Posts Tagged ‘biodegradable bags’

Eco-Friendly Approach to Fall Clean Up

There is nothing more beautiful than fall foliage, but what do you do with the fallen leaves?  According to the EPA, yard waste is the second-largest component of our trash stream (behind paper and corrugated boxes) and makes up roughly 20 percent of most communities’ haul. Additionally, trucking the bulky bags to the dump requires a lot of fuel.

Americans can be obsessive about fallen leaves on the lawn.  Below are some eco-friendly approaches to dealing with them.

Image by dasmant Flickr.com

Fallen Leaves Are Food

Dead leaves are actually Mother Nature’s food, rich in minerals, falling right where they are needed.  With a good mulching mower you can leave a large number of leaves on the lawn to add nutrition, but don’t leave so much that they smother the lawn and cause snow mold.

Fallen Leaves Make Super Compost

Fallen leaves can be composted into nutrient-rich soil for your spring garden. The leaves of one large shade tree can be worth as much as $50 of plant food and humus, according to CompostGuide.com. Leaves are a great soil conditioner and can also be added to your perennial beds for nutrients and as protective mulch.

If you prefer to get rid of them, check and see if your community has garden waste recycling programs, or offer them to neighbors, garden clubs or local farmers for composting.  Most town transfer stations take leaves for composting too.

Rakes Are Greener Than Leaf Blowers

When gathering your leaves, rakes are more effective, cheaper and certainly “greener” than a leaf blower!  And – raking is great exercise!  When using a leaf blower, try a quiet, energy-efficient electric one.

Use Biodegradable Bags For Leaf Bagging

If you do bag your leaves, use biodegradable ones. Green Genius makes bags that are the same strength and price of regular trash bags, but biodegrade within 1 to 15 years.  You can purchase them at Whole Foods or Hannafords.

Fallen leaves are part of nature’s perfect system, so please don’t interfere and throw them away.

One of my readers commented that she uses barrels for her raked leaves that then get emptied into the recycle trucks which comes every week for six weeks. No bags at all!  That’s the way to go if you don’t want to use the leaves.  I love the idea of recycle trucks for leaves – towns have come a long way!

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Is There Still A Quandary Over Plastic Bags?

As I finished up a telephone call in my car in the Stop and Shop parking lot the other day, I observed a young woman unload her cart, filled to the brim with groceries, all bagged, maybe even double bagged, in plastic.  I was really taken aback! With that many groceries, wouldn’t larger paper ones be better if you didn’t have reusable ones?

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I mistakenly think everyone is aware of the problems with plastic bags.  Change in attitude is happening for sure, but we are clearly not there yet.  Below are some startling facts about plastic bags compiled from a previous post.

  • The average family accumulates 60 plastic bags in only four trips to the grocery store, just one of many stores we frequent.
  • According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. An estimated 12 million barrels of oil or natural gas, both non-renewable resources, are used to make these bags.
  • Somewhere between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year. At this time roughly only 5 or 6% of them are recycled.  Millions end up in the litter stream outside of the landfills, either in the oceans or on land where aquatic life and animals, mistaking them for food, are poisoned. The rest end up in landfills. It can take centuries for them to decompose.

Though they are inexpensive to produce (therein lies the problem), easily reused as trashcan liners or lunch bags, and can be recycled, there are still too many plastic (and paper) bags. They seem to multiply – a direct correlation to the amount of stuff we consume!

Each high quality reusable bag you use has the potential to eliminate an average of 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime. Fortunately, the movement to bring reusable bags to the grocery store is catching on and many stores now give a $.05/bag rebate. Whole Foods stores no longer carry plastic bags -100% biodegradable bags are now available.

Alternatives are there.  It’s time for all companies and consumers to get on board!

List of towns in the US that banned plastic bags:

  • San Francisco
  • Portland, OR
  • Falmouth, MA
  • Provincetown, MA
  • a few other towns in MA
  • Austin, TX
  • towns in the outer banks of North Carolina

List of countries with cities that banned plastic bags:

  • England
  • Mexico (Mexico City)
  • India
  • Burma
  • Bangladesh
  • Rwanda (reputed to be one of the cleanest nations in the world)
  • Australia

Countries where plastic bags are taxed, but not banned:

  • Italy
  • Belgium
  • Ireland (where plastic bag use dropped by 94 percent within weeks of the 2002 ban.)

Countries where plastic bags come with a fee:

  • Switzerland
  • Germany
  • Holland

Check out these other posts I wrote on plastics and ideas for reducing plastic usage

Some information compiled from: http://people.howstuffworks.com/how-many-cities-have-a-ban-on-plastic-bags.htm

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Dispose of Pet Waste Properly

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waste 2 (Photo credit: scotthughes)

When I grew up, dogs ran free and no one ever thought about picking up dog poop.  Today things are different – we have leash laws and people walk their dogs.  America has approximately 71 million dogs that produce 29,000 tons of waste each day. Leaving pet waste on the lawn or near the curb can be a major source of harmful bacteria and excess nutrients that wash into the storm drain and eventually into local waterways.  It’s very important to pick up the poop.

What then, is the most eco-conscious way to dispose of all that poop?

Throwing the bag away creates more burden in the landfill.  The plastic bags, even biodegradable ones, and the waste won’t break down without air, water, light and enzymes, which aren’t available in the landfill.  Some communities allow it however.

You don’t want to add the waste to your compost pile either.  Instead build a separate compost pile for the dog waste or dig a hole and bury it away from your vegetable garden or running water.  The enzymes in the soil will eventually break it down.

There are in ground dog waste digesters you can install which act like a home septic system.  You add water and an enzyme and bacteria digester to the pet waste, which turns it into a ground absorbing liquid that does not harm the environment.  Or, you can purchase dog waste buckets that can be attached to an existing septic system.

According to the EPA, “flushing pet waste is the best disposal method.”  (Cat waste however, should never be flushed down the toilet.) You can either empty the waste into the toilet or use a biodegradable,flushable bag and simply throw the entire thing into the toilet.  (Check your plumbing before flushing any flushable product.) That’s what I do – it seems to be the easiest, most sensible, eco-friendly option!  Let’s do the right thing for our dogs and the earth.  

Information compiled from http://www.practicallygreen.com, http://www.nrdc.org and http://www.epa.gov.