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27

The main answer is logistical. Building a network of pipes to bring water to houses is a major effort, and most places where that's been done found it extremely expensive. Providing a second set of pipes to bring salt water to houses would probably cost about the same. Except that cities go to considerable lengths to put their water reservoirs above the city ...


21

This question is addressed in a paper by Shibahara et al, 2013. They don't discuss walking, but they do discuss bicycling, which I suppose is a more realistic method for commuting (for example, I bike the 8 miles to work but I've never walked it). The authors analyzed taxi, gas cars (GV), electric cars (EV), bus rapid transit (BRT), light rail (LRT), city-...


19

TLDR; a few years ago vegetables grown naturally and then transported by truck over a distance of 1000-1500 km had a lower carbon footprint than vegetables grown locally in heated greenhouses. However due to technical innovations things have changed and the footprint is now equal. Expectations are that in a few years heated greenhouses will have a neutral ...


17

Catalina Island does use salt water for toilets. It's a small community, however, and they seem to be shifting towards freshwater due to corrosion issues inherent to salt water utilization. From Catalina Island & Drinking Water: Saltwater used for toilet-flushing and fire suppression purposes is simply filtered as it is not intended to be potable. ...


14

A presentation about the environmental costs of oil production (by Dr. Dumelin, here - direct download!) reveals that coconut oil performs worse than palm oil in some commonly assessed impact categories (namely energy requirement, global warming potential and land use) while it performs better in others (namely acidification and eutrophication impact): PO = ...


14

There is a lot of information and research on how the production of palm oil has severe negative impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (for example this paper, this paper and wikipedia). However, I have found that reliable information on how coconut oil is produced is rather scarce. There are several claims about why oil from coconut trees (cocos ...


14

TLDR: in this particular case, where the buyer lives very close to the shop, it's likely that buying in a brick-and-mortar shop has a lower carbon footprint compared to buying online. Online shopping may become greener when the distance to the shop is more than 14 - 50km (depending on your shopping behavior and on which scientific study you consult). I ...


13

It's correct that the production of 1 ceramic mug requires much more material and energy than the production of 1 plastic cup, but this isn't a fair comparison. Plastic cups are generally used once or perhaps twice and then disposed of. A ceramic mug is likely to be used several hundreds of times before it breaks and is thrown away. Let's assume you use a ...


13

I'm not going to answer the support the recycling part of your question, but the avoid new production part. One stream of aluminium goes in to the coating of plastic for packaging food (coffee, crisps, etc). Although this layer is extremely thin (0.0055-0.1 mm) the total amounts are large. Recycling this metalized plastic (metalized film) is doable but ...


12

Interestingly the cashew fruits are edible and some people do cook them. Permaculturalists also eat the young leaves cooked. I don't think yield of nuts is the only issue. The other issues must include long-term soil issues and the like. While higher yields can in theory support larger populations, that's only one long-term variable. In general, nuts ...


12

I question your basic premise that a plant's edible yield density necessarily equates to "eco-friendly." That may turn out to be the case, but it would have much more to do with the conventional farming and production practices used, offset by any possible other sustainable uses for these disposable byproducts. Consider that most nuts come from trees that ...


11

An interesting question you pose. I'm writing my answer via a computer that is 7 years old and has been using GNU/Linux for 3 or 4 years. The battery or battery charger no longer works, but everything else does, and everything else is original. When I got this computer, new, it run Windows NT. After about 3 years it was virtually unusable due to the ...


11

A forest of old trees sequesters more carbon per year than a forest with the same quantity of young trees. When I first saw this question I thought I knew the answer -- trees grow faster when they're young, therefore they sequester carbon at a higher rate. When I went looking for the data to back this up, I found that this is still a somewhat controversial ...


10

My toothpaste is made from natural materials (mainly clay, small quantities of herb extracts and essential oils) and comes in a (recyclable) aluminium tube. The cap is from recyclable plastic (but of course for plastics, "recycling" means downcycling). I find this toothpaste marvellous and pretty sustainable (except for the plastic cap). The clay part ...


10

It depends on your definition of sustainable. Your question doesn't have an absolute answer as stated. Sustainable can refer to an individual, a community, a region, a country, or civilization as a whole. It is also used to make reference to the effect on the environment (which can become very controversial). If you make your money from the local community ...


10

You've pictured a disposable plastic cup. If you assume that you can use it a few times, then you might consider that you get through one a day. A ceramic cup lasts until you drop it. The cup in your photo is only for cold drinks anyway. Paper or expanded polystyrene are usually used for hot drinks. This link runs the numbers: In summary, ceramic is best. ...


10

Yes, we should leave the larger part of all known fossil fuel reserves in the ground. Scientists have calculated that if we want to keep global temperature rise under 2 degrees C (which was agreed upon in the Paris climate agreement), then we cannot use more than 1/3 of all currently known reserves. ...globally, a third of oil reserves, half of gas ...


10

It may depend on your local rules, but here it's certainly better to put a recyclable thing in the bin than a non-recyclable thing in the recycling. That is, if your council doesn't have any sorting facilities: if they deem the recycling to be 'contaminated', they'll send the whole load to the incinerator - whereas if you put it in the normal rubbish, it's ...


9

tl;dr There really isn't a sustainability argument for switching either way between them: there is only an argument for switching away from both. It's akin to asking whether we should switch from coal to gas: the answer is that that's not a meaningful question: we absolutely have to stop using both. So although the question is in the same sort of rhetorical ...


9

Bamboo Pros Bamboo is a perennial grass. You don't need to put annual effort and energy into it's cultivation. You don't need to disturb the soil, so the soil ecosystem stays intact. NO Soil Erosion! Bamboo suppresses the growth of other plants (weeds) around it so it requires NO Herbicides. Bamboo is VERY hardy against pests and diseases so it requires ...


9

Your most sustainable choice is an old straight razor, but there's a reason the replacement is called a "safety razor"... you're much less likely to kill yourself with a safety razor. But these last a long time and you can shave using a small amount of water and a soap stick. You can buy one second hand, that's how long they last. Much safer is an old style ...


9

A related question was asked on SE Skeptics - Is this tealight-flowerpot heater more efficient than just tealights? In the third answer, it is claimed the heat produced by one tea light candle is 0.75 MJ per candle. Where I live, one of the domestic gas suppliers sells gas for 2.78 cents per MJ. The energy value of the gas is 38.713 MJ per cubic metre of ...


8

According to this link, an average router will use 6w. Leaving it on all the time will therefore use approximately 0.14kWh per day - about the same as using a 60W laptop for 2.4 hours, or boiling a kettle once. While it will make a tiny difference if you turn it off, there are many other things you can do that will save a lot more energy.


7

The market value of the goods is often indicative of the remaining useful life of the goods. If you know the environmental footprint of the product when new, it seems reasonable to assume that a purchaser of the goods (second hand) is to be responsible for a share of that impact based on the proportion of useful life remaining. For example, if there exists ...


7

Definitely YES. As currently supported versions of MS Windows (7,8,10) now will have problem to run on older machines with RAM under 500MB and CPU under old Intel Core2/CoreM, you can find plenty Linux distributions with equivalent functionality, which are supported and will run on even lover configurations. Therefore some platforms as RapsberyPi was ...


7

Unless you're into printing color photos, the laser printer is the way to go. The retail prices of toner cartridges may seem a bit steep, but there are ways to refill them. The toner lasts a long long time (a few thousand printed pages if you know what you're doing) and does not dry up, ever. Laser printers are efficient, very fast, and hardly ever break ...


7

There is very large uncertainty on this, and one should not attach much credibility to reports that do put a specific number on it. Early work suggested that easy availability of real-time energy-use data led to quite high energy savings. Later work suggested that this had been significantly over-estimated. Whether time-of-use pricing has any effect in and ...


7

As LShaver writes, larger trees sequester more carbon than smaller trees, but only if they are still growing. In a "fully-grown" forest (as per the title) that process has ended — decay and regrowth are in equilibrium. Fully-grown forests are carbon-neutral. All of them. The Amazon rainforest — all 5,500,000km² of it — is carbon neutral. If you plant a ...


6

In large numbers, horses are more problematic than cars. According to Eric Morris, in 1898 delegates from around the world gathered to discuss urban planning. The issue they were "desperate" to solve was what to do about horse manure. Rutgers University has a fact sheet about horses and manure. It states that a 1000 lb horse will produce about 9.1 tons of ...


6

This will depend on where you live. It is a question of energy; First of all take into account the carbon footprint of the electric shaver relative to it's expected lifespan - this is likely to be higher than the safety razor proposed by Nui (Which I agree with by the way). Secondly - as I alluded too; it will depend on where you live, more precisely - ...


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