1. Recycle the rain.
Capture a good bit of that water for use in your garden and landscape by installing one or more rain barrels. Available at farm and garden supply stores, home improvement stores, and online, these barrels capture water as it flows off the roof and hold it until you’re ready to use it. You can also make one yourself—here’s an easy way to create a rain barrel from a large plastic garbage can. Why is it so important? For every inch of rain that comes down, the average roof gathers about 600 gallons of water. Left uncollected, these rushes of water can contribute to erosion and storm water runoff.
2. Instead of throwing out food waste, compost it. Not only will doing so reduce the amount of methane entering the atmosphere (methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide), but the compost created can be used to enrich soil with valuable nutrients. You can find more info about composting here.
3. Plant a garden! Not only will growing your own produce help keep CO2 out of the atmosphere (since your food won’t need to be trucked cross-country), but you’ll also know exactly what is—and isn’t—on it. Consider growing some of the fruits and veggies on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen, a list of the 12 crops on which commercial farmers tend to use the most pesticides. Are you a newbie to gardening? Don’t be intimidated. There are lots of gardening websites, like Gardening with Charlie Nardozzi, that contain loads of great advice for beginners. And don’t be afraid to start small—even a single potted tomato plant will help cut down on the amount of produce you have to buy at the store.
4. Water your plants wisely.
In addition to using a rain barrel (above), follow the guidelines below. Americans use an average of nearly 9 billion gallons of water every day to water their lawns, gardens, and landscapes—and up to half of that water is wasted, thanks to evaporation, wind, and runoff. We can do better! Here’s how:
- Only water when your lawn or garden needs it. If your grass springs back after you step on it, you can skip watering for the day. In your garden, stick your finger into the soil; only water if the top inch is dry.
- Plant varieties that are native to our region, as they tend to be well-adapted to the area’s normal amount of rainfall and may require less additional watering than other plants.
- Add mulch to your garden and landscape beds, as it will help keep the soil moist longer.
- Consider putting drip irrigation into your garden and landscape beds. It delivers moisture right where it’s needed, with virtually no waste.
- Installing an irrigation system for your lawn? Choose a professional who has been certified through the EPA’s WaterSense program.
World Wildlife Fund
Environmental Defense Fund