November 14, 2007

6. Change #3 - composting.

Is it actually possible to waste water? I know that sounds wierd but I have been I may be an arts student but I do remember my grade school science lessons. One thing I remember in particular was a cycle about the continual conservation of resources. ie things that exist in nature [like water] cannot cease to exist, they can only change. the diagram went something like this: there is water in the ocean. it evaporates and goes into the clouds. the clouds get full and rain. the water evaporates. and so on. I don't understand how water can cease to exist entirely, like it can't dissapear into outer space, it is always somewhere, isnt it? Isnt there always the same amount of water on earth in some form? Perhaps they mean wasting clean water. so take the dirty water and clean it. The water we drink from taps is cleaned and purified sewer water pretty much [Ottawans dump their sewage in the Ottawa river...which is also our drinking source] so if we can purify water, why worry about wasting it? We should be more worried about polluting the water ecosystems and the water things live in! If anyone disagrees or would like to explain this to me, please post, I'd love to hear it!

That said, I love the new place I live. The guy even has a compost bin. I have never had a compost bin before but I remember to put all my banana peels and apple cores there.
I am saddened because when I moved I generously left a lot of furniture that personally belonged to me, and left it in the common room of my old townhouse so the other two occupants could use it, and just recently found out that this one piece of furniture - I am not sure what it is exactly, just a large wooden thing with shelves that I had been using as a bookcase and is still fully functional to hold any number of things - is being thrown out. They have no use for it and instead of doing what I would have done - ie given it away or freecycled it on the Ottawa FreeCycle group I am in - they are putting it by the curb to be taken to the trash. I cannot control the fate of this because it no longer belongs to me, but this saddens me because it happens all to often that perfectly useful objects are thrown out. We are so wasteful. In the olden days they would never throw things out. Just yesterday I threw out a pair of socks when I noticed a hole in the toe of the left sock. Now socks are only $5 a pair or so but it was a waste to throw them out. If I was living in the 1800s I would have likely patched the toe - a few simple stitches and it would have been as good as new. But we don't think of those things in our day and age. Everything is disposable, because we can buy more for so cheap, even if it adds to our landfills.

October 22, 2007

5. Change #2

Change #1 is not going so well. Navy showers were designed for - you guessed it - guys in the Navy. two facts there are key: GUYS [take shorter showers to begin with usually] and NAVY [think short hair, brushcuts, and accustomed to frugality and discipline]. They were not designed for teenage girls with long, thick hair. I tried my best to do a navy shower, I really did, but it takes me 2-3 minutes just to get the shampoo and conditioner out of my hair because it is so darn thick.
Change #2 involves two parts: refusing plastic bags and using drink containers instead of buying plastic bottles [which saves money AND the environment].

Germany does not use plastic bags. Apparently they havent for a while now, everyone uses reuseable bags. My friend who grew up in Germany told me she was not aware there was such a thing as plastic bags until she came to Canada. We should follow suit.

October 15, 2007

4. Personal Change #1 - Navy Showers

According to the Wikipedia article, a navy shower (aka "sea shower") is a method that saves alot of water and energy. It involves turning on the water just long enough to wet the body, turning off the water. soaping up [or shampooing, whatever] and then turning the water on to immediately rinse off the soap/shampoo, then turning the water off. The total time for navy showers is typically 2 mins, almost always under 5.

As the site states, this concept means that: "while you’re standing there fussing with shampoo bottles and getting all sudsy, there isn’t any excess water going down the drain. By the time you’ve finished, the H2O should’ve only been running for about two minutes.
This idea originated on naval ships, where, ironically, supplies of fresh water were often scarce — now, many modern hippies have taken it up for both environmental and economic reasons. Whereas a 10-minute shower uses as much as 230 litres of water, a properly done navy shower usually only requires just over 10 litres, which means that over the course of a year, a single person can save up to 56,000 litres of this precious resource."

Beginning with my shower tomorrow morning I am implementing this change.

September 28, 2007

3. Facts About Earth

Oh, No!: Bad Facts about our earth

--> If you throw away 2 aluminum cans, you waste more energy than 1,000,000,000 (one billion) of the world's poorest people use a day.

--> Making a new can from scratch uses the uses the energy equal to half a can of gasoline.

--> About one third of what an average American throws out is packaging.

--> More than 1,000,000,000 (one billion) trees are used to make disposable diapers every year.

--> In one minute, 50 acres of rainforest are destroyed.

--> Some rain has a pH of 3 or 4. (which is pretty acidic, considering 7 is neutral, not acidic, and battery acid has a pH of 1). Some fish, such as lake trout and smallmouth bass, have trouble reproducing at a pH of 6, which is only slightly acidic. Some clams and snails can't survive at all. Most crayfish are dead at a pH of 5. You can see how bad this is for the environment.

--> On average, a person in the US uses energy two times more than a person in Japan or West Germany does, and 50 times more than a person in India.

--> About 90% of the energy used in lighting a standard (incandescent) light bulb is lost as heat.

--> Air conditioning uses 10 times more energy than a fan, therefore, it creates 10 times the pollutants.

--> It takes half the output of the Alaskan pipeline to heat the air that escapes from all the homes in the US during a year.

--> Cars and pick-up trucks are responsible for about 20% of the carbon dioxide released into the air.

--> There are about 500 million automobiles on the planet, burning an average of 2 gallons of fuel a day. Each gallon releases 20 pounds of carbon dioxide into the air.

--> About 80% of our trash goes to landfills, 10% is incinerated, and 10% is recycled.

--> Since there is little oxygen underground, where we bury our garbage, to help bacteria eat the garbage, almost nothing happens to it. Scientists have dug into landfills and found ears of corn still intact after 20 years, and newspapers still readable after 30.

--> The average American makes about 3.5 pounds of trash a day.

--> In a year, the average American uses as much wood in the form of paper as the average resident of the developing world burns as fuel.

Taken from:

2. Commuter Challenge

This year’s Commuter Challenge event saved the equivalent of the following in eCO2 emissions, a significant increase from 2006:

878 Passenger cars not driven for one year!
462,059 Gallons of gasoline!
9,435 Barrels of oil!
21 Railcars of coal burned!
169,036 Propane cylinders used for home barbeques!
3,381 Acres of pine or fir forests storing carbon for one year!
104,022 Number of tree seedlings grown for 10 years!
521 Household electricity use for one year (number of households)!
33 Acres of forest preserved from deforestation!
54 Tanker trucks filled with gasoline!
1,366 Tons of waste recycled instead of land filled!