Thursday, May 9, 2013

Happy Belated Earth Day, Ya'll!

We were all tied up with standardized testing on Earth Day 2013, so we decided to move it and celebrate just a little bit later. Anyway, shouldn't EVERY day be Earth Day? We certainly think so!

One of our biggest goals in homesteading with the kids is to lessen the footprint which we leave on Mother Earth. The rate at which Americans are ravaging our planet is astounding!

As a family, we are moving forward. Sometimes our steps are huge and sometimes they are very small, but we are always moving forward. THAT is the theme of today's blog! And if you read on and hang tight, you may even win organic heirloom bean plant seeds:)

1) Recycling is a great first step in healing our planet and it's also GREAT for the economy (more on that later). Approximately 251 million tons of trash is generated in the United States each year. YIKES!

Worse, the EPA estimates that over 30% of that trash could have been recycled. Don't own that! It's easy to get started.

Simply set aside containers which make it easy for YOU to recycle. Our containers sit in the cellar and I throw them into the van each time we go down to the ball field (where our recycle bins are located). This takes MAYBE 10 minutes a day on average, but the payoff is HUGE!

2) Do NOT throw away that food! The National Resources Defense Council estimates that a whopping 40% of all food produced in the US ends up in a landfill. This costs the average family of 4 over $2000 in loss.

What a waste! There is no good reason for food to rot in a landfill, and rot is what it does. You see, food does not break down  in a landfill, in a garbage bag, under trash, where it receives little air or sunlight. 

There are so many ways to avoid this costly fate. Try giving the food away. Compost it, use a garbage disposal, or donate it to a friend with farm animals. If you are anywhere near me, I'll take it! My animals eat A LOT. I mean a lot!

Composting is simple, and maybe the best option for keeping the cost of food waste down in your home. You can get creative with a compost bin, OR if you have farm animals, compost it straight into your garden.

I have three sections of garden and one, of which, is never in  use. I chuck all of my leftovers into that space and let the chickens and ducks aerate the soil, by scratching and digging for their treats. They create a very biodiverse ecosystem, promoting healthy organisms, worms, etc. - everything you need for a lush and healthy garden!

Often, at Maple Valley Farm, there's even a goat or cow in the garden to fertilize the compost even further.

3) Ditch the shopping bags. Every year, Americans use approximately 1 billion shopping bags, creating 300,000 tons of landfill waste. When the small particles from photo-degraded plastic bags get into the water, they are ingested by filter feeding marine animals. Biotoxins like PCBs that are in the particles are then passed up the food chain, including up to humans. 

If you cannot avoid the plastic variety, please recycle. Most stores have recycle areas just inside the door. Less than 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled each year. 

However, recycling is not a perfect option. Consider the cost - Recycling one ton of plastic bags costs $4,000. The recycled product can be sold for $32.

Better than recycling, consider taking advantage of reusable cloth shopping bags. They are inexpensive and EASY to make out of old tee shirts. The possibilities are endless!

4) Burn baby, burn, burn. In 2008, Paper and paperboard made up 31% of municipal waste. Recycle what you can and burn the rest. It's that simple. 

Hey, the old timers did it! Who remembers their grandparents burning trash? Why put anything into a landfill which you could easily burn? It's too easy not to.

We keep a basket by the back door and it's a great chore for the kiddos to burn trash daily. Just be sure to follow any city burning restrictions. 

Since we started burning trash, we are  now able to put out less than 1 small kitchen trash bag per month of waste.  I go for months without even putting trash out on the curb. Pick one of these easy and practical ways to decrease your trash output and then celebrate! You'll be amazed at just how easy it is to cut your waste by a huge percentage.

Remember I said that recycling is good for the economy? Here's the payoff - It has been estimated that recycling, re-use, and composting create six to ten times as many jobs as waste incineration and landfills.

What steps are you taking to recycle, reduce, and re-use? I'd love to hear from you!

Email your photos to for a chance to win Organic Heirloom Green Bean "Early Contender" seeds. ANY AND ALL STEPS COUNT! Send in your pictures, folks




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