Sunday, May 25, 2008

Compost, Oh Compost

We finally purchased a new composter to replace the one that we left behind in Georgia. The newer version is very much like the old one, except square instead of round-- and not quite as shiny! But we are already off to a great start filling it up! And just a quick sales tip if anyone out there is interested in buying a composter: We got this one from Sam's Club for about half the price of the cheapest one I've seen any where else. I've found it online since our purchase and it's selling for almost three times as much as what we paid. It is not the most high end of products, but it does get the job done.

We also managed to purchase our very own reel mower this week. Pictures to come later. It is very much like the one we borrowed and tried out from our friend, but this one came with a basket to catch the flying grass. In theory, the basket is a great idea since we have found that cutting the grass outside without picking it up creates almost as much grass inside the house as we have in the yard. In theory, a basket would catch the grass and make the whole process nice and tidy.

In practice, it doesn't quite work as well as all of that. The grass still flies every which way in a crazy flurry that is almost comical to watch. The majority of it does somehow, pile up and make it into the basket, but there is still enough grass that doesn't that I feel comfortable claiming that I am fertilizing my lawn with the left over clippings.

I think the upside to the basket, for me, is that I still get the clippings on the lawn, which is healthy for it, but I also get tons of basket clippings for my compost-- which is healthy for that! You could say it's ended up being a win win.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Spring Days

The temperature is still hovering around 50 degrees here in my neck of the woods, but the flowers have come bursting forth anyway. They are stunning. I wish that I could take some credit for them, but we've only just moved into the house, and these were blooming shortly after we transitioned in.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Reel Deal

Nothing like a little light lawn mowing on a late Saturday afternoon! We borrowed this reel mower from our friend and neighbor since we haven't gotten around to making this purchase ourselves. After months of talking about it, seeing it, and pricing it, we finally got the chance to try it out. What fun! Our yard-- front and back, is rather small, so it makes mowing pretty painless. I think the tricky part will be staying on top of it, as the work does get harder when the grass is long. The mower pushes the blades over instead of chopping them off. One thing I am excited about: Our lawn has some bald spots in it, and I am hopeful that the cut blades will nurture the grass to grow back where it needs to. I can't wait to get our own.

(Video of this exciting process coming soon!)

As promised, view this video by clicking on "Reel Deal" to the left, under the "Video" title.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What I've Been Learning...

About Meat...

Raising animals for food is "one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.
--United Nations

There have been a lot of changes in my life over the last year, especially when it comes to being more eco conscious. It has become a serious quest of mine to minimalize my impact on the planet in any way and every way that I can. My husband and I started recycling, started composting, switched to energy efficient light bulbs, started using reusable shopping bags, cut out paper napkins in our household and started using cloth instead... the list goes on. Little things, but little things that we can EASILY do that honestly don't make that huge of an impact on our daily lives. They do, however, little by little, make a GIGANTIC impact on our footprint on this planet.

It's been our goal to grow in this adventure, and as we've traveled along, looking for the next steps to take, I've been learning more and more about FOOD. It's fascinating to me in every regard to learn more about where my food comes from, and from an environmental stand point-- what types of resources it takes to get my food to me. It's our goal to eat more locally (check out the 100 mile challenge if you are REALLY interested in this. and in doing so I have decided to finally stop eating meat. Ugh! I like meat, and eating cute little furry animals has never really been an issue for me. (Although my husband will testify that we do not eat crab because I can't handle ripping their little legs off!) Anyway, my decision is based entirely on the Saving the World Standpoint, and here to support my decision is a little bit of information.

Global Warming:
According to a recent United Nations Report, the meat industry causes more global warming (through the emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) than all the cars, trucks, SUVS, planes, and ships in the world combined. Researchers at the University of Chicago determined that switching to a vegan diet is 50 percent more efficient than switching from a regular car to a hybrid car in reducing you impact on global warming. I have been wanting to switch to a hybrid car, but am honestly not ready to go through the actual PURCHASE of a new car... so I'm very excited that there is something even more effective that I can do!

Water Resources:
More than half of all the water consumed in the U.S. is used to raise animals for food. A totally vegetarian diet requires 300 gallons of water per day, while a meat based diet requires more than 4,000 gallons of water per day. Consider that when you are trying to take shorter showers to conserve water.

Farmed animals produce about 130 times as much excrement as the entire human population of the United States. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the run-off from factory farms pollutes our rivers and lakes more than all other industrial sources combined. And we thought factories were bad.

All in all-- this will be an experiment for me, just like everything else has been. I am still eating fish (it's been about three weeks on the new diet so far) but minimally. And as time goes on, that may change as well. Who knows!

On a side note: while doing some research for this blog posting, I came across a LOT of information about the conditions of factory farm raised animals. It's appalling and it's horrible. I feel like I got a lot of information from propaganda websites, so I will try to take it with a grain of salt. (Hello PETA). But at the same time, knowing where your food comes from can be VERY educating. I wanted to become a vegetarian for environmental reasons, but if you saw some of the web sites that I did, you might become one yourself based on compassion alone.

Here's a quote from

"More than 30 billion animals are killed by the American meat industry each year-- in ways that would horrify any compassionate person and that would be illegal if cats or dogs were the victims."