Saturday, January 2, 2010

Goal for 2010 – Reduce Dependance on the Waste Removal System

Why bother? An obvious reason to reduce waste is a strike by city workers. Some people want to be Green. Reducing waste is also a way to become more self-sufficient. Not to mention I'm tossing away resources – compost, fertilizer, containers, bedding and mulch. And in my case, I'm planning to be lazy. The homestead we plan on moving to doesn't have garbage removal services. So here are some ideas to keep the garage bags, blue bags and green bins empty.

Empty the Garbage

I have two raw fed dogs. Combine that with the carnivorous humans in the household and we throw away a lot of Styrofoam meat trays. I will buy meat in larger bulk sizes. I will also buy more of my meat from local farmers and butchers who usually package their wares in butcher paper. I am assuming that butcher paper can be burned. If not butcher paper would take up less space in the garage than the trays.

Yogurt containers are all #5 around here and can't be recycled. I reuse some for various projects, but the containers usually pile in faster than they can be used. I have started making yogurt. I will be swapping yogurt containers for milk containers in the grand scheme of things. It is an improvement.

Dog poop is something I'm currently throwing in the garbage – which explains the dirty looks I get from the garbage collectors. I will build a dog poop composter. Instructions here. The finished compost will be used for ornamental plants and trees. I plan to actually build two of these and alternate their use so I will have one for finished compost and one that I'm filling.

Growing more food in the yard reduces the packaging coming into the house.

Use fabric bags for all shopping.

Replace facial tissue with fabric handkerchiefs.

Replace paper towel with rags.

Use a Diva cup and/or glad rags instead of disposable feminine hygiene products.

Empty the Green Bin

Build a backyard composter and use it for all appropriate waste.

Build a worm composter which will take care of coffee grounds, most vegetable matter and even some shredded paper. The castings are wonderful fertilizer.

Buy some chickens and give the choicer bits of vegetable waste to them. In turn they fertilize the ground and scratch it up.

Use egg shells in the garden to ward off slugs. Apparently egg shells can also be used in some home cleaning recipes.

Giblets are fed to the dogs. As are poultry necks. Some egg shells are given to them as well. They are happy and healthy and those bits are kept out of the waste stream.

The lawn mower is mulching mower. The grass clippings are immediately returned to the lawn. Although in the future I may select a ground cover other than grass which does not require mowing. If I can find something to hold up to the dogs, it will be a miracle.

I will be changing my mindset on yard waste. I have been keeping a tidy yard and throwing the clippings/branches/etc into the green bin. Instead, I will compost in place when possible and use the bin otherwise.

Chip smaller branches for mulch on pathways and planting beds.

I still need a solution to the animal parts which I would usually throw in the green bin. I would like to try to make bone meal from the left over bones. I'm not sure if that is possible.

Empty the Blue Bag

Pop bottles. We go on pop binges. At times we have a sizable number of bottles in those blue bags. The smaller bottles were reused for packaging coffee and chocolate drink mixes as presents for Christmas. The larger ones can be reused some for bird feeders. Again, the incoming number rarely matches the reuse projects. One solution is to reduce or completely eliminate pop from our diets. A good idea for sure, but we all need our vices. Maybe brewing our own would be a good compromise. Then we can control the ingredients and there is actual work and patience required to create the supply. Also the bottles would be re-useable.

The cans from canned goods can be removed from the waste stream by preserving vegetables and meat. This requires a garden, some seeds and some decent weather. Or at least a visit to the farmers market. Also requires some tools and bottles and tops all of which are reusable. The lids shouldn't be used for heat canning a second time, but are fine for repackaging and storing food/buttons/screws/you-name-its until they start rusting.

Paper products will be burned in the wood stove when we get one. Ashes from the stove will be added to the garden.

An outdoor wood stove will be built to burn stuff we'd rather not burn inside. Plus an outdoor stove is just cool. I start to drool just thinking about a big clay outdoor pizza oven!

In general I will...

Look for items with permanently reusable packaging like glass jars for shop supplies or plastic food trays for soap making molds.
Look for items with less packaging or at least recyclable packaging.
Give clothes/household items/etc to charity instead of putting it at the curb.
Continue to look for opportunities to eliminate waste.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Survivalist Dogs – More Than Just Protection -- Part 1: The Pack

I read a lot of survivalist/prepper
blogs. Any mention I've seen about dogs either refers to them as a
tool for protection or a mouth to feed (or both). Dogs can be so much
more than that.

Any sized dog can carry a backpack. A pack lets them carry at least their own food and water. Stronger dogs
can carry a third or more of their weight. So, for a 100lb dog, that
is 33lbs of gear. Dogs shouldn't carry anything combustible, sharp,
valuable, breakable or easily damaged by water in case they brush the
pack on a tree or go for a swim. Certainly don't put weapons in the
dog backpack.

Items they could carry:

  • their food

  • their water

  • extra food and water for the human
    family members

  • bio-degradeable poop bags

  • first aid kit

  • extra clothing in a waterproof

  • toilet paper in baggies

  • towels, blankets, tarps, even
    small tents

  • their toys. What can be more
    grounding in a stressful situation than throwing a ball for your

Train your dog now so they are used to the pack. Get them accustomed to wearing it and conditioned to carry the extra weight. Start by showing them the pack and reward them for showing interest. Rewarding them can be anything from food rewards to play to happy noises. Whatever your dog responds to is fine for a reward. Lay the pack on their back a few times and reward them. Put the pack on them and buckle it up then reward them and take the pack back off. Put the pack on them and immediately go for a walk with them. The walk is a reward and it gives them some time to adjust to having this thing on their back without allowing them to focus on it. Once they accept the pack on their back, put some light things in it. A can of pop on each side, or a couple toys will do. Do this for their daily walk a few times a week. Always be positive and happy about the backpack. Then work up to heavier loads.

Our first dog loved his packs. His whole demeanor changed when he wore them. He held his head higher. He walked more upright. He was proud and responsible and he loved it. Even if it he was just helping to get the mail.

So what about the backpack itself? They come in a simple form which is basically two bags that strap to the dog. Most of them have a few different pouches. For longer hikes, I'd look for a bag that detaches from the harness portion so you can take the load off the dog during breaks without having to undo all the buckles. Some packs have a poop bag dispenser which is handy. If your dog is not trustworthy off lead (and they insist on walking ahead of you, like mine), you may consider finding a pack with a rear leash attachment. Some have place where you can strap a blanket or rolled up tarp on top.

So how does dog backpacking help in a SHTF situation? Well, if you need to hike to a bug out location, the dog can carry some supplies for you. If you are bugging in, you can gather resources from close by without burning fossil fuels. They could help harvest crops. And hey.. they might just protect the contents of their pack.

As for everyday - Go hiking with them. Let them carry the mail. Have them help bring home the bounty from the market or corner store. They can carry their own toys and bowls for an over night visit. You have less things to carry. They get to contribute to the family.