Green News

Composting Tea

Posted by Environment Smart on 10/07 at 10:55 AM
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Our family has been progressively more proficient at composting. We used to have just a big pile of leaves composting on top of an old log. As this pile composted, it became our vegetable garden and a new compost pile was started. The open pile was not something we could use for our food scraps (visiting raccoons), so we got a compost bin with a lid. Our town provides the bins for a small fee of $5.00 each spring. Our next step is to build a proper enclosure for our compost pile. We found some great compost bin design ideas that we will use for this.

With all of this increased interest in composting, we are continuously looking for information to help us move forward. Today we learned that we can add bread to our composter, as well as some of our toilet paper rolls. More interesting, however, is composting tea. A lawn-care specialist friend of ours had once mentioned using compost tea as a fertilizer. He is always experimenting with alternative methods to replace the use of chemical-based fertilizers and pesticides.

We did not realize that compost tea is not difficult to make ourselves. We found some instructions today. You basically steep your compost in water. We will be trying this and will keep you posted on our success.

About the author: Environment Smart

Flat Screen TVs May Be Damaging the Environment

Posted by Environment Smart on 09/30 at 12:21 PM
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May of us have recently purchased a new HD flat screen TV, as our old CRT (cathode ray tube) TVs are being fazed out. Did you realize, however, that this increase in demand for flat screen TVs has been making an impact on global warming? 

The manufacturing of flat screen TVs uses a greenhouse gas called nitrogen trifluoride. Due to the popularity of these TVs, the annual production of the gas has risen to about 4,000 tonnes. Nitrogen trifluoride is 17,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide, yet at this time it is not certain how much of it is being released into the atmosphere by the industry.


Michael Prather, director of the environment institute at the University of California, Irvine has been studying the issue. Prather's research reveals that "production of the gas, which remains in the atmosphere for 550 years, is "exploding" and is expected to double by next year. Unlike common greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs), emissions of the gas are not restricted by the Kyoto protocol or similar agreements". 

There is hopefully some action being taken to curb these emissions. According to Reuters, more than 190 nations have recently "agreed to work out a broad new pact to succeed Kyoto". 

"I think it's a good idea" to add new gases to a group of six already capped by the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol for slowing global warming, Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, told Reuters.

"It makes sense to address all gases that lead to climate change," he said on the sidelines of the August 21-27 talks in Ghana meant to help work out details of a new treaty to combat global warming due to be agreed at the end of 2009.


About the author: Environment Smart

Banishing Water bottles

Posted by Environment Smart on 09/29 at 11:30 AM
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More municipalities and governments should start to take the issue of bottled water seriously. Danny Cavanagh, president of CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) is calling for a ban on bottled water in Nova Scotia.

The concern, in this case, is regarding the use of plastic bottles. We may think that the extensive use of plastic for bottled water is not such a problem because we can recycle the bottles. If everyone always recycled their bottles, then there might be less of a concern, but this does not seem to be the case. In London, Ontario a council studied how many water bottles were being recycled or refunded. It was discovered that only 20% of bottles there are recycled and as much as 80% of these are still going to landfills. It is unlikely that London, Ontario is alone in this case.

What is the big deal about no longer using bottled water? You certainly do not need it in the home. Tap water can be filtered if you are picky. You do not need bottled water at school or at work. Water fountains or providing your own reusable water bottle should be sufficient. Conventions, parties and other gatherings can easily use jugs of water and glasses. So, other than selling bottled water like soda and juice out of vending machines and at concession stands, is there really such a need for bottled water?

Danny Cavanagh believes that  governements should "start with some education aimed at our children and others: Public water is just as good as – in fact better, cheaper and more environmentally friendly than – bottled water". He goes on to state that "according to some estimates, one bottle of water costs about the same as 500 to 600 glasses of tap water".

Until the sale of bottled water is reduced or even banned, you can easily do your part in lessening your ecological footprint and stop buying bottled water.

About the author: Environment Smart

Wake Up and Smell the Sustainable Coffee

Posted by Environment Smart on 09/25 at 12:41 PM
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As I drink my morning coffee, I have never before considered the environmental impact of this action. This morning I woke up to the thought that my cup of sustenance may not be sustainably grown.

Today I made a pot of Maxwell House coffee. This is a popular brand made by Kraft. I make the presumption that a large company like Kraft is concerned with profit margins and that its coffee bean buying practices reflect this. I take a look at my coffee tin label. It states that the coffee is 100% Arabica. Is this a sustainably grown bean? According to a November 2004 article in The Guardian it seems to be. Maxwell House coffee is no longer made with Robusta beans, and Kraft receives the stamp of approval from the Rainforest Alliance, an independent, not-for-profit organization concerned with sustainable agriculture. The article, however, points out that Maxwell House beans may be sustainably grown, but they are not fair trade. Kraft explains their current coffee bean buying trend in the coffee sustainability section of their website.

So what makes Arabica coffee more environmentally friendly than Robusta? In a nut shell, Arabica is shade grown and Robusta is not. The growing of Robusta beans is a departure from traditional coffee farming in which coffee is grown under the canopy of native rainforest trees. In the 1970s a new farm system was promoted which saw forests cleared and coffee bushes packed in dense rows. These short term monoculture farms produced more beans, but at a cost to the environment with soil depletion, accelerated erosion and pollution of streams. Bill Nye explains this impact on the environment in a video clip of Stuff Happens.

At this time, the four big coffee companies (Nestlé, Proctor and Gamble, Kraft [Phillip Morris/Altria Group], and Sara Lee [now Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA]) are all offering sustainable coffee brands.

If you are concerned about making good ethical choices with regards to the coffee you drink, then check the packaging label. Look for an indication that the coffee is shade grown, fair trade, or organic.


About the author: Environment Smart

Flushing Away: Do You Know What Happens?

Posted by Environment Smart on 09/24 at 11:16 AM
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Using our toilets every day has quite an impact on the environment, yet do you actually know what happens when you flush your toilet? Do you know how it works, where the waste goes, and how much water is uses with each flush?

We should be concerned about the impact of our toilet use on the environment. Bill Nye (“the science guy”) is excellent at demystifying the science in our everyday life. In this video clip of Stuff Happens, Bill Nye explains how our toilets work and what happens to the waste. He suggests what can be done to help our environment by using low-flush or compost toilets.


About the author: Environment Smart

Clean Up the World weekend

Posted by Environment Smart on 09/18 at 06:30 PM
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The weekend of September 19th to 21st is the 16th annual Clean Up the World Weekend. An estimated 35 million volunteers will come together in over 100 countries to do their part in cleaning up the environment. This is one of the largest community-based environmental campaigns in the world.

Clean Up the World was launched by Australian Ian Kiernan 16 years ago with the support of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). At the time, Kieran was shocked by the large amounts of plastic rubbish he saw during a round-the-world ocean race. It is estimated that there are currently more than 13,000 pieces of plastic in every square kilometre of ocean.

The theme of this year’s event is ‘Start Today… Save Tomorrow - Clean Up our Climate’.
Local communities will spend the weekend taking action on a number of environmental issues, including protecting water sources, saving energy and reducing waste.

Visit the Clean Up the World web site. “Getting involved is simple. Groups or organisations in any city, town or village across the globe can join Clean Up the World. Joining is free* for non corporate organisations and renewable annually.”

To see what communities around the world are doing, visit the Clean Up the World Activities Map.




About the author: Environment Smart

Compost Container

Posted by Environment Smart on 09/17 at 05:29 PM
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Composting is the way to go these days, but you may not find that a pot full of peels, egg shells and coffee grinds is so appealing on your kitchen counter. One solution is to have a dedicated garbage can under your sink to dump your daily compost matter into. This can allow you to have the flexibility of not emptying your compost can every day. If you prefer the handy accessibility of a countertop container, however, then the popular choice seems to be a tin pail. The only problem is that it is an open container that it invites fruit flies and emits an odor. I personally do not find that it looks attractive either. My suggestion is to find an aluminum canister with a lid that seals. I was able to find one with a see-through plastic lid that allows me to see how full the container is. The canister also looks clean and sleek on my countertop.

About the author: Environment Smart

The Terminator takes out the white house over Global Warming

Posted by TheGreen on 07/15 at 02:54 PM
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The Terminator’s Arnold Schwarzenegger takes Bush out over bogus Global Warming attempt. The explosions, slayings and hot women abound in the White house as Arnold speaks out on the Bush administrations lack of movement on Global Warming. Seriously though, Friday, Stephen Johnson, chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, declined to take any initiative whatsoever on regulating greenhouse gas emissions under current laws, despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled over a year ago that the agency had the power to do so. Schwarzenegger commented, “(this) really means that basically this administration did not believe in global warming, or they did not believe that they should do anything about it since China is not doing anything about it and since India is not willing to do the same thing, so why should we do the same thing?” Schwarzenegger believes the U.S. should be the leader in the fight against climate change.

I have always been a movie fan of Arnold’s and I have been a pretty regular political fan of his too. Albeit hind site is 20/20, it would have been the biggest power move the US of A has ever made, or any country in the world, if they put the money into local development of energy alternatives instead of spending it all on ripping up yet another country. At this point, the US could be well on their way to being independent of Oil all together. A bit like Apple finally saying “No more 3.5 inch floppy drives in computers.” Everyone said Apple was nuts, but hey, how many people use those now? I only wish Canada would take the huge step and stop helping rip up Iraq, and put that money into local development of an alternative energy source, and get off the oil diet. The first country to do that will be a world leader, envied by all.

About the author: TheGreen