Posts Tagged ‘composting’

Easy Green Tips for Kids!

 Image by woodley wonderworks
It’s never too early for kids to make environmentally responsible practices a part of their daily life. To protect the future of the earth, kids must get involved.  That’s how change happens. Below are simple, money-saving, kid-friendly ideas that make a difference.
  • Start recycling and encourage your friends to recycle too.
  • Start composting kitchen waste and encourage your friends to do so too.
  • Buy green school supplies – pencils, notebooks with recycled paper and reuse last year’s unfinished notebooks.
  • Walk, carpool or take a bus to school to cut down on carbon emissions.
  • Save water by turning it off when brushing your teeth.
  • Turn off the lights when you leave the room.
  • Turn off video games and computers when not in use.  Better yet,cut down on video game time, which uses more energy than computers or tv.  Play outside instead.
  • Use rechargeable batteries in your toys and buy well-made toys that last.
  • Plant a little garden – lettuce and radishes are quick, easy to grow crops.
  • Reduce use of throwaway cups, plates, utensils and use washable dishes and cloth napkins instead.
  • Use reusable, BPA-free water bottles instead of plastic ones.
  • Use a recyclable or reusable lunch bag and put your snacks in reusable containers rather than buying small, throwaway ones.
  • Celebrate Earth Day on April 22!

Click on the link below to watch a brief video created for children on the importance of recycling and the positive effects of doing so.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Turn Your Kitchen Waste Into Gold!

One more Vitamix advantage that I neglected to mention in last week’s blog – When making a smoothie or juice drink in your Vitamix, the whole fruit is juiced, which includes the juice and the fiber.  The fiber contains valuable nutrition that is missing in extracted juice, making your Vitamix drinks even more nutritious!

Several of my readers have asked me about composting.

Composting means recycling food waste or organic material to the soil, which is then broken down by natural bacteria and turned into compost or a dark, soil-like humus and an incredibly rich (and free) organic fertilizer!  Compost adds nutrients to the soil and improves soil structure, eliminating the need for high nitrogen-based chemical fertilizers, and produces thriving, pest resistant plants.  Compost is unbelievable fertilizer for your gardens and lawn.

Composting is just as important as recycling cans, bottles, papers, plastics or anything else.  According to the EPA, “ In 2011 alone, more than 36 million tons of food waste was generated, with only four percent diverted from landfills and incinerators for composting.” When food is thrown away and goes into the landfill, it rots and emits methane – a potent greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

You can compost all organic matter – kitchen waste including fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds, eggshells, and tea bags, (but avoid meat and dairy which turn rancid and attract scavengers and citrus which is toxic to the worms); grass clippings; and yard waste including leaves.  Do not add weeds or chemically treated grass clippings.

I keep a compost bucket with a charcoal filter (to prevent odors from escaping) in my kitchen sink, which I then empty into the compost pile in the backyard. You can buy compost bins online or from garden centers that cost approximately $30 – $100, but you can easily build your own. It takes about a year before the organic materials are broken down into compost and ready to add to your garden soil. Regularly turning the pile and occasionally adding a compost inoculant to help break down organic material speeds up the process, but isn’t necessary.

For Apartment Dwellers

Some cities like San Francisco and London offer kitchen waste pick up service, but most don’t.  You can still compost however, even without access to a yard.  There are two fun options.

One is vermicomposting, or composting with worms.  Vermicomposting involves buying a shallow worm container and lid (punch holes in the top and sides for drainage and ventilation), making a bed for the worms using torn newspaper mixed with leaves and potting soil, then adding kitchen waste (it works better if it is small pieces) and about 2000 red wriggler worms, sold at garden centers or ordered online through commercial growers.   Leave the lid off so the worms will burrow underground; they are sensitive to light.  In two to three months, your worms will produce dark, rich, nutritious worm castings or organic fertilizer, which your plants will love.  Click here for more information.

A second option is bokashi bin composting. Bokashi means fermented organic matter in Japanese.  This method uses a mixture of “effective microorganisms” in a medium like wheat bran.  You simply add your food waste to the bin and then sprinkle the microorganism mixture on top.  The microorganisms help to break down the scraps and if managed properly, there won’t be any smell.  This system works fast – it makes compost in two weeks!

With both indoor systems, be careful not to compost too much food waste at once.

I never stop marveling at the beautiful rich soil transformed from my kitchen waste.  It’s another one of nature’s miracles.  Get ready for spring and start composting now!

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Information compiled from www.bokashicomposting.com, http://www.howstuffworks.com, epa.gov, and www.ecolocalizer.com

 

 

 

Let’s Call It Like It Is!

Why do you recycle?  Do you care about the future of the earth or do you recycle because it is the “thing” to do?   Are you genuinely concerned about the overflowing landfills or do you feel guilty if you don’t?   Maybe you don’t recycle at all unless it is already set up and really convenient. Whatever the reason, it is necessary to recycle.  In our consumer-driven society, there is just too much trash.   Thankfully, recycling is becoming a way of life.

I like the kitchen recycling center in my sister’s office in San Francisco.  It’s convenient and tells it like it is.  “Landfill” bin for trash, “Recycle” bin for items that can be recycled, and “Compost” for items that can be composted.  Labeling the trash bin “Landfill” gets you thinking about where your trash goes and encouraging composting raises awareness about the importance of composting.

photo 1-1 photo 2-1 photo 3-1

Recycling areas should look like this.  I can’t help but believe if more places set up their recycling centers  like this one, our landfill problem would be dramatically decreased!

Click here for more ideas on greening your office!

Earth Month Contest Winners

Thank you to all you readers who entered the Earth Month Contest!  I  enjoyed reading everyone’s green ideas and am thrilled to see so many people incorporating green habits into their life.

The winners are:

Ashley Bunker of Brewster, Ma, wrote that she now uses a Brita Water Filter; turns off the water when she brushes her teeth and only turns it on to rinse; and joined recyclebank.com, a website dedicated to recycling which offers prizes as well.  Check out Ashley’s blog, the savingsmomma.com where “family, fun, food, and fashion meet frugality”.

Pam Budner of Winchester, MA reuses her ziplock plastic bags and rinses them with Basic-H2 biodegradeable cleanser.  She pours leftover green tea on her houseplants and watches them flourish.  No more fertilizer for Pam!  And when she plants new plants, she always keeps the plastic markers that are stuck in the pot and puts them in a gardening file.  That way, she always knows what she has planted and keeps the markers out of the recycle bin and landfill.  Pam is a health care coach and Shaklee representative.  Go to gogreenwithpam.com for more information.

Nissa M., the cloth diaper guru, posted that she exclusively uses cloth diapers to reduce waste, she has removed chemicals from her life – she now uses non-toxic cleansers and is converting to an organic lawn – and she is learning how to compost.   She also set up rain barrels for her garden. This mother of a 21 month old has a PhD in biomedical research and has learned just about everything she can about cloth diapering! Check out her blog at clothdiaperguru.com.

Congratulations to the winners and to all other readers who are making positive changes in their lifestyles.  Keep going greener!

POSITIVE GREEN CHANGES WE HAVE MADE

It’s easy to feel doom and gloom about the future of the earth.  But, as Earth Day approaches on April 22, we should be proud of the changes we have adopted and the progress we have made.

Image by ax2groin Flickr.com

One of the biggest changes is that people are aware and talking about the state of the environment – the harmful effects of toxic chemicals, the price of cheap, the declining wildlife and rising sea levels, the state of the oceans, air and water pollution, carbon emissions, climate change and alternative energy.  Awareness is a huge first step and one that propels action.

“Reduce, reuse, recycle” has become the norm.  Depending on the area of the country, most people recycle at least their newspapers and often plastic, glass, metal and more.  Many communities even take garbage for composting.  It is not uncommon to see recycling bins in towns along main commercial streets and in malls.  Restaurants recycle bottles and more and more use biocompostable take out containers.

Organic food abounds.  According to the Organic Trade Association’s 2010 Organic Industry Survey, U.S. sales of organic food and beverages have grown from $1 billion in 1990 to $24.8 billion in 2009.  The Organic Monitor estimates global organic sales reached $50.9 billion in 2008, double the $25 billion recorded in 2003.  Farmer’s markets as a source of healthy, fresh, local food and a place for community are catching on.

Finding personal care products and cosmetics without unnecessary additives and toxic chemicals is also easier.  The same goes for non-toxic household cleaners.  Environmentally friendly dry cleaners and organic lawn care companies now exist.

Alternative health care – acupuncture, homeopathy, massage therapy, chiropractics – and emphasis on disease prevention with food and exercise are much more mainstream (though unfortunately not usually covered by insurance). You can now find homeopathic cold and flu remedies even at CVS!

Awareness about saving energy and fuel has risen and more people are making a concerted effort to drive less, carpool more, use public transportation, switch to CFL light bulbs, watch out for vampire energy, etc., all of which lessen our carbon emissions and help with climate change.

These changes benefit the air, the water, the soil and our health.  It’s easier to lead a greener lifestyle today; in fact, it’s almost a fad.  But we still have a long way to go.  On Earth Day, add one more change to your lifestyle that benefits the earth – simple steps really do make a difference.

Some information compiled from the Organic Trade Association, http://www.ota.com.