Thursday, 29 September 2011

Cat bed made from an old tv set

Posted in: Eco Pets

cat bed made from recycled old tube tv
What a way to reuse that old tube tv! Your cat can cozy up in style.
It even has a little toy attached to the antennae so the kitty can wack around.
It’s available at Etsy for a nice $130 though. There is only one left so you better get. It does look like a unique art piece. But for this much maybe you can make one on your own from your old tv. Just make sure you recycle or dispose properly all the electronic “guts” from that old tv!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Recycle Your Business Packaging

When it comes to looking at your growing green business, one area that you can make a big impact is packaging for your products / shipments. We’re going to take a look at how you can recycle more of your packaging. This applies to both the packaging that you send out as well as the packaging that you receive.
A lot of governments throughout Europe are now charging companies more for the amount of rubbish they send to landfill, yet they offer tax relief for those companies that recycle the majority of their packaging. With global pressure on countries to show green initiatives the same tax relief might soon be available in the US.
Simply put it not only helps the environment to recycle your packaging but can also save you money.
Packaging is one of the biggest environmental issues facing us today, with the majority of plastic packaging taking up to 3,000 years to break down. And whilst many new avenues are being explored with regards to biodegradable packaging we are still a long way off from being able to combat the problem.
So, we need to have a good look at what we use as packaging;
Above anything else cardboard packaging stands out head and shoulders above the rest as the form of packaging that is the easiest to recycle.
Cardboard Boxes Are Easy to Recycle
Cardboard Boxes are Easy to Recycle
Image by zakwitnij
If you own a company that is shipping a lot of parcels each week then there are some easy steps you can take to help reduce your carbon footprint.

1. Avoid Foam Packaging

The first tip is to avoid using foam packaging, be it in the form of inserts or foam chips, either of which can take thousands of years to break down in a landfill site.

2. Use Alternate Packaging Fillers – Like Shredded Paper

Instead of foam packing material why not consider using shredded paper. Even if your customer does not recycle it, at least it will break down fast in a landfill site or even in a compost bin.

3. Re-Use Packages and Fillers That You Receive

If you are a manufacturing company then the chances are that you will be receiving in a lot of parcels with packaging that you normally throw away. However why not consider re-using the cardboard boxes or foam chips that they come packed with?
After all nearly every person selling goods on eBay recycles all of their old packaging. If we buy something at an online auction do we worry about how it comes packaged as long as it arrives in one piece? No we do not. Yet if we buy something new we expect it to come in nice new packaging, yet what is the real difference? It is all about perception.

4. Link In With a Local Packaging Recycler

Search for companies that will recycle your used business packaging, many will also be able to sell you reconditioned packaging. Check out our article about an amazing company,
With a little thought we can change our perception of what packaging should be by re-using and recycling the majority of our packaging.

Can Bamboo Save the Planet ?

I am amazed at all the products that can be made from bamboo. From household items to the entire house! This tall, hearty grass is a renewable resource. One of the great things about bamboo is that it grows so fast. To produce a full grown tree can take up to sixty years, and then another sixty years time for a replacement. Species of bamboo equal to the height and width of a tree take as little as sixty days to mature completely. Bamboo grows everywhere in the world except those places with extremely cold climates, in fact, it grows really well in Texas! It is thought that it originated in China where the first know items made from bamboo have been recorded.
See full size image
Use of bamboo for building has been around for a very long time but faded out over the centuries. Currently it is making a comeback in many parts of the world and is becoming a very popular resource in the US.
As beautiful as bamboo is when used in flooring, cutting boards and wall covering, it is also used  to make fabric. Anti-bacterial, wicking and biodegradable, bamboo fibers are becoming more and more popular. From bedding to clothing, industries are making more products with bamboo fabric, extolling the virtues of using the alternative source to cotton.
The most noticeable qualities of bamboo fabric are the aesthetic qualities that are gathered from the first touch or sight of bamboo. These qualities include:
  • Texture – Bamboo fabric feels softer than the most refined cotton.
  • Color – Bamboo fabric tests as well as every other material for color fastness when washing and wear over time.
  • Appearance – The fabrics made of bamboo appear to look like other materials which are more expensive, such as silk.
Another reason that bamboo fabric is becoming more popular is because of the anti-bacterial properties that it has. Bamboo requires very little to no pesticides when growing. This makes products made from bamboo fabric, such as bed sheets and bath towels, good for people with allergies. With the fabric unable to host the bacteria and allergens that cause people with allergies to react, these people are able to find a healthy alternative to other fabrics.
Bamboo fabric is also quite ecologically friendly. 100% biodegradable, the fibers used to make bamboo fabric don’t need to be sprayed with chemical additives of any sort. There is also less water wasted for irrigation for bamboo, and there is very little surface runoff from chemicals that could be sprayed on the plants to keep them healthy, as these chemicals aren’t needed.
By now, nearly everyone knows that we are depleting the natural resources of the only planet we have at a rate that is well past sustainable. Can bamboo save the planet? The answer to that question remains to be seen. But this amazing plant and its surging popularity in a huge variety of products offers each of us, a chance to enjoy many of the comforts of modern life without causing irreparable damage to our environment. 


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Worm Composting, Worms Go In, Compost Comes Out

Fall seemed the appropriate time to talk about worm composting. Worm composting is a way to recycle food waste into a rich, dark, earthy-smelling soil conditioner. This type of composting is somewhat unique in that it can be done indoors, as well as outdoors, this allows for all year composting. If you live in a zero lot line home or an apartment, you can also compost using this method. The short version goes something like this: worm compost is made in a container, plastic or wood, filled with moistened bedding and red-worms. Add your food waste over a period of time, and the worms and micro-organisms, over a period of time, will convert the entire contents into rich compost. It is a natural method for recycling nutrients in food waste. The resulting compost is a good soil conditioner for house plants, gardens and patio containers. The following information is from the experiences of a network of worm composters linked to City Farmer, Vancouver, and the excellent and practical book: Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof.
You can use wood and plastic containers, you can either build or buy them or recycle something like a old barrel, old dresser drawer, wooden crate, think creativly. A container made of wood seems to work the best because it is more absorbent and a better insulator for the worms.

A Guide To Size Of Container;
In Worms Eat My Garbage, Mary Appelhof suggests weighing your household food waste for one week (in pounds), and then provide one square foot of surface area per pound. The container depth should be between eight and twelve inches. Options to one large (and heavy) box are a number of smaller containers for easier lifting and moving and more choice of location. The book illustrates a variety of containers.
Depending on the size of the container, drill 8 to 12 holes (1/4 – l/2 inches) in the bottom for aeration and drainage. A plastic bin may need more drainage – if contents get too wet, drill more holes. Raise the bin on bricks or wooden blocks, and place a tray underneath to capture excess liquid which can be used as liquid plant fertilizer.
The bin needs a cover to conserve moisture and provide darkness for the worms. If the bin is indoors, a sheet of dark plastic or burlap sacking placed loosely on top of the bedding is sufficient as a cover. For outdoor bins, a solid lid is preferable, to keep out unwanted scavengers and rain. Like us, worms need air to live, so be sure to have your bin sufficiently ventilated.
A Suitable Worm Farm Container
A Suitable Worm Farm Container
It is necessary to provide a damp bedding for the worms to live in, and to bury food waste in.
Suitable bedding materials are shredded newspaper and cardboard, shredded fall leaves, chopped up straw and other dead plants, seaweed, sawdust, compost and aged manure. Try to vary the bedding in the bin as much as possible, to provide more nutrients for the worms, and to create a richer compost. Add a couple of handfuls of sand or soil to provide necessary grit for the worm’s digestion of food.
Adding the Worm Composter Bedding
Adding the Worm Composter Bedding
It is very important to moisten the dry bedding materials before putting them in the bin, so that the overall moisture level is like a wrung-out sponge. The bin should be about three-quarters full of moistened bedding. Lift the bedding gently to create air spaces which help to control odours, and give freer movement to the worms.
The two types of earthworm best suited to worm composting are the redworms: Eisenia foetida (commonly known as red wiggler, brandling, or manure worm) and Lumbricus rubellus They are often found in aged manure and compost heaps. Please do not use dew-worms (large size worms found in soil and compost) as they are not likely to survive.
How Many Worms Do I Need?
Mary Appelhof suggests that the correct ratio of worms to food waste should be: for one pound per day of food waste, use two pounds of worms (roughly 2000). If you are unable to get this many worms to start with, reduce the amount of food waste accordingly while the population steadily increases.
Worms Bought by the Bag
Worms Bought by the Bag
You can compost food scraps such as fruit and vegetable peels, pulverized egg shells, tea bags and coffee grounds. It is advisable not to compost meats, dairy products, oily foods, and grains because of problems with smells, flies, and rodents. No glass. plastic or tin foil, please.
To avoid fly and smell problems, always bury the food waste by pulling aside some of the bedding, dumping the waste, and then cover it up with the bedding again. Bury successive loads in different locations in the bin.
The Worm Composter in Action!
The Worm Composter in Action!
Where Should I Locate My Worm Bin?
Worm bins can be used indoors all year round, and outdoors during the milder months. The advantage of mobile bins is that they can be moved when weather conditions change. Indoors, basements are excellent locations (warm, dark and dry), but any spare space can be utilized, so long as temperatures are between 40-80 degrees F. We know dedicated worm composters who have convenient kitchen counter worm bins. Outdoors, bins can be kept in sheds and garages, on patios and balconies, or in the yard. They should be kept out of hot sun and heavy rain. If temperatures drop below 40 degrees F., bins should either be moved indoors, or well insulated outdoors.
How Do I Maintain My Bin?
If you have the correct ratio of surface area to worms to food scraps, there is little to do, other than adding food, until about two and a half months have passed. By then, there should be little or no original bedding visible in the bin, and the contents will be brown and earthy looking worm castings. The contents will have substantially decreased in bulk too.
The Final Word
Taking worms out of their natural environment and placing them in containers creates a human responsibility. They are living creatures with their own unique needs, so it is important to create and maintain a healthy habitat for them to do their work. If you supply the right ingredients and care, your worms will thrive and make compost for you. Happy and successful composting!”
A great resource here in Texas is the Halls Wormery in Blackwells, TX, you can find lots of worm composting and vermiculture information on their site as well as lots of great redworms for sale!

5 Steps to Creating a Sustainable Home

Sustainability in its truest form is the capacity to endure. With ongoing debates surrounding climate change and green energy the focus of building new and redeveloping existing homes has shifted towards how to become more sustainable.  You don’t have to be a die-hard green fanatic to create a sustainable home, and deep down, everyone wants to create a safe, sustainable living environment.

In order to do this, you just need to become a little more aware of how certain materials and designs can affect energy usage. Awareness is free and more often than not the materials are just as cheap!
How to Create a Sustainable Home
How to Create a Sustainable Home
Here we highlight 5 steps to creating a sustainable home:
1. Nature & Energy Usage
Energy is used throughout your home in many different forms and appliances so make sure you think about the heating, air conditioning, lighting, and hot water. Knowing when to use nature to help you be sustainable is the first step.  The spring and summer months should allow you not to use any form of heating and you can take advantage of the extended seasonal day light hours by not using electricity. This can cut annual consumption by around 25%.
2. Manage your water usage
According to the AWWA (American Water Works Association) the daily indoor per capita water use is 69.3 gallons. If this figure is combined together with the rest of the population then it adds up to a substantial amount. Consider installing low flow toilet to save water or even more extreme a compost toilet as they do not use water for flushing at all!
Alternatively you could collect and recycle rain water via rainwater tanks as this can aid self-sufficiency, providing aback-up supply in case of water restrictions.
Our Grey Water System
Our Grey Water System
3. Being materialistic is sometimes good
Knowing about materials can help you reduce the energy used when building or redeveloping your home. Materials such as Straw has been used as a building material for centuries, but not many people know it is cheap and can be used to insulate your property which can increase heat retention whilst possibly being the most cost effective thermal insulation available.
You can read more about using a mixture of clay and straw to insulated your home here;
4. Not just a pretty design
The actual design of your home can have a significant impact on how sustainable you can be in the long term. Not many people know that the specific climate zone you’re in can be utilised by implementing appropriate design elements to condition and heat the home. If you are in the pre-build stage then good orientation (building your house in the right direction) increases the energy efficiency of a home by up to 40%. If your home is already built than implementing new features such as skylights can be very effective. Skylights can admit more than three times as much light as a vertical window and can be used to heat a home.
Check out this excellent article on the elements of an energy efficient house from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory;
5. Outside Inside
The outside of your home is an extension of your interior and what better way to make it work for you than hydrophonic gardening. Hydroponics is a system that grows any produce in small spaces, including window sills and spaces near a light source. If you can grow your own vegetables and herbs then you are one step closer to becoming sustainable.
Think how you can create a more sustainable living space; even if you have to start off small, every change has an impact.