The Environmental Center’s Second Local Challenge Kicks off May 11th!
You can join in the challenge that goes from May 11–June 7, 2020. Participants will be entered to win weekly prize drawings that help prevent wasted food, such as glass food-storage containers and reusable beeswax food wraps, plus a $100 gift card to the grocery store of choice. Two grand prize drawings for $250 in farm bucks to a local farm will be awarded to those who complete the whole challenge. Participants will also gain knowledge and feel good about making changes in their own lives to help their greater community.
The challenge asks participating households to weigh or measure then record their cumulative wasted food weekly for four weeks. They will track what ends up as waste in their home, then learn small yet impactful tips to change habits in order to produce less waste.
The Rethink Food Waste Challenge is made possible through a partnership with Deschutes County Department of Solid Waste and our local garbage and recycling service providers. To learn more about the challenge and sign up visit their website:
Earth Day is April 22, 2020 and this year marks 50 years since it began in 1970. Check out Earth Day’s History HERE.
HELPFUL TIPS TO LIVE GREEN:
Tips for Sustainable Landscaping
Attractive landscaping is key to boosting your home’s curb appeal as well as reducing your impact on the environment. Here are some ways to create landscaping that is both beautiful and functional.
Instead of using a hose or sprinkler to water your plants, try using a rain barrel. You can direct rainwater from your roof’s downspout into the barrel and use that water to irrigate flower and garden beds. If you do use a sprinkler, set a timer to help minimize wasted water.
Growing native species of plants will attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies and moths. If you really want to get the most out of your landscaping, focus on growing edible plants alongside ornamental ones. Fruits, vegetables and herbs can add beauty to landscape beds as well as help you save money on groceries. You can also use any produce scraps to create your own compost in order to continue feeding your garden.
Food Scraps for Your Skincare Routine
Composting may be the most common use of food waste, but did you know you can incorporate several food scraps in your daily skincare routine?
As it turns out, fruit peels are excellent for your skin. For example, banana peels can be used as a naturally exfoliating loofah. Simply sprinkle some sugar onto the fleshy side of the peel and apply in the shower. For your face, avocado skins make an easy, hydrating moisturizer.
To make a citrus body scrub, grind dried orange peels, and mix with sugar and vanilla. The natural oils in orange peels help to moisturize dry skin. Lemon halves are excellent for strengthening and brightening your fingernails. After juicing a lemon, rub the half around your fingers and under each nail. Coffee grounds are especially nourishing for hair and skin, and they make a great exfoliant. They can also enhance brunette hair colors.
Are Compostable Takeout Containers Good for the Planet?
In recent years, restaurants have become aware of the amount of plastic waste generated by takeout containers, and some have begun to package their orders in “compostable” containers made from plants. Also known as “bioplastics,” some research shows that these materials may not be better for the environment overall.
According to CivilEats.com, labeling takeout containers as biodegradable isn’t entirely accurate. Most of these containers and cutlery won’t break down in home compost bins and must be sent to industrial facilities in order to be processed. Of nearly 4,000 compost sites in the U.S., very few can accept bioplastics.
Oregon recently announced that the state’s compost facilities would no longer accept compostable products due to contamination from noncompostable look-alike items. Employees have to separate out the noncompostable containers, wasting time, energy and money.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) reviewed lifecycle analyses for compostable food containers and measured the full impact of these products, including the raw materials used, the impact of manufacturing and transit, and what happens once they’re thrown away. Among the comparisons, the Oregon DEQ found that the creation and composting of compostable packaging resulted in a higher environmental footprint versus materials that were recycled, incinerated or sent to a landfill.
While compostable takeout containers may work well in some parts of the country, other alternatives such as checking out a reusable takeout container, bringing your own or eating your meal at the restaurant may do more to reduce waste than biodegradable containers alone.
Improve Your Recycling Habits
Recycling is not a fix-all, but there are steps you can take to improve the process. Whether you’re a seasoned recycler or a newbie, these ideas will help along your green journey.
Know what to recycle. Just because an item has the recycling symbol on it does not mean it will actually get recycled. Research your city’s rules for recycling as some places will not process certain plastics. Unfortunately, if your items have food waste on them, they could contaminate a whole load of recyclable materials and send everything to the landfill. Be sure to thoroughly empty and clean containers before placing them in your bin.
Buy recycled. Industries track consumer patterns and produce what people want to buy. From furniture to household products to clothing, there is an entire subset of items made from recycled materials. Buying recycled paper towels or leggings made from recycled water bottles encourages companies to invest in this technology and helps create a more circular, sustainable economy.
Follow the three R’s. You’ve likely heard “reduce, reuse, recycle” with the emphasis being on the final R. But the first two are more important and actually have a larger impact. Reducing the number of single-use plastics that you buy in the first place is the best way to keep items out of the landfill, and reusing what you already have helps lower the demand for new items. Some environmentalists are also adding a fourth R – refuse – as the first step toward eco-friendly living. For example, if someone offers you a plastic straw or plastic promotional item, politely refuse as a way to begin influencing industries’ behavior and lowering your environmental footprint. Rather than being the focus, recycling should be the last resort.
Valentine’s Day brings flowers, chocolates, cards, and all of the unnecessary waste that comes with them. Here are some ideas to have a sweet, thoughtful holiday without the trash.
Homemade Goodies: If your valentine loves chocolate treats, try making some yourself. You can make heart-shaped sweets with cookie cutters, or add natural food coloring for red, pink and white desserts. If you don’t enjoy baking, stop by the grocery store and fill a reusable jar with bulk chocolates. Tie a colorful bow around the jar for a festive touch.
Experiences: The memory of a shared experience will last much longer than a physical trinket. Surprise your special someone with tickets to a concert, or treat him or her with a trip to an art gallery or museum. You can also pack a plastic-free picnic for the two of you and, based on the weather, enjoy it inside or outside.
Thoughtful Gestures: If you want to give your significant other flowers, look for some that are locally grown and skip the plastic wrapping. Or, buy a small houseplant that your valentine can enjoy longer than cut flowers. Writing a note on recyclable paper instead of a store-bought card is another meaningful way to say “I love you” while also reducing waste.
3 Upcycled Products for Home Renovations:
If you’re planning to remodel your home this year, ask your contractor to research using eco-friendly materials. Here are three products to consider, according to Houzz.com.
Carpet made from plastic bottles Manufacturers are developing new ways to produce rugs and carpets that have a positive impact on the environment. For example, Mohawk Industries has the world’s largest manufacturing facility to upcycle plastic bottles into carpet fibers.
Reclaimed snow fencing Snow fencing in northern states is often made from durable high-altitude pine. As highway crews replace sections of fencing, some companies are repurposing the old wood to use for flooring, interior trim, accent walls, and other residential products.
Recycled glass countertops For a sustainably produced countertop that’s easy to maintain, look for options made from recycled glass. The glass is typically mixed with Portland cement and non-toxic pigments, resulting in a tough surface that is presealed, stainproof and heatproof.
Living Sustainably From 8 to 5:
Practicing a sustainable lifestyle during business hours can be tricky, especially if your company doesn’t have a designated program in place. However, even small steps can make a positive impact on the environment and your coworkers.
Start by bringing a reusable water bottle and travel coffee mug for your drinks throughout the workday.
Pack your lunch in a glass or stainless steel container, complete with silverware and a cloth napkin. Consider keeping an extra set of silverware and a reusable straw at your desk so you’re prepared for any impromptu, lunch meetings or office gatherings. Reduce the amount of paper you use by requesting digital copies of documents. If you need a physical copy of something, set your printer default to double-sided.
If you’re an employer looking to make your company more sustainable, consider switching to energy-efficient light bulbs throughout the office, and reduce waste by making recycling bins easily accessible for employees. For coffee and snacks in the break room, try to support local vendors and consider stocking up on reusable or compostable plates and cutlery. Eliminating plastic promotional items from your marketing efforts is another way to reduce your footprint.
Most importantly, lead by example. People in your workplace may be far more interested in adopting sustainable options if they see how painless it is for you to maintain.
Keep Hardwoods Shiny with Natural Cleaners:
Simple, homemade solutions can keep your hardwood floors shiny without introducing harsh chemicals and toxins into your home. Start by sweeping, vacuuming or dust-mopping your floors to remove dirt, and then try one of these options.
Vinegar and water: To effectively clean most hardwoods, mix ½ cup of distilled white vinegar with 1 gallon of warm water. Vinegar is tough on grime, but use it sparingly – an excess amount could erode the wood’s sealant. Hardwoods shouldn’t be exposed to too much water either, so avoid over-saturating them by thoroughly wringing out your mop.
Vinegar and oil: If your manufacturer’s instructions discourage using any water on your hardwoods, add equal parts distilled white vinegar and olive or vegetable oil to a spray bottle. Close tightly and shake to mix well. Spray your floor with the solution, and then mop. Finish it off by buffing the floor in circular motions with a microfiber cloth.
Black tea: Tea adds a subtle stain to your floors, which can help cover scratches and bring out the natural beauty of the grain. Boil ½ gallon of water on the stove and add 8 tea bags. Steep for 10-15 minutes, and then allow the liquid to cool. Dip a rag into the tea and wring it out until damp, not soaking wet. Test the solution in an inconspicuous area of your floor first. If you like the color, continue with your rag or mop moving in the direction of the grain.
We may not be getting the Winter 2016-2017 conditions this year so far, but winter is surely on its way and it’s time to keep possible home damages at the front of our minds.
Ice dams can cause major destruction to our homes, some of which might need professional help or even remodeling to recover from. By thinking ahead and paying attention you can avoid this risk.
So, what is an ice dam?
An ice dam is a wall of ice that forms at the edge of the roof, typically at the gutters or soffit, and prevents melting snow from draining off. It backs up the snow and water causing re-freezing and blockage.
What causes ice dams?
Three things work together to create ice dams.
Snow is present on the roof.
Higher portions of the roof’s surface is above 32 degrees.
Lower surfaces are below 32 degrees.
When these three align, snow will melt and the water from that melt will flow down the roof and freeze, which forms the ice dam.
What are the signs of an ice dam?
Your home has a history of ice dams.
Icicles form on the edge of the roof or off the front edge of the gutter. (Keep in mind: Not all icicles mean you have an ice dam. It’s common for smaller icicles to form in the winter. It’s the big, thicker icicles you want to keep a close eye on.)
Ice is coming through the soffit.
Water or ice appears on the exterior wall.
Water is seeping through a door frame or window.
How do ice dams damage the home?
If you don’t tackle and address an ice dam early, the costs can be significant.
Water Damage: The melting snow can makes its way into your house, walls, ceilings and insulation, causing water to get trapped and cause damage to the interior of your home. If insulation gets wet, it can become ineffective as well as result in mold.
Roof Shingle Damage: The dams can lift roof shingles up, causing roof problems as well as leaks.
Gutter Damage: The pressure and weight from the dams can pull off gutters and lead to structural damage which may cause flooding.
How do you prevent ice dams?
Properly winterizing your roof is the best way to prevent ice dams from forming, and now is a great time to do it. Here is how you can winterize:
Have your gutters cleared and cleaned before winter fully hits.
Keep your attic and roof well ventilated so it stays cold.
Insulate your attic so heat from the home doesn’t seep up and cause melting.
Rake or shovel snow off your roof before it freezes. Or hire a professional to clear it for you.
Create an air barrier between the house and attic with a foil-faced cover over an uninsulated attic hatch or whole-house fan opening.
Install a water-repellent roof membrane.
Check for any potentially dangerous heat sources, including uninsulated recessed ceiling can lights, uninsulated folding attic stair openings, heating ducts, furnace or water-heating equipment and inadequate bathroom vent fans.
How do you remove ice dams if one forms?
If you notice an ice dam has formed, or is forming, here are some things you can do immediately to help the situation.
Apply calcium chloride or another ice-melting product onto the ice.
Place a box fan in the attic and direct it at the underside of the roof where water is leaking in. The cold air will freeze the water.
If your roof is flat or has a low slope, use a roof rake to sweep off the snow.
Have a professional remove the dam with high-pressure steam or other specialized methods.
Don’t let the beauty of icicles or the lack of knowledge about ice dams cause damage to your home this winter. Many landscaping companies in Central Oregon will help with winterizing and dam removal.