Scary facts about water scarcity to ponder for World Water Day 2015

Despite a few spring rains that have helped ease drought conditions in Texas, residents should still consider conserving water in all they do, because the world’s most important resource is not getting any more plentiful. Austin remains a candidate for future “water stress,” and so in honor of World Water Day (March 22) here are some uncomfortable facts about how we abuse water and could run short of it.

What your drought-tolerant landscape could look like

Drought-tolerant landscapes are an idea whose time has come. Many homeowners in Austin get this. Here’s a look at several non-lawn lawns that may inspire you. While they almost all require getting rid of that pesky turf, they’re easy to maintain later on. Most importantly, they’re not overly thirsty.

Bamboo: Why you need it in your kitchen, and six ways to get it there

Bamboo, that renewable, quick-growing wood that’s really a grass, has been expanding across product lines, turning up on floors, in furniture, and towels. But let’s get back to where we started: Bamboo works great in the kitchen. Remember those bamboo salad bowls? They’re still around, but there are many more ways attractive, durable bamboo is being tapped for kitchen ware.

How to reduce water use in the United States

Americans consume a lot of water as a result of their food and lawn choices. Read Danielle Nierenberg’s blog about how we can lower the stress we’re placing on dwindling water supplies. Ms. Nierenberg, co-founder of Food Tank, has traveled the world, studying food and water scarcity, and can tell you how many Kenyans survive on the same amount of water consumed by one American.

Smart meters may need to be a little smarter, and safer

Here’s a scary thought just released on Halloween, what if your smart meter were leaking information about you to the world?

Automatic Meter Reading systems may need better security, according to a USC team.

With millions of so-called “smart meters” being installed in the U.S. annually, utility companies are getting closer to creating a smart grid that can target energy delivery where it’s needed and thus avoid having to run extra capacity at power plants. It’s a potential win-win that could help keep energy prices affordable.

Worried about toxic ingredients in cleaners? See our new improved list of the greenest products

When the Environmental Working Group released their scorecard on green cleaners last month, I sprang from my chair to check the label on the case of Ecover Limescale Remover that UPS had just delivered.

I don’t usually buy by the case, but this was the only way I could get this cleaner, which I adore because it transforms my shower door from an icky, opaque bacteria-generator into a sheet of glistening glass, without using toxic ingredients. Or so I believed.
Fortunately, my limescale remover skated by with a solid “B” on the EWG 2012 Guide to Healthy Cleaning. Whew!

But some of the other products I’m using did not make the grade, despite being sold as “green” or “natural” products.

That’s right. Amazingly, many green cleaners contain endocrine disrupters, suspected carcinogens, toxic ingredients with unknown effects and needlessly harsh ingredients, like sodium laurel sulfate, according to the EWG review of more than 2,000 cleaners .

Steamed by summer heat? Here’s a checklist to help cool your home

Nothing quite says “soaring electricity bill” like the sound of the AC kicking on as you wake-up, heralding another broiling summer day.

Whether you’re suffering in the usual seasonal heat of the Southwest, or simmering in the extraordinary heat wave cooking the mid-section of the nation, it’s likely the AC is running 24/7 now as record daytime heat overwhelms night time cool temperatures no longer worthy of that adjective.

Green weddings — following the aisle less traveled

Molly Earley Callahan didn’t set out to have a green wedding. She just wanted a casual but memorable affair, a special day filled with light and color, and happy relaxed guests.
Like all brides, she wanted good memories for herself and her groom, Dan Callahan, the wedding party and guests. She also didn’t want anyone to “break the bank” trying to dress for the day.

DIY drip line irrigation – an efficient way to water your home vegetable or herb garden

Drip line irrigation is a great idea for gardeners who want to save water and grow plants successfully.

By soaking the ground with water, the drip line approach mimics the effect of a gentle soaking rain, instead of battering leaves with a harsh jet of water like so many sprinkler systems do. More importantly, by slowly delivering the water to the soil and plants and not spraying it overhead the air, a drip line system can better target, and thereby reduce, the water needed for landscape or edible plants.

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