Backyard Innovation with Backyard Skills, a D.I.Y Handbook

Eco-friendly do it yourself book from The Ecology Center delivers fun and rewarding projects for everyone to try
Feb 23, 2011 11:49 AM ET

Backyard Innovation with Backyard Skills, a DIY Handbook

 From Glenn Croston's Fast Company Expert Blog

We hear a lot about global environmental problems like climate change, energy, food, water, and buildings - the list goes on and on, and it just seems to get longer. Problems like these are so vast that people often feel there’s nothing they can do about them, but there are plenty of steps people can take right in their own home and in their own backyard to stop talking about the problems and start solving them. That’s where Backyard Skills a DIY Handbook comes in, an eco-friendly do it yourself book recently released by The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano.    Backyard Skills lays out simple, easy, and innovative projects people can do themselves to tackle global problems like water, energy, food, shelter, and waste starting in their own homes. You can plant a shade tree, providing a variety of eco-benefits and saving money for years to come on your air conditioning. You can build your own solar oven in less than an hour, or make a cool outdoor chair from a shipping pallet that would have gone to the landfill otherwise. You can recycle water from your washer one day and make pickles the next, or take on a project I’m eager to try – brewing your own beer. All of the projects take little time or money, and all of them are fun, educational, and meaningful, with attractive diagrams and simple steps laid out clearly.   As soon as I got the book my seven year old daughter homed in on the terrarium project on page 12. It was easy and great fun to work on together, and I like the fact that the plants inside can take care of themselves.      In addition to providing nifty environmental solutions for the green-minded people, the book also connects with the growing trend among do-it-yourselfers. The down economy has revived interest in self-sufficiency and making the most of our resources by doing more things ourselves. You don’t have to be a treehugger to love the power of taking charge of your own life and doing more with your own hands.    “Backyard Skills is about starting anywhere,” said Evan Marks, Director of the EcologyCenter.  “Pick up the book, flip to a page and engage. The handbook is really about getting your hands-dirty and making a difference.”   The Backyard Skills book was inspired by regular workshops featured at The Ecology Center, and exhibits like the water conservation exhibit featured there currently. With its headquarters located in a refurbished farmhouse originally built in 1878, the EcologyCenter stands with an organic farm as an oasis in San Juan Capistrano. Its environmental education mission is an important one, putting the power of action into the hands of everyone. Families or anyone else looking for a weekend destination in OrangeCounty or the Los Angeles area or looking for the next workshop to sign up for should check the website for this environmental education center (   I hope more people get the word about Backyard Skills and let their friends know. With a book like this they can make a difference in the world starting by making a positive difference in their own lives.   To get a copy of Backyard Skills, you can go the website for the EcologyCenter: click here.   Glenn Croston is the author of "75 Green Businesses" and "Starting Green", helping green businesses to get started and grow at Starting Up Green.


More from Starting Up Green

Tracking Corporate Water Impacts

A Gift of Service

The Gift of a Crisis