An estimated 24 percent of municipal solid waste in the U.S. is food scraps and yard waste. Much of this could be recycled and reused if it were composted instead of tossed in the trash. Composting is not as complicated as you may think. Turning compost, and carefully managing “brown” and “green” ingredients is optional—all you really need is a place to compost and ample time. We toss our food scraps and yard waste in a bin like this one, and use the resulting compost to enrich our garden soil in the spring. Learn more about composting in this article on Mother Earth News.
Do you compost?
I learned this fact on, of all things, The Dr. Oz Show: Bug zappers aren’t very effective at killing mosquitoes, and also kill many beneficial insects such as moths, bees, and beetles. The episode was about staying safe and comfortable during the hot summer months. The reason bug zappers don’t work well against mosquitoes is that UV light does little to attract the little blood-suckers, but is highly attractive to other insects. Newer “zapper” models that use carbon dioxide as an attractant work better, but cost hundreds of dollars.
Read more about how bug zappers kill beneficial insects.
I really want to install a rain barrel this year, so we can collect rainwater to water our flowerbeds and garden. Neither my husband nor I are very handy, so we’ll probably need some help setting it up. But basically, the rain barrel sits under a downspout and collects the rainwater. I’ve read it’s best to situate the barrel up on blocks to create better pressure when dispensing water from the barrel.
Do you have a rain barrel? What tips do you have?
With many household products, if you the “recommended usage” instructions, you’ll end up using much more than is necessary to do the job. A few examples: laundry detergent, shampoo, liquid hand soap, and toothpaste. Experiment and see how little of these products you can use and still get the same results. You’ll save money, and use less product packaging in the long run.
Do you have any tips for using less of a common household product?
I found this great list, 100 Easy Ways to Live Greener, on safetyathome.com. Many of these you may have seen before, but there are a few on the list that surprised me. For some reason I never thought of having the car tires rotated regularly as “green,” and I admit I’m bad at keeping up with this. Also, I had no idea one could opt out of receiving phone books. They always just seem to show up on the front porch one day.
Did anything on this list surprise you? How many of these 100 things are you already doing?
Lawns began as grazing areas around the manors of the landed gentry. Having a nice lawn around the house was a sign of power, indicating owned sufficient land to raise sheep and cow.
Uniform, weed-free lawns are still seen as a status symbol today, but at what cost? Couldn’t we be putting all that water and land area to better use? Not to mention all the fertilizers and chemicals that are poisoning our water supply.
There are many attractive, no-mow alternatives to a conventional lawn. In our front yard, I’m gradually replacing the lawn with low-maintenance native plants.
Need ideas? Check out Beautiful No-Mow Yards by Evelyn J. Hadden
Castile soaps are environmentally friendly soaps made from vegetable oil, olive oil, jojoba or other natural plant extracts. You can find castile soap in bar or liquid form. Dr. Bronner’s is one of the most popular brands of castile soap. It contains no animal products and is not tested on animals. I use the bar form to make nontoxic laundry detergent, and use the liquid variety for hand soap and general household cleaning. Dr. Bronner’s is highly concentrated, so a few drops go a long way. It comes in a variety of scents (my favorite is peppermint), and if you can’t find it locally, you can buy Dr. Bronner’s castile soap from Amazon.com.
Dr. Bronner’s packaging claims its liquid soap has 18 uses. I’m willing to try most of them, except using it as a toothpaste. Ew!
If your mail is anything like ours, you probably get at least one credit card or insurance offer a week. I don’t want or need any more credit cards, and I’m happy with our insurance. I find these offers to be annoying and an incredible waste of paper. I recently discovered that you can opt out of pre-screened credit card offers. If it works, I will be thrilled. I’m sure a million or so trees will be, too.
Do you hate junk mail?
National Bike Month is coming up in May, and Bike to Work Week is May 14-18. But there’s no reason you can’t get a head start.
Biking is great for your health, conserves fossil fuels, and doesn’t contribute to climate change.
It’s been said that the average American uses more energy each day than the average blue whale. (Well, that’s not quite true, but apparently, pound for pound we do use around 200 times as much energy as our cetacean cousins.)
Whales don’t have to work, of course. They just swim around all day eating krill. We have to toil for our meals, and transport our blubber from one end of town to the other. Of course, we could trim that blubber and reduce our energy use, all by taking a pleasant ride.
Most likely, it will take more time — and certainly more effort – to bike to work, but your ride is just as likely to be a pleasant one. Try it once, and see if you like it. Feel like a kid again. You can always go back to the road more traveled.
Do you already bike to work or have plans to start?
Reducing meat consumption can go a long way toward reducing your carbon footprint. Did you know it takes 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef? And the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide. Going meatless just once a week can help conserve natural resources, and may give your health a boost, as well. For easy meatless meal ideas, visit the Meatless Monday website.