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22
votes
5answers
18k views

How should I collect and convert rain water into drinking water?

I would like to convert my current rain gutter system into a collection and recycling process. Currently the water is just runoff and ends up in the storm sewer creating more work for my cities aging ...
22
votes
4answers
150k views

Leaving the oven door open for heat - bad idea?

I've heard before that it's a bad idea to use an oven to heat your house, because it's inefficient and carries the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. But what about leaving the oven door open after I'...
22
votes
4answers
26k views

Dimensions for greenhouse to feed a family of 4?

I think a sustainable choice would be to start producing my own food in my backyard. To achieve year round production, I'll need a greenhouse. We enjoy lots of vegetables and salads on a daily basis, ...
22
votes
5answers
1k views

What can I grow for chicken food?

I live in the northeast US, with relatively cold winters (USDA zone 5, about -15°F ) and a short growing season (about 90 days frost-free; snow possible October through April). I have a small flock (...
22
votes
2answers
395 views

Local greenhouse/hothouse vegetables vs. remote naturally-grown vegetables

I've often wondered what is ecologically better: A tomato from the region grown in a (heated) greenhouse/hothouse A tomato from several thousand km away grown naturally Ceteris paribus, are there ...
22
votes
2answers
203 views

Do “100% renewable” electricity plans increase renewable electricity production?

In the advertising for this year's earth hour in Sydney, Australia, it encourages people to switch from conventional electricity to renewable energy. A number of electricity providers offer "100% ...
21
votes
10answers
2k views

What is an easy way to cool off during the summer without electricity?

What are some easy ways to stay cool during the day without using electricity?
21
votes
5answers
255 views

Does a compost pile for food scraps need some kind of starter material?

When starting a compost pile from scratch for kitchen food scraps, do I need some kind of starter material? For example, should I take any material from an established composting pile to seed it with ...
21
votes
8answers
22k views

What is the most sustainable house insulation suitable for a cold climate?

This is a "derived" question from What is the most sustainable heating strategy for a home? . When talking about a home that has to withstand cold winters (-20 C), insulation is a big part of keeping ...
21
votes
5answers
213 views

What non-toxic products can I use to keep my kitchen counters clean and safe?

I'm wondering what kind of products I can use that are not dangerous to keep kitchen surfaces clean and safe. Should I get different products for different types surfaces (e.g. granite top vs. ...
21
votes
5answers
9k views

How to unsubscribe from junkmail and circulars?

I use Catalog Choice to unsubscribe from catalogs. However, I'm not sure how to stop receiving other junkmail and circulars that routinely come in the mail, such as ValPak coupons, ClipperMagazine, ...
21
votes
4answers
817 views

How to drive to be the most fuel efficient

I saw a poster at a thruway rest stop once that said something along the lines of accelerating quickly is worse for fuel efficiency and carbon emission than idling for several hours (I don't remember ...
21
votes
4answers
5k views

Do USB outlets waste energy just like conventional wall warts?

It is widely known that most AC-DC converters (aka "wall warts") continually use electricity, even when no devices are plugged in to them. That wasted energy is often called "phantom electricity" or "...
21
votes
2answers
3k views

What's the typical energy usage of automatic light switches?

A good way to cope with forgetting to turn of the lights is automatic light switches. But they must be using some energy to do their job. What's the rate of energy use for a typical automatic/sensor ...
20
votes
5answers
7k views

Why is there no spring based energy storage?

I'm wondering about kinetic energy storage for homes. Imagine a concrete plate resting on hundreds of firmly attached sturdy springs, and a couple of electric winches attached to the top. To store ...
20
votes
2answers
480 views

Is buying online more sustainable than in local shop next door?

I was planning to buy a toy. I can buy it online and in local shop next door. Price is (including shipping in case of online shop) more or less the same. Is one more sustainable than the other?
20
votes
7answers
4k views

How to avoid buying planned-obsolescence products?

Is it possible to recognize products that have been designed and manufactured with built-in or programmed obsolescence in mind, before I buy them? Are there guidelines how to recognize such products? ...
20
votes
2answers
835 views

Should I keep laptop and cellphone batteries fully charged, let them die before charging, or something in between?

Generally, is it better to let laptop and cellphone batteries fully die before recharging, to leave them plugged in constantly even when charged and not in use, or to unplug them once they are fully ...
20
votes
4answers
639 views

Is Linux more sustainable than Windows?

One of the many advantages of GNU/Linux systems, and probably *NIX in general, is that they can run on older and lesser hardware than the children of Microsoft can, i.e. has lower "system requirements"...
19
votes
8answers
5k views

What advantages (any?) has water heating via photovoltaic system over solar thermal system?

Both solar thermal water heating systems and photovoltaic systems already have a good commercial background. Efficiency of energy gain of a solar thermal system is about 80%, while photovoltaics is up ...
19
votes
4answers
622 views

What is a good way to produce drinking water?

I want to make sure I have a sustainable water source for one household. If I have a source of reasonably safe water like rain water or ground water, how can I purify this water to a level that I ...
19
votes
2answers
294 views

Why should I compost?

I've seen a number of question about composting here. Five, if the composting tag is a good way to measure. In my sustainability efforts (no car, no meat, no flying) I've never really considered ...
19
votes
2answers
4k views

Meat or fish, which requires more energy to produce?

In general it is assumed that the energy that is required to produce a certain type of food is a good surrogate for the total environmental burden of food products. I scanned some studies to compare ...
19
votes
6answers
8k views

Pros and cons of bamboo clothing compared to cotton?

I've read that clothes made from bamboo fibers require about 1/3 the amount of water compared to cotton. Also bamboo grows much faster than cotton and it requires little or no herbicides or fertilizer....
19
votes
5answers
232 views

What's the most sustainable way of hosting a domain?

After reading about the environmental impact of server farms I wonder what are the alternatives for someone who needs to host a website. Is there a sustainable choice when it comes to hosting a ...
19
votes
1answer
10k views

Where can I recycle #81 composite materials?

I noticed my pet food bag has a recycling symbol with a new number in it - #81: The only resource I've found about this symbol is the Wikipedia page on recycling codes, which describes it as Paper/...
18
votes
3answers
6k views

Why does the cost of planting trees vary so much across different websites?

I am actively looking to donate to organisations that plant trees and, as far as I know, there are several websites that allow you to do that. Some offer the possibility to follow the tree's life ...
18
votes
5answers
2k views

Large-scale reuse of glass bottles

Reading some comments on the question comparing various materials from which bottles are made, the thought arose: indeed, what prevents large scale collection and reuse of glass tare? When I was ...
18
votes
4answers
90k views

Which refrigerant is used in today's refrigerators and how harmful is it?

I'm curious about which and how much of a refrigerant is commonly used in modern refrigerators (say, produced from 2000 onwards). How harmful is it for the environment? What is the ozone depletion ...
18
votes
3answers
2k views

How to choose the most sustainable battery for small portable devices?

There are lots of different battery types available, and different brands. I remember back in the 80's I think the first batteries came out that didn't contain mercury. Now, I have no idea how likely ...
18
votes
4answers
34k views

How to recognize products with neonicotinoid pesticides in them?

Recently, the EU has temporarily banned neonicotinoid pesticides because there are strong indications that these pesticides are responsible for the decline in bee populations. I've heard that this ...
18
votes
5answers
265 views

Are economies that need growth unsustainable?

The presently dominant economic system appears to require exponential economic growth. I may be wrong, but whether or not it is is a question that is off-topic here — for the sake of this question, ...
18
votes
3answers
1k views

Does waste in public recycle bins (almost) always get recycled?

Dumping recyclable cups (when you forgot your own, or it's dirty) in the public recycle bins seems like an easy decision. But, I've noticed that the recycle bins at places like Starbucks are ...
18
votes
3answers
9k views

Storing food without refrigerator during the winter

I am unplugging my refrigerator for the winter months, I live in the northern United States so the temperature is sub freezing most of the time during winter. I have a semi-insulated garage that is ...
18
votes
2answers
262 views

What’s the carbon footprint of an email?

E-mail is often regarded as cheap and more environmentally friendly than paper. But is this really the case? I suspect that loads more emails are sent nowadays than paper letters were sent before the ...
18
votes
1answer
646 views

Are rechargeable batteries better for the environment than disposables even if the batteries are recycled?

I try to use NiMH rechargeables in place of regular disposables. The obvious benefit of rechargeables is that not as many wind up in a landfill, but what if you recycle all your batteries anyway? Are ...
18
votes
4answers
253 views

How can consumers persuade manufacturers to make their products more sustainable?

How can we, as consumers, persuade manufacturers to make their products more sustainable? The only things I've come up with (and try to do myself) Buy the most sustainable version of products. The ...
18
votes
1answer
351 views

Can solar panels be recycled?

There are plenty solar panels installed in the recent years. Their operation expectancy as far as I know is about 50 yrs. This will produce waste for our grandchildren. Please, reassure me, that these ...
17
votes
4answers
2k views

What area is needed to grow enough food to sustain a person for a year?

I was wondering, what area space (m²) do I need to plant rice/bean in order to sustain one person for a year?
17
votes
2answers
2k views

Composting teabags?

I have a problem during waste segregation with a small, but often used product, namely teabags. It's a bit of organic matter wrapped in paper, with a thread and staple. The organic part is easy - it ...
17
votes
10answers
30k views

What are the pros and cons of electric motors vs. internal combustion engines?

What are the pros and cons of electric motors, compared to internal combustion engines, from a sustainability perspective? Are electric motors better for the economy, more efficient, or more ...
17
votes
4answers
3k views

Should solar panels be installed before or after re-shingling the roof?

My roof will likely need new shingles within the next few years. Should I consider getting solar panels installed now, or should I wait until after the roof is taken care of?
17
votes
4answers
1k views

What to do with expired food?

When I last visited my grandmother I found a couple of expired cans of peaches. Given that they should have been consumed three years ago I don't think it's safe to eat them. I was thinking about ...
17
votes
2answers
602 views

What are the downsides to so called greenware items?

Greenware is the brand name of a 100% corn based cups produced by Fabri-Kal. It is used to provide a plastic cup that can be composted. I'm wondering what externalities might exist for this product ...
17
votes
2answers
7k views

How can I get my landlord to install better insulation?

We live in an apartment that has a lot of gaps in the doors and windows and poor insulation in the walls. Is there a way to make the landlord fix this? Some sort of property codes or something? He ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

Which is more sustainable: Paper Bags or LDPE Bags?

At the grocery store, many offer a choice between brown paper bags (often doubled) or Low Density Poly-Ethylene (LDPE) plastic bags. If you plan to recycle in either case, which solution is more ...
17
votes
2answers
3k views

Are incandescent light bulbs recyclable?

Can standard incandescent (i.e., non-energy-efficient) light bulbs be recycled? If so, what is the best way to recycle them?
17
votes
5answers
23k views

Is it practical to use an infrared space heater along with a heat pump system?

We live in a house that has a heat pump system, for AC and heat, with a second-stage heating coil for aux/emergency heat. It frequently gets down to below 30 degrees in our climate, at which point ...
17
votes
1answer
1k views

Which compostable plastic types can be composted at home?

There often is confusion about compostable plastics (see for example this question on greenware items or this gardening question on plastic bags). 'Compostable' suggests that you can compost the ...
17
votes
1answer
158 views

Long-term sustainability concerns of compact flourescent vs incandescent light bulbs

There is a strong movement to push people away from using incandescent lightbulbs in favor of compact flourescent bulbs in order to save energy, but the pollution profiles of these bulbs are very ...

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