Thursday, July 31, 2014

Boston Enlists Goats to Fight Invasive Plants

source image courtesy of buzzfeed

The City of Boston is enlisting the aid of some skilled four-legged helpers in order to combat poison ivy, buckthorn, Japanese knotweed, and other invasive plant species growing on Boston Parks and Recreation Department property. The Parks Department has teamed up with the Southwest Boston Community Development Corporation (SWBCDC) and The Goatscaping Company of Duxbury and Plymouth to host a small group of goats at the West Street Urban Wild in Hyde Park as a sustainable approach to landscape management.

“Goats are an eco-friendly way to regulate overgrowth and manage pests and weeds, while giving nutrients back to the earth,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “I’m pleased that the Parks Department is innovating in their lot care, and I look forward to seeing the results of the goat’s work.”

 The idea was generated when teenagers from the Hyde Park Green Team, SWBCDC’s environmental education and job readiness program, approached Mayor Martin J. Walsh to discuss goatscaping at the May 27 Mayor’s Neighborhood Coffee Hour at McGann Playground.  Intrigued by the concept and the Green Team’s enthusiasm, Mayor Walsh directed Interim Parks Commissioner Chris Cook to work with SWBCDC on the project.

 Goats are currently used on Boston’s Harbor Islands and in other states and major cities including Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., as a safe and responsible way of managing overgrown and invasive vegetation. They do their work quietly and without disturbance, unlike expensive and noisy machinery, or herbicides which can be toxic. There is no hauling or dumping of debris as the goats eat the invasive plants, digest them removing harmful seeds and oils, and then deposit a clean and odorless natural fertilizer back into the landscape. They are also tick resistant, reduce the risk of wildfires, and do not damage the soil thanks to their small hooves.

 Four goats will live on-site at the West Street Urban Wild for eight weeks. A low-voltage, solar-powered electric fence will be installed to keep the goats in and coyotes out. The fence is not harmful to humans, including children and the elderly, even those with pacemakers. The goats will have a small hut for shelter. Supplemental water, hay, and grain will be stored on the site.

 The public is welcome to view the goats. The goats won’t bite or buck and are very accustomed to the presence of people of all ages. City officials warn, however, that the animals will be living among and eating poison ivy plants and will have poison ivy oils on their fur. The public should not to pet them. In addition, visitors should not tease or feed the goats.

 Teenagers from the Hyde Park Green Team will check on the goats daily, and provide them with fresh water and the proper amount of supplemental grain and hay. Any residents interested in helping to help feed and water the goats on weekends must first call (617) 364-7300 to receive a short training from SWBCDC staff.

Ryan Woods, Boston Parks Department

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Spotlight: EnerNOC


WHERE: One Marina Park Drive, Suite 400, Boston, MA 02210

WHY: EnerNOC stands for Energy Network Operations Center, and is a leading provider of energy intelligence software (EIS). EIS helps organizations buy cleaner energy, manage utility bills, optimize energy consumption, participate in demand response, and manage peak demand. EnerNOC has saved clients millions of dollars through energy efficiency and carbon management, and helped mitigate millions of dollars in costs through energy supply procurement. Strategic energy management is a competitive advantage for our customers, driving positive benefits right to the bottom line. This Boston-based company is a necessary and successful step towards a green economy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The 4 Best Face Masks with Organic Ingredients

source image courtesy of ENT Wellbeing

EWG SkinDeep: Not yet rated
Think Dirty: Not yet rated
Good Guide: Not yet rated
My results: This refreshing mask left my face moisturized without any residue. This is a great treatment for sunburned, summer skin.

EWG SkinDeep: 6 (moderate hazard)
Think Dirty: 8 (dirty)
Good Guide: 5.5
My results: This mask is great for changing seasons when skin needs some TLC - especially for sensitive skin types.

EWG SkinDeep: Not yet rated
Think Dirty: Not yet rated
Good Guide: Not yet rated
My results: Great for acne-prone skin, this mask is deeply cleansing. 

EWG SkinDeep: Not yet rated
Think Dirty: Not yet rated
Good Guide: Not yet rated
My results: This mask is perfect for combination skin because it both exfoliates and moisturizes. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Spotlight: The Well Coffee

source image courtesy of Crimson Cup

WHERE: South Station

WHY: This new coffee shop is like no other. It is actually a non-profit organization that combines high quality espresso based drinks with love for community. Patrons get delicious coffee-for-a-cause because each month, all proceeds from coffee purchases are donated to a local non-profit (July is Bikes Not Bombs!). The coffee house is staffed by volunteers which keeps costs down and helps make a bigger impact!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

5 Reasons to Go Vegetarian

image courtesy of Adventures in Cooking

  • Eating a plant-based diet significantly reduces your carbon footprint. Roughly, a vegetarian diet produces half as much greenhouse gases as a typical American omnivore diet. 
  • A recent study shows that vegetarians live 20% longer than their meat-eating counterparts.
  • Non-meat protein sources are delicious too!
  • Its easy to grow your own veggies and/or buy local in-season veggies, which reduces your carbon footprint even further.
  • You no longer have to worry about the horrors of factory farming and living conditions for animals. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Water Stories: Conservations in Paint and Sound

The Museum of Science opened a brand new art and sound exhibit last week -“Water Stories: Conservations in Paint and Sound” with paintings by Anne Neely and sound by Halsey Burgund.

The exhibit features oil paintings ranging in size from up to eight feet across to much smaller creations.  Neely focuses her works on the subject of water.  Inspired after seeing a toxic dump turned aquifer in Maine near her Jonesboro studio, Neely took to the beauty of different bodies of water.  She then began researching the many threats to water such as drought, depleted aquifers, dried up riverbeds, pollution, toxic sediment and fracking.  This is when she started seeing true connections between water preservation and art.

In 2012, she took her idea to museum director David G. Rabkin.  Together they came up with the exhibit and she got to work.  On July 11th, their dream became a reality.  With the help of sound artist, Halsey Burgund, the exhibit was opened in Boston.

“It’s impressionistic and emotional, rather than pure thinking,” says Rabkin.  The exhibit is rooted in art but has an educational side to it.  It is meant to inspire but also inform.

The Museum of Science is excited to feature such a unique crossover exhibit.  Learn more and plan your visit here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

How to Care for Spider Plants

source image courtesy of Wabi-Sai Wanderings

Spider plants are very effective at improving your indoor air quality according to the Mother Nature Network. They help reduce the presence of  benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene. The best thing about these plants is that they are very resilient and easy to care for - just follow these steps for a long living spider plant:

  • place the planter somewhere with access to bright light
  • water regularly in the summer (2-3 times per week) and reduce to misting in the winter 
  • keep the plant indoors in winter months to prevent it from being in temps below 50 degrees
  • If you want to propigate the plant, keep it in a small pot so that it can use its energy to create plantlets, otherwise re-pot as your spider plants grows.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Eco Happenings this Week

  • Give your A/C a break and cut your bill by turning it off if you're leaving for the day

Monday, July 7, 2014

Eco Events this Week


  • Need something to listen to at work? Catch up on back episodes of Living on Earth







  • Reduce your carbon footprint by unplugging all appliances that aren't in use