Planet Earth

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...

Burning biomass

Biomass is a fancy term for renewable fuel sources. It's applied to things that are grown for fuel and can be replenished with a new crop, like corn or wood pellets, even soybeans, nutshells, and dried cherry pits. Biomass burns more cleanly than regular firewood (but less so than natural gas), sending less ash and greenhouse gases into the air. If you're interested in heating your home with biomass, you need an EPA-certified stove that limits the amount of particulates (ash) it emits. Look for...

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...

Does recycling actually save energy

Recycle Ennergy

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...

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...

Ditching Junk Mail

More than 100 billion pieces of junk mail (called direct marketing by the companies who send it) get sent in the U.S. each year, for a total of just over 40 pounds of unwanted mail per adult. And these unwanted credit card offers, catalogs, and sales letters are more than just a nuisance The paper used for junk mail causes the destruction of 100 million trees annually, including more than 74,000 acres of trees for catalogs alone. Creating, shipping, and disposing of junk mail produces more...

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...

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...

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...

Eating Green Its Not Just Spinach Anymore

Eat something green every day is age-old motherly advice. Generations of kids have heard it as they scrunched up their faces and downed a forkful of spinach or broccoli. Today, Mom's old advice has gotten an update Eat everything green every day. You don't have to become a vegetarian (although, as page 182 notes, you'd reduce your carbon footprint if you did). Eating green means saying no to farming practices that harm the earth and treat animals as assembly-line products choosing foods that...

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....

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...

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...

Hydrogen Fuel Cells

As you may remember from chemistry class, hydrogen is the first element in the periodic table. It's the simplest molecule with just one proton and one electron, and it's the most abundant element in the universe. It's also what stars are made of At the center of our sun, hydrogen atoms combine to form helium, giving off radiant energy in the process. Hydrogen is an energy carrier, like electricity. If your home's electricity is generated by a traditional power plant, that energy comes from...

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...

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...

Keeping Baby Clean and Protected

Even the sweetest little bundle of joy has a way of getting dirty. To keep your baby clean, skip the products that contain preservatives and other iffy chemicals, dyes, and fragrances (nothing smells better than a baby's clean skin, anyway). Instead, try these natural alternatives Baby wipes. These help with cleanup during a diaper change or to quickly clean a messy face and hands. But many commercial wipes contain chemicals that can irritate a baby's tender skin, including propylene glycol,...

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...

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...

Water Saving Strategies

Water is so basic to life that many people take it for granted, assuming it'll be there whenever they want to fill a glass, take a shower, or wash laundry. But the world is headed toward a water crisis and getting there fast. A United Nations report estimates that two-thirds of the world's population will face shortages of clean water by 2025. In the U.S., many cities have outdated treatment plants and infrastructure (water mains, pipes, and so on) or are expanding quickly and the local water...

Water Power

As mentioned on page 128, moving water is another clean and renewable energy source whose history goes back to ancient times. Villages and towns sprang up next to rivers because they provided water, transportation, and energy to power mills. Hydropower remains an important source of energy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, American hydroelectric plants can generate enough electricity to supply 28 million households with power that's enough to save about 500 million barrels of oil....

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...

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....

Go Play Outside

Of course, the best way to help your kiddos appreciate and enjoy nature is to put them in it. But don't just shoo them out the door. Participate in green, outdoor activities with them so you can spend quality time as a family and teach them to value the big, wide world. Outside fun also helps kids get and stay physically fit. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 of U.S. children aged 6-19 are overweight or obese that's triple the rate from 1980. Active kids also have...

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...

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...

Clean and Green Environmentally Friendly Cleaning

Nontoxic, earth-friendly cleaning products are nothing new. That's how people kept their homes clean before companies sold cleaners packed with synthetic chemicals. Your great-grandmother probably used vinegar and baking soda to scrub her house. This section shows that you don't need mass-produced chemicals to keep your home sparkling. Here are the basics you'll need to green your cleaning Baking soda. Sodium bicarbonate (that's baking soda's chemical name) is a nontoxic, inexpensive,...

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...

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...

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...

Compassion in Fashion

When it comes to fashion, green is the new black. Eco-friendly clothing is chic, responsibly produced, and makes more than a style statement it says something about who you are and what you value. The clothes on your back can have a big environmental impact. Take a cheap cotton t-shirt. It may have started as cotton grown in Texas or India, then traveled to someplace like China, Honduras, or Uzbekistan to be made into a shirt, then passed through far-flung wholesale and distribution warehouses...