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16
votes
5answers
22k 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 ...
16
votes
3answers
7k views

Would monocrystalline or polycrystalline solar panels perform best in a UK climate?

If I were to get solar panels installed on the roof of my home, in the UK, what type should I choose? There appear to be three main types, and at present the choice appears to be between the ...
16
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 ...
16
votes
1answer
768 views

Infrastructure layers for a green roof?

What layers of sealing/insulation/etc are needed when putting a green roof on an existing structure? Strong preference is for materials that are easily findable/not specialized products. To clarify ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

Will supermarket-bought shiitake mushrooms be suitable to provide spores for growing some myself?

This is partially a follow up to my earlier question: Sustainably grown white button mushrooms at home; what sort of material to use? It appears that manure might be the best medium for growing ...
16
votes
1answer
231 views

What factors should I consider when deciding if cob construction is appropriate?

So I've read quite a bit about cob construction and even after this kind of research, I don't feel equipped to answer this question. What climates or locations make cob a good or bad idea? One ...
15
votes
8answers
403 views

What Permaculture solutions are there for slugs?

My plants are under attack by slugs. I've heard a number of solutions for slugs over the years. There's the old beer trap, where you fill a bowl full of beer and leave it out. This works, but it's ...
15
votes
3answers
4k views

Should I reuse or recycle Ziploc bags?

I'm wondering whether I should wash and reuse my Ziploc bags or if it makes more ecological sense to bring them to a grocery store plastic recycling collection bin. Ideally at home we wash the bags ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

Which gases increase the greenhouse effect more than carbon dioxide?

Everywhere can be read that carbon dioxide increases greenhouse effect. But there are other gases having worse effect than carbon dioxide, e.g. methane. Is carbon dioxide emission the real threat, or ...
15
votes
6answers
875 views

What life-style decision can I make to reduce my carbon footprint most efficiently?

I'm interested in the sustainability, especially the carbon footprint, of life-style decisions regarding: transportation (i.e. get an electric car, use bike and public transport) dietary: going ...
15
votes
2answers
13k views

Switching to Toilet/Sink Combo

As part of my ongoing downsizing, my new house's bathroom will be smaller, so I'm looking at installing a toilet/sink combo to save space, reduce construction costs by making the bathroom as small as ...
15
votes
3answers
800 views

How can I manage a ton-per-month worm composting?

I already have a composting bin in my kitchen, and I'd like to upscale it to my whole building, which has 32 apartments. This is about a hundred people. I've explained why and how to my neighbors and ...
15
votes
3answers
10k views

How much power can a bicycle generator produce?

I was interested in generating electricity using dynamo-electric generators when all external power sources are dysfunctional (power line fault, no wind, not enough sunlight, etc). Different bicycle ...
15
votes
3answers
2k views

Shall I boil water with a water boiler (cooker) or with a pot?

I know that when making tea it uses less energy when heating the water when using a water boiler(cooker), than when using an electrical plate. A water boiler is directly heating the water, while a ...
15
votes
4answers
888 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
4k views

What's an effective design for sending sink water to a toilet tank?

This answer to a question about a toilet/sink combo makes me wonder: What design considerations need to be taken into account if I was to modify my existing sink & toilet so that the sink waste ...
15
votes
2answers
452 views

How can I detect leachate from a compost pile?

It's possible that a compost pile will leach in to the ground, possibly contaminating groundwater and nearby wells. If you're composting human or animal manure, the risk is greater, as is the concern ...
15
votes
3answers
216 views

How can I determine whether roof top wind turbines would be beneficial in my area?

Rooftop wind turbines seem great in principle, but in practice, especially in urban areas their usefulness and efficiency is debated, such as in this article. The most general consensus seems to be ...
15
votes
5answers
5k views

Can you recycle single serve coffee pods like K-Cups?

Are they recyclable at all? can you pull them apart and recycle parts of them? Are there recyclable alternatives? Many offices including mine are using these to brew coffee in the USA. I personally ...
15
votes
2answers
632 views

Ants and Compost

My community compost pile is now home to a very active ant's nest. As soon as any food goes on the pile, the ants are swarming over it. Is it anything to worry about, or are the ants a healthy ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

Is it possible to reuse grey water in an apartment?

Is it possible to reuse greywater in an apartment, in which you can't modify the plumbing? Seems like it would be better to water plants with greywater than using fresh water.
15
votes
1answer
241 views

What is BioChar and can I use it to improve my garden?

A 2010 NYT article using BioChar to sequester carbon and improve soil quality. What is BioChar? Is it possible to use it in a small scale to improve my garden? How do I figure out the best amount to ...
15
votes
2answers
10k views

Is it normal to have maggots in my compost?

I noticed maggots in my compost scraps recently (not yet mixed in the tumbler). Is this all right? Should I do something to prevent this in the future? If so, what?
15
votes
4answers
204 views

How can I decarbonise my domestic heating, given severe physical constraints?

tl;dr : For the millions of dwellings that have significant physical constraints imposed by the physical fabric of the building, its configuration and location, that rule out heat pumps, biomass and ...
15
votes
2answers
794 views

Is there a deodorant with minimal packaging waste?

I have been trying to look around me to find ways to minimize non-organic wastage...and one of the everyday things is Deodorant. I read somewhere that solid deodorants are way much greener than spray ...
15
votes
2answers
403 views

Is there a formula to calculate the amount rainwater you need to collect to be fully sufficient in watering your plants?

We have a garden and have two barrels where we collect rainwater. This is usually sufficient to water our plants and vegetables. This is unless the time without rain lasts longer then 8 days. I am ...
15
votes
1answer
658 views

How do I estimate my personal ecological footprint?

In 2000, I was introduced to the concept of the ecological footprint, and for the first time I realised how fundamentally unsustainable my lifestyle was. An environmental group had a small ...
15
votes
1answer
267 views

Reusable vs. disposable diapers: which is better?

My wife and I have been using reusable diapers for our two kids. We've made them from old curtains, old bedsheets, etc., pretty much all "recycled" materials. They've been working perfectly fine, but ...
15
votes
2answers
283 views

What's the carbon footprint of stackoverflow?

Inspired from What’s the carbon footprint of an email? and other recent questions that made me reconsider the "immaterial" internet usage. I am curious about updated statistics about the carbon ...
15
votes
3answers
3k views

What's the average efficiency of pumped hydroelectric energy storage facilities?

Pumped hydroelectric storage has, to date, been the most scalable way to store electricity (in this case, in the form of gravitational potential energy), allowing us to spread the time between when ...
15
votes
1answer
460 views

How can I use my balcony compost during winter?

My balcony compost tends to freeze and stop working during winter time because I live in Quebec and we get an average of -13°C. Is there anything I can do to prolong my composting season?
15
votes
1answer
171 views

Does transporting plastic offset the benefits of recycling it?

Apparently China has been processing about half the world's waste until this year, and most of that waste is transported over the ocean in large container ships. Recycling plastic uses less energy and ...
15
votes
2answers
3k views

Propane vs. Electric vs. Heat Pump

Is there a relatively reliable way to figure out what energy source to go with when upgrading appliances? We need a new hot water heater, for starters. Our current one is propane. Options include ...
15
votes
3answers
164 views

Sustainable domain hosting?

After reading about the environmental impact of server farms I wonder what are the alternatives for a someone who needs to host a website. Is there a sustainable choice when it comes to hosting a ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

Which kind of paper should be recycled and which should be burned?

Paper has a relatively short life-cycle (compared to natural gas or crude oil) and belongs to sustainable materials. Paper can be nicely recycled by: reusing making notes on the other side of one-...
15
votes
1answer
389 views

What percentage of plastic drinking bottles is recycled after use, worldwide?

I often hear that, although plastic bottles can be recycled quite efficiently, only a percentage of them gets effectively recycled. I have heard about shipments to Africa to pile them up without a ...
15
votes
1answer
190 views

Are Tetra Pak tomatoes more sustainable than tinned?

Lots of UK supermarkets have recently started selling chopped tomatoes in Tetra Paks, rather than the tins they were always in. My first thought was that this was environmentally bad - given recycling ...
15
votes
1answer
266 views

How do I recycle batteries in Argentina?

I have dead batteries and I want to know the best way to dispose of them, ideally by recycling. Here in Argentina there is almost nowhere to take them. We just put them in the garbage.
14
votes
4answers
684 views

What has a lesser carbon footprint? Continue to drive my current car until it is no longer useful or to buy a new car?

I have 2003 Honda Accord. It gets ~20 MPG CITY (8.5 km/liter). I'm trying to figure out if it is more sustainable in the long run to: continue to drive the Accord until it dies (it's still in great ...
14
votes
4answers
209 views

Is it true that if you have a thermostat, then there is no such thing as 'waste heat'

Consider a situation in which I live in a fairly cold climate, and I like my house kept at, say, 17 degrees. I have a heating system in my house that produces more or less heat depending on the ...
14
votes
4answers
11k views

How to properly dispose of bubble wrap envelopes?

In those envelopes paper is often glued pretty well to bubble wrap portion, making it hard to separate. On top of that bubble wrap itself is seldom recycled - for example in my area of Ontario, Canada ...
14
votes
3answers
2k views

Are plastic cups more environmental friendly than ceramic mugs?

Many years ago I read that plastic cups, like this: are more environmental friendly than ceramic mugs, like this: This is rather counter-intuitive. If I remember correctly, I believe the argument ...
14
votes
3answers
11k views

How to build a waterfall powered electric generator?

Want to build one of those old-style water wheels powered by a waterfall. Is there a more efficient way than the ones that were around since the start of the industrial revolution?
14
votes
3answers
323 views

What's a good green ground cover that uses less water than a lawn?

So I want to put in several raised beds in my garden, surrounded by a green ground cover that will stand up to my 3 dogs. Something that is both tougher and uses less water than grass (I live in a ...
14
votes
2answers
453 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
10k views

Why are unbleached paper products like napkins so expensive and hard to find?

Unbleached paper is reported to be better for the environment, but my local supermarket doesn't carry unbleached paper products at all, and while I can find them at a store like Whole Foods, they tend ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

How can glass be recycled/reused locally in rural communities?

I live in a "remote" part of the USA, where it is prohibitively expensive to ship glass elsewhere for recycling. Because of the small population (the nearest city over 10k people is 110 miles away), ...
14
votes
5answers
697 views

What are freely available tools or databases for Lifecycle Assesment?

Often, a Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) can be useful to judge the ecological and social impact of a product or procedure. What tools to produce an LCA are freely available? Especially of interest would ...
14
votes
5answers
13k views

How can I determine the U-value (or R-value) of my existing double glazing system?

Is there an easy way to determine the U-value (or R-value) of an existing fitted double glazing system? Two options spring to mind, looking up the value in some kind of database (sadly I have no idea ...
14
votes
3answers
2k views

Can organic waste be turned into fish food?

I have heard that catfish (and perhaps other fish too) eat about anything. Would catfish also eat my organic waste? If so I could breed catfish in aquaponics. So can my waste be turned into fish-food?...

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