Friday, February 27, 2009

Remember the little things you can do.

Making big changes to be green can be difficult for many people. Doing the "Green" thing one little step at a time may make more sense and allows you to make it an easier and permanent transition.
You do not have to make big changes to impact the environment. Think about what little things you can do to reduce, re-use, and recycle. Some of them may actually make the biggest impact.

At home:
Instead of buying an upgraded water heater, turn down the water temperature by one degree and turn down the faucet to use less water.
Recycle one more thing than you did last month.
Turn down the thermostat for your heater by one degree.
One day per week stop using paper towels and use cloth instead.

At dinner:
Eat all vegetables one day per week and compost the wastes.
Use cloth napkins on the week-ends.(then graduate to the whole week)

When shopping:
Use the canvas shopping bags instead of plastic. You can also refuse the plastic bag when you only buy one or two things at the store.
Buy one of the items you usually get in bulk.

Going to work and at work:
Car pool one day per week.
Try not to print anything for one day at the office: for example make Friday "no print-out day".

Well you get the drift. And I am sure you have heard and seen these tips before.
Now let's put them to action. They don't cost you anything. As a matter of fact they may save you money instead.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

What does it take to start worm composting?

I have spoken to many people about worm composting and I get many different responses.

I have gotten the questionable look, the look of disbelief and the look of "you have got to be kidding". No matter which look I get, I end up explaining what vermi composting is all about.

First of all you do not have to spend an arm and a leg on on equipment. The biggest cost in the beginning should be the worms. I bet most people already have the other equipment. And by the equipment I mean a plastic bin. If you have to buy it, you should not be paying more than $10.

Now for the worms you should use red wrigglers. They are the most efficient in vermi-composting. They are hearty and tend to stay near the surface. You can buy 1000 red wrigglers for about $30 from Uncle Jims Worm Farm. That's about a pound of worms capable of composting approximately 1 lb. of kitchen scraps and/or grass clippings per day. (organic material only, no meats)

Drill about 5 to 10, 1/8th to 1/4 inch holes in the bottom of the plastic bin for drainage.

On the bottom of the plastic bin place some shredded newspaper about an inch thick. Wet the papers. Then place your compostable materials on top of the wet papers. Then spread the worms on top and cover with a good layer of dirt. This dirt will keep the fruit flies to a minimum.

Set the bin on the cover that came with the bin and cover it with a piece of wood. You can keep the composter in the garage, but during the winter you want to take it inside.

Now that is how you make a cheap vermi-composter. If you have any other tips and suggestions please comment below.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cheap and portable power source.

What do you get if you combine an old car battery and an inverter?

For those of who are into solar power this is not even a challenge. But for those who are still new to this green thing you may find this pretty interesting.

I had always wanted to get an inverter for the van to supplement power for a laptop. On our last vacation my wife thought she would do some work on the way down to Florida. But her laptop only holds a charge for about an hour or so. So I picked up a 400 watt inverter.

For those of you not familiar, an inverter takes 12 volt car DC power and turns it into regular household A/C power. I plugged the inverter into my outlet power in the van and my wife was able to work without losing power to her laptop.

Then last year I was working on a project outside that required a grinder. I did not have access to nearby power. So I took an old battery, which I had saved from a battery upgrade and I hooked up the same inverter using the alligator clips to the battery posts. I had instant A/C power without running yards of extension cords.

Now you may think why? Well if you have experienced our frequent power outages in Upstate NY then you know that having back up power is a necessity.

We bought a Coleman gas generator for one of the ice storms we have had, but that thing is loud and stinks when we use it.
Using the battery and inverter is a quieter solution and does not pollute. I can use actually use it inside the house. Of course how many things I can power is limited for now. So, I'll have to work on getting a bigger inverter and a bigger battery.

I did recently get a small solar panel and charge controller. I'll have to expand on this subject in one of my next posts.