1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

March 21, 2008

:081 Compost Organic Waste

Filed under: :081 Compost Organic Waste — Tags: , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:01 am

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Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:081 Tip: Turning your yard wastes and food scraps into compost reduces landfill disposal and makes great fertilizer.

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Additional Information

There is a wide variety of information about composting available on the Internet.

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Compost. Composting creates an organic, slow-release fertilizer that improves soil fertility and physical condition. You can make compost by collecting crop residues, animal manure, unmarketable and unsold harvested produce, and organic waste found around the farm and home. Yard waste (fallen leaves, cut grass or pruned twigs and branches) or some food wastes (egg shells, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable peelings) are also good ingredients. Layer all these materials in a pile, add water, and turn once or twice a week. After a storm or hurricane, even more yard waste is available to be composted. Source: University of Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service

If you want a lot more details – check out http://www.compostguide.com/

A number of composters are evaluated and available at http://www.peoplepoweredmachines.com/composter_landing.html

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March 20, 2008

:080 Pull Weeds

Filed under: :080 Pull Weeds — Tags: , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:01 am
weed_photo2.jpg Weed Puller - source Hound Dog

Suggested Review – none

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:080 Tip: Pulling weeds is a good way to reduce your families herbicide exposure. I spent about ten minutes a week for about a month, pulling weeds by hand and was getting pretty good at getting many of them up by the roots (you grab them by the base and apply gentle pressure until you feel a little give, then increase the pressure until it comes out). But I was not having any luck with dandelions, which would break off at ground level. Then I tried the Weed Hound. It works great!

After two months I’m down to pulling about 3-5 weeds a week.

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Additional Information

The Weed hound has a number of spikes arranged in a circle that must be placed directly over the weed. Get your fingers down into the grass and find the exact point where the plant joins the root. Center the Weed Hound spikes over the root then step down on it to drive the spikes into the ground around the root of the weed.

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With most roots I give the tool a quarter to half turn then lift it weed and all out of the ground.

http://www.hound-dog.com/weed_hound.htm

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March 19, 2008

:079 Car Antifreeze

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Credit: Sierra Antifreeze

Suggested Review – none

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:079 Tip: Typical car antifreeze (ethylene glycol) can be extremely dangerous when consumed. As little as one teaspoon can be fatal to cats, and two tablespoons full is dangerous for children. Propylene glycol tastes sweet so some manufacturers are adding a bitter tasting compound to it to make it less palatable.

An alternative that is safer for the environment and considered non-toxic (although anything can be toxic if you consume enough) is propylene glycol. It is becoming widely available at auto supply stores.

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Additional Information

Sierra Antifreeze is one brand of propylene glycol antifreeze. They have some good questions and answers at:  http://www.sierraantifreeze.com/benefit.html

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March 18, 2008

:078 Expansive Soil & Trees

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source: Extreme Weather Hits Home

Suggested Review – :075, :076, :077

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:078 Tip: When a large tree is stressed by drought it can remove 100 gallons of water from the soil each day. This can be especially damaging to buildings if the tree roots extend under the building and the soil is expansive clay.

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Additional Information

Trees should not be planted close enough to buildings for the roots to extend under the foundation. This generally means you need to plant the tree as far from the building as its expected mature height. If you have an existing tree that is too close, an experienced arborist can cap offending roots and help save both the building and the tree.

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March 17, 2008

:077 Re-hydrating Soil

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source: USGS reprinted from Extreme Weather Hits Home

Suggested Review – Also see 1:5:10:365 Ecotips :075, :076, :078 for more information on expansive clay soils.

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:077 Tip: When expansive clay soils shrink from drying out they cause damage by no longer supporting the buildings foundation. Re-hydrating soil that is expansive must be done properly to prevent additional permanent damage. It is always best to consult with an expert since the way the soil is re-hydrated can be very important. For example watering expansive soil cracks directly can wash soil into the crack and prevent it from closing completely making the damage permanent.

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Additional Information

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 wrong watering source: Extreme Weather Hits Home

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correct watering source: Extreme Weather Hits Home

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Climate change isn”t only about warming. In my book- Extreme Weather Hits Home: Protecting Your Building From Climate Change, I discuss how to prepare your home for many other extreme weather conditions including expansive clay soils.

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March 16, 2008

:076 Expansive Soils

expansive-clay-soils-usgs.jpg  Credit: USGS

Suggested Review: See 1:5:10:365 EcoTips :075, 077, :078 for more information about expansive clay soils

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:076 Tip: Over half of the United States has areas with buildings constructed over varying amounts of expansive clay soils. These soils shrink and expand based on their moisture content. Early identification of the problem can help provide less expensive solutions. Expansive clay soils cause more damage each year than earthquakes and is typically not covered by insurance. 

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Additional Information

In my book Extreme Weather Hits Home, Protecting Your Buildings From Climate Change I discuss how warmer soil temperatures are resulting in less soil moisture and greater damage from expansive clay soils.

For maps of expansive clay soil regions in the United States, and more information about this problem, go to my book blog at http://jbanta.wordpress.com and click on your state.

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March 15, 2008

:075 Photograph Cracks

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Suggested Review – none

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:075 Tip: Keep a digital photo of any structural or foundation cracks. This will allow you to compare the crack with the photo later to determine if and how much the building is shifting. The photo above shows damage caused by expansive clay soil.

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Additional Information

Suggested Review: See 1:5:10:365 EcoTips :076, 077, :078 for more information about expansive clay soils

The sooner shifts in a building are noted the less expensive their causes are to diagnose and repair. Take a far shot to indicate the cracks position and a second close-up with a ruler next to the crack to provide some perspective for the shot.

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March 14, 2008

:074 Outlet Tester

Filed under: :074 Outlet Tester — Tags: , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:01 am

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Suggested Review – none

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:074 Tip: Electrical outlet testers can determine if a homes electrical wiring is properly grounded and if there is reverse polarity. Improper wiring can shorten appliance life and lead to safety concerns.

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Additional Information

Electrical outlet testers are available for about $5 at any hardware store.

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March 13, 2008

:073 Lead in Soil

Filed under: :073 Lead in Soil — Tags: , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:01 am

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Credit: NORTH CAROLINA COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE 

Suggested Review – none

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:073 Tip: Gardening in soil near buildings with lead based paint can result in the heavy metal being concentrated in the plant. Soil should be checked before planting edible plants near buildings with possible lead paint.

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Additional Information

The University of Minnesota has information about recognizing and dealing with lead in soil at: http://134.84.92.126/distribution/horticulture/DG2543.html

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March 12, 2008

:072 Dryer Duct Length

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credit: Fantech

Suggested Review – :071

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:072 Tip: Check the length and number of angles for your clothes dryer’s ductwork. Ducts that are too long or have too many angles will slow drying and waste energy.

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Additional Information

The International Mechanical Code article 504.6 stipulates the requirements for Domestic clothes dryer ducts. In brief, the maximum length of duct permitted is 25 ft. This maximum length should be reduced by 2.5 ft for each 45-degree bend and 5 ft. for each 90-degree bend. The duct should be a minimum nominal size of 4 inches in diameter and shall have a smooth interior finish.

When a short dryer duct length is not possible, the “Advanced Dryer Booster Fan” by Fantech can assist in over coming the resistance by ensuring that moist air exhausts quickly. This reduces drying time and energy costs. The manufacture says their fan is suitable for duct runs of up to 60 linear feet of rigid duct with up to six elbows. 

www.fantech.net.

http://www.fantech.net/dryer_boosting.htm

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