The thought of a decomposing pile of waste sitting in or near the home might be a little off putting to some people, but it's not nearly as much of a hassle as it may seem at a glance. In fact, compost not only provides health and vitality to your garden and lawn, it plays a major part in cutting down greenhouse gas emissions, landfill overflow and even weed control.
You've probably seen scary statistics, like the World Wildlife Fund's study that claims we will need two earths to sustain ourselves by the year 2050, or that the earth's fish supply will run out by the year 2048, but that doesn't have to be the case. As buzzy and ubiquitous as the green movement has become nowadays, there's a reason it's everywhere. According to the EPA, the amount of landfills that exist in the U.S. has been steadily shrinking for the past 20 years or so. This may sound like a good thing, but in actuality we produce more garbage, so the land fills are bursting at the seams with greenhouse gas and sometimes toxic substances. Some landfills, like Cecil County Central Landfill in Elkton, Maryland even require relocation and remediation by third-party companies like Sevenson Environmental. The growing garbage problem is starting to get stinky. Luckily, there's a lot you can do at home to combat it (and look like an earth-saving hero to all your friends), starting with the simple act of composting.
Why It's Helpful
The EPA reports that approximately 17 percent of all methane gas emitted in the U.S. comes from landfills, which lump dangerous refuse with helpful organic material. By starting a compost bin or area for your family, you are lessening toxic contributions to already overcrowded landfills. The EPA estimates that if every household composted their yard trimmings and food scraps, it could reduce the municipal waste stream by up to 25 percent. Furthermore, The United States Composting Council's findings show that for every one ton of composted waste, .25 metric tons of greenhouse gases are prevented. A Sierra Club study concluded that a family of four could easily create 500 pounds of compost in a year.
A Quick How-To
Did you know that you can compost egg shells, cardboard pizza boxes, nail clippings, old wool or cotton clothing, bills and even condoms? And the list goes on. All you need is a bin, bucket, soil and motivation to make the world a better place for your children. The recipe for compost is simple: use approximately a 1/1 ratio for soil and scraps, alternating approximately four-inch layers. A properly tended compost bin doesn't smell or breed harmful bacteria, as long as you don't add any fats, meats, dairy or oils. Once you begin your foray into greener pastures, be sure to aerate the soil with holes or earthworms. This also quickens the decomposition process. It is also important to stir your compost intermittently so it doesn't become impacted. From there you can use it to make the most beautiful,nutrient-rich garden that your home could ever need— and the earth will thank you
With a population of over 7 billion, our world is currently home to more people than it’s ever seen before. This all-time high in population means more of the Earth’s resources are being exhausted now than ever before. It’s crucial that as human beings we do our best to create as little carbon footprint as possible and keep our planet clean! How green do you think your city is? What can you do individually and as a community to make a difference within your city?
1. Get Waste Management Under Control
One of the most important steps to take is to get waste management under control. Consider how much waste you discard of each day. Think back even farther, and consider how many goods you actually use in a day. See if you can come up with alternatives to using so much paper or plastic. What can you do to simply use less in general? Using less each day means there is less waste for you to discard of at the end of the day as well.
When you do find that you need to throw something away, consider sending it somewhere other than the landfill. Paper, plastic and glass can be recycled; and if you’re discarding of fruit or vegetables, you might look into creating a compost bin for your garden. The natural breakdown of organic matter creates a nutrient rich soil – a perfect fertilizer for fruits, vegetables or flowers.
2. Create Efficient Public Transportation
What can you do to use your vehicle less? Not only will you save in gas money by doing this, but you also eliminate a huge environmental footprint. If you’re in a city where you have access to a bus or train, consider these modes of transportation as options. If these are not easily accessible, you might consider carpooling to work or to school.
According to Denver, Colorado car accident lawyers at The Sawaya Law Firm, in 2013, over 2 million people were injured in traffic accidents in the United States. Fewer cars on the roads could mean fewer accidents.
Those fortunate enough to live in larger cities often have more access to public transportation, as well as the ability to walk to and from work and school. Even if the distance is a little too far to walk, you might consider biking to your destination.
How does your city fare as far as walking and cycling paths are concerned? How is the bus system within the city? If you notice a lack in public transportation, check in with different organizations or with City Hall to see what you can do.
3. Buy Locally Grown Goodies
Keep resources circulating through your community by buying locally grown foods. Utilize this opportunity to rally together as a community. Are there any community gardens in your area? You might gather with others who have an interest in locally grown goods, and start a city farm or something similar in your town or city.
Many things can be done around the home to make it more environmentally friendly. Mother Earth is good to us and it's only fair we give something back by looking after her better. Living in a more environmentally friendly way doesn't mean we have to start growing all our own food or slapping solar panels on the roof, (although these will really help!), even small improvements make a big difference when they're all added up.
One of the simplest, yet most effective ways of reducing energy use in the home, is by improving insulation. Cold drafts enter the home through gaps by windows and doors, and warm air escapes by the same route. Older houses are the biggest culprits in the war against cold drafts, but cheap and effective solutions exist that will soon have the place warming up nicely. Double glazing is an unbeatable way of slashing heat loss at windows, but sadly it isn't the budget option. For home insulation at a more modest price, take a trip to the DIY store for insulating tape to seal up all the gaps in window frames and above and below doorways – the difference will be felt almost immediately. The most attractive insulation fix is installing a new window treatment. Whether it's sleek custom shutters fitted to the interior of the frame or heavy drapes to block out the cold, both options will provide effective insulation.
The heat of the moment
Get into the habit of turning the heating thermostat down slightly in cold weather. A matter of one or two degrees is hardly perceptible to inhabitants, but it shaves a load off energy bills. Programmable thermostats take the guesswork out of it and make all the adjustments; so it is well worth the investment in terms of energy saved. If the heating comes from a furnace, ensure the filter is cleaned out monthly for optimum performance. Today, furnace technology has advanced enormously so if a replacement is planned, check out what's on offer as there could be savings of around 25 percent to fuel bills.
Are there a lot of old, creaking appliances in the home that should be retired? Electrical appliances generate about 18 percent of a home’s energy bill. If those appliances are ancient models functioning on less than 100 percent efficiency, then that is just a waste of money and energy. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends any appliances over 10 years old should be replaced with new models bearing Energy Star ratings.
Sweat the small stuff
Many small changes of behavior can make big differences in greening up the home. Try some of these for starters: Don't buy food contained in excessive packaging, use environmentally friendly cleaning products, switch to low energy light bulbs, share baths or even better take a shower, fit aerators on all faucets, reduce trash by composting organic matter, recycle as much packaging as possible – and that's just the beginning!
A truly modern household should be embracing all of the lessons we have learned about protecting the environment. The good news is, it is not just the environment that's protected; in the long run we'll all save money.