Gardening

5 creative ways to help the environment

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Gardening

5 creative ways to help the environment

We all know the basics for living a greener lifestyle. Recycling, purchasing eco-friendly products, water conservation and opting for public transport whenever possible is hopefully second nature to most of us. But what else can be done to make a positive impact on the environment? Here are 5 creative ways to help the environment this season.

1. Harness the power of Mother Nature
Reduce energy drain at home by trading your cell phone, MP3 player and even laptop chargers for solar and wind powered units. The latest models are smaller and more lightweight than ever before, and you'll be able to charge your gadgets without the guilt. Check out the tiny HYmini portable wind powered charger (http://www.hymini.com/) - it can be fastened to your bike for energy collection while you ride. Or, try the Voltaic Generator Solar Laptop Charger (http://www.voltaicsystems.com/), which doubles as a laptop bag for charging on-the-go.

2. Learn to barter
Whether you are looking for a certain item, or out to unload some unwanted wares, bartering may be a great way to cut down on waste and gain something in return. Bartering websites are gaining popularity all over Canada, with members exchanging everything from books, movies and furniture, to negotiating apartment swaps for low-cost family vacations. With sections for business bartering between companies, vehicle trade and services like music lessons and hairdressing, you can trade out the old for new without having to spend a dime. Check out www.u-exchange.com and www.transcanadabarter.com for more information.

3. Take up canning
Grandma got it right with this one — from notable chefs to health-conscious hipsters, the local food movement means everyone is getting in on food preservation. By learning how to jar seasonal fruits and vegetables, you can enjoy produce year round. And, with a little effort, you can have tomato sauces, soups, jams and pickles on-hand, without the environmental strain that comes from grocery bought items shipped in from all over the world. To learn the basics and find newbie-friendly recipes check out our canning and preserving guide.

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4. Arrange a swap meet
Whether it's children's toys, sports equipment, cookware or crafts, arranging to meet with a group of like-minded individuals is a fun and simple way to see what can be reused or repurposed. Invite a group of friends over and ask them to bring any unwanted items that are still in good condition. Take turns laying claim to the gathered goodies, and donate any extras to charity. By arranging regular clothing swaps you can outfit yourself and your family with new-to-you items for every season.

5. Grow for a good cause
When planning your spring garden, choose heirloom seeds and native plants to reduce the need for watering and pesticides, while protecting genetic seed diversity and attracting native wildlife. The problem with most commercial farming today is that a limited amount of hybrid varieties of vegetable seeds are used, which often need more support, from pollination to pesticides, to achieve their full life cycle. Additionally, because they are the result of crossing two parent plants, you cannot save seeds and achieve the same result from year to year.

Passed on from generation to generation, heirloom seeds are hardy non-hybrid seeds that can produce the same type of fruit each year. Over the generations they have learned to adapt to their local environment, and therefore need less water and have more natural resistance to local pests. There are thousands of varieties of heirloom seeds to choose from, and by supporting a more diverse selection of plants and their continued cultivation, growers can ensures these seeds will be around for future generations. As an added bonus, these heirloom varieties are reputed to taste better.

Experiment to see what plants you like best, and save your favourites to trade amongst your gardening friends. Check out some great places to find heirloom seeds here.

Here are more great ways to go green!

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5 creative ways to help the environment

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