Weekly Green Tip #52 from Green52.org

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Green tip for week #52 — Week of April 26, 2009

Composting and Using Rain Barrels

For week 52 of Green52.org’s year-long mission of providing weekly green tips, we are providing a two-for-one weekly green tip.  Instead of only one green idea this week, we want to celebrate the past 52 weeks of weekly green suggestions and environmental responsibility initiatives by providing two new ideas in this 52nd green tip post.  This post caps off a complete year of successful weekly green tips, and a strong readership who have hopefully learned to reduce their environmental impact and support the advocacy efforts made by our site.

On to the tips for week 52:

Composting.

For those of you not already familiar with composting, this is a great way to help the environment, while helping your garden, naturally.  According to the EPA, yard trimmings and food residuals make up a total of 24% of the municipal solid waste in the United States.  Composting, in its most natural form, is a ecological process where plants or vegetation fall to the ground, decay, and ultimately return minerals and nutrients to the surrounding plants, animals and microorganisms.

You can easily and cost-effectively create compost in your own yard, which can then be used for plants and gardening. Not only does this provide a way to recycle and reuse yard waste, it can save money, save garbage/collection costs, and reduce your contribution to the landfill . The compost you create can be used in lawns and gardens to help condition the soil and replenish nutrients.

You can find an extraordinary number of composting barrels or bins by simply searching online.  To find out more about how composting works, or how to make it work for you, check out the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) site on composting here.

Using rain barrels.

Rain barrels are an easy way to harvest rain water, to offset part of your water demand, so some of the water used for yard/gardening can come from rain water, rather than from city/municipal water.  Many commercially available rain barrels connect to your home gutter/downspout system, so you can collect a significant amount of rainwater during a rain storm, in turn using that water during  drier day to water plants or your garden.

There are a great variety of sources for rain barrels, and various styles and systems.  Although you need to make a choice that makes the most sense for you, a few resources we can suggest include: http://www.composters.com/rain-barrels.php; and http://www.rainbarrelsource.com/.  There are even companies that use eco-friendly recycled barrels, like repurposed wine barrels, such as BarrelDepot from Minnesota, here.

If you start composting or using a rain barrel outside your home, you are helping reduce your own “carbon footprint” and environmental impact.  Composting helps utilize yard waste, instead of sending it to the landfill (and it can help you get rid of grass clippings, leaves, etc. without paying trash collection costs for removing them.  Rain barrels allow you to conserve water, and have a “free” water supply for gardening and other plant watering needs.

EDITORIAL NOTE AND THANK YOU:

With these two tips on post #52, Green52.org has now completed one full year of green tips, with a total of 52 weekly green idea posts.  Thank you to each and every one of our many readers who have helped make Green52.org a success, and for each of you who have incorporated one or more of the ideas to help the environment, which was the sole focus of the last year of our initiative.  Please contact us by email at: info AT sustainable thinking DOT org if you would like to suggest an idea for future Green52.org posts, or if you would like to partner with Green52.org for a future environmental responsibility and sustainability project.

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For more weekly green tips, review the 52 weekly green tips at Green52.org and tell
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Weekly Green Tip #43 from Green52.org

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Green tip for week #43 — Week of February 22, 2009

Use reusable bags

This is pretty obvious, but for some reason, Americans are either reluctant (or downright unwilling) to use reusable bags for shopping.  I know, it’s very convenient to drive your big SUV 3 blocks to McDonald’s and then drive two more blocks to the grocery store, only to buy two items, place them in a plastic bag, and drive back home to throw the bag away.  That type of “convenience” is a big contributor to the climate crisis and environmental ignorance our society is faced with.

As a simple change, which will drastically reduce plastic or paper bag production, consumption, and waste, consider storing reusable cloth, nylon or even previously used paper/plastic bags in your trunk, with your bike, or near your door.  Next time you walk, bike, or drive to the local store to pick up an item or two, carry them and tell the clerk to skip the bag, if it’s only a couple of items.  If you have several items, place them in the reusable bag you brought with you, and put the bag back in a handy place where you can remember to take it with you next time.

As a challenge, write down the number of plastic bags and paper bags you use from shopping, the grocery store, etc. during the course of one month.  Just put a tally sheet on your fridge, and add one for each bag that makes it inside your home.  After that month, commit to cutting that number in half, and keep doing so each month until you have the number to zero, or as few as you can possibly get by with.

Then, you will be incredibly well-informed and in a great position of knowledge and personal experience to tell your friends and coworkers to do the same.  For the bags you consumed during the month, be sure to recycle them, and reuse any that you can as trash liners, garbage bags for the car, and other “repurposed” uses.

Like many of the green tips and environmental responsibility ideas found on Green52.org, this is not breakthrough news, it is not rocket science, and most importantly, it’s not difficult.  This idea alone won’t fix the perils facing the planet, but every bit helps.

If you don’t have tote bags or other reusable bags at home, check at your grocery store next time you go, as many have now offered reusable bags as alternatives to paper or plastic.  Obviously there are many retailers and online vendors who carry every variety of organic cotton bags, bags from recycled materials, personalized bags, etc.

If you own or operate a business, consider branding reusable bags with your logo or website to give away to employees to encourage them to use them, or to donate to charities or give away at trade shows.  There are several good resources for reusable bags on the web, including Reusable Bags.com , EcoBags.com, and many others.

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For more weekly green tips, come back to Green52.org and tell
your friends and colleagues about the weekly green tips found at
Green52.org.