terra, not terror

sharing ideas about a simpler way to live

LEED Metro Building Open for Tours June 9, 2008

Filed under: conserve, education, energy, environment, garden, local, social consciousness, solar, water — terra @ 7:00 am

The Metro Parks, Serving Summit County building is having an open house June 21-22 from 1-4 p.m. each day. This building was recently renovated, and includes these wonderful, sustainable features:

  • geothermal heating
  • waterless toilets
  • solar panels
  • a green roof
  • lumber from downed trees
  • recycled carpet, furniture and cabinetry
  • porous pavement to let rainwater through
  • a rain garden
  • rain barrels
  • and native landscaping.

If you want to tour the Metro building, you can pick up a shuttle at the Metro RTA Park-and-Ride lot at 530 Ghent Road, or you can park along the path and walk. The building is located on the corner of Sand Run and Revere Road.

The cost of the environmentally sustainable features cost an extra 15%, but that will be recouped by energy savings throughout the year, as the building won’t have to pay for their energy use. Most of that extra cost is also paid for through grants and donations. It really makes a lot of sense for public buildings (including college and university) to become more environmentally sustainable.

-Akron Beacon Journal

 

Voice Yourself May 19, 2008

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

Woody Harrelson has been inspired to start a site called Voice Yourself, aimed at encouraging people to learn more about getting off the grid, growing and eating organic food, and taking our planet back. Why?

Our mission at Voice Yourself is to connect you with others, to share information about alternatives biodiesel, sustainable clothing companies (i.e. hemp, organic cotton and bamboo) and to get clean and natural cleansers into your hands and homes this is only the beginning.

Woody was also inspired by Ted Danson (together, they’re Sam and Woody from possibly the best tv show ever – Cheers). Ted Danson does a lot of work for American Oceans Campaign, educating people about the atrocities of drift-netting, ocean trolling, and all the pollutants that are dumped into the ocean.

When you have little extra time on your hands, check out Voice Yourself, and learn more about some easy and fun ways to reduce your impact on the planet. Please don’t miss Woody’s Thoughts from Within. Even if you’re not a big fan of poetry, it’s truly moving.

 

Video Friday: Garbage Island part 3 May 9, 2008

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

This one has some good dialogue.

plastic

Check out the Garbage Island, and the other quality shows on VBS.

 

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?

 

The worst thing about tap water… April 11, 2008

Filed under: conserve, energy, environment, reduce, water — terra @ 11:30 am

… is that some “beverage company” executive discovered that he could put it in a plastic bottle and sell it to us at 1000% markup. Tap water is perfectly fine, until you mix it with the chemicals in plastic and put it on the shelves for people to buy (people who usually can’t afford it because they’re heading into a recession).

Bottled water gives the impression that is “clear, mountain spring water,” when it’s usually just tap water (infused with the chemicals that make plastic). I know, you don’t reuse your bottle, or leave it in the car. How long did it sit on the truck during transport? How long did it sit in the store? Not only is it just tap water, but some companies add other “flavors” to the water. One of those flavors is sodium, which makes you thirsty, so you buy more of their product.

It’s basically unregulated. Tap water is regulated by the EPA, which has offices in every state, nearly every county. Bottled water is supposed to be regulated by the FDA, but they rarely do inspections. So your bottled water may start as EPA-regulated tap water, but then the company adds their ingredients, puts it in plastic, and sells it to the trusting consumers.

Here’s the cycle of bottled water – Plastic is made from petroleum (could the rising cost of gas have anything to do with the 1.5 million barrels of oil it takes to make bottled water?). Then, the plastic is cooled with water – about 72 billion gallons of it every year (drought in the American south?). After the water bottle has been cooled with water, they add tap water, which is “flavored” by a company. Then, they truck it to stores, adding to the environmental cost, and sell it to people. People who could just drink their tap water.

Check into getting a Brita or Pur filter for your home and office. I recently brought one to work, and people were so happy. They don’t want to buy bottled water anymore. It’s expensive and wasteful. Take the first step… stop buying bottled water. Keep that money for yourself!

- Reader’s Digest had a great article about bottled water. Check it out.

 

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

 

Lifestraw for clean water March 12, 2008

Filed under: social consciousness, water — terra @ 1:00 am

lifestrawMore than 1 billion people don’t have access to clean water. With that in mind, Lifestraw has created a filtration device, a straw, that people can wear around their neck and use to filter their drinking water. Lifestraw “claims to filter 99.9999 percent of bacteria and 98.7 percent of viruses using a halogen-based resin.” Each Lifestraw provides a year’s worth of clean drinking water per person.

Perhaps most exciting is the cost: Only 2 dollars US if sold individually (presumably, volume discounting could apply). Obviously, this is a large amount of a subsistence farmer’s income, but the amount of wages earned during the time lost to illness is probably comparable. – Treehugger

You can help distribute Lifestraws by clicking “Make a Donation” on the Lifestraw homepage.

I also like the Hipporoller for transporting water easily.

 

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.

 

Try a Tankless Water Heater December 6, 2007

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

hot waterDid you know that your water heater tank uses at least 15% of your home’s energy? That’s because the water is heated throughout the day and night, whether you’re using the water or not.

Hot water is probably essential for 2 hours in the morning, and 4 hours in the evening. Not 24 hours a day. And, with a tank, it is possible to run out of hot water if you have a lot of guests.

There are many options for reducing the energy needed to provide your home with hot water, and make your system more efficient, while providing all the hot water you need. If your water tank is more than 12 years old, you may consider replacing it with a new tank, or look into some of this new technology. (You can tell the year by looking at the last 2 digits of the serial #)

Storage Tank
This is the conventional method. Most homes have a water tank. This is the least efficient and practical way to store/generate hot water. The hot water tank requires the water to be constantly heated and stored, whether used or not. Newer models are slightly better at holding heat. If you have a storage tank, consider using low-flow faucets and showers to conserve your water, and wrap your tank and pipes in insulation to preserve as much of the heat as possible.

Demand or Instantaneous Water Heater
Water is heated on demand, reducing the need for a tank, and reducing energy consumption by 20-30%. This system is ideal for a natural gas-heated system. Choose one with an electronic ignition, so you don’t need a continuously burning gas pilot light. Home Depot has these starting at $600. That’s a little pricey, but the savings will add up and it will pay for itself over time.

Heat-pump Water Heater
Uses the surrounding air to heat the water. It offers savings of up to $200 per year, but with a high initial cost. This system has the added benefit of dehumidifying humid areas, and keeping the air cool, because it is consuming warm air.

Check out Flex Your Power for more options, including a Solar Water Heater, and tips about choosing an energy-efficient water heater.

 

Living without water November 14, 2007

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

waterThe drought in the southern US has hit one town particularly hard. In Orme, Tennessee, people only have water for 3 hours per day – from 6-9pm. The water is literally trucked in from Alabama. Some guy drives an old truck two hours into Alabama, fills up at a fire hydrant, and drives back to TN to fill the town’s water tank. He makes the trip about 7 times per day, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The town used to get its water from local streams, but they’ve dried up.

“All of these people that are on the river systems better take note, because once your streams and tributaries to the river start drying up, the river isn’t far behind,” Mayor Tony Reames said.

Orme has been living like this since August 1. That’s over 92 days.

What can we do to save water and prevent a disaster like the one hitting the South? Here are a few things to try at home:

  • Take shorter showers
  • Fix leaky toilets and faucets
  • Use your rain barrel instead of running water to quench your plants
  • Install low-flow showerheads
  • Fill a water bottle and put it in your toilet tank to save water with each flush
  • Do full loads of dishes and laundry (saves 1,000 gallons a month)
  • Turn off the water when you brush your teeth, wash your face, and shave. Doing so saves 4 gallons per minute.
  • Don’t buy bottled water

Check out these resources: