Live Green and Earn Points


Green and Healthy Backyard Bliss

By Kelsey Abbott |
You may have heard of various ways to green the inside of your home — using no VOC paints, bamboo flooring, and recycled counter tops — but what about your backyards? Check out our tips to help you green your grilling, your kids’ play set, and more.
UPDATED: 04/13/11 | Originally Published: 06/16/09

Summer is almost here! (Summer officially starts on June 21, but that’s soon enough, right?) ‘Tis the season for non-stop outdoor activity. It’s time to cram a year’s worth of hiking, biking, beaching, etc into three puny little months. Ready, set…

Wait! What about enjoying the weather and just chilling in your own backyard? Imagine: Lounging in a hammock while a pal fires up the barbecue and the kids play on the swing set. Ahh…summer bliss — but before you get too comfy, ask yourself one question: Would you consider your backyard eco-friendly?

If you answered “yes,” we’d love to hear how you did it. If you said “no,” never fear! RecycleBank is here — and we’re armed with a few tips to help you do some eco-conscious shopping and “green” your backyard.

  1. The Barbecue

    If you’re shopping for a new grill, choose a clean-burning propane grill over a charcoal grill. While both propane and charcoal grilling use natural resources and give off toxins, charcoal grilling releases more carbon monoxide and other air-polluting particulates than other grilling methods. If you already have a charcoal grill — or just really love that smoky flavor — buy lump charcoal made from invasive tree species or from sustainably-harvested forests. Instead of using lighter fluid, which releases smog-forming volatile organic compounds, use a chimney starter. If you want to shoot for uber-low impact outdoor cooking, have plenty of time and don’t care about that “grilled” flavor, harness the energy of the sun with a store-bought version or home-made solar oven.

  2. The Play Set

    Soup up your yard with a play structure made of recycled materials. Play Mart structures are made of 100% recycled plastic lumber. Better yet, the company will take back equipment once your kids have outgrown it. They’ll recycle materials to be made into new play equipment — and they’ll pay you for recycling.

  3. The Hammock (For Instant Backyard Relaxation, Of Course)

    Look for a hammock made of sustainably-harvested materials like hemp or something recycled and recyclable like rope made from old soda bottles . For something a little funkier, opt for a hammock made of reclaimed seatbelts.

  4. The Lawn

    Gas-powered lawn mowers produce loads of greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants. In other words, they’re not exactly eco-friendly. To keep your backyard green, reduce the size of your manicured lawn by planting trees and perennials — or switch to a greener mowing method. If your lawn is small, an old-fashioned human-powered reel mower may be perfect — just be sure to keep the blades sharp. For larger lawns, try an electric mower. Electric mowers have a little more oomph than self-powered reel mowers without the polluting exhaust of a gas-powered mower. They come in corded and cordless styles. Alas, the most eco-friendly lawn mower is a goat. Seriously. But you don’t have to own goats just to keep your lawn trimmed — you can rent them!

  5. The Bugs (Or Lack Thereof)

    Mosquitoes can completely ruin a perfectly wonderful summer evening, but there are natural ways to keep the little buggers away and keep you from scratching away for days after. Bats eat bugs. The more bats you have around your backyard, the fewer mosquitoes you’ll have. How do you attract bats? You build a bat house or two. Or you can add some mosquito-repelling plants to your backyard landscape. Plants like catnip, horsemint, marigolds, ageratum and rosemary keep mosquitoes away, but make sure they’re native to your area before planting.

How do you keep your yard green? Share your ideas below!

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