Posts Tagged ‘compost’

Green Your Home This Spring

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Green: A Great Color for the Home

It’s hard to believe, but spring is just around the corner. For many of us this means it’s time to begin knocking tasks off of spring cleaning to-do lists and gearing up for those home improvement projects you began realizing were long overdue while cooped up inside all winter. Whether you’re looking to remodel your bathroom, upgrade your kitchen tile, or turn your backyard into an oasis, The Cincinnati Home and Garden Show, held at the Duke Energy Convention Center, is the place to be. The show is open to the public today, March 5th through Sunday, March 9th.

This year will also feature a Go Green Cincinnati Show, presenting dozens of retailers offering sustainable products and services, helping residents of the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky lead greener lives. While not everyone can afford to install solar panels on their roofs or invest in new, energy efficient appliances, there are plenty of ways to go green for little to no cost. Here are 10 easy tricks to add a little green to your life and your home.

Create your own low-cost compost bin  
Composting is a great way to make use of things that would normally end up in a landfill. You can throw all kinds of things into your compost bin which will, in turn, create natural and nutrient rich soil for flower beds, gardens, or even the grass in your yard.

Wash laundry in cold, rather than hot, water
Although using cold water can take a little longer to properly clean clothes, it will clean them just as well as hot water. According to Energy Star, almost 90% of the energy used by washing machines goes towards heating water.
Bonus Green Points: Line-dry clothes. Again, you’ll be saving money and energy, but the UV rays of the sun can help kill germs and bacteria too!

Shop at local Farmers Markets
One of the best and easiest ways to go green (in addition to helping your local economy) is to shop at local Farmers Markets. Your food is almost certainly guaranteed to be fresher, more nutritious, and more flavorful than items bought at a grocery store.

Unplug unused and rarely used appliances
Although it may not seem like it, many appliances that aren’t in use but are still plugged in continue sucking up energy. All kinds of appliances from toasters to televisions use “standby” power when they aren’t in use. If unplugging all those unused appliances seems like too much of an inconvenience, another option is to invest in a Smart Power Strip, which monitors electricity use and stops sending power to appliances that have been idle for a certain amount of time.

D.I.Y. cleaning supplies
Not only do most name brand cleaning supplies contain toxic chemicals, but they are expensive. With a handful of inexpensive and basic ingredients you can make a whole host of cleaners for the entire house.

Invest in energy efficient light bulbs.
Energy Efficient bulbs may have more of an upfront cost, but you’ll be saving in the long run and helping the environment. Even changing a few bulbs throughout your house can save you hundreds of dollars annually.

Donate old newspapers to animal shelters, old plastic bags to participating grocery stores, or buy/make your own reusable bags.
Animal shelters are a great place to drop off plastic bags and old newspapers. Lots of grocery stores take bag plastic bags to reuse or recycle; talk to your local grocery store to see if they accept donations. Or better yet, you can buy or make your own reusable bags and avoid the plastic ones altogether! Most patterns are simple enough for beginners to use and only take a few minutes to make!

Lighten the load
How many of us avoid the cluttered, black hole that is our car’s trunk? If you’re like me, the trunk of your car has slowly accumulated knick-knacks over time. Cleaning out your trunk (or the entire car, for some of us) will lighten the overall weight of your car, helping improve fuel efficiency. Improved fuel efficiency decreases the amount of gas you’ll need, so lighten the load in your car and you can lighten your weekly gas bill, too.

Caulk windows
This is a project that sounds much more daunting than it actually is, and will greatly improve the energy efficiency in your home. Something as simple as re-caulking your windows will only take a couple of hours and will help keep the warm air in during the winter and the cool air in during the summer. It’s a quick an easy project that will prove beneficial for any season.

Repurpose!
A little creativity will go a long way with this one. With a little craftiness and a good google search the options are limitless. Sites like Pinterest, Apartment Therapy, and DIY Network are all great places for inspiration. From old t-shirts to baby food jars, just because it’s served its original purpose doesn’t mean those objects can’t be repurposed for another use. Repurpose! Reuse! Recycle! It’s fun, easy, and all these small acts can make a huge difference for the environment!

The contributor for this article was Katie Butts, an intern for Keen Communications.

Recycling & composting in the modern age

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

I have been recycling for what seems like my whole life and stressing the importance of recycling to others along the way. It was only recently that I considered composting, and in my research to begin that process, I came across many very interesting and helpful articles and organizations. I want to be the best recycler and composter that I can be, and I want you to do the same!

The Mother Nature Network has offered some great advice on things you should definitely not compost or recycle. You’d be surprised at what should NOT go into your bins. Some things are common sense while others answer those long asked questions: I can just throw this in there and they’ll take care of it, right? Everything from motor oil and batteries to printed papers and pizza boxes is covered, with suggestions for what to do with those non-traditional recyclable materials. I know I’ll be printing this list off and taping it to the top of my recycling bin at home!

In addition, I have often found myself wondering how to properly dispose of cooking oil/grease from my kitchen. I knew that flushing it down the sink was most likely not the proper way (imagine how fatty foods clog our arteries–just imagine what repeated flushing down the drains does to the pipes in your home and through the city!), so I did a little digging. Am I able to just throw the grease in the trash in a sealed container? That didn’t seem right to me, but, it appears to be one solution. Another solution is to take your grease to a local restaurant (one that offers collection) for a larger-scale removal. However, the most sustainable solution to getting rid of your cooking oil/grease is to partner up with a local restaurant where you can take your grease and have them donate their grease to the Alternative Fuel Foundation. The AFF ‘recycles’ cooking oil and grease from restaurants and turns it into clean-burning bio-fuel! You can read more about the benefits of bio-fuel at their website. Very cool, and very green!

There are tons of organizations and companies that are recycling in creative ways, collecting hazardous materials, other recyclable materials such as light bulbs, batteries, motor oil, etc. throughout our communities. An example of just that is GLOBAL RECYCLE, a small company based out of New Orleans that is working to better the community with their local recycling program. The best thing you can do for yourself is to get in contact with someone knowledgeable on the subject: I plan to see if our local green grocer, Park + Vine, collects cooking grease. I’m sure that they can teach me all kinds of things about this, composting, and much more!

 

Green, Earth-Friendly Solutions For Pet Waste

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

After a friend sent me an article titled “The Green Scoop on Dog Poop: Eco-Friendlier Ways to Clean up After Your Dog,” I started to wonder why I had never thought of alternative solutions to my pets’ waste.  Now, although I love dogs and wish I had one of my own, I am a 3-cat kind of lady, which entails 2 litter boxes and scooping them at least 3 times a week.  That’s at least 6 grocery bags being used every week just to scoop my cats unmentionables into and then thrown in the trash, on their way to a landfill.
(It’s 2011 – why haven’t we come up with a better solution for our garbage yet?  Soon we will start shipping to another planet, like in Wall-E.  A very, very sad planet).

My first thought for an alternative to scooping into plastic and dumping in a landfill was to flush my cats’ kitty litter encrusted gems down the toilet.  Heck, if ours can go down so can theirs, right?  Wrong.  Animal excrement has harmful pathogens that cannot be flushed into our water treatment systems.  Bacteria like E.Coli enter our water systems exactly this way.  Also, most cat litter is not biodegradable and is made from strip-mined Sodium Bentonite clay (a very bad process in itself).

Here are some very helpful websites that have excellent solutions for disposing of your little pooch’s and kitty’s serious business:

If you are a proud pet owner and want to change your poop-scooping habits to be a little more green, check out any of these articles and be on your way!