Friday, April 26, 2013

Guest Post: An Anti-Greenwashing Dictionary for Consumers

Hello all. Philip here. I'm happy to feature another green blogger today by the name of Cameron Bruns. It's my pleasure to share her post clarifying the meanings of a variety of different "green" terminology frequently used in both the media and the marketplace. She hopes to clear up some of the confusion surrounding these terms so we can make smarter decisions as consumers. Thanks for your thoughts, Cameron! And to our readers, please be sure to take a look at her Boston Green Blog for all kinds of great ideas about green living and sustainability.

An Anti-Greenwashing Dictionary for Consumers


Consumers want to buy products that are good for the environment, which is great, except that some companies are using marketing tactics to exploit this demand. People are often rushed when they shop, so they make a quick comparisons of products and a snap decision on what is best for their budget, their family, and the environment. Marketers know this and design big green labels that say “All Natural” in huge font. Even if an item is packaged in green with a leafy logo, doesn't necessarily mean it is the best option for the environment. That is why it is important to be aware of the true definition of different “environmental” terms that may either be used to scam you into purchasing a not-so-green product or to help you identify the truly green options. Below are some of the most common words used in green marketing.


All Natural - There is no industry-wide definition of “all natural” which means companies may use the term differently. The FDA prohibits using misleading language on labels which should prevent companies from misusing the words “all natural”, however, the FDA does not provide specific regulations on the term so its use is still rather hazy.

Biodegradable -  A product made of natural materials that will eventually decompose back into the earth with the help of microorganisms.

Compostable - A material that breaks down to become dirt that contains no toxins and can support plant life.

Eco-Friendly - interchangeable with the term “green”. Referring to something environmentally preferable. On its own, this term provides no specific criteria.

Fair Trade - a certification code that verifies that farmers receive a fair price for their
products. Through Fair Trade programs, farmers receive credit and are given necessary assistance in order to eventually become a self-sufficient business.

GMOs - Genetically Modified Organisms, Organisms from bacteria, plants or animals which have been genetically changed in a laboratory through DNA technology.

Green - Vague descriptive term referring to anything environmentally friendly.

Organic - Grown without conventional pesticides, artificial fertilizers or sewage and processed without food additives. Food products from animals have not been subjected to routine antibiotics or growth hormones. A USDA Organic certified label means that the product’s claims of being organic were verified by a third party.

Post Consumer Recycled - A product or material that was sold or used by consumers and then reused or made into another consumer product.

Recycled - Can mean either post consumer recycled o pre-consumer recycled. A pre-consumer recycled item is a  product or material which has been recycled or reused before it has become a consumer product. For example, an item made from factory scraps or waste materials that have not yet been used or sold to the general population.

Cameron Bruns is the founder of Boston Green Blog and a contributor to Merida, the premier source for distinctively designed natural rugs with a conscience for sustainability.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ever thought about growing a lawn on your roof?

A living roof, or green roof, as they are also called, is a roof covered in vegetation that provides several benefits for the building it sits on and the environment of the surrounding area. Living roofs can be made up of planted vegetation or container gardens, though there are some who say plants kept in containers don't really count as a living roof. They are being utilized in several cities to provide beneficial green space where there is none and they are also used for constructing more ecologically friendly homes...

Look at the rest of my post here at the Boston Green Blog! Fascinating stuff.
Image at Wikimedia Commons
-- Philip

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lawn Diseases: Brown Patch

Lawn Diseases: BROWN PATCH

So What Exactly is Brown Patch Disease?

Large brown patch lawn disease can seriously affect the beauty of your lawn. These patches appear because of various strains of the fungus Rhizoctonia solani. During hot weather, they can emerge and destroy areas your yard overnight. Particularly in the southeastern United States, this condition can infect many types of both warm-season and cool-season lawn grasses. And unfortunately, it is one of the most damaging of all turf diseases. The problem is that many homeowners have no idea how to identify the disease, let alone how to fight it. So let’s take a look at how to identify brown patch, where it comes from, and how you can remedy it.

How Can I Spot It?

Typically, the disease will cause large and brown circular shapes of thinned-out grass. Sometimes the grass may die off and create dead spots. In other cases, the center of the patch will recover, resulting in a donut-like shape on your lawn. Keep in mind, however, that areas damaged by brown patch are not always circular. Sometimes they may also grow together and be extremely irregular in shape. Look for what appears to be a dark, smoky ring around the patches of dead grass. Infected grasses often appear perfectly healthy until they become matted-down, are infected, and start to die.

What Causes It?

Brown patch disease most often occurs in very hot, humid conditions. It is therefore very common in the southeast. Look for it when temperatures are over 85 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime, and do not fall below 75 degrees at night. If you’ve been using lawn fertilizers with very high levels of quick-releasing nitrogen, you’ll be more likely to have the disease. So be sure to avoid these kinds of fertilizers during hot and humid weather.

What Can I Do About It?

The most effective solution for brown patch disease is prevention in the first place. Follow generally accepted lawn care principles (mowing to the right height, giving 1 inch of water per week) and be sure to do your watering early in the day. Avoid excess nitrogen from overfertilization and aerate your soil regularly. When it comes to treating the disease itself, fungicide may be necessary, in which case you’ll want to contact a professional.

-- Philip

Image credit: Garden Supply Company