terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

Farmers Markets Coming Soon! May 29, 2008

Filed under: reuse — terra @ 7:00 am

It’s almost Farmers Market season, and I’m ready for it! I can’t wait to scoot down to Lock 3 to pick up some fresh, local peppers for dinner, and some juicy tomatoes (while I wait for mine to ripen).

The Akron Beacon Journal has a great write-up of Farmers Markets in the 5-county area. The first one opens in Peninsula on May 31.

Here are some benefits of local food (from an earlier post):

Local food is so important to our health and the health of the planet. If you buy from a farmer, you can ask him/her how your food was grown. Many small farms grow organic food, but they don’t go through the process of becoming certified organic. The FDA’s rules are less and less strict about what can be put in food and still label it organic, so it’s nice to talk to the person who grows the food to find out how they grew it.

Local food also travels fewer miles, making it fresher, and generating less pollution.

Don’t miss Ohio’s great local food! And, as the Beacon suggests, hide some in the freezer, as food prices will continue to rise.

A note about organic food:
A lot of articles are floating the web about what is the best food to buy organic, and which ones you don’t really need to bother with. They suggest the more porous fruits should be organic, and stuff with a good skin or shell don’t necessarily have any benefit to being organic. While that’s true for your health’s sake, here’s my opinion… the people who pick our fruits and vegetables are exposed to the pesticides in much greater numbers that we are by eating just one piece of fruit or vegetable. So, when deciding which foods to buy organic, remember the health of the workers. Organic, pesticide-free food is healthier for you, and for the workers. The best bet… buy local food.

 

Make your own biodiesel, and convert your car! May 22, 2008

Filed under: alternative, cars, energy, reuse — terra @ 7:00 am

Disclaimer: this post is for people who don’t want to buy gas anymore.

Visit Instructables.com for detailed how-to’s on converting your diesel car to biodiesel. Diesel cars are more efficient than conventional gas to begin with. Unfortunately, they’re rare and hard to find. Check cars.com and craigslist.org for a listing of cars in your area. The good news is that VW will begin selling diesel Jettas and Rabbits (or Golfs) in the US soon. So, find yourself a diesel car, and check out these fantastic how-to’s.

Convert your car to biodiesel. Yes, a small conversion is necessary. Vegetable oil will harden in the cold, so you can add elements to run the car on diesel until it warms up and then switch to the vegetable oil, or warm the veggie oil tank so it stays in liquid form.

Make your own biodiesel processor. A small amount of processing is necessary – simply to remove food particles from the used vegetable oil. For the time and energy used, it’s well worth it.

Finally, how to make your own biodiesel. Easy as pie. No more gas!!

If you do any of these things, please keep us posted. It just makes so much sense to reuse vegetable oil and run your car with it. Diesel engines were invented to run on vegetable oil.

 

Recycle your Shoes May 13, 2008

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

I know Crocs aren’t the cutest things, but they are so comfortable.

When your crocs are worn out, you can recycle them through Soles United. Your Crocs will be melted down and made into new shoes which get sent to places around the world where people can’t afford shoes.

Nike also has a shoe recycling program called “Let Me Play: Reuse-A-Shoe.” Worn out shoes – any brand! – are processed and made into playing fields, courts, tracks, and playgrounds.

Since the birth of Reuse-A-Shoe, we’ve recycled more than 20 million pairs of athletic shoes and created more than 250 sport surfaces; giving thousands of young people access to new playgrounds and athletic facilities around the world.

 

Video Friday: Garbage Island April 25, 2008

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

This was done by VBS, which seems to be an online educational/entertainment “channel.” It’s like reality TV, but actual reality.

plastic movie

Does anyone else recognize that yellow spray paint cap?

 

UA Earth Day Wrap Up April 21, 2008

The University of Akron’s Earth Day “Do it now for the enviROOment” was last Wednesday. It was really a fantastic event, and generated a lot of student interest by showing practical renewable energy solutions. There was a wind turbine, 4 cars, a VegiTerranean food demo, bicycles, the Akron Metro RTA, a rain barrel, and so much more. The outside stage was powered by solar panels – Renewable energy in action!

Cars

IMG_9561It was so great to see the students checking out the electric cars. The Myers Motors NmG was featured, along with the Zenn electric car, and a self-converted Honda DelSol. Dr. Ross brought his biodiesel VW Beetle. It’s simply a diesel beetle which he runs on used vegetable oil from VegiTerranean.

I love the NmG from Myers Motors. It’s a one-person car, which is so practical. We all drive 5 person cars, but we only have 1 person in it for a majority of the time. Why not drive a 1 person car? And then have another car for family trips. Technology usually innovates to match our lifestyles, but continuing to make 5 person (or more) cars is one area where innovation has fallen away. It would make sense for each family to have a 1 person car, and a family car. Myers is currently working on new battery technology to make it run longer. They would also like to make a 2 person car.

I’ve never seen the Zenn electric car before. North Central Zenn brought their electric car. It was awesome! At $17,000, it’s the same price is a regular new car. The one displayed had a cloth roll-top. It seats 2 (very practical), and is designed for city driving. (The Zenn is pictured)

IMG_9619I loved the biodiesel VW Beetle. By using vegetable oil, he can operate his car cost-free. He simply separates particles from the oil and pours the pure oil into his car. Diesel engines were meant to run on vegetable oil, so this solution is so efficient. It’s a pure reuse. Instead of using ethanol, which comes from harvested plants, biodiesel reuses oil that normally would have to be processed.

Part 2 tomorrow…

 

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!

 

Freegans Reuse to the max March 13, 2008

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

For the ultimate in “reuse” activities, many people are choosing to find perfectly good products and even food in the least appealing of places… the dumpster. They’re called Freegans, and they go dumpster diving, back alley lurking, and network online, and they find some true treasures.

Freegans say our culture’s emphasis on buying the newest products—and throwing away perfectly fine older things—is a waste of the world’s resources. Instead, they focus on buying less and use only what they need. One of the main ways freegans do this is by salvaging food and other goods from the trash.

Oprah featured some Freegans on her show. Most of the stuff Freegans find is still in its original packaging. Driven by consumerism and the perceived need to have the newest, shiniest stuff, people throw away perfectly good products. Freegans come along and rescue them from the landfill and put them to good use. Freegans save money, and reduce waste by reusing perfectly good products. Hint: college move-out time is coming up – great time to score some cool stuff. (dumpster diving might be illegal – check your local laws)

The Goddess of Garbage has made a living out of turning discarded items into designer home furnishings. She makes things from scratch and turns scrap materials into art.

If dumpster diving is too extreme for you, check out Freecycle. Freecycle is an “entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns.” Craigslist also lists “free” stuff, or inexpensive things that still have some life in them.

 

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

 

Give up carbon for Lent February 8, 2008

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

“Two senior Church of England Bishops have called on people to give up carbon rather than chocolate for Lent,” according to the Telegraph of London. Christians usually give up chocolate or sweets. These bishops are encouraging people to reduce their energy use, and see how easy it is to live carbon-less.

Here are some of their specific suggestions:

* avoiding plastic bags
* giving the dishwasher a day off
* insulating the hot water tank
* checking the house for drafts with a ribbon and buying draught excluders

Another great suggestion by the bishops is to remove one lightbulb from their home, and live without it for 40 days. Perhaps on Easter, they can replace it with a CFL. Replacing just one regular bulb with a CFL saves 60lbs of carbon per year.

This idea is part of a Tearfund initiative. Tearfund is a Christian relief and development agency working with a global network of local churches to help eradicate poverty.

Bishop James points out “It is the poor who are already suffering the effects of climate change. To carry on regardless of their plight is to fly in the face of Christian teaching.”

(P.S. Another Valentine’s Day gift idea… pink reusable bags. Pink!)

I brought this back to the top because I think it’s a great idea. What light could you give up?

 

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.

 

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)

 

Green Halloween October 31, 2007

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

Here are a few ways to make your Halloween parties a little more “green.”

Goodies

It is possible to get good-tasting, healthy treats for your little trick-or-treaters. Try organic lollypops, fair trade chocolates, or Stretch Island fruit leather (pure fruit, no high fructose corn syrup).

And make sure they collect their treats in a reusable container. Nothing like a good old pillowcase for holding candy loot!

Costumes

Check out Instructables or Etsy for fun, make-it-yourself costumes.

Decorations

Find some old stuff around the house and make it into something Halloweeny, like Mac-O-Lanterns!

Really, Americans spend nearly $1.58 billion on Halloween decorations every year. Save yourself a little cash by making yours at home from reusable materials.

Parties

Use your reusable dishes for parties, not plastic, paper or styrofoam (gasp!). We recently had a party with at least 10 people, but we only have 8 bowls. Somehow, everyone had chili and dessert, and I guarantee no one knew that we were short on anything!