making the earth greener one tiny baby at a time

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dispose of the Disposal

After reading my last post, Anne asked if garbage disposals were eco-friendly.  I honestly had no idea.  I always assumed it was a better choice to putting my food scraps in the garbage where they would be hauled miles away buy gas-guzzling trucks.
Turns out I was wrong!

I found this fantastic article on

Apparently, not only is the water we use to wash the food down the drain with wasteful, but oil clogs are the number one cause of sewer overflow and blockages.  This costs cities billions of dollars a year.

The best choice, of course, is composting.  But it looks like the second best choice is just throwing it away!  I'll remember that next time I find a two-year-old bottle of blue cheese salad dressing lurking in my fridge.

totally depressing environmental fact:
According to a 2005 California Energy Commission report, 19% of California’s electricity use, and 32% of its natural gas use is for pumping water and wastewater! So, not only is water a scarce resource that should be conserved, but pumping it requires a lot of energy and, in California at least, contributes a significant amount to global warming.

totally inspiring environmental tip:
(found this great thing in the treehugger article:)
NatureMill indoor automatic composter. This product, made from recycled materials, includes a small heater and mixer (uses only $0.50 of electricity per month) to maintain industrial-grade composting conditions. This means that you can even compost meat, dairy, and fish in it, which is typically a composting faux pas. The unit fits under your sink or on your fire escape, so even the most urban of us can avoid sending food waste down the drain while producing up to 120 pounds per month of rich organic compost each month.
Perfect for apartment dwellers!
I looked it up and it seems AMAZING!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Eco-Friendly Renter

My friend Adriana made an excellent point in her response to my last post.  You have far less options for living earth-friendly when you are renting or living in an apartment.  You are at the mercy of what the building owners decide is appropriate for you building.  We are apartment-dwellers and understand this all to well.  We enter the elevators and are bombarded by the smell of harsh cleaners, we have to use wasteful, old appliances, and there is the most annoying scent dispenser right outside out door that every half-hour sends a synthetic, powdery smell into the air.

So what do we do when we want to live as gently as possible, but are thwarted by where we have to live?!?!

Let's break it down:
We know what we do have control of:  In our own apartments we can use gentle, plant-based cleaners; separate and recycle everything that your building's waste management will take; wash our clothes with cold water and use a drying rack to dry; use power-strips and unplug or turn off all electronics when not in use; take shorter showers and don't always wait for the water to get hot-hot-hot before we use it.

And we know what we don't have control of:  If the building chooses to recycle or compost; the types and conditions of appliances; the kinds of cleaners and building materials used.

If you live in LA and your building doesn't recycle, let your building manager know that it is now COMPLETELY FREE to get pick up for recyclables.  Even offer to make the call and set up the appointment if they can't seem to be bothered.  Here's the website to get you started:

Do you want to compost?  You can do it in your apartment!  Us LA-ers are fortunate that most of us have balconies or porches.  We purchased a compact composter and it lives on our tiny balcony taking up only about 2'x2' of space.  The key to getting food to compost in a tiny composter is....WORMS!!!!  These little beasts will help you go through trash 80% faster than just letting it sit in a composter.  Here is where we got our worm factory:

You can buy worms by the pound at many farmer's markets or go to the following website:
This is what we have on our balcony

If you don't have ANY outdoor space at all, the worm factory can live in doors.  But to be completely honest, there is no way I would ever do this.  When my friend Katie found out I had a worm factory, she said the following to me:
"My sister has one of those...It's the closest thing I've ever seen to a real-life horror movie."

If you want the building management to consider making some green changes in your building.  I think it's best to educate and request all at the same time.  Make a letter that states how you would love them to consider using greener cleaners, most of which can be found at inexpensive prices, and include in your letter resources where they can find these.  You might also mention that a building that prioritizes being green may lure in a better clientele!  And cutting down on energy costs will help the bottom line.

Another option...

Until we all the the money or ability to own our own home, with which we can live as green as possible, maybe let's look at apartment living as a way to share our views and educate our neighbors (without being that person who lectures so much that people avoid you when they see you in the laundry room).

totally depressing environmental fact:
the number one cause of landfill waste is fast-food containers...check this out....

totally inspiring environmental tip:
when you compost, you are exposing your food scraps to air, which help the food biodegrade without any atmosphere-hurting methane!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bad Versus Evil

Hey all of you fighting the good fight; using cloth diapers instead of disposables, flushing all of that poop down the toilet, emptying stinky laundry bags into the washer, folding loads of cloth diapers week after week after week.  I have AWESOME news for you!  I recent study found that using cloth diapers is just as damaging to the environment as using disposables.  What the WHAT?!?!?

Here's the deal: If you are using hot water to wash the diapers, the dryer to dry them, bleaching them and not doing full loads, then yes, it is just as bad as using disposable diapers.  What the study did not take into consideration was using cold water, high efficiency washers, line-drying, and eco-friendly cleaning products.  There is a definite demand out there to re-do the study.  I admit, my first thought when I read this was, "disposable it is!"  Cloth is so time-consuming that any indication that all my hard work is for naught will send me right to the grocery aisle to buy some pampers.  So this report can be quite damaging if it is not looked at thoroughly.

So if you are swathing your baby in cloth, remember to do it right, or it's really not worth the time and effort.  Using cold water and line-drying will also help your power bills and prolong the life of your diapers.

If you are a big fan of gDiapers as I am, you may want to re-consider flushing them.  The recommended two flushes to get the diapers down the drain may be worse on the planet than throwing them away.  But remember, they can always be composted!  Who doesn't want a giant diaper pile in their back yard next to their vegetable patch?

Keep up the fight!!!! (But do it right...)

totally depressing environmental fact:
although all cosmetic talc is supposed to be asbestos-free, it is not always 100% pure. use of talc has been linked to respiratory problems and ovarian cancer.  talc mining is also extremely tough on the environment.

totally uplifting environmental tip:
organic milk is not only better for your body, it uses 1/3 of the energy to make it than non-organic milk.