Eco News Roundup: Green Energy Tips; Tiny Houses; Green Space; Eco Apps

Eco News Roundup for June 26: Resources from around the world to help live a more eco-friendly lifestyle

This week features tips for adopting green energy in your home. How about the new trend toward “tiny houses” and living off-grid? Learn how physical and mental health improves with access to green spaces. Finally, we look at 13 apps you can use to help you lower your carbon footprint. Enjoy and please leave any suggestion for next week’s roundup in the comments section. Enjoy!

Go Green by Switching to a Green Energy Plan and by Following These 10 TipsTips for Green Energy

Over the past few years, many residential energy consumers from all over the globe have been considering taking a more eco-friendly approach to their home electricity consumption. Taking a truly green approach to energy consumption means taking the time to shop for a plan that uses renewable resources and by making changes to your everyday lifestyle in an effort to incorporate more eco-friendly practices.

Go Green by Switching to a Green Energy Plan and by Following These 10 Tips3 Tiny Houses That Let You Live Green—and off the Grid

The tiny-house fad appears to be here to stay, fetishized in a stream of articles and fueled by a fascination with living a less materialistic lifestyle. Companies like Tumbleweed Tiny Houses, Sprout, and Wheelhaus are more than happy to make this downsizing dream a reality, offering a myriad of micro-models that provide fodder for get-away-from-it-all fantasies.


Go Green by Switching to a Green Energy Plan and by Following These 10 TipsPeople don’t just need social housing, they need green spaces close by

It’s the time of year when we’re exhorted by Sunday supplements to enjoy al fresco living, the restorative benefits of the great outdoors. But what if you can’t? Access to green space – for leisure, for exercise, for social contact – is one of the many things that marks out the haves and have-nots in society. The amount and quality of public green space is disproportionately weighted in favour of the wealthy. The last meaningful research on the subject, the 2010 report Urban Green Nation, by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, provided clear evidence that people living in more disadvantaged areas or from more marginalised communities had fewer good quality parks and gardens near to where they live and used them less often than people living in more affluent areas.  Click here to view original web page at

Go Green by Switching to a Green Energy Plan and by Following These 10 Tips13 Green Apps For Environmentalists Who Want To Track Their Carbon Footprint

Remembering to live green can go further than setting a reminder to put out the recycling, buying organic, and saving all your peelings for compost. Apps for environmentalists, it turns out, are actually a new frontier for green lifestyle, both for sustainable crusaders with all their local organic food stalls memorized, and those of us who’ve just woken up to the whole living-green thing. In case revamping your life to get a bit more eco-friendly seems overwhelming and difficult, no worries: there’s an app for that. And, luckily, it’s probably served without any sanctimony.

Throwing a Birthday Party: How to Have an Eco-Friendly Bash


throw a green birthday partyOnce the decorations, food and other essentials are paid for, birthday parties can cost quite a bit of money. Particularly if you don’t have the savings to justify an elaborate bash, or even if you would simply prefer to allocate your funds in a different way, it can be difficult to figure out how to celebrate in style with family and friends. The environment is always a concern as well; birthday parties generate a lot of trash and generally aren’t considered “green” events. If, however, you would like to throw an environmentally friendly birthday party, it can be done. The following tips will help you host a green party without spending a lot of money.

Send out homemade invitations

Look around the house and see what materials you have readily available; fabric scraps, old buttons, plastic and paper are all good choices to help you make invitations for your get together. You can also create banners and posters for your event. Spending a few hours putting your unique spin on these items will not only add a nice touch to your event, but it allows you to reuse old materials that may have simply been thrown away otherwise.

Get creative

Consider “upcycling” during the party as well. After you are finished with the invitations and decorations, go through your house and find any other materials you have on hand that could be used to create interesting art pieces. Set up a craft station at the party (this idea is particularly applicable for children’s events), and let everyone have fun and use their imagination. The cost involved is minimal, and you will save your old “junk” from prematurely reaching the trash can.

Pick an inexpensive venue

The location of your party sets the stage for the entire event. However, having it at home may not be an option; perhaps your house or yard isn’t big enough. There are other free options that you can look into. Consider having the party at a local park, or think about holding it at a family member’s house. Also, research different businesses in the area; you may be able to secure an inexpensive room at a local bowling alley, arcade or other venue.

Have a meatless meal

Reducing the amount of meat you consume is a great way to help the environment. Serving vegetarian fare at your party, therefore, emphasizes healthy eating to your guests and doesn’t have to be expensive. Ask guests to contribute by bringing a dish that sounds interesting to them; simply send out a list of recipes for people to pick from that are simple to prepare.

Birthday parties do not need to be elaborate affairs that cost a lot of money. By following a few simple tips, you can throw a “green” bash for a reasonable price!


Creating an Urban Garden in a Container: Give Life to Small Spaces

By Kyle Martin

Give more life to small indoor or backyard urban spacesApartment balconies and tiny backyards seem to be unlikely spots for a lush garden, but more and more people are using their windows, fire escapes and rooftops to grow herbs and vegetables. That’s right, vegetables, herbs or flowers can grow in any small space, if you plant strategically. In three simple steps, you too can successfully grow container gardens.


Wooden wine or ammunition boxes are the perfect size for an urban garden. Hanging baskets, terra-cotta pots and other containers also work well as planters. Fern from Apartment Therapy advocates container gardening in her DIY urban garden. In wooden wine boxes from her grandfather, she plants lettuce and parsley. The greenery colors her outdoor living space, and the produce flavors her meals. Any ceramic, metal or plastic container that is at least six inches deep provides adequate room for the vegetables, herbs or flowers you wish to plant. In addition, you’d be saving your local garbage collection service a little space by recycling these items into garden containers.

Before you start putting potting soil into your container, though, it needs a bit of preparation. Start by drilling drain holes in the bottom. If the water cannot drain out of the container, the plants’ roots will rot. With a drill and round bit, a screwdriver or a nail, place several half-inch holes evenly along the container’s base. Up to eight holes provide sufficient drainage.

Next, seal the container. Wooden boxes easily deteriorate from the wet soil and terra-cotta planters dry out under the sun. Even metal in galvanized tubs can negatively interact with the plants. To prolong the container’s life and protect the plants, use an eco-friendly sealer on the outside and inside of garden containers.

After a three-day curing period, line metal container with bubble wrap and other containers with newspaper. This technique prevents the soil from draining out with the excess water. Additionally, elevate the containers on a mesh table or on a square of bricks in order for the containers to drain properly. Now your garden planters are ready to be filled with soil.


A quality soil makes the plant grow so do not skimp on this stage. Choose a potting mix designed for vegetables or try a soilless potting mix that drains quickly. Fill the containers up to 2-inches from the top before planting the seeds. You can add more soil later or top the soil with a layer of decorative, weed-suppressing mulch.


Certain plants thrive better in cooler or warmer weather, so consider your climate before planting seeds. Vegetables that mature quickly are the best choices for a container garden. Oak leaf lettuce, mustard cress or silver beet provide several harvests during one growing season.

In some cases, the container size dictates the seeds you will plant. For example, root vegetables like carrots, onions or radishes require deep containers.

Planting small herbs and short lettuces in the same container with larger fruiting vegetables maximizes space in the containers. With this method, plant a salad garden or salsa ingredients together in the same container.

For easy care, The Gardenist on recommends self-seeders. Oriental Poppies, Foxglove and Showy Milkweed will flower and then leave behind seed heads. Shake the dried heads into a container, and enjoy colorful flowers with minimal fuss.

Three simple steps provide you with a container garden that enhances your small space. Are you ready to try it for yourself? Simply choose a container, drill drain holes and insulate it, select quality soil and plant seeds. In a few weeks, enjoy fresh vegetables, herbs or flowers on your balcony or other compact space, and enjoy the greenery and the flavors of your DIY urban garden.


Kyle Martin – Kyle is a vegan who is passionate about recycling. He is a freelance journalist who writes advice articles about incorporating sustainable living into our closets, cabinets and communities.

Image credit: mermaid99, courtesy flickr