Most people want to do what they can to help the environment. After all, this planet is our home, and it doesn’t benefit us if we’re destroying it. That being said, it can be incredibly hard to live an eco-friendly life. It often requires time, money, and resources that the average person doesn’t have. Luckily, there are a few ways that you can live a more eco-friendly life that don’t require any major changes or sacrifices. These are changes that most people can easily make. And, as with most things, change tends to start at home. That’s why, in this post, we’ll be discussing four ways that you can make your house more eco-friendly.
1. Support eco-friendly services
We all make use of services when it comes to our house. We constantly call people in to fix things, or to clean things. So, why not rather support a company that isn’t harming the earth?
Other than doing some research and making the switch, this will require minimal effort from your side but can make a big difference when it comes to the environment. For example, next time you need your carpets cleaned, why not try an earth-friendly carpet cleaning system?
It’s a well-known fact that recycling is one of the most common topics that are brought up when it comes to living a more eco-friendly life. And yet, many people don’t recycle. That’s because many of them don’t know what recycling entails.
We’re not saying you need to make homemade paper out of your old scraps of paper (although you absolutely can, if the idea interests you) but simply separating your recyclable items from the non-recyclable items will make it much better for recycling companies to do their jobs. If you need more information, click here for a list of what can be recycled.
3. Make use of alternative energy sources
Every single day, nearly every person on this planet uses some form of electricity, and a lot of it negatively impacts the world. That’s why more and more people are being encouraged to make the switch to alternative or renewable energy sources. Wind energy is a popular choice, but it’s not suitable for all regions.
Solar panels, on the other hand, can be utilized by most households. While solar energy used to be a rare luxury that few could afford, the increase in demand means that it’s now more affordable than ever.
4. Make your own compost
Compost is great for various reasons. It’s good for the environment, it means that you waste less product, and it’s great for your garden. So, with all that in mind, we can’t think of a single reason not to make your own compost!
Many people shy away from composting because they find the idea of it unappealing, but the truth is that it can be a very rewarding thing. The least you can do is to try composting – if it’s not for you, you can be eco-friendly in other ways!
Consumers want companies to reflect their values. They’re far more likely to purchase from a business with an identity, whether it manifests in charitable efforts or eco-friendly practices. As a greater number of people show interest in green living, biodegradable packaging presents an opportunity for growth.
That said, the virtues of biodegradable packaging extend beyond an improved public image. While business owners enjoy the superficial advantages of this transition, they often find it’s only a fraction of what the shift entails. Through switching to biodegradable plastics, they see considerable changes elsewhere.
In this article, we’ll detail five of those changes, exploring the subject to lend business owners a better understanding of biodegradable packaging within their operation. As we touch on the benefits, it’ll become clear that eco-friendly materials aren’t only better for the environment, but better for a company’s bottom line.
1. Free of Toxins & Allergens
Biodegradable packaging options are still somewhat limited, but most of the available materials are non-toxic and allergy-free. This is an essential consideration to consumers who care about the products they’re purchasing and the composition of their packaging. If either is potentially harmful, it hurts a business.
As often as businesses must send packages, forms, and other important information through the mail, packaging with the planet in mind and protecting your items is key. For example, your may need to send you important documents through the mail. Getting your mail in safe, low-waste packaging can protect your health from harmful chemicals, aid the planet, and provide their clients with all they need to know.
An informed consumer will almost invariably choose products packaged with bioplastic over traditional alternatives, aware of the implications of their purchase. Considering the negative health effects of phthalates — a common chemical in plastic packaging — business owners should be aware of the implications as well.
2. Require Fewer Resources
Biodegradable packaging has the potential to reduce water usage, solid waste, electricity and emissions. This is beneficial for the environment, of course, but it also lowers expenses associated with the packaging process. Over time, the accumulated savings prove well worth the cost of the transition.
If a company were to replace their standard packaging materials with bioplastic, they would enjoy weight savings on par with regular plastic. Research shows plastic packaging enables weight savings of over 78 percent compared to alternative materials, a notable statistic for business owners looking to convert.
A business can reduce them, using fewer resources to create thinner and tougher materials which do the same job.
A business can reuse them, taking advantage of materials with special coating which improves their durability.
A business can recycle them, diverting refuse from landfills as they minimize the costs of new materials.
A business owner who invests in biodegradable packaging can cut costs by a significant margin, using fewer resources, reusing their inventory and purchasing inexpensive recycled materials. In doing so, they’ll see reduced packaging expenses over time, and more freely allocate their money elsewhere.
Reusing packaging is proving to be not only environmentally friendly, but an excellent marketing advantage. From Pinterest to Instagram, users are finding a way to re-purpose packaging. Business owners who are vocal in encouraging their customers to prioritize environmentally friendly choices can earn more goodwill and local business as a result. ToolTally is a good example of a blog that focuses on helping DIYers reuse products, and is growing an organic following as a result.
4. Reduced Footprint
A business owner has financial goals they have to meet, but they have environmental goals as well. Every professional in an upper-management position has a responsibility to ensure their company meets high standards of environmental compliance, and biodegradable packaging can help — outside a legal context.
To reinforce an earlier point, 70 percent of consumers between the ages of 15 and 20 want to buy goods from companies committed to sustainability, and biodegradable plastics affect the appeal of businesses which would otherwise see less attention. To reduce emissions and increase interest, change is necessary.
5. Convenient Disposal
Recyclable, compostable and biodegradable packaging simplifies disposal for the consumer. It affords them more options in discarding these materials, and companies should always seek to make their products convenient, from start to finish. Biodegradable materials exemplify this mindset.
For example, consumers who prefer to compost their refuse won’t have to make exceptions for packaging. They can add biodegradable packaging to their compost in much the same way they would with any other compost-friendly material, contributing to the product’s value beyond its primary utility.
Looking Toward the Future
When reviewing the benefits listed above, business owners should feel confident in their decision to adopt biodegradable packaging. More than superficial benefits, they’ll enjoy reduced costs and carbon emissions while increasing consumer convenience and reducing plastic pollution. The advantages are clear.
Looking toward the future, it’s safe to speculate more companies will transition toward eco-friendly practices. With this in mind, taking action now is the best option, and though biodegradable packaging is a small step, it’s an important one.
Composting is a natural process of recycling food waste, lawn and garden waste along with other organic matter such as leaves and newspapers. It is all natural resulting in improved soil quality, nutrient recycling and water conservation.
You are able to fertilize and improve the soil with natural ingredients that provide plant nutrients and beneficial microbial and other organisms, such as fungal mycelium and earthworms, that enhance the soil environment.
The Advantages of Applying Compost
There is a phrase “Black Gold” and that exactly is what compost material is. Compost that you have generated in your own backyard by processing food waste, lawn clippings, ripped up papers, especially newspapers, leaf litter. Mixing the greens and the browns biodegradable waste products that are generated in our home or around the yard.
This compost material can be spread across the garden soil, dug in and used to supplement nutrients in the growing beds of our gardens. First and foremost, you will be adding microbial material to your soils that will bring more life and energy to your soil and ultimately to your plants. It’s a type of food for the soil.
It means you will not need to use commercial and artificial chemicals on your souls to boost the growth. That will save you hard earned cash. It will protect you and your family from artificial chemicals. The compost will also add to your mulch layer which is designed to suppress weeds or the unintended plants that pop up in everyone’s garden. This also means no pesticide usage to kill the weeds either. That is another money saving aspect and protection for you from pesticides.
All the while, the richer soil will give rise to greater microbial diversity within your soil. Greater diversity will mean a more efficient and faster processing of soil maturation. This in turn will create the perfect environment for the vegetable and flower garden.
By these advantages, the soil structure will be improved that soil organisms and root structures will move more freely through the soil substrata with less stress and resistance. By creating a healthier plant root environment, the soil will be easier also for you to cultivate and care for. Water will penetrate more easily and the compost material will also help retain the soil moisture. At the same time, the compost helps maintain an ideal pH level in the soil that is optimum for plant growth.
The water holding capacity will be enhanced overall. As mentioned above, not just easing entry of water into the soil, but retaining it within the soil layer means there will not be the hardening or crusting of the very top soil layer that makes it hard and even impossible for water penetration. If this occurs, water will simply runoff the garden and even wash away clumps of soil. A healthy soil will also conserve water in your garden environment. It is a win-win situation.
To summarise, the key benefits of using compost are as follows:
Agricultural practices are increasingly leaning towards committing to a sustainable environment. In light of this, organic farming has become acceptable to many farmers. Many are practicing environmental- friendly practices such as using organic liquid fertilizer instead of the synthetic alternative.
The misuse and abuse of synthetic fertilizers is responsible for many of the health problems that humans experience today. It has also contributed to a large extent to the deterioration of the environment.
Organic agriculture has experienced fast growth globally. Organic systems involve the natural management of soil through the following practices:
These nourish the soil by steadily releasing nutrients to the crops as the organic matter that has been added to the soil breaks down. The chemical and physical properties of the soil are improved by the exogenous organic matter applied to the soil. This also improves the biological functions of the soil which results in a healthy and wholesome crop free of dangerous disease causing chemicals.
Why Organic Liquid Fertilizer is Sustainable?
Organic liquid fertilizer is derived from naturally existing products such as plants and animal manure. This makes it a sustainable product. Waste from animals such as cows, rabbits, fish and chicken is used to make organic fertilizer that provides much-needed nutrition to plants and soil as well.
Naturally occurring vegetation and waste will always be available as it renews itself. Besides, plants can be reused to make fertilizer for the next batch once harvesting is done. Since organic farming takes care of the environment, it is safe to say that vegetation is safe for the long run. Organic liquid fertilizer is also made from human waste such as urine and that is definitely sustainable.
Organic gardeners love to have a bottle of organic fish fertilizer on hand for feed young seedlings. This fertilizer also works well on plants in containers and any crop that may be suffering from ‘malnutrition’.
Why and When to Use Liquid Fertilizers
Seeing as liquid manures act faster than solid organic ones, they are the best option in the following circumstance:
For seedlings that have exhausted the nutrients provided by newly sprouted seed. It is especially crucial if the fertilizer you are using is a soil-free seed starting mix. While it helps in damping off, it fails to provide adequate nutrients.
When seedlings show signs of not having had enough nutrients. If the color fails to darken after a fertilizer has been added, it is an indication that they have not had a fair share of nutrients.
If you have container-grown plants, liquid fertilizers are what your plants yearn for. Container-grown plants depend entirely on the grower for nutrients and moisture. They need to be fed frequently with an organic liquid fertilizer in order to thrive.
When you are growing cold-tolerant crops which begin their journey of growth in low soil temperatures. Liquid fertilizers are great for boosting nutrients for such plants since it is difficult to absorb nutrients such as nitrogen in wintry temperatures.
Organic liquid fertilizers are short-acting. Consequently, they are easier to regulate that dry organic ones which are longer-acting. The ease with which liquid fertilizers can be used makes them quite popular and therefore sustainable.
Do not mix too much nitrogen-rich fertilizer into the soil. This is not reversible. The release of nitrogen into the soil increases as the temperature rises. You may consequently end up with huge plants but no production. The best time to apply a short-acting fertilizer is just when it is needed by the crop. Then you have less chances of overdoing the application.
When your plants are well into the season, you can feed them an organic liquid fertilizer to rejuvenate crops such as tomatoes which live long in the ground. Tomatoes are known to awaken with gusto once you give them two feeds of a good organic liquid fertilizer.
Waste disposal methods vary from city to city, state to state and region to region. It equally depends on the kind and type of waste generated. In determining the disposal method that a city or nation should adopt, some factors like type, kind, quantity, frequency, and forms of waste need to be considered.
For the purpose of this article, we will look at the three common waste disposal methods in Africa and the kind of waste they accept.
This is the crudest means of disposing of waste and it is mostly practiced in rural areas, semi-urban settlements, and undeveloped urban areas. For open dumping or open burning, every type and form of waste (including household waste, hazardous wastes, tires, batteries, chemicals) is dumped in an open area within a community or outside different homes in a community and same being set on fire after a number of days or when the waste generator or community feels it should be burnt.
There is no gainsaying that the negative health and environmental impact of such practice are huge only if the propagators know better.
This is apparent in most States in Nigeria, if not all and some cities in Africa like Mozambique, Ghana, Kenya, Cameroon, to mention but a few. It is a method of disposing of all kinds of waste in a designated area of land by waste collectors and it is usually controlled by the State or City Government.
Controlled dumps are commonly found in urban areas and because they are managed by the government, some dumps do have certain features of a landfill like tenure of usage, basic record keeping, waste covering, etc. Many cities in Nigeria confuse the practice of controlled dumping as landfilling but this not so because a landfill involves engineering design, planning, and operation.
A sanitary landfill is arguably the most desired waste management option in reducing or eliminating public health hazards and environmental pollution. The landfill is the final disposal site for all forms and types of waste after the recyclable materials must have been separated for other usages and other biodegradables have been extracted from the waste for use as compost, heat, or energy; or after incineration. These extractions can be done at household level or Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) operated by the government or private individuals.
As desirable as a landfill is, so many factors need to be put into consideration in its siting and operation plus it requires a huge investment in construction and operation. Some of these factors include but not limited to distance from the residential area, proximity to water bodies, water-table level of the area the landfill is to be sited, earth material availability, and access road.
Soil is important, whether you’re growing prize winning roses, landscape shrubs or your own fruit trees. All need to be in the right type of soil to get the nutrient they need. Even beginners can improve the quality of the soil in the garden. All you need to do is follow these simple steps:
1. Add Compost
Compost is not just for preparing the beds in the spring. Compost can be placed into your raised beds in the fall and improve their conditions over the winter. Because they will be sitting over the beds all winter, this doesn’t even have to be completely broken down compost either. A lot of the process will happen right there on the bed.
The concept of safe food using organic waste generated compost is picking up in South Asia
You can even use this method as a practical way of getting rid of all the waste you pick up from your garden in the fall. Just spread this over the bed and cover with mulch. The mulch protects the soil and the nutrients in the compost.
2. Use Soil Amendments
Different soil amendments can be added to your soil to make it more suitable to your purposes. Choosing which soil amendment to use with your sol will be a matter of matching the proper solution to the problem you are facing. For example, there are amendment for increasing the nutritional content of your soil and others for improving the soil’s texture also known as tilth. For example, if your notice that the water is draining away too fast, you can add an amendment that allows you to soak up the moisture and the reverse is also true.
You can adjust the conditions of the soil to your exact needs with the right soil amendment. This could be compost or other rich matter that absorbs moisture or an amendment like greensand that allows water to drain away more easily.
Here are some common soil amendments that you can consider using for your garden as needed:
When you are thinking about improving soil quality, don’t forget the power of cover crops. This is not just an idea for large scale agricultural weed suppression. They are also a major benefit for backyard gardeners as well.
Cover crops are especially good for treating the soil as they provide oxygenation and improved nutrient availability. Alfalfa with its very deep root system pulls nutrients upwards from the lower levels of soil and make these more available in planting season. Then a couple weeks before you begin planting, this cover crop will be tilled back into the soil, increasing its organic composition and nutrient content.
This can also be used to improve the levels of nitrogen in the soil when using legumes as a cover crop. Fava beans, crimson clover and alfalfa are all good examples of nitrogen high crop covers. If you will not be growing anything particular over the growing season, you may consider a cover crop that protect and aerate your beds. (Pro tip: cherry trees are a great choice for the beginner backyard orchardist and benefit greatly from good soil).
4. Try Lasagna Gardening
Also called sheet composting or “No-Till” gardening is another good way to improve your gardens soil quality and a perfect way to begin your raised beds and continue them. As you notice the quality levels of soil in your bed begin dropping down, you will keep adding new layers like lasagna which begins improving the quality of your soil from the top to the bottom. After the end of each growing season new layers are added.
For more information about your garden and the process of sheet composting, check out this article on the lasagna gardening method beginner’s guide. But there is one thing you will need to consider when using the lasagna method of composting. If you will be renovating your raised beds with the sheet composting method, you will need to wait a full 6-months before planting as you will need them to fully break down.
So this method will be best suited to those garden working with rotating beds or those gardeners who only plant one season. The following link included here will give some pointers on how this can be changed about and planting can be done sooner. Basically, if you would like to begin planting sooner, you will need to spread out a layer of compost and or healthy topsoil –– roughly 2 or 3 inches thick. You can then begin planting directly through this top layer.
5. Prepare Raised Beds for the Winter
Never forget the importance of using the end of the year garden season is your opportunity to improve the quality of your soil in a number of ways. This end of the year ritual is like “closing down the shop” till spring. But, if you live in a warmer area of the country this might not even be necessary.
Here are some things to do. First, cut the plants as opposed to pulling them from the soil. Cutting the plant will allow the roots to rot away and this will make your soil lighter and airy. Then you can spread some compost out on the soil and cover this with a layer of mulch, the compost will be feeding nutrients back to the soil while the mulch will protect the soil and keep the nutrients bound in.
You can also just plant a cover crop and call it a year. Be sure to check out our article on winter gardening for some more things to do in the cold months.
Biochar is a carbon-rich, fine-grained residue which can be produced either by ancient techniques (such as covering burning biomass with soil and allowing it to smoulder) or state-of-the-art modern biomass pyrolysis processes. Combustion and decomposition of woody biomass and agricultural residues results in the emission of a large amount of carbon dioxide. Biochar can store this CO2 in the soil leading to reduction in GHGs emission and enhancement of soil fertility.
Biochar holds the promise to tackle chronic human development issues like hunger and food insecurity, low agricultural productivity and soil depletion, deforestation and biodiversity loss, energy poverty, water pollution, air pollution and climate change. Let us have a close look at some of the most promising applications of biochar.
1. Use of biochar in animal farming
At present approx. 90% of the biochar used in Europe goes into animal farming. Different to its application to fields, a farmer will notice its effects within a few days. Whether used in feeding, litter or in slurry treatment, a farmer will quickly notice less smell. Used as a feed supplement, the incidence of diarrhoea rapidly decreases, feed intake is improved, allergies disappear, and the animals become calmer.
In Germany, researchers conducted a controlled experiment in a dairy that was experiencing a number of common health problems: reduced performance, movement disorder, fertility disorders, inflammation of the urinary bladder, viscous salivas, and diarrhoea. Animals were fed different combinations of charcoal, sauerkraut juice or humic acids over periods of 4 to 6 weeks.
Experimenters found that oral application of charcoal (from 200 to 400 g/day), sauerkraut juice and humic acids influenced the antibody levels to C. botulinum, indicating reduced gastrointestinal neurotoxin burden. They found that when the feed supplements were ended, antibody levels increased, indicating that regular feeding of charcoal and other supplements had a tonic effect on cow health.
2. Biochar as soil conditioner
In certain poor soils (mainly in the tropics), positive effects on soil fertility were seen when applying untreated biochar. These include the higher capacity of the soil to store water, aeration of the soil and the release of nutrients through raising the soil’s pH value. In temperate climates, soils tend to have humus content of over 1.5%, meaning that such effects only play a secondary role.
Indeed, fresh biochar may adsorb nutrients in the soil, causing at least in the short and medium term – a negative effect on plant growth. These are the reasons why in temperate climates biochar should only be used when first loaded with nutrients and when the char surfaces have been activated through microbial oxidation.
The best method of loading nutrients is to co-compost the char. This involves adding 10–30% biochar (by volume) to the biomass to be composted. Co-composting improves both the biochar and the compost. The resulting compost can be used as a highly efficient substitute for peat in potting soil, greenhouses, nurseries and other special cultures.
Because biochar serves as a carrier for plant nutrients, it can produce organic carbon-based fertilizers by mixing biochar with such organic waste as wool, molasses, ash, slurry and pomace. These are at least as efficient as conventional fertilizers, and have the advantage of not having the well-known adverse effects on the ecosystem. Such fertilizers prevent the leaching of nutrients, a negative aspect of conventional fertilizers. The nutrients are available as and when the plants need them. Through the stimulation of microbial symbiosis, the plant takes up the nutrients stored in the porous carbon structure and on its surfaces.
A range of organic chemicals are produced during pyrolysis. Some of these remain stuck to the pores and surfaces of the biochar and may have a role in stimulating a plant’s internal immune system, thereby increasing its resistance to pathogens. The effect on plant defence mechanisms was mainly observed when using low temperature biochars (pyrolysed at 350° to 450°C). This potential use is, however, only just now being developed and still requires a lot of research effort.
3. Biochar as construction material
The two interesting properties of biochar are its extremely low thermal conductivity and its ability to absorb water up to 6 times its weight. These properties mean that biochar is just the right material for insulating buildings and regulating humidity. In combination with clay, but also with lime and cement mortar, biochar can be added to clay at a ratio of up to 50% and replace sand in lime and cement mortars. This creates indoor plasters with excellent insulation and breathing properties, able to maintain humidity levels in a room at 45–70% in both summer and winter. This in turn prevents not just dry air, which can lead to respiratory disorders and allergies, but also dampness and air condensing on the walls, which can lead to mould developing.
As per study by the Ithaka Institute’s biochar-plaster wine cellar and seminar rooms in the Ithaka Journal. Such biochar-mud plaster adsorbs smells and toxins, a property not just benefiting smokers. Biochar-mud plasters can improve working conditions in libraries, schools, warehouses, factories and agricultural buildings.
Biochar is an efficient adsorber of electromagnetic radiation, meaning that biochar-mud plaster can prevent “electrosmog”. Biochar can also be applied to the outside walls of a building by jet-spray technique mixing it with lime. Applied at thicknesses of up to 20 cm, it is a substitute for Styrofoam insulation. Houses insulated this way become carbon sinks, while at the same time having a more healthy indoor climate. Should such a house be demolished at a later date, the biochar-mud or biochar-lime plaster can be recycled as a valuable compost additive.
Soil substrates – Highly adsorbing and effective for plantation soil substrates for use in cleaning wastewater; in particular urban wastewater contaminated by heavy metals.
A barrier preventing pesticides getting into surface water – berms around fields and ponds can be equipped with 30-50 cm deep barriers made of biochar for filtering out pesticides.
Treating pond and lake water – biochar is good for adsorbing pesticides and fertilizers, as well as for improving water aeration.
5. Use of biochar in wastewater treatment – Our Project
The biochar grounded to a particle size of less than 1.5 mm and surface area of 600 – 1000 m2/g. The figure below is the basic representation of production of biochar for wastewater treatment.
We conducted a study for municipal wastewater which was obtained from a local municipal treatment plant. The municipal wastewater was tested for its physicochemical parameters including pH, chemical oxygen demand (COD), total suspended solids (TSS), total phosphates (TP) and total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN) using the APHA (2005) standard methods.
Bio filtration of the municipal wastewater with biochar acting as the bio adsorbent was allowed to take place over a 5 day period noting the changes in the wastewater parameters. The municipal wastewater and the treated effluent physicochemical.
The COD concentration in the municipal wastewater decreased by 90% upon treatment with bio-char. The decrease in the COD was attributed to the enhanced removal of bio contaminants as they were passed through the biochar due to the biochar’s adsorption properties as well as the high surface area of the bio char. An 89% reduction in the TSS was observed as the bio filtration process with bio char increased from one day to five days
The TKN concentration in the wastewater decreased by 64% upon treatment with bio char as a bio filter. The TP in the wastewater decreased by 78% as the bio filtration time with biochar increase. The wastewater pH changed from being alkaline to neutral during the treatment with biochar over the 5 day period
6. Use of Biochar in Textiles
In Japan and China bamboo-based biochar are already being woven into textiles to gain better thermal and breathing properties and to reduce the development of odours through sweat. The same aim is pursued through the inclusion of biochar in shoe soles and socks.
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