Tuesday, February 26, 2008

UPDATE 02-26-2008

Greetings and hello to all my readers. For those wondering why I havn't made a new post recently, I will not be adding new posts for about two weeks.

The reason? My computers processor cooling fan decided to stop working about two days ago and will not be able to be fixed till after the first week of March. Once my computer is repaired I will return to finding content and posting.

I hope all my current readers will stick around till then and my new readers subscribe :-)

Friday, February 22, 2008

How to make Compost. A composting guide.

I know recently I have spoke about composting as a way to help reduce garbage and to help the garden and such. I have yet to explain how to make compost. The reason being, I have been looking for a good article that will explain in detail how to make compost, what can be composted, what shouldn't and so forth.

Today I found the information.

Below is a mirror of the content on this website. They created it, I am just mirroring so my readers can learn how to make compost and to have a mirror in case the original site goes down, page moved, etc. The information is a bit long, but well worth the read.

Why Make Compost?

Compost is one of nature's best mulches and soil amendments, and
you can use it instead of commercial fertilizers. Best of all, compost
is cheap. You can make it without spending a cent. Using compost
improves soil structure, texture, and aeration and increases the
soil's water-holding capacity. Compost loosens clay soils and helps
sandy soils retain water. Adding compost improves soil fertility
and stimulates healthy root development in plants. The organic matter
provided in compost provides food for microorganisms, which keeps
the soil in a healthy, balanced condition. Nitrogen, potassium,
and phosphorus will be produced naturally by the feeding of microorganisms,
so few if any soil amendments will need to be added.

Most gardeners have long understood the value of this rich, dark,
earthy material in improving the soil and creating a healthful environment
for plants. Understanding how to make and use compost is in the public
interest, as the problem of waste disposal climbs toward a crisis
level. Landfills are brimming, and new sites are not likely to be
easily found. For this reason there is an interest in conserving existing
landfill space and in developing alternative methods of dealing with
waste. Don't throw away materials when you can use them to improve
your lawn and garden! Start composting instead.

Our hands our being forced to deal creatively with our own yard waste,
as one by one, cities are refusing to haul off our leaves and grass
clippings. About one third of the space in landfills is taken up with
organic waste from our yards and kitchens, just the type of material
that can be used in compost. With a small investment in time, you
can contribute to the solution to a community problem, while at the
same time enriching the soil and improving the health of the plants
on your property.

Want the super quick version of how to make compost? Visit our Composting
Tips page

The Compost Decomposition Process

Compost is the end product of a complex feeding pattern involving
hundreds of different organisms, including bacteria, fungi, worms,
and insects. What remains after these organisms break down organic
materials is the rich, earthy substance your garden will love. Composting
replicates nature's natural system of breaking down materials on the
forest floor. In every forest, grassland, jungle, and garden, plants
die, fall to the ground, and decay. They are slowly dismantled by
the small organisms living in the soil. Eventually these plant parts
disappear into the brown crumbly forest floor. This humus keeps the
soil light and fluffy.

Humus is our goal when we start composting. By providing the right
environment for the organisms in the compost pile, it is possible
to produce excellent compost. We usually want to organize and hasten
Mother Nature's process. By knowing the optimum conditions of heat,
moisture, air, and materials, we can speed up the composting process.
Besides producing more good soil faster, making the compost faster
creates heat which will destroy plant diseases and weed seeds in the

Compost Materials

Almost any organic material is suitable for a compost pile. The pile
needs a proper ratio of carbon-rich materials, or "browns,"
and nitrogen-rich materials, or "greens." Among the brown
materials are dried leaves, straw, and wood chips. Nitrogen materials
are fresh or green, such as grass clippings and kitchen scraps

Mixing certain types of materials or changing the proportions can
make a difference in the rate of decomposition. Achieving the best
mix is more an art gained through experience than an exact science.
The ideal ratio approaches 25 parts browns to 1 part greens. Judge
the amounts roughly equal by weight. Too much carbon will cause the
pile to break down too slowly, while too much nitrogen can cause odor.
The carbon provides energy for the microbes, and the nitrogen provides

Leaves represent a large percentage of total yard waste. If you
can grind them in a gas or electric
chipper shredder
or mow over them, they will reduce in size
making them easier to store until you can use them in the pile,
and they will decompose faster - an issue with larger leaves. They
are loaded with minerals brought up from the tree roots and are
a natural source of carbon. A few leaf species such as live oak,
southern magnolia, and holly trees are too tough and leathery for
easy composting. Avoid all parts of the black walnut tree as they
contain a plant poison that survives composting. Eucalyptus leaves
can be toxic to other plants. And avoid using poison oak, poison
ivy, and sumac.

Pine Needles need to be chopped or shredded, as
they decompose slowly. They are covered with a thick, waxy coating.
In very large quantities, they can acidify your compost, which would
be a good thing if you have alkaline soils.

Grass Clippings break down quickly and contain
as much nitrogen as manure. Since fresh grass clippings will clump
together, become anerobic, and start to smell, mix them with plenty
of brown material. If you have a lot of grass clippings to compost,
spread them on the driveway or other surface to bake in the sun
for at least a day. Once it begins to turn pale or straw-like, it
can be used without danger of souring. Avoid grass clippings that
contain pesticide or herbicide residue, unless a steady rain has
washed the residue from the grass blades.

Kitchen Refuse includes melon rinds, carrot peelings,
tea bags, apple cores, banana peels - almost everything that cycles
through your kitchen. The average household produces more than 200
pounds of kitchen waste every year. You can successfully compost
all forms of kitchen waste. However, meat, meat products, dairy
products, and high-fat foods like salad dressings and peanut butter,
can present problems. Meat scraps and the rest will decompose eventually,
but will smell bad and attract pests. Egg shells are a wonderful
addition, but decompose slowly, so should be crushed. All additions
to the compost pile will decompose more quickly if they are chopped
up some before adding.

compost pail

To collect your kitchen waste, you can keep a small compost
in the kitchen to bring to the pile every few days. Keep
a lid on the container to discourage insects. When you add kitchen
scraps to the compost pile, cover them with about 8" of brown
material to reduce visits by flies or critters.

Wood Ashes from a wood burning stove or fireplace
can be added to the compost pile. Ashes are alkaline, so add no
more than 2 gallon-sized buckets-full to a pile with 3'x3'x3' dimensions.
They are especially high in potassium. Don't use coal ashes, as
they usually contain large amounts of sulfur and iron that can injure
your plants. Used charcoal briquettes don't decay much at all, so
it's best not to use them.

Garden Refuse should make the trip to the pile.
All of the spent plants, thinned seedlings, and deadheaded flowers
can be included. Most weeds and weed seeds are killed when the pile
reaches an internal temperature above 130 degrees, but some may
survive. To avoid problems don't compost weeds with persistent root
systems, and weeds that are going to seed.

Spoiled Hay or Straw makes an excellent carbon
base for a compost pile, especially in a place where few leaves
are available. Hay contains more nitrogen than straw. They may contain
weed seeds, so the pile must have a high interior temperature. The
straw's little tubes will also keep the pile breathing.

Manure is one of the finest materials you can
add to any compost pile. It contains large amounts of both nitrogen
and beneficial microbes. Manure for composting can come from bats,
sheep, ducks, pigs, goats, cows, pigeons, and any other vegetarian
animal. As a rule of thumb, you should avoid manure from carnivores,
as it can contain dangerous pathogens. Most manures are considered
"hot" when fresh, meaning it is so rich in nutrients that
it can burn the tender roots of young plants or overheat a compost
pile, killing off earthworms and friendly bacteria. If left to age
a little, however, these materials are fine to use.

Manure is easier to transport and safer to use
if it is rotted, aged, or composted before it's used. Layer manure
with carbon-rich brown materials such as straw or leaves to keep
your pile in balance.

Seaweed is an excellent source of nutrient-rich
composting material. Use the hose to wash off the salt before sending
it to the compost pile.

The list of organic materials which can be added to the compost pile
is long. There are industrial and commercial waste products you may
have access to in abundance. The following is a partial list: corncobs,
cotton waste, restaurant or farmer's market scraps, grapevine waste,
sawdust, greensand, hair, hoof and horn meal, hops, peanut shells,
paper and cardboard, rock dust, sawdust, feathers, cottonseed meal,
blood meal, bone meal, citrus wastes, coffee, alfalfa, and ground

Following is a chart listing common composting materials

Table taken out due to problems, see original article for table

Compost Site Selection

Any pile of organic matter will eventually rot, but a well-chosen
site can speed up the process. Look for a level, well-drained area.
If you plan to add kitchen scraps, keep it accessible to the back
door. Don't put it so far away you'll neglect the pile. In cooler
latitudes, keep the pile in a sunny spot to trap solar heat. Look
for some shelter to protect the pile from freezing cold winds which
could slow down the decaying process. In warm, dry latitudes, shelter
the pile in a shadier spot so it doesn't dry out too quickly.

Build the pile over soil or lawn rather than concrete or asphalt,
to take advantage of the earthworms, beneficial microbes, and other
decomposers, which will migrate up and down as the seasons change.
Uncovered soil also allows for drainage. If tree roots are extending
their roots into the pile, turn it frequently so they can't make headway.

Look for a spot that allows you to compost discretely, especially
if you have neighboring yards in close proximity. Aim for distance
and visual barriers between the pile and the neighbors.

Seasonal Schedule for Composting

An effective storage system is the key to successfully using the
materials each season provides. In the fall, collect and shred fallen
leaves. The best use for them now is as mulch for trees, shrubs, and
garden beds. Excess leaves can be stored - leaves from 100 bags can
be shredded and put in a 4'x4'x4' container. Some decomposition will
take place over the winter, but not a significant amount. Continue
to put kitchen scraps in the pile, but it's not necessary to turn
in cold climes. If you want your compost pile to stay active during
the winter, you'll want an enclosed bin with insulated sides. A black
bin situated in a sunny spot can help trap solar radiation during
cold spells. Keep the pile as large as possible so that heat generated
from decomposition will endure. You can also stack bales of straw
along the sides of your bin to help retain the heat.

In areas with a cold winter, spring is the best time to start the
compost pile in earnest. There's an abundance of grass clippings and
trimmings. Summer is the time the compost pile is working at its peak
range of decomposition, especially if it has been turned once or twice.
Cover and store the finished compost, or use it, and start another
batch. With enough organic waste, you can produce several batches
of highly managed compost during the summer.

Making Compost

Compost can range from passive - allowing the materials to sit and
rot on their own - to highly managed. Whenever you intervene in the
process, you're managing the compost. How you compost is determined
by your goal. If you're eager to produce as much compost as possible
to use regularly in your garden, you may opt for a more hands-on method
of composting. If your goal is to dispose of yard waste, a passive
method is your answer.

Passive composting involves the least amount of time and energy on
your part. This is done by collecting organic materials in a freestanding
pile. It might take a long time (a year or two), but eventually organic
materials in any type of a pile will break down into finished compost.
More attractive than a big pile of materials sitting in your yard
is a 3-sided enclosure made of fencing, wire, or concrete blocks,
which keeps the pile neater and less unsightly. Add grass clippings,
leaves, and kitchen scraps (always cover these with 8" of other
material). The pile will shrink quickly as the materials compress
and decompose. Wait a year or two before checking the bottom of the
bin for finished compost. When it's ready, shovel the bottom section
into a wheelbarrow and add it to your garden beds. Continue to add
greens and browns to have a good supply of finished compost at the
ready. After the first few years, most simple piles produce a few
cubic feet of finished compost yearly.

Managed composting involves active participation, ranging from turning
the pile occasionally to a major commitment of time and energy. If
you use all the techniques of managing the pile, you can get finished
compost in 3-4 weeks. Choose the techniques that reflect how much
you want to intervene in the decomposition process and that will be
a function of how fast you want to produce compost.

The speed with which you produce finished compost will be determined
by how you collect materials, whether you chop them up, how you mix
them together, and so on. Achieving a good balance of carbon and nitrogen
is easier if you build the pile all at once. Layering is traditional,
but mixing the materials works as well.

Shredded organic materials heat up rapidly, decompose quickly, and
produce a uniform compost. The decomposition rate increases with the
size of the composting materials. If you want the pile to decay faster,
chop up large fibrous materials.

You can add new materials on an ongoing basis to an already established
pile. Most single-bin gardeners build an initial pile and add more
ingredients on top as they become available.

The temperature of the managed pile is important - it indicates
the activity of the decomposition process. The easiest way to track
the temperature inside the pile is by feeling it. If it is warm
or hot, everything is fine. If it is the same temperature as the
outside air, the microbial activity has slowed down and you need
to add more nitrogen (green) materials such as grass clippings,
kitchen waste, or manure.

compost thermometer

Use a compost
to easily see how well your compost is doing. They
are inexpensive, and quite convenient to have.

If the pile becomes too dry, the decay process will slow down. Organic
waste needs water to decompose. The rule of thumb is to keep the pile
as moist as a wrung-out sponge.

If you're building your pile with very wet materials, mix them with
dry materials as you build. If all the material is very dry, soak
it with a hose as you build. Whenever you turn the pile, check it
for moisture and add water as necessary.

Too much water is just as detrimental as the lack of water. In an
overly wet pile, water replaces the air, creating an anaerobic environment,
slowing decomposition.

Air circulation is an important element in a compost pile. Most of
the organisms that decompose organic matter are aerobic - they need
air to survive. There are several ways to keep your pile breathing.
Try not to use materials that are easily compacted such as ashes or
sawdust, without mixing them with a coarser material first. People
who build large piles often add tree branches or even ventilation
tubes vertically into different parts of the pile, to be shaken occasionally,
to maximize air circulation.

A more labor-intensive way to re-oxygenate the pile is to turn the
pile by hand, using a large garden fork. The simplest way is to
move the material from the pile and restack it alongside. A multiple-bin
system makes this efficient, in that you only handle the material
once. Otherwise, you can put the material back into the same pile.
The object is to end up with the material that was on the outside
of the original pile, resting in the middle of the restacked pile.
This procedure aerates the pile and will promote uniform decomposition.

compost aerating tool

This is an excellent
tool for aerating and mixing compost

The following information is for the highly managed pile and the
optimum finished compost in the shortest amount of time. Decomposition
occurs most efficiently when the temperature inside the pile is between
104 degrees F and 131 degrees F. Compost thermometers are available
at garden shops and nurseries. It is best not to turn the pile while
it is between these temperatures, but rather when the temperature
is below 104 degrees F or above 131 degrees F. This keeps the pile
operating at its peak. Most disease pathogens die when exposed to
131 degrees for 10-15 minutes, though some weed seeds are killed only
when they're heated to between 140 degrees and 150 degrees. If weed
seeds are a problem, let the pile reach 150 degrees during the first
heating period, then drop back down to the original temperature range.
Maintaining temperatures above 131 degrees can kill the decomposing

The Compost Bin

compost tumbler and tea maker
australian tumbling composterbig round composter
urban composter
Click on photos to get more information and pricing about each compost
bin, or visit our online Compost
Bin Store

To save space, hasten decomposition, and keep the yard looking neat,
contain the compost in some sort of structure. A wide variety of composting
structures can be purchased, or made from a variety of materials.
They can be as simple or complex as desired.

Yard wastes can be composted either in simple holding units, where
they will sit undisturbed for slow decomposition, or in tumbling compost
bins, which produce finished compost as quickly as just a few weeks
with a good mix of materials.

Holding units are simple containers used to store garden waste in
an organized way until these materials break down. A holding unit
is the easiest way to compost. It only requires placing wastes into
a pile or bin as they are generated. Non-woody materials such as grass
clippings, crop wastes, garden weeds, and leaves work best in these
systems. A holding unit can be a cylinder formed of wire (chicken
wire is too weak to hold up to the bulk), or wood scraps. Openings
in the sides need to be large enough to permit plenty of air, but
small enough to contain the materials that are composting.

Turning units are typically a series of bins used for building and
turning active compost piles. A turning unit allows wastes to be conveniently
mixed for aeration on a regular basis.

Read about why I like compost tumblers.

Browse garden
, electric
, reel
, compost
at Clean
Air Gardening

Home gardeners are constantly inventing creative and inexpensive
ways to hold their compost - for example, bins made from wire mesh
or from shipping pallets.

Some gardeners lash together four pallets, leaving one corner loosely
attached to act as a door. Others install posts in four corners, nail
the pallets to the posts to form three sides of the bin, and wire
the last pallet with some slack to allow access.

Make a simple, three-sided bin by stacking concrete or cinder blocks.
Leave the fourth side open for turning the pile or for access to the
finished compost.

Renewed interest in recycling has prompted a great increase in
the types of composting systems available commercially. Consider
the advantages and disadvantages of each type of compost
to choose the best one for your yard, budget, and life-style.
They range from wire containers to plastic bins and tumblers. Composters
are available online from CleanAirGardening.com and from our online
composter store.

Learn about making compost
tea on this page


Making compost is really quite easy, but having too much of a certain
material or letting the compost get too wet or too dry can cause problems.

Troubleshooting Composting Problems

Table taken out due to problems, see original article for table

Vermicomposting: Composting with Worms

Vermicomposting, or worm composting, is different than traditional

Worm composting is a process that uses red earthworms, also commonly
called redworms, to consume organic waste, producing castings (an
odor-free compost product for use as mulch), soil conditioner, and
topsoil additive. Naturally occurring organisms, such as bacteria
and millipedes, also assist in the aerobic degradation of the organic
material. Commercially available worm
composting bins
make it fairly simple to do your own vermicomposting

worm composting bin

You can learn more about vermicomposting on our worm
composting page

Using Compost

Finished compost is dark brown, crumbly, and is earthy-smelling.
Small pieces of leaves or other ingredients may be visible. If the
compost contains many materials which are not broken down, it is only
partly decomposed. This product can be used as a mulch, but adding
partly decomposed compost to the soil can reduce the amount of nitrogen
available to the plants. The microorganisms will continue to do the
work of decomposing, but will use soil nitrogen for their own growth,
restricting the nitrogen's availability to plants growing nearby.

Allow partly decomposed compost particles to break down further
or separate them out before using compost on growing plants. Or
add extra nitrogen such as manure, to ensure that growing plants
will not suffer from a nitrogen deficiency. Compost is great for
flower gardening,
herb gardening,
organic lawn care
and vegetable

Compost serves primarily as a soil conditioner, whether it's spread
in a layer on the soil surface or is dug in. A garden soil regularly
amended with compost is better able to hold air and water, drains
more efficiently, and contains a nutrient reserve that plants can
draw on. The amended soil also tends to produce plants with fewer
insect and disease problems. The compost encourages a larger population
of beneficial soil microorganisms, which control harmful microorganisms.
It also fosters healthy plant growth, and healthy plants are better
able to resist pests.

One inch thick is enough to spread on your garden beds. Compost continues
to decompose, so eventually the percentage of organic matter in the
soil begins to decline. In northern climates, compost is mostly decomposed
after two years in the soil. In southern climates, it disappears even
faster and should be replenished every year.

To bolster poor soil with little organic matter, spread 2 to 3 inches
of compost over a newly dug surface. Then work the compost into the
top 6 inches of earth.

A garden soil that has been well mulched and amended periodically
requires only about a ½ inch layer of compost yearly to maintain
its quality.

Some people recommend late fall as a good time to spread compost
over a garden bed, and cover it with a winter mulch, such as chopped
leaves. By spring, soil organisms will have worked the compost into
the soil. Others recommend spreading compost two weeks before planting
time in the spring. There is really no wrong time to spread it. The
benefits remain the same.

If your supply of compost is really limited, consider side-dressing,
a way to use compost sparingly by strategically placing it around
certain plants or along certain rows. This is best done in late spring
and early summer so that the rapidly growing plants can derive the
maximum benefit from the compost.

To side-dress a plant, work the compost into the soil around the
plant, starting about an inch from the stem, out to the drip line,
taking care not to disturb the roots. For shallow rooted plants, leave
the compost on the soil surface. A 2" layer works best when left
on top.

For new lawns, a 2 to 3" layer of compost is best when planting.
Once the new lawn is established, a ¼ to ½" layer
yearly will maintain the quality of the soil.

An existing lawn top-dressed with a ½" layer of compost
every year or two will be healthier than an unamended lawn. Fall is
the best time to apply the compost, although an application in early
spring is almost as effective.

A compost mulch can benefit trees and shrubs just as it does other
plants. Spread a ½" to 1" layer of compost on the
bare soil under the tree as far as the drip line. Then cover with
a 2-3" layer of some other kind of organic mulch, such as chopped
leaves or pine needles. The mulch will hold the compost in place and
keep it from drying out.

Adding compost to the planting hole of small perennial plants is
valuable, particularly perennial food plants. Annuals will also benefit
from a dose of compost at planting time.

Compost is the ultimate garden fertilizer. It contains virtually
all the nutrients a living plant needs and delivers them in a slow-release
manner over a period of years. Compost made with a wide variety of
ingredients will provide an even more nutritious meal to your growing

Compost is the best material available to enliven your soil no matter
where you live. Farmers around the world will testify that healthier
soil grows healthier plants that naturally resist disease, insects,
and other environmental pressures. Adding compost to your garden is
a long-term investment - it becomes a permanent part of the soil structure,
helping to feed future plantings in years to come.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

List of things you can do to help our Environment

Here are some things I do (including some suggestions for others). Doing most/all of the below can greatly help the environment.

* Use Compact Fluorescent bulbs wherever possible in the home.
* Use LEDs in the proper places where needed.
* Only wash cloths in cold water (been doing this for many years)
* Use an alternative washer like this one (opens in new window).
* Lower the water heater thermostat to something reasonable (or get an on the spot water heater)
* Get a very efficient vehicle. Pedal powered bike, walking, partial zero emissions vehicle (or no emissions vehicle, I use a PZEV).
* Drive much less. I drive as little as I can
* If you are in an area that has very low humidity in the summer, look into using evaporative coolers instead of heat pumps. Use fans when possible. Here in Northern California where I'm at, the summers are not humid and so we only have an evaporative cooler to cool the house when it gets too hot. We usually try to keep windows open at night to let in the cool summer night air.
* Only purchase "green energy" from your power company. If they don't offer it, request it and keep requesting it. Get others to request it.
* Use a low wattage computer. See this post for one (opens in new window).
* Do not buy bottled water or soda. Drink tea or filtered water from the tap.
* Buy as much produce locally as you can. This may not be possible in Winter. Always try to purchase Organic produce that was grown as close to your home as possible.
* Go vegan (hard at first for meat eaters but a lot of vegan food is delicious). Raising livestock is usually inhumane and also consumes lots of food (the land used to grow said food could be used to grow human food for those who are starving to death). Raising livestock also pollutes horribly. Check out this post to see how most animals are treated while being raised for food (opens in new window).
* Invest in some solar panels. I've seen 1kW grid tie in solar systems for under $6k
* Do not use disposable utensils, plates or cups. Avoid paper towels when possible. Use only recycled paper towels when they are NEEDED.
* BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) to the grocery and anywhere else bags may be used. Pressure your state/country to implement a per plastic bag tax (see This post (opens in new window) to see how Ireland did it). I have saved about 20 or so bags this week alone while shopping for my family and someone else.
* Keep an eye out and turn off any unused lights, appliances, etc. When I first moved into this house, the previous residents had electric bills in excess of 10kWs a month and now my wife and I have managed to bring it down to around 1KW a month (which includes two desktop computers and four people).
* Recycle Reduce and Reuse. I have converted two 3-compartment laundry hampers into recycling bins. I will be adding a few more soon. Each compartment is for a different thing that can be recycled. I have collected about 6 30 gallon trash bags full of compacted cans within a couple months from this home and the homes of others. They will be taken to the center soon. I recycle aluminum cans, plastic bottles, glass bottles, cardboard, paper and steel cans. Try to make use of a compost pile. Before I moved in here, the family produced around 20-40 bags of trash a WEEK. Now we have reduced that to only 2-3 bags and aiming for 1. The only difference is in number of people, two people left. Now there is four people in this house. Mind you, I have only been living here about 3 months.
* EarthShip. Look into it. Check out this post to find out more (opens in new window).
* Insulate your home very well.
* Lower the thermostat in Winter to between 60-65. In summer raise it to 75-80. It will save tons. Keep your air filter clean. Use a reusable filter when possible. Have the insides of your furnace cleaned about once a year by a professional. Also have your duct work cleaned out once every year or so by a professional.
* Low flow shower heads, sink faucets.
* This may sound gross to some, but it's not as long as you use common sense (and keep the lid down). Most people flush their toilet after EVERY use, even if they just had a little sprinkle. Some get low flow toilets, some manipulate their older ones to use less water. We have older toilets that use something like 3-4 gallons a flush. I manipulated them and now they use about 1 gallon a (small) flush and about 3 gallons for a full flush. I also will only flush after depositing solid waste or after a day (whichever comes first). This I know saves a lot of water in a house of four with three guys.
* Use natural non-toxic cleaners in your household along with safe natural laundry soap, dish soap, etc.
* Use common sense where possible, keep in mind what you need to do and do it.

This post will be updated from time to time to add more content, edit current content, etc. I hope your found this post useful!

Portable Washing machine: Wash cloths the Environmentally Friendly way!

Thanks to someone over at the LocalCooling Forums, I found a cool little washing machine that is under $50, portable, uses very little water, washes cloths more efficiently, AND is environmentally friendly.

Sounds like a wonder machine huh? Well they chose a good name for it then. The Wonderwash seems like it would be a great little washing machine. I will be purchasing one soon to try it out and see for myself. Feel free to comment on this post letting everyone know how well it works if you already use it.

Link to the Wonderwash product page

Help Fight Global Warming! It is so simple to do.

I Stumbled across a site just a moment ago and looked into it. Apparently they are giving away a free program to help make it easy for people to save energy and help fight global warming. Their program shows you in stats you can understand, how much electricity your computer is likely using, how many trees you have saved, how much oil you have saved. It will help you set your power settings to help save electricity. Currently they only support Windows XP, however is enough people ask them for other Windows Versions and Linux Versions, they may just do it.

Click on the image below to find out more and to participate

Sunscreen killing Coral Reefs?

I just came across an article basically saying scientists have found compounds in sunscreen cause massive harm to coral reefs.

Click here to view article.

Below is a copy for archival purposes:
"Sunscreens harm coral reefs, say scientists
By Katie Bird
12-Feb-2008 - Ingredients in sun care products may be bleaching coral reefs by promoting viral infections, say scientists at the University of the Marche, Italy.
Organic UV filters and preservatives used in sun care products could contribute to the bleaching of hard-coral if released into natural systems, say the researchers led by Roberto Danovaro.

Coral bleaching refers to the loss of the zooxanthellae algae that live in a symbiotic relationship with the coral.

The algae provided nutrients and energy for the organism by photosynthesis and in return they benefit from a protected environment in which to live and a constant supply of carbon dioxide to use for photosynthesis.

Without the zooxanthellae the coral host eventually dies with negative impacts on the reef ecosystem. Coral bleaching is an increasing problem worldwide and can be caused by unexpected changes in temperature, an increase in UV radiation and pollution.

Organic UV filters lead to bleaching

Danovaro and the team claim that the chemicals found in sunscreen products also lead to coral bleaching, and that the increased number of sunscreen wearing tourists bathing in reef areas represents a significant danger to the health of reef ecosystems.

The team performed in situ and laboratory experiments in Indonesia, Mexico, Thailand and Egypt, supplementing the coral with various compounds found in sunscreen products and measuring the level of bleaching that occurred.

The team found that the addition of sunscreen to the sampling sites, even in very low concentrations resulted in the release of large amounts of zooxanthellae within 18-48 hours and complete bleaching of hard coral within 96 hours.

In order to identify the compounds responsible for the bleaching the researchers tested seven compounds typically present in sunscreens, four of which lead to complete bleaching even at very low concentrations.

"These results suggest that sunscreens containing parabens, cinnamates, benzophenones and camphor derivatives can contribute to hard coral bleaching if released into natural systems," wrote the authors of the study.

Large quantities of sunscreen released every year

Furthermore, the team estimate that 25 per cent of the sunscreen applied to the skin is released in the water over the course of 20 minutes.

Using sunscreen application guidelines released by the FDA, and estimated numbers of tourists visiting coral reef areas, the study claims that a potential 4,000 - 6,000 tons of sunscreen could be released into reef areas per year.

The researchers hypothesize that the compounds induce viral infections that were previously dormant in the coral, leading to the death of the zooxanthellae and its consequent release from the organism.

As the human use of tropical ecosystems and coral reef areas is increasing the impact of sunscreens on coral bleaching will become a worldwide problem, say the scientists.

"Actions are therefore needed to stimulate the research and utilization of UV filters that do not threaten the survival of these endangered tropical ecosystems," they conclude."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A way to reduce plastic bag usage by about 94% in a few weeks

I just came across an article about another article from the New York Times about a way Ireland reduced plastic grocery bag use by about 94% in only a matter of weeks!

So what was this method? Simple really, a 33 cent tax PER BAG plus a little advertising.

More interesting, there was a mindset shift as “carrying [plastic bags] became socially unacceptable — on a par with wearing a fur coat or not cleaning up after one’s dog.”

Click here to view the New York Times article.

Below is a couple of paragraphs from the above article:
"In 2002, Ireland passed a tax on plastic bags; customers who want them must now pay 33 cents per bag at the register. There was an advertising awareness campaign. And then something happened that was bigger than the sum of these parts.

Within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 94 percent. Within a year, nearly everyone had bought reusable cloth bags, keeping them in offices and in the backs of cars. Plastic bags were not outlawed, but carrying them became socially unacceptable — on a par with wearing a fur coat or not cleaning up after one’s dog."

Some useful products that are good to buy

I've been doing a lot of thinking and looking and I know a lot of people want to purchase good products that do what they want and also do not harm the environment like most products.

In this post I will be listing various products that you may need that are better alternatives to most products you find at stores. I will try to cover as much as I can. This article WILL be updated as needed to cover more products, correct errors, etc. I highly suggest anyone who has used any of these products to comment on this post explaining the products they used and how well they performed and sort of review the product so other readers can see for themselves.

Below is a list of products that can be made at home along with their uses:
* Window Cleaner: 2 Tablespoons White Vinegar to One quart of water.

* Carpet cleaner (for use in steam cleaners): I have used 1/4 gallon White Vinegar to one gallon HOT water. This solution cleaned up pet urine and stuck on pet poop from a carpet that had been sitting a few days. It also eliminated the smell of urine. It did not harm our carpets or steam cleaner. You could probably take some of this same solution and put in a spray bottle to pre-treat but I didn't find it needed. As always, test in an out of the way area to make sure this solution won't damage your carpet.

* General Purpose Cleaner (works wonders): 50% White Vinegar to 50% water. Test this solution in an out of the way place on any new surface you plan to clean with this. Do not use on stone or anything similar. Take care when using this on wood.

* Wood cleaner: 10% White Vinegar to 90% water. Test in an out of the way place on wood before cleaning it with this solution.

* Wood polish: Solution 1- 50% White Vinegar to 50% Olive oil. Solution 2- 100% Olive oil. Spray on and polish off. A note about this, olive oil can turn rancid in hot conditions. Me personally I like the natural look of unpolished but clean wood. This polish recipe is here for those who want it.

Below is a list of products that can be purchased online:
* Stainless Steel Water Bottles (better than plastic)

* Natural and Alternative Menstrual Products

* Reusable Sanitary Pads (made at home)

* Luna Reusable Sanitary Pads

* Some Hemp Backpacks and bags

* Natural baby care and maternity products

* Static Eliminator Reusable Dryer Sheets

* Hemp Mens and Women Clothing (15% of profits go to Greenpeace)

* Botanic Gold (All purpose cleaner, haven't tried it but heard a lot about it)

* Building for Health (not a product but instead a site full of products)

* EcoBags (lots of Organic reusable bags)

* Eco Friendly Flooring (various Eco Friendly flooring materials)

* Ecover Products (cleaning products. Laundry, Dishwashing Household and Personal care)

* Eco-Terric (green and healthy home furnishings, design services and consultation)

* Natural Mattresses and linens (Goodnight Naturals)

* Orange Guard (Non-Toxic Pest Control)

* Real Green Goods (earth-friendly department store offering the highest standards in eco-friendly products)

More to come as I find them....

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Fast Food, Faster Climate Change

The below is a copy of an article located here. It has been
copied here in hopes it would be useful to others and as a
mirror of the article in case it disappears (it happens).

Is he really such a nice guy?

One of the most memorable scenes in Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me” is when he is relaying his physical condition after his first all McDonald’s day. He chronicles his McHeartburn, McNausea and McGas. Then he throws up.

So if all that nastiness is going into our bodies through fast food, what is going into our environment? Unfortunately, it’s more than just McNasty fumes.

This statistic, initially printed on Treehugger, made its way around the blogosphere a few months ago; cooking four normal sized hamburgers in a fast food joint emits the same amount of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) as driving a current model car for 1,000 miles. And according to a Hong Kong study (PDF) in response to complaints from Hong Kong residence about odor from fast food restaurants “Apart from nuisance, cooking fumes may also contribute to the emission of fine particulates and volatile organic substances. A few studies suggested the possibility of increasing the lung cancer risk due to cooking fume emissions.”

The study also chronicles the actual components of the fumes in addition to the substantial quantity of particulate emissions. They include “oil, fats, aliphatic hydrocarbons, poly-aromatic hydrocarbons, aromatic amines, aldehydes (formaldehyde and acetaldehyde) and elemental carbon.” The study suggests that restaurants, particularly those using char-broilers and roasting equipment, be required to fit advanced control equipment with kitchen exhaust systems in order to reduce air pollution.

San Francisco is already requiring that all restaurants be equipped with catalytic converters, just like cars are required to have. Statewide, California has set emissions standards for chain-driven char-broilers. And when New Jersey was considering ways to improve air quality (PDF), the emissions from the state’s 16,000 restaurants (2,226 tons of particulates) was enough to warrant inclusion of reduction methods in the plan. In fact, those emissions are more than all of the heavy diesel vehicles in the state (1,329 tons). (Informed readers will know from watching The Sopranos that New Jersey is all about the diesel trucks, too.) Like in California, the New Jersey study pinpoints fast food chains as the worst culprits among restaurants in terms of air quality.

And what about the greenhouse gas emissions from fast food? The Cheeseburger Footprint Calculator is pretty interesting. They clock the average cheeseburger as coming in at 3.6-6.1 kg of CO2 emissions per cheeseburger, calculating in the methane emissions from cattle production. If we accept that the average American eats 1 – 3 of these charred, burnt flesh bombs, I mean tasty delights, each and every week, that is the equivalent of 6.5 to 19.6 million SUVs on the road in addition to the 16 million gas guzzlers we already have.

Wired Magazine has covered this, as well, with this juicy statistic – “Eight quarter pounders generate the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as driving for three hours while burning a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days.” And then there is the clear cutting of forests to get more land to raise cows, to make more ground beef, to make more burgers, to feed more people who wait for a bag of cholesterol, fat, chemicals, hormones and sugar to come through a small window while their SUV idles. To be fair to the meat eaters, buying organic beef reduces the greenhouse gas emission by 40% and the energy consumption by 85%, so there is a way to eat beef without being an energy and carbon hog, just not at McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Jack in the Box, In and Out Burger, Carl’s Jr. or any fast food restaurant with the exception of AstroBurger. Oh how I love Astroburger! Just stay away from the Maui Gardenburger, that’s just gross!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Totally Vegetarian Recipes: The Cookbook for People who love Animals.

Recently my wife brought home a cookbook that I have found very useful and informative that I would like to share with all my blog readers.

It is called Totally Vegetarian Recipes From Beginner To Gourmet. The Cookbook for People who Love Animals.

Yea, long title but great recipes and even includes some poems. Overall I would highly recommend this cookbook to anyone wanting to go vegan or even vegetarian.

Have you ever wanted to know how to make your own soy milk? What about Tofu? Nut milks? This book has recipes for those and many more. In fact there is over 300 recipes including recipes for dogs that are vegan! Yes apparently dogs can be vegan also. Cats will need a supplement (to replace one chemical their bodies can't produce that is in meat and not vegetables) to be vegan but can be vegan also.

For those wondering what is so special about being Vegan... check out this post I did and then ask yourself if you can still eat meat.

Anyway, I am going to include the table of contents in this post along with a link to the publishers website where a copy can be purchased. At the time of posting this blog entry, the cost of the book is about $10.00 USD. Not bad for what you get AND the book is printed on 100% recycled paper.

Table of Contents:
Nutritional Assurance
Preparing to cook
Glossary of Ingredients
Dairy Products - Who Needs Them?

Recipe Sections:
Soups and Sandwiches
Dressings and Sauces
Side Dishes - Beginner Recipes
Main Dishes - Sautees, Grains, Casseroles, Burgers
Treats and Beverages
Food for the Traveling Vegan
Recipes for Dogs and Cats
Food for Your Pet
Index, Recipes for Dogs and Cats
Bonus Recipes
Natural Remedies and Herbs
In Vegan Cuisine: Where the Vitamins, Minerals and Protein are
Suggested Vegan Menu
Recipe Index

The Publishers name is Gentle World Publishing and their website is:

To purchase this book from the publisher:
It is the book with the yellow cover.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Green Hosting, host your website with renewable energy

Now days, many people are starting to care about their environment and want to do all they can to help make things better. Many will buy reusable bags to hold their groceries, get new hybrid cars or cars that use much less gas, buy renewable energy from their electric provider, compost, eat vegan, etc. However, something most do not think about is the pollution caused by their websites or blogs being hosted.

I've been looking into a "green host" for this blog for a time now. I have found a good line up of hosts that do things to help the environment, however at this time I am short on cash so paid hosting is not something I can afford. When I can afford it I will likely migrate this blog onto the green host.

Anyway, for those who can afford it, here are some green hosts where you can host your website or blog. I have not used any of these and cannot guarantee they are in fact using renewable energy, but they say they do and appear legit. Post comments on your expiriences with these hosts if you use them.

List of Green hosts in no particular order:
* http://www.sustainablewebsites.com/
* http://www.thinkhost.com/
* http://hostpapa.com/
More will be added as I find them.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

How Composting can be rewarding for you and the Environment

Everyone has food wastes. Virtually everyone has trash (and usually a lot of it). Most people have gardens and/or houseplants. How would you like to get great soil/fertilizer for free? How would you like to reduce your garbage? You can by composting.

Many people think that composting is too hard or too demanding. In reality it can be quite easy and very rewarding. In this post I will cover topics related to composting.

First off, knowing what can and cannot be composted is a good start. Click here to find common compost ingredients.

Click here to learn how to make a compost pile

Click here for troubleshooting composting.

Click here to learn how to tell when the compost is done and how to use it.

Click here to learn more about the different methods of composting.

Some people will want to order a composting device. I have never used one so I cannot give any advice on buying or using one. I only know how to make compost piles and stacks.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

City Sues man for canceling Trash Service

This isn't really a how to article and doesn't really provide any useful information, however it does deal with some of the topics this blog covers and may encourage you to do more for our environment. Apparently a city sues a man for canceling his trash service due to him not needing it.

Read the full article here

Biodegradable Cutlery, Cups and Trash bags?

I just came across another site today that sells biodegradable cups, cutlery and trash bags. These cups cutlery and trash bags are fully compost able and made from non-GMO corn starch. They also have tableware made from Bagasse (sugarcane fiber remaining after extraction of juice from the sugarcane)

Click here to view their biodegradable cutlery.
Click here to view their biodegradable cups.
Click here to view their biodegradable trash bags.
Click here to view their biodegradable bagasse tableware.
Click here to view their biodegradable drinking straws.
Click here to view my other post about biodegradable food service products.

Contest: Who can plant the most trees responsibly

I am starting a contest. Yes similar has been done already but doing this kind of contest over and over will only benefit us all.

Here is the contest, who can plant the most trees responsibly. The rules are pretty simple, plant as many trees as you can, however you must do so in a responsible way. This means plant trees only on property that you have permission to plant on. Also, do not plant trees too closely. Only plant trees native to that area. Try to plant native trees that grow fast.

Once you have planted a tree, post a comment to this post saying so. Post a new comment for each tree you plant unless you plant multiple trees at one time, then only post one comment for those trees and mention how many were planted.

So what will you get if you plant the most trees? Well I can't give you anything as I do not have anything to give, however you will get the satisfaction knowing you are helping everyone.

Did You Know?

“Did you know it takes one 15- to 20-year-old tree to make enough paper for only 700 grocery bags? Bring cloth bags when you shop, and if you forget, put your purchases in as few bags as possible.”
Thanks for the tip Groovy Green

Found on Green Steam.

Truly Clean way to wash your Cloths

Have you been wondering if there was a way to wash cloths that didn't involve using a washboard and wouldn't use electricity? Apparently someone was thinking the same thing when they invented Cyclean.

This pedal powered washing machine from the Cyclean company allows you to get fit while washing your clothes. Now this is what I call environmentally friendly, the ultimate green washing machine.

Visit the Cyclean website for more information

How to Recycle A Used CFL Bulb

They last a long time, but not forever. Compact Fluorescent bulbs contain mercury and need to be disposed of properly. Disposing them improperly will lead to more environmental hazards than you want to be responsible for.

Your best bet is to see if you have a municipal recycling center in your area that will take them off your hands. I am lucky enough to have one in my area that will take the bulbs and other hazardous products back and handle them properly. You can also return them to IKEA if you bought them there, but most retailers do not yet have programs. You can help to get them started by calling store management.

Most of all remember not to simply toss them in with the rest of your trash.

Read this article over at Lighter footstep that will get you thinking.

Proper Disposal and Recycling of E-Waste

Used electronic devices, known as e-waste, are increasingly becoming a larger part of our waste. Fortunately, there are a number of options available to those who want to recycle their old electronic items.

To address the increasing amount of e-waste, many state and local governments, electronics manufacturers, and non-profit organizations have created comprehensive recycling programs. Several states, including California, Maine, Maryland, Texas and Washington, have even enacted laws requiring the collection of certain electronics.

E-waste recycling options vary across the country. So, the first step to determine what options are available in your area is to review information about your local recycling program. This information is available on Earth 911 (using the recycling locator database at the top of this page), some local government Web sites and the following Web sites:

In addition to "traditional" recycling programs, some electronics manufacturers and retailers also offer e-waste recycling. Many manufacturer-sponsored programs will accept and process their brand for free. Some accept other brands for a small fee.

After determining what options are available, it is important to determine whether a recycler is operating under strict environmental controls and high worker safety protections. A few general questions to ask include:

  1. Is the recycler certified (such as an ISO 14001 environmental management certification) and does it follow a set of industry recognized guidelines?

  2. Does the recycler actually recycle most of the e-waste materials collected (It is best if the company can recycle 90 percent or more of the materials)?

  3. Does the recycler have written procedures for removing and disposing of mercury lamps in electronic products? Many manufacturer and government sponsored programs have extensive online information detailing the way in which recycling is handled.

In addition to choosing a recycler, it is also important to prepare your e-waste for recycling. For computer recycling, one important concern is to erase all data from the computer before sending it off for recycling.

However, this should be a factor regardless of what one does with an old computer because electronic data can be retrieved from hard drives. There are many options (such as software) to ensure that the data is permanently erased.

In fact, many recycling firms will scrub the hard drive and certify that all data has been erased. Before sending your computer to a recycler, check to verify that this option is available.

Manufacturer Specific Programs

Retailer Programs

  • Circuit City (Easy-trade in program)
  • Best Buy
  • Staples (accepts computers, monitors, laptops, and desktop printers, faxes and all-in-ones)
  • EPA Plug-In Partners (lists manufacturers, retailers and service providers that offer recycling of e-waste)


  • EPA—lists options for donating or recycling e-waste
  • Techsoup—lists non-profit organizations and recyclers of e-waste
  • Goodwill (some locations accept computers)—Web site includes tips on how to donate computers

Cell Phone Recycling/Donation

The above article was placed on this blog in order to help our environment. It was obtained from Earth 911 and I did not create this article. Please check out Earth 911 as they have a lot of useful articles.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Biodegradable Food Service Products

I came across this site today that sells biodegradable and fully compost able food service products. This in my opinion is great and is needed. It will prevent a lot of pollution and waste if a lot of food service establishments would use their products or similar products.

Biodegradable replacement for those foam serving trays? Bio-Cane is their solution.
"Bio Cane™ products are 100% Bio Based made from annual renewable resources: sugarcane.
For prepared meals, use Bio Cane™ trays & bowls in conjunction with Bio Wrap™ heat seal-able films for a 100% Bio Based package that is microwave able and cost effective. Heat stable to over 410° F, allowing reheating in a microwave. Paper, GMO and Petroleum free containers, bowls & plates. Meets ASTM Standard for composting."

Their Bio MCJ is pretty cool also.
"Bio MCJ is made from Bamboo and pressed into cups, cutlery, plates and other various food and beverage containers. Bio MCJ is microwavable and dishwasher safe for reuse. Bio MCJ and our cellulose film, currently marketed as Bio Coffee Bags™, can be combined for a 100% bio-based prepared meal tray and lid. Both Bio MCJ trays and our cellulose films can go directly into the microwave. Bio MCJ is an excellent, cost effective replacement for ceramic, glass and melamine reusable dishware. Bio MCJ ware has a rich stoneware-like appearance. When used in place of some types of ceramic tableware, potential lead poisoning concerns are eliminated."

Biodegradable replacement for those Styrofoam coffee cups? Earth Cups are the replacement.
"Earth Cup™ is made from renewable resources, is 100% compost able and petroleum free, all which make this cup very earth friendly. Most hot cups are coated with Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE), a petrochemical plastic. LDPE is non-renewable and non-compostable, making the only methods of disposal; litter, land fills or incineration. Earth Cup™ is coated with earth friendly bio based material that uses less energy and significantly less greenhouse gas footprint. Earth Cup™ meets the ASTM 6400 composting standard and is acceptable at over 45 composting facilities in North America. Earth Cup™ can be coated one side for hot cups and two sided for cold beverages. Earth Cup™ hot cups are suitable for hot coffee, tea and other hot beverages. Earth Cup™ 9 oz water cups are coated on both sides and are suitable for water, soda and other chilled beverages."

Tater Ware are starch based products that include biodegradable replacements for Styrofoam plates, plastic utensils and plastic cup lids.
"Tater Ware™ products are made with a GMO free bio based starch and 100% biodegradable. Heat stable to over 300 f Tater Ware is moisture resistant and suitable for both hot and cold beverages. Tater Ware is microwarmable allowing products to be reheated in a microwave. Tater Ware meets ASTM (American Standard Test Measurement) and FTC (Federal Trade Commission) for biodegradable products. Tater Ware™ cutlery is suitable for hot food and beverages and biodegradable.
Suitable for the use with hot or chilled food and beverages."

Plastic Clamshell replacements.
"Our clamshell containers are made from a renewable resource grown right here in the U.S. - Corn! Made from NatureWorks® PLA, these clear foodservice containers are for chilled food applications and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Additionally, these containers are FDA approved for food contact, meet ASTM compost-ability standards and can be composted when sent to an industrial composting facility."

Eco Cup™ w/lid is a plastic cup replacement for those sodas.
"Eco Cup™ is made from a renewable resource grown right here in the U.S. - Corn! Made from NatureWorks® PLA, this clear cup is designed to be used with COLD beverages and can be composted when sent to an industrial composting facility. Eco Cup™ has a high level of clarity and can be printed with water-based inks to make this the ultimate "Green" container for cold beverages."

What about Deli Containers? Here is a biodegradable replacement for those plastic deli containers.
"Our 2pc Deli containers are made from a renewable resource grown right here in the U.S. - Corn! Made from NatureWorks® PLA, these clear foodservice containers are for chilled food applications and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Additionally, these containers are FDA approved for food contact, meet ASTM compost-ability standards and can be composted when sent to an industrial composting facility."

A lot of people love salad, what about those premade salads in those salad bowls? Here is a biodegradable replacement for those plastic salad bowls.
"Our Salad Bowl containers are made from a renewable resource grown right here in the U.S. - Corn! Made from NatureWorks® PLA, these clear foodservice containers are for chilled food applications and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Additionally, these containers are FDA approved for food contact, meet ASTM compost-ability standards and can be composted when sent to an industrial composting facility."

They are also developing a biodegradable coffee cup and a biodegradable coffee bag.