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Sustainable Shopping Tips
April 2015

Smart Choices Help Our Home Planet

eco-green-shoppingThe buy local movement and popularity of local farmers’ markets continue to grow, but we can do even better when it comes to sustainable shopping. A recent Greendex.com survey on environmental impacts of consumer behaviors in 18 countries reports that more Americans are eating local and organic foods and say they’re going to consume less meat and bottled water. Nevertheless, we continue to eat the most processed and packaged foods and the fewest fruits and vegetables of all the countries surveyed. Evidently, we need to literally put our money where our mouths are.

The Greendex survey cites several basic ways to make our diets more sustainable. These include eating more vegetables and less beef and lamb (recognizing the greater environmental impact of raising animals); participating and supporting community supported agriculture and fishery initiatives; economizing meal planning; and storing food properly in the refrigerator to maximize space and freshness periods.

When grocery shopping, peruse the perimeter aisles first, where whole foods are stocked, instead of the interior shelves, which typically comprise processed foods according to MotherEarthLiving.com.

More cooperation between the public and private sectors and individual involvement can also increase sustainability in communities around the world. Rachael Durrant, Ph.D., a research fellow with the UK-based Sustainable Lifestyles Research Group, cites in a recent paper the need for improved understanding of the key roles that civil society organizations play within processes of large-scale social change and warned that many communities are vulnerable to grave environmental and social risks.

Durrant lauds “greener, fairer and healthier practices, such as community gardening or cookery classes,” plus “those that change the rules of the game through campaigns or lobbying to coordinate and facilitate activities of other groups.” Supporting food and farming management that’s independent, cooperative and welcomes volunteers, for example, is highly beneficial.

 
Soil Salvation
April 2015

Organic Farming May Counteract Greenhouse Effect

organic-farmingThe nonprofit Rodale Institute, the United Nations and the Soil Association are reporting that modern, chemical-intensive industrial farming is stripping the soil’s natural ability to take carbon back out of the atmosphere through photosynthesis and store it in the soil. Rodale researchers say that by returning to small-scale organic farming, more than 40 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions could be captured in the soil, and if the entire world’s pasture and rangelands were managed using regenerative techniques, an additional 71 percent of those emissions could be sequestered.

Further, organic practices could counteract the world’s yearly carbon dioxide output while producing the same amount of food as conventional farming. Rodale claims that using regenerative organic agriculture—like low or no-tillage, cover crops and crop rotation—will keep photosynthesized carbon dioxide in the soil, instead of returning it to the atmosphere. The institute cites 75 studies from peerreviewed journals, including its own 33-year Farming Systems Trial, which directly compare organic farming with conventional farming.


Source: OrganicConsumers.org

 
Meditation Minimizes Migraines
March 2015

Mindfulness Reduces Episodes

meditationResearchers from the Wake Forest School of Medicine found that mindfulness meditation significantly reduced the number and duration of migraines among 19 episodic migraine patients. Ten were given eight weeks of mindfulness classes with instructions for adding personal meditation in-between sessions. The other nine received typical migraine care.

Those in the meditation group experienced an average of 1.4 fewer migraines per month, which averaged nearly three hours less than the ones experienced by those in the control group. Pain levels of the headaches reported by those in the meditation group averaged 1.3 points lower on a scale of one to 10.

 
Stop Drops
March 2015

How to Find and Fix Leaking Pipes

water-leakWhile municipal water main breaks make news, it’s just as important to be watchful at home. According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, a typical home annually loses more than 2,000 gallons of water due to leakage. SNL Financial, an industry analysis firm in Charlottesville, Virginia, recently reported that water leaks cause $9.1 billion in annual homeowner policy property losses. Sensing a less-than-stellar water flow or seeing a leak from a faucet or mold or damp spots on walls and ceilings can indicate possible water pipe problems.

Copper water lines can develop tiny leaks over time when the water supply is too acidic. Also, clogs can develop, regardless what lines are made of, from lime and rust accumulations, stressing sections and especially fittings. Particularly vulnerable are 45-to-65-year-old homes, the length of time corrosion-resistant coatings on interior and exterior pipes generally last (OldHouseWeb.com). Fortunately, if repairs are needed, most builders group water lines in predictable places; bathrooms are often stacked one atop another in multi-floor houses for easier placement of supply and drain lines, so work can be localized and focused.

Instead of costly copper, many plumbers have switched to PEX—a tough and flexible polyethylene—that doesn’t require fittings or react to acid, like copper does. Repairs typically consist of replacing specific pipe sections as needed. Ask a visiting plumber to inspect all exposed plumbing lines to maximize the value of

Here’s a simple way to check for leaks: Turn off all water by closing internal and external water valves and don’t use the toilet. Record the current reading of the water meter, and then wait 20 minutes. Record the reading again and wait another 15 minutes. If the meter indicates an increase during this period, it’s probably from a leak. Another option is to install an automatic water leak detection and shutoff system.

According to AllianceForWaterEfficiency.org, 20 to 35 percent of all residential toilets leak at some time, often silently, sending wasted water onto both household water and sewer bills. Flapper valves improperly covering the exit from the tank are the most common problem, and they can easily be replaced.

 
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