Thursday, December 8, 2016

Composting

Composting


Most of you have heard of composting and have a pretty good idea on what it is, but you may not be ready yet to start your own compost pile or bin at home.

Composting is easier to do than you think and it is a great way to add to being more eco friendly and sustainable.


How to start:
Build a crate out of lumber to hold the compost materials - you could use a plastic bin too, if you don't know how to build one or if you don't have the time

Gather the materials needed - 
you'll need an activator like grass clippings, weeds, or manure 
limes to help eliminate odors
dried leaves or straw(also for odor)
proper drainage system to prevent a soggy pile


What can you put in the compost bin?

There are many things that can go into your compost bin here some examples

paper products including napkins
freezer burned fruits and vegetables
spices
potato peels
stale bread
coffee grounds
seaweed
kelp
watermelon rinds
dairy products like yogurt

and many other items can go in like pet hair or toe nail clippings

what shouldn't you put in?

diseased plants
foil
magazines/catalogs/other heavily glossy and printed paper
sawdust
diapers
feminine hygiene products
things with blood on them


So why should you compost?

For one, it eliminates waste!
It's a safe way to rid of materials without use of chemicals
Makes great soil/fertilizer for plants
Saves you money on garbage removal

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Little Things

Day by day we do things that damage our earth. From the waste we produce to deciding not to recycle, some of us realize these negative affects and others don’t, but nonetheless it continues to do damage when there are more sustainable options. But there are other things we often lack to think of when going about life that are so simple to change in order to reduce our waste. Here are a couple ways each one of us may be able to make changes to benefit our ability to be sustainable.

Reusable v. Recyclable

Image result for coffee cup waste
Often times when you go to your favorite coffee shop and buy a beverage and lack to provide a reusable cup, even when they are offered for an additional cost and we do this without even a second thought, actually this is annually 58 billion cups in the United States.  This costs the earth 20 million trees a year for all these wastefully little cups and for only four of these devilish little guys results in one pound of CO2 emissions. This is not only a large amount of waste created just by one country in a year, but it is also easily avoidable waste for a country every year if we just thought things through a bit. With just the use of a single reusable cup once a day, for forty years, you yourself could save 24 trees. Or you could even just have a cup of coffee at home if you cannot handle carrying your own cup around.   

Reusable K-cups

This brings us to the invention of the Kuerig. With each one of those plastic pods they are doing just about as much damage to the earth. One way to avoid doing this damage is using reusable k-cups, just like those coffee cups at your coffee shop, they are avoidable waste. However, sometimes it’s better to just invest in a plain old coffee maker if you are more of a regular coffee drinker anyway.

Another Cup

Image result for reusable water bottle reduce waste
Another cup that we can try to stop buying is plastic water bottles. Even though lots of these are recyclable less than a quarter are and we should try to avoid purchasing. With Americans alone consuming 8.6 billion gallons of water out of these plastic bottles this is clearly a problem that must be addressed. This water isn’t even tested and regulated half as much as tap water, and wen compared often doesn’t keep up to the tap water standards, so it really isn’t even benefiting us. Instead, we need to switch over to reusable water bottles, where we can reduce this waste, enjoy healthier water to consume and save water bottles for emergency situations where we shouldn’t be consuming water from our facets.






http://planetsave.com/2010/04/05/betacup-encourages-collaboration-to-create-a-sustainable-coffee-cup/ 
https://www.banthebottle.net/articles/5-ways-you-can-help-reduce-plastic-bottle-waste/ 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Buying Organic vs Conventional Food

A recent video has emerged claiming that the farming required to produce organic foods causes more greenhouse gases then that of conventional farm raised food. This is a result of organic farms producing less product requiring more land to be used for farming. This means occupying more land that could be used to host wildlife and natural habitats. Because this land is so immense the energy required to harvest these foods causes more greenhouse gas emissions. The video describes more information about genetically modified farms versus organic farms. The video can be seen here:

An older article back in 2012 from the Washington Post, also tackled this issue of conventional versus organic farms. The article looks at meta-analysis of the amount of product produced from organic farms versus conventional. The analysis found that organic fruits such as tomatoes had no difference in yield compared to that of conventional foods. It also analyzed organic canola and sunflower seeds finding that there was no difference in the amount of product compared to conventional. According to the analysis however, some conventional vegetable and grain farms did produce more compared to organic farms.

The article does admit that meta-analysis is not a perfect way to study results as it is a compilation of multiple studies. These studies also do not mention some of the other aspects that could result in less product such as pH balance and nitrogen levels. This is something the video fails to discuss.

The article can be viewed here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/the-environmental-footprint-of-organic-vs-conventional-food/2012/09/14/40b16582-fb65-11e1-b2af-1f7d12fe907a_story.html?utm_term=.73f9fc7133ae

What do you think? Will you buy organic or conventional? Perhaps you will do more research and formulate what you think is better for the environment. Remember, reduce, reuse, recycle.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Repair Cafés

Have a broken household item that you can not afford to throw away? Have a favorite sweater that needs sewing, but do not have the skills to fix it? Check your local listings for repair cafés! 

Repair cafés are a new and exciting way where people can bring their broken household items and learn how to repair them for free. Many people volunteer their time at these local cafés to teach people how to fix items from iPad screens to ripped jeans. This is a great way for people to reduce their carbon footprint and participate in a creative way to recycle. Even if you do not have the money to donate or volunteer in environmental practices then this is just one of the many simple ways you can easily stay environmentally and economically smart.  

Here is a quick video showing the beginning of repair cafés along with a sense of how the community of these cafés has evolved. The video is from 2014 and surely by now in 2016 more cafés have emerged.
Here is another video showing the community and the types of skilled individuals you can hope to meet if you participate in one of these cafés. This particular café is in Pasadena, California. 
This is a really neat idea and if you live in Oregon or California there are repair cafés all throughout these states. Reduce, reuse, recycle!