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12
votes
4answers
910 views

Why the tiny input openings on recycle bins?

My local recycling bins look somewhat like these: As you can see, the opening can facilitate a single item at a time. How is one supposed to dump a large sack of plastic packages in the plastics bin?...
12
votes
2answers
152 views

How to sustainably deal with garbage?

Is it a bad idea to throw garbage down the public garbage chute? Sustainably speaking, garbage "dumps" & toxic incinerators don't seem like a sustainable method over time. Although maybe someone ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

What does “reduce reuse recycle” actually mean?

What does the slogan/sticker "reduce reuse recycle" mean? Some people seem to use it as a list of options, others as a hierarchy. But the symbol is of a cycle, so is the order really important?
12
votes
3answers
866 views

What is the most efficient way to deal with electronic waste?

What is the most efficient way to deal with electronic waste like old computers, TVs, etc? More specifically, I have some old CDs and DVDs. I don't want to just dump them. What should I do with these ...
12
votes
3answers
271 views

Are there projects that use renewable energy sources to create renewable energy sources?

I recently fantasized about a project that starts from a small solar furnace (small, but can melt steel), and a small solar farm (that control the electronics). Then all the energy is used to build ...
12
votes
3answers
7k views

Why can't solar stills convert sea water into fresh water?

If I replaced the foliage in this diagram with a gallon of sea water - would the resulting "fresh water" be pure enough for agriculture? For human consumption? Is the process really that ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

What can I do to give second life to half-drained batteries?

Suppose I'm replacing batteries in some powerful device like a flashlight - the flashlight will not even run on those batteries but some low power device like a TV remote or a wall clock will continue ...
12
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 ...
12
votes
2answers
985 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 ...
12
votes
5answers
599 views

What is a permaculture solution for dealing with deer in a suburban environment?

The old problem of the deer moving into the city. My neighborhood is overrun. So far the best solution I've seen to keep them at bay is fences or hedges. The true permaculture solution would be to ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

Forcing water circulation in solar hot water installation

I'm planning an installation for heating water using solar "exchanger" panels (solar used to heat water directly, not through electricity). I don't want to bind the reservoir, panel and tap locations ...
12
votes
4answers
324 views

Water heating / electricity production by using earth's warmth?

I'm very curious, why hasn't anyone done this? In most places on earth, the temperature gets 25 degrees higher (celsius) for every kilometer in depth. How hard would it be to drill 4-5km, put a U-...
12
votes
3answers
156 views

Reusing buckets for flower pots?

Is reusing old food buckets as flower pots actually a good sustainability practice or a bad one since I'm ruining good buckets by poking holes in the bottoms? I get the buckets for free from my ...
12
votes
5answers
394 views

Lowering the heating thermostat at night: is it really worth it?

I've heard some very conflicting information regarding the effect of lowering the house heating thermostat at night. On one hand there are academic papers (such as Thermostat strategies impact on ...
12
votes
3answers
226 views

Options to suggest to landlord for cost savings via renewable energy?

I have a landlord who is very interested in saving money. I wanted to suggest options to her to help her save money while reducing environmental footsteps. However she is not motivated to save the ...
12
votes
3answers
455 views

Sustainable Roofing Materials

I want to re-roof my home, but want to use a sustainable option. Is there a resource where I can compare different sustainable options and find the best choice for my budget and situation? I'm trying ...
12
votes
6answers
2k views

Leak proof water bottles?

I'm trying to find a leak-proof reusable water bottle and have had a lot of difficulty with this task. So far, the best I've been able to do as far as strictly the leak-proof issue is a Nalgeen water ...
12
votes
2answers
322 views

How do I keep my solar panels clean?

What sort of cleaning regime should I have for a solar energy system, and do PV and solar-thermal panels need to be treated differently?
12
votes
4answers
2k views

Mulching or “Mini Septic” for Solid Dog Waste?

(I asked this on gardening.se but it was suggested I try asking it here. Hope this is an appropriate place to ask...) I'm a relatively new dog owner. Living in a relatively woodsy area with an acre ...
12
votes
1answer
427 views

What's a sustainable way to stain and protect wood?

What substances can I find to stain and protect wood that are produced without serious pollution and can be disposed of safely?
12
votes
1answer
195 views

Is plastic food packaging 100% reusable?

There is the prominent argument that we should buy food without plastic packaging because plastic is made of oil and thus bad. I'm wondering, however, what if the plastic packaging remains in the ...
12
votes
3answers
511 views

Cost-effective alternative to rechargeable batteries?

Batteries are known to be the most unsustainable and expensive part of system exploiting renewable energy. So I am wondering, are there any alternatives to storing energy in batteries? Here I am ...
12
votes
2answers
279 views

Where are commercial conditions for a CCS NG or coal plant most likely to emerge in the US?

The first (likely) commercial scale coal ccs plant is scheduled to begin operation at Boundary Dam in Canada by the end of the first quarter of 2014 (Estevan Mercury). A few key points about the ...
12
votes
1answer
253 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
958 views

What equation should be used to determine fish load to grow bed (filtration) ratio

When building an aquaponics system in general, what is the best equation to use to determine fish loads (waste generation) to grow bed (filtration) ratios. Is it a simple calculation of pounds of ...
12
votes
3answers
3k views

How to get rid of greenfly in roses and grapes without toxic chemicals?

We lost all our roses last summer, due to greenfly. The only solution we have so far found was highly toxic. Are the more sustainable alternatives?
12
votes
1answer
6k views

Which types of spare electric motors from common consumer appliances are suitable to repurpose as generators?

I've heard that washing machine motors (in particular, the Fisher & Paykel branded ones which are local to me in New Zealand) are quite suitable for repurposing for generation use. Other types ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

Sustainability of LED production?

Not all LEDs are the same. Standard LEDs use various combinations of indium, gallium, arsenic, silicon, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, and a couple other elements. Most of these need to be mined from the ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

Are there any viable DIY or commercial solutions to convert waste heat to electricity?

Apparantly there are some advances in converting heat to electricity such as here or here. But are there any commercial solutions/devices/DIY projects or is this at the moment (as stated in the ...
12
votes
3answers
15k views

What are the key principles for designing a rocket stove?

I have some spare bricks lying around that I'm interested in using to build a rocket stove for cooking. What are the key principles I need to understand to build a rocket stove? Is there a maximum ...
12
votes
1answer
83 views

How much area to feed the colony of snails?

Snails are good source of proteins. How much area should I have to provide food for the colony of snails producing about 100kg of "meat" every year?
12
votes
1answer
191 views

What chemicals are used to replace BPA in plastics?

And is there any reason to think that the replacement is any better than Bisphenol A (BPA) itself?
12
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 ...
12
votes
1answer
165 views

How can I remove PCBs from my soil?

I live in a neighborhood where there is a very real chance my soil will be contaminated by PCBs. I may need to potentially be able to clean them up, with out breaking the bank. Are there any ...
12
votes
3answers
4k views

How food producers calculate “best before” date?

How food producers calculate "best before" date? Why I'm asking on SL? Because I'd rather not waste food to be sustainable. And many times I'm advised (by "best before" date put on food package) to ...
12
votes
1answer
2k views

Are “eco-friendly” pens and pencils actually more sustainable than the conventional models?

There are a number of "eco-friendly" pens and pencils on the market advertising recycled content and other "green" features, but are they really as good as they look? Many standard wooden pencils use ...
12
votes
1answer
154 views

Independent retirement vs moving in with the kids

Living in Indonesia at the moment and under long-term discussions regarding whether to move back to the US. One issue is retirement and one aspect of that is sustainability. In Indonesia, multi-...
12
votes
2answers
96 views

When to buy new, when to keep the old?

How can I calculate if it makes sense from a resource-conservation perspective to purchase a new, more energy efficient appliance, and when it makes sense to use an old appliance until it is beyond ...
12
votes
1answer
210 views

Which plastics should I avoid and what qualities of plastics are important to consider?

I see a lot of DIY projects that use various plastics, even projects with a focus on sustainable processes and methods. Is the use of plastic contrary to the idea of sustainability entirely? Are ...
12
votes
1answer
1k views

How do UTZ, Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade certifications compare?

When buying chocolate or coffee, I like to make sure that I choose the better option for farmers and the environment, especially because it always comes from countries that don't fare as well ...
12
votes
3answers
228 views

Is biochar actually a viable way of carbon sequestration?

Biochar is often heralded as a great combination of soil improvement and carbon sequestration. However, at least on the carbon sequestration front, it seems to be a mixed bag. Biofuelwatch cites a ...
12
votes
4answers
620 views

What is the definition of “sustainable”?

An exchange in the comments on this question got me thinking: what is the standard definition for sustainable? Does it include such things as: Geographic extent Time frame Economics Other factors?
12
votes
1answer
5k views

What are the cheapest and easiest methods to convert grey water to potable water?

What are the cheapest and easiest methods for converting grey water (of the usual sources: kitchen sink, shower, laundry, etc) to potable water that is safe to drink?
12
votes
1answer
436 views

What strategy to follow for thinning a woodlot?

I have a woodlot roughly 10 acres (4 hectares) from which I harvest firewood. From a permaculture perspective, this is my Zone 4; Zone 5 lies along the back edge of the woodlot. I'm in the northeast ...
12
votes
2answers
125 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
120 views

How can I extend the life of mobile phones that can't be used in my country anymore?

I own two "dumbphones" that are now useless in Australia because they rely on the 2G network, which is being phased out entirely this year (2017). The two phones work perfectly fine, an I'd rather ...
12
votes
2answers
93 views

Small scale deployment of the ocean cleanup project

The Ocean Cleanup Project aims to collect floating plastic from the oceans. By having static "sea water processors" filter the water. Are there any existing small scale deployments of this idea, i.e ...
12
votes
2answers
75 views

Maintaining or treating harvested water for animal consumption

I am currently storing rain water in a 60L blue barrel that is being used to feed chickens, ducks and rabbits. I have never run dry yet, although I have come close, but there is a steady supply. ...
12
votes
1answer
107 views

How can an employer induce snack food companies to package in compostable materials?

My employer provides snacks to employees and generally uses compostable plates, cups, and utensils. However, a significant portion of the waste stream comes from the wrappers for things like chips ...
12
votes
1answer
260 views

Removing agricultural plastic film waste after 10+ years degradation

[reposted from Earth Science since more relevant here] I am at a farm where previous tenants left a non-biodegradable plastic film roughly 10-15 years ago. It is inconsistently spread over a few ...

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