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Organic Gardeners Composting

Organic Gardeners Composting

Have you always wanted to grow your own vegetables but didn't know what to do? Here are the best tips on how to become a true and envied organic gardner.

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The Keys to a Great Compost

This informative eBook demonstrates the best ways to compost in order to improve your garden, make your vegetables and fruits taste better, and help save the soil and the environment. Over 20% of landfills are simply kitchen waste that could easily be recycled Why waste what you already produce? You have an easy source of organic health for your own garden at home, without having to spend large amounts of money in order to make really healthy soil. With today's composting technology, you can compost as much as suits your needs! If that is a little compost for a small home garden or a large plot that you grow food for your family or business, composting will be an easy and cheap way to improve the quality of your soil and thus your vegetables as well! This guide shows you every method of composting; from free methods you can do with no extra money all the way to elaborate by easy to set up composting rigs. Improve the environment, and get better tasting food!

The Keys to a Great Compost Summary


4.6 stars out of 11 votes

Contents: Ebook
Author: Duane Palmer
Price: $28.00

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Highly Recommended

I started using this book straight away after buying it. This is a guide like no other; it is friendly, direct and full of proven practical tips to develop your skills.

As a whole, this book contains everything you need to know about this subject. I would recommend it as a guide for beginners as well as experts and everyone in between.

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The Joy of Composting

Composting has two main benefits It reduces the amount of biodegradable garbage you send to the landfill and creates compost, dark brown, crumbly, decomposed organic matter. Compost improves soil structure and health, helps beneficial microbes, attracts earthworms, and releases its nutrients slowly, so they're available to plants throughout the growing season. No wonder gardeners call compost black gold. Compost gets created when different kinds of waste often referred to as green (materials that are moist and rich in nitrogen, like grass clippings and kitchen scraps) and brown (materials that are dry and high in carbon, like dead leaves, shredded paper, and sawdust) combine with air and water and decompose over about three or four weeks.

Composting Recycling Organic Materials

Composting is a method of recycling organic materials, such as certain food waste and yard clippings, directly into the soil. Although there are many ways to make composts, the basic idea is to mix yard clippings and food waste into a pile with soil and let it decompose worms, insects, and other organisms The Netherlands recycled more than three quarters (77 )of the approximately 65 million tons of garbage it generated in 2000. Public pressure to reduce dioxin emissions from incineration plants and pollution from landfills led to landfill taxes beginning in 1995 and a landfill ban on combustible waste in 1997. In addition, government-owned incineration plants were operated below full capacity at the same time as incentives to expand the recyclables market and encourage end-of-life producer responsibility were initiated. Mandatory separation of different types of industrial wastes, with recycling of construction and demolition waste within a government financed infrastructure, and...

Benefits of Using Compost

You can use compost as mulch, to amend poor soil, or in place of prepared fertilizer. Added to soil, compost improves texture and aeration. It helps sandy soils retain water, and loosens the structure of soils with high concentrations of clay. Compost increases the fertility of soil and encourages healthy root growth. The nutrients that remain in compost after it has cured will add nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus to the soil. Compost also provides these benefits

Getting started with compost

You can just pile scraps in your back yard, but because kitchen garbage smells appetizing to hungry critters, it's best to use a compost bin, which you can buy or build your own. The bin can be square or round, and be made of wood, plastic, wire, even bricks or cinder-blocks. Compost tumblers are bins that turn, making it easier for air to get at the compost inside. One easy way to make your own compost bin is to buy a plastic trash can with a lid (about three feet tall). Drill 8-10 holes in the bottom of the bin and a few in its sides. That's all there is to it you're ready to start making compost. After you've chosen a bin (or decided to go with a simple pile), choose where you'll make compost. A sunny spot will speed up the process, as long as you don't let the compost dry out. Partial or full shade is okay, but it may take a bit longer. When you're ready to get started, follow these steps to create compost for your garden 1. Layer waste in your bin. Use a...

How Composting Works Five Parts Nutrients

Successful composting requires two kinds of ingredients green and brown. That doesn't refer to their actual colors, but to the two complementary purposes they serve. Green materials include food scraps, yard waste, and manure, which are full of nitrogen brown materials include dry leaves and wood chips, which have little nitrogen but lots of carbon. The biodegradable material you add to a compost pile will vary according to your circumstances, but you will quickly learn what mixture works best if you pay attention. The same way your stomach digests food more easily after you chew it, a compost pile will break down organic matter into its component parts more quickly if they are chopped, shredded, ground, or otherwise reduced in size. It translates to more surface area on which the natural processes of decomposition can take place. Smaller particles can also help keep the temperature of the compost pile consistent. The only drawback to finely broken down material is that it might...

Compost kitchen and garden waste

Each year, people send millions of tons of kitchen and yard waste into our landfills, where it gets packed down and decomposes without oxygen a process that spews methane (a highly potent greenhouse gas) Instead of throwing it away, you can easily compost much of this waste in your backyard. In a well-maintained compost pile that is regularly mixed, the added aeration helps eliminate methane production and contributes to healthier decomposition. Ultimately, compost provides an excellent source of nutrients for your garden and can reduce the need to use chemical fertilizers that pollute local water supplies.

Composting Techniques

Traditionally, composting has been an important technique for maintaining soil fertility. In developed economies, composting is a commercial enterprise, manufacturing soil products for horticultural and ornamental plants, and organic farming. On a small scale, composting is done in a bin at least 1 m2 at the base and no more than 120 cm (4 feet) high. A 5-cm mesh of woven wire is placed at the base of the bin as a retaining barrier and to facilitate drainage. The bin has an overflow gate at about 90 cm from the base. ESTIMATES OF POTENTIALLY COMPOSTABLE Composting material is packed in the bin in approximately 15-cm layers, alternated by 15-cm layers of soil. It is important to flatten the top and create a small depression for water penetration. Small-scale backyard composting is an effective way to recycle food and yard waste. The compost is usually ready within three to four months. see also Agriculture Biosolids Recycling.

Composting Methods

The methods and tools required for composting vary as widely as the ingredients that go into it. Some of the most common include heaps, holding units, turning units, pit trenching, and sheet composting. Here is a very brief description of each Heaps are just static mounds of biodegradable material, usually about three feet high by five feet around. The shape naturally retains water, but the only way to aerate this kind of compost is to turn it over using hand tools. Holding units are simply bins that hold compostable material from start to finish. They can even be used indoors, because the right balance of ingredients will not smell bad. These work slowly, but may be the best choice for people with limited space. Pit trenching is just what it sounds like a hole in the ground, filled with composting material and covered with a thick layer of soil. This method requires the least maintenance of all, but takes anywhere from a month to a year to complete. Sheet composting uses a similarly...


According to the EPA, food and yard waste comprises 25 of the total MSW generated in one year. All plant-based materials in these categories can be recycled by means of composting. The substances most commonly composted are grass cuttings, garden clippings, leaves, and coffee grounds, but well-chopped plant-based food wastes are suitable as well. Using meat-based food scraps is usually discouraged because they are likely to attract animals. To prepare a compost heap or pile, plant wastes are layered with manure or soil to speed decomposition (decay). Approximately every six inches of plant material is layered with about an inch of soil. Watering the mixture and aerating it (turning it) also speeds decomposition. The compost should decay for five to seven months before it is used. Gardeners mix compost with the soil to loosen the structure of the soil and provide it with nutrients, or spread it on top of the soil as a mulch to keep in moisture. Since compost adds nutrients to the soil,...

And Composting

Materials recovery is considered one of the most promising ways to reduce the amount of nonhazardous waste requiring disposal. The terms recovery and recycling are often used interchangeably. Both mean that a waste material is being reused rather than landfilled or incinerated. In general, reuse as a fuel does not fall under the definition of recovery, while composting does. Recycling involves the sorting, collecting, and processing of wastes such as paper, glass, plastic, and metals, which are then refashioned or incorporated into new marketable products. Composting is the decomposition of organic wastes, such as food scraps and yard trimmings, in a manner that produces a humus-like substance for fertilizer or mulch. Municipal solid waste (MSW) recovery offers many advantages. It conserves energy otherwise used to incinerate the waste reduces the amount of landfill space needed for disposal of waste reduces possible environmental pollution due to waste disposal generates jobs and...

Composting toilets

Composting toilets use no water for flushing. In its domestic form this toilet is usually electrically powered, heating the waste material to enable composting action to occur. The major problem with this type of toilet is its size the smallest domestic model is about twice the size of a conventional WC suite. Large (greater than 15 m3) composting toilets do not usually require the external input of energy for the process, as the aerobic decomposition is sufficiently exothermic to be self-sustaining. Large composting toilets may be environmentally acceptable as they consume only a small volume of water, require no drainage pipe work and produce compost that can be used in the garden. However, the questions of adequate hand washing facilities if there is no available water supply and the safety of children using toilets with open chutes needs to be considered.

Other Biomass Uses You Probably Arent Interested In For Good Reason

Horses and cows each produce from 10 to 16 metric tons of manure per year, depending upon pasture conditions and the amount of organic litter used for bedding. That's a lot of manure. You can stack it clear up to the sky, if you're so inclined. Compost a delectable stew by tossing in some garbage, waste straw, cane stalks, and pretty much any other organic material you can find, and what do you have A rich mixture of dense fuel. In other words Poop is biomass fuel. If you burn it right, you can get a lot of heat (this is not too different from the way English burn peat).

Organic production strategies

Develop local programmes to assure adequate supplies of organic matter' (Companioni et al, 2002). Organic wastes came from four main sources animal wastes, plant residues, industrial wastes and residential wastes (Altieri et al, 1999). The main organic materials were biotierra (composted sugarcane residues), gallinasa (chicken manure and rice chaff) and cow manure, all supplied by state farms. Occasionally, Azobacter2 was applied as a biofertilizer. In 2000, 69,400 tons of compost were applied, and 80,000 in 2001, at an average rate of 13.5t m3 (Gonz lez Novo and Merzthal, 2002 FAO, 2003).

Promoting water security with demand management and soft paths

The soft path approach changes the conception of water. Instead of being viewed as an end product, water becomes the means to accomplish specific tasks, such as sanitation or agricultural production. Demand management asks the question how How can we get more from each drop of water Soft paths ask the question why Why should we use water to do this at all Why, for example, do we use water (and, commonly enough, potable water) to carry away our waste Demand management would urge low-flow toilets, whereas soft paths might promote waterless or composting systems in homes and on-site waste treatment and reuse for commercial buildings. Irrigation is the largest use of water, accounting for around 70 of water withdrawals world-wide and even greater proportions in low-income developing countries. Demand management would urge more efficient technologies, such as drip systems with automatic shut-offs. A soft path approach would ask whether irrigated agriculture might be replaced by other modes...

Farmers preferred future production strategies

The main reason was to increase yields but also because of ease and rapidity of use. Sixteen different pesticides and herbicides were named as being desirable. One farmer explained 'My chemicals work fine. I don't need to try anything else. When I want to buy any chemicals, I simply get authorization from the CCS technician.' For some crops and diseases there was felt to be no alternative to chemical control. 'When there's a plague you have to use them' and 'I have to use herbicide because the stony soil means that I can't work it' were two responses. Others reported that 'This technology is necessary to develop the country,' and 'Every day there appears a new, stronger and unknown pest.' There was also uncertainly over alternatives some farmers were concerned that manure and mulch might contain weed seeds or hold insufficient crop nutrients. Others felt that biological pest controls were not failsafe and therefore carried too high a risk. There was a also a...

Extent of Use of Organic Techniques by Farmers Surveyed

Bathroom waste Kitchen waste Terracing Mineral rock Mycorrhiza Rhizobium Mulching Biofertilizers Sugarcane waste Cover cropping Green manure Windbreaks Run-off control Addition of plant wastes Re-afforestation Vermiculture Legume crops Compost Minimum tillage Manure Intercropping Oxen

Substitution with organic production techniques and system innovations

A national programme for biological pest control had already been established in the late 1980s. Within this, two main approaches were used to control insect pests the release of beneficial insects (entomophagens), which acted as parasites on the eggs of pest species and the use of natural bacteria and pathogens of certain pest species (entomopathogens). Over 220 small laboratories and production centres, or CREES, were constructed nationwide, for the production and distribution of these biological pest and disease controls. Using these two strategies, scientists developed techniques to combat the main pests of major crops, including rice, sweetpotato, sugarcane, cabbage, tobacco, coffee and citrus (Sinclair and Thompson, 2001). Figures on the actual extent of usage of biological pest controls were scarce, although production figures of the major controls - Bacillus thuringiensis and Trichoderma spp - showed a significant increase between 1994 and 1997 (Diaz, 1995 CNSV, 2000). The...

Provincial and municipal recycling and production of biofertilizers

Whereas agrochemicals were rationed and distributed to the farm, organic inputs could be obtained at will, where available, but had to be sought out. Some institutes and regions were supporting farmers to access organic inputs more than others. Agricultural Enterprises in one municipality in Havana, for example, were assisting in the recycling of farm byproducts purchasing manure and maize husks from specialized livestock or mixed crop farms and transporting them to where they would be returned to the land or for use as livestock feed. In this case, they were supporting the local integration of crops and livestock between rather than on-farm. Another Enterprise was producing its own compost from wastes collected throughout the region, and selling this to farmers. Yet another, at provincial level, was producing bioterra - composted sugarcane residue - and providing it free for collection by municipal Enterprises. In banana-growing regions in the east of the country, state farms and...

From Norms to Environmentally Appropriate Behavior

Finding ways to communicate behavioral norms through changing cues in the environment is an important social psychological approach to solving environmental problems. Some behaviors will be difficult to change through norms because they are typically not done in public. For example, backyard composting is usually unobservable to neighbors. That is why McKenzie-Mohr (2000b) asked householders to post decals that demonstrated their participation in a composting program. When they did so, backyard composting increased. Laws and regulations contribute greatly to norms by requiring environmentally appropriate behavior. Federal laws regulating Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards that limit emissions of automobiles would communicate acceptable maximum levels of pollution and fuel efficiency, just as seat belt laws have greatly increased buckling up behaviors. Unfortunately, the 2002 U.S. Congress voted against increasing CAF standards.

The collapse of motive power the substitution of human and animal labor for machines and commercial energy

Biomass fuels are mainly used for household cooking and heating. In 1990, rural sector biomass fuel consumption was estimated at 22.7 million tonnes, but by 1996 this had risen by an estimated 1.3 million tonnes per year to make up for shortfalls in coal and other fuels. The problem with a rise in biomass fuel consumption is that it takes biomass away from other potential uses, such as for animal fodder and compost, and this in turn has adverse effects on food supplies. By reducing ground cover, disrupting habitats, and increasing soil erosion and siltation, rural ecosystems such as forests, streams, and croplands are also adversely affected by increased biomass use.21

Using Biomass for Fuel

Compost piles Biomass at work A compost pile is an example of biomass at work. You throw garbage and any old organics you have lying around into a special hopper, and the decomposition process creates heat by breaking down the materials. You can use the final product any number of ways, including fertilizing

The extent of use of organic techniques and resulting land use patterns

Soils were generally in poor condition. To improve soil fertility, and along with chemical fertilizers, almost all farmers were, on some part of their farm, rotating crops, incorporating crop residues into the soil, and using oxen. A large number were also intercropping, practising minimum tillage and applying manure (at rates of between 0.1 and 22t ha). A minority of farmers were using compost, legume crops and worm humus, some of which was produced on-farm. Terracing was practised to a small extent in hilly regions. Rotations were planned to take advantage of chemical fertilizer residues remaining after harvesting of a prioritized crop.

Generation materials recovery composition and discards of municipal solid waste in millions of tons and percent of

Recovery for Recovery for *Composting of yard trimmings, food scraps, and other MSW organic material. Does not include backyard composting. Details may not add to totals due to rounding. source Adapted from Table 1. Generation, Materials Recovery, Composting, and Discards of Municipal Solid Waste, 1960-2003 (in millions of tons), and Table 2. Generation, Materials Recovery, Composting, and Discards of Municipal Solid Waste, 1960-2003, in Percent of Total Generation, in Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States Facts and Figures for 2003, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, Washington, DC, April 2005, (accessed August 4, 2005)

The process of turning biomass into power

To produce energy with biomass, a huge compost pile is left to rot. The copious amount of methane gas that is produced from the rotting material is channeled into the combustion chamber in a combined cycle methane power plant. The compressor pressurizes incoming air flow, which combines with the methane to produce a controlled combustion that powers the turbine. The turbine is connected to an electrical generator. The heat from the combustion is further directed into a boiler where steam is produced. The steam pressure turns another turbine generator combination and another source of electricity is produced. The two electrical sources are combined into one, and this is fed into the power grid. Generating electricity this way is very efficient and environmentally sound since the net release of greenhouse gases is zero. The economics are favorable, particularly in light of the fact that the biomass products used in the compost are very low in cost, and locally produced. Biomass...

En Revolution icultural Miracle

Nge our entire technolog-to shift into a more sus, we might buy ourselves quitable, and sustainable ld entail, but not be lim-ulture, composting, nat-ctices, farmers markets, ratives and community would be a great help if oting this transition by anic farmers, urban gar-ition could succeed with e discuss some of the so-fossil fuel-based agricul-y that lost its energy base sustainable form of agri-

Producing natural gas

The most common variety of natural gas is methane, or CH4 (four hydrogen atoms, one carbon atom). Waste materials like compost from farms is converted into methane gas, which produces both fertilizers and fuel suitable for use in a natural gas vehicle. The gas is fed into a pipeline distribution system or into large holding tanks. The gas may be used for both home heating and vehicle propulsion.

Case Study Gledlow Valley Ecohouses

The Gledhow Valley Ecohouses are three timber-framed dwellings that are being built to meet high environmental standards. The clients for the scheme are the owners and future occupants of the houses, who undertook their own architectural design, as well as being involved in the actual house construction. An autonomous water system was developed for the houses, without a link to a mains water supply or sewage outlet. The water supply operates off a three-pipe system drinking water is supplied from rainwater collected off the roof, which is stored and sterilized, whilst hot and cold water for washing and bathing is taken from a storage pond in the communal garden area. Waste water, along with any rainwater run-off, is fed to a reed-bed for treatment and then recycled into the storage pond. Composting toilets are used in all three houses, so the recycling system only treats grey water. Like many self-build schemes, the pace of construction was leisurely, with no fixed 'hand-over' date....

Other Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

At colleges and universities, these other climate-altering gases are emitted in varying quantities depending on the type of institution, activities, and types of equipment. For example at Tufts, other heat-trapping gas emissions come from our School of Veterinary Medicine in the form of methane from our dairy herd. Institutions with agriculture schools will have methane emissions from herds and from composting operations as well as nitrous oxide emissions from fertilizers. Tufts' dental school also

Cradletocradle Design

Cradle-to-cradle design was introduced in 2002 by architect William McDonough and chemist Dr. Michael Braungart as a method for evaluating products that could be safely used without any harm to people or the environment, based on known data. The evaluation criteria for products include material properties, specifically toxicity and carcinogenicity, persistence and toxicity in the environment, and use of heavy metals material reuse potential, either in recycling or composting efficient or renewable energy use, including use of 100 solar income in manufacturing water use, stormwater and wastewater discharge in manufacturing and instituting strategies for social responsibility as evidenced by third-party assessments and certifications.33 One of the early successes of this effort was creating a fabric for a chair manufacturer that was durable and attractive but that could be composted at the end of its useful life. Another product developed from this point of view is a commercial carpet...

Management of Municipal Buildings and Properties

Under the new system, which aims to encourage the growth of taller grass and greater diversity of plant species and insects, the grass is cut only once per summer season and the cuttings removed. Removal of cuttings reduces the quantity of nutrients to the soil, preventing certain plants from dominating and encouraging the growth of wild-flowers. Residents are encouraged to take an active role in the maintenance of open space through activities such as weeding, mowing and the care of ponds. In partnership with users the City's Real Estate, Streets and Traffic Department prepares a maintenance plan for each area to be cared for, drawing up a user contract. The Department also routinely composts organic waste from city-owned green acres and provides composting facilities in some parks for use by residents. (European Commission, 1996, p. 164) The city of Freiburg has made special efforts to manage its greenspaces in a more ecologically sustainable way. It is now the city's policy to...

In summary plants are hard to make into fuels

If there isn't enough biomass, if the residues can't be stored without exploding or composting, if the oil to transport low-density residues to biorefineries or deliver the final product is too great, if no cheap enzymes or microbes are found to break down lignocellulose in wildly varying feedstocks, if the energy to clean up toxic by-products is too expensive, or if organisms capable of tolerating high ethanol concentrations aren't found - if these and other barriers58 can't be overcome, then cellulosic fuels are not going to happen.

Stage Productconsumption

HSBC purchased carbon offsets in order to neutralize its group-wide emissions for the last quarter of2005. To offset the total emissions amount (170,000 tons of carbon dioxide), HSBC bought 170,000 tons of carbon offset credits from four offset projects around the world the Te Apiti wind farm in North Island, New Zealand an organic waste composting project in Victoria, Australia the Sandbeiendorf agricultural methane capture project in Sandbeiendorf, Gemany and the Vensa Biotek biomass co-generation project in Andhra Pradesh, India.''A large-scale collective effort is going to be needed to address climate change. Governments must play their part, and help the public to make informed decisions' said Francis Sullivan, HSBC's adviser on the environment. 'Banks should also do their bit' (HSBC, 2005 The Climate Group, 2005)

It helps that the German media is less strict about the division between editorials and news than the news media in the

Cultural differences might well be at play here. After all, Germans are known for obsessively sorting their household waste into plastics, metals, glass, paper and compost and placing it all in separate, different colored plastic bins. The glass and most Americans think this is a joke is further sorted by color and tossed into neighborhood containers-but no later than 7 p.m. please, to keep the noise down. Anyone who accidentally tosses regular garbage in with the recycling is asking for serious trouble with the neighbors. And when a hurricane drowns a city like New Orleans, the German environment minister blames the U.S. government for

Making use of old stuff

I Table scraps By composting the food you didn't eat, you eliminate the need for fertilizers and expensive soil treatments, and you save a lot of unnecessary landfill. You can buy composters which work very well and make the job clean. Or you can compost in a hole in your backyard, which is the best way to go for sheer quality. Dig a hole, and toss your food scraps into the hole (avoid fats, but most everything else is fine). Get some slack lime and toss in a cup once in awhile. Stir occasionally. Within a couple months, you'll have good, loamy potting soil for your landscaping needs. Composting toilets for the die-hard composter Composting toilets don't flush. They use a process called rapid aerobic decomposition. They feature a holding tank where the wastes go to decompose. Around 95 percent of the material that goes into a compost toilet ends up venting out as water vapor or gases. That's good to know, isn't it But relax these toilets don't smell, or they shouldn't if they're...

The development of many smallscale highly selfsufficient local economies

There is immense and largely untapped scope for deriving many materials from plants and other sources that exist or could be developed where we live bark for tanning, dyes from plants, tar and resins from distilled flue gases, wool, wax, leather, feathers, paint from oil seeds like sunflowers, and many medicines from herbs. Small animals are easily kept within urban neighborhoods, and can yield many products including leather and fertilizer. Much of their feed could consist of recycled kitchen and garden waste. Timber would come from the woodlots and clay from the local pits. Many of these things would come from the commons we should develop in and around our settlements, including orchards, ponds, forests, fields, quarries, bamboo clumps, herb patches, and so on, which would be owned, operated, and maintained by the community.

Ecological Urban Renewal

Rainwater is also collected in a below-ground cistern, purified in a pond, and then pumped to the flats for toilet flushing and for use in washing machines. Some of the units have added solar hot water heaters, and many have installed passive solar winter gardens and glass rooms. Additional insulation, energy-efficient glass, water-saving fixtures and toilets, and extensive recycling and composting facilities were also added. Extensive use was made of recycled brick and other materials. There is at least one section of rooftop that has been converted into a glass solar terrace. A series of photovoltaic panels in the interior provides most of the power to run the pumps and motors in the bioworks. The PV panels also power hookups for charging electric vehicles. In Germ a n y, other notable ecological renovation projects include the re d e-velopment of 167 units in the Unionplatz area in Berlin, incorporating new gre en e ry composting facilities, and solar hot water units, among other...

Locally Sourced Materials

Here are examples of some specific materials that could come from just about any locality or 500-mile radius, without traveling long distances foundation piers compost and mulch concrete storm drains masonry, pavers and hardscape materials reclaimed lumber wheatboard panels most wood products, including laminated beams, cabinets, sub-flooring, roof decking, composite wood siding, engineered wood products and oriented strand board millwork, both new and reclaimed and cellulose insulation. The list is seemingly endless.99

Impact on food security

The state maintained its investment in urban agriculture for several reasons the high food demand in the cities, the relatively high free-market price of fresh vegetables, the need to make nutritional improvements to the basic Cuban diet, the possibility of selling direct to the consumer from the farm gate and thus overcoming postharvest losses and transport restrictions, and the potential for employment creation in urban areas (Wilson and Harris, 1996). The income from urban agriculture was crucial to supplementing the generally low state wages of the 1990s (Murphy, 1999). Ritchie (1998, p1) recounts one urban patio producer growing grapes on the roof of his building, along with vegetables and herbs in compost-filled tyres, which he sold to supplement his pension. He claimed 'It is the duty of Cubans to find ways to support themselves, as their contribution to sustaining the gains of the Revolution.'

Improper Waste Disposal

Less dramatic, but no less problematic, are the difficulties associated with the disposal of household trash. Until fairly recently, the conventional way to dispose of almost all types of trash was to deposit it at the community dump, usually located at the edge of town, where it was either used as landfill or burned. We now know that this relatively uncontrolled method of disposal has many environmental liabilities, including the possibility of long-term seepage of toxic materials into underground water reservoirs and the problems that burning entails. The use of community dumps is becoming much more tightly managed than it was in the past, and certain materials that once were acceptable for disposal are no longer so. These include automobile tires, used motor oil, oil-based paints, and household solvents and other chemicals. As a consequence of effective recycling, composting, incineration, and salvage, the accumulation of solid waste could be drastically reduced, possibly by as...

Preface On Global Warming

And so were sown the seeds of this book. First came a short paper in the journal Nature called Kyoto Begins at Home about a family of four in the USA who met their own equivalent of the USA's Kyoto commitment through a few simple lifestyle changes. During the subsequent years I researched everything from green burials to the global warming contribution of Labradors. Along the way our big car was swapped for a Smart car, low-energy bulbs spread through the house, and the mailorder composting worms arrived (a fun evening in, I can tell you).

Scrap Tire Recyclinga Success Story

Scrap tires have always posed a disposal problem for the United States. Scrap tires accumulated in landfills or uncontrolled tire dumps can pose health and fire hazards. The tires are highly combustible, do not compost, and do not degrade easily. The material, primarily hydrocarbons, burns easily, producing toxic, bad-smelling air pollutants and toxic runoff when burned in the open. Health effects that can result from exposure to an open tire fire include irritation of the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes respiratory effects central nervous system depression and cancer. (The controlled combustion of scrap tires in special incinerators does not produce these toxic emissions.) Scrap tires do not compress in landfills and provide breeding grounds for a variety of pests. In fact, some states ban the disposal of tires in landfills.

Objectives and Evolution of Wastewater Treatment

Treatment technology includes physical, biological, and chemical methods. Residual substances removed or created by treatment processes must be dealt with and reused or disposed of in a safe way. The purified water is discharged to surface water or ground water. Residuals, called sludges or biosolids, may be reused by carefully controlled composting or land application. Sometimes they are incinerated.

Platinum Project Profile

Serving as office space for 36 occupants and housing a works garage, the Restoration Services Centre is an 11,700-square-foot, two-story facility. The Toronto and Region Conservation's Restoration Services Centre was designed to reduce energy costs by more than 66 percent compared to Canada's Model National Energy Code. The facility estimates a 57 percent reduction in energy consumption through a ground-source heat pump, radiant slab heating, energy and heat recovery ventilation, reduced lighting power density, and an improved building envelope. Composting toilets, water-free urinals, and low-flow lavatories contribute to an 80 percent reduction in potable water use.*

Linking Mitigation and Adaptation

Achieving synergies between mitigation and adaptation strategies is most fruitful at the project level, where the activities are linked in very specific ways. In Dhaka, for instance, a CDM mitigation project uses organic waste to produce compost. This reduces methane emissions by diverting organic waste from landfills (where anaerobic processes occur that generate higher lev els of methane) to a composting plant (where aerobic processes occur).50 This mitigation project has clear potential for contributing to climate change resilience in rural areas. The impacts of climate change will include agroecosystem stresses in drought-prone areas in Bangladesh. Thus, enhancing soil organic matter content through organic manure to increase the moisture retention and fertility ofsoil both reduces the vulnerability to drought and increases the carbon sequestration rates of crops. Linking mitigation and adaptation in this way contributes to both long-term and short-term ecological and social...

Laurence S Rockefeller Preserve Grand Teton National Park Wyoming

Rockefeller Preserve in Grand Teton serves as a visitor center. Located near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the 7500-square-feet building houses an interpretive center for the National Park Service. The building's design should reduce energy use by 84 percent and save 2000 annually. A ground-source heat pump and photovoltaic system is expected to provide 58 percent of the center's electricity. All of the wood used in construction was certified to FSC standards. The restrooms at the facility use composting toilets, saving an estimated 76,000 gallons of water annually.*

Avoiding Exposure and the Use of Green Products

Nontoxic skin care products Odor-controlling equipment Composting toilets Natural pesticides Nontoxic pet care products Unleaded gasoline Low-emission products Paints and varnishes Organic food products Air cleaning equipment Pest control equipment Nontoxic cleaning products Organic gardening supplies Recycled products Jute, coir, and woolen carpets Energy-efficient appliances

Grassroots Innovations for Sustainable Consumption

Grassroots action for sustainable consumption takes different forms, from furniture-recycling social enterprises to organic gardening cooperatives, low-impact housing developments, farmers' markets and community composting schemes. While community action addresses local problems, these are not irrelevant to wider contexts 'the global problems or perspectives are translated and fitted into the local, specific circumstances of the individuals' (Georg, 1999 460), for example through efforts to reduce personal

Carver George Washington

The conservationist agricultural practices developed by George Washington Carver at the beginning of the twentieth century increased agricultural sustainability for poor African-American farmers in the U.S. Deep South. An expert in revitalizing soil, Carver worked through the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama to publicize composting techniques and the importance of crop rotation, which helped combat soil depletion and pest infestation in the region's overcultivated cotton and tobacco fields.

The EPAs Waste Wise Program

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists waste reduction and reuse as top priorities in its solid waste management hierarchy, followed by recycling, composting, waste-to-energy, and landfilling. Many governments and businesses have adopted the practice of waste reduction.

Solid Waste and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Once a product has been used, it can be recycled into new products. While manufacturing products from recycled inputs still requires energy, fewer raw materials are necessary. Heat-trapping gas emissions are therefore offset by the avoided fossil-fuel use for raw material acquisition. In addition, for products that require wood or paper inputs, recycling reduces the need to cut down trees, increasing carbon sequestration in forests. If a product is not recycled at the end of its useful life, it goes through one of three waste management options composting, combustion, or landfilling. All three use energy for transporting and managing the waste, and they produce additional greenhouse gases to varying degrees. Composting Organic material such as food scraps and yard waste

Untapped Water Supply

Conservation-oriented rates, rebates, and program and policy incentives Toilets and urinals (low-volume, nonwater, composting, retrofit devices) Showerheads and faucets (e.g., low-volume, aerators, retrofit devices) Clothes washers and dishwashers (e.g., high-efficiency, full loads only) Point-of-use hot water heaters (e.g., homes with high hot water losses) Leak repair and maintenance (e.g., leaking toilets and dripping faucets) Conservation-oriented rates, rebates, and program and policy incentives Water-efficient landscape design (e.g., functional turf areas only) Native and or drought-tolerant turf and plants (noninvasives only) Limited or no watering of turf and landscape areas (beyond plant establishment) Supermarkets (6 supermarket sites in Southern California, U.S.) Advanced water treatment systems reduced fresh water needs for cooling systems. Other recommended efficiency measures included high-efficiency spray nozzles, aerators, and flow restrictors installed on hand sinks...

Biological And Biohazardous Wastes

Biological waste is often called organic waste because it is composed of organic molecules containing carbon, hydrogen, and water. This can include everything from kitchen scraps (fruit vegetable peels and rinds) to animal (bedding and carcasses) and human waste (leftover food, patient care waste, etc.).

Developing ecological knowledge systems The need to increase ecological literacy

The extent of, and capacity for, ecological innovation and experimentation was dependent on the presence of relevant knowledge. The lack of relevant knowledge and training was one of the main limitations to the increased use of organic approaches. Farmers had most commonly received training in bio-pesticides, with some also on bio-fertilizers. The thematic knowledge gaps amongst both farmers and the institutional support sector were those relating to water conservation and usage, to product quality, and to the principles underlying organic agriculture. Many farmers had not heard of the terms 'organic' (organico) or 'agro-ecology' (agro-ecologia). Farmers also identified specific training needs on the following dietary and health requirements of draught oxen, the demonstration of appropriate soil fertility techniques, seed exchange and seed quality control, and the correct use of biological pest control products. In particular, increasing the training opportunities on organic inputs...

The belated development of certified organic agriculture

In 2000, the Corporation formed a multidisciplinary, organic group to undertake research and development on the whole production chain from field to market. The formation of this group did not require much change in research orientation, because researchers there had for a long time been working on organic issues - such as bio-pesticides - albeit in a disciplinary fashion. The Special Period acted as a catalyst to pull these disciplines together. With an increase in international demand, some of this team were supported to undergo specific training on organic agriculture, and support and advice was received on an ongoing basis from abroad. The project liaised with other national institutes on specific system components with the Institute for Pastures and Forages on under-sowing legumes, with the Institute of Mechanization on appropriate equipment such as compost spreaders (which the project was helping to evaluate), with the Institute of Ecology and Systematics on local biodiversity...

Promoting water security through water soft paths

Results for the urban component of the water soft path study were determined for a generalized urban centre in a semi-arid area with a base population of 200,000 in 2005 and 300,000 in 2050 (Brandes and Maas, 2007). As in other urban areas, the bulk of water use is for residential and commercial uses, secondarily for institutional and light industrial uses. The Demand Management scenario is based on fairly rapid uptake of readily available technologies and easily adopted practices, including low-flow and dual-flush toilets, efficient showers and faucets, and water-saving clothes washers. It results in significant savings but not enough to offset population growth. The Water Soft Path scenario adds adoption of composting toilets, waterless urinals, xeriscaping, widespread reuse and recycling, and rainwater harvesting. With these additions, water savings that are more than enough to overcome the expected population growth indeed, water use in 2050 would be below that in 2000...

Increasing the availability of and access to appropriate resources and technology

CPA farmer Ricardo Manuel had first encountered organic agriculture back in 1992 at a seminar heralding the inception of the Cuban organic movement. This approach was not new to Ricardo it was similar to traditional agriculture that farmers had practised for centuries, whereas he had been encouraged to farm industrially for only four and a half decades. For Ricardo, organic agriculture was about timely planting, field rotations, soil improvement, minimal labour, crop associations, polycultures and enhancement of biodiversity. For him also, industrialized agriculture did not make good economic sense. He explained why he had had enough of this form of agriculture in the context of the Special Period 'When the camel is in the desert with a long walk and a heavy load, he asks the flea to get off his back.' Why did he have this belief in organic agriculture when other farmers did not Ricardo responded that 'Those who can believe are those with the most education and knowledge,' and added...

The reported response to the crisis

In response to the crisis, the Cuban government launched a national effort to convert the nation's agricultural sector from high input agriculture to low input, self-reliant farming practices on an unprecedented scale. Because of the drastically reduced availability of chemical inputs, the state hurried to replace them with locally produced, and in most cases biological, substitutes. This has meant bio-pesticides (microbial products) and natural enemies to combat insect pests, resistant plant varieties, crop rotations and microbial antagonists to combat plant pathogens, and better rotations and cover cropping to suppress weeds. Synthetic fertilizers have been replaced by bio-fertilizers, earthworms, compost, other organic fertilizers, natural rock phosphate, animal and green manures, and the integration of grazing animals. In place of tractors, for which fuel, tyres and spare parts were largely unavailable, there has been a sweeping return to animal traction.

The National Recycling Coalition Recommendations

The EPA reports that 232 million pounds of waste were generated in 2000. The amount of waste produced per person has grown over the last thirty-five years, from 2.7 to 4.6 pounds per day. In 1999, waste reduction saved over fifty million tons of municipal solid waste from being dumped into landfills. see also Abatement Composting Green Lifestyle Recycling Reuse Technology, Pollution Prevention.

Waste the problem

About 69 per cent of all municipal waste is buried in landfill, but an increasing proportion is incinerated (more than 25 per cent) or composted (10 per cent). Each of these options presents its own problems. Waste in landfill can give off gases such as methane and CO2 (both implicated in climate change), can lead to chemicals and heavy metals being leached into water and soil, can be expensive where land is at a premium, and the development of landfill sites is often opposed by local residents (the NIMBY syndrome, or 'not in my back yard'). Meanwhile, incineration can lead to air and water pollution, is not an effective response to the problem of disposing of hazardous waste, and also comes up against NIMBYism. For its part, composting works only if hazardous substances are not introduced into the soil via the waste.


This is particularly so among the middle classes, who recycle their wine bottles and their fashion magazines and attempt to compost their rubbish. At the same time, they have two children and probably 'need' two cars (one a gas-guzzling fecundity symbol 'people carrier', and the other in which they commute to work).

Items to Avoid

Some materials may seem appropriate for composting, but experience has shown that they do not help produce usable mature compost. Some release substances that can harm plants grown in the resulting compost, while others can impede the process of decomposition. Others create unpleasant odors, attract unwanted animals, or just plain don't break down very well. They include

Biomass uses

On a small scale, residential homes burn biomass like wood pellets and corn in specially designed stoves. On a large scale electrical power plants burn methane gas produced by compost piles of biomass materials. Methane can be produced on large scales, and fed into the pipelines that feed urban areas with natural gas supplies. Ethanol is a biofuel derived from corn, and it's increasingly being used in transportation around the world. Here's a more detailed breakdown of how common biomass energy sources are used Microalgae, found in lakes, is fermented into ethanol or composted to produce methane gas. Animal waste from farms and ranches, as well as human waste, is composted to produce biogases (double yuck, but it works and makes a lot of sense, along with a lot of stink).

What lies ahead

Opinion surveys have been taken in America, such as a Gallup Poll in 2003, which found three out of every four people in the United States would support mandatory controls on CO2 levels. This is significant, because it implies that most Americans would like to see their government take positive action on global warming. The United States must implement policies in line with other countries to combat global warming. For example, people in western Europe rely heavily on public transportation to commute each day, European restaurants typically do not provide ice water with dinner in order to conserve water, recycling programs are heavily supported, composting is seen in backyards, and many homes use wind and solar energy. Many countries, such as Sweden, Norway, Great Britain, and Canada support productive public education programs, keeping their citizens informed about the health and condition of the natural environment, as well as ways they can help toward solving the global warming...

South Korea

While fertilizer nitrogen use has been reduced significantly since the mid 1990s, the use of animal manure as fertilizer has increased. Most of the animal manure is processed as compost before use in the field with the result that ammonia is volatilized during composting. Ammonia loss has not been measured directly, but changes in the N P ratio of the material before and after composting suggests that about 40 of the manure nitrogen was lost during handling and processing (Lee personal communication). The results suggest that in 2002, 95 Gg N was lost as ammonia during composting of animal manure, compared with the 127 Gg lost as a result of fertilizer application (Table 12.1).

Tip drainage

Despite government attempts to get us to recycle our refuse, the great majority is collected by the local authorities and disposed of. Some is incinerated and the heat produced is occasionally used to heat large buildings or to produce steam for generating electricity. Some is converted to a compost for improving the quality of municipal land. Most however is dumped at landfill sites, areas of derelict or poor quality land, worked-out quarries or open-cast coal mines which are filled with waste to convert them into more usable land. Figure 20 shows the relative proportion of waste disposed of by various methods. paper and packaging), metal (mild steel and aluminium cans), organic matter (waste food, garden waste), and glass from jars and bottles. The quantities of these various types of domestic rubbish have been measured by government scientists. They have found that the relative amounts of solid refuse by weight are as shown in Table 14.1


Plant or animal matter that can be burned directly or can be converted into fuels. The compost heap shown in Figure 6-1 is an example of biomass. In addition, products derived from biological material are considered biomass. Methanol, or wood alcohol, is a volatile fuel that has been used in race cars for years. Another alcohol, clean burning ethanol, can be blended with gasoline to form a blended fuel (gasohol) and used in conventional automobile engines, or used as the sole fuel source for modified engines. Figure 6-1. Compost Heap at Rudy's Peach Orchard, Spring, Texas Figure 6-1. Compost Heap at Rudy's Peach Orchard, Spring, Texas

Waste Types

A solid waste does not flow like water or gas. Examples include paper, wood, metals, glass, plastic, and contaminated soil. Solid wastes can be hazardous or nonhazardous. Problems associated with nonhazardous solid waste include aesthetic problems (litter and odors), leachate from the infiltration of water through the waste, and off-gases resulting from biodegradation. Nonhaz-ardous solid wastes are commonly handled by recycling, combustion, land-filling, and composting.

Buildingin Soul

In terms of how we relate to these materials, wood is approachable, easy to work with, absorbs airborne toxins and moderates temperature and humidity. It is sensitive to environment and needs to be maintained and protected from sustained moisture by careful design. Aging adds character. It is easily repairable. It can be recycled or allowed to compost back to earth. Steel is hard, can be worked with hand-scale, semi-industrial tools (such as welding apparatus) and is neutral in health terms. It needs protection from water, but is unaffected by light, insects or aging. It can, with suitable tools, be repaired and recycled. Abandoned, it will rust back into ore - though this does not apply to its (usually toxic) paints and platings. Plastic is generally unappealing to touch and emits toxins. It is unaffected by the environment (except abrasion, UV light and organic solvents) and appears ageless except for scratching, cracking and crazing, which compromise both appearance and...

Municipal Waste

The municipal waste management industry has four components recycling, composting, land filling, and waste-to-energy via incineration. Technology is available that can convert human waste and garbage from landfills into natural gas for any kind of use. Waste-to-energy combustion and landfill gas are byproducts of municipal solid waste.


Use compost and mulch to keep soil healthy and to eliminate or minimize the use of chemical fertilizers. When plantings need to be replaced, select native or adapted drought-tolerant and climate-appropriate plantings. When major landscape maintenance work is done, property management or the landscape contractor should ensure that all tree and plant clippings are composted or mulched. Some cities will issue a recycling bin to the building for collecting landscape trimmings or green waste.


Recycling refers to the separation and collection of wastes and their subsequent transformation or remanufacture into usable or marketable materials. Recycling, including composting, diverts potentially large volumes of material from landfills and combustors, and prevents the unnecessary waste of natural resources and raw materials. Other environmental benefits offered by recycling include a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, energy conservation, and the preservation of biodiversity and habitats that would otherwise be exploited for virgin materials. In addition, recycling programs create new manufacturing jobs, boost the economy, and facilitate U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace. Recycling activities also include centralized composting of yard and food wastes. Composting refers to the controlled decomposition of organic matter by microorganisms into a stable humus material that is used primarily on the land to improve soil quality. Many communities conduct large-scale...

Intrinsic benefits

This is an important point. Grassroots initiatives need not consciously practice 'strong' sustainability for them to have an impact concordant with those objectives. Groups doing 'simple' activities like furniture recycling, community composting, or running a volunteering project, may nevertheless develop significant sustainability practices. Of course, sustainability is a contested concept, and diverse 'sustainabilities' are being experimented with at the grassroots and in other domains. Some practices run counter to certain forms of sustainability consider the way extreme localism autonomy projects conflict with sustainable developments conceived for poorer regions through Fair Trade. The point is to appreciate empirically the sustainability dimensions and trade-offs being developed in niches, and to relate niche self-interpretations of performance to their motivating ideologies.

Nonhazardous Waste

Although an unknown quantity of solid waste is managed by individuals and organizations, a recent Environmental Research and Education Foundation (EREF) study listed the amount of solid waste managed off-site in the United States at 544.7 million tons (reported by waste facilities). Of these 544.7 million tons of solid wastes, 63 was in municipal solid waste landfills, 21 in material recycling facilities, 6 in incinerators, 5 in construction and demolition landfills, and 5 in compost facilities. Private companies own 5 of the off-site facilities that manage solid waste and the public sector owns 47 . Fig. 12-1 shows a few of the nonhazardous wastes treated at waste disposal facilities.

Biomass heating

Biomass Combustion Systems

Passive drying is not without its risks. Large volumes of wet biomass will tend to compost, and high temperatures will develop at the centre, high enough in some cases for fire to be initiated. The usual advice is that woodchips should not be heaped up more than 10 m high for this reason. The biomass has to be exposed to the air as much as possible while being protected from the elements. Some materials have poor permeability and will need to be turned and mixed regularly. Apart from fire, the main danger is the growth of moulds within the store. back to the soil to improve fertility and soil texture. Some ashes may have high levels of heavy metals, usually cadmium, and these will need special disposal. Willow is a known cadmium concentrator so willow ash must be monitored carefully. Municipal waste ash is also usually unsuitable as a soil improver. Some fly ashes contain significant carbon, and can be recycled back into the burners. There have been a number of projects to develop...


Sustainable Megalopolis

In the parched and broiling summer of 1976, a score of unemployed teenagers laid siege to a rubble-strewn and bramble-infested acre of land next to a steep railway embankment in the St Werburgh's district of Bristol, half a mile from the city centre. Starting work at 6 a.m., to avoid the worst of the heat, the teenagers dug up half a ton of roots from iron-hard ground, carted away 5,000 bottles, hacked down enough scrub, grass and bramble to produce ten tons of compost, drew off 600 gallons of water from a small stream nearby, and put up a strained-wire fence. Finally the land was ready to produce food there were twenty-one plots in all, occupied by members of the newly formed local allotments association. The job had taken three months. The 'future city home' is part of the Urban Centre for Appropriate Technology, developed since 1979 by a group of planners, gardeners, engineers, architects and teachers. Designed as an urban version of the outstandingly successful Centre for...

Breathing Blocks

A stroll through the trade show of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association recently gave me all the evidence I needed that the green sensibility was sweeping through the building and construction industry. A European-manufactured miniature Smart Car that gets 50 miles to the gallon was parked at the entrance to the showroom, part of a fleet that residents of a new waterfront condominium complex in the revitalizing, struggling city of nearby Chelsea can share as a perquisite of living there. I wandered past cellulose insulation and asbestos-free fireproofing zero-formaldehyde doors composting toilets and waterless urinals (featured in Logan Airport's newest terminal) Eco-Stone pavers that allow rainwater to seep down into the ground rather than run off, contaminated, into storm drains and sewers the Big Belly solar-powered trash compactor and the Humabuilt Breathing Block, which looks like a cinder block but is made of recycled waste wood and naturally bonded with cement using...


The accumulation of plastic waste and problems connected with waste collection and eventual recycling are promoting interest in the use of plastic materials suitable for biorecycling, particularly in compost plants. The worldwide available biomass could largely supply low-cost polymeric matrices and fillers for bioplastics produc Thermally promoted oxidation of reengineered polyethylene samples (as introduced by EPI Inc. Canada ) containing TDPA pro-oxidant additives were assayed in oven at different temperatures (55 and 70 C) to reproduce the thermophylic conditions of the composting process. Oxidation of the polyethylene matrix in the thermally aged samples was clearly established by FT-IR spectroscopy. The relationship between the molecular weight and carbonyl index (CO ) was found to fit a mono-exponential trend, thus indicating that CO values can be conveniently used to predict the rate of molecular-weight decrease as a function of the extent of oxidation. Moreover, the recorded...

Building to Last

North America's timber resources have resulted in most residential structures being built with wood frame construction. The typical home begins with a foundation made of a masonry material that holds up well to water, but once we get above ground level the types of construction materials change so they frequently don't hold up as well to moisture. Wood framing, exterior cladding and interior walls are often made of materials that could make pretty good compost, if they stay wet for a sufficient period of time. It is a given that buildings will get wet, but it is important to remember they will deteriorate rapidly if they stay wet. In order to be functional, buildings must shed water and dry reasonably quickly.

Antony Boys

Unusually for Japan, there is no bamboo, which is fast-growing and provides an extremely versatile material, but most of the uses which you could think of for trees are represented food, house-building, furniture-making, tool-making, fuel for heating and cooking. Tree leaves provide compost and trees act as wind and snow breaks. They also enhance the water-holding potential of the ground.7

Waste Reduction

Waste reduction also means economic savings. Fewer materials and less energy is used when waste-reduction practices are applied. Rather than using the traditional cradle-to-grave approach, a cradle-to-cradle system is adopted. In this cradle-to-cradle system, also called industrial ecology, products are not used for a finite length of time. Instead of disposing of materials, or the components of a product after a single use, products are passed on for further uses. This is considered a flow of materials. This can be applied within an organization, or between organizations that may be considered unrelated, on a cooperative basis. For example, a cotton manufacturer sends its unwanted scraps to an upholsterer, who uses the scraps as stuffing in chairs. When the life span of the chair is reached, the materials are returned to the manufacturer, who reuses the parts with endurance. The damaged upholstery, which was originally created using nonhazardous materials, is sold to a local farmer...

Waste Amounts

The amount of waste generated by a given household is directly related to lifestyle, culture, and economic status. Climate can also increase generation rates (e.g., yard waste). General differences are great enough to produce different country-wide generation rates. The United States has the highest rate, 2.0 kilograms per person per day probably the result of high economic status, a culture of consumption, and a lifestyle that includes large amounts of disposable items. However, the United States also has a relatively high recycling rate, 27.8 percent in 1999. Some European countries have generation rates varying from 0.9 to 1.7 kilograms per person per day. Developing regions tend to have still lower rates, ranging from 0.3 to 1. see also Air Pollution Hazardous WAste Lifestyle Medical WAste Ozone Radioactive WAste Solid WAste WAste to Energy WAste, Transportation of WAstewater Treatment.

Source Reduction


(top) Breakdown of the 229.9 million tons of MSW generated in the United States in 1999 by material category. Generation amounts represent the percent of total generation by weight in millions of tons. (bottom) Demonstrates how 229.9 million tons of MSW generated in the United States in 1999 were managed via combustion, recovery for recycling (including composting), and shipment to landfills. Described by the percent of total generation by weight. (Both based on statistics from EPA, Municipal Solid Waste in the United States 1999 Facts and Figures.)

MSW Management

In response to mounting solid waste problems, EPA published The Solid Waste Dilemma An Agenda for Action in 1989, which presents goals and recommendations for action by the EPA, state and local governments, industry, and consumers to address the solid waste problems facing the United States. The EPA recommends an integrated, hierarchical approach to waste management using four components source reduction, recycling, combustion, and landfills. This comprehensive approach addresses critical junctures in the manufacture, use, and disposal of products and materials to minimize wastefulness and maximize value. This strategy favors source reduction to decrease the volume and toxicity of waste and to increase the useful life of products. After source reduction, recycling, including composting, is the preferred waste management approach to divert waste from combustors and landfills. Combustion is used to reduce the volume of waste being disposed as well as to recover energy, whereas landfills...

Degradable Plastics

A problem with the degradation of plastics is that it is probably undesirable in landfills because of the leachants produced that may contaminate water supplies. It is better in these instances to ship the plastics to composting facilities. This requires the separation of degradable plastics from other materials and the availability of such facilities. In most cases, the infrastructure needed for such an approach is not in place. This has discouraged its use for disposable diapers that are said to constitute 1 to 2 percent of landfill volume.

Burn Barrels

People used to think that burning household trash and yard waste in an open barrel was an inexpensive, good way to get rid of it. However, today's packaging and products are often made from plastics, dyes, and other synthetics. When burned, these cause air pollution and, in a number of U.S. states and municipalities, it is illegal. Burn barrels operate at relatively low temperatures, typically at 400 to 500 Fahrenheit (F) and have poor combustion efficiency (municipal incinerators run in the 1200 to 2000 F range). As a result, many pollutants are generated and emitted directly into the air. Backyard trash and leaf burning often release high levels of toxic compounds, some of which are carcinogenic. Smoke from burning garbage often contains acid gases, heavy metal vapors, carbon monoxide and other sorts of dangerous toxins. One of the most harmful pollutants released during open trash burning is dioxin, a known carcinogen associated with birth defects. Dioxin can be inhaled directly or...

Organic Alchemy

The plant waste we generate, from food scraps to yard clippings, makes up nearly a quarter of the material dumped in landfills. Most of it can be composted instead, which both keeps biodegradable material out of the waste stream and generates valuable soil for use in lawns and gardens. Even if it didn't bring other benefits as well, those two things would make it worthwhile. Composting is mostly passive. When you leave plant matter in a pile, it rots. Trouble is, it smells bad and isn't very useful. With just a few deliberate actions, though, you can turn this natural process into a productive one. Keep a balance of ingredients and stir up the pile every once in a while. There's more to it, but this chapter can help you get started.

Yard Trimmings

In the past the EPA based its estimates of yard trimming generation on only sampling studies and population and housing data. During the 1990s it began to take into account the expected effects of local and state legislation on yard trimmings disposal in landfills. For example, in 1992 only eleven states and the District of Columbia had laws prohibiting or discouraging residents from disposing yard trimmings at landfills. By 1997 another twelve states had such legislation in place. The EPA believes that this increased the use of mulching lawn-mowers and the practice of backyard composting of yard trimmings, thus reducing the amount of yard trimmings in MSW.


Persistence of pathogens in excreta. The lines represent conservative upper boundaries for pathogen death - that is, estimates of the time - temperature combinations required for pathogen inactivation. Organisms can survive for long periods at low temperatures, so a composting process must be maintained at a temperature above 43 C for at least a month to effectively kill all pathogens likely to be found in human excreta. From Feachem, R.G., Bradley, D.J., Garelick, H. and Mara D.D. (1983) Sanitation and Disease Health Aspects of Excreta and Wastewater Management. World Bank, Washington, DC, p. 79. Reprinted by permission of John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Fig. 1.2. Persistence of pathogens in excreta. The lines represent conservative upper boundaries for pathogen death - that is, estimates of the time - temperature combinations required for pathogen inactivation. Organisms can survive for long periods at low temperatures, so a composting process must be maintained at a temperature...