We don't typically post this kind of content but when we got a message from Alice offering to write a guest post for our blog we couldn't turn her down! Thanks Alice! Here's a link to her website if you want to learn more about her work: www.TidyHome.info

Photo by  Pexels

Photo by Pexels

4 Steps to Create an Eco-Friendly Decluttering Plan

Have you ever felt swallowed by the stuff in your home? Okay, obviously you aren’t literally being eaten by your belongings, but do you sometimes feel like your possessions own you instead of the other way around — you owning them?  If your answer is yes, then you’re not alone. We consume about twice as many products as we did 50 years ago. In fact, the average American home has about 300,000 things in it. 

The heaviness of all this stuff weighs on us physically and mentally. You might spend hours looking for something stashed at the bottom of the pile. Or, you may sometimes struggle to find a seat or a surface you can use. Even if your clutter isn’t that overwhelming, we often feel guilty or unworthy when a room in our home is untidy or unkempt. In other words, clutter can seriously limit you physically and drain you mentally.

You don’t have to wait until spring to give your home a good spring cleaning. In fact, you may enjoy every season a bit more if you focused on establishing a good decluttering plan year-round. Here are a few tips for establishing and maintaining a decluttering routine.

Clean Green

Going green when you clean makes your home happier and healthier. When cleaning, find sustainably (or even better, regeneratively) produced products that can be reused or recycled after you use them. Look for products that are made without petroleum-based chemicals (all-purpose cleaners are available for under $5). Going green is about more than what you use; it’s also about what you throw away and how you do it. For a deep clean, look for a cleaning service that uses eco-friendly products.

Recycle and Reuse

When you purge your home of belongings, it doesn’t matter how green you clean if everything winds up in a landfill. The effort to be environmentally conscious goes down the drain when we aren’t conscious of where those items end up when we throw them “away”. Be sure to recycle all of the paper, plastic, and aluminum products you can — just look for the recycle symbol on the item or its packaging. However, not everything that can be recycled is labeled with the symbol. For example, did you know you can recycle your old mattress and furniture? Instead of letting them rot in a landfill, you can have a recycle company pick them up or donate them to a local charity so they can be reused by someone who needs it. 

You can also recycle most stretchy plastics like bread bags, grocery bags, Ziploc bags, Amazon shipping air pillows etc. at grocery store drop-offs that can be looked up at How2Recycle.info. But remember, recycling is not all it’s cracked up to be, and in some cases is environmentally more harmful than throwing something in the landfill. We should always prioritize roughly in this order: reduce, reuse, repair, rebuild, refurbish, refinish, resell, recycle then, finally, compost. Everything else should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production. Props to Pete Seeger for that modified quote.

Embrace the Cloud

In case you haven’t noticed, we are in the full-blown digital age. If you haven’t quite caught up yet, then listen up: You can harness the power of the cloud to remove clutter from your home. Old photo albums collecting dust? Scan them in and save the digital copies. Make sure they are high resolution so you can print them again later if you want. You can also do the same thing for important papers that you don’t need hard copies of. You can even take pictures of items that are sentimental but no longer useful — instead of letting those things take over your home, you can donate them and use those pictures to reminisce.

Organize and Categorize

One of the best ways to get organized is to create a plan for categorizing your items. For example, if you have an overflowing closet, you can try turning all your hangers facing in. Each time you wear a piece, return the hanger to its standard position. At the end of the season, anything facing the opposite direction hasn’t been worn and likely won’t be needed again. 

Once you have done this, you can donate, sell, or store what you didn’t use. If you have sentimental items that you don’t want, but also don’t want to toss, consider giving them to an appreciative family member. If you’re holding on to family heirlooms that no longer fit with your style or serve a purpose, consider donating them to support a charity that was meaningful to the person who gave them to you.

Don’t forget to tackle oft-overlooked areas; for example, your entertainment center can be better organized with just a few simple changes. Keep cords together with twist ties, and store remote controls in a nearby basket for easy access. The television can be mounted to the wall to further reduce clutter. Consider contacting a service to have your TV mounted, which costs an average of $159 to $353 for most homeowners in Los Angeles. 

Putting similar items together in a container can be a great way to declutter an area. When doing this, consider purchasing a used container made from biologically-based materials like a woven basket as opposed to a plastic container made from petroleum. Even if the plastic is made from other feedstocks like hemp or corn we’ve heard that they are made of the same polymers and thus have a similar negative impact on wildlife as petroleum-based plastics do. If you know differently let us know!

If you feel trapped by your possessions, you might feel too overwhelmed to start making changes. However, if you start small and stay focused on one task at a time, you can create and sustain a less cluttered lifestyle. It may not always be easy, but it is never impossible.

FERC may open up markets for Distributed Energy Resources and storage

“FERC has already taken some steps to open power markets to DERs. For instance, a couple of years ago it issued Order 745, which said that RTOs have to treat demand-response aggregators the same way they treat power plants. (That order was quite controversial; it went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of FERC.)”

“Last week, however, FERC went further, proposing a new rule that would represent a huge step forward for DERs.

The details are somewhat technical, but here’s the short version.

For every different kind of source that participates in energy markets, RTOs develop a “participation model,” which FERC defines as “a set of tariff provisions that accommodate the participation of resources with particular physical and operational characteristics.”

That’s a complicated way of saying that every source participates in markets based on rules designed for that source.

The new rule is in two parts. The first part instructs RTOs to come up with a participation model for electricity storage. The second instructs them to come up with a participation model for DERs.

FERC is telling all the RTOs that they have to allow distributed energy into their markets.

Part of doing that means recognizing the different value streams (“unique attributes”) that these resources provide the grid. Different DERs provide a wide range of different energy services. There’s electricity, of course, but there’s also frequency regulation, capacity, storage, demand response, and more. (You don’t need to know what all these are; suffice to say, they help make the grid more stable and resilient.)”

“Some RTOs are ahead of the game on this. CAISO, in California, already has special tariffs set up for “Non-Generator Resources.” But in other regions of the country, markets for distributed energy and storage have been hampered by lack of structured access to larger markets.

This rule is going to open that up. It could help kick of a fundamental shift in the way power markets work. Where a few large generators now dominate, soon there may be hundreds, thousands of resources of every size and nature bidding into those markets. Rather than relying on physical scale, DERs will rely on intelligence, on smart, responsive software that links them together and gives them virtual scale. It’s going to be fascinating.

The proposed rule now enters a 60-day comment period, after which it will be scrapped, amended, or issued as an Order.”

http://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2016/11/22/13703348/ferc-distributed-energy-wholesale-power-markets

Anyone want to fund my super car idea?

If I started a #GoFundMe to add the following to my @VW #GTI would anyone contribute?

I'm thinking a combo of @proteanelectric’s electric wheels, an autonomous driving package (@TeslaMotors will you sell me one??), an electrolysis cell to produce oxyhydrogen gas for more complete and thus cleaner engine burn, thin film photovoltaics on the roof and hood, and regenerative braking for starters. Would this be cheaper than buying a new Tesla Model 3 with the $8,000 autonomous upgrade? If we can fund that, next I’d replace some of the heavier components with carbon fiber, add a thermoelectric generator to produce electricity when the car is baking on a hot day, and maybe some kind of advanced nanofoam bumpers (are those a thing yet??).

This would turn my front wheel drive GTI into a super-light, super-safe, super-fuel efficient AWD (with all 4 wheels potentially being able to work independently), hybrid gas-electric vehicle, with regenerative braking, self-driving, electricity generation (from solar), and super efficient combustion (from oxyhydrogen gas injection).

What an epoxy how-to video made me think of..

Here’s a sneak peek into how my mind works. First off you have to know I really don’t like to waste stuff. Second, you have to know that when you mix a two-part epoxy in some scrap plastic container you are usually going to have some waste at the end (if you have a trick to avoid this I want to know). Third I nerd out on looking at stuff through a microscope.

Now, here’s where this how-to-video took my imagining mind… You’re applying a finish like epoxy to a workpiece by seeing the piece magnified up to x, and operating a highly articulated sprayer to apply the finish. You just need wide range variable zooming microscope glasses, and capable miniature robotics like in laparoscopic surgery, and maybe a VR or AR skin to go over it (depending on the application). In the case of applying a finish to a precision part you might end up with a much more efficiently – and hopefully effectively-  finished piece, maybe even more akin to how nature preserves things. Working closer to her scale.

Tl;dr being able to zoom in at will on the micro-environments around us would be amazing in a lot of ways. Might even instill a little more biophilia among the masses. See the world in an entirely new way.

Just skimmed the President’s Executive Order 13693: Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade

Boo!!! Not a single mention of agriculture, biodiversity, or the messed up nitrogen/phosphorus cycles. We mostly see this obsession with the carbon cycle and the insane idea that if we reduce emissions we can avoid catastrophic climate change (to be fair water gets a good amount of attention too, but the thinking around it is still all wrong). If we radically changed our agricultural system we could, dare I say, easily sequester enough carbon to get us to pre-1990 levels, while staving off mass extinction, and bringing all the nutrient cycles back into alignment. If Big Oil got their heads out of their asses (or rather their mile deep geologic CO2 injection wells) long enough to realize this and get behind it, they could give themselves a few more decades of pumping without the public hating their guts.

See Mark Shepard’s New Forest Farm, and Grant Shultz’s Versaland Farm for examples of how we should be doing agriculture. We need to slow, spread, and sink water on a watershed scale. We need to let animals out of the factories and graze them over the land in dense packs rotating them through smaller pastures for shorter periods of time.

Here’s a link to the Executive Order