Make a Difference
Green Living - Tips and Resources for Making Environmentally Responsible Choices in Your Daily Life
Spring peeper (Photo:
by Sue Shafer)
Bookmark this page and check the "10 Things" list below for seasonally updated actions you can take to live greener right now! Or subscribe through GovDelivery to get an email when new seasonal tips are posted!
Watch the Green Tips videos on DEC TV
Ten Things You Can Do to Help The Environment Right Now - Spring
- Need a new driveway?
Go permeable! Using permeable concrete pavers instead of standard driveway material allows runoff to absorb into the soil. This recharges the aquifer and reduces erosion, flooding and water pollution. Even better, pavers are attractive, can be snowplowed, require less de-icing, are easily repaired, and can last more than 20 years. See article in the January/February 2011 Lake George Association newsletter. (see Offsite links at right)
- Fish, or learn to fish - for free!
No license needed either. Sign up for one of DEC's free fishing clinics. Don't forget about the annual free fishing weekend, June 29-30, 2013, where anyone, including non-residents, can fish in fresh or salt water without a license.
- No yard to garden in?
Join a community garden in your area. If there isn't one, contact the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets to see if there is any state-owned land available in your area to start one. See the offsite link at right for help finding a community garden or land.
- Burn ban reminder
Even though spring always seems so damp, winter-dried grasses and a lack of green vegetation allow wildfires to start easily and spread like...well, wildfire. Open burning is the largest cause of wildfires in the state and is prohibited in all communities from March 16 - May 14.
Lewis Preserve, Altona, NY
- Take a hike!
The Great Spring Hikes web page features eight hikes spanning the state and ranging from easy to challenging. There's even an urban hike. For wildlife fans: a brand new edition of the New York Wildlife Viewing Guide (in book form) will be available soon. Meanwhile, nearly 80 viewing sites across the state are listed on the Watchable Wildlife pages.
- Declutter your e-clutter.
Manufacturers must provide free and convenient recycling of electronic waste. Find out more. Remember to "wipe" all personal information from your electronics first (see link at right for how to), and remove batteries, which may need to be recycled separately.
- Vines for shading walls
Have a sunny west or south facing wall that could use some quick shade? Save energy and beautify your home with two native perennial vines. Trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) and American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) can grow up to 20" tall and have attractive flowers and berries that birds enjoy as well. Be sure to supply a trellis or other sturdy support for these vines.
Trumpet honeysuckle vine
- Got wood ashes?
Wood ash neutralizes acid soils (although not as effectively as lime), and adds potassium. Test your soil (see link to Cornell at right) and use only if the pH is less than 7. Apply no more than 10-15 pounds/ 1,000 square feet of lawn. Don't use for acid-loving plants or potatoes. Ash is alkaline, so handle with care (see link to safe handling tips at right).
Plan your bike commute route to
avoid traffic (and hills!).
- Thinking of biking to work?
A little planning will make your ride easier, safer and more fun. Figure out the best route (probably not the route you take by car) using a map with elevations (a topographical map) or online guides such as Google biking directions. Test the route on a weekend. Have alternate routes for variety and in case of detours.
- Greener deck cleaning
Bring new life to your deck without harmful chemicals. Try this method (field checked in our Green Living "test lab"): Mix 1 cup of oxygen bleach powder (sodium percarbonate) per gallon of hot water. Mix well until fully dissolved. Apply to deck surface and let soak in for a few minutes and scrub a bit. Leave mixture on for up to 6 hours for heavily stained areas. Protect your skin with gloves (the solution will dry your skin). Important: rinse off the deck with water or you'll get a white residue. Mop up any puddles, let air dry.
Common Environmental Misconceptions and Myths Exposed and Explained by DEC Experts
MYTH: I need to purchase compost pile inoculant and add it to my compost pile so it will work.
Busted! Compost piles never need to be inoculated.
A few handfuls of compost or soil are
all the "activation" your compost pile
needs to do its work.
The microorganisms that are in a compost pile are naturally occurring. However, adding a couple handfuls of soil, or better yet, compost, will increase the population of microorganisms in your compost pile and will help you to compost more quickly.
Even if your pile is isolated from the soil, such as is the case with composters that are encased in plastic, or off the ground, inoculant is not required. As you add leaves, grass and decaying food, you are adding microorganisms as well. Again, adding soil or compost will boost the number of microorganisms, but their populations will increase soon enough without those additions.
See our "Easy Home Composting" poster (PDF) 2.7 MB for how to compost.
More about Make a Difference:
- Keep Water Clean - Tips for protecting New York's water resources from all forms of pollution
- Save Energy and Water - A selection of tips to help you save energy and water around the house and in your yard
- Keep Air Clean - Tips to use every day to prevent air pollution
- Use Less-Toxic Products - Suggestions and tips for less-toxic and non-toxic products for use in your home and yard
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Compost - Tips on recycling, reducing solid waste, reusing and composting
- Protect Fish, Wildlife and Open Space - Tips for creating wildlife habitat and preventing the spread of invasive species
- Connect To Nature - Different ways to experience and learn about the natural world
- Myth Buster Archive - previous Myth Busters