Category Archives: Green

Build Your Own Leaf Bin

[This is from the archives, but it’s the perfect time to pull out this post again]

I hate waste, so autumn drives me kind of crazy. All my neighbours sweep their leaves to the front kerb, where a big borough lorry comes along and sucks them up. Then, in the spring, everyone has a truck load of mulch delivered.

I say: stop the insanity! Use your own leaves to make your own mulch! Build a leaf bin!

leafbinsupplies It doesn’t take much. Just a roll of hardware cloth, a piece of scrap wood and a way to fasten them together (I used a cable staple gun that we had lying around.

I bought a 10′ roll of 3′ tall, 1/4″ mesh landscape fabric from the local big hardware store.

Step 1: Unroll the hardware cloth and lay it flat on the ground. Stomp on it a bit to get it to unroll if you need to. No need to get it totally flat, though, as you’ll want it to roll up again in a minute. Building A Leaf Bin
Building A Leaf Bin Step 2: fold one end of the mesh around the piece of wood (which should be just a bit taller than 3′, so you can bash the end of it into the ground to help support your leaf bin). Staple the mesh to the wood, all along the length.
Step 3: Fold the mesh over so the free end is touching the wood. Building A Leaf Bin
Building A Leaf Bin Step 4: Staple the end to the wood, as neatly as you can while wrangling 10′ of metal mesh.
Step 5: Stand it up. The mesh is strong enough to support itself, but the wood helps. You can then pound the wood into the ground to hold your new leaf bin in place. You can also use metal or wood stakes to define its shape a bit better and give it extra stability. Building A Leaf Bin
Building A Leaf Bin Building A Leaf Bin

Shred your leaves with a lawnmower or a leaf muncher; pile them up and let the microbes save you a pile of money. Know what’s in the mulch you’re putting on your soil (nothing but natural ingredients).

Strasburg Train by jwordsmith

No Money for Public Transportation in Energy Bill

Strasburg Train by jwordsmithSo, remember when Barack Obama stood up and said we were going to have to increase public transportation to help with the energy issue?

I cheered, but thought ‘no way you’re getting the people I know in the US to take public transport’.

Then I heard this report about how teenagers are less likely to get their drivers’ license straight away these days (in the 70s, 75% of 16 year olds had their learner’s permit. Now it’s more like 50%). The article went on to talk about how it’s harder for them to find time to learn later, after college, when they’re working and liable for the full cost without their parents’ help.

Yah, though I. We’re going to HAVE to increase public transportation, for that next generation!

But apparently not. According to Green Planet, there is no money in the new Energy Bill for public transportation.

And if there is no money for public transportation, going IN to the committees I can’t see anyone adding it.

However…

I took a look at the Politifact site, who are keeping track of the campaign promises. And it seems the record on Transportation is not all doom and gloom. Sure, a couple of things are stalled, but there are some good things happening.

There was money for high-speed railways (something this country could use. Trains are slower than buses here.) and general public transportation improvements in the stimulus bill. There’s a new way for employers to give tax breaks to employees if they use public transportation instead of only being able to give benefits for car-based schemes like carpooling. And there are a bunch of other promises on transportation that are ‘in the works’.

So look at that. A little research and my big outrage-bubble has just lost all of its air. My rant has turned into a reasoned look at the world.

Oh, now I can see why the news outlets and ‘agenda’ websites don’t bother doing research and reporting both sides of stories. It makes for a much less fiesty report and fewer outraged commenters.

Or am I just being cynical?

Building A Leaf Bin

I hate waste, so autumn drives me kind of crazy. All my neighbours sweep their leaves to the front kerb, where a big borough lorry comes along and sucks them up. Then, in the spring, everyone has a truck load of mulch delivered.

I say: stop the insanity! Build a leaf bin!

leafbinsupplies It doesn’t take much. Just a roll of hardware cloth, a piece of scrap wood and a way to fasten them together (I used a cable staple gun that we had lying around.

I bought a 10′ roll of 3′ tall, 1/4″ mesh landscape fabric from the local big hardware store.

Step 1: Unroll the hardware cloth and lay it flat on the ground. Stomp on it a bit to get it to unroll if you need to. No need to get it totally flat, though, as you’ll want it to roll up again in a minute. Building A Leaf Bin
Building A Leaf Bin Step 2: fold one end of the mesh around the piece of wood (which should be just a bit taller than 3′, so you can bash the end of it into the ground to help support your leaf bin). Staple the mesh to the wood, all along the length.
Step 3: Fold the mesh over so the free end is touching the wood. Building A Leaf Bin
Building A Leaf Bin Step 4: Staple the end to the wood, as neatly as you can while wrangling 10′ of metal mesh.
Step 5: Stand it up. The mesh is strong enough to support itself, but the wood helps. You can then pound the wood into the ground to hold your new leaf bin in place. You can also use metal or wood stakes to define its shape a bit better and give it extra stability. Building A Leaf Bin
Building A Leaf Bin Building A Leaf Bin

Shred your leaves with a lawnmower or a leaf muncher; pile them up and let the microbes save you a pile of money. Know what’s in the mulch you’re putting on your soil (nothing but natural ingredients).

Frustration-Free Packaging!

OMG! OMG! OMG!

How did I miss this?!

For years I’ve been opening my online orders and rolling my eyes as I have to slit the thief-proofing on DVDs; cursing as I pry away the display-friendly plastic wrap around products that I have ordered (Hello!) online, untouched and straight from a warehouse; and calling into question the parentage of the people who invented those plastic clamshell case thingies. I will never forget the time I had to actually get a Phillips head screwdriver to detach a $3 car from the moulded plastic insert onto which it was screwed. Yes, really.

From time to time, standing in my kitchen wielding a blunt pair of scissors or doing the dangerous “Sabatier Knife Trick” on a reluctant package, I have gone off on my rant about how, come the revolution (mine, naturally), all manufacturers will be forced to wrap their products in plain sacks that can be reused (say, turned into pretty quilts, or dresses, or oh no wait, that was the American Frontier. How did we get so far away from that great idea, so quickly?). Stores can take one out for display and the rest will just be sitting in their biodegradable or recycled sacks, waiting for their new homes.

Well, apparently Amazon has read my mind. Again.  (That whole “Kindle” thing was just eerie…)

Look! They have introduced a Frustration-Free Packaging standard and are using their, er, influence to convince manufacturers to get with the program.

The standard says:

Certified Frustration-Free Packaging means:

  • Easy-to-open
  • Recyclable packaging
  • Ships in its own package without an additional shipping box

And behold! (As a mother of small children this picture really warms my heart.)

picture by Amazon.com and no, not by permission, but good grief it's an advertising image that I am taking viral to promote the company and their wonderful idea, so if anyone from the legal department wants to get in touch, then maybe they should check their temperature and take several deep breaths and reconsider their career. Thanks.

picture by Amazon.com

It’s not quite a burlap sack yet, but it’s one box and they ship it right to you in that one box. (Look at it there, in all its brown and black beauty). There are no pastic-wrapped wire ties, and no brown paper stuffed in the shipping box to make sure that stuff doesn’t slide around inside.

And they come like this right off the assembly line!

Be still my beating, green heart.

You can find a whole Frustration-Free section of their store here.

And no, it’s not the whole answer and yes, maybe we should just buy less plastic cr*p in the first place, but I really and truly believe that every little move helps. You can’t get many people to make big lifestyle changes quickly. But you can make lifestyle changes easy for a lot of people to make in small increments. This is one. And I LOVE it.

The only question is, how did I miss this until now?

Earth Day

Earth Day Failures:

  • Driving 12 miles there and back for a 20 minute appointment
  • Getting lost on the way (even with GPS), and driving an extra 3-4 miles
  • Sending A in for ‘hot lunch’, which is served on disposable, coated paper plates.
  • Sending A to school with Cheese-Its in a plastic zip-lock bag for his snack.

Earth Day Successes:

  • Driving at/around the speed limit, with one eye on the fuel consumption meter. (Driving like a teenager versus driving like an old lady: 2.6mpg improvement for the old lady)
  • Sending G in for lunch bunch with the Laptop Lunch box and all fresh foods.
  • Walking to preschool and back to pick up G.
  • Turning off all those lights and appliances that usually just get left on by accident.
  • Shutting down my computer. Now.