Category Archives: Reduce/reuse/recycle

Home Funerals and Green Burials

Last week we attended a seminar organized by the Minnesota Threshold Network. I’ve  been interested in green burial ever since I heard about it from a funeral director when I volunteered at hospice. The trouble is, it has been illegal in Minnesota — until now.

Thanks to the work of State Rep. Carolyn Laine, Minnesota families now have choices about how to conduct funerals and burials. (But we may not have these options for very long. HF1744 has been introduced in the state legislature and it evidently would repeal some or all of the rights only recently gained. As I understand it, the president of the funeral director’s assn is a constituent of the bill’s sponsor.)

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Home Water Audit Checklist

We visited the Midtown Global Market yesterday. I didn’t know that Do It Green! was located there. They offer workshops, the Do It Green Directory, and a website with quite a few resources.

I picked up their Home Water Audit Checklist. We do “okay” but not great (seems like we’ve always got at least one toilet that’s running somewhere). I’m always looking for additional things we can try. Here are a few things I can change:

  • For hand-washing dishes, fill a tub with rinse water rather than rinsing under running water
  • Rinse fruits and veggies in a pan of water rather than under running water
  • To see if water is seeping into the toilet bowl without flushing, put food coling in the tank and watch for color in the bowl. Fixing a leak like this can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
  • Upgrade older toilets with water efficient and dual flush models. (I saw several models at Natural Built Homes on Minnehaha when I was at their warehouse sale (they weren’t on sale)).
  • When upgrading appliances, consider replacing water-cooled models with air-cooled ones (refrigerators, air conditions). I didn’t even know these were water cooled.
  • Put your sprinkler on a timer. We got a timer when we were working with the Permaculture Institute last year – I had been overly generous with watering before that.
  • Let grass go dormant during summer – dormant grss only needs to be watered every 3 weeks (or less if it rains).
  • Don’t water lawn on windy days

I didn’t know this: soft drinks and other highly processed drinks require up to twice as much water to produce as is found in the end product.

May Mini-Challenge: Reducing Trash

This month our mini-challenge goal is to reduce the amount of garbage our households (or businesses) send to landfills. Up for an even bigger challenge? How can you reduce both trash and recycling? (Recycling takes energy, too.)

If you tamed the PAPER dragon last month, you already have a head start on reducing one of the biggest area of trash. If you became part of the Minneapolis organics trash pick-up program (the green garbage can), you’ve made headway in reducing one of the other big contributors to landfills.

Check out an earlier post on organizing to make recycling and composting easier. This month our household will be paying attention to packaging on things we purchase.

April is Donate Life Month

Here at Think of It as an Adventure, we’re all about thinking outside the box. April is Donate Life month so let’s talk about the box you put yourself in after death. What can we do to create positive change even after we’re gone. A little tongue in cheek here, we can think of it as reducing, reusing and recycle on a personal scale. And the good we can do is tremendous.

Reduce: You can take action today to donate your body parts after death. Every day some 77 people receive transplanted organs but another 18 people die on the waiting list. 110,586 Americans are awaiting a donation right now. You can make a huge difference not just in one person’s life, but up to 8 people’s lives, by signing up to donate organs.

Reuse: Consider leaving your body to the U of M medical school through its anatomy bequest program. Imagine the thousands of lives that you could save as those medical students go on to long careers of service to our community.

Recycle: I first became aware of how toxic our burial practices are when I  volunteered at St. Joseph’s hospice. I swore then and there that I would not be buried in that manner. For years I’ve been waiting for the “green cemetery” movement to arrive in Minnesota and now it has. Prairie Oaks Memorial Forest, in Inver Grove Heights, is going to be Minnesota’s first green cemetery.

Minnesota Green Cemetery

Planning for Minnesota's first green cemetery

According to their literature,  just the first phase of the Prairie Oaks memorial forest will prevent 3,000 gallons of toxic embalming fluid, 292.5 tons of casket steel, 6,084 tons of concrete and 168,750 board ft. of hardwoods from going into the ground. Because it will be a nature preserve, little maintenance will be required, saving tons of fertilizer and pesticides and more than 2 million gallons of water from being used each year.

Their website says: “Prairie Oaks will be an ecosystem that invites and supports wildlife, flora and fauna that allow you to truly bloom where you are planted!”

4 tips to make recycling cleaner, easier and more efficient

One way to really stick with behavior goals, in this case, the goal of more recycling, is to change the environment to make it more conducive to success. To improve our in-home recycling efforts, I made the following changes to make recycling cleaner, easier and more efficient:

  1. Added an easy-to-use, in-home recycling station by the kitchen
  2. Added recycling stations in a few other rooms of the house
  3. Switched to reusable curbside recycling bags
  4. Replaced tall kitchen trash cans with smaller trash and compost bins

Take a look! It’s now really easy to get ready for recycling day. And we’ve reduced our trash tremendously.

Hidden Paper Waste: Alternative Feminine Hygiene Products

Every year, over 12 billion disposable menstrual pads and tampons are thrown away in the U.S. That’s huge!

While these products are really convenient, there’s just no way around the fact that they are costly to the environment in terms of expanding landfills and use of natural resources, not to mention dollars from our wallets. Individually, we women can expect to spend several thousand dollars over the course of our lifetime on this disposable paper/plastic product that typically is not biodegradable.

There ARE good options out there.

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