terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

Rubber Sidewalks August 22, 2007

Filed under: alternative, local, recycle, reduce, reuse — terra @ 2:53 pm

rubberwalkAmerican company Rubbersidewalks has created a (I think) brilliant product. They recycle car tires and make rubber sidewalks out of them. Why? The rubber sidewalks allow tree roots to breath and get water, so they don’t pop up through the sidewalk and cause all sorts of damage and unsightliness. Saving trees and city sidewalks… what could be better? They save money and keep tires out of landfills too!

Other benefits:

The reversible pavers don’t expand in hot weather, and they absorb and retain less heat than concrete. The system has been freeze-thaw tested according to ASTM C1026 with good performance characteristics exhibited, and is also ADA compliant for pedestrian and wheeled traffic. While the pavers aren’t considered porous themselves, the system provides immediate drainage at the module seams.

Washington, D.C. tested it last year and found that, although it costs more initially, the rubber sidewalks will save money, trees, and resident complaints, and it won’t have to be replaced for about 14 years – 3 times as long as concrete. Part of the high cost is due to the fact that the company is located in California, so shipping is a big factor. They are hoping to open a New York location to spread the goodness.

Excellent innovation!

cool off: Drink cool liquids and eat cool meals during the upcoming hot & humid weather.

 

The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out August 21, 2007

Filed under: garden, organic, pets — terra @ 7:18 pm

wormsWe have recently discovered the benefits of composting. I had been thinking about it for a while – every time I threw a banana peel into the garbage -there’s got to be a better use for this. So, we looked more into it at the Burning River Fest. The people from The New Agrarian Center were very helpful, as was the guy from Great Lakes Brewing Company. Both are master composters.

Here’s what we did – it’s pretty simple. We bought a storage container (a big Rubbermaid one), some mesh screen, organic dirt, and 1,000 red worms. Drilled holes in the container – worms need to breathe air – and filled it with 6 inches of organic dirt and wet strips of newspaper and computer paper. This bedding is supposed to be moist, not dripping wet. The compost bin was set up in the basement, to avoid smell and dog curiosity, and so it could be bigger than under-the-sink. We left the light on for the first week to discourage the worms from escaping. Next, we collected all of our food scraps – banana peels, strawberry tops, bell pepper cores, onion peels, coffee grounds, etc. – and buried them under 2 inches of bedding. Now the worms take over. We’re supposed to put the food in a different place each time and add new bedding every 2 months. (Don’t put meat in your compost – it’ll attract rodents)

What’s the benefit of having a pound of red worms chewing up your food? Well, the whole process creates worm castings, which is this magical organic fertilizer that you can use in your garden. Essentially, it’s natural recycling. We eat the food, feed it to the worms, they turn it into fertilizer that we’ll use to grow herbs, which we’ll eat in the spring. Aside from the initial set-up, it doesn’t take a lot of work to maintain, and in about 4-6 months we’ll have some pretty awesome soil for our garden.

Wikipedia does a good job of describing vermicomposting, or you can Blackle it. Worms Eat My Garbage is supposedly the definitive composting guide. The Village Green does outdoor composting, which is an excellent way to get rid of weeds and fallen leaves. If you do start a compost bin, don’t dump your worms in the garden – red worms are not native to North America, and are an invasive species, which can threaten other earthworms.

(Here’s the rest of the worm song)

 

Cleveland EcoVillage August 21, 2007

Filed under: energy, environment, local, social consciousness — terra @ 2:12 pm

ecovillageThe Cleveland EcoVillage is constructing Green Cottages at Pear Ave and W 58th St. The homes will have a new “green design,” sell at affordable prices, and have excellent energy efficiency. Click the picture for details about their eco-design.

The cottages were designed by the Cleveland Green Building Coalition’s Emerging Designers program. Heating costs will be less than $400, and electric will be about $250 per year. Green Cottages will be near the Rapid Station, churches, community gardens, schools, shops and restaurants, to encourage residents to walk more.

The EcoVillage is thriving around the concept of rebuilding a community to be pedestrian-friendly, and ecologically sound. The area is built around the Rapid transit station, and is full of community gardens and outdoor activities that residents love. Homes have superior insulation to conserve energy and save money.

 

Paper or Plastic: Not August 20, 2007

Filed under: conserve, reduce, reuse — terra @ 1:47 pm

Which is better – paper or plastic? It seems like paper would be the better choice because it feels more natural, so we think it will biodegrade. On the other hand, plastic takes up less room in the landfill. A lot of elements must be taken into consideration when choosing which bag to use at the grocery store.

Paper

  • Processing trees into bags requires a lot of energy
  • Higher transportation costs because of size (to & from the store, to landfill)
  • 1/2 of landfill space is taken up by paper
  • “14 million trees in 1999 alone were cut down to manufacture the 10 million paper grocery bags used by Americans”

Plastic

  • Plastics are the waste products of the oil refining process (when considering the impacts of plastic bags, also keep in mind the impacts of oil extraction)
  • Require less energy to produce than paper bags
  • Take up less space in the landfill
  • Marine life is threatened when they ingest plastic bags, which become lodged in their throat or stomach and cause starvation
  • Can clog sewer pipes, which lead to standing water and health problems

So which is better? Plastic requires less energy to produce, and takes up less room in transportation and in landfills. But, once they’re here, plastics take hundreds to thousands of years to biodegrade. Paper requires cutting down trees, and takes up more room in a landfill. The biodegradability may be a factor, however, today’s landfills are constructed so that nothing biodegrades because materials are cut off from air and water supplies needed to biodegrade.

Solution: buy a reusable bag, and reuse it. Keep your bags by the door or in the car, so you remember to take them with you. Many stores offer a discount if you reuse, and you’ve done a lot to reduce waste in your community. (I wonder when stores began providing bags to people, and passed the expense onto the consumer.)

This doesn’t just mean plastic and paper grocery bags. Consider ziploc and brown paper lunch bags. They have an impact too. Get some reusable storage containers (Glad and Ziploc make excellent ones that are cheap and recyclable), and a cool lunchbox instead of creating waste every day. It’ll save you money, and help the environment.

 

Month in Review August 19, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — terra @ 12:18 am

I’ve been writing this blog for exactly one month, so I thought it would be fun to have a quick look back. I started this with the intention of sharing positive stories about the environment, ways to live a “greener” life, be healthier, and appreciate nature. I did it because I love learning new things, and to learn something good every day has been so refreshing for me. I expected to post once a week, but I’ve been posting every day! That’s a lot of good news.

My Favorites

Things I’ve Learned

  • Lavender oil is great, but lavender mixed with eucalyptus may be better because bees aren’t attracted to eucalyptus (we haven’t been stung, but I notice bees around the Lavender plant a lot)
  • Green Clean for Drains
  • Turn a Garbage Strike into something good
  • How to get rid of Japanese Beetles
  • That’s certainly not all I’ve learned, but it’s a start

What are your favorites?
Things you’d like to see more of?

 

Fun facts to save energy August 17, 2007

Filed under: conserve, energy, local, reduce, reuse — terra @ 9:37 pm

Your car uses more gas to idle for +10 seconds than it does to turn it off and back on again. conserve: turn your car off if you’re in a traffic jam or stuck at a long light.

Appliances that are “off” still use energy. reduce: Unplug large appliances (fans, toasters, heaters, laptops, etc) when you’re not using them.

To disinfect kitchen sponges, microwave them for 2 minutes. reuse: Use sponges instead of paper towels for cleaning.

It takes more energy to leave lights on than to turn them on and off (popular misconception). use less: Turn the light off when you leave the room.

Running the water while you brush your teeth wastes about 5 gallons of water. (2 minutes, 2.5 gallons per minute). be efficient: Turn the water off when you brush your teeth or shave.

 

Eco Living August 17, 2007

Filed under: conserve, energy, reduce, reuse, solar — terra @ 7:13 pm

prefabPowerPod has created a super ecologically-friendly house. The roof is designed with solar panels, and they bounce sun off each other to ensure maximum exposure and absorption of the sun. It funnels rain for collection and reuse, and the solar panels heat the water. So far, no carbon use.

These pre-fab homes have extra high ceilings with plenty of windows to let in a lot of natural light, and they’re well-insulated so you don’t loose a lot of heat or cool. Extra thought went into the technology of these houses, including heated floors with “a radiant heating system that circulates hot water through insulated subflooring.”

More pics here! More than just pods!
- Treehugger.com

 

Friday Recipe – Vegan Snickerdoodles August 17, 2007

Filed under: food — terra @ 12:54 pm

Vegan Snickerdoodles

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
1 sick vegan margarine, softened (try Willow Run soy margarine – it’s awesome)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vanilla soymilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup sugar
3 TBS ground cinnamon
(can also add nutmeg or alspice)

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Cookie Dough: Whisk together flour, cornstarch, and baking powder in bowl. Beat margarine in separate bowl with electric mixer until soft. Add sugar, and beat until fluffy. Beat in soymilk and vanilla extract 30 seconds or until smooth. Add flour mixture, and beat 30 seconds or until smooth.
3. Cinnamon Sugar: Combine sugar and cinnamon on large plate. (It makes a lot, so keep it in the fridge for the next time you make these cookies, which might be soon!)
4. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll each ball in Cinnamon Sugar, and place 1/2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until cookies look dry on tops and are lightly browned on bottoms. Store in airtight container.

per cookie: 49 cal, 1G protein, 1.5G total fat, 9G carb

-Vegetarian Times

Vegan foods have no cholesterol because cholesterol only comes from animal products (meat, eggs, milk, butter, cheese, etc). So, if you have high cholesterol, consider eating at least 1 vegan meal a week, and switch to soymilk and soy margarine.

 

Burning River Fest – Best Festival Ever August 16, 2007

Filed under: education, food, local, recycle, reduce, reuse, social consciousness — terra @ 12:31 am

IMG_8118We went to the Burning River Festival on Saturday and it was the best festival ever. It was on Whiskey Island in Cleveland and the weather was perfect! There were vendors from Whole Foods, Great Lakes kegs of course, Green Energy Ohio, the Cleveland Co-op, Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, The New Agrarian Center, and so many others. Everyone was fantastic and the food was great. I missed the Great Lakes ice cream, but was treated to chocolate-covered strawberries for dessert!

We learned about composting, the Ohio Solar Tour coming up October, fair trade, Reduce – Reuse – Recycle, etc. More on all of those topics soon!

There was a lot of awareness-building, educating people about reducing their footprint on the planet. The whole festival was well organized with something for everyone and the atmosphere was so positive. We bought an upside down tomato plant. They grow well because no ground-based bugs eat them. I’ll keep you posted.

IMG_8129

IMG_8126IMG_8123

 

Plastic bottles August 15, 2007

Filed under: reduce, reuse — terra @ 6:06 pm

We’re learning more and more about how much harm plastic bottles are causing our planet and our people every day. Not just water bottles – this includes pop, juice, and even baby bottles.

Teeth
As the popularity of bottled water rises, so do cases of tooth decay for young children. One reason is because they miss out on the fluoride that cities add to tap water.

Babies
Baby bottles contain a harmful chemical, which could be causing “prostate cancer, breast cancer. They (children) become hyperactive. They show learning impairment. It’s a poster chemical for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” Unfortunately, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found BPA in the urine of 95 percent of people it tested.”

Women
Plastic bottles are made with a chemical that causes reproductive harm to women’s bodies. The chemical seeps from the bottle into the beverage, into the human. “That damage is a possible predictor of reproductive diseases in women, including fibroids, endometriosis, cystic ovaries and cancers.”

Planet
Bottled water is a fast-growing consumer item. Last year, Americans spent $11 billion on bottled water. Unfortunately, the bottles often end up in the landfill. “Only 14 percent of water bottles are recycled.”

The solution
It’s nice to recycle, but we’ve got to Reduce and Reuse. Get a reusable water bottle and fill it at home using your tap or your water filter pitcher. This will reduce the amount of plastic that needs to be produced for your drinking convenience, and will also save you a lot of money. I couldn’t fathom spending $2.50 a day for 2 bottles of water. I get mine essentially for free.

 

The Pronounceable Diet August 14, 2007

Filed under: food, preservatives — terra @ 5:34 pm

foodI try to follow what I call the Pronounceable Diet. That means that I try not to eat anything I can’t easily pronounce, specifically, things like TBHQ (tert-Butylhydroquinone), acesulfame potassium, cochineal, mono or diglyceride, etc. The purpose is to avoid un-natural chemicals in what I eat.

Do you even know what’s in those things without looking them up? Were you aware that cochineal is a red coloring that’s made from insects? Did you know that mono and diglycerides can be made of animal products? Bad news for vegetarians. There are so many preservatives and chemicals in today’s food, it’s no wonder we have the health problems we do. (foreign food is excluded from The Pronounceable Diet)

Instead, I try to eat fresh food. I make nearly everything myself, and I read every label and try to buy things with fewer than 10 ingredients to get the least processed food I can. Not only does the Pronounceable Diet have fewer preservatives, fresh food tastes much better! Next time you’re grocery shopping, check out the labels. It’s not a pleasant surprise.

Also, don’t eat things with numbers, like red #40. If there’s a number sign, it shouldn’t be eaten.

(The picture is from The Onion)

 

Green clean for drains August 14, 2007

Filed under: alternative, cleaning — terra @ 3:40 pm

Here’s a good way to clean your drains – as a preventative measure, or if they’re clogged. We tried it last night and it really works!!

1/2 cup baking soda
1-2 cups cheap household vinegar

Pour the baking soda down the drain, followed by the vinegar. Put a plug in the drain and fill the sink with water. Wait a few minutes, then pull the plug and let the water push everything down the drain, cleaning as it goes. Awesome! -Heloise

(more on the magic of vinegar later)