ecoexist store

Water reclamation overflow

Posted by admin on Oct 30th, 2008
Oct 30

I’ve recently been confronted with an issue of having too much available reclaimable water. As I’ve posted before, I bring a 5 gallon bucket with me in the shower (5th paragraph down) to capture the cold water while I’m waiting for the water to warm up, and I reclaim bath water when I can. I’ve also have been wanting to capture the washing machine discharge but haven’t found a good way to do that with the approval of my wife 🙂

I’ve divulged before that I have an in-ground pool and that is a big part of why I wanted to reclaim as much water as possible – to offset the amount of water I need to put in the pool to account for evaporation (I also try to look for ways to offset the electricity consumption of the pool as well, but that’s a different topic). We decided this summer that the pool needs to be resurfaced since the gunite is very rough and porous-like, and is even worn away in some areas. To do this, of course, we need to drain the pool. As fate would have it the pool pump just died a couple of days ago (which actually is a good thing since I needed to get a more efficient replacement anyway) and now I’m stuck with about 20,000 gallons of stagnant water. What do I do with it?

Unfortunately we don’t have any use for that much water. We don’t have any grass (about 95% of the yard is covered in concrete or the pool) and we only have a few small flower beds. The flower beds are mostly taken care of with the shower water I collect with the bucket so…. I’m going to offer the water to my neighbors, hose down my concrete more frequently, wash the dogs a few times, hose off the house (lots of dust and ash from the recent fires), and wash the cars with the water. Other than that I’m out of ideas. I tried to find out if there was a place I could “donate” the water too but that seems a bit futile. I also had thought to rent a large water storage container originally, but the levels of “dissolved solids” – or TDS levels – is quite high and it is overdue to be changed.

Any ideas? Let me know.

Recycling worn clothing

Posted by admin on Oct 25th, 2008
Oct 25

My wife came to me tonight with a pair of hole laden slippers and asked, “Are these recyclable?”. I know that clothes can, and should, be recycled but I hadn’t really looked into it until now. There are a lot of good sites on the web that offer up suggestions, but it seems that Goodwill is an all purpose recycler. They not only take the good stuff, but also take the unusable stuff and send it off to a recycler who shreds it up for several uses – things like insulation in cars for example.

Excellent EV conversion howto

Posted by admin on Oct 24th, 2008
Oct 24

I have been wanting to tinker with converting a vehicle to electric for a while. I, unfortunately, have a full sized 2003 GMC Yukon that I bought a few years ago and have looked into ways of making it all, or at least partially, electric. I can’t get rid of the thing since it’s not really a desirable vehicle with the fuel prices, and it is completely paid off so it’s not really costing me anything except for insurance and the rare tank of gas (it hasn’t moved in over two months). We do use it when we need to get sheets of plywood from the hardware store or have large items we need to transport, which of course we could just rent a truck for.

There are a few options to convert a full sized SUV to electric but, as usual, cost is the issue for me. On a side note, I did convert a pocket bike I had from gas to electric. It’s pretty fun to ride and it’s easy to sneak up on people 😉 Here’s a pic – it still needs to be put together better so it’s not pretty yet. I used two telco 12ah batteries wired in series for 24vdc, used a 24v scooter motor I got from a local electronics junk yard, and bought a controller from a scooter web site. If you want specifics then let me know.

One site that I’ve been tracking for quite some time is Kiwi EV. It’s an excellent documentary of his mission to convert a Mitsubishi into full electric. It explains in great detail the process he took, the parts he used, why he made the decisions he did, and how he got it certified as road legal. It’s really quite impressive. He is in New Zealand so some things might be a little different, but he provides a lot of very useful information. It’s even complete with videos and lots of pictures.

Working for a green minded company

Posted by admin on Oct 22nd, 2008
Oct 22

I started a new job about two months ago at a company called MonsterTrak. They specialize in entry level jobs for college students and recent grads, as well as others looking for an entry level job. I noticed right away that there were several things around the office that indicated they were, at least in the realm of, thinking green. Most things aren’t what I would consider to be impressive, but as a whole I am impressed that they at least acknowledge there is a need to be green.

The most noticeable things are:

      – signs, mugs, and cups that offer the age old mantra of “Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.”, as well as some tips on how to accomplish those things (see the image at the bottom of this post)

      – we all telecommute one day a week

      – actual recycling bins in the breakroom area

      – a soda machine instead of cans of soda

      – a water cooler instead of bottles of water. This is important for me to note since my last job *only* had bottled water and wouldn’t even consider getting a water cooler – even though I continually brought it up….

      – the building is Energy Star certified – although that’s not the companies doing, but still pretty cool

Another impressive thing about the company is that they have a new Green Careers section of the site. There aren’t many jobs posted yet, but it has only been available for about two weeks.

Things I’m trying to do here to do my part is to recycle as much as I can since they make it so easy to do, educate my co-workers if there is an opportunity to (most of them didn’t even notice the recycling bins until I pointed them out!), and I’m starting a little herb garden at my desk that will hopefully provide some garnishment, be aromatic, and provide some entertainment (no – I’m not expecting them to become animated and do tricks). I bought the herb garden kit at Lowe’s for less than $5 and it comes with a mini greenhouse, six little planters, growing medium, and a pack each of parsley, basil, and chives. I went to a store close to work and also got cilantro and oregano as well to add some variety. We’ll see how it goes.

Here’s a picture of one of the signs hung up around the office that I mentioned earlier:

Recycling – doing as much as we can

Posted by admin on Oct 14th, 2008
Oct 14

Not only do we try to recycle water (and even more water), but we also try to recycle as much garbage as possible. There are two adults, a child, two medium-to-large sized dogs, and a cat in our house. We’re not huge consumers by any means, but we do generate our fair share of garbage. We, of course, try to bring our own bags to the grocery store, buy our groceries almost daily (to minimize spoilage), and try to buy things with as little packaging as possible. Going by these pictures, it seems we are well on our way to minimizing our contribution to landfills:

One week of garbage

One week of recycling

If you look closely then you can see we still have a long ways to go – there are two visible plastic bags in the garbage bin, and it would be great to reduce the overall amount of items we need to throw out, recycling or otherwise. The key for us is that the more conscious we are of what we are buying and using, the less actual garbage we produce.

We are working on setting up our own garden which will also help to reduce the amount of trash we produce. More on that later.

Light bulb (CFL) recycling

Posted by admin on Oct 8th, 2008
Oct 8

My day started off with a burnt out cfl in the bathroom. I know that cfl’s have a trace amount of mercury in them so I know that it would behoove me and my future generations to find a way to recycle the bulb. The problem is, I’ve never had to look into how to recycle a cfl because I’ve never had one burn out. I went off to google for suggestions to my dilemma.

It seems there are a lot of sites out there that talk about recycling the bulbs but not many of them actually tell you how or where to recycle them. I did find that Home Depot just started a cfl recycling program. The link is dedicated to their “Eco Options” program (it doesn’t specifically say on that page, but they probably recycle spent batteries as well – as most hardware stores do).

Living on the west coast, I’ve never had a problem finding a Home Depot within a reasonable radius from my starting point. If this is not the case for you then I would suggest finding out if your local hardware store participates in a recycling program, and if not then if you can suggest that they do. Also, the EPA might also have some useful information to help you out.

Fill your freezer with empty boxes?

Posted by admin on Oct 6th, 2008
Oct 6

I picked up this little book on a recent trip that is called, “1,001 Ways to Save the Earth”. It has some good tips in it – some I already do and others that I hadn’t thought of. I found two in particular very interesting though.

1. I’ve known that keeping the freezer as full as possible is the best way to cut down on the freezers energy consumption, but I made the assumption that it needed to be filled with solid items to achieve the best efficiency. Apparently that’s not the case though. According to the book, “…If you don’t need to stock up on food at the moment, empty cardboard boxes will achieve the same result”. Huh – empty cardboard boxes??

2. Something I had never even considered being a greener way of vacation travel. We all know how much pollution airplanes put into the atmosphere, but trains produce 20 times less emissions per passenger mile than planes, and – this is the one that surprised me – cruise ships produce almost 200 times less emissions per passenger mile than planes! Wow. Now if more people could just avoid getting to the cruise ship by plane….