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
potato peels
stale bread
coffee grounds
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
magazines/catalogs/other heavily glossy and printed paper
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

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. 

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:

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.

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! 

The Benefits of Using Glass Packaging

Using packaging made of glass and recycling it is great for the environment and your health. It is 100% recyclable and 80% of it can be reclaimed. Glass can also be used repeatedly without any loss in quality. There is no chemical contamination that comes from using glass products. Glass is also the only packaging material that has been “generally regarded as safe” by the Food and Drug Administration.

Glass is comprised of all natural materials such as sand and limestone, that can be found in abundance in the United States. It is also much easier to clean than other packaging alternatives, and does not contribute to trash that accumulates in landfills or bodies of water in the same way that plastic does. Since it is made of natural ingredients to begin with, it breaks back down to its original form (i.e. sand) over time, without polluting the environment in the process. Ultimately, using recycled glass cuts CO2 emissions. It has been shown that for every six tons of recycled glass that is used, one ton of carbon dioxide is prevented from entering the environment.

One of the main cons of using glass packaging is it’s weight and fragility. Some argue that plastic is more environmentally friendly than plastic due to this factor, but it is the opinion of many that, ultimately, it is what goes into the product in the first place that determines its environmental impacts. Since plastics are are produced from natural gas processing and materials derived from crude oil refining, experts say that glass is the more environmentally sound choice. Another interesting fact to consider is that glass bottles today are 40% lighter today than they were 20 years ago. This ultimately means that it takes less fuel, energy, and emissions to transport glass than in the past.

Unlike plastic, glass packaging does not contain many of the harmful chemicals that are now known to come from the use of plastic packaging, such as BPA (bisphenol A). Glass also has a non-porous surface which in turn means it does not retain as much bacteria as plastic packaging. Since glass has little to no chemical interaction with most other materials, it means that whatever product the glass packaging is holding (if sealed properly) will keep its aroma and flavor intact.

At the end of the day, glass packaging seems to be one of the better choices for the environment. It has been shown that up to 80% of recycled glass can be reclaimed and that recycled glass uses 40% less energy than creating new glass. There is no loss in quality when the glass is recycled and over one ton of natural resources are prevented from entering the air for every six tons of glass that is recycled. There are no wasteful by-products that are produced from using and reusing glass, and once recycled properly, an old glass bottle can be returned to the consumer as a new glass bottle within 30 days.


Gotta Start Somewhere

Many people are so stuck in their ways that making a change in their routine sounds impossible. However, with the effect of humans taking a huge toll on the Earth, we have no choice but to examine what we can do to less our impact.

One of the easiest changes that can be made is being sure to group your errands together. This not only saves time, but also lessens the time spent driving your car, which is a huge source of pollution. if your errands don't involve stocking up on groceries or picking up a piece of furniture, there is also a very good chance that you can even do all your errands while using public transportation - even better!

You can even go one step further and change the way you go to work everyday, on top of doing your occasional errands. Many places have carpools you can join. The chart above shows how much that helps. You could also bike or walk, getting your body moving while helping make the air better to breathe!

If you'd like other ways to start making a difference, you can find 12 other ideas here.