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Archive for March, 2010

At our Zero Waste  meeting on Monday night the Clean Bin Group introduced the Moukisac to us! We love it!

There is a group of us now getting our order together. I know I for one will stash these perfect little sacs with my reusable grocery bags that I take everywhere with me. I can hardly wait to add them to my arsenal of saving the planet shop by shop ;]

I sent out a mass email to my peers and pals with a link as well. I hope that they not only order the Moucisac but that they pass on the love to others. What a brilliant concept and business idea – I hope they grow and prosper!

Here is a bit of info on the Moukisac and a link to find out more:

Moukisac® is a 6 in 1 compact reusable shopping bag system.

Made in Canada and created by Vancouver designer Moukie, this versatile carry bag starts as a shoulder bag or sling bag, or can be worn as a waist pack to keep your cellphone, keys and wallet secure. It unfolds into a full-sized cloth shopping bag and includes 4 Moukinet drawstring mesh bags to hold produce and bulk foods.

For more info please visit their site at: Moukisac.

To visit their Blog please visit Moukisac Blog.

Cheers and have a great day!

Rani

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Woo! We did it!!

We managed to get through the baseline data collection phase. After the first few weeks of getting used to the oddity of actually weighing your garbage it has become rather routine. We have a place in the kitchen now for our bathroom scale and a process to follow including notes to remind us of the weights of the blue bin, compost pail, etc as well as the actual chart we jot down our numbers on to then transfer to the online data tool that is used to collect all our weights.

Last night we all gathered at our home to have the kick off meeting. The folks from the Clean Bin came and told us about their amazing year-long challenge and even brought their inspiring garbage pails of what they actually had to throw out after a year – they were small white bins only half full! Can we do this? Not sure but we are all going to give it a try. The Clean Bin crew also showed us a trailer to their film coming out – it is excellent and again there is that word – ‘inspiring’!

Peter from Metro was there also with our Green Cones in hand. The cones have been our groups biggest challenge. Where to put them, how much will they smell, with they attract rats, skunks, raccoons, etc? We even had a field trip to view a green cone from the Strathcona challenge and I think seeing it helped change a few minds. In the end we decided as a group that we would put the Green Cone in our cul-de-sac at the end of our street and see how it goes. We all agreed that if it became a problem we would remove it. The second cone will go in the back alley at another neighbours home for the other side of the street. There are instructions for using the Green Cone so we need to get that all together for everyone (has to in the sun, only put in a pail every day or so, no dog poop in our for this challenge, etc). We will set up a digging party for this Easter Weekend and get them in the ground so we can start using them. I am very excited about these cones as I think it will make a great reduction in our current garbage for meat and bones, etc.

Jane was great and very well-organized, as usual. She brought extra ice cream pails for everyone to use for their compost and found homes for the extra composters that the city gave to our group. Jane also went the extra mile and got a box full of shopping bags from Save On Foods and handed out to the group to start using instead of plastic bags!

So – we are ready!

I had a chat with my nanny today and went over what we should be aiming for and she was very sad to hear that I was cancelling my newspaper subscriptions! We recycle over 8 pounds of newsprint a week – I know I can reduce this without having the Sun every day. I will have to keep the Globe on Saturdays though…newspaper recycling is a whole other story for another post….

So – we begin – wish us all luck and send us encouragement as we march forward in our challenge!

Cheers!

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As national awareness of a global ecological crisis is being risen, cat-and-dog-owners are looking for more and more ways to raise green pets. While composting your cat’s litter isn’t likely to turn him a freakish shade of olive-drab, this step-by-step guide can help reduce your cat’s ecological paw-print by disposing of his waste in a way that’s responsible and beneficial.

There are many benefits to choosing to compost your cat’s litter. His waste will no longer fill up plastic (petroleum-based) garbage bags, which reduces his carbon-paw-print more than you might initially expect. Even reusing bags from the grocery store to dispose of your cat’s waste will add up over time, since you might otherwise be using a canvas tote. Another obvious benefit of composting kitty-poo is that you’ll have a free, organic fertilizer, which won’t contain any synthetic contaminants and doesn’t need to be shipped across the country to get to your garden. Even if you don’t have a garden, odorless cat-compost can benefit your house plants, trees, or even your neighbor’s flowerbeds. Composting cat-litter is also a responsible way to keep potentially hazardous parasites and waste–like e. coli, toxoplasmosis, ammonia, and nitrate–out of our landfills and waterways.

There are four basic steps that need to be taken to turn your cat’s waste into a clean, odorless fertilizer that can enhance the nutrient-content, water-absorption capacity, and structural integrity of your soil.

1. Build, or Buy, a Compost Bin.

Compost bins that are pre-purchased can be used for disposing of cat waste, even if they were designed for food waste. The only critical difference in way that the two are composted is that cat waste must be left to compost for at least eighteen months before it is completely safe to use on edible crops. This eliminates the risk of parasites like e. coli, tapeworm, and toxoplasmosis contaminating foods grown in soil that has been enhanced with cat manure.

If you want to build your own compost bin, this is simple enough to do: layering several planks of wood, one on top of the other, to build an open-lidded box is all that’s really necessary. For one to two cats , a three-by-two-by-two foot box is generally sufficient space. You may not even need to nail the wood together; the purpose is to create a general container–not something that will be airtight. You may wish to place a lid on the bin to prevent dogs and cats from making your compost-bin their own, but it is not necessary for odor control if you compost properly.

If you have purchased a compost bin, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If you have created one yourself, you can start encouraging the growth a healthy colony of compost-enhancing bacteria by adding a two-inch layer of topsoil, dry leaves, and/or sawdust to the bottom of your homemade bin.

2. Choose a Cat Litter.

Clay-based, sand-based, and crystalline litters are not compatible with use in compost, since they can damage your the structure of your soil and cause synthetic toxins to leak into your garden. The best choices for compostable cat litters are those made from natural, living sources.

Plain sawdust is a wonderful, inexpensive, and delightfully green cat litter that utilizes a wasted resource. Most cats love its texture and will eagerly use a sawdust-filled litterbox. However, it can sometimes be difficult to find in urban and suburban areas, and some owners may not be satisfied with the degree of odor-control it provides, especially if they own more than one cat or do not plan to empty the litterbox frequently. It is an excellent option if you have only one cat and don’t mind a bit of extra work.

Another good option for an earth-friendly and compostable cat-litter is a commercially produced litter made from pine or cedar. These tend to have pleasant, natural scents, and they have been processed in such a way as to be significantly more absorbent than plain sawdust. However, it is somewhat expensive by comparison.

Wheat-based natural litters are also a compost-friendly, green option for cat owners seeking a nontoxic and sustainable way to dispose of their cats’ waste. Composed of wheat husk–a by-product of the food-farming industry–they are an odorless, clean, and renewable option that is usually readily accepted by most cats and sufficiently absorbent, even for multi-cat households.

Another ecologically conscious option is litter made from recycled newspaper. Available in most stores, this product, while somewhat expensive, is accepted by most cats and composts very readily. Surprisingly, it is very absorbent compared to some other natural products, although the amount of odor control it provides for feces is somewhat limited.

You may find that you’d prefer to try all of these options to see what works best for you, your wallet, and your cat. Whatever you choose, these litters are all fully compatible with your choice to compost your cat’s litter, and can all help to enhance your soil.

3. Begin Composting.

The first time you compost your cat’s waste, it may seem unusual. Stick with it–you’ll soon be rewarded with the feeling that you’ve done your part to reduce the impact your cat is having on the planet, and you’ll act as a great example to people wishing to do the same.

After adding the first layer of sawdust, soil, or leaves, simply dump your cat’s waste (feces or urine-clumped litter) directly into your bin. Cover it with a one-inch layer of sawdust, soil, or leaves, and leave it alone. When the time comes to empty your entire litterbox, simply do the same, and add another layer of your composting material. To speed the composting process, it’s a good idea to aerate the litter every few weeks or months. Do this according to your manufacturer’s instructions, or, if you’ve built your own bin, simply turn the litter using a shovel or pitch-fork.

You may also purchase earthworms at a farm-and-garden supply store, or via the Internet. They can help to digest your cat’s manure and aerate it, speeding the compost process even further.

If you notice an odor coming from your compost bin, this is no reason to surrender hope. All that is necessary under these circumstances is that you add an additional layer of your compost material–sawdust is best. This will help to dilute the ammonia and seal in any offensive smells. Frequent aeration can prevent this problem from ever occurring.

When your compost bin is full, you can either continue aerating it occasionally, which will speed the composting process, or you can seal it at the top with a layer of straw, hay, or pine straw. This will lock in any odors and allow nature to do its work from there.

4. Use Your Compost.

After one year, or as little as six months if you continue aerating your bin, you can remove the top layer and use a shovel to check the status of your compost. Most likely, by this point, the manure will no longer be identifiable as cat litter, and will have a sweet, earthy smell and loamy texture. At this point, the compost can be used on ornamental plants and fruit trees, but you may want to wait a few months longer before using it on crops like potatoes, carrots, or peanuts, which it would directly contact–just to err on the side of caution.

By the time your cat litter has composted for eighteen months or more, it should be completely ready to use on any crop. Depending on your climate, soil composition, type of litter, and number of cats, you may not feel like the litter is completely ready. Although composted cat litter tends to be cleaner and less prone to parasites than typical garden soil (after all, you never know what’s been using your flower-bed as a litterbox!) many cat owners feel overly cautious about using litter to grow food crops. Although this fear is unfounded, there is nothing wrong with waiting another few months, or even years, before using your new compost.

There are many uses for composted cat manure. It can be used as a mulch for trees, or mixed with weak soil to give it a loamy texture and high nutrient content. It can be spread in flowerbeds to give extra life to your nitrate-hungry perennials. It can even be used as a starter for another compost pile, including kitchen compost!

Although cat-litter compost is safe, always use your common sense. Regardless of what kind of compost you use, it is always a good idea to wear gloves when handling compost or working in the garden. Pregnant women should avoid directly handling cat waste under any circumstances, since it sometimes carries a virus that may lead to birth defects in a fetus if it is contracted by the mother. Regardless of how your food is grown, you should aways wash and/or cook your vegetables before eating them; this rids them of both synthetic and natural contaminants.

It would be impossible to fully address the issue of composting cat manure without addressing what I refer to as the “gross-out” factor. How can someone grow food in their cat’s poop? you may be wondering. But the fact is that, regardless of where your food comes from, it was most likely grown in something you’d prefer not to think about. Conventional fruits and vegetables are often grown using massive amounts of petroleum-based fertilizers, and organic produce is almost always fertilized with chicken litter–a foul-smelling and highly pollutive mixture of bone, feather, tissue, and feces. It’s also worth noting that even your home-grown foods were grown in soil that was, inevitably, pooped in at some point by a wild or domestic animal.

With deliberately-composted cat litter, you can oversee the entire process that nature uses to turn one creature’s waste into another creature’s nourishment, and, in my opinion, that is a beautiful thing.

 
Written by Juniper Russo Tarascio – a freelance writer and natural health consultant living in the Southern US.
 

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New short film from the Story of Stuff, co-produced by the Polaris Institute:

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Bottled Water Free Day Update:

Thank you to everyone who helped make Canada’s Bottled Water Free Day such a huge success!  On March 11th thousands of Canadians from coast to coast participated in events that highlighted the negative impacts of bottled water.  In the end more than 60 universities and campuses organized events, there were over 60 media stories covering the day, and nearly 4000 Canadians signed a personal pledge to not drink bottled water.

Stay tuned for updates at www.bottledwaterfreeday.ca

WORLDWIDE RELEASE – The Story of Bottled WaterWatch it NOW

RELEASED TODAY!  The Polaris Institute is proud to co-release the Story of Bottled Water – a 7 minute animated film exposing the truth about bottled water.  Co-produced by the Story of Stuff Project, the Polaris Institute and other leading organizations, the film exposes the bottled water industry and makes the case for the public tap.

Take action now in 3 easy steps:

1. Watch the video online – click here to see the film

2. Visit www.storyofbottledwater.org for additional resources and information

3. Send this email to 5 friends and encourage them to find out the real Story of Bottled Water

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The Green Police

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This week was interesting from a weighing perspective. We do not usually fill up garbage bins in other rooms of the house so once in a while we empty them out. This was the week that we did it and our weight for garbage jumped up almost 7 pounds! Yikes! I guess we better keep a better eye on our other bins in the home.

Valerie our families super nanny was helping with getting the garbage and recycling out this week and it was very cute! She came downstairs with the bathroom scale in her hand wondering how on earth she was to weigh all our trash! It took a while to show her how to use the techy scale (LOL) and then off she went to weigh herself. Needless to say she wan not pleased to find out her own weight as well as the weight of our trash!

Later she told me how ‘weird’ it was to be standing on a bathroom scale holding a bag of trash and doing math to figure out the weight of it all. I think it is kinda weird as well – but more on the wonderful side as it really is teaching my family to be so much more mindful of what we consume and chuck away.

Have a wonderful week!

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