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Green Living - How To and Questions

MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
edited April 2015 in Help / Advice Forum
In the Climate Change thread in D&D it was suggested that we have a thread for tips and advice on living more environmentally friendly, reduce your carbon footprint, etc. It's a very big job that everyone needs to do, can get very overwhelming due to the scale, and if we don't civilization as we know it is pretty much doomed.

These first few posts will have a listing of tips that you can start doing, links to other posts in the thread with good advice or general wise words, and links to outside websites with further information. If you have good information or can link to good information, post it and I'll update. Home composting/recycling/waste reduction, how geothermal heating works and why everyone should invest in it, producing electricity, what to eat and when, weatherproofing, gardening, painting your roof white, even indirect things like writing to your local representatives, it can all go here.

You can also post here if you have questions about things, like you have a fancy thermostat that can change the temperature over the course of the day but your mom keeps freaking out and telling you that you use more energy when the temperature goes back to normal than you would by keeping it the same (which is false by the way - also that's not my mom but someone else's mom). We can discuss pros and cons of nuclear power and wind energy or crunch numbers on if it's more effective to do X or Y or if you're doing it wrong and actually making things worse in doing so (for instance, canvas bags need to be used 172 times each before they become more environmentally friendly than using plastic bags - so if you're like me and have used the same bags for over ten years, probably alright, but if you're going to forget about them after five uses, don't waste your money).

I'll try to keep things updated regularly. PM me if you have questions.

Simple Tips

Washing clothes
If they're not heavily soiled or needs to be disinfected (like sheets, pillows, and cloth diapers), wash your clothes in cold water. Detergents and washing machine technology are a lot more advanced these days than they used to be and 90% of the energy used by a washer is for heating water. You can do this if you have your own washing machine or go to a laundromat. You'll save more energy this way than by washing warmly and then hanging the clothes to dry, though you can do the latter also if you like.

Eat less meat, especially beef
Eating meat requires significantly more water and caloric input and produces more CO2 output than eating the equivalent amount in plant calories. Beef and lamb are the worst offenders, but beef is more widespread. If you can't completely cut out meat, try at least to substitute beef with other meats.

More Advanced Tips

White/cool/green roofs
Black tar roofs absorb most sunlight, getting hot - very hot - in the summer. Having a cooler roof would reduce local heating, the heat island effect in cities, and reduce cooling costs. Green roofs have vegetation that both absorbs sunlight and reduces water runoff, but can be expensive and difficult to maintain. White/cool roofs may not reduce water runoff but reflect more light, leading to a cooler surface and area, which can reduce total energy costs by up to 40% in Sun Belt areas. Links are below.

Mayabird on
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Posts

  • MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    edited April 2015
    Mayabird on
    XaquinZilla360
  • MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    edited August 2015
    Outside links

    Biochar
    International Biochar Initiative
    Carbon Roots International
    Gardening with Biochar
    Backyard Biochar

    Canvas bags
    must be used 172 times each to become more environmentally friendly than using plastic bags. If you would like to go this route, you need to commit to using the same ones for years.

    Foods
    Seafood Watch by Monterey Bay Aquarium - guide for picking sustainable seafood and avoiding unhealthy and environmentally unfriendly fish, updated frequently

    Gardening
    Companion plant spacing
    PA thread: lawns are bad
    Grow your own mushrooms
    How to build raised beds
    TED talk - Urban agriculture and edible landscapes

    White/cool/green roofs
    Green Roof - Wikipedia link for fast reference
    Roof Savings Calculator - for determining how much savings you can get for cooling your roof (or the roof of your workplace)
    White Roof Project - references and information about white roofs
    Cool Roofs - Department of Energy
    Cool Roofs for Houston - specifically for Houston, TX but with generally applicable technical information and details


    Mayabird on
    JuliusXaquinDisruptedCapitalistPhasenZilla360
  • DisruptedCapitalistDisruptedCapitalist Registered User regular
    edited March 2015
    I'll start with the first question:

    My daughter really wanted to grow some carrots last year, and we bought the seeds, but I never got around to doing it. Admittedly, I was procrastinating a lot because I have no fucking clue on how to garden.

    I've got my flower beds in front of the house which are fairly easy since I just buy the pre-grown flowers from the local shop and plant them every spring. No worrying about seeds and the soil comes from the gardening shop, so I don't really need much fertilizer. No prob. I haven't managed to kill the rhododendrons yet either, but carrots? No idea.

    I figure first things first is that I need to dig a new garden in the back yard and add some soil to it. My attempts at digging in the back yard before revealed there are a lot of roots under there even when you're 20 feet from the nearest tree. Do I want to completely remove all the existing soil/roots and add a new layer? How hard are carrots to grow, anyway? Should I start with something easier?

    DisruptedCapitalist on
  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    Some simple tips from personal use:
    • Unplug your PC/Laptops/Blender/other when not in use, and shut down everything when not using them (or turn off the power strip if you use those).
    • Low-flow toilets are often not saving you water in the long run depending on the size of your house and the distance from the sewer line. If you are in a condo or a very tight urban environment, you likely are fine. In most suburbs and rural locations the amount of water flushed isn't sufficient to get waste where it needs to go without multiple flushes (which actually does waist water).
    • Plastic Bags have a long shelf life and are not necessarily un-green if you use them appropriately. Per Mayabird, you can reuse your plastic bags as you grocery shop no different than canvas bags at a lower cost to the environment (and they collapse down smaller too). When done, or when they break, they can be recycled in many useful ways as well (including to remake more bags).
    • Ask around your office and carpool. While totally ditching a car is not really possible in most of the US, you can hugely impact both your pocketbook and reduce carbon if you can make each trip deliver 2-6 people.
    • Check with your local recycling body to determine if they have alternative collection options. Many municipal recycling offices can come collect specific types of recyclable waste (such as household construction materials) that don't otherwise get sorted or accepted through recycling bins.

    Guns make you stupid. Better to fight your wars with duct tape. Duct tape makes you smart.

    I make Encounter Maps for Pathfinder and D&D! Check them out here: https://falleron.com/
    Zilla360
  • XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    edited March 2015
    I'll start with the first question:

    My daughter really wanted to grow some carrots last year, and we bought the seeds, but I never got around to doing it. Admittedly, I was procrastinating a lot because I have no fucking clue on how to garden.

    I've got my flower beds in front of the house which are fairly easy since I just buy the pre-grown flowers from the local shop and plant them every spring. No worrying about seeds and the soil comes from the gardening shop, so I don't really need much fertilizer. No prob. I haven't managed to kill the rhododendrons yet either, but carrots? No idea.

    I figure first things first is that I need to dig a new garden in the back yard and add some soil to it. My attempts at digging in the back yard before revealed there are a lot of roots under there even when you're 20 feet from the nearest tree. Do I want to completely remove all the existing soil/roots and add a new layer? How hard are carrots to grow, anyway? Should I start with something easier?

    I wouldn't bother with digging up a ton of roots. I'd opt instead for a small raised bed garden like the one here!

    Planting Carrots in a Raised Bed

    additionally, RIGHT HERE is a great link on the construction of a raised bed garden!

    I plan to make one this spring and I'll probably photo all the steps like when I made my herb garden.

    Xaquin on
    bowenDisruptedCapitalistHacksawBé ChuilleZilla360
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Yeah it's typically easier to grown veggies in raised beds. You can control irrigation better too. I'd actually take it a step further and raise it and separate it from the ground below, this way you keep rabbits and moles out of your garden, as well as limit the amount of feral cats that want to use it as a litter box.

    Ladies.
    XaquinDisruptedCapitalistHacksaw
  • davidsdurionsdavidsdurions Your Trusty Meatshield Panhandle NebraskaRegistered User regular
    edited March 2015
    Carrots are cool. Clear some land making the soil soft so you can manipulate it easily with just your fingers. A tiller is nice for large areas, but if it's just a packet or two of carrots, this is easily achieved with a shovel by digging and turning the soil yourself. I've found that leaving all organic material found in the soil is best. Worst case scenario is you'll be doing more weeding during the growing time of the baby carrots.

    Okay, so you have a patch of exposed soil that you can reasonably call fluffy. Next step is pushing holes in the soil with a finger or thumb. About an inch or two max for depth and depending on the plant you'll you want each hole separated by 4-12 inches or so. The back of the packet usually has this information. Then you sow the seeds. Probably about 3-4 seeds per hole. Then lightly cover the holes with loose soil. Then you want to lightly at first pack the ground down so the soil is no longer fluffy and easily erodible. You'll then need to water the soil with a light shower so the ground is wet but not washing away soil and seeds with it.

    You don't want to flood the area but want to keep the soil moist until at least there are sprouts and roots in place to hold the soil. Most carrots want lots of water to get big and juicy. So over the growth time of the plant just keep the soil moist and you should be good to go.

    They will also want plenty of sun, so don't plant on the north side of your house where it's shady all day. Also not directly under a shade tree. A nice bright sunny spot is best.

    Most veges work with this same basic set up with variations on distance between plants based on the size of the mature plant. Carrots are small and so can be smushed together pretty close.

    Last step is harvesting, washing, eating.

    Expert level - pest control: ladybugs and manti are the best! You can do chemicals too if you have a lot of trouble with bugs.

    Edit: lol mobile posting

    davidsdurions on
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  • Emissary42Emissary42 Registered User regular
    edited March 2015
    If you're growing multiple types of plants, instead of growing them in separate rows it's possible to plant them in a companion planting pattern based on their fully-grown sizes that lets you make more efficient use of limited space. Here's a calculator that will automatically find the optimal spacing for two up to four different types of plant. If you do more than just two four types, you'll probably need the spreadsheet on the first link.

    Emissary42 on
    davidsdurionsDisruptedCapitalistXaquinHacksawTL DRBé Chuillechrishallett83lazegamercabsyZilla360Calica
  • davidsdurionsdavidsdurions Your Trusty Meatshield Panhandle NebraskaRegistered User regular
    Emissary42 wrote: »
    If you're growing multiple types of plants, instead of growing them in separate rows it's possible to plant them in a companion planting pattern based on their fully-grown sizes that lets you make more efficient use of limited space. Here's a calculator that will automatically find the optimal spacing for two different types of plant. If you do more than just two types, you'll probably need the spreadsheet on the first link.

    Damn nerds and their science. This is fantastic!

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    XaquinZilla360
  • Emissary42Emissary42 Registered User regular
    It should also be noted that some plants do not get along together: some will produce compounds that inhibit competitor plant growth, so check if what you intend to plant will play nice with everything else you're planting.

    XaquindavidsdurionsZilla360
  • davidsdurionsdavidsdurions Your Trusty Meatshield Panhandle NebraskaRegistered User regular
    edited March 2015
    And next year do corn. Then the next year snap peas. Then back to carrots. Rotate like the pros!

    This is to regenerate the different nutrients that different plants use and discharge.

    I think the official master group of plants is corn, beans, and squash. You just grow them all together and they assist each other and take advantage of each other. They also adhere to the height thing that was posted in the D&D thread where they don't compete for space or sunlight because they all grow at different heights. The last garden I did was those three with carrots around the outside actually. Easiest gardening ever.

    davidsdurions on
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    XaquinDisruptedCapitalistHacksawRainfallterry manning863Zilla360Calica
  • HacksawHacksaw J. Duggan Wrestler at LawRegistered User regular
    Some tips for personal conduct in your own home.

    First thing's first: find out where your water and power come from.

    By far the greatest contributor to GHG emissions in the US (and most other first and developing world countries) is carbon clouds from coal fire plants. If your lights are powered by a giant coal-driven turbine, monitor your power usage carefully and only use electronics when need be. Heck, even if you get your juice from eco friendly sources like wind turbines and hydro electric, consider still monitoring your consumption habits in the name of reducing the baseline power draw for your area, thus lowering the amount of maintenance your energy infrastructure needs annually (and GHG is definitely emitted during maintenance, let me tell you).

    Second of all, find out what your water source is. If you live in the western and central United States, you are almost certainly going to be facing a mild to severe drought this summer. The best way to limit water consumption during droughts is to take short, lukewarm showers, ripping up your lawn or only watering before sunrise and after sunset (grass is EXTREMELY water inefficient as a plant), and avoiding washing your car regularly (commercial car washes are actually excellent at being water effective, if you absolutely need a wash).

    Further posts by me will include talks about such things as smart phone power politics (batteries, solar chargers, etc), car and transit choices for people living in cities, and the odd gardening recommendation or two.

    Xaquin
  • HacksawHacksaw J. Duggan Wrestler at LawRegistered User regular
    Also, another water saving tip: it may seem a bit gross, but peeing in your shower (even when you're not showering) will save you about a gallon of water every time. If that's just too gross to imagine, pee and let it mellow with the toilet lid down. Even though the water that flows into your toilet is firmly in the "grey" (meaning non-potable) category, it's still water, and every drop counts.

    Xaquin
  • XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    Gardening 101:

    The easy stuff

    Herbs

    Herbs are the spice herbs of life. This post will show you how to grow your own herbs for basically nothing saving you money and serving as an easy way to break into growing veggies (which is the main green practice I'm going to get into). Be it in a CONTAINER, a RAISED BED, or a DOORYARD GARDEN, herbs can basically last for years.

    I'll go with what I know.

    Dooryard Herb Garden

    (Spoilered for huge)
    First things first. You'll need a PLAN. With a raised bed or a dooryard garden, you'll want to make sure to give each plant THE SPACE THEY NEED TO GROW. Also, now is the time to figure out what planting zone you're in and which herbs GROW BEST IN WHICH ZONE

    This was my plan. I mostly followed it. In retrospect, I should have moved the sage to the back because it got huge.

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    Next, stake out that design and get to work. I used an EDGER to cut out the border and then aerated the soil with a TILLER

    This didn't take more than about a half hour

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    next up, get ye some herbs! If you're bold, you can try GROWING HERBS FROM SEEDS, but I just went to a nursery and got some pre started. I haven't purchased an herb in almost a full year now and I use them daily.

    Some herbs are heartier than others. OREGANO, for example, is damn near impossible to kill and will take over any garden it's in. Best to keep that one in a large pot. MINT too for that matter. ROSEMARY is pretty easy to grow and won't take over your entire garden. THYME is a fantastic herb too and grows in a pretty set range.

    I also planted TARRAGON (which I never really used except once), SAGE, (which I love and in my garden, grew like a weed. I planted two plants and somehow ended up with twelve), and LAVENDER (which I didn't harvest as they never got very big).

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    Next up, get those babies in the ground! Make sure the soil isn't packed too hard. I added a 2" thick layer of mulch to help keep the soil damp. (that I got free from the recycling place near my house) (side note: check your local county website, odds are you can get free mulch too!)

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    Now you're basically done! Painless! Keep a close watch on them for the first few months. Learn HOW OFTEN TO WATER YOUR HERBS, you should be rolling in meal enhancing herbs year round.

    This is two months after I planted them

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    This is six months afterwards

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    FYI, generally speaking, I can kill a plant by being sort of near it. If I can do this, you can too!

    Next up will be the meat of my advice. Vegetables!

    davidsdurionsPhasenDisruptedCapitalistCalica
  • PhasenPhasen Registered User regular
    edited March 2015
    I experimented with keeping some orchids alive that I bought for my wife. They lasted about 8 months but I think I have finally killed them. I am hoping vegetables will be easier to do once I have time and money to build some containers. All the information required seems pretty daunting though.

    Also check your local colleges for information on gardening I found NCSU has a huge amount of information for North Carolinians.

    http://gardening.ces.ncsu.edu/

    Phasen on
    psn: PhasenWeeple
    Xaquin
  • davidsdurionsdavidsdurions Your Trusty Meatshield Panhandle NebraskaRegistered User regular
    Orchids are actively trying to die. Veges are doing everything they can to live. Veges are easy-mode gardening. Delicate flowers that need "just the right amount of water or they perish" are really difficult, and they provide very little sustenance.

    If you want some green-thumbing for pure beauty and hobby reasons, might I suggest the wonderful world of bonsai?(This is just an interesting link I found on google just now, I'm not sure if it is exactly in line with my thoughts, most of my bonsai knowledge comes from books, another person, and personal experience) Careful, though, obsessive tendencies are required but also can make you want to only care for your trees at the expense of all else. If anyone wants more info on bonsai, let me know. It is a hobby that is greener than, say, modding cars, but I'm not sure if it goes outside the scope of this thread.

    Veges though, you need those.

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    PhasenZilla360
  • LiiyaLiiya Registered User regular
    Phasen wrote: »
    I experimented with keeping some orchids alive that I bought for my wife. They lasted about 8 months but I think I have finally killed them. I am hoping vegetables will be easier to do once I have time and money to build some containers. All the information required seems pretty daunting though.
    Orchids often look dead because the flowers drop off and stem shrivels, but as long as the leaves are green they're alive.

    If you're in an area where flooding is an issue (what with global warming and the increasing use of putting tarmac over every surface and preventing the water going into the soil) consider planting a rain garden in your home.

    Rain gardens work by collecting excess run-off from roofs, driveways, streets and pipes and collecting/storing the water, and then allowing it to slowly disperse into the ground via attenuation. They can also be wonderful habitats for insects, which we need to protect!

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    PhasenceresdavidsdurionsXaquinHacksawMayabirdTofystedethbowenNijaDisruptedCapitalistBé Chuillechrishallett83Zilla360
  • davidsdurionsdavidsdurions Your Trusty Meatshield Panhandle NebraskaRegistered User regular
    Yup, my project this spring is to get some rain gathering going on here, that post is good stuff there!

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  • MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    edited March 2015
    Alright, question for making links to posts in the thread. Do people want every single post relating to a topic (say, gardening) listed (which would be kinda tedious) or only the big highlights with the most information and/or links? I am leaning towards the latter.

    Edit: just so you know, I will take no answer from PM or post as meaning I can do whatever I feel like here.

    Mayabird on
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    The latter is what you want to do for best results. Don't be afraid to use bolded text rather than italics for your categories so they can be easily seen. Take a look at some of the mod stickies around the forum, as some of those are pretty well put-together. The rules thread is actually a good example.

    I would also not use the same kind of sub-headings for the forumers post as you do for the outside resources post. To someone who doesn't know Liiya it doesn't mean anything that she authored it, and she may author more than one and then it looks messy. Instead I would hyperlink to the post with something like "Why create a rain garden?" You want to refer to the content of the post rather than the author, and I would only bother doing this for well thought-out posts with good diagrams, where some of the information is cited if necessary. Xaqin's gardening post is another good example of something you might want to add to the list as he has some really good how-tos in there and a lot of pictures to go with it.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn

    HacksawXaquin
  • HacksawHacksaw J. Duggan Wrestler at LawRegistered User regular
    So, while this isn't exactly a Green Living Tip, it kinda sorta is in a way related to Green Living. For those of you not aware, the commissioners of the Port of Seattle are under fire right now because it was recently revealed that they more or less circumvented the typical public hearings process that goes along with making new lease commitments at the port in order to make a deal with Shell to house their Arctic drilling fleet. As I'm sure you can imagine, this is the kind of thing that would have more or less gone completely under the radar were it not for intrepid reporting.

    I'd like to urge all of you our there reading this thread to please stay aware of local political maneuvers like this. Monitor your county council's land use deals, keep up to date on your local port's berthing leases, read up on your local environmental agency's watershed reports. Stay active. Stay informed. Gross deals like this one slip through the cracks of our notice because we keep attentions on other things more immediately noticeable. Don't let that happen in your area. Don't let your local port become a staging ground for oil rigs; don't let your unincorporated county lands be subject to the drills and chemical cocktails of fracking ventures; don't let your local streams and rivers fall under the dark shadow of industrial runoff pollution. Stay active. Stay involved. Vigilance is the only way we're going to create any hope that our children and grandchildren won't live in the ruins of a burnt-up paradise garden world.

    XaquindavidsdurionsZilla360
  • MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    Thanks, @ceres. I will get on that.

    @Hacksaw Actually I did something like that recently when I found out that the local 'conservation' board had secretly pushed through plans to build a campground in a nature area right on the spot which is one of the last breeding territories of Blanding's turtles in this state - and nevermind that there are already other campgrounds in the county which can be expanded easily if need be, or that Iowa has already lost 99% of its natural areas, or that there is nice dry former farm property literally on the border of that same nature area on the freaking road there that is for sale that could be bought for this campground - but nooo, gotta fill in part of this very sensitive wetland that has an near-endangered species in it to stick a pointless campground on it, with all the noise and trash and running over turtles that goes with it.

    I got in the local paper, caused a kerfuffle. Don't know if we'll be able to stop it but it looks like they are scaling back the plans at least.

    HacksawCalica
  • hsuhsu Registered User regular
    edited March 2015
    If you live in suburbia, the best way you can help the environment is to move to a dense urban neighborhood and commute to work by public transit.

    That would reduce your greenhouse gas emissions more than everything else that's been said so far, combined.

    Basically, suburban sprawl contributes more to greenhouse gases than any other factor in the USA (and around the world).

    Below is a per capita heat map of greenhouse gas emissions by zip code for the east coast (click on the map to visit the original website). Notice how polluted suburbia surrounds the green urban cores, when viewed on a per household basis, and how suburbs generate three times more greenhouse gases than their urban core.
    EastCoastMSAs-750.png

    hsu on
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    HacksawLiiyaMayabirdJulius
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Just want to say this thread is awesome, love all this stuff guys.

    Ladies.
    XaquinHacksawDisruptedCapitalistZilla360
  • LiiyaLiiya Registered User regular
    Incidentally, even small scale interventions can contribute towards reducing urban heating. Planting trees, vegetation and waterscapes can be done in residential gardens, though it can be worth suggesting to companies and businesses, it is the local investors and government that needs to be pressured most.

    Urban agriculture is also important. Not only does it reduce miles that food is imported, it can provide health and education benefits for locals. While the traditional view of community orchards, allotments and gardens are thought of, if a community really puts its mind to it you can use everyday forgotten spaces and make something wonderful.

    This is a link to a scheme called Incredible Edible where a community decided to use its unused land for planting, its a TED talk:
    http://www.ted.com/talks/pam_warhurst_how_we_can_eat_our_landscapes?language=en#t-14322

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    XaquinHacksawbowenDisruptedCapitalistBé ChuilledjmitchellaMayabirdSkeithZilla360
  • MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    How to get rid of a small but obnoxious source of paper waste: credit card offers.

    If you are in the U.S. and get a "prescreened" offer of credit (aka CapitalOne and co. sending you crap every week), it should mention somewhere that there is an opt-out feature. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are two methods of opting out:

    Quick and easy for five years:
    Toll free: 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688)
    Online: https://www.optoutprescreen.com/

    Permanent but a little more work:
    https://www.optoutprescreen.com/ then print and fill out the Permanent Opt-Out Election form, which you will have to mail.

    You will have to give out some personal information (like SSN) but it is safe and does work. I did it a few years ago and haven't had to deal with offers clogging my mailbox since.

    ceresLiiyaXaquinchrishallett83DisruptedCapitalistRMS OceanicSmrtnikCalica
  • davidsdurionsdavidsdurions Your Trusty Meatshield Panhandle NebraskaRegistered User regular
    I always have flys in my house. I want to be rid of them. Are pitcher plants and Venus fly traps easy enough to maintain potted indoors or is this just a pipe dream and I should just keep swatting and shooing away the endless stream of flies? Would I just be asking for more flys to invade my home seeing as these plants are designed to attract them?

    What do you think, should I go for it?

    Side note: some pitcher plants are gorgeous.
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    Zilla360
  • MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    I looked this up online and the answer according to the International Carnivorous Plant Society is nope. If you want to grow them for the sake of growing carnivorous plants, you can (just make sure they were propagated in a nursery instead of dug from the wild) but it won't reduce your bug problem.

  • LiiyaLiiya Registered User regular
    Yeah, Maya is right. I used to be a florist, a customer once asked a similar question (and I asked my boss) and the general consensus was they're not that effective, in fact you would have to catch the fly and hand-feed it to the plant probably to ensure it continued to grow and be healthy etc. Which kinda defeats the point!

    Though if you wanted to grow them to simply enjoy then go for it, because they are lovely plants!

  • davidsdurionsdavidsdurions Your Trusty Meatshield Panhandle NebraskaRegistered User regular
    I was under the impression that the carnivorous plants only supplemented their nutrient intake with the captured things? Still surviving with nutrients from the ground?

    That's a bummer though, I'd have been very pleased to not have to smash flies anymore. Thanks for the info!

    PwH4Ipj.jpg
  • LiiyaLiiya Registered User regular
    Well, the disclaimer I guess is I'm from the UK so I could be wrong, your climate may be different or you may have more luck - go for it!

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    What kind of flies are they, and are they due to the fact that there are a ton of flies outside, or is there a possibility that you've got something in your house that's attracting them now?

    I have a pretty gross fly story I won't tell in its entirety for the sake of everyone's lunch, but suffice it to say that nothing we did got rid of them until we finally tracked down the source.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn

    bowen
  • davidsdurionsdavidsdurions Your Trusty Meatshield Panhandle NebraskaRegistered User regular
    It's like two flies in the whole house. I just really hate swatting them and also find things like the fly strips from the store ineffective and gross. But I love plants and the idea of using natural processes to take care of my modern nuisance.

    I'll try to get ahold of a plant or two this spring and see if I can keep them alive and healthy. If they capture my elusive flies then that'll be a bonus.

    PwH4Ipj.jpg
  • MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    In the History thread I wrote about terra preta, the artificial soil produced by adding charcoal which not just improves the fertility but acts as long term (1000+ year timespan) carbon sequestering. The modern version being used today is biochar - the idea is that charcoal is specifically made from wood and intended as fuel, but biochar can be made from about anything organic (weeds, scrub-brush, sweetgum balls and pine cones, whatever) that gets burned down to carbon and would be used as a soil additive. Burning something down to ash releases most of the carbon to the atmosphere and leaves tiny, fine particles with miniscule surface area, but carbon has larger, porous particles with significantly greater surface area that can hold nutrients and retain water (hence why activated charcoal, which is especially porous and extremely high surface area carbon, is used for poison treatment today - drink it and hopefully it absorbs any toxins before they enter the bloodstream). It also appears to reduce methane and nitrous oxide emissions from soil when added, which is a bonus.

    Making biochar on your own will be a bit of a bigger project than just starting an herb garden or opting out of credit card offers, and to make any sort of dent it would need to be used on a wide scale basis. It is increasingly being offered for sale in stores, so if you have a home garden you could get some to mix and moisten with compost and work into your soil. Adding it dry is often ineffective and could be harmful because it can blow away in the wind, and black carbon is a strong climate forcer - it's black and absorbs sunlight very well. Carbon soot from cookfires in India is accelerating the melting of glaciers in the Himalayas much more quickly than heating alone is.

    If you do want to make your own biochar, a simple way can be just to dig a small trench and char your own, but the downside to that is that it does still release a lot of CO2 and black carbon. There are also different types of stoves ranging from a barrel-in-a-barrel arrangement, to more complicated pyrolyzers that are so efficient that not only do they produce biochar, but produce biogas that can be burned for energy - heating, or making electricity, or producing the next batch of biochar. Since I have not built any of these stoves I don't want to go into any specifics but there are plenty of online guides. Links are below:

    International Biochar Initiative
    Carbon Roots International
    Gardening with Biochar
    Backyard Biochar

  • XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    My gardening post is moving insanely slowly and I've been very busy recently, but I want to throw this in here.

    It is very easy to GROW YOUR OWN MUSHROOMS!

    That link contains guides, tips, things to buy, and DIY things!

    MayabirdEmissary42TL DR
  • SiskaSiska Shorty Registered User regular
    edited April 2015
    Get reusable grocery bags and bring them when you go shopping. You can buy them, or if you're crafty, make them yourself. 20 years ago I made some out of burlap and painted dancing cranes and other nature themed things on them. Needlepoint is, of course, also an option if you want your own unique bag.


    Siska on
    Izuela.png
    TL DR
  • OrogogusOrogogus San DiegoRegistered User regular
    Hm, speaking of grocery bags, what's considered the best way to deal with kitty litter? I gather toilet training's frowned on because of toxoplasmosis and sea otters. What kind of litter is favored nowadays from a green standpoint, and is there some way to dispose of it other than plastic bags?

  • MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    After doing some reading, there are other ways to dispose of it (like composting) but all of them run the risk of spreading toxoplasmosis because they are amazingly hardy little parasites. The best from a public health standpoint is plastic bags, though you could try maybe smaller bags if they're available.

    As for the litter itself, if you can use something renewable (there are plant-based ones instead of the clay) those seem to be recommended more.

  • SiskaSiska Shorty Registered User regular
    edited April 2015
    About cat litter. I Think some people do saw dust or shredded paper + baking soda. There is also grain based litter. But might be hard to find and it will have the risk of bringing pests home. No idea how much more environmentally friendly these are then normal, unscented, clay litter though.


    About indoor composts. It is a thing you can do with the help of worms. I used to have one when I was single and living in an apartment. Used it for fruit and veggie scraps, bread that gone moldy and the occasional crushed eggshell

    Siska on
    Izuela.png
  • MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    You can also put in some kinds of paper (like paper towers and newspaper) in compost - tear and wet it for easier and faster decomposition/worm consumption - and put in coffee grinds and used tea leaves too.

    I've added a link to Seafood Watch in the outside links - it can help people choose more sustainable fish to eat while avoiding ones that are rapidly depleting populations, causing secondary environmental damage, or are full of mercury and the like.

    XaquinceresDisruptedCapitalist
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