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15
votes
4answers
41k views

How much power does a computer monitor left switched on use?

It's a little niggling annoyance that always gets me in my office that when I work overtime and leave the office after everyone else I see row upon row of little orange lights where people have turned ...
15
votes
1answer
740 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
2answers
304 views

Is drip irrigation more water-efficient than conventional watering?

I have set-up a rooftop garden at home. I am too lazy to water it every day so I am planning to set up a drip irrigation system. But the question remains: is drip irrigation more water-efficient than ...
15
votes
2answers
78 views

Is there a recipe for sustainable dishwasher soap that brings out the shine?

We currently use a recipe that involves lemon and salt (the particulars of which are known only to my wife) and though it works and cleans the plates we don't get that beautiful shine that you get ...
15
votes
2answers
333 views

Should I replace existing inefficient light bulbs?

Similar to this question (except that's about cars), if I can buy more efficient light bulbs than the ones I'm using right now, should I? Or is it better to wait until my current light bulbs expire, ...
15
votes
3answers
4k 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
530 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
2answers
191 views

Home delivery versus going to stores: how does fuel usage for transport compare? Any studies available?

We see more and more trucks riding through our streets delivering individual items. This hardly looks sustainable. I wonder how the transport footprint compares with the 'old' delivery model of ...
15
votes
1answer
200 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
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
397 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
217 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
6answers
1k views

Are there any more sustainable alternatives to conventional commercial toothpaste?

Are there any sustainable (and useful) alternatives to toothpaste? I've tried so far this kind of tooth tabs and I'm also aware of the existence of tooth powder but I haven't tried it yet. I liked ...
14
votes
5answers
319 views

How 'clean' should something be for recycling?

Outside my apartment, there are 3 rubbish bins. One for glass, another for metals, paper and plastics and a third without a label, for bio-waste I guess. So I wonder what are some guidelines for when ...
14
votes
3answers
3k 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
228 views

Is eating beef unsustainable?

I recently saw a poster somewhere saying that some type of emission or byproduct that comes out of cattle production is extremely wasteful and harmful to the environment. What exactly is this ...
14
votes
4answers
12k 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
1k 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
6answers
5k views

What is the relationship between energy efficiency and sustainability?

What are the sound reasons (let's put aside the unsound reasons) why increasing energy efficiency takes us further down the road to sustainability? Are there real-world circumstances whereby ...
14
votes
5answers
17k 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
4answers
3k 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?...
14
votes
3answers
214 views

What to do with an old vehicle?

I have a 1975 Ford F-350. It gets 6 miles per gallon. I don't use it any more. If it was fuel-efficient, I think I should get it in to someone else's driveway, so it can reduce the demand on new ...
14
votes
1answer
13k views

How to recycle paper with ink on it?

In my work and study, I have a lot of printouts - many of which re drafts and redrafts. Is there are a way to recycle printed paper (standard printer paper) without using harsh chemicals and minimal ...
14
votes
2answers
215 views

How to utilize a boreal forest for animal husbandry?

Forests are the great producers of oxygen, and sustainable living is hardly imaginable with meadows and farmlands only. But how to best utilize a forest for animal husbandry, in the way that ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

Which is more sustainable: Almond, Soy, Coconut, Cashew or Other Milk?

As my question indicates, what is the most viable dairy alternative from a sustainability perspective (ignoring the importance of nutritional value)? From a life-cycle analysis are some options more ...
14
votes
5answers
1k views

How to store plastic bags for easy access?

I bring some plastic bags to my flat almost everyday. I do not throw them out, instead I reuse them on a daily basis until they wear out. But I have a problem organising them and I am yet to find a ...
14
votes
1answer
292 views

Is it economically sensible to install a heat exchanger on my wastewater pipes?

In the winter, I rather enjoy hot showers. I try to keep them short (5-6 min), but it's still a lot of heat going down the drain and out of the house - particularly with 3 other people who do not have ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the most sustainable heating strategy for a home?

I am looking for a new place to live and I know the winters will be very cold (-20 C). Coming from a warm climate country, I want to learn what to look for in a heating system. From the bit I ...
14
votes
1answer
1k views

What's the virtual water content of a cell phone?

Values for virtual water content, that is, all water used in the production of whatever product you are analyzing, are usually available for a meal, a piece of clothing, a fruit, but not very easily ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

When recycling paper or cardboard, what level of contamination with (food) oils is ok?

It's widespread knowledge that paper or cardboard contaminated with oil can cause problems in the recycling process, and an often stated rule is that contaminated material should not be recycled. ...
14
votes
1answer
1k views

Is it ok to recycle glass bottles and jars with paper stickers on them?

It's kind of hard to remove paper labels glued onto glass bottles and jars, especially if you have a lot of them. Does leaving them on cause a problem in recycling the glass? Does it require a lot ...
14
votes
1answer
362 views

What type of photovoltaic cells are the most environmentally friendly?

Some solar panels use silicon crystals that required careful purification and enormous quantities of energy. Some types use cadmium, which is highly toxic. Several types are noted by Wikipedia. If we ...
13
votes
5answers
656 views

(Non-compost) uses for egg-shells?

Like many families, we eat eggs and this produces egg shells. While I am aware that composting is a possibility I am wondering if there are other things we can do with them. We are not raising ...
13
votes
4answers
3k views

How are pollution and sustainability related?

In discussing "green" policies, the words "sustainability" and "pollution" are occasionally mixed together, as if they were antonyms. My gut feeling is that something that is polluting is by ...
13
votes
6answers
26k views

Aerogel as home insulation?

I see that www.buyaerogel.com has begun to offer various insulating blankets, though it seems targeted for industrial use rather than consumer use. Does this aerogel look like a suitable technology ...
13
votes
11answers
15k views

How to deal with leafcutter ants?

The picture says it all. They strip a complete tree in a day of all its leaves. Can't blame them, because they use the leaves to make their own food, but they do attack my fig tree, roses, hibiscus, ...
13
votes
3answers
15k views

Dealing with flies indoors: Carnivorous Plants

I was wondering about a sustainable chemical free way of dealing with house flies. Specifically, I thought to keep this from having too many possible answers and evolving into a discussion I am ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

How do I determine what my biggest personal impact on global warming is?

This question is basically a follow-up question on something EnergyNumbers mentioned in his answer to this now closed question. He wrote that together, our impact (on fighting global warming) can ...
13
votes
2answers
5k views

Is it legal to have chickens in NYC?

I have a small backyard and live in a densely populated part of Brooklyn. I'm interested in exploring the possibility of getting two chickens for eggs. I was wondering if anyone has any advice for ...
13
votes
3answers
972 views

How to aerate compost without turning?

Are there any sound methods that will allow my compost heap to stay aerated without me having to turn it? I realize that if left alone, it will still compost, but I would still like to speed up the ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

Complete composting novice with a bucket of stinky black slime--toss or keep?

We decided to start composting without doing any research on how to do it. Thus we began filling an old painters bucket with food scraps. No meat or milk or anything, but veggie and fruit scraps , egg ...
13
votes
2answers
4k views

How plants survive in aquaponics?

Normally, we see in our garden that if there is an excess of water for certain plants (e.g. vegetable), they do not survive and their roots rot because of being soaked in water 24 hours a day. The ...
13
votes
4answers
3k views

How can I support the recycling, but not the new production of aluminum?

While the initial production of aluminum is a waste-intensive, energy-intensive process that has negative environmental and social impact through deforestation and contamination of waterways, aluminum ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

How many times do you need to use a cheap re-usable bag to offset its impact?

An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal argues that many re-usable grocery bags are made using more oil than old-fashioned "single-use" plastic grocery bags. This makes sense, as quite a bit more ...
13
votes
2answers
572 views

How difficult is it to build your own dry, self-composting toilet?

I live in the country and have space on the north-side of my house where it doesn't get too hot in the summer. I think this could be a good place to implant a water-less or dry toilet. I read here ...
13
votes
4answers
4k views

What's the fastest growing plant by carbon density?

What is the fastest growing plant by amount of carbon stored in the wood? Bamboo is one of the fastest growing woody plants (by height), but it is mostly hollow, and so I'm not sure that it stores ...
13
votes
7answers
14k views

Domestic flywheel energy storage: how close are we?

I've done some web searches, but I don't see anything very current on how close we are to having a home energy storage flywheel system that's comparable in price and performance to a battery system. ...
13
votes
2answers
310 views

Purpose of a bottom container beneath a worm farm

I followed a video on building my own worm farm using styrofoam boxes. The video suggested having a box underneath the main box to collect the worm castings, so it required I put holes in the base of ...

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