Recently we have been asked about the best ways to reduce our carbon emissions. Here’s one list of answers from Science. I bet you could do at least one of them, and I suspect you will be surprised by some of them.
Food transportation accounts for 18% of the fossil fuel burned in the US. By eating local, we support local farmers and reduce oil consumption. We can ask our grocer which foods are local. By joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), we can support local farmers by paying a yearly fee for in-season produce for the entire season. For a complete list of Farmers’ Markets and CSA’s in our area, see nyfarmersmarket.com
Did you ever think about landscaping your yard to minimize your carbon footprint? Maybe you’ll choose plantings that allow you to get rid of your lawnmower. Perhaps you can do without fertilizer. This article from the National Wildlife Federation gives you 6 options to modify your yard. In addition to the tips given in the article, you need to be aware of regulations provided by your local government.
What You Need To Know About Local Government (City, Town, Village) Landscaping Regulations
1. The Public Right of Way:
- Find out where the public right of way is in your yard and what landscaping is allowed in that public right of way. In the Town of Brighton, call the Highway Department at 784-5280 to get this information.
- Be prepared to learn that the public right of way might extend 20 feet or more into your yard. The extent of the right of way depends on many factors including the width of your street, when your street and utility lines were built, and if your road is straight, curved, or on a corner.
- Landscaping regulations within the public right of way are meant to protect the underground utility lines and provide easy access for local government to make repairs.
Some plantings and landscape features may not be allowed in the public right of way at all.
- Trees and shrubs that have long roots are often unacceptable in the public right of way because they could cause breakage of utility lines embedded underground. Also, large boulders may be too big for local governments to move if they need to dig to repair underground utility lines.
- You may need a permit from your local government for any landscaping in the public right of way.
2. Visibility of Vehicles and Pedestrians at Driveway/Street Intersections:
- Most local governments regulate landscaping on private property to ensure good sight distance for drivers and pedestrians when vehicles are moving between private driveways and public roads. Check with your local government (in Brighton, the Highway Department) to see what you need to do to ensure good visibility to keep people safe.
- In the Town of Brighton, vegetation within the public right of way and areas critical to good sight distance cannot be any taller than 30 inches. The height limit varies by local government.
3. Does That Tree in your Front Yard Belong to You or to the Local Government?
- Many local governments, including the Town of Brighton, have ordinances meant to protect trees.
- In the case of the Town of Brighton, most trees within the public right-of-way belong to the Town of Brighton, not to the homeowner. Those trees cannot be cut down by the homeowner.
- Trees within the public right-of-way and taller than 30 inches in height must be trimmed so that branches and foliage are removed to a height of six feet above grade so that clear vision is maintained. You should check with your local government regarding responsibilities for maintaining trees within the public right of way.
- If you are thinking of planting a tree in the front yard, you should contact your local government. They can determine if the location is within the public right of way, or a critical vision area and if it is allowed.
Don’t hesitate to call your local government to ask for their assistance in providing information you need to reduce your carbon footprint.
There will be live music, local beer, and real farmers at this event!
When: Saturday, April 1, 2017, 2-5 PM
Where: M Body Gym, 1048 University Avenue, Rochester, NY
The original, do-it-yourself green activity. Recycle your yard and kitchen wastes and create great organic material for your garden and lawn.
You’ll keep 500-600 pounds of waste from going to the landfill each year! Organic matter does not decay in a landfill, where it produces methane, which is 20 times more warming than CO2.
Just save out fruit and vegetable waste, egg shells, coffee grounds—including the paper filters, and moldy bread and make a pit or pile in a corner of your yard. Alternate with layers of dry leaves, saw dust, and any green yard waste. It will go dormant in the winter, but actively decay again when the temperature goes above 50 degrees. You can also buy composting bins that minimize odor and critter intruders, making composting easier than ever and possible in even small yards.
Sound like too much work? There is an easy way to make it happen! You can contract with Community Composting to collect your compostable waste on a regular basis with containers provided by the company. In return you can opt to receive already composted soil. The service is available in many parts of the Rochester area. If your area isn’t served yet, sign up to tell them you are interested. When enough people sign up, your neighborhood will be added to the service area!
Resources to get you started:
Leaf blower use on lawns, gardens, driveways is a source of pollution and noise that can significantly impact our environment and health. In addition, the use of hot, dry winds directed at plants desiccates roots and leaves, while drying and stripping away top soil.
Noise pollution may be the first problem for those anywhere near these machines. Blowers create 90-100 decibels at close range and measure 70-75 decibels at 50 feet away. The EPA advises that levels over 75 decibels cause hearing loss and are detrimental to human health. Children are especially vulnerable. The World Health Organization recommends noise levels not exceed 55 decibels for human health.
Air pollution, both emissions and particulate matter that becomes airborne, including dust, pollen, salt, lead, pesticides, fungi, mold, spores, and fecal matter, is a lingering effect long after the blower has been turned off or moved down the street. Particulate matter takes hours to settle and exacerbates allergies, pulmonary diseases and cardiac conditions. Children and elderly are most threatened.
A 2011 study by Edmunds compared emissions from a 6200 pound 2011 Ford F-150 Raptor to emissions for the most commonly used 2-stroke engine leaf blower and a 4-stroke engine blower. The dirty 2-stroke engine came in at 299 times more polluting than the truck.
Emissions Test Results (in grams per minute)
|Non-Methane Hydrocarbons (NMHC)||Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx)||Carbon Monoxide (CO)|
|2011 Ford Raptor||0.005||0.005||0.276|
|Ryobi 4-stroke leaf blower||0.182||0.031||3.714|
|Echo 2-stroke leaf blower||1.495||0.010||6.445|
Communities that had banned or restricted the use of leaf blowers include hundreds of municipalities and counties in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York, as of 2010 as per Consumer Reports . If we are truly serious about reducing the use of fossil fuels, reducing pollution and improving the health of our environment and citizens, one significant action would be to discontinue the use of leaf blowers, use rakes and brooms when necessary and understand and accept that a lawn is a living, growing thing, not a manufactured carpet to be kept pristine.
Thanks to Paul Tankel for this information!
This Genesee Land Trust (GLT) lecture, sponsored by the Penfield Library, will include a PowerPoint presentation and will feature Margaret Potter of the GLT along with Lois Danneberg and Rachel Edwards of Broccolo Tree & Lawn Care and Broccolo Garden Center, Penfield. Learn why the planting of native plants makes your life easier as a gardener and is great for wildlife! The experts will teach you. This event is free and open to the public, but advance registration is appreciated.
When: Tuesday, February 9, 2016, 7 to 8:30 PM
Where: Penfield Library, 1985 Baird Road, Penfield, NY. Penfield library appreciates your advance registration using the link below
More info: Penfield Library
Growing your own organic produce at home reduces carbon in multiple ways–plants sequester carbon, and having produce in your own yard eliminates the need for food to travel, so no greenhouse gases from transportation! To extend the growing season into the colder months, you can build a cold frame, which is basically a DIY mini greenhouse using a salvaged window, some scrap lumber, and some extra pavers or bricks. There are many free DIY plans for how to design and build cold frames online. If you use a search engine to search for “how to build a cold frame” you will find several options.
Did you know that raising animals for food accounts for 18% of all greenhouse gases? That is more than all trucks and cars combined! (UN Climate Report, 2006) Being a vegetarian is the most effective way to reduce greenhouse gases and global warming. Even cutting your meat consumption by half can make an enormous impact. Save the planet. Go Veg. Be Green.
Two local faith-based organizations have collaborated to develop a pamphlet about water as a great beverage of choice. This pamphlet outlines the pros and cons of tap water versus single use plastic water bottles. Check out this pdf file that contains the pamphlet.