What you can do for the environment

It's summertime, and all of us down here in NC know what that means right? Urban heat islands, smog as far as the eye can no longer see, droughts and wasted water, and energy bills skyrocketing.

And so far, we've been blessed with a federal government too distracted by Bush's war on the Constitution to take real environmental action, and a state that throws even more funding at new coal plant construction in a Renewable Energy Bill. Not to mention our lovely senators at work screwing over their own state capital on transit. Looks like we gotta take matters into our own hands.

Well, here are some really easy things we can all do to go a little easier on Mother Earth, as we work to elect a government that actually cares about her. Roll up your sleeves; let's get to work--we'll save the environment and a few bucks on the side.

1. Water use: The biggest residential water uses tend to be with washing machines, dishwashers, and yard/garden watering. The solution? Stuff your washing machines and dishwashers as full as they'll get before running them, and set washing machine water setting to something other than "extra heavy". For the yard--if you water your lawn a lot, you can cut back on it and let Mother Nature diversify its composition (more clovers and the like), which will reduce its water needs and make it more environmentally friendly in general. My family's always done that with our yard, and it looks great and requires nothing more than an occasional mow.

Benefits: Keeping water in the lakes and rivers, where it belongs.

2. Electricity: We're moving beyond CFLs here. The single easiest and most effective way to reduce your electricity use during the summer is air conditioning. And it's not even hard or uncomfortable. I'll use my house as an example (though its design, as far as insulation goes, is shitty; it's filled with leaks)--I have not turned on my air conditioner in almost a month. I'm dead serious, and I live in an urban area. All it takes is opening as many windows as possible in the evening, shutting them all upon leaving for work in the morning (closing blinds while you're at it), and maybe turn a few fans on at night. This'll flush all the hot air out of the house at night so the house will stay fairly cool during the day. At the very least, it'll reduce air conditioner use substantially, depending how you program it.

Benefits: fewer mountains destroyed, less NOx and SOx in the air, less CO2 emission

3. Gas: This is the big one--there ain't a thing right with burning gasoline. It emits CO2, increases city smog, requires about 8 parking spaces per car throughout the city and ever-wider roads, worsening runoff and heat island effects, increases our stress levels as we're stuck in traffic, makes us exercise less, throws our money at Middle Eastern dictators...it goes on and on. So...what do we do? First, identify any trips you make regularly to nearby locations that don't require travel on a highway. Bike there instead. Make a habit of it--beyond the direct pollution savings, you'll be advertising the benefits of biking to all the drivers around you. If you're comfortable riding on the road, do it; if you aren't, take the sidewalk--you'll feel up to exercising your legal right soon enough.

Also--combine errands into a single trip. So unbelievably easy and time-saving. Check out local transit options--the Triangle's is excellent; the Triad's is improving, and I don't know much about Charlotte's or, regrettably, any other part of the state, but I'm sure it's not hard to find out.

Benefits: fewer funds for terrorist-sponsoring regimes, among just about every conceivable environmental benefit possible

4. Trash: Separate recycling and compost, compost, compost. If your locality doesn't provide recycling, try to reuse glass and plastic packaging when you can. Also, in moderate quantities, paper and cardboard products can be composted, in addition to the usual kitchen/yard waste. Composting is a really great idea that's good for your landfill and good for your yard and garden. Finally, try to avoid buying products with excessive packaging when possible.

5. Anything else? Let's see...if you, say, happen to be a stubborn aristocrat in a position of power, don't suppress science that contradicts your policies and then fuck up the response when a terrible catastrophe strikes and and ruins thousands of lives...hypothetically, you know, that is.

Have a great sustainable summer everyone!

Comments

Good stuff.

Cant' hear these ideas too often as far as I'm concerned.

Frontpaged by me.

A few more trashy observations

As Jake said, compost your food wastes. They may be biodegradable, but that actually takes a hell of a lot longer when they are dumped together with other refuse. There have been 75 year-old landfills dug up with banana peels that were still yellow. Solar degradation is much quicker, and a few days exposure equals months under the surface.

Also, be careful of the items you throw away. Batteries are nasty little devils, and need to be disposed of at special collection sites. If they go into the ground, they disintegrate and bleed toxins into the groundwater. If they're incinerated, they just turn into poisonous fly ash. Most electronics are almost as bad, so don't toss them in the trash either.

Does anyone know of a paper shredding

company that does community service events for personal quantities? I have 3 big bags of private stuff I can't just recycle or throw out and don't know what to do with it.

Have you called to support H. Res 333 Impeach Cheney Today? call 202-224-3121 & ask for your Congress member by name

I recycle my shredding

Orange Co has curbside mixed paper pickup now, so I put old credit card bills (for example) in my home shredder and put the stuff out with the paper for pickup.

If that isn't an option in your neighborhood, see if there are drop off points for office paper recycling.

Then again, I wouldn't want to shred 3 big bags. It would take forever!

Shredding

I don't know of any, but depending on local laws, you might consider burning it, maybe even in a fireplace (but I'm not quite sure how one would do that safely.)

Thanks for the FP (my first time)!

Just bought a new

high efficiency washing machine. It supposedly uses a lot less water and then the tub spins so fast the clothes are practically dry when you take them out. It's energy star compliant/certified..whatever.... Then the dryer only takes 20 - 30 minutes to dry the clothes instead of the typical 40 - 60 it used to take me. I haven't had a chance to get my solar/wind powered drying units up yet. :)

As far as lawn watering...we did water our lawn when our old house was listed, but out here in the country we have too much lawn to water. I doubt hubby will want mother nature to diversify our lawn..he likes grass, but we will let mother nature turn the grass brown in summer. This decision is pretty easy for us since Union County has a watering ban most of the year. Growth has outstripped water supply and more water isn't in the near future. We want to put up hedges and some decorative gardening areas, so we're looking for drought-resistant shrubs and perennials.

Of course, this leads me to a question. Why is water conservation optional? I realize that most restrictions can't be enforced with any consistency, so even required conservation is, in effect, optional. I wouldn't be opposed to tiered billing. I think a county/city/water supplier could set a basic consumption level that most families would fall under and bill at a certain amount for that level and as water use goes over that level, they could bill at a much higher rate. That would encourage folks to try and stay under that basic water use level. For all I know, some areas may already do this.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

I heard Orange County is considering doing a tiered system

I heard that a long time ago though, so it might've already been enacted or rejected.

A tiered system would be great--the 90% of us with low water usage pay lower rates, and total consumption probably drops at the same time.

I wish.

Town of Hillsborough has a flat fee up to 5000 gallons/month, currently about $42. I have no idea what happens if you go over, because our 2-person household never has.

IIRC, the objection was raised that it hurts large families, who by sheer person-volume use more water.

There you have it

water conservation and family planning....all in one tidy little package. :)

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

20% clover

Tell hubby to plant 20% white clover. It greens up first, doesn't brown, and makes your lawn nice and soft. Also, it is nitrogen fixing, so you don't have to fertilize as much.

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

good advice

gonna forward to my mom. thanks.

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"

Lawn, shmawn.

I don't water anything except for my herb garden and shrubs. Shrubbery requires less water than grass and less maintenance - no mowing! I'm planning an extensive re-working of my yard so that there's as little grass as possible. It'll probably never happen because I'm lazy.

If you don't want to turn off the a/c (or have small furry critters that like trying to jump through your window screens so you can't leave the windows open very far), setting it to 78 degrees or higher and using fans, especially when combined with zealous use of blinds, can reduce energy consumption. (Additionally, keeping your thermostat higher reduces the shock when you step outside.)

My dad's doing this long term lawn project

To clear out all the grass and replace it with periwinkle, which doesn't need to be mowed, or watered.

It's holding up pretty well so far.

One thing I really want to do if I ever have a yard is convert it, or part of it, into garden space. Because really, lawns don't get used nearly as much time as it takes to maintain them, and imagine being able to walk out your front door to grab lunch!

On that note, blueberries are excellent for that purpose--you can, but don't have to, put up a net to keep the birds out, but even if you don't you'll have tons of blueberries at your disposal, with zero maintenance necessary, other than a pruning every couple years.

Check out this link I found from DailyKos: http://walkscore.com. You plug in an address and it automatically gives you a walkability score based on how many places you need to go are within walking distance. My home in the W-S inner burbs is a 22%, but my friends' place in Carrboro is an 84.

Clover for us.

We're letting it take over, though it's slow going. I wonder if distributing the flowers throughout the yard would encourage it.

My husband is a big blackberry fan, and we've got adjacent woods to try growing bushes on. Haven't tried it yet, though.

My burb home gets a pretty low score, but higher than I'd expected, at 37, partly because of Hampton Pointe. It's only 1.5-2 miles into town proper, but there aren't any sidewalks, either. Biking isn't particularly easy, because there are very narrow shoulders, if any at all. The narrow bridge over the Eno on old 86/Churton St is scary.

Eventually it would be nice for old 86

to have bike lanes. As for that bridge, I have to check my notes to see if there are plans for it.
One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Edible Landscaping

was my forte` down in Florida. I'm still working on it here - but it is working.

Next year - goats, shoats, and bees.

You can use your shreds to start campfires or as mulch. I hate 'slicks'; those are the nasty colored inserts that come in newspapers. Some people call 'em advertising. Those don't break down very well and who knows what they used for ink.

White roof, ridge vent, solar roof fan

these are some ways ro keep cool without using electricity.

I saw a docu. on the amazing savings we could acheive if everyone went with a white roof (very reflective of heat )

Recently I used this product to paint my Mother's stucco house in NMB. It's supposed to have a NASA developed ceramic temperature reflecting element. I'll have to compare some energy bills before i know how well it works.

thermoshield.com

Then there is the Rain Barrel. Collect and store water rainbarrelguide

Have you called to support H. Res 333 Impeach Cheney Today? call 202-224-3121 & ask for your Congress member by name