Earth day - tomorrow - can we really do something?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Star*, Apr 21, 2010.

  1. Star*

    Star* call 911

    :earthday: Earth Day 2010 -

    I thought it would be really nice to hear what you have done since our last post about Earth Day and see if your family has made any sincere changes towards reuse, recycle, and to post them here.

    I'll start because I am VERY PROUD of my household -

    DF and I have made a conscious effort and more than just saving aluminum cans for cash.

    We have gotten a 55 gallon barrel and check EVERYTHING plastic for recycling then take it to the recycling station ourselves once a month - that became too much so now we go every other week. Even the lid on our fish's food - recyclable. DF has made an all out effort and I'm very proud.

    Cardboard boxes? Even cereal, pasta, snack, popcorn boxes - ALL broken down now and stacked and recycled.

    Food scraps? Sorted - I've asked for a dirt maker and a worm bed for my birthday. You actually make your own compost in the kitchen. I love plants, and saving seeds and growing things and the dirt you make is 100% organic.

    Cleaners? We started using more vinegar and less toxic chemicals.

    Medicines? We actually called DHEC. Proper disposal is to put ANY unused medications in a baggie (recycled of course) and add some laundry detergent, then add the pills. Set that in the sun for about a week, then take to a class D landfill where they dispose of the bag in a way that isn't harmful to the water table. AMAZING. I think disposal of billions of medicines into our water table has a LOT to do with why our kids are so difficult child today - it will take years to filter out. I'm not adding to it. Also - if you put 'dope' into detergent instead of kitty litter or coffee grounds? Dopers can't sift it out of your trash. DHEC man said so. People will actually ingest it if it's in kitty litter? YUP...he's seen it.

    SunChips? Gets a 10 in our book - The bag is biodegradable! Hope all the other chip mfgs follow their lead.

    Glass is our next project. We have been saving our jars.....figured someone would want them for something....Another Craigslist freebie I think.

    I got a Doggie Doolie (um....look it up it's a dog septic tank) lol. and that's interesting. Yeah....moving on.

    Oh and my favorite recycling thing? Instead of giving my clothes away as I lost weight? I put them on Craigslist and asked for a donation to any charity of the persons choice. The first time it was - Feed the Children - looked it up on the Angel network and they're pretty well ranked. The 2nd time? We did the animal shelter here locally. The last time this gal chose the local homeless shelter for the men. It's had FANTASTIC benefits. I keep a copy of the check or reply letter back from the organization for those on Craigslist that think it's a far no one has written me back to say "Oh I see great, glad to see you're honest." Just - a few emails stating it's a fraud. I have nothing to prove but really enjoy sending the ORLY email with the attachment. :tongue:

    SO If you have a great thing you've been doing or a super tip - LETS HEAR ABOUT IT....

    AND GO MOTHER EARTH!!!!!!!!!

    It's not to late to start.

    OH and here is my great tip for the up coming Summer months

    Your lawn? Needs about 1" of rain a how do you determine when the sprinklers have done their job? Take a glass jar and measure 1" with a ruler and mark it with a Sharpie marker. Set the jar in the yard and turn on the water. Time how long it takes for the jar to fill up to the 1" mark and you'll know for the rest of the Summer how long to water your yard once a week to have a lovely lush yard.....and conserve water.
    Also - water in the MORNING ONLY......this gives the roots time to soak up the water and the sun time to burn off the moisture. Watering later in the day or at night creates a short root system and gives you sickly grass. (not kidding)

    If your grass has lots of brown spots? Try sharpening your blades or raising the deck about 1" each time you mow. Also it's a really healthy thing to mow your yard in a different pattern each time. Grass hates the same hair cut every time. ;)

  2. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    What dope are people putting into kitty litter?
  3. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Witz - according to Onyxx, people crush medications and mix them. Wow.

    As for us - Erm. We have a garden, and I've started canning and making my own bread...

    LOL OK, I'm bad.
  4. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Well that & a lot of people were told by their local pharmacies if they needed to get rid of their prescription medications to put kitty litter or coffee in a baggie and add the pills, then toss. Dopers were caught going through the trash picking the pills out of the grounds as people were using DRY (duh) grounds and CLEAN (DUH AGAIN) kitty litter. The DHEC man told me that downtown the police told him that even dirty kitty litter in baggies was found with pills in them on arrested homeless guys. I mean - COME ON. So NOW DHEC is telling everyone to put your old medications in TIDE. I thought - HAVE YOU SEEN THE PRICE OF LIQUID TIDE lately? No way - SO I went and got some off brand junk - I use it for outside throw rugs too.

    OMG snorting cat turds and that's seriously off the hook.
  5. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    We have a front load washer that uses about 2 gallons of water per load. I have cut way back on the amount of laundry soap that we use. I use about 1/4 of what is recommended. I use vinegar to kill weeds instead of roundup.
  6. Star*

    Star* call 911

    AWESOME WITZ.....I am going to adopt the using less soap! Thanks for the tip -

    Vinegar for weeds takes a little bit longer but I NEVER have to worry about the pups. EXCELLENT TIP!
  7. Star*

    Star* call 911

    I just checked with the appliance repair place we use and they actually RECOMMEND using 1/2 of what is listed on the packages!!!! SO cut back tip is REALLY MONEY SAVING AND ECOLOGICALLY SOUND!!!!! DOUBLE SMART TIP WITZ~!
  8. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    We've made a committment to only replace with energy star as our appliances age out. Also, we bought a more fuel-efficient vehicle when we replaced our Dodge. We conserve energy by doing things as wisely as we can (laundry on the coldest day along with baking, etc). And Duckie helped plant a tree yesterday. We recycle (but not to your level, Star.) and pass along things that are no longer needed. We've changed over most of our light bulbs but need to replace two fixtures that don't work with the new bulbs. My furnace was never set higher than 63F last winter... we wore sweaters and slippers instead.
  9. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Once our town issued the big blue recycle bins, Hubby's gotten really into it. Plastics, glass, cans, cardboard...everything. We had to replace the fridge and the water heater, so got more energy efficient ones, but not energy star...way too expensive, even with the potential savings. We're doing less driving, making a conscious effort to combine trips.

    Now if I could just get Miss KT on board with all this...
  10. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Old medications............I flush them. ONLY safe way I've found to get rid of them. Sewer water (at least around here) is cleaned before it gets to go back into the water system.

    I don't actually "do" earth day junk. I think it's silly. And as far as the can be costly, depends on how it's done and who is getting the profits.

    Now before you start tossing stones my way................. *ducks and covers* ................ You've got to recall that I grew up dirt poor. Depression type dirt poor. Waste just rubs me raw to begin with. So if I can NOT waste something, I don't. So am sitting here thinking of what sorts of things I do that can be considered "earth dayish".

    1. For the past several years I have left the dog doo in my yard.........and even added the doo from Rowdy's kennel plus his yearly winter supply of straw. I started this when I went back to school. This house was so mistreated by previous owners that both the back and front yard dirt was sterile when we moved in. So much so it barely grew weeds. (now that's bad) Nothing husband and I did helped, until I started leaving the dog doo and straw. Serious. Now I have tulips coming up all over my back yard and I've not a clue where they came from cuz I've NEVER planted flowers out there. lol Lush grass in the front. Absolutely NOT sterile anymore in the back.

    Why spend a fortune on cow poo when I have plenty of dog poo? LOL I also won't let husband rake the yard. AT ALL. Not leaves or grass clippings. It's natural fertilizer. Makes my neighbors mad cuz I do nothing special for my yard and it looks really nice. lol

    2. We're planting a big garden this year and easy child, Nichole, and us are all sharing. We're borrowing a tiller from Nichole's boyfriend's family. And guess what the fertilizer will be?? Dog doo. Now before you stepdad used it as long as I can remember and it works just as well as cow doo.

    3. I don't use many fancy cleaners. Comet, sometimes mean green, once in a while windex. But plain ol soap and hot water cures most things with plenty of elbow grease.

    4. I don't have central air, nor do I want it. Won't use the window units unless it's 90 out at least. I keep electric stuff off when we aren't in a room.

    5. We have a couple in the neighborhood that is mentally disabled. We save anything recyclable and put it on the curb for them. They always come pick it up and turn it in for cash to supplement their disability checks. So I guess you could say we recycle. lol

    6. We give away things to freecycle...........anything useful.

    7. We use old milk jugs as toys for Betsy (she thinks they're the best toy in the world) and to deliver water to Rowdy. And we use the large plastic coffee containers to scope and deliver dog/cat food to both inside and outside pets.

    8. Old breads/crackers/nuts/popcorn gets tossed out front to the birds/squirrels. Bread sometimes gets taken to the pond for ducks by the grands. lol

    9. Food scraps supplement the dogs's diet of dog food. (usually meat and broth but they enjoy veggies) And the cats get the carcass whenever I bake chicken/turkey.

    10. I have 2 fairly largish wading pools (cheap from wallie world) that collect rain water for plants/grass.

    11. And for several years we let at least one halloween pumpkin rot in the flower garden to grow more pumpkins for the grands the next year.

    Ok. So I'm a bit weird. I can't think of any more right now. lol
  11. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Cow doo is composted vegetable matter. Dog doo is mostly composted meat matter and very acid, and can burn veggies.
  12. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Star, that's awesome!

    I've been needing to make every dollar stretch and since I do tons of laundry I decided to give a go at making homemade laundry soap. I tried it a week ago and used one bar of soap, 1 cup of borax, 1 cup of washing soda (not baking soda). I grated the soap in my food processor, then pulverized it with the blade and then added the powders. I transfered it into an empty peanut butter jar and using a coffee scoop that was a little over 1 tablespoon it made exactly 32 scoops. I've been playing around with it and 1 scoop works fine for everything but seriously smelly stuff (next time I have sour dish towels I'd use more). I run a little hot water in to dissolve it first (could be done with a cup too) and then switch to regular water temperature. It's cheap, easy, and every batch means one less plastic detergent bottle and lots less money.

    I searched around and it looks like a lot of people use Ivory or Fels Naptha. I just used Unscented Dove since I have it on hand and know my skin can handle it.

    I found a recipe for an everyday cleaner that I like in a book called Clean and Green. I can't remember what the original amounts were but I use 2 teaspoons Murphy's Oil Soap, 2 tsp borax, 1/4 teaspoon washing soda, and 2 cups hot water in a spray bottle. It's not good for floors or clear glass but great for appliances and countertops.
  13. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Lisa's comment about the milk jugs reminded me...we freeze water in milk jugs and put the giant ice cubes in the swamp cooler when it's really hot. Cooling the water makes the unit blow cooler air. Summers around here can easily hit 110.
  14. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Nice thread - GREAT ideas!

    We recycle everything possible that is paper and glass; I use some old glass jars as glasses or vases; our area only takes plastics 1 and 2 - so we are limited there. Instead, we try to re-use items that are not recyclable, such as take out plastics from the chinese restaurant (instead of expensive tupperware or rubbermaid) for lunches & storage.

    My H uses cleaned out plastic peanut butter and mayo jars for nails at work.

    I break down everything like cereal boxes, etc., for recycling. We also re-use baggies and foils.

    We used to compost everything possible, but we have a really bad bear problem in our area so we've been discouraged from composting in an open area. I have a small composter, but it's not very effective. I have some fencing and I am going to ask H to make me a fenced in area so I can compost again.

    I am growing a few things in containers this year and will can all leftovers or share with neighbors.

    We try to run our already energy* appliances during off peak hours to conserve energy overall.

    We try to make one trip down to town on the weekends and kill all our errands in one trip to save gas.

    We keep the thermostat down low, water temp setting low, and take shorter showers. And only use the AC when it's over 90 and/or too humid.

    Our dogs are on a raw food diet, so they get a lot of the scraps while I'm cooking to supplement their diet.

    We buy mostly local organic foods and try to eat most foods nearly raw. And we use our own bags at the grocers - over and over again. I love this because they are bigger with long handles so I can sling them over my shoulder and carry more.

    I use white vinegar for most cleaning, and ajax for the bathroom. I use peroxide for stain cleaning, in particular it's great for removing all protein stains like blood! I use non-acetone nail polish remover for scuff marks on the kitchen linoleum too - works like magic even on shoes! You can use vegetable oil to spiff up an old pair of shoes too. You can make your own window washer using dish soap, ammonia and water.

    Donate old eyeglasses to the Lions Club & old cell phones to women's shelters!

    I just entered a drawing at Whole Foods to win an energy efficient solar powered lawn mower? How freaking cool is that? I hope I win - board, send the power!
  15. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Fels Naptha is probably what our grandmothers used, and let me tell you, it will take out anything! If you need to boost it a little, a bit of Boraxo and you're good. I spilled an entire glass of red wine on a white skirt, and it totally did the trick. You'd never know. Except I left the skirt in a taxi on the way to the airport in Mexico last year. :( I loved that skirt!

    You can also use a mixture of fels naptha, boraxo, and dish detergent disolved in warm water to clean your patio furniture. Including the cloth stuff. Scrub it on, rinse it off, it works like a charm.

    I also dilute my dish detergent quite a bit.
  16. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    "Cleaning" and filtering sewer water does not get rid of dissolved medications. We are seeing sexual and other birth defects in fish and amphibians due to what we excrete in our urine.

    Currently, short of reverse osmosis filtration which works at the molecular level, there is no way to get rid of flushed or excreted medications from purified sewerage water.

    Best way of disposal is inciniration.
  17. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Well our town is already big on recycling. We have a black can for non-recyclable trash, a green can for recyclable paper, plastic, metal, glass, and a brown can for compostable yard waste. Usually our fullest can is the green one. Plus, we have a household hazardous waste center that collects things like alkaline batteries, paint, chemicals, flourescent lightbulbs, electronics, etc. I have a small box where I deposit things that need to go to this facility, and when it's filled, I make a trip.

    We have three compost bins in the back yard AND a worm bin. I used to put kitchen scraps (egg shells, coffee filters and grinds, fruit/veggie scraps) in the compost bin but now the worms get most of it. The egg shells we now grind and feed back to the hens. And any produce that's not rotten but a bit too off for us to eat the hens get to enjoy. They also get our stale bread scraps. Their woodshaving litter from the coop gets composted in the bins now, along with whatever grass clippings, leaves, flower deadheads, etc. We use the compost in our vegetable boxes, flower pots, flower beds, etc. We have a wood chipper/shredder that we use for larger jobs (tree prunings, brush clearing, bush trimmings, etc.) and the mulch from that either gets composted or spread around bare dirt areas to amend the soil and help reduce erosion, especially on our hillside. Occasionally we end up with way more debris than we can reasonably compost or use for other purposes, so into the brown can it goes. Our city composts those materials and then has an annual compost give-away to the community where you can bring your empty barrels and get free compost.

    Oh, and sometimes when the mood strikes me if I'm at a Starbucks, I ask them for their coffee grind discards. They give me a hefty plastic bag full of the grinds for free, and my camelias, gardenias, fuschias and other acid-loving plants get this mixed into their root zone. :)

    We recycle our soda cans, glass and plastic bottles to get our deposits back, too.

    We have low-flow/flush toilets. We have low-flow shower heads. Our sprinklers (we do live in a desert) are only set to go off in the dry season twice a week. Rainy season (like now) they are off completely.

    We have drought-tolerant natives or their cousins in about 70% of our landscape.

    I'm sure there's more we could be doing. I'd love to put in solar heating for our water, and solar for our electricity, but the costs are still to prohibitive. If I didn't live in a restrictive suburban area, I'd seriously consider putting up a wind turbine.
  18. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    OK, maybe I do more than I thought.

    All year, coffee grounds go out the door and into the garden - and we have the biggest tomato plants I've ever seen. We have to tie them to the DECK to keep them from falling over.

    Ashes from the fireplace insert and woodburning furnace also go into the garden.

    Our city has recycling bins, but what they WON'T take is a rather long list, so we just put plastics and aluminum cans in. Sigh.

    husband has a business doing spray foam insulation, which is not only green, but also much more efficient than blown-in or laid-down insulation - and is extremely water resistant. So that part's good.

    OK, my brain just died again... I am sure I'll think about more later.

    And I think I may try my own laundry soap. Can it be used for really sensitive skin too???
  19. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Old medications - we take them back to the pharmacy, who takes them for us to dispose of them safely. It is what we are advised to do, there is a program for this. We are told to not flush them. If you want to put them in your rubbish, you could leave the medications in a bag inside, then put it in the rubbish just as the garbage truck turns the corner into your street. Or wrap the pills up in a soiled disposable nappy.

    ON the nappy topic - our consumer association magazine studied whether disposable vs cloth nappies were 'greener' - and found that disposable come in just ahead, especially if you don't change them as often as you change cloth nappies. The added environmental cost of cloth comes in at the manufacture - the growing of the cotton, the processing of the fabric and so on. Plus tat was before greener versions of disposable nappies were coming in.

    If you have disposable nappies and you want to dispose of them with less environmental waste, you can take te wet only ones, remove the plastic liner and put that in the bin. The rest of the nappy - put it in a bucket of water and soak it. It should disintegrate into the gel 'beads' which are the same stuff as water crystals you buy in the garden store, to mix into your potting mix to help hold more water in the soil. Use these in your potting mix instead of buying water crystals. (OK, you might need to be a dedicated greenie to try that one!)

    Empty jars - I save the small ones with pop-top lids, wash them in the dishwasher (when we have one - yes, they are also a green option) and then I make various jams and preserves, bottling them while still boiling. The lids on the jars seal down and the centre of the lid pops down, so the contents will keep for years. I just bought a bucket of cheap, over-ripe tomatoes today to make more of my tomato relish. I then later on use it for gifts. The 'green' way to manage excess food is to store it up in other people. What goes around comes around. Barter is a good way to sidestep the GST (Goods and Services Tax).

    I'm also making candles at the moment. I use old, half-melted candles and melt them down to make pretty, scented candles (I toss in a strongly coloured and scented votive into the wax pot). I use narrow drink cans as a mould, punching a hole through the centre of the base with a thumbtack. I melt the wax in the pot, dip a long length of wick in and then hold it straight until it sets. Then I tie a single overhand knot in one end, thread it through so the knot is tight against the hole, then wind the long end of the wick around a stick which I weigh down to sit firmly on the cut end of the can. Then I fill the mould with melted wax, with the tin sitting in a bowl to catch the wax which leaks out the hole.
    Once the wax cools, there will be a crater where the wax has shrunk around the wick. Melt more wax to fill the hole.
    To unmould - cut through the knot enough to break it. There should be enough wick left once the candle is unmoulded, to be just right to burn. Then I gently warm the can (often I don't even need to do that) and gently pulling on the long end of the wick (from the open end) the candle slides out of the mould easily, leaving a smooth, shiny candle. I cut off the long end of wick from the base and use that length to make another candle.

    Friends love these, especially if I paint them (I use glass paints).

    We have compost bins, recycling bins, solar hot water, our own chickens and a vegetable garden. I grow all my own herbs and dry them to bottle. I make herb vinegars too.

    There are lots of things you can do and it is fun teaching the kids to do the same.

    I taught easy child 2/difficult child 2 to make stone soup - I taught them using scraps destined for the compost heap: carrot peel, onion skin, chicken bones, mushroom skin. Whatever we had left over. Tastes fabulous, it's a meal made out of nothing, really.

    Enjoy Earth Day!

  20. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Lisa, I feel very much the same way you do. I find Earth Day a bit silly, but can't abide waste and am quite a skinflint. As for "earth day-ish" things, let's see:

    1) My city has an extensive recycling program, and accepts all sorts of paper, plastic and metal as well as compost. We rarely fill up our garbage bin even halfway, but the recycling and compost fill up faster.
    2) We take a lot of things to the local Sally Ann and Goodwill.
    3) The day before garbage day, we put things that might still be of use to someone beside the garbage bin. People drive through the neighbourhood trash picking, and take whatever they can use.
    4) We use a front loading washer, which uses far less water.
    5) We tend not to run the air conditioner in the summer anymore, unless it's absolutely baking hot. We have a lot of shade trees in our yard, so we can get away with not using it most years.
    6) Little easy child and I plant vegetables and fruit (strawberries, raspberries) every year, often using the seeds from the previous year's crop. Clippings and other yard waste go into the garden for fertlilzer. Whatever's left over, the city takes away as part of their recycling program.
    7) We donate old computer equipment (stripped of data), bicycles, sports equipment etc. to difficult child's Residential Treatment Center (RTC), where they put it to use for outdoor activities, field trips, etc.
    8) We buy beds from the one chain in town that refurbishes, cleans and donates old mattresses. They even haul them away for you, so this one is also from laziness.
    9) My city has a collection program for old, non-efficient electrical appliances. They send people to your house to pick them up, and you get a rebate toward the purchase of new, Energy Star rated appliances. We've had to replace a fridge and a freezer this past year, so we used the program.
    10) difficult child 1 and Little easy child have given all their old toys and books to the Tot Monsters. They also like to play with wash cloths, empty cardboard boxes, pots and pans, and tupperware. So we haven't been buying very many toys for them.
    11) I try to work at home a couple of days per week, to save gas, wear and tear on the car, etc.
    12) I pack lunches to take to the office with me, in glass containers that can be washed and reused ad infinitum.