Thursday, September 25, 2008

orange peel, styrofoam and other fun things.

so, few things, some from friends, some I just want to share with you.

1. a little quiz from duke energy. I got two wrong. how'd you do?

2. styrofoam is bad news bears.

on tuesday after dinner I told someone that I hate it when restaurants give you styrofoam to-go containers. he said "is it really that bad?" I said I think so, I know it can be recycled, it says so on the bottom, but I don't think anyone actually does it.

it is 98% air, did you know that? and you can dissolve it with the juice squeezed from an orange peel (see? this is a pdf by the way). and it's filled with chemicals that are known to be hazardous to your health and known carcinogens (for instance, the styrene itself leaches, and there's benzene in it too.) Technically, yes, it can be recycled. It's broken down, processed and typically reformed into pellets that are used in future styrofoam production. good, right? well, y'see, it's also lightweight and bulky, and also very durable, and that makes it difficult to recycle. plus, a lot of the time it's been contaminated with food, e.g. raw meat, and it has to be cleaned first (and due to its high surface area I'm guessing that's more than a matter of spraying some water at it like it is for aluminum or plastic.)

I looked on earth911 and allegedly the whole foods about 10 miles away would take my styrofoam, but I don't think that's true. None of the other recycling centers will take it either. Apparently that's because it's only really cost effective to recycle it in bulk. Like, industrial size bulk. So, depending on whose website you read, 10-12ish percent of styrofoam is recycled, and the rest goes to live in the landfill with 50-year old aluminum cans and other nuggets o' fun. And it's gonna last much, much longer. Like half a millenia or more, or maybe even until, y'know, the end of time. and if it doesn't make it to the landfill correctly? it floats and the little fishies eat it. :(

So, when you can, if you can, avoid styrofoam at all costs, k?

3. environmentally friendly comic!

my climbing friend greg told me about Luz, a weekly comic about a little girl in NYC trying to "be green." I read through them all and it was really interesting but also kind of sad--she's trying so hard, people aren't listening to her and the realization of how many of our purchases are not eco-friendly is just painful to see! But it made me think and even taught me a few things. I'll be sharing any good ones with you, don't you worry! here's an example!

4. on tuesday I went to a seminar at lunch about what's going on with our soil. it acts as a carbon sink, did you know that? (kind of like how the ocean absorbs CO2, so does the soil, in a manner of speaking) well, it was really interesting. they talked about this study of rice yields and the slow but steady decline in production, and how no matter how much they did to make the growing conditions ideal, they couldn't get it back to where they'd starts. turns out it was letting the field rest for a season, letting the field lie fallow, that finally let them achieve maximum allowable yield.

another cool thing was about the way roots of different plants behave based on the condition of the soil, their climate and the composition of the atmosphere--the same plant will absorb/release different compounds different ways depending on what nature needs them to do--storing more carbon in the soil, removing it, etc. VERY neat. not to get all religious on you, but it is exactly this kind of symbiotic relationship, which is so prevalent on our earth that makes me quite certain there is a God.

5. there is life on my deck and patio.

okay, unexpected life is more accurate. I have lots of plants out there, but I went outside the other day and saw these little guys poking up at me--baby basils! I've been pulling the flowers off the top and had just been tossing them into the pot, and now they've sprouted! crazy! I am pretty pumped about this though since I can ALWAYS use more basil AND it means I can make more pesto to freeze and enjoy this winter. yay!

also, I have an open kitty litter pan that I washed out a while ago and keep forgetting to bring in. when it rains it collects LOTS of water, and I've been kind of remiss about tending to my plants recently, so the rain water has been sitting there for a little while, I guess. I was about to pour it out and use it to water my plants when I noticed something moving in the water. there were tadpoles!

can you find it? if not, here's another picture. the little guy it between the two black blobs.

as a girl who feels guilty killing off seedlings when too many sprout, I certainly couldn't harm these little guys living in a habitat I accidentally created just for them. I read that you can feed them boiled chopped up lettuce, and I might do that for them. I think it's fun! I hope they're going to be safe during out party! I can just see some of the guys pouring beer into the container now...

6. my dining area

this has nothing to do with being eco friendly, it just makes me happy. Now there is wall art on either side of the bathroom door. I painted that sunflower picture, Brooke drew the dude playing the sitar and I took that photo while hiking with ariel et al. I have always wanted to have a seasonal picture in my house, so I'll update this one for winter, spring and summer. Yay!

7. the ceiling fan

this is our new ceiling fan in our living room. two down, one to go. the instructions say the one with the remote control requires "a great deal of patience" so we're going to wait a bit before doing that one!


Andrea said...

No joke: I am sitting here eating sushi from a, you guessed it, styrofoam container. I'm thinking "Wow, I wonder if I could bring my own container for them to put my sushi in because I bet styrofoam is really bad for the environment". And then I click on your blog. WOW! How funny!

Anyway, I'm going to see if I can start bringing my own container or see if they can switch to something else. Styrofoam is gross. One of my friends is actually allergic to it!

Thanks, as always, for sharing the info.

M. said...

Every place I have found that claims to recycle styrofoam has been a scam. So I second your sentiment: avoid it completely!

Renee said...

it always makes me really sad that sonic uses styrofoam cups.

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