Some of us are homeowners and despite having the luxury of owning a house, we have a whole other realm of chores around the house that helps maintain and preserve our homes. Maintaining and renovating our homes is an investment into not only a piece of property but to our ideal “home sweet home”. Therefore, behind the glamour of being a successful homeowner, keeping your place looking its best takes some weed pulling, dust wiping, and grime scrubbing. Basically, you have to got to put in some work.
For homeowners, building a new house or renovating an old one gives them a deeper satisfaction and freedom that many can’t enjoy at an apartment or loft. You have the choice to customize and mold your home into the place you are happy to live in every day. The best part about today is that there is the added perk of taking advantage of new market trends that bring innovation and easy-living to your doorstep. Being said, the first thing anyone is going to see at your new home is your front yard. Gardens, walkways, and driveways bring aesthetics to your house including functionality and accessibility. Planning and designing your front yard, entrance and driveway is important for many reasons. You want your home to be inviting for guests, enjoyable for your children and your dog, who thoroughly love tearing through your yard and accessible for parking and any foot traffic.
Before you start installing anything, you need to : Your driveway’s goal is to give you access to your front door, parking area, and garage. Having a walkway that connects from your driveway to your front door is useful when you need to carry things into your home. Plus, you don’t want to walk in grass in case of weather conditions or the kind of shoes you’re wearing that day. Proper drainage affects the longevity and quality of your driveway for many reasons. Wet ground and water runoff can erode and weaken the foundation allowing your driveway to deteriorate at a faster rate. You need to accentuate your home with your driveway since that’s the “red carpet” that leads to what lays behind your front door.
Ask yourself what it is you want and/or need from your home, such as:
- What is your budget?
- What are your project dimensions?
- What is the amount of time you have to set aside to do the project?
- Does your street access allow for a good view of oncoming traffic?
- How much accessibility would you prefer and to what areas of your property?
- Are you looking to add plants, flowers, and shrubs for aesthetic purposes? Maybe a garden?
- Does your area experience frequent or heavy flooding?
- Or does your area experience droughts often?
- Are you willing to put in some maintenance work or would you rather lay down a driveway you can just forget about?
DIY Gravel Driveway
Pros: The easiest, fastest and cheapest do it yourself driveway is commonly made with gravel. You basically buy it, dump it and spread it evenly to create a flat surface for any vehicle to go over. The perks about gravel is the customization due to the color selection, shapes and sizes and its permeability that allows water to soak back into the ground. Oil leaks can be easily covered and it has more friction than asphalt which tends to be slicker.
Cons: There is an ongoing maintenance required for this type of driveway and it’s not the best option for snowy regions. Gravel migrates easily and creates a lot of dust whenever traffic goes over it.
DIY Concrete Driveway
Pros: The traditional material for driveway, concrete is great for a clean style for your home and can last up to 30 years.
Cons: Cost of material and installation for concrete is more expensive than asphalt. Weather and rising temperature changes causes cement to expand and contract, which creates cracks if not installed properly. When pouring concrete there is a lot to consider such as humidity levels, weather conditions and the length of time cement needs to undergo its chemical process to solidify, which can take up to a couple of weeks. There is also the environmental impact of adding more surfaces that exuberate flooding and water contamination.
DIY Permeable Paver Driveway
Pros: Permeable Pavers – (interlocking plastic grids) make the process behind your do it yourself driveway easy like Legos. The install can be done by anyone, which leaves the choice of using a contractor up to you. These grids interlock and can be filled with grass or gravel, which stabilizes the soil and allows water to soak back into the ground to recharge groundwater and filter out pollutants.
Cons: Not all permeable pavers are created equal. Choosing a permeable paver built to withstand high traffic and made from durable high quality materials will ensure a maintenance free parking surface. TRUEGRID Paver manufactures the World’s Strongest Permeable Pavers and is built to handle heavy loads.
DIY Asphalt Driveway
Pros: The material handles freeze-thaw weather cycles better than most and due to being black, it retains heat and melts snow quickly. It is typically cheaper than concrete and if taken good care of it can last 12 – 35 years.
Cons: Asphalt, however, requires maintenance such as sealing every 3 – 5 years and cleaning two times a year. You are also limited on style and color with asphalt, which can be damaged in extreme heat. Same as concrete, the addition of surfaces disallows water to soak back into ground.
DIY Interlocking Concrete Paver or Brick Permeable Paver Driveway
Pros: It has low long-term maintenance requirements and adds aesthetic patterns and colors to your pavement for your front yard. Maintenance costs should be modest if installed correctly and the material should last a long time.
Cons: Usually more expensive than other options and installation is costly and extremely time-consuming. Most can be permeable but over time sediment fills in and can take away permeability.
DIY Grass Driveway
Pros: Grass driveways are typically made from plastic grid systems that allow grass to grow through while adding a stabilized ground for any vehicle to drive or park on. These are great for overflow parking or if you want to keep the greenery around your home for aesthetics.
DIY Hybrid Paver Driveways
Pros: These driveways are a hybrid of two different types of pavement but they all consist of two stripes that are thick enough for a tire to drive over. The most popular combination is typically with grass pavement and any other impermeable pavement such as concrete. These types of driveways are perfect for homes who have tricky street access with little to no visibility of incoming traffic. Having a circular driveway allows you to turn your vehicle around to face the street and exit the driveway safely. This is the most common type of driveway and it is straightforward but you can still take advantage of its width to allow more parking area. To fit the grid in organically-shaped areas, outline trim marks on the plastic paver to cut with a reciprocating saw and attach it to the rest of the grid.
Once the grid is completely connected and laid down, fill in the hollow space of the grid with gravel and smooth it out with a rake or push broom. Take note that angular ¾ inch gravel is the best for no gravel migration.
After you’ve completed all the previous steps, you can now tamper down your gravel across the grid. This top layer can be customized to whatever color gravel you prefer.
Start from the bottom of your driveway and start placing the grid about an inch below street level. Cover the entire area with the grid and snap the pieces together. Do not cut pieces to fit into odd shapes until the grid is completely laid down. Here is when we start creating the sub-base. Depending on your expected load and drainage needs, lay down 3 – 6 inches of ¾ inch crushed stone, preferably pervious stone such as limestone or granite. Compact this layer with your tamper for a solid foundation. This will be the foundation and the most important step in the process. A solidly flat foundation guarantees a sturdy grid system with no floating sections.
Ensure your location is safe to dig in. Call a utility locating service.
From street grade level, start digging down about 6 inches in your outlined area, depending on expected load and drainage needs. For drainage needs, spend some time figuring out the slope of your ground and how much detention area you want underneath the grass paver system. Consider the fact that a shorter sub-base means less detention area to hold water.
Flatten down the soil with a tamper to ensure stability. Make sure it is leveled and flat.
Advocating and gearing for a sustainable, environmentally-friendly future isn’t just good for the environment. Plants, animals, humans and even single celled organisms must work to preserve the balance of nature that allows us to co-exist with one another on this planet.
Yes, being sustainable allows us to peacefully ease Mother Earth’s temperament, which can be kind at times and at other times be unmerciful, but it’s every future generation that passes on our legacy. Being sustainable and eco-friendly is for the children of today and tomorrow.
The next generation needs to have a chance to live in a healthy world. We make our footprint while we are here for a short time, so how about we leave something we’re proud of for future generations to make even better?
A study by UNICEF released last week is taking the internet by storm. About children around the world are forced to live with hazardous levels of outdoor air pollution on a daily basis. Around 300 million of those children are currently living in places with the highest toxic levels of air pollution, which is 6 times or more above World Health Organization standards. That’s about 1 in 7 children globally forced to live in such harmful conditions. Children are more susceptible to the harms of polluting as it affects their mental and physical development.
On Monday, the government in New Dehli declared an emergency and heeding that students instead stay indoors to avoid breathing the toxic air outside. Currently, 25 million people with 8.8 million vehicles live in Dehli, which is ranked as the most polluted city in the world, and has entered its second week of having air pollution levels over 30 times above the World Health Organization guidelines. Some families in Dehli have left the city in fear of developing health issues. It has been reported that citizens .
This kind of phenomenon isn’t brand new. The Great Smog of 1952 in London brought a layer of smog that lasted for five days in the city and killed 4,000 Londoners. The event was generated by the burning of coal in fireplaces to warm up homes to combat the frigid temperatures of winter.
What is currently occurring in Dehli comes after the Paris climate agreement went into effect last week along with the second event where political leaders and entrepreneurs gathered to discuss funding plans for sustainable alternatives.
Studies and history helps us understand these phenomenons. They help us forsee dangerous trends but the people of New Delhi aren’t preparing for some distant future. They are breathing toxic air today, right now.
It’s no surprise that we’ve done a great deal of damage to the air and atmosphere. Starting in the ’80s, news media outlets were frenzied over the ozone layer, a layer in the Earth’s stratosphere that shields us from the sun’s dangerous UV rays, and its growing, gaping hole caused by human pollution.
After years of observing the growth of the hole, the situation became more apparent to the public and sparked action towards cutting out harmful pollutants from our day to day life. Hairsprays at that time were contributing to the problem and had to undergo a new chemical makeover to rid of the CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) that were ripping the ozone layer.
Although a great move, unfortunately hairsprays and CFCs were only a micro-fraction of the problem.
comes directly from our energy use, fossil fuels and transportation and it comes indirectly from our consumer choices. Our consumer choices directly drives the production and delivery of goods and services. The process behind these productions requires the use of energy, fossil fuels and transportation and combats our efforts to reduce air pollution.
All living things are made of carbon and either acquire or emit carbon dioxide in some form of way to operate their inner natural processes to survive on Earth. In humans, our lungs breathe in oxygen that is transported to our blood and organs for them to function and as we breathe out our lungs push out toxins such as carbon dioxide that we don’t need. Plants take in carbon dioxide and in their process called photosynthesis they turn it into nutrients. In excess, carbon traps heat in the atmosphere and through the burning of fossil fuels, such as natural gas, oil and coal, we are adding more carbon into the environment than the environment can remove.
Sulfur Dioxide naturally blocks the sun’s rays and allows the Earth to cool down. Volcanoes naturally emit Sulfur Dioxide and are a great aid to cooling down the Earth’s atmosphere. When there is an excess of Sulfur Dioxide from human pollution releasing it into the air, precipitation from clouds mix with the chemical and fall as acid rain that slowly eats away at anything. Small amounts of this chemical can harm the respiratory system and cause difficulty of breathing.
A component of fossil fuels and a much-needed source that creates energy methane is also emitted through livestock, agricultural methods, and organic waste. When unused methane leaks into the atmosphere, it becomes a devastation. Methane absorbs heat exceptionally well, and although it doesn’t linger around as much as carbon dioxide it is 84 times more potent in short-term exposure.
Everything we do in our day to day life uses up energy. Whether you stylize your hair, microwave a burrito, use air conditioning or watch television. It’s obvious to us when we use appliances that we are using energy, we see it on our electricity and gas bills. However, when you buy a bottle of water or buy groceries, the impact you are making can be almost non-existent from your point of view.
The city of Delhi or smog back in 1947 and since then the number has grown to 74 days filled with smog in 2013. The situation worsened in the ’90s when there was rapid urban growth and more vehicle traffic added to the city.
In efforts to prevent further pollution, the Delhi government demanded that vehicles switch to a more environmentally-friendly alternative, compressed natural gas. Unfortunately the phase didn’t last, even though fine particle matter (PM) levels significantly fell during this short-lived phase that ended in 2007. In the past year, the Delhi government has attempted to introduce short-term solutions such as regulating traffic and temporarily banning any construction or demolition in the city.
Small Ways to Conserve Big Amounts of Energy
Carpool, bike, walk, ride the bus, run to the store, to work and school, if possible. The less cars on the road emitting exhaust, the less pollution we create every day. If you have to use a car, keep your car tuned up and your tires inflated to ensure least possible amount of emission.
Use environmentally-safe cleaners and paints. Buy products labelled “low VOC” or have the Energy Star label.
Consider using gas logs instead of burning wood/
Use dishwashers and clothes washers when full and dry clothes on a clothesline.
Turn off the lights in rooms you’re not in and use fluorescent lights that require less energy.
Eat locally, and buy produce at the farmer’s markets. Better yet, grow your own garden.
Cut down on your consumption of meat.
In the office, print on both sides of the paper and turn off office equipment, such as computers, printers, fax machine, when you leave.
Avoids using plastic bags and bring reusable bags to the grocery store.
Get rid of junk mail. Companies such as, allow you to stop the delivery of junk mail you only toss in the trash without a glance.
Although small, these changes can make a big impact on our excessive use of energy if more and more people mindfully conserved energy. It is one thing to make the effort to do these small changes but the effort goes unnoticed more people don’t do the same.
Make sure you spread the word and educate others on the importance of conserving energy.
You pray you don’t win first or second prize or even be nominated at all.
But why is that?
If you were handed a toilet seat painted in gold or a plunger painted in silver, wouldn’t you think that was strange and off-putting? Depending on the person, someone may be a passionate plumber but what if you were awarded for having the most polluted waterway in and around New York City?
You would be mortified.
To the New York City Water Trail Association, an advocacy group, hosting the awards is more than just for laughs. It’s a serious matter with a symbolic award aimed to grab attention and force others to face what is currently happening. Held five times, some of the past winners included Flushing Bay and Saw Mil River. Saw Mil River dumps into the Hudson River and has been consistently recorded to have some of the highest pollution numbers. This year the runner up was Coney Island, due to a nearby apartment complex dumping waste into the water nonchalantly. The first place winner was Bronx Kill – definitely, no pun-intended– a strait between the south of Bronx and the Randalls Island.
Of course there are honorable mentions to not leave the rest of the country out of the loop. Now, for where the data comes from, the members of Citizens Water Quality Testing Program, CWQTP, volunteer to test water from multiple locations to add to data already provided by the government. What CWQTP is looking for is any trace of fecal matter from sewage runoff that may have contaminated the waterway. Water contamination can happen from a number of reasons including rainfall or flooding that overwhelms treatment plants and sewage systems and also from the occasional blockage or faulty pipes.
Even though, handing out a gold-painted toilet seat probably won’t solve the issue at hand with our water quality, it sure drives attention towards it and breaks the ice on the topic of how we deeply affect the environment. Even though New York City may be facing these issues, they are not the only ones. Across the nation, urban and suburban communities are at risk of water contamination and are hoping to bring awareness to the issue in hopes of finding a solution.
Holding an awards show is one way to bring awareness on the quality of waterways that would grab anyone’s attention, but, what else is being done to do the same? The city of Seattle is full of self-starters. Nirvana and Starbucks were born in Seattle and became national sensations.
So, what is it about Seattle that cultivates such creative and unique ventures to solve issues? Maybe the occasional toss of large fish in your direction at Pike Place Market keeps Seattle citizens on their toes or could it be the love and dependency Seattle has of its port and shores that tends to spark unique ideas to protect the waters.
Hmm, just a thought.
However, near the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle lies the Denny Way Combined Sewer Flow, which at first sounds too dull to talk about but when you visit you can’t help but marvel at the work of art. The project was created to offset the implications of increased storm water capacity in its first phase. The city’s old sewage system had little capacity to guide stormwater to treatment plants and would allow water to overflow into nearby surface bodies of water. As time went on and new legislation has adapted to new research, the old sewage system was not up to date to meet legal requirements. The new system added stormwater capacity for heavy flows that can be detained underground to slowly go through the treatment plants to avoid overflow.
In its second phase in 2009, artist Laura Haddad was brought on board to visually and poetically express what the project’s purpose was and to bring awareness on its green infrastructure. A new vault was added to the system that included five stainless steel pipes extended out of the ground. Wrapped around them are etched stainless steel panels with a beautiful pictogram along with poetry that conveys how the system works. Seattle isn’t stranger to water contamination and has even faced pollution of their waters from the company Monsanto who is currently in a lawsuit with multiple cities for damages done to waterways by their toxic pollutant PCB (polychlorinated byphenyls) that contaminated waters from 1935 to 1977. Fortunately, Seattle’s drinking water comes from the high cascade mountain that is safe to drink but exposure to the PCB chemical is known to cause cancer. Seattle is in the process of building a new treatment plant in hopes of reversing the environmental damage.
As of New York City, being one of the largest cities in the world can be hard to handle. When it rains in the Big Apple, the sewage systems all too easily back up and begin to overflow and contaminate nearby bodies of water, a problem seen in any major city. Along with that, stormwater runoff glides across dirty surfaces such as roofs and parking lots where pollutants easily accumulate from numerous of cars, trash and waste, which contaminate waterways and technically breaks the federal law called Clean Water Act.
Another national problem is of the contamination of pesticides and fertilizers from the Midwest into local waterways that feed into the massive Mississippi River and dump into the Gulf of Mexico. There you see a number of negative implications that have severely affected the area. Some of the effects include the harm of eco systems of fish and shellfish that have impacted the seafood industry and communities that work in the industry. To start, golden toilets and green infrastructure poetry and art are unique ways to bring attention to the issue of our polluted waterways.They help start the conservation on what is going on, but, what is the next step to solve this issue?
Rebuilding the infrastructure to mend outdated sewage systems would be the best option but that requires an immense amount of time and money. What we can do now to drastically make a difference is to conserve our water to cut the amount of wastewater needed to be controlled and treated in order to become safe again. This will offset the volume of water going into treatment plants and help the amount of overflow if there’s an event of heavy rainfall or flooding.
When you are brushing your teeth, letting the faucet run wastes about 6 liters of water per minute. Turn the faucet off while you scrub those pearly whites. Same goes for letting showers run while not using them. Sometimes, some showers take a long time to warm up so instead hang a bucket from your shower head to catch the water and use for another time. Always do full loads of dishes in your dishwasher or clothes in your washer. Doing small loads not only wastes energy but also water. When watering your plants, fill up a bucket of water instead of using a hose. Letting your hose run is wasteful. Here is a great time to use that bucket of water you collected from letting your shower warm up. Also, water your plants early in the morning or late afternoon to reduce the amount of water evaporation. Instead of waiting for your tap water to cool down for a glass of water, instead just fill up a large jug and put it in the fridge so you can just grab a glass of cold water to avoid leaving the faucet running.r time. Invest in water-efficient products such as showerheads, toilets, and a number of others. These products help you do the work in conserving water without needing to mindfully do it yourself.me. Gracing over this list will give you some starting points to conserve water and cut the amount of wastewater needed to be treated every day but take the time to find other ways to conserve. Think of every droplet of water as another dollar spent to treat that water to ensure it is safe for you to consume or be exposed to. Having excess water in the sewage systems that causes overflow puts you at risk of consuming or being exposed to polluted waterways.
Always remember, making small everyday changes will in fact rollover to create a big impact on your communities and environment.
Sustain to maintain.