Archive for the ‘Informational’ Category

Sustainable Switch

Posted on: May 3rd, 2022 by Bob Jorgensen

Here is a suggestion on something basic you can work on from our just past Earth Day to Earth Day 2023.  Start considering your use of Toilet Paper.  Did you know that the average person uses 130 rolls of TP a year?  Hard to believe isn’t it.  That’s about one roll every 3 days.  To make all that toilet paper about 27,000 trees a day are cut down.  Since trees, both hardwoods and pine only grow about 3 feet a year it takes 20 years to grow a tree to harvest for toilet paper production.  Some of these trees are cut from tree farms, but many are cut from old growth virgin forest in Northern Canada and the rainforests of Brazil.  This practice devastates the habitat for many creatures and plants that only live in those locations.  It also significantly reduces the number of trees available to hold carbon from our burning of fossil fuels.  The solution is to take the long strong fibers needed to bind toilet paper together and make it feel soft from bamboo.  As you know bamboo grows very fast, as much as 3 feet per day.  So a great supply of bamboo is out there in Asia.  Some local Asian farmers already plant a few rows of bamboo around their small farmland plots.  The bamboo needs no tending, watering, or fertilizing.  The sale of this readily available product would help the family farmers in Asia. 

Bamboo toilet paper is very strong and soft, just like the premium brands of tree made toilet paper.  Bamboo toilet paper doesn’t cause any problems in septic systems or waste plants.  It biodegrades easily and there is no need for harsh chlorine chemicals in the production of bamboo toilet paper, like there is in the production of some brands of tree made TP. 

Give it a try and make the switch.  I have, and it does its job as well as any toilet paper.  You can google bamboo toilet paper and see the brands that are out in the market already.  I have purchased a large quantity locally from Costco and UFS.

Tips to get your home ready for winter

Posted on: October 13th, 2018 by rjohnson

From The CUB Voice newsletter of the Citizens Utility Board

You might want to ignore the fact that winter is fast approaching, but now is the perfect time to prepare your home for the chilly months ahead.

Here’s a Checklist:

  • Set your water heater to 120 degrees (warm setting). Cover it with an insulated blanket you can purchase at a hardware store.
  • Get your furnace inspected. Have a certified heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor inspect your furnace. If your furnace is 15 years or older, you may want to consider upgrading to a newer system.
  • Replace filters. A clean filter helps your HVAC system operate at its best and last longer. You may have to change your filter every month, but at least do so every three months. If you have pets or allergies you may need to clean and replace your filters more often.
  • Keep warm air in, winter cold out. Weather-strip doors, caulk windows and install storm windows if you have them. A door guard or sweep can help fill the gap at the bottom of your front and back doors. You can find most of these items at local hardware stores.
  • Clean gutters. If your gutters are filled with build-up like leaves, they can damage your home’s siding and roofing, causing cracks and letting cold air in.
  • Reverse ceiling fans. In the winter, run the fan clockwise (from your position, looking up at it) to pull warm air down from the ceiling and keep it circulating in your house.
  • Tree branch trimming. Cut down any extended branches that can get tangled with power lines, causing outages.
  • Turn off outdoor faucets. Flushing outside faucets before winter is a great way to remove any excess water that could freeze up later and cause damage to your pipes.
    This only takes a few steps and you can find instructions on CUB’s blog. (Shut off the inside valve that leads to the outdoor faucet and turn on the outdoor faucet until the water stops.) Consider buying an insulated cover for each outdoor faucet.
  • Bonus tip: If you have WiFi, a smart thermostat can help control your home’s temperature and cut heating and cooling costs by up to 20 percent.

The Plastics Problem

Posted on: September 10th, 2015 by rjohnson

I have always known that plastic was a polluting problem that needs to be dealt with. I just didn’t know how bad the problem was until recently. Plastic can be a useful, convenient, substance, but it pollutes much of the earth and the oceans to a degree I didn’t realize before. Here are some horrible plastic statistics.Americans use 2 ½ million plastic bottles every HOUR. Only about 1/4th of all these bottles are recycled. Making all of these water bottles required the energy equivalent of 50 million barrels of oil. Think of all the pollution, in the form of Green House Gas, Sulfur, particulate matter, mercury and others, that is put into the atmosphere from the generation of all that energy. When thrown away as garbage and put into a landfill that plastic does not degrade for thousands of years if it is not exposed to the sun. If it is in sunlight it doesn’t decompose, it just breaks into very small pieces. The same thing is true if the plastic is dumped into a lake or an ocean. Small pieces of plastic are a problem because animals wrongly see them as food, and eat them. The PCBs and other pollutants become a part of the animal. This is an even greater problem in the oceans. There are huge whirlpool like areas in the Pacific Ocean, twice the size of Texas, that are floating trash heaps. A large portion of this plastic trash is made up of the ¾ of a trillion plastic bags used worldwide. It is estimated that only 1 in 200 of these plastic bags are recycled. Plastic bags and other plastics are eaten by birds that think it’s food. So the bird can starve to death while having a full stomach, of plastic. The plastic particles from plastic bags, bottles, toys and other things are mistaken by fish as food, and eaten. When we eat those fish we are eating the plastic that they have eaten. The plastic even gets into tiny filter feeding marine creatures. Small fish eat these living things. Bigger fish eat the smaller fish, etc. Again we eat the fish and get the bio-toxins that is passed up through the food chain. Another plastic that is hidden from us are the micro-beads put into soaps to exfoliate our skin and into toothpaste to scrub our teeth. These tiny particles of plastic are so small that when they are washed down the drain to water treatment plants they are too small to be filtered out. So they end up in lakes, rivers and oceans and are consumed by tiny marine organisms. So eventually they pass up the food chain to humans.

These horrible facts about plastics reinforce the great importance of recycling plastics, as well as other things. Take your own reusable bags to the store so you don’t need plastic bags. Don’t drink water from one use water bottles, bring your own drink or a container for the drink you need. Encourage your coffee shops to start using corn based cups or paper cups which can then be turned into compost. Finally, reduce the amount of plastic you buy and recycle what you buy.


The Importance of Water Conservation

Posted on: February 15th, 2015 by rjohnson

Water is a very precious element.  We couldn’t live without it and we use it in so many important ways.  Water is used in homes to drink, wash things, and dispose of waste; in farming to irrigate crops, in the energy industry to cool nuclear reactors or to be turned into steam to run an electric generating turbine at a coal fired power plant, it is used to mine and wash minerals from coal to gold, it is used to water livestock and on fish farms, it is used by other industries to cool and clean raw materials and finished products.

Statistics from the US government tell us that in 2010 more water was used for irrigation than for anything else.  This includes all types of irrigation, from yards to crops, and from all sources.  These sources are: surface water such as rivers and lakes as well as self supplied water from ponds on golf courses.  Another source is ground water.  This is water that is below the surface, like underground lakes and aquifers.  In the United States we used about 115,000 million gallons of water per day to irrigate.  This accounts for about 70 % of all the water used in the US.  The other 30 % of water used is split into the categories of residential, 20%, and industrial, 10 %.  Of the 115,000 million gallons of irrigation water used a day  about 40 % of it comes from groundwater and 60 % comes from surface water. In 2010 California used about 20 % of all irrigation water consumed.  Much of this water was used in the Central Valley of California where fruits, vegetables, and nuts are grown for the entire country.  The next four states in order of usage are: Idaho 12%, Colorado and Arkansas 8 % each, and Montana 6 %.  Other states used the remaining 46 % of all irrigation water, split between the other 45 states.  As you know California is in the midst of a severe drought and has lasted longer than 3 years. This drought has greatly limited the amount of water available for necessary irrigation of these many valued crops.  To get the water needed California has been draining underground aquifers and surface reservoir like Lake Mead.  A recent NASA study states that these Mega-Droughts could last longer than 10 years.  This trend of water shortage in one area of the world is a problem not only for farmers in Central California but for farmers and people around the world.

To limit our water use we can plant native drought resistant plants in our yards.  We can reduce our household water use.  We can curb the water waste in mining, industry, energy production, and farming.  Currently each American uses an average of 150 gallons of water a day.  In the United Kingdom the average person uses about 40 gallons per day.  In China the number is down to 23 gallons a day.  In dry arid countries like Ethiopia each person uses about 4 gallons of water a day.  You can see that we need to start cutting back on the water we use and the water we waste both as individuals and as a nation.

To find out more about these issues please click on the article called The 25 Best Ways to Conserve Water.  It was compiled by the Green Teens Club.  The pictographs, charts, and information they use make this problem very understandable.