Compost Program Starting in Chicago Neighborhood

Day 273 – I have written about composting on numerous occasions (Day 2, Day 118 and Day 149). The posts talk about an easier way to turn your food scraps into rich soil, without needing to do much work. The process is commercial composting and all you have to do is put your food scraps into a bucket and someone comes by and picks it up. No turning of compost piles and no worms necessary. It’s all very easy and so very important. Keeping the food out of the landfill helps reduce carbon emissions. My family of 6 can fill a 5 gallon bucket each week. I can only imagine what the local restaurants are throwing out. Imagine the impact if we could keep all that food from entering the landfill.

Well, a new pilot program in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood is trying to make this a reality. WasteNot Compost has partnered with the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce to launch Clark Street Composts. The program started on September 13th and includes over 20 restaurants, bars and other businesses, wanting to keep their compostable waste out of the landfill. The hope is that this program will be the gold standard for sustainable business practices and will encourage other businesses to start composting.

“Chicago’s 2.7 million residents rank final in the nation in phrases of recycling habits, with meals waste estimated to make up over 50% of landfill contents, and 17% of greenhouse gasses produced in the U.S. are a product of meals waste rotting in landfills.” – USA News Lab

It’s time Chicago starts becoming a leader in the environmental movement. We have been dragging our feet long enough.

Tomorrow, World Vegetarian Day.

Carbon Footprint: Tools to calculate your impact

Day 68 – A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) that are generated by our actions.

“The average carbon footprint for a person in the United States is 16 tons, one of the highest rates in the world. Globally, the average is closer to 4 tons. To have the best chance of avoiding a 2℃ rise in global temperatures, the average global carbon footprint per year needs to drop under 2 tons by 2050.”The Nature Conservancy

Image borrowed from EchoTalk.org

By using a Carbon Footprint Calculator we can start figuring out how much greenhouse gas emissions we produce through our daily activities. Once we figure out where we are with our production of greenhouse gases, we can better understand how to reduce those emissions.

So what goes into calculating your carbon footprint? Information like how much electricity and natural gas your home uses in a year. What kind of car do you drive? Do you take public transportation? Even what kind of food and beverage you consume and the clothes you wear can affect your carbon footprint.

Earth911 recommends various Carbon Footprint Calculators. If you choose to use one, be sure to use the same one throughout your calculations. Jumping around from calculator to calculator will not be beneficial.

Carbon Footprint – This calculator is described as “extremely thorough”, which makes me a little apprehensive. It also uses British currency and measurements. So, conversions will be needed. I would rather not do extra math if I don’t have to.

World Wildlife Calculator – This is offered by the British division of the WWF. So, I’m guessing extra calculations would be needed to convert to U.S. currency and measurements. They do offer advice on reducing your carbon footprint available on their site.

CoolClimate Network – Created by the University of California Berkley, this calculator illustrates the breakdown of emissions across individual categories of activity.

Other sites mentioned:

  1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Carbon Footprint Calculator
  2. TerraPass Carbon Calculator
  3. The Nature Conservancy Carbon Calculator

I’m going to start using the The Nature Conservancy Carbon Calculator. I’ve chosen this calculator because I’m familiar with this organization. I really don’t know any specifics about the calculator, but will definitely update everyone on how it’s going. Please be sure to share how your carbon footprint calculator experience is going, too, if you choose to do it. I would love to know what kind of changes you have made to reduce your carbon footprint.

Tomorrow, be sure to pack your lunch.

Help Save the Polar Bears by Fighting Climate Change

Day 58 – Today is International Polar Bear Day! Those absolutely majestic arctic creatures that are endangered of extinction because of global warming.

“Every winter, Arctic sea ice grows around the pole, its frozen tendrils threading along northern coasts. Right now sea ice has just passed its peak coverage for the year, and will begin to shrink with the coming of spring. It’s a crucial time for polar bears, whose food supply is inextricably linked to sea ice. And in recent decades, sea ice has been shrinking faster than ever. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, 2019 has the seventh-lowest sea ice cover in the Arctic since they began collecting satellite data 40 years ago.” – National Geographic

Global warming is that gargantuan problem that seems impossible to tackle, absolutely absurd to comprehend and inconceivable to think that any of us could actually help the situation. But what if I told you, you could make a difference in your everyday life? And that the choices you make on a daily basis could help the polar bears?

Some of these suggestions have been mentioned in past posts. They are practical, easy and do not require much effort. If they are followed on a regular basis, they could have a huge impact on decreasing global warming.

  1. Waste less food. Composting and/or making sure you eat your leftovers, can make a huge impact on the amount of food you throw away.
  2. Eat less factory-farmed red meat. As mentioned on Day 15, reducing the amount of red meat in your diet can reduce greenhouse gases.
  3. Consume less energy and water. On Day 10, I shared a list of ways to reduce your energy and water use.
  4. Shop local. Not only are you putting dollars into your community, but you are reducing carbon emissions. By shopping local goods do not need to be shipped to you.
  5. Support non-profits fighting global warming. Your donation dollars can help initiatives and movements to help improve our planet.
  6. Recycle and purchase recycled material. On Day 26, I write about purchasing recycled toilet paper. There are countless options when looking for products made from recycled material.
  7. Find alternatives to single use plastic. Whether if it’s reusable produce bags or reusable storage bags, finding alternatives to single use plastics is become easier every day.
  8. Try to use your car less. Walking and biking are great options, along with public transportation.
  9. Consume less and waste less. Sometimes you just have to say no and realize that there are things you just don’t need.
  10. Open a dialogue and find common ground on the subject. The more we talk about global warming, the more people will understand and want to help.

Click HERE to read about 101 ways to fight climate change.

So, skip the cheeseburger, ride a bike, purchase recycled toilet paper, or shop at a local farmers market. All these decisions can reduce greenhouse gases and give those polar bears a fighting chance.

Tomorrow, our love-hate relationship with clothes.