With everyone trying to make their home as green as possible, it seems like most of the attention gets focused on the inside – smart heating and cooling systems, low flow toilets, and eco-friendly light bulbs being just a few examples. But there are also ways we can be green on the outside of the home, doing just as much to cut energy consumption and help the environment as we do on the inside. If you don’t already have a green outdoor space, what are you waiting for? Here are 3 easy ways to go green in your backyard by following the “reduce, reuse, recycle” motto.
For reducing energy consumption, you can’t beat solar technology. Solar power has made big advances in the last decade and the products out now are the most powerful, efficient ones ever on the market. Fountains and lighting tend to be 2 of the most popular choices. A solar fountain gives you the freedom to place your water feature wherever you want, as you’re not limited by how far the cord can stretch from the socket. With solar lighting, you can enjoy your outdoor area well into the night using only the sun’s natural energy. As a bonus tip, look for solar fountains that have a backup battery. These work similar to solar lights, storing the sun’s power during the day so your fountain can run well after it’s dark.
The advantages of solar power are numerous. One of the most obvious is the lack of electricity costs, which will save you big time over the long run. It may not seem like a lot, but the cost of running a fountain or a set of patio lights every day adds up over a year! And since you’re not using electricity, you’re cutting energy consumption and helping reduce carbon emissions. Most importantly, by using solar power you’re doing your part to help us move away from traditional fuel sources and towards sustainable, green fuels that help the country and the environment.
Use What Nature Gives You
Reusing items is typically something you think of for inside the home – turn an old crate into an ottoman, create a desk from a refinished door, things of that sort. But nature gives us many opportunities to take care of everyday tasks naturally by reusing what it gives us. Why spend money and resources on something when we’ve already been given a natural way to take care of it? You might not always see these opportunities, but they’re there. Sometimes it just takes a little creativity!
Think about watering your plants. Normally, you’d use the garden hose and let it run for a while, watching the dollars and gallons run right out the end. How do you take care of this? Invest in a rain barrel, a large container that securely stores rain water for future use. Next time you need to water, all you do is fill your watering can with rainwater from the barrel and give your plants a drink. You’ve instantly lowered your water bill and saved a few gallons at the same time! Another great example is composting. Purchase a compost bin for your backyard, start adding materials to it, and over time you’ll have plenty of compost for all your gardening needs. All sorts of items can be reused in compost, like cardboard, egg shells, sawdust, and yard trimmings, so it’s another way to get the most out of what nature gives us.
Recycling has probably become the most commonly practiced part of the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra due to how easy it is. We just throw our recyclable goods in the right bin, take it out with the trash, and we’re done with it. But we can do a lot more than that to support it in our outdoor space. Recycling cans and newspapers is great, but many products out today let us recycle on a much larger scale.
A great example is patio furniture. Many companies are now making items from 100% recycled materials, so you can feel good about putting them outside your home knowing that they’re helping cut down on waste. And don’t think that recycled means you’re sacrificing style. These things look just as good, if not better, than any high dollar, non-recycled décor you’d find! From complete dining sets with table and chairs to decorative planters, there are all sorts of recycled patio accessories. And what’s even better is the lack of maintenance – materials like recycled plastic never need a new finish and are virtually indestructible. Just give them a good scrubbing to keep them clean every now and then and you’re done!
By remembering to reduce energy consumption, reuse what nature gives us, and recycle whenever possible, you can easily turn your backyard into a green, eco-friendly place everyone likes to spend time in!
Article by Tina Foreman, a writer with OutdoorLiving.com/learning-center/ interested in green outdoor products; appearing courtesy Outdoor Living.