1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

August 27, 2008

:240 EM Power

Filed under: :240 EM Power — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:16 am

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

1:5:10:240 EcoTip:Manure management is an important step in controlling flys. Adding bacteria to manure piles, composters and pet waste disposal systems (:239) helps it break down faster.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :239

EM-Power is a bacteria supplement that can be used to help break down manure. It is available from ARBICO-organics.

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August 26, 2008

:239 Pet Waste

Filed under: :239 Pet Waste — Tags: , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:14 am

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

1:5:10:239 EcoTip: Disposal of pet waste also uses up landfill resources and makes the trash can pretty nasty. The Doggie Dooley is an in ground pet waste disposal system that works like a septic system. It can be purchased at most pet supply stores. Or you can make your own by following the directions from Canada’s Office of Urban Agriculture at http://cityfarmer.org/petwaste.html#pet

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 Additional Information:

According to the City Farmer website

Collect the dog doo and drop it into the basin. Sprinkle two of the packets of septic tank starter on top of the dog doo and add a litre or so of water. Cover the hole with the lid. Within 48 hours, the septic tank starter, which is non-caustic, and promotes natural bacterial growth will have begun its work and you can add more dog doo. You can then begin to add it daily.

Give the system a bucket of water a week and a packet of starter once or twice a month. The dog doo turns to liquid, most of which washes into the soil. What remains is a humus which should only need to be collected once every two or three years. There is no smell even in the warmest weather. Even the Vancouver Health Department declares them safe.

 

 

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August 23, 2008

:236 Humanure

Filed under: :236 Humanure — Tags: , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:10 am

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

1:5:10:236 EcoTip: Human manure may not be at the top of our thoughts when it comes to recycling, but it is a waste product that must be dealt with. The Humanure Handbook provides factual and practical information about how to safely compost human manure and then use it productively.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review:

THE HUMANURE HANDBOOK

A GUIDE TO COMPOSTING HUMAN MANURE

3rd edition – Published September 1, 2005

by Joseph Jenkins

Despite all the books on manure and how to use it, human manure composting is not covered elsewhere, making THE HUMANURE HANDBOOK: A GUIDE TO COMPOSTING HUMAN MANURE a fine reference for any who would learn these basics. Now in its 3rd edition, THE HUMANURE HANDBOOK covers all the basics of human waste management, from septic systems to commercial composting toilets, sewers, and more. A history of various composting methods, science, and problems is accompanied by a healthy dose of humor plus a solid foundation of science into pathogens, pros and cons of competing systems, and more. If you’re an avid composter, there’s nothing like this on the market. Midwest Book Review

You can order the Humanure Handbook or download it for free at http://www.jenkinspublishing.com/humanure_contents.html

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July 25, 2008

:207 Septic Health

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

1:5:10:207 EcoTip: Don’t let toxic chemicals including cleaning compounds like non-biodegradable detergents or chlorine bleach into your septic system. If your system does get “poisoned” you may be able to help it back to health by supplementing the bacteria (see EcoTip :206). 

 

 Source: US EPA (1987). It’s Your Choice — A Guidebook for Local Officials on Small Community Wastewater Management Options, p. 40. EPA 430/9-87-006.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :203, :204, :205, :206

The Humanure Handbook  written by Joseph Jenkins answer almost everything you ever wanted to know (or need to know) about human manure and returning it to nature. I purchased my first copy almost a decade ago, and still refer to it regularly. According to Joe:

Humans started disposing of “human waste” by defecating into a hole in the ground or an outhouse, then discovered we could float our turds out to the hole using water and never have to leave our shelter. However, one of the unfortunate problems with septic systems is, like outhouses, they pollute our groundwater.

 At the end of the 20th century, there were 22 million septic system sites in the United States, serving one fourth to one third of the U.S. population. They were notorious for leaching contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, nitrates, phosphates, chlorides and organic compounds such as trichloroethylene into the environment. An EPA study of chemicals in septic tanks found toluene, methylene chloride, benzene, chloroform and other volatile synthetic organic compounds related to home chemical use, many of them cancer-causing.3

Between 820 and 1,460 billion gallons of this contaminated water were discharged per year into our shallowest aquifers.4

 In the U.S., septic tanks are reported as a source of ground water contamination more than any other source. Forty-six states cite septic systems as sources of groundwater pollution; nine of these reported them to be the primary source of groundwater contamination in their state.

Toxic chemicals are commonly released into the environment from septic systems because people dump them down their drains. The chemicals are found in pesticides, paint, toilet cleaners, drain cleaners, disinfectants, laundry solvents, antifreeze, rust proofers, septic tank and cesspool cleaners and many other cleaning solutions. In fact over 400,000 gallons of septic tank cleaner liquids containing synthetic organic chemicals were used in one year by the residents of Long Island alone. Furthermore, some toxic chemicals can corrode pipes, therby causing heavy metals to enter septic sustems.7

 You can order the Humanure Handbook or download it for free at http://www.jenkinspublishing.com/humanure_contents.html

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July 24, 2008

:206 Septic System Treatment

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

1:5:10:206 EcoTip: Septic tanks utilize bacteria to help digest the solid sewage so that it becomes liquified. The liquid waste then flow through the leech lines where additional bacterial action renders the wastes safe. The digestion process that takes place in septic systems and leech lines can be aided by adding bacteria that assist the process. 

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :203, :204, :205

If you have a septic tank or cesspool and want to start using bacteria based supplements, it is important not to begin adding them when the septic tank is full. The bacterial action helps break up the sewage, but this can cause a temporary expansion in the volume contained in the tank (kind of like yeast causing bread to rise). If you add the bacteria when the tank is full, the sewage may expand to the point where it will back-flow or pop the tank lid. If you have a septic tank make sure the level is less than half full when you first start using them. A good time to start is a week or so after you have had your tank pumped out. If you are having to pump your tank more frequently than once every five years, supplementing the digestion process may help.

Roebic has bacteria based septic treatments that are readily available. Their biological sewage treatment products are certified 100% biodegradable by Scientific Certification Systems, Inc. of Oakland, California. They have additional good information on drain and septic care at their website http://www.roebic.com/septicintro.htm.

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July 22, 2008

:204 Check the Trap

Filed under: :204 Check the Trap — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 5:47 am

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

1:5:10:204 EcoTip: All drain connections to the sanitary waste system must have a U trap (sometimes called a p-trap) that holds a few inches of water to prevent sewage gases from flowing back into the building. Sometimes the trap becomes dry allowing gases to back-flow creating a nasty odor. If you have odors coming from a drain, make sure it has a trap and try pouring a couple of cups of water down the drain. Tomorrow’s tip will deal with something else to try if this doesn’t work.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :203 

Think about your daily water use. Sometimes an odor will develop in an infrequently used drain – like in an unused guest bath or a floor drain hidden under a washing machine. These will dry out and start to smell. In addition to being obnoxious – sewer gases aren’t healthy – So make sure the traps don’t dry out.

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July 13, 2008

:195 Water Softener Salt

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

1:5:10:195 EcoTip: Water softeners add salt to the water. The amount of sodium is usually small, but for those on a restricted sodium diet, reverse osmosis can reduce the levels of sodium chloride. Another alternative would be to use potassium chloride salt instead of sodium chloride. Potassium chloride may contain traces of naturally occurring beta radiation.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :172, :190, :191, :192, :193, :194

The following information is quoted from the third edition (released in May 2008 ) of Prescriptions for a Healthy House: A Practical Guide for Architects, Builders & Homeowners:

Water conditioners are used to improve the aesthetic quality of water, including color, corrosiveness, clarity, and hardness. They use a process of ion exchange to eliminate from the water undesirable substances (such as calcium and magnesium) that may precipitate scale on fixtures, laundry machines, hot water heaters, dishwashers, shower stalls, sinks, and skin. Water conditioners can also be effective in removing sediment, chlorine, and certain metals, such as low levels of manganese and iron (both of which can cause stains) as well as odor from hydrogen sulfide. Flow rate is affected by both the size and the design of the water softener and must be appropriately specified on an individual basis. Conditioned water is often referred to as “soft” water. In the ion exchange process, calcium or magnesium ions are exchanged with either sodium or potassium. Sodium chloride is the more common regenerate for water conditioning, but many water treatment companies have switched to potassium chloride, which is widely believed to be a healthier and more ecologically sound choice. Potassium chloride is essentially a refined potash, and when returned to the ground water it can serve as a fertilizer for many plants. The small amount ingested daily from water conditioned with potassium is about equivalent to what you would gain by eating half a banana and can be a positive addition to your diet.

For those with a medical condition affecting electrolyte balance, blood pressure, or kidney function, we suggest you consult a physician before you consider purchasing a water-conditioning system with salt-based regenerates. Potassium chloride may also contain traces of naturally occurring gross beta radiation. Because of chloride discharge into city systems and the subsequent impact of chlorides on rivers and agriculture, some municipalities are moving to ban new salt-regenerating water conditioners and give rebates to customers who switch to salt-free systems. Municipal water and sewer systems are not configured to remove chlorides. This issue is of particular concern in dense metropolitan areas, but since the ion exchange process is also commonly used to remove water contaminants in private domestic wells, chlorides also are discharged into septic systems and ultimately into shallow aquifers.

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July 12, 2008

:194 RO Waste Water

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

1:5:10:194 EcoTip: Reverse osmosis units use several gallons of water to process each gallon of drinking water. The process water is frequently routed down the drain – but it could easily be used to drip water plants, or for other non-drinking uses.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :172, :190, :191, :192, :193

The following information is quoted from the third edition (released in May 2008 ) of Prescriptions for a Healthy House: A Practical Guide for Architects, Builders & Homeowners:

The most valid criticism of RO is that anywhere from 3.5 to 5 gallons of water are rejected for every gallon of purified water produced. Many inexpensive, non certified RO systems have much higher rejection rates, are extremely wasteful, and still do not deliver verifiable contaminant reduction, the primary reason for using reverse osmosis.  

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June 23, 2008

:175 Nearby SuperFund Sites

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

1:5:10:175 EcoTip: Scorecard  provides one method for screening for toxic waste sites in your area. Enter your zip-code in their searchable data base for a list of hazard sites and their status. This is also helpful for double checking property disclosures when you are considering moving.

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June 15, 2008

:167 Water Early

Filed under: :167 Water Early — Tags: , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:07 am

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

1:5:10:167 EcoTip: Watering lawns early in the morning when temperatures and winds are less likely to cause rapid evaporation gets more water to the root zone so that less water is needed.

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 Additional Information:

If you do use your automatic sprinklers to water early or late it is important to check the system to be sure you don’t have a broken sprinkler head or other malfunction that will waste water. Tomorrow’s post will have information about another way to check your sprinkler system.

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