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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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Love Your Reef Tank Without Loving Coral Reefs to Death


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For novice aquarists fresh water tanks are usually a starting point because they are easier and cheaper to maintain. But some may say that coral reef tanks are the Bentleys of aquariums. Despite their deep love for these amazing species many aquarists buy corals, fish and inverts that have been taken from wild reefs. A lot of reef species are obtained from the exploitation and over harvesting of already threatened reef systems. Some estimates put 60% of corals reefs in critical danger. The practice of taking corals, fish and invertebrates from these fragile systems for aquarium practices has been going on for decades.

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There are however ways to enjoy having salt water species in your tank without promoting their exploitation, simply buy from aquaculture providers instead. As American aquarists have become more eco-conscious companies have taken notice and new options are all over the market. Fort Pierce, Florida based, ORA ( Oceans, Reefs & Aquariums), offers aquacultured hatchery-raised saltwater fish, invertebrates, and live aquarium foods and Sustainable Reefs.com offers access to aquacultured corals, fish, plants and inverts from various aquaculture providers.

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ORA provides a sustainable way to enjoy having your own reef tank without negatively impacting reef systems. They raise and distribute their own fish, food and invertebrates. Eliminating the need to harvest from reef ecosystems. Aquacultured species not only prevent the promotion of harvesting from wild ecosystems but they also have other added benefits that make it worthwhile to the aquarist.

  • Aquacultured fish are tank hardy, and tank fed
  • Aquacultured fish and coral are not exposed to parasites and diseases that are found in the wild protecting your tanks from contamination.
  • Aquacultured fish and coral are breed for their appearance and are just as vibrant and colorful as their wild born counter parts.
  • Fish like clowns can have better temperaments and behavior more conducive to tank life.
  • Aquacultured live food saves food from being stolen from wild species.

Another way to pursue being more eco-friendly is to check out forums on sites like Reef Sanctuary. Coral’s, when they grow too large, have to be fragged, or broken down creating pieces that can be used to grow new corals. You can buy frags, or small pieces, from other hobbyists you find on forums instead of going to the store on sites. This recycles coral that is already being captively grown in tanks. Just beware of non-aquaculture stores posting in the forums, and remember to dip corals or treat the corals as every tank is a different environment, even if tanks are more controlled than an ocean environment you don’t want any hitch hiking problems.

So if you are an owner of a salt water tank, maybe it’s time to change your consumer habits and take a step in the right direction to help protect what you already love. And for those looking to start up in the hobby, know where every piece in your tank is coming from, don’t be afraid to ask for non-wild captured corals and fish. Do use aquaculture providers and share your love for your tank with the species that are housed in it.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

eco-friendly pet: reclaimed wood dog bed


reclaimed wood dog bed

It had to come to this – luxurious craftsman quality beds befitting the style and grandeur of our most treasured companions – pets. America’s love affair/obsession with its furry friends knows no limits. This manifestation – a pet bed handmade from 100% reclaimed wood – is actually a positive one (pet beds can be among the ugliest items in a home) with eco-friendly bloodlines. The bed’s creator, Gina Marie, specializes in making handmade home decor items out of reclaimed wood.

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This bed will provide your small dog a stylishly comfortable place to sleep and relax. It measures roughly 19-1/2″ x 15-1/2″ and 3-1/4″ deep, and is perfect for a 20-pound canine like a miniature Schnauzer (shown above). This doggy bed features handmade craftswomanship, a headboard created from 4 pieces of reclaimed wood, wood buttons to cover all fasteners and tons of character   – add a pillow or cushion of your, or your dog’s choice. $249 @ Redeeming Timber

related: more pet stuff featured on www.alternativeconsumer.com

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Teaching Your Kids to Craft Eco-friendly Pet Toys


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It seems like the prices of pet toys goes up by leaps and bounds every time a pet owner walks into the pet supply store. The prices are even higher for pet toys that are eco-friendly. It makes no sense that pet owners who want to give their dogs and cats toys that won’t harm the environment must pay ridiculous prices for them. On the average, pet owners pay around six hundred dollars every year to keep their precious pups or cute cats supplied with a variety of pet toys. In this economy, people are finding it hard to continue to buy new pet toys. Fortunately, you can make your own pet toys with your kids using things found in nature or items that are lying around the house.

By teaching your kids to craft eco-friendly pet toys, you are also teaching them ways to recycle old items and still put them to good use. It’s also a great way to spend time together as a family and encourage your kids to be creative. Making your own eco-friendly pet toys is fun for the whole family and once the toys are completed, they’ll be fun for the pets too!

The Eco-friendly Tug Toy
You’ll need the following items to make the eco-friendly tug toy:

  • Old but durable fabric
  • Eco-friendly fabric paint
  • Natural hair paintbrushes
  • Newspapers

How to make the tug toy:
Spread a thick layer of newspaper on the space where you and your children will be working. This will help to protect the surface from paint.

  • Lay the fabric out flat, and cut three six inch wide and eighteen inch long strips. Save the remaining fabric for other pet toy projects.
  • Paint different things on the fabric strips however; you must be sure that the fabric paint is non-toxic and eco-friendly. This can be found at most craft supply stores. A lot of pet owners paint things like dog bones on the fabric, but any design that pleases you will work. You can paint hearts on it for Valentine’s Day, bunnies or eggs for Easter, or even the name of your favorite team for football season. The options are plentiful so be as creative as you’d like!
  • Let the paint dry completely and flip the fabric over. Now, you and the kids can paint this side with more designs. Be sure to let this side dry thoroughly as well.
  • Tie tight knots at the ends of each strip of fabric. Double knots tend to hold up best.
  • Tie two of the fabric strips in the space between the end knots of the third strip and Voila! You and the kids have created your own eco-friendly pet toy for your pooch!

Now that you’ve created a great new toy for your dog, it’s time to test it out. Bring your precious, eco-friendly pooch outside and toss that tug toy! Of course, don’t do this unless your backyard is secured with a traditional fence, electric dog fence or wireless dog fence. Safety should always come first, when it comes time for playing with your dog.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Olive – a one-stop shop for eco-friendly dogs and cats


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Truth be told, we love Olive. Olive is an online store that provides safe and environmentally friendly goods for both dogs and cats. It first opened in January 2008, and has since been supplying pet owners with top-quality, (often handcrafted) products that are durable and stylish. Olive is located outside of Austin, Texas, and is a proud member of the Organic Trade Association and Green America.

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Olive has just about everything you could ever need for your little pets — from bedding, grooming, flea & tick treatments and collars — to stylish outerwear, accessories, food, toys and training supplies. When it comes to their selection of pet food, they guarantee to provide fresh food with the longest possible expiry, and vow that all products are both toxin and chemical-free. Also, all orders are shipped in low-impact packaging – using recycled boxes and biodegradable packing materials. (more…)

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Aquasprouts: all-in-one sustainable garden and filterless aquarium


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If you’re like me and you love aquarium fish as well as potted plants in your home then you’ll definitely be interested in Aquasprouts. This is a neat gift idea as well as something unique to decorate your home. The aquarium is an educational aquaponic system, sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Austin, Texas-based and made in the USA, Aquasprouts combines both fish and plants into one compact, fun unit.

The aquarium is a closed loop system so that the device is sustainable and efficient for buyers. They are also self-cleaning, self-fertilizing, support fish and also grows plants in a symbiotic relationship. I was amazed that the aquariums are filterless so you don’t have to worry about messy cleanup. The system enables you to grow basil, mint, or other herbs allowing you to always have produce at hand. It can also be implemented in classrooms or for children as a learning experience about ecosystems, earth cycles, aquaculture, and gardening.

The systems are a little pricey and there are only two options of 5.5 gallons and 10 gallons at $250 and $280. However, this includes everything you need and you’ll never have to change the filter or clean it again and you will always have food growing which also saves you a lot of money. I suggest you check out this interesting product and the video under their “About Us” section for yourself at: www.aquasprouts.com

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