Friday, September 21, 2007

Power Vampires

See Smart Home USA

Does it really matter if I unplug my cellphone charger, coffee maker, computer, TV, etc. when they're not on?


Power (or energy) vampires are one of my biggest eco-pet peeves! If all of us would just remember (or set up systems to remember for us) to turn things all the way off when they are not in use, we would save a lot of power! And, a lot of money!!! I once calculated that by turning off just my TV, DVD, cable box and stereo and then shutting the power strip that they are all plugged into off (so, all of them are truly OFF and not on standby), I could save about $2000 to send with my daughter when she heads off to college... and, it would have NO EFFECT on my lifestyle.

So, do it today! Eliminate the vampires in your life! :)

Check out these links for more detailed info on energy vampires...

Grinning Planet

Have a great week!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Lazy Composting

Hi Everyone! This week we're talking compost. I get questions all of the time about composting. Is it worth it? Is it difficult? Is it messy? My answer is always that it is so easy! And, you will dramatically reduce the amount of trash you send to the landfill (reducing your personal carbon footprint), since Americans throw away 12%-25% of the food we purchase to eat.

The Guide to Lazy Composting...

First of all, we bought a plastic bin with a carbon filter to keep on the kitchen counter. That way for a few days at a time, I can just collect the kitchen scaps as I'm cooking. All kitchen scraps except for meat, dairy, eggs or oil can go into the compost. Vegetable and fruit scaps, peels, rinds, coffee grounds, filters, tea bags, etc. can all be composted. Rachel Ray keeps a "garbage bowl" on her counter when cooking. I do the same thing, it's just a "compost bowl" at our house. To buy one go to this website.

Then, we keep a large trash can with a lid out in the back yard. Every few days, dump the kitchen scraps into the outdoor trash can. Basically compost is just rotten organic material, that becomes a great soil additive for a strong organic garden. Without going into too much detail, you want a balance of carbon, nitrogen, moisture and oxygen. So, practically speaking, you want an approximate balance of "brown" (shredded newspapers, toilet paper rolls, leaves) and "green" material (kitchen scraps, grass clippings.) If you begin your compost in the fall, start with a nice base of leaves from your yard, then just add the kitchen scraps all winter until the compost is ready for your spring garden. When you start again in the spring, add layers of toilet paper rolls or shredded newspaper from time to time to keep your kitchen scraps from getting too moist.

And, that's it!

For another perspective on "lazy composting," check out today's tip from The Green Life.

More Composting Resources:
Compost Guide
EPA's Guide to Composting
TerraCycle (organic fertilizer made and packaged entirely from waste!!!)

Happy Composting!
Hit the farmer's market this fall as often as you can! Winter's coming!

Keep up the great questions. And, check the main website weekly for new links.
Take care ecomamas!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Reader Question: A Greener Way to Pick Up Dog Poop

Good Morning Everyone! This week's question is from Heidi in Ann Arbor. She's begun to compost more and more of her family's waste for her garden. Now she would like to start composting the dog poop that she picks up on her daily walks with her 2 dogs and her toddler. My first thought was to use a child's sand bucket and just "scoop the poop" into it and then dump it in the compost when she returns home. But, when you're trying corral 2 dogs and a stroller, it's tricky to add a sand bucket and a scooper to the mix. So, I came across this excellent post from The Green Life: a pet lover's perspective on living healthy and green. This post is full of resources for biodegradable dog poop bags that can be easily composted along with the dog poop.

Check it out here!

And, as a follow up to last week's post, a reader recommended Trader Joe's liquid laundry detergent. It is concentrated, so the small jug contains many cleaning loads, just be sure not to use too much with each load. It is eco-friendly and at minimum it removes stains as well as regular detergents. Try it!

Have a great week!
Keep sending me your ecomama questions...