Aaron and I splurged recently and purchased a SodaStream soda maker. I have to admit I learned about this device through an ad on my own blog … They got me!
We’re completely enthralled with our soda maker and we’ve been drinking sparkling water nonstop since we bought it. You fill up the bottle with water, screw it into the machine, and press a button that inserts CO2 into the water. Afterwards, you can add flavor syrups to create real soda–Something we haven’t done yet.
We decided to splurge and buy our SodaStream after I did some research about the cost. We had been buying Topo Chico and club soda from the grocery store. We drank it so fast that we were spending a pretty penny keeping our stockpile up. We bought our SodaStream for about $90 at Sears, which seems like a lot of money. There were much cheaper soda makers on the market, but I decided to go with SodaStream because its CO2 canister will carbonate 60 liters of water; when it’s expired, you simply get it refilled (green). The other soda makers use small CO2 canisters that carbonate only one liter per use (wasteful). Over the long-term, I figured out, the SodaStream will actually save us money we would be spending on CO2. It definitely saves us money compared to buying sparkling water at the grocery store (and cuts down on garbage).
We have been so well hydrated since we bought this!
EMagazine wrote this week about the “mountains” of food waste that Americans throw out each year. The story says we only compost 3% of our food scraps in this country. The story explains, “Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year—approximately 1.3 billion tons—gets lost or wasted … Americans are responsible for a sizable portion of that waste—more than 34 million tons of food was tossed in the U.S. in 2009, which amounted to more than 14% of the nation’s total municipal solid waste stream.”
I feel guilty when Aaron and I don’t eat the food in our refrigerator before it goes bad and I’m forced to throw it out. We’re pretty good about estimating and only preparing the amount we can eat. But when food waste does happen, at least I can compost vegetable- and fruit-based foods. Even with that, Aaron and I can’t produce enough compost for our gardening needs. We’ve envisioned starting some project where we collect food waste from others in our community, and compost it for our garden. I’m going to file away these stats from EMagazine for future motivation.
We’ve been taking reusable cloth bags to the grocery store for more than a year now. I keep them in my trunk so I won’t forget them on my shopping trips. As my interest in arts and crafts has grown, I’ve even started sewing my own grocery bags, and giving them to friends and family as gifts. I support the reusable bag movement because I know plastic bags clog landfills, end up as litter on the streets, and take millions of years to degrade in the environment.
According to this article on TreeHugger, the Chinese government has significantly decreased plastic bag use in the country. China passed a law that made it illegal for retailers to give away plastic bags for free. Instead, they had to charge a small fee. This led consumers to decrease their use of plastic bags by 50 percent! News organizations estimate the law has stopped 100 billion plastic bags from entering landfills.
There’s been talk of banning plastic bags in the U.S. for a long time, but it’s never gone anywhere. Too many manufacturers fight a ban because it would decrease profits. I don’t know what to say about that: Too bad I guess. This is a good idea, and we should do it.
Now this is a smart idea. A company has figured out a way to power a vehicle using methane harvested from sewage plants. I wonder what the car smells like though?
… according to GENeco, “waste flushed down the toilets of 70 homes in Bristol is enough to power the Bio-Bug for a year, based on an annual mileage of 10,000 miles.”
I can personally relate to today’s story by Asher Price in the Austin American-Statesman about new residents to East Austin who are working to fix longstanding environmental problems in their areas. East Austin has traditionally been the home to many lower income black and Hispanic Austinites, but that racial and socioeconomic mixture is changing. The city is growing, people are looking for affordable housing, and there is a renewed interest in living in the center of Austin instead of in suburbs.
“You have an influx of new residents coming in who are more environmentally aware and probably know of particular city programs and incentives they can use,” said Oscar Garza, an environmental compliance specialist with the city’s Watershed Protection Department and coordinator of the city’s East Austin Environmental Initiative, an outreach program that began in the 1990s. “They put more focus on environmental awareness, and that infuses that into the neighborhood.”
I guess I count as one of the “new residents.” Aaron and I decided to move to East Austin because we could afford a nice house here, and we wanted to live within walking and biking distance of the city center with all its bars, restaurants and cultural attractions.
I enjoy walking my dogs around my new neighborhood, and I’ve personally been shocked by some of the environmental problems–Mostly trash all over the roads. The thing that concerns me the most is there is broken glass littering most of the streets and sidewalks around East Austin. I’m afraid the glass will cut my dogs’ paws when I’m walking them. Aaron says he frequently gets flat tires from running over broken glass. I can imagine children running or riding bikes outside, accidentally falling down and doing a face plant on broken glass.
It’s not good.