Reducing Office Waste

People have talked about paperless offices for years. Although advances in technology including email, databases, and file-sharing sites have reduced the amount of paper companies use, they're still far from paperless. A typical office generates about one-and-a-half pounds of waste paper per employee each day. According to the Clean Air Council, the amount of paper thrown out by U.S. businesses in a year could build a 12-foot-high wall stretching from Los Angeles to New York City. Cutting paper...

Prepare your lawn for natural care

If you decide to stick with grass rather than native plants, it's important to set yourself up for success. Whether you're planting a brand-new lawn or caring for an existing one, there are a few simple ways to keep it green and lush. If you're starting from scratch and planting grass seed, it's a good idea to Check the topsoil. A lawn needs at least four inches of topsoil to thrive. Eight inches or more is even better. If you can only dig an inch or so into your yard before hitting rock or...

Greener Lawn

You already know about the types of chemicals in your home, but what about just outside your door Many homeowners take great pride in their lush lawns. Yet acres of thick, bright-green grass cost far more than a few bags of fertilizer and some weed-killer Pesticides and fertilizer get into homes and run off into lakes, rivers, and drinking water supplies like wells. Some of these chemicals are harmful to humans and animals. Watering lawns uses a huge amount of precious water up to 60 of all the...

The grass is greenerwhen its the right kind

The first thing to do when you're switching to natural lawn care is to take a good look at what you're growing. Is your lawn the best kind of grass for your area In warm, dry climates, for example, you want a grass that can tolerate drought conditions and recover quickly after an extended dry spell. Temperature range, shadiness, rainfall, humidity, wear all these factors affect which variety of grass grows best in your region. And knowing which one works best can save you water and cut back on...

Get smart about fertilizers

Fertilizers promote plant growth, making your lawn lush and green. But what's in that stuff you're feeding your lawn Both natural and artificial fertilizers contain elements that help plants grow like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium but they get those nutrients from different sources p Look for low- or no-phosphate fertilizers. As mentioned on page xx1, phosphorus is a plant nutrient, but there's probably already enough of it in your soil to feed your grass. (Have your soil tested if you're...

The Trouble with Pesticides

Pesticide, insecticide, herbicide, fungicide The suffix -cide comes from cida, the Latin word for killer. The chemicals that kill lawn pests like insects and weeds can also be toxic to people and pets. That's why you see those little plastic flags warning you to stay off recently treated grass. every year, people in the U.S. dump more than 100 million pounds of pesticides on their lawns and gardens. Suburban lawns and gardens actually get more pesticides per acre than most agricultural areas....

Say goodbye to weeds

If weeds seem to like your natural lawn-care program as much as the grass does, you don't need to poison the weeds to get rid of 'em. Instead, try these approaches Deep watering. As page 37 explains, when you water your grass deeply, you encourage the grass to grow long roots. This means the grass will be more deeply rooted than the weed seedlings that want to take up residence. When the top inch or two of dirt dries out, the weeds dry out and die. But the grass, whose roots go deeper, can...

Mowing Tips

It's probably no surprise to learn that gas-powered lawn mowers create lots of pollution. For small lawns, consider an old-fashioned push mower (also called a reel mower) you'll get a workout and a great-looking lawn. Electric mowers are another option there are cordless models if you're worried about mowing over the cord. Set your mower blades as high as they'll go. Like other green plants, grass converts light into food through its leaves, so if you cut the grass too short, you're basically...

Drop liquid castile soap

4 drops grapefruit seed extract or eucalyptus oil, both of which are disinfectants. Undiluted eucalyptus oil can irritate the skin, so handle it carefully. 10-12 drops essential oil(s). choose scents you like to boost disinfectant power and leave a fresh smell. Lavender is a good choice, as is lemon or tea tree oil. Or try a combination, like six drops of lemon oil, three of orange, and three of lime to make your home smell clean and delicious. Mix all the ingredients in a clean 32-ounce spray...

How Household Chemicals Can Affect Your Health

The following table spells out health problems that common household chemicals can cause. Household products are packed with potentially harmful substances, so this table can't cover them all. If you want to learn about a specific product or ingredient, check the Household Products Database from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at http hpd.nlm.nih.gov. Search for a product by name to see possible health effects and safe handling instructions. Search for an ingredient to get a...

Disposing of Household Chemicals

By now, you're probably ready to gather up all your cleaning products and dump them in the trash. Not so fast While it's a good idea to remove harsh chemicals from your home, you need to dispose of them safely. The earth will thank you for it. To get rid of household chemicals, don't throw them in the trash, pour them down a drain, or burn them. If your community has a day designated for hazardous waste pickup, unload them then. If you're not sure how to dispose of hazardous waste where you...

Does recycling actually save energy

It obviously takes energy to recycle. The process involves sorting, processing, and transporting materials. So does recycling save more energy than it uses Consider these facts It takes 95 less energy to get aluminum from recycled cans than it does to process aluminum from bauxite. Recycling plastic bottles uses about 70-75 less energy than creating new ones from scratch. It takes about 60 less energy to recycle steel than to mine iron ore and produce new steel. Recycling paper uses about 40-45...

Appliances

Most appliances can be recycled for scrap metal. Here's how it works The appliance gets torn to pieces by a giant shredder, magnets pull out iron-based metal, and then other metals such as aluminum get separated out from the detritus. Many appliances contain some materials, such the plastic liner in a dishwasher, that can't be recycled, but the process significantly reduces what gets thrown out. Appliances containing Freon including refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners require special...

Set up your system

The key to succeeding at recycling is to make it easy. If you're lucky enough to live in an area that offers single-stream recycling, you don't need to do any sorting at all. More waste-disposal companies are starting to offer this option, but in many places you still have to separate your recyclables by material. If you need to sort, create a series of different bins for the various materials to build sorting right in to your system. Put the bins where you have easy access to them but they're...

Should You Downsize

Just after World War II, as GIs returned home and began to raise families, the average American house was 900 square feet. By 1970, bell bottoms were in and the average square footage was 1,300. In 2004, that figure had nearly doubled to 2,330. And homes built in the second quarter of 2008 averaged a whopping 2,629 square feet (it's decreased slightly since then thanks to, um, some recent economic problems). The parents of the largest generation in U.S. history raised their families in houses...

Staying Healthy on the

People in developed countries spend 75-90 of their lives indoors. And, as page 10 points out, indoor air can be a soup of VOCs, making it more polluted than outside air. Chapter 1 explains how to make your home healthier, so browse that chapter for tips you can also apply at work. Here are some more ways to keep your workplace healthy Let the air flow. Don't let stacks of paper, cabinets, or cubicle walls block vents that circulate air through the building. With clear vents, you breathe fresher...

The Meat Industrys Environmental Hoofprint

As you learned in the previous sections, industrialized farming raises concerns about health, humane treatment of animals, and farming communities. Another big concern for people who want to eat green is how the meat and dairy industries affect the environment. These farms pollute the air, water, and earth, and have a massive carbon footprint. Way back in 1997, a report by the U.S. Senate Agricultural Committee warned, The threat of pollution from intensive livestock and poultry farms is a...

Think Globally Buy Locally

Globalization has made people realize that the world is smaller than it seems. We know that our actions can have a big impact on the planet as a whole, and many are treading more lightly to lessen their impact buying green-living guides like this one, producing less waste, minimizing their carbon footprints. One way to keep the whole world in mind when you shop is to support local businesses. What exactly is a local business The American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) defines it as a...

Tips for Using Appliances More Efficiently

No matter how efficient your appliances are, there are lots of simple things you can do around the house to consume less energy (and save money on your electric bill). Here are some easy-to-implement ideas Wait for full loads. Don't run a half-empty washing machine or dishwasher. You'll get more bang for your energy buck by running them only when they're full. Wash in cold water. When possible, use cold water to wash clothes. It takes a lot of energy to heat water for a load of laundry about 90...

What Is Fair Trade

Fair trade helps support workers and sustainable practices in developing countries. Instead of buying massive quantities of cheaply produced items at rock-bottom prices, fair-trade importers pay attention to the lives and working conditions of the people who produce the goods they buy, process, and resell, and they typically buy relatively small quantities. For example, such an importer will do business with a farm or cooperative that uses sustainable practices and pays employees a living wage....

While you wait find and put on some protective gear safety goggles gloves and a surgical mask This may be overkill but

Clean up the glass fragments and any powder by scooping them up with two pieces of cardboard one to push the CFL fragments and the other to collect them. Don't use a broom, brush, or vacuum cleaner those will just stir up the powder, plus you want to get the mercury out of your house completely, not leave some stuck to a broom or sitting inside the vacuum. Put the fragments and cardboard into a glass jar or plastic bag. If you use a plastic bag, double-bag the debris and make sure both bags are...

The Chemicals You Live With

Your home is your castle, your sanctuary, the place where you raise your family and relax at the end of the day. But rather than being a safe haven, many homes are a minefield of chemicals that can affect your health and harm the planet. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has called the typical American home the number one violator of chemical waste per capita because many of those chemicals get tossed in the trash or go swirling down the drain. Let's take a tour of a...

Recycling What Goes Around Comes Around

Recycling is a good idea that's been around for a while. Modern recycling was born in the environmental movement of the 1960s and '70s. To coincide with the very first Earth Day April 22, 1970 the Container Corporation of America, a major producer of recycled paperboard, sponsored a contest for art and design students to create a logo that symbolized the recycling process. UCLA student Gary Dean Anderson won with his triple-arrow design that has become one of the most recognized symbols on the...

Veggie Power

We're used to thinking that cars have to run on the liquefied remains of dinosaurs, but there are other, renewable fuel sources. Biodiesel, ethanol, and vegetable oil are all emerging as plant-based options that can reduce our dependence on oil to keep the world moving. The following sections have the details. Biodiesel is a clean-burning fuel made from things like vegetable oil (including used cooking oil, called WVO for waste vegetable oil), algae, and animal fat. Most biodiesel is made from...

Give Your Lawn a Drink

Many people water their lawn more often than they should, which wastes water and doesn't help the lawn. When you practice natural lawn care, you don't need to water as frequently because the well-aerated soil soaks up water and holds it like a sponge. The best time to water is in the morning. Watering in the evening can make your lawn vulnerable to fungus. Here are the two most important things to know about watering Water infrequently. Watering too often encourages thatch (page 33), while less...

Floral insecticides

These pesticides are natural substances extracted from flowers and other parts of plants. They have strong, distinctive odors that repel pests or attract them to a trap or poisonous substance. Some also keep cats and dogs away from your plants. These plant-derived products include rose, cinnamon, and clove oils. They're nontoxic to humans some are even considered foods , but sometimes they're mixed with toxic stuff, as in bug traps, so be sure to read the label carefully. For a fact sheet that...

R

Radon, testing and removing, 140-141 rainwater, collecting, 68 Rapanui Organic Clothing, 215 rating system, LEED, 118-120 ReadyMade magazine project archive, 96 rebates from utility companies, 144 rechargeable appliances, replacing, 61 recipes all-purpose cleaner, 19 fabric softener, 26 insecticidal soap, 197 laundry detergent, 25 toilet cleaners, 25 Reclaimed Lumber Company, 133 reconstituted siding, 137 recycling appliances, 114-115 appropriate items for, 103-104 cars, 115-116 cellphones,...

About the Creative Team

Dawn Frausto editor is assistant editor for the Missing Manual series. When not working, she plays soccer, beads, and causes trouble. email dawn oreilly.com. Nellie McKesson production editor lives in Brighton, Mass., where she makes t-shirts for her friends http mattsaundersbynellie.etsy.com and plays music with her band Dr. amp Mrs. Van Der Trampp. email nellie oreilly.com. Alison O'Byrne copy editor is a freelance editor from Dublin, Ireland. Alison has provided editorial services for...

Tires

Tires and landfills are a bad combination Tires are large and heavy, and their donut shape makes them take up a lot of room. They can also damage landfill liners, letting contaminant-filled leachate page 80 leak out. Burning tires isn't an option because that releases toxic chemicals including benzene and lead . According to the EPA, nearly 300 million tires are discarded in the U.S. each year that's just about one for every American. So what should you do when your tires wear out It's...

Disadvantages Of Planet Earth

There are some downsides to using biomass, including Air pollution. Biomass emits greenhouse gases when it's used to generate fuel. If the carbon isn't offset by replanting crops, biomass contributes to global warming. Direct burning of biomass also releases particulates, although these can be minimized with an emission control system. Energy use. It takes energy to plant, grow, harvest, and transport the crops used for biomass. Unless these activities are done responsibly, biomass can use up...