Posts Tagged ‘green’

Eco Blog: dedication to Green Hauling

Why You Need to be Composting (…and How to Do It Right)

August 14th, 2017

Compost is a valuable material that helps plants grow when added to soil. What many people don’t realize is that up to 30 percent of the materials for a compost blend come from yard waste and food scraps. Not only does composting aid in plant growth, it keeps a potent greenhouse gas called methane out of local landfills. Compositing is a simple process that anyone can do.

Basic Ingredients Needed for an Effective Composting Mixture

A compost pile needs to have equal amounts of brown and green materials. Branches, dead leaves, and twigs make up the brown portion while coffee grounds, fruit scraps, grass clippings, and vegetable waste make up the green portion. It also needs to include water to provide much-needed moisture. Some specific examples of items to include in a compost pile include:

  • Coffee filters and grounds
  • Egg shells
  • Tea bags
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Wood chips
  • Yard trimmings and grass clippings
  • Lint from the vacuum cleaner and dryer
  • Straw and hay
  • Sawdust

It’s also important to understand what not to put in a compost pile, including the following:

  • Pet waste
  • Any yard trimmings treated with chemical fertilizer
  • Fish and meat bones
  • Ash from charcoal or coal
  • Dairy products such as butter, eggs, and milk
  • Lard, oil, or other types of fats
  • Diseased plants
  • Twigs or leaves from black walnut trees

Several of the above items attract rodents and other pests while others contain harmful bacteria.

Creating a Compost Pile for the First Time

After gathering the contents for a compost pile, the next step is to place them on a spot of bare earth. The pile will likely attract worms and other types of organisms that can help to aerate the compost pile. Next, place straw or twigs two to three inches deep to further aerate the pile and help with drainage. Now it’s time to start building the pile while alternating between dry and moist items. The compost pile now requires a nitrogen source. Manure is a common choice.

Compost piles need frequent watering, which people can do manually or allow it to become soaked by rain without getting drenched. It should have a cover on top of it at all other times. This keeps heat and moisture in, both essential elements for healthy compost. The last step involves turning the compost pile with a pitchfork or shovel every few weeks. This method also works for adding new materials.

The Many Benefits of Composting

While reduction of waste is the primary benefit of composting, it has several others as well. The process helps to conserve water because the compost pile soaks it up and releases it to the plants. This also prevents evaporation of water at the plant’s root level. Additionally, organic waste contains water that’s heavy and costly to transport. Composting the materials instead saves both energy and fuel.

There’s no question composting benefits the environment, but it also offers individual benefits. The less trash a homeowner throws away, the lower the cost of garbage pick-up. It also saves on the cost of purchasing similar materials from a local nursery. For those looking to cut household expenses, composting is a quick and easy way to do so.

Sustainability Tips for the Workplace

March 19th, 2015

tslgreen-buildingsOne of the main tenets of the movement towards creating a better environment is sustainability. As a society, we rely mainly on non-renewable resources like fossil fuels, earth mineral and metal ores for power. Extracting and using resources like these causes significant greenhouse gas pollution, which happens to be the biggest contributor to global warming.

Reducing your impact on the environment requires some significant changes in your home and personal life, but you can also change habits at the workplace to facilitate change.

Here are a few things you can do at work to cut your carbon footprint and contribute to a better environment:

– Replace normal incandescent light bulbs with more energy efficient CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) bulbs instead

– Make double-sided copies to reduce paper waste and printer use.

– Actively recycle all batteries and ink cartridges once they are depleted.

– Regulate thermostat use: keep heat set between 68-72 degrees during cold months, and turn heat down lower before leaving the room.

– Implement a recycling/compost program.

– Bring a personal reusable water bottle to fill up at the cooler, rather then going through countless plastic cups.

– Look for an Energy Star certification for any new appliances you might have to buy, like microwaves or refrigerators.

– Keep desks and furniture from blocking radiators.

– Utilize a power strip for all of your office electronics so you can switch it off for the weekend or days you wont be at your desk.

 

Sources:

http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/oes/residential-programs/green-tips-for-the-workplace/

https://www.luther.edu/sustainability/campus/energy-climate/conservation/savings/tips/

Food Waste Recycling Drops Dramatically in Alameda County

February 9th, 2015

It looks like the green bins in the Bay Area are not getting the love they deserve.

In a recent study completed by StopWaste, a public agency tasked with reducing waste, numerous Alameda County cities are showing drastic increases in food scraps being discarded in trash bins in 2014.

The data was complied by workers who randomly sampled 3,000 garbage bins, both commercial and residential, in 15 Alameda County cities. The data shows that all 15 cities added to the percentage of food scraps in the trash compared to data collected in 2013. For example, the city of Fremont more then doubled its figure, going from 21 percent to 43 percent. On the lower end, Union City only saw a 2 percent increase, although they were the outright worst performing city going into 2014.

20150205_061722_OAK-COMPOST-0206-WEBOther data collected by the agency shows that homes in these cities are more reluctant to put out their green bins on pickup day, with 47 percent of home opting out compared to 28 percent in 2013. Whichever way you decide to look at it, the fact is that Bay Area residents are not recycling organics like they were in the past.

Several possible reasons for this unsettling trend have been hypothesized, one being that transplants new to the Bay Area are not familiar with the concept of separating food scraps from trash, a practice not particularly common in the US. Another could be that folks who were actively composting in 2013 are simply tired of the process.

Composting and recycling organics can be a messy (and sometimes smelly) job, but it is a huge weapon in the fight against global warming on this planet. Organic matter, when mixed in with regular trash, greenhouse gases like methane get released which contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer.

Below you will find some tips that will hopefully make collecting organic was easier in your household:

  • Remember what can and cant be put in the green bin:
    • Good: all food scraps (meat and bones, cereal, dairy, coffee grounds, fruit, veggies), food-soiled paper (paper towels, plates, napkins, pizza boxes, paper bags, coffee grounds), yard trimmings (grass clippings, tree clippings)
    • Bad: plastics, glass, metal, liquids, pet waste
  • Line both your indoor and outdoor organics bins with crumpled newspaper to help absorb any moisture. Replace the newspaper frequently to keep it from getting too soaked and stuck to the bottom.
  • Aviod animals and bugs by keeping your outdoor green bin away from fences and closed securely.
  • Sprinkle rock salt or lime to help kill any insects (like maggots) that might pop up.
  • Wrap extra messy organics like meat, fish and  in newspaper or put it in a cereal box (without the plastic bag) before adding it to the green bin.
  • If possible, freeze meesy food waste untill you are ready to roll your green bin out, it will help control strong odors.
  • Empty your household container early and often, and roll your green bin out to the curb even if its not completely full to prevent stink-ups.
  • Wash both your indoor and outdoor bins on a regular basis using vinegar or baking soda to kill bad smells.
  • Biodegradable plastic bags can help control food waste, but not all recyclers allow them in green bins. Check with your recycling service to see which bags they accept. Most recycling service providers prefer you use paper bags.

E-Waste Recycling: The Next Step In National Defense

January 21st, 2015

e-wasteHere at Fast Haul, we are HUGE fans of electronic waste (or e-waste) recycling. The electronics we use and replace on a daily basis are filled with some of the most harmful and toxic chemicals on the planet, and can wreck havoc on the environment. Although recently, another great reason to increase e-waste recycling efforts has come to light. In a recent piece by the National Defense Magazine, e-waste recycling programs benefit the U.S. defense system by curbing the amount of counterfeit parts that can in the electronic components they use.

The U.S. military depends heavily on electronic components in their defense systems; you can find them in thousands of pieces of equipment like aircraft, submarines, night vision goggles, thermal weapons systems, and helicopters. You would think (and hope) that the US military only uses the highest quality electronics and technology in their equipment, but as noted by the story, more then 1 million pieces of counterfeit electronic components were identified in US military equipment in 2009 and 2010.

You might be wondering how this can happen, and an investigation by US Senate Armed Services Committee has uncovered why. The committee traced various supply chains back to the Guangdong Province in China, known as the “epicenter of counterfeit activities”. The outfits that make these counterfeit components rely heavily on e-waste shipped over from the west to provide “feedstock” (i.e. the raw materials). Once the materials are collected, they are subjected to a plethora of harmful and destructive techniques before being implemented in “new” equipment (i.e. being soaked in acid, heated over open fires, left outside in the rain, etc.). These techniques make the components extremely unreliable and susceptible to failure.

Your next question might be “how can I make sure my e-waste doesn’t contribute to a malfunctioning missile or fighter jet crashing?” Well, the answer is to do your research before disposing of you e-waste and make sure the recycler can show you proof that your e-waste is being handled responsibly.

(Source)

Water Thieves Adding to CA’s Drought Woes

November 15th, 2014

We are all well aware of the adverse effects the drought has brought upon the state and its residents. A few posts ago, I outlined one of the bigger causes for concern regarding our already depleted water levels, but recently news outlets have identified a new offender in the battle for water: Thieves.

In some of the state’s worst hit areas water has become a valuable commodity, with some people turning to illegal means as a way of acquiring it. Recent investigations have identified criminals operating illegal marijuana grow sites as some of the most prolific water thieves. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Marijuana Enforcement Team, these marijuana farms have siphoned 1.2 billion gallons of water from local and public sources. That’s enough water to fill 2,000 Olympic-sized pools!

illegal water diversion

An example of an illegal pump that are used by thieves to steal water

The theft of water doesn’t just impact length of our showers and the extent we can water our plants, it puts local wildlife and vital resources in jeopardy. As a result of the theft by marijuana growers, the population of Salmon found throughout northern California has been put in severe danger.

Humboldt County has seen a couple major cases of water theft in the last several weeks. Criminals were able to steal around 20,000 gallons from a community services district board in the town of Weott. Three weeks later another 20,000 gallons of water were taken from a surplus tank at the Bridgeville Elementary School in Eureka, causing the school to shut down this past Tuesday.

In North San Juan, a small town located along the Sierra Nevada Mountains, thousands of gallons were stolen from a fire station this summer, during the peak of wildfire season. Although it is purely speculation at this point, most residents and authorities in the afore-mentioned areas suspect marijuana farmers to be behind the crimes.

In order to stop these criminals from stealing the states valuable resources, residents need to be dilligent about reporting any suspicious activity and waste. These reports are usually taken by the utilities department of your city or county.

Sources:

http://www.nationaljournal.com/energy/drought-is-taking-california-back-to-the-wild-wild-west-20141110

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/Pot-Farmers-Steal-Water-Amid-Epic-Drought-281822141.html

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/illegal-pot-plantations-hazard-california-salmon/

http://www.mercurynews.com/california/ci_24024319/water-theft-forces-humboldt-county-school-close

 
 
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