It takes approximately 12 million barrels of oil to make the 100 billion plastic bags Americans use annually. Worldwatch Institute

Diana Kennedy on plastic bags in the Fall 2009 issue of Edible Austin:

“I’m a pain in the ass in the supermarket because I will speak out in a very loud voice to the person who has one banana in a huge plastic bag, two apples in another…at least ten plastic bags with one little item in each…You’ve got to think about the end product…the beginning product, and the end product”. “I have no patience with people who say, ‘Oh, yes, but I recycle.’ That’s not the point. You’re using a bag that has taken up petroleum and energy.”

Which one are you?
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China pledged to improve food safety after authorities detained six more people in the country’s contaminated milk scandal.

Word of the detentions came a day after health officials in Hong Kong found high levels of melamine, a chemical used to make plastic and fertilizers, in chocolate made in China by British candy maker Cadbury.

In Hong Kong, officials said Sunday they found melamine in samples of two chocolate products made by Cadbury at its Beijing factory. The chocolates are among 11 Chinese-made products already recalled by the company in parts of Asia and the Pacific. Read the rest of this entry »

Two years into a four-year trial, about 35 tonnes of crushed glass has been laid at the base of pinot noir grape vines at Sandihurst winery in West Melton, New Zealand.

It all started with the idea that the sun reflecting off the glass mulch would produce better tasting grapes and better yields, so a pilot project was created to prove it.

Sandihurst director Hennie Bosman said he was ecstatic at the results because there was a noticeable improvement in the quality of the wine made from the trial batch. Read the rest of this entry »

Think you’re pretty savvy when it comes to conservation? Try taking the Earthbound Farm Conservation Quiz.  Get 9 out of 10 questions right, and they’ll send you a free reusable (and recyclable) Earthbound Farm shopping tote that you can use to reduce environmental waste whenever you shop.  Visit here to give it a whirl.

“My whole life has been spent waiting for an epiphany, a manifestation of God’s presence, the kind of transcendent, magical experience that lets you see your place in the big picture. And that is what I had with my first compost heap. I love compost and I believe that composting can save not the entire world, but a good portion of it.” –Bette Midler, in a Los Angeles Times interview

Compost is a dark, friable, partially decomposed form of organic matter similar in nature to the organic matter in the soil. It’s an easy and satisfying way to turn kitchen scraps and yard trimmings into ‘black gold’ – a dark, crumbly, nutrient-rich soil conditioner.

Composting also:

  • Saves money by lowering garbage bills and replacing store-bought soil conditioners. It takes the fossil fuel equivalent of 2.5 gallons of gasoline to produce a single 40-pound bag of synthetic fertilizer.
  • Helps garden and house plants by improving the fertility and health of your soil. The organic matter in the compost makes heavy clay soils easier to work by binding the soil particles together. Such aggregation of the soil particles helps improve aeration, root penetration, and water infiltration, and reduces crusting of the soil surface. Additional organic matter also helps sandy soils retain water and nutrients.
  • Saves water by helping the soil hold moisture and reducing water runoff.
  • Benefits the environment by recycling valuable organic resources and extending the life of our landfills. A third of all landfill waste across the United States comes from garden clippings and kitchen waste. Each American is responsible for 1,200 pounds of compostable organic waste annually, and tossing it out not only stuffs landfills unnecessarily but the processes of natural decay can also lead to the production of methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Read the rest of this entry »

Got Eco milk?

March 21, 2008

In the UK, supermarket customers could soon be running out for a bag of milk instead of the traditional glass or plastic bottles or containers.  The environmentally friendly plastic sacs, called Eco Paks, were tested last year and the response was positive. The bags use 75 per cent less plastic than bottles. Customers can also buy a reusable jug to pour the milk into.

Experts believe that the milk bags could make a significant impact on recycling rates. At present, most supermarket milk comes in cartons or bottles made of high-density polyethylene, a type of plastic that can be recycled, although mainly in China. Recent figures showed only seven per cent are recycled.

In the US, it is estimated that 134.1 billion beverage containers were not recycled in 2005–43.6 billion PET bottles, 6.8 billion HDPE bottles, 55.0 billion aluminum cans, and 28.8 billion glass bottles wasted.  That’s an increase of nearly 4 billion from 2004’s total of 130.3 billion.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=512190&in_page_id=1770, http://www.container-recycling.org/

On paper, my wife and I are poor. How poor? In 2005 we made $4,303.84 combined; in 2004 we made half that. We’re in such a low tax bracket that I have trouble convincing the government of our tax return’s accuracy; they simply can’t believe Americans can live on that kind of money.

Read the rest of the story at: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Modern-Homesteading/2007-10-01/Live-on-Less.aspx

You may also want to check out Lose, Weight, Save Money With Healthy Food Portions, Homestead.org and Homesteading Today for more ideas on living a simpler, more self-sufficient life.