receptacle alongside the toilet. A covered trash bin typically works the best when it comes to providing a sightly, odour-free receptacle for soiled bathroom cloth. The fabric is then laundered using detergent and bleach, and it’s then ready for another use.

The Benefits of Family Cloth as a Toilet Paper Alternative

Admittedly, Westerners are very attached to their toilet paper, so in the beginning, converting to family cloth can be a difficult sell. But incredibly, most people who are open minded and eco-conscious enough to try family cloth as an alternative to toilet paper wonder why they didn’t switch sooner. The vast majority of people who try this toilet paper substitute never go back to the toilet paper rolls full time.

Kim Cushing, a Boston-area mother of three, recently decided to try family cloth in the bathroom, along with more than a dozen other mothers in her Moms’ Group. And incredibly, all 17 of the moms in Cushing’s group whose families tried cloth in the bathroom said that they will continue to use fabric wipes instead of toilet paper.

“I’m not super ‘green’ or extremely eco-conscious. But I’m open minded so I thought we’d give this a try. It was a difficult sell to the rest of the family in the beginning, but after one or two trips to the bathroom, everyone was sold on family cloth!” Cushing explained, adding, “Everyone agreed that the family cloth is softer and more comfortable than toilet paper and you don’t end up with toilet paper lint or bits left behind.”

Considerations When Switching to Family Cloth

Cushing did offer a word of warning for anyone who’s considering a switch to family cloth as a toilet paper replacement: “You’ll want to go out and buy a set of metal tongs and keep them in the bathroom beside the toilet. For the first few days, I think everyone in the family accidentally threw the fabric into the toilet when they were finished wiping – it’s a difficult habit to break! So you’ll need to fish the fabric out of the toilet and a set of tongs works best.”

Some family cloth users do opt to provide toilet paper to accommodate guests who aren’t comfortable with cloth wipes.

Another advantage of family cloth? “No more clogged toilets! Our kids were always using too much toilet paper and clogging the toilet. This completely eliminates that problem,” Cushing said, concluding, “It’s a bit more laundry, but in all, family cloth beats toilet paper.”

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It all started seven years ago when Kate MacEachern and Brent Pederson decided to switch the youngest of their four babies to cloth diapers for environmental reasons. They couldn’t find a diaper service in their small community of Sherwood Park (just north of Edmonton, Canada), so they started their own.

From the beginning, Happy Nappy was a business with a conscience. In addition to using fitted cotton diapers (for parents’ convenience) and washing with water at temperatures too high to attain at home (required by public health agencies), MacEachern and Pederson used detergents free of surfactants and phosphates, only chlorine bleach (the best kind, environmentally), and as little of that as possible. For three years, Happy Nappy was a small but happy local business.

Turning Babies’ Diapers into an Environmental Business Opportunity

Then, four years ago, Sherwood Park introduced a new waste management program, which included fees for residents who exceeded municipally set limits for their waste. “Our business numbers increased by 60 percent as soon as this initiative came out,” says MacEachern.

With global concern growing about climate change, and babies comprising 22 percent of the Canadian population, the couple saw an opportunity to build a business idea that would be kind to the environment, economical for parents and communities, and healthy for babies. That’s when Happy Nappy began growing into a franchise operation with current locations in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario, and inquiries from the US. It’s also when Pederson started experimenting with materials that would allow cloth diapers to mimic disposables in every way, except the negative ones.

“We’re currently on generation number 15 of our diaper,” says Pederson, whom his partner describes as a “mad scientist.” “We’ve never stopped testing and we won’t until we have what’s best.” But “what’s best” has to address numerous issues.

Diapers with Advantages for Our Babies, Our Environment, and Even Our Wallets

Two problems people have with cloth diapers are the “yuck factor” and bulk, says MacEachern. They don’t want to feel the wetness of urine on their hands or soaking through their clothes, and they don’t want bulky diapers to ruin the look of cute baby outfits.

The Happy Nappy diaper has two layers. The inner one is made of microfleece, which makes it as absorbent as disposables, wicks moisture away from the skin, and is soft against tender bottoms. The outer shell is also highly absorbent but remains dry to the touch. Both materials are compact and lightweight to fit babies as snugly as disposables.

Then there’s the cost concern, Pederson notes. Most parents think disposable diapers are cheaper than diaper services because they only change disposables every six to eight hours, when they get heavy. But it’s no coincidence that diaper rash has only become widespread since disposables were introduced. Actually, health experts recommend changing diapers hourly for newborns and every three to four hours for older babies. If these instructions are followed, diaper services cost about the same amount as disposables. Where disposables begin to cost more is when they become waste.

“Twenty-two percent of our population is children,” says Pederson, “and disposable diapers are the third-biggest source of waste for that population.” It costs communities a lot of taxpayer dollars to collect garbage and haul it to landfills. And, as the recent climate change talks in Copenhagen have highlighted, it costs a lot nationally and internationally to deal with emissions of methane — a greenhouse gas that’s 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide — from landfills that are already bursting at the seams.

The couple are so convinced that cloth diapers have serious money-saving potential that they have launched a petition to all levels of government to provide tax breaks to families that make the switch. With many communities becoming desperate for locals to curb what they put at the curb, tax credits may be an idea whose time has come.

To MacEachern and Pederson, that’s not a “may be” but a “for sure.” In fact, the only “may be” could be how long it takes for parents, governments, environmentalists, and other entrepreneurs to realise that Happy Nappy “may be” the most innovative product-and-service-for-parents business of the decade.

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Whether it be Christmas, a birthday, or other occasion, there are some great choices for gifts for someone who is concerned about the environment. There are a lot of eco-friendly products on the market. However, consumerism and buying beyond your needs is not an environmentally friendly notion. Check out the ideas below for all kinds of gifts, with tangible items plus non-traditional options that won’t eventually add to Earth’s great rubbish heap.

Food-Related Gifts

Everyone needs to eat. The best food that is also kind on the environment is that which is grown locally. What can be more local than from your own home? A window box herb garden or a potted tomato or pepper plant will provide them with delicious meals and a reminder of you every time they cook with these ingredients. For a bigger bounty, buy your recipient a share in a community garden or farm cooperative. This will provide a wider range of produce, all organically grown. Or you could simply buy them a basket of organic locally grown food to enjoy right away. And because some items still need to be bought from the store, consider a handful of canvas shopping bags. This solves the problem of paper versus plastic. You don’t need either if you bring your own washable reusable bags to transport your goods. And they will be the first on a trend, because some stores are now doing away with paper and plastic all together and issuing their own reusable bags to customers. One last food-related idea is an attractive bucket to keep under the sink. When cooking, the chef can place it on the counter and dispose of food waste inside, and also scraps after a meal, to be carried outside afterward and dropped into the compost pile. This reduces food waste in the water system or garbage heaps and provides a rich source for next year’s plantings.

Organizations/Activist Groups

Memberships to different environmental groups can help people make a difference all year long. The Sierra Club has a long history of protecting the environment. It lobbies for environmental causes and distributes a regular magazine to members to update them on news stories, club outings, relevant books and products, an Ask Mr. Green column, and much more. The Nature Conservancy buys up land around the world to be protected, providing crucial habitats for wildlife. It also puts out a magazine to regularly update members on what’s happening. The World Wildlife Fund concentrates on saving the species around the world, but particularly giant pandas, tigers, whales, dolphins, rhinos, elephants, marine turtles and great apes. Education is also an important element in the organisation. The Environmental Defense Fund is another option. Founded by scientists, this organisation influences national policy and works with business to develop cleaner technologies. It has a more corporate and market-driven focus.

Media: Books and Videos

There is a good chance that a true environmentalist on your list has already read these books or seen the videos, but for those who are new to the subject, these are great educational and riveting pieces. Three excellent books on climate change are The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery, The Winds of Change by Eugene Linden, and Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert. A book about how drastically humans have shaped all aspects of Earth and how it would change if we were to suddenly disappear is documented in the brilliant book The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. Also look for local hiking guides or gardening books. A movie that most every environmentalist has seen by now is An Inconvenient Truth, with Nobel peace prize winner Al Gore. But it’s still a good movie to have on hand for review or to share with those who are not yet enlightened. Also look for Who Killed the Electric Car? on DVD.

Other Non-Consumer Gifts

Tickets to a show, whether it be a play, the movies, a concert, or a special exhibition coming to town. Yearly passes to a museum or other local entertainment. A sticker for entry into state parks or national parks, if your recipient lives near one. A gift certificate to a green inn for a getaway. Try a member of the Green Hotels Association. Make housework lighter and safer with a gift certificate to an eco-friendly cleaning service.

Practical Gifts

If you want to buy “stuff,” then make it something the gift recipient can actually use. A cover for their old water heater or even better, a new water heater. In fact, any energy-efficient appliance would make someone happy. Not only are they good for the environment but they work better in general than the older models. A low-flow shower head to conserve water or CFL bulbs, especially if you can get them in the harder to find soft light shades, odd sizes that fit unusual fixtures, and with traditional shapes for exposed locations. A bike is great for those who need to travel short distances and also a big benefit to their health. And for longer distances, who wouldn’t love a hybrid?

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