Are Garbage Disposals Environmentally Friendly?

I was surprised to find that there are a number of web pages out there suggesting that using your garbage disposal to dispose of food scraps is actually preferable to throwing them away.  It turns out that food that goes into a landfill without exposure to the sun ends up rotting underground and forms a buildup of methane gas, which is supposedly a powerful greenhouse gas.   Food that is washed down the disposal is supposedly eventually processed by the sewer treatment plant, allowing anaerobic breakdown of the organic matter, which results in biomatter for fertilizer and biogas, which in some cases is used to power the plant itself.

Here is an excellent website describing the process:

Of course, the very best action would be to limit the amount of food waste as much as possible.  Eliminating it completely is impossible, but the next best thing would be to compost it.  For the very last bits of food waste that are not caught to compost, the garbage disposal is not so bad, given that it was originally designed for convenience and to prevent people from clogging their sink plumbing.  Anything is better than just throwing food waste in the garbage, unless you happen to live in an arid area in which the water required to dispose and treat the food waste cannot be spared.

- GP Dave

July 18, 2013 at 8:36 am Leave a comment

our aging population– another reason to promote and use mass transportation

Though we try to use Caltrain as much as we can, trains run only once an hour at best and the agency itself is always close to financial insolvency. But this presents a vicious circle: the less feasible and useful mass transportation is, the less people will use it. And the less they use it, the less feasible it becomes.

At this point, I believe that to give Caltrain and other forms of mass transit a boost– and get people out of their cars– the only way is to get our legislators to give more funding to mass transport projects in the bay area.

I believe that with our aging population we are running up on a potential crisis if we don’t start acting now. For most people in the suburbs, getting around and having a quality life is totally dependent on driving in their car. What will happen to all of these seniors when they can no longer drive? Will they end up being stuck in their own homes?

Personally, when I get old I want to have a San Francisco Bay Area in which I will be able to get around without having to drive. Western Europeans have done it, and so has Japan and much of Asia. We won’t get rid of automobiles anytime soon, but the time is now to start getting off our complete dependency on cars. Rather than spending all that money on building more roads for more cars, we should extend Caltrain and accelerate BART extension projects, increase trains schedules, build more stations, create better and more interagency transfer points, and generally promote ridership. We should start doing this before we are forced to do it. I think that our continued economic viability will eventually depend on it.

- GP Dave

February 27, 2013 at 8:56 am Leave a comment

Don’t recycle that newspaper!

… well, don’t recycle it if you can donate it.  The Peninsula Humane Society accepts newspaper as a donation.  They use it to line the cages of a number of the animals they keep there.  

Check your local shelter’s wish list before going down there.  Last time I checked, Oakland Animal Services did not have newspaper as one of their wish list items.


- GP Dave

December 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm Leave a comment

We are All Greenwashers in a Way (It’s Too Easy Being Green), 7 Billion People

In David Owen’s excellent article “It’s Too Easy Being Green“, he makes some great points and points out an eye-opening fact:

“Flying from New York to Melbourne in 1958, on a propeller plane, consumed more energy per person than my 2010 flight did, but it was “greener” nevertheless. It required stops in San Francisco, Hawaii, Canton Island, Fiji and Sydney, and it cost each coach passenger something like a quarter of that year’s U.S. median family income, each way.”

We are all Greenwashers in a way, especially if you’re one of the over quarter billion Americans on the planet right now. Personally speaking, I am aware of the fact that my having a long car-based commute, a fishtank, two house cats, and an espresso maker (among other things) are all modes of consumption that are inessential and not best for the environment. But, as Owens also points out, if we really wanted to be green and not just greenwashed, we would forgo all these things and stop flying altogether. “But where is the fun in going nowhere” or having nothing?

With a world population of almost 7 billion people and growing, something’s going to have to give, and we may someday see the return of transcontinental flights being only for the rich and privileged. Maybe that won’t be such a bad thing; but at this rate, I don’t think that we’ll have much choice in the matter.

February 9, 2012 at 10:12 am 1 comment

Engineered Meat Survey

February 9, 2012 at 9:56 am Leave a comment

PETA, Meat is Murder, and Animal Farm

I became a member of PETA this year.  Though I don’t agree with everything that they have to say, I do believe that there is a place and need for a more extreme animal rights activist group. 

Along with my membership came an informational packet on how to start becoming vegan.  Now I won’t stop eating meat or wearing leather anytime soon, but someday I would like to move towards a more lacto-ovo-pisce (milk, eggs, fish) based diet. 

So recent news about engineered artificial meat is interesting.  Although some people find it to be unappetizing, I see nothing wrong with it, especially if it is nutritious, delicious, sustainable, and lessens cruel conditions and suffering of animals raised for food.  It promises to be all those things and more.  What do you all think?  Would you trust it any less than what you might be eating in a McDonald’s Chicken McNugget?  Poll to follow.

It seems that George Orwell was remarkably prescient once again, and “Chicken Little” may be coming to a store near you soon.

February 8, 2012 at 11:24 am Leave a comment

green espresso maker in the house!

We recently got a Jura Capresso espresso maker, and one of the features that sold us on it is the smart way it conserves energy.

This thing is amazing… of course it makes great espresso drinks at the touch of a buttton. But it also incorporates a variety of automatic power saving functions:

1. 5 minutes after the last brew, it turns the temp down on the heating element; this means that it takes a few minutes to heat back up again for another cup, but it starts saving energy right away.
2. It automatically powers itself off completely if inactive for 2 hours (this is programmable up to 4 hours). So even if you forget to turn it off, it will turn itself off automatically;
3. This is the best feature of all: when it is off, it is completely off and does not consume any power at all, unlike the phantom power suck of many devices that are on ‘standby’. The only drawback is that this means that the machine cannot be programmed to automatically turn itself on or with a timer.

… did I say that it makes great espresso drinks??

- GP Dave

December 1, 2011 at 11:08 am 2 comments

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