Tip #3: Water saving shower heads

Yet another easy one! Also another water solution.

As stated in a previous tip, about 45% of water use occurs in the bathroom. An easy way to cut down on this use is to shorten your showers, like our mother was always telling us to do. Especially if you were me, living in Colorado in the middle of a decade long drought, as a teenage girl with a lot of hair to wash. (it’s not like washing mattered, I could have washed it with peanut butter and it would have looked better than the god-awful styles I was putting it in.)

But I digress.

Shortening showers is not always easy. Sometimes you just got back from working out, sometimes you need to shave, sometimes you it’s really cold and you’re really tired and the water is just so heavenly that it’s nearly impossible to get out, and sometimes you’re a teenage girl preparing to style her hair in yet another horrible way.

But most shower heads use about 2 gallons of water per minute of showering, and some older ones (once again, like the ancient houses we live in as college students) use up to 5 gallons of water a minute. An easy (and cheap in the long run) solution is the water saving shower head!

They can come as cheap as $5 or have a massaging spray, or even come with an apparatus to control the flow. They typically range between 10 and 15 dollars and can shave a few dollars off your water bill a month, eventually paying for itself.

They tend to be easy to install, only needing the removal of one screw.

So for tip #3, save some money and save some water with a water saving low-flow shower head!

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Okay, so you’ve purchased your organic food, but now you have all these banana peels and other random food waste lying around. Ugh. Now what?

Remember when we talked about upcycling?

Did you know you can do that with food waste, too?

No, you can’t exactly make crafts out of food scraps –– or, at least, we don’t endorse it. But you can start a compost heap, which is still pretty cool (we’d venture to say it’s cooler. But who knows, maybe your eggshell jewelry collection is really taking off).

Now, what exactly is compost?

In essence, it’s a mixture of decomposed organic materials that can be used in organic agriculture as a fertilizer and soil conditioner. It can help control erosion and even as a natural pesticide for soil. 

Compost has four main components: carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and water. The carbon and nitrogen come from things like leaves, food scraps, branches and coffee grounds. When you add water to this mixture and expose it to oxygen (that’s more or less a fancy way of saying “leave it outside”), the water and oxygen break down the contents of your pile and create compost. This creates humus (no, not hummus. Different thing. We’re fans of both), which can help retain moisture in soil and improve the soil so it can be reused.

Sometimes, fun things like earthworms and urine and human waste are added to the mix. If that sounds gross, just picture a landfill overflowing with food waste that could’ve been used to make more organic food –– yeah. Not a great alternative.

Now, why should you care about fermented food scraps?

Picture that landfill again. Pretty nasty, huh? Well, every time we throw things in the garbage that we could’ve recycled (or upcycled) (or composted), we’re adding to that pile of trash and increasing our carbon and methane emissions.

Composting helps to reduce that pile by finding a higher purpose for your food and yard trash. Instead of sending those leaves you so painstakingly raked to go sit in a landfill, why not add them to your compost heap? Add in the inedible pieces of the sustainably and organically grown fruits and veggies you used to cook dinner. With a little water, oxygen, and patience (and maybe even some cool additions, like cockroaches or larvae), you’ll have your very own compost pile.

Look at you, shrinking your carbon footprint and reducing methane emissions from landfills! Now you have some cool compost you can use to grow more things. You go, Footprint Mag reader!

Certified Organic, Certifiably Confusing.

Picture this: a shopper, traversing the aisles of her local grocery store with every intention of purchasing organic food –- how hard can it be?  Everything’s labelled so nicely…

But after a few minutes, our plucky shopper’s head is swimming, inundated by “USDA Certified Organic”s, “100% All-Natural”s, “Safeway O Organic”s, and a plethora of other labels. What does it all mean? Which ones are real, what means what, why is buying organic so. hard.?!?

Never fear, Sustainability 101 is here. Go grab some popcorn, kids –– we’re gonna be here for a while.

First off,  just what is “organic food?”

According to the US Department of Agriculture, “organic crops” are processed without  “irradiation, sewage sludge, synthetic fertilizers, prohibited pesticides, [or] genetically modified organisms,” and “organic livestock” is livestock raised in a manner that “met animal health and welfare standards, did not use antibiotics or growth hormones, used 100% organic feed, and provided animals with access to the outdoors.”

Now, in the words of Morrissey, “What difference does it make?”

First, there’s the obvious: it’s grown without harmful chemicals and hasn’t been made into a teenage mutant ninja vegetable –– trust us, you don’t need that in your system. Stick to getting super powers from eating sustainably farmed nutritious foods.

Also, from an environmental standpoint, when we buy foods farmed organically, we’re supporting sustainable agricultural practices. The pesticides used in non-organic agriculture contaminate the soil and water supply, and they can even cause crops to become disease-resistant –– gross, huh?

(We think so, too).

“Okay, Sustainable Godmother, that’s great, but how do I know the foods I’m buy are really organic?”

Foods that meet these criteria feature a green “USDA Certified Organic” logo on their labels:

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Now, what about brands with enticingly organic-sounding names like “Safeway O Organic” and Giant’s “Nature’s Promise?” Rule of thumb: guilty until proven innocent. Often, these brands aren’t really organic; brands often use words like “all-natural” to cash in on consumers’ increasing desire for organic food, even when their products aren’t organic in the slightest. Check for the green label to see whether or not they’re legit.

Now that you know the benefits of organic food –– and how to outsmart clever marketing ploys –– go forth and veg(gie) out.

Tip #2: Personal Water Bottles

Personal water bottles should be a no-brainer! Personal water bottles are not only durable and customizable, they are also eco-friendly (and cheaper!) , especially compared to their mean cousin, The Disposable Water Bottle.

bottled-water

Not pretty is it? Buying a bottle of water a day, or every other day, or even every two, still adds up to a serious amount of waste, literally and monetarily. You could be spending $120, $200, or even upwards of $300 a year on bottled water. Imagine all the things that could be done with that money instead: music festivals, plane tickets, clothing, football games; the possibilities are endless!

New water fountains around campus make filling up easier too.

best-bpa-free-water-bottles

Americans drink 50 billion bottles of water every year and it takes more than 25 million barrels of crude oil to create all that plastic.

 

Not only that, but disposable water bottle companies are simply repackaging municipal water (read: public city water) and selling it at 300 TIMES THE COST OF TAP WATER.

And companies like Fiji, which really do ship water from across the world, are simply exploiting a poor nation of it’s most important resource at almost three times the price of other bottled waters. Not only that, but shipping your water, across oceans, to get to you, is no sustainable way to live.

Buy a personal water bottle. It doesn’t make sense to do anything else!