Green Shortz greenMedia Saturday, 27 April 2013
Rain is a good thing, but in urban and suburban environments we've complicated the natural cycle with the addition of impervious surfaces--roads and driveways, roofs and sidewalks--areas that block water from soaking into the ground. While they serve important purposes, like providing efficient travel and keeping the rain off our heads, they force rainwater to move horizontally. They also give rainwater a new name--runoff. Runoff causes problems for two main reasons, quantity...more water enters streams with a higher velocity, and quality...runoff carries pollutants from the surfaces it washes across. Both factors bring negative impacts to the streams where the water travels. So, it is vital that we all do something to reduce runoff. Every effort provides benefit, from the smallest sideyard rain garden to an expansive city park.
Twenty-five percent of home water use is consumed flushing toilets. At four to six flushes per person per day, it can add up fast. With my older toilets, at 3.5 gallons per flush, this amounts to about 7600 gallons a year...just for one. My family of four uses around 34,000 gallons a year to flush. That is a lot of water...down the tube, so to speak. My point is, the toilet is a great place to save water and there are some easy ways to make it happen. The most simple and inexpensive option is using displacement...a half gallon milk jug takes up space in the tank and reduces water use. There are also dual flush retrofit kits on the market that allow you to upgrade your toilet with a dual flush mechanism. This video illustrates these two concepts.
Have you ever watched the rain run down your driveway and thought, "I sure could have used that water a week ago." Rainwater harvesting is the answer to this problem. Using rain barrels or larger catchment tanks like the Orginal Rainwater Pillow captures a rainy day and saves it for later. Rainwater is great for garden plants, especially with the absense of treatment chemicals like chlorhine. And it is clean enough that it can easily be treated for uses like flushing toilets ro even drinking water. The installation we visit in this video is at Lure, a new seafood restaurant in Midtown Atlanta, Georgia. They'll capture rainwater to the tune of 108,000 gallons a year and use it to flush toilets...a $2970 value to the bottom line every year. And, as an added benefit, by collecting water from their roof, Lure will prevent it from becoming urban runoff, which washes the city's grime and pollutants into local streams.
Does it bother you that we use perfectly clean treated drinking water to flush our toilets? Does this make sense to you? And with toilet flushing adding up to about 25% of our in-home water use, that is a lot of clean water used (and a lot of money). As our nation, and the world, face a growing water crisis, reusing the water from our showers, sinks, washing machines--also know as graywater--to flush our toilets is a great step to reducing potable water consumption. The states of Georgia, Alabama and Florida have been fighting over the water in the Chattahoochee River for over 30 years. Southern California gets much of its water from 1000's of miles away in other states. This has to change...and I think it is up to us, regular people, to make it happen. The old adage says--whisky is for drinking and water is for fighting. Well let me add, gray is for flushing.
Green Shortz greenMedia Monday, 04 February 2013
A foam cup is the devil's chalice, right. Au contraire. Foam, or more specifically expanded polystyrene foam, is actually a recyclable plastic. Shocked? I was too. Don't believe me? Look on the bottom of your cup. Spot that #6 recyling symbol? The same goes for egg cartons, meat trays and to-go boxes. While reusable cups and containers are the greenest option, we don't always have that option at the local fast food drive-thru. So the next best option is a material that can be recycled and used again. Dart Container is a large producer of foam products, they know this material is recyclable and they are doing some significant things to help make that happen. Watch this video about my trip to Dart and see my 10-year-plus foam stash I brought along. Because foam can't be put into most curbside recyling bins, it is up to us to get foam to the recycler. It is great way to recycle more. Visit www.dart.biz to find out more. Thanks to viewer Rob Shamel of Waxahachie, Texas, who recycles his foam with Dart and recommended we talk with them. (Full Disclosure: Rob is also my cousin and can grow a full beard in three hours.)
Green Shortz greenMedia Saturday, 05 January 2013
Ever walked along a highway or sidewalk and encountered trash littering your path. It is a stark visual reminder of the careless nature of people. Some people. Across the nation groups of people are out in force picking up this litter. In Georgia, there are 75 Keep Georgia Beautifulaffiliates in communities around the state keeping our public spaces clear of trash. They also spearhead recycling, conservation and beautification initiatives in the cities and counties they serve. These groups are primarily volunteer driven and they need your help. And the first step you can take is to not litter. To find your local Keep America Beautiful affiliate, visit their website. In Georgia, you can start here.