Recently an email came through decrying that produce was grown in human poop and that Chinese suspend chicken wire crates over the fish ponds and the fish with their shit. While this sounds sensational, in truth, human manure was a standard farming nutrient prior to the flush toilet.
I am not overly concerned about chicken poop or people poop – where do people think dirt comes from? it’s worm & bug poop (also known as castings). The “Circle of Life” is not just a cute song from the Lion King – creatures eat predominantly other creatures – bones, stomachs, poop and all. Cows & horses poop on the land that grows the grass that they soon graze on. Human poop starts as food and is simply food that has been burned as fuel or excess nutrients that cannot be fully absorbed at the time. Allan Savory in his TED presentation establishes how new deserts have been re-established as verdant grasslands by re-introducing traditional cattle herding whereby the droppings both enrich the soil and contain the grass seeds for reseeding.
We need those excess excreted nutrients over and over again each day and they need to return to the food stream through the soil, though a diet entirely of poop is probably not very well balanced and should be mixed with veggie matter for a full-bodied compost. Composting and percolation through the ground to underground aquifers (except those exposed to fracking or other underground toxins) exposes excrement to the pro-biotic bacteria necessary to cleanse it for eventual safe reabsorption into plants.
That being said, excrement of sick humans and animals should be contained and kept out of the food stream.
No less an authority than our founding father, George Washington, considered people and horse casting to be more valuable than gold. Though he was many things to our nation, he considered himself, first and foremost a farmer. He studied it, saved seeds, used crop rotations, fertilizers, was intimately knowledgeable about the micro-climates of Mt. Vernon & the 8,000 acres he maintained for his wife’s family around Virginia. He built lovely “necessaries”, outhouses, throughout his estate from which the proceeds were harvested regularly and encouraged everyone to use them. The farms were extraordinarily prolific and provided all the food for the family and 300 workers.
Amish have been recycling their refuse regularly though some municipalities are now requiring them to put in leach beds.
Composting, Gardening, Landscaping, manure, Organic, Re-use, Recycle, Sustainable Food, Toxic Chemicals, Water | Comment (0)
Unfortunately there are few financial incentives for responsible curbside recycling. ZeroWaste is a complex whorl of economic, social and environmental incentives and penalties involving citizens, governments and businesses.
For profits (and some non-profits) have stripped off many of the profitable ends of the business:
- Waste collection services (WasteManagement, BFI, etc)
- Waste metal management for large pieces and valuable metals (from the jeweler & dentist to the auto junkyard)
- Glass, bottles, cans, cardboard: the reason scavenging in your recycling is discouraged is because your city tries to keep you costs down by selling these. Your city competes with individuals who take them to recycling centers. No easy answers here, many people make ends meet using these strategies.
- E-waste – stripped down for precious and recyclable metals
- Wood and other separable construction waste
What is left in municipal waste landfills is the dregs, that has no market and is expensive to maintain with toxic barriers – sadly, the contents of landfills are the most environmentally destructive:
- Styrofoams, black plastics, non-conforming plastics found predominantly in
- Food containers & wrappings
- Toxic items – against the law but people do it anyway
- Mixed material content items, for example:
- shovel w/wooden handle
- Electronic appliances, tools, toys
- Plant matter that is difficult to compost – cactus & bamboo
- Recyclable/compostable materials that some folks are too lazy or unable to separate – milk cartons with attached plastic caps
Did you know that for every one trash can of non-recyclables that you put in front of your house that 71 have been put out in the manufacture of the contents of your trash?
That being said, in many cities, business trash has been subsidizing residential trash. Business complains, resident rates rise.
- One stream trash systems and single barrel street recycling are less efficient – we lose things such as high-grade white paper that could be recycled in to copy paper (that’s why it’s become more expensive). Hard-core recyclers are rabid because recycling efforts are dumbed down.
- On the flip side, much more is recycled overall because more residents are compliant
- Legislators are stuck in the middle trying to please both types of constituents, no one is fully happy.
The only “financial” incentive that I can think of is that your garbage costs would be even higher if you did not recycle. You may force your government to try it out but you may not be happy with the results.
How to change things? Find ways to change or legislate disposal/manufacture of items that typically fill up landfill waste. Make noise at town council meetings, join a committee, talk to your family, friends and neighbors.
Practice the 6 Rs of Zero Waste: Refuse, Reduce, Repair, ReUse, Recycle, Regulate.Composting, Economics, Packaging, Plastics, Polystyrene, Recycle, Regulate Waste, Zero-Waste | Comment (0)
That nice shiny paper that most receipts are printed on? BPA (or BPF) is likely-as-not an ingredient. We slip those recieipts in next to our currency in our wallets, slide our hands over them countless times as we rummage through our purses, pick them up to enter them in Quicken, then one more time to file, trash or shred them.
“When people talk about polycarbonate bottles, they talk about nanogram quantities of BPA [leaching out],” John C. Warner of the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry observes. “The average cash register receipt that’s out there and uses the BPA technology will have 60 to 100 milligrams of free BPA.” By free, he explains, it’s not bound into a polymer, like the BPA in polycarbonates. It’s just the individual molecules loose and ready for uptake.”
But thats not the end. Those duplicate check records? Carbonless credit card receipts? What if you’re a cashier handling them all day? Touched some food after handling the receipt? Ouch! Of course, many of us recycle those receipts, cool huh? Maybe not, it may be ending up in our recycled toilet paper. Is shredded thermal paper part of your composted fertilizer? Ooops.
Bill Van Den Brandt of Appleton papers point out that his company’s receipt paper (manufactured for NCR) is now BPA-free. This after after a lawsuit (NCR also named) for cleaning up PCB’s from the Fox River in Wisconsin) and subsequent change of ownership to employees.
“Attempts have been made to develop a thermal ink which reduces the problems associated with thermal papers by obviating the need to provide a thermal coating over the whole surface of the paper.” but this technology has not been perfected. I’ve got some receipts I can no longer read (though I really have no idea which technology was actually used).
Another option, the companies, TransactionTree, and AllEtronic emails a receipt to you (instantly) and you have 24 hour access to your receipts through their website. TransactionTree might also email you a retailer discount coupons & AllEtronic will soon have an iPhone app.
The sticking point is actually figuring out which manufacturers still use the BPA method and which stores buy paper from which mfg; data still outstanding. In the meantime, be aware. Don’t put thermal receipts in your paper recycling (or compost). Consider the electronic options, if available. Educate the stores you frequent. Decrease your use of microwaved convenience foods.Bisphenol, Composting, Organic, Packaging, Plastics, Polymer, Recycle, Sustainable Food, Think Globally, Toxic Chemicals | Comment (0)
Not everyone has the space, time or interest to maintain a compost pile. Even if you do, those of us living in cities don’t add protein based foods (meat, dairy, fish) to our piles because they attract unwanted rodents and other animals (our chocolate lab find the pile irresistable). Still trying to figure out if the polyesters bits in dryer lint that I throw in my compost are small enough to be of no harm but was interested that scientists feel that compost cannot yet be generated artificially
If you’re fortunate enough to live in an environmentally aware community, you may be given the option to separate your plant- and animal-based (bio)waste for separate recycling/composting. Our citizens were recently given special covered buckets and encouraged to fill them with all food scrapings and food-infused paper products (napkins, paper takeout containers, paper & cellophane wrappings). We line a covered bucket or container with bio-compostable bags and place the full bags in the big green bin with our garden clippings where they go to the municipal composting facility that is able to speed-compost with high heat, among other methods
It all sounds perfect, I keep my veggie waste for my own pile and put the meat and sauce-soaked napkins in the bucket. The reality is that the lined buckets can be both SMELLY and attracts FLIES. Not to be deterred, our local waste management company, Recology offered these solutions:
Sprinkle baking soda on the compost if it starts to smell.
Deter flies with citrus, lavender, eucalyptus or lemongrass oils by placing a few drops on a cloth and leaving it inside or on top of the pail.
If your community needs to come up to speed in the composting arena, contact your local elected officials and ask them adress “compostables waste management” in the next waste management contract cycle. Refer them to Recology or other waste management companies with a good track record.Composting, Gardening, Recycle | Comment (0)
Grains of sand are as numerous as the stars in the firmament so it would would be a fruitless task to assess the source from which each grain was ground over the eons. Their origins could be from stone, bone, shell or sea detritus worn down by time.
We do know that sand is wonderful for many gardens as both a soil amendment and landscaping aid or element.
Being an inveterate recycler and composter, I was considering the possibilities for shells of the beer-steamed mussels we had just finished enjoying. I had considered offering them on Freecycle to a crafter that might have a creative idea but decided to try to take responsibility for our trash on my own property.
Always starved for inexpensive path and working area materials I’ve added them to the chunky stones and brick where I keep my planting supplies. As they get crunched to pieces, dust flys in and fall leaves crumble between the stones, new dirt is forming. Next year I can pick up the stones and gather that soil from the weed barrier to add to my compost.
Another form of sand is in those little silica packets that come in many electronics. While still sand, we have no idea where they come from or what they have been exposed to. I toss these in my stone pathway but Laura of “Make Life Lovely” has many other great ideas, so check them out!Composting, Gardening, Landscaping, Re-use, Recycle | Comment (0)