terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

Rain barrel Workshops March 24, 2008

Filed under: conserve, education, local, reduce, water — terra @ 7:00 am

IMG_7811The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes is having 3 rain barrel workshops in April.

If I had to choose my favorite “gardening” thing, it would be my rain barrel (with my reel mower being a close 2nd). Rain barrels gather rain from your roof and store it so you can use rainwater to water your lawn and garden. It saves your water bill, saves the city water plant, and helps your plants. Grass and plants don’t need cold, treated water. They love rainwater! So, head up to Shaker Lakes and build your own rain barrel. You can have a lush, green, healthy lawn all summer.

April 5th from 10-noon
April 27th from 12-2 and 3-5

 

USPS offers Free Recycling through the mail March 20, 2008

Filed under: local, recycle, reduce, reuse — terra @ 7:00 am

The USPS is offering free shipping of small electronics. Consumers can pick up a mailing envelope at one of 1,500 post offices and mail their electronics to Clover Technologies Group, who is paying for the postage, and who will recycle or refurbish the electronics into reusable materials. The stuff that can’t be refurbished will be broken down so that as many parts as possible can be reused.

Clover Technologies Group has a “zero waste to landfill” policy: it does everything it can to avoid contributing any materials to the nation’s landfills.

Clover Technologies Group won the bid for this recycling program, based on it’s commitment to the environment.

The Post Office is environmentally responsible, and their actions have “generated more than $7.5 million in savings through recycling and waste prevention programs.”

The Postal Service recycles 1 million tons of paper, plastic and other materials annually.

USPS is the only shipping or mailing company in the nation to receive Cradle to CradleSM Certification from MBDC (McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry) for human and environmental health. More than half a billion packages and envelopes provided by the Postal Service annually are nearly 100 percent recyclable and are produced with the least harmful materials. Based on the recycled content of these envelopes and packages, more than 15,000 metric tons of carbon equivalent emissions (climate change gases) now are prevented annually.

So, when your cell phone breaks or your PDA quits, head to the post office to send it back to be reused. It’s free for you, and saves a lot of waste!

 

Can it! March 10, 2008

Filed under: conserve, local, reduce, water — terra @ 7:00 am

As we’ve transitioned from cans to bottles for beverages, consumption and thus disposal of plastic has increased. Where does all that plastic go? It doesn’t biodegrade… ever.

Except for the small amount that’s been incinerated – and that’s a very small amount – every bit of plastic ever made still exists.Best Life Magazine

The plastic ends up in the ocean. I’ve touched on this before – the floating continent of garbage. There are two of them. One is near Japan, the other near Hawaii. Twice the size of Texas. To prove it, an Oceanic Research Vessel Alguita set out to find the plastic continent and document it. Here is their video:

What can we do? Stop using plastic! Just stop. Don’t buy disposable, single-serve containers. Don’t buy bottled water. You don’t need to put your produce in a plastic bag. Just put it in your cart. You’re going to wash it when you get home anyway. Use reusable grocery bags.

Choose glass, cans, reusables, less packaging, and fresh, local food. We won’t be here forever, but our plastic will be. Glass, metal, and paper are the only things that can be truly recycled. If you have to buy pop, buy cans, and then recycle them.

When you throw something away, ask yourself where it goes. And then where does it go after that? And then where? We have to get back to a culture that emphasizes personal responsibility. When we buy something, we are responsible for it.

Please read Plastic Ocean in Best Life Magazine. You will learn about your health, your children’s health, and the health of our oceans. It’s an interesting article about a sea captain and his discovery.

 

Don’t Print this Post March 5, 2008

Filed under: reduce — terra @ 7:00 am

Looking to save paper? GreenPrint can help. Download this free program, which removes unwanted pages, lets you decide what to print, includes a pdf writer, and keeps track of your paper and $$ savings.

The basic home edition includes ads, but you can upgrade to “Premium” for only $35. GreenPrint has estimated that the average user will save $90 in ink and paper.

“millions of trees can’t be wrong”

p.s. Google maps can be sent straight to you cell phone, reducing the need to print the map (and the annoying extra page that GreenPrint could eliminate for you). Text the word “GMAPS” to 466453.

 

Waste less at the grocery store March 3, 2008

Filed under: cleaning, conserve, reduce, reuse — terra @ 7:00 am

Real Simple has come up with 8 ways to cut waste when grocery shopping. Keep these things in mind to save money, and the environment:

1. Skip single-serving items.

2. Purchase juice concentrates.

3. Avoid disposable goods.

4. Use your own canvas or string bags.

5. Use produce bags only for moist or small, loose items, such as lettuce and berries.

6. When possible, purchase goods in cans or glass instead of plastic containers. Glass can be recycled indefinitely.

7. Look for multipurpose cleaners instead of buying one for each kind of surface. Or, make your own.

8. Close the loop. Purchase products that have been recycled and can be recycled by you.

 

Extra Day to be Green February 27, 2008

Filed under: conserve, reduce, reuse, social consciousness — terra @ 7:00 am

This is a leap year, which means we have an extra day to do something for the planet! This Feb 29, do something easy to reduce your impact. The Big Green Switch has these suggestions:

1. Installing low-energy light bulbs in your home
2. Planting a tree
3. Draught-proofing any breezy windows, doors, or letterboxes in your home
4. Cancelling your junk mail
5. Starting a compost heap in your garden
6. Switching your energy supply to a green energy option
7. Enquiring about getting cavity wall or loft insulation installed
8. Giving your car a service and check your tire pressure
9. Working from home to cut out your commuting emissions

 

No More Junk Mail February 24, 2008

Filed under: reduce — terra @ 4:14 pm

Today I threw away (correction: recycled) 2 lbs of junk mail that’s been piling up on my counter, since I’ve been sick. (thanks for the well-wishes, everyone!) That’s a lot of junk mail. Now, we can all log onto ProQuo and get rid of pesky junk mail and weekly circulars.

Not only does it help the environment, but it can help prevent the pain and irritation of identity theft.

Sorry, Newman!

-Planet Green

 

Buy Nothing New January 23, 2008

Filed under: alternative, conserve, gifts, reduce, reuse, social consciousness — terra @ 7:00 am

A few people in San Francisco have formed a “Compact” to buy nothing new for the whole year (except food and underwear, of course). They can buy refurbished furniture, electronics; secondhand dishware and clothes. It’s a challenge they believe in, and are enjoying.

We can follow their journey on their blog, The Compact. Here’s their summary:

1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc; 2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er); 3) to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)

The purpose of reusing items is to reduce the strain and waste on the planet. And it saves a ton of money. How long can you go without buying anything new?

Thanks to The Compact for the inspiration!

 

China nixes plastic bags January 14, 2008

Filed under: conserve, local, reduce, reuse — terra @ 7:00 am

bagsChina has officially banned plastic bags. Hooray! They will no longer produce plastic bags (for themselves) and stores are prohibited from handing them out, as of June 1, 2008.

China uses too many of the bags and fails to dispose of them properly, wasting valuable oil and littering the country, China’s cabinet, the State Council, said in a notice posted on the central government Web site (www.gov.cn).

Consumers are encouraged to use reusable bags and baskets for their purchases. China joins several other countries in banning the wasteful plastic bags.

Chinese people use up to 3 billion plastic bags a day and the country has to refine 5 million tons (37 million barrels) of crude oil every year to make plastics used for packaging, according to a report on the Web site of China Trade News (www.chinatradenews.com.cn).

I hope their ban on production includes producing plastic bags and packaging for the US. Americans use an estimated 84 billion plastic bags each year, which requires 12 million barrels of oil to produce.

Paper bags are no better, because “14 million trees were cut down in 1999 to produce 10 billion grocery bags for Americans. The production and shipping of the bags also contributes to global warming and air pollution.”

The solution is for Americans to go back to using cloth reusable bags. We’ve been using reusable bags for almost a year, and it’s easier because the bags are stronger so they hold more and you can get from the car to your house with confidence.

Problem: The city of Akron requires residents to separate their recyclables into blue and clear plastic bags, or paper bags. I called the city to explain, politely, that I no longer want to be a consumer of plastic bags, but I still want to recycle. They didn’t have an answer for that. (Even though the truck that collects the recyclables smashes everything together the same way the garbage truck does.) I hope the city will consider contracting with another recycling facility that doesn’t require plastic bags. Bath township doesn’t require the use of plastic bags, for example. Many cities want their residents to recycle, so they allow people to put all recyclables together in one container, and separate it at the facility. How can we convince people to stop consuming so much plastic, if the city requires it in order to recycle? I hope you will join with me to write letters to the city, elected officials, and the Akron Beacon-Journal to encourage the city to help residents to reduce our impact on the planet by refusing wasteful and energy-intensive plastic bags.

Long Live the Village Green also celebrated China’s plastic bag ban. Check it out.

 

The importance of furnace maintenance January 5, 2008

Filed under: cleaning, local, reduce — terra @ 11:52 am

Our house was 53 degrees this morning! We keep it at 61 and use our fireplace to warm up when we’re home, so 53 was pretty frigid, even for us. The furnace went out some time last night. I don’t think it’s related to the furnace filter not being replaced for a while, but it just reminded us that we have not been keeping up on that simple task. (actually, we just bought one, but it was the wrong size, so our intentions were good)

Replacing your furnace filter makes your furnace more efficient, saving energy and money on heating bills. We’re off for a new filter today, and the furnace guy will be coming soon. Fortunately, I recently read that there are permanent furnace filters available. These electrostatic filters simply need to be washed monthly, but they save the hassle of spending $15 on a new filter every month, as recommended. Permanent filters will pay for themselves in less than 4 months, saving you money and reducing the need to produce so many filters. (This place has electrostatic permanent filters starting at $25)

Throwaway filters only remove about 10 percent to 40 percent of pollutants from the air, while electrostatic models—which also happen to be permanent and easy to wash—siphon off about 88 percent of the nastiness, including bacteria, mold, viruses, and pollen.

Home maintenance saves energy by keeping appliances more efficient, which saves money and keeps our homes warmer. Have you changed your filter lately?

 

Why we must reduce our consumption January 3, 2008

Filed under: education, reduce — terra @ 7:00 am

trashI’ve been reading a lot lately about this idea of floating continents of garbage, but have yet to see a picture. I like to see evidence before I post something. Well, here it is . . . a picture of floating continents of garbage, based on this “trash vortex” study. It’s made up of plastic and all kinds of other evidence of human impact on the planet. Some of the garbage is sinking to the ocean floor and harming marine wildlife.

vortexLet’s think about this each time we buy a 6 pack of yogurt instead of the big container, or bottled water, or plastic baggies. The list goes on. Think reusable. What is the end destination of the products we buy? Disposable isn’t really disposable. It all ends up somewhere.

 

Helping People Help Themselves December 19, 2007

Filed under: conserve, energy, reduce, social consciousness — terra @ 7:00 am

Many poor people find it difficult to survive the winter months because of high heating costs, and limited incomes that don’t cover the rise in energy prices. To combat this, Friends of the Earth and Enbridge in Canada have created “greenboxes” to distribute at food kitchens. The greenboxes contain:

  • foam draft sealers for light switches and electrical boxes
  • window film kits
  • foam window tape
  • two rolls of weatherstripping
  • two CFLs
  • applications for other programs that supply thermostats, aerators and showerheads.

This program helps people reduce their energy consumption AND helps them save money by reducing their energy waste. If they implement these improvements, they will see drastic reductions in their gas bills, and they’ll be warmer throughout the winter.
In Akron/Canton, we often read about house fires caused by candles. Most of these tragedies are due to the fact that people can’t afford to heat their homes because of the rising cost of gas, so they use candles, which lead to fires. I hope our region thinks outside the box and considers providing such a valuable service to people in need.

Enbridge, the founding sponsor of the greenboxes, is a gas company in Canada. Social responsibility benefits everyone.

 

Miscellaneous December 18, 2007

Filed under: energy, reduce, reuse, social consciousness, solar — terra @ 7:00 am

How to clean your reusable water bottles (or any small-necked bottle)
Pour about 20 grains of rice into the bottle. Add 2 TBS vinegar and a little water. Shake it up and swirl it around until the sides are clean. Rinse thoroughly. It works beautifully, and doesn’t leave a vinegar after-taste or smell.

Solar Holiday Lights
Check out the solar holiday lights at Target. I can’t afford to put lights up and keep them plugged in all the time, and it’s a poor use of electricity. Now, with solar lights, decorations will have little to no impact on energy costs or the environment. I can’t wait until these go on clearance!

We’re all looking for a little quiet
New Urban Mom writes about her holiday wishes. I think we can all agree. This year, dedicate some time to spend with the people you love.

Beautiful, easy-t0-make gifts
Green With Envy… has a great idea for some wonderful gifts. Find some old tea cups or pots, fill them with pebbles and marbles, add some flower bulbs like Narcissus or Paperwhites. Fill the pot with water and wait a few weeks for the bloom. (she writes a much better explanation)

 

Double Function Stairs December 11, 2007

Filed under: reduce — terra @ 7:00 am

stairsAn Australian designer has created stairs that double as drawers. That’s 2 in 1 function, and an excellent way to save space in a small home or apartment. For safety, they should have a springback system, or some way to make sure the drawer stays closed when not in use.

It’s always a great idea to utilize all possible space for the most efficiency. Here are the design plans for this staircase storage.

Check out Planet Green.com, and coming soon, the Planet Green Channel, part of the Discovery Channel.