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Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

Do you know when you just take your trash out, throw it into the bin and forget about it? Yes, i know because most of my life i did exactly that. I never had to take care of my own trash, i just sorted it and threw it away. Out of sight out of mind. But for me,  it was not out of mind because i thought many times where does my trash go, how is it processed, is it totally recycled, then how it is recycled?

Well, this last weekend i found out, at least a part of it. Since my other home is in the countryside, we needed to buy a compostor because the place where we took the organic trash was full. Another option was to order a trash bin from the city but i think the costs would have gotten higher since you have to pay monthly for the trash bin and trash delivery services.

So, before i had to do research what kind of compostors are on the market, how do they work and how one uses them. Then we headed to the grocery store, at the department where they sold compostors and ordered one as they didn’t have them in stock at that very moment. In one week the compostor was delivered at the local shop and we had to pick it up together with  three sacks of woodchips to throw over the organic leftovers so they can turn into soil. It took a while to arrange the spot where the compostor would be placed and then another while to assemble it. I started reading the instructions including what you can and cannot throw, possible problems, compost temperature and maintenance.

It took almost a whole day working on assembling and informing myself about how to use a compostor. And things are not ending here. You do have to maintain the compostor and when it is filled, you need to take the soil out and assure that it functions properly.

If somebody is curious and interested, the compostor we bought it from Biolan, 220eco model suitable for a household of 1-6 persons and it costed 469 euros. The composter was also registered and there are some more accessories that are needed especially for winter and for mixing the compost. I would have loved to write my own experience with composting but for the moment i just threw organic trash only two times. Let’s see what happens in about 5 months.

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“There’s more to life than being a passenger”. Amelia Earhart

Not many people know that but one of my childhood career prospects was to become a commercial airline pilot. But i knew this will never happen because of a disease i didn’t know i have back then and mostly because where i grew up people would just laugh into your face if you were a girl and wanted to become a pilot.

I’m very conscious about my choices and environment but there is one thing i will never give up: flying. So when the Swedish hippies started bragging about their useless eco taxes on flights, i became fierce. First, their whole point is to make flights so ridiculously expensive so people won’t fly anymore in the hope they will save the planet. Which won’t happen because those taxes will surely go (as usually) into the pockets of some rich magnates and what you will be left with it’s probably destroying an industry and have even more jobless people.

When greenies bark so much about taking down the aviation industry all they have in mind are the retired people travelling to Canary Islands or Thailand for their holidays. Sorry to break it down but the aviation industry is so much more complex than people transportation, there is also transportation of goods, namely the cargo flights which are a bigger part than people transportation. And then there is the part that it has nothing to do with goods or people, one example would be the military.

And believe it or not many people are not travelling just for the sake of travelling. Thinking now of the average Jones who goes to work. When you work, employed by somebody or having your own business, you don’t have many days of holiday so one could travel mostly once a year (at least my case). Other people travel a lot because of work, study or because they have families and friends in other parts of the world. Travelling for pleasure makes a very small part of flying.

Another thing with flying, when i look at Finland, is that ground transportation’s infrastructure is quite weak and expensive. I’ll take an example: travelling from Southern Finland to Lapland. You need to change trains twice and take a bus because the railway stops around Kemi. This journey costed me two years ago 210 euros (with student discount) and it lasted one day. Norwegian Airlines has flights between Helsinki-Ivalo starting with 30 euros. In 1 hour and 40 minutes you are in Lapland with a very convenient price.

My family lives on the other side of Europe and one time i was crazy enough to look if i could make the whole journey by train. I gave up after i saw it takes about a week, it is extremely expensive and you need to go through several border checks between countries. No thanks. Blue Air has very cheap tickets Helsinki-Bucharest and you’re at the destination in less than 3 hours. Time is money.

Plane tickets are already expensive as it is and the conditions are not that great. A basic flight has almost nothing included hence the low price and i do remember when i started flying long ago, plane companies used to have much more decent conditions and here i refer to meals and included fees for luggage. But i don’t complain, as long as i reach the destination safely, i’m happy.

So, yes, us the average Jones can’t actually afford to travel so much because of the prices and available free time but also, and now i refer to myself, i don’t do that well on long haul flights. I flew to Canary Islands few years ago, the flight took 6 hours and i thought i’m going to go mad. I was in pain, physically. That was as a passenger, i have no idea how i’d act if i were a pilot. Sad, i’ll never find out besides flying simulators.

But coming back to the problem, i’ll leave this article here. The issues that i have already mentioned and mainly the loss of jobs and eventually closing down small airports are mentioned in the article as well as failed attempts of other countries to introduce an eco tax on flights. For me, it is nothing new as i have the decency to take into consideration economic factors and actually inform myself before shouting let’s put a tax on everything to save the world. Taxing is not a solution but improving aircraft and fuel it surely is. So, before i book a flight i always inform myself what type of aircraft does the company use and what kind of general policies they have. Sometimes price is not always the key as on some routes you have no choice but to fly with a certain company. In case, i book long haul flights, i’m more strict about the airline but as i don’t travel outside Europe for now, i don’t have to worry about it.

 

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At the beginning of this year i thought of giving a try at gardening and especially at growing some of my own food. I never did that myself but i grew up in the countryside and was helping my grandparents with the garned and animals every summer. So, basically speaking i do have experience in basic agriculture. Since there is some land where i live and some places that were abandoned because my husband’s grandparents are too old to take care of them, i tried to revive some and make some use of the land. First, just as an experiment to see its quality and my agricultural abilities.

First, i started to take care of the strawberry lands which were abandoned few years ago due to wild grass plague. Basically wild grass grew so much over them that one couldn’t do almost anything. I started getting rid of the withered grass that has gathered over the winter, pluck the new one as well as turning the earth on the margins. Also, i had to pluck some of the strawberry bushes because they were so thick. It took lots of time and during the summer, i had to pluck the grass constantly because it was growing all the time. I never used any pesticides not intended to. This was the final result, covered with a net because of predators, mostly birds.

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Besides the stawberries, i also had a patch where i planted radishes, salad, dill, spinach, zucchini, parsley and two potatoes. The salad and dill grew very well, i did the mistake to plant the salad too close so in the end the salad bushes were quite crowded. Spinach grew very well, some was used for food and pancakes and some is in the freezer. The zucchini grew exceptionally well and big as well as the radishes. The parsley was still small and i doubt it will grow, also because it was too crowded into the salad and did not receive enough sun.

Another problem i had here were slugs which were eating almost anything, the radishes seemed to be their favorite though and i noticed they started to chew on zucchinis, too. I tried to put coffee remains on them but with not too much success.

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All in all i think it went quite well and i think next summer i will give it another try and plant new stuff. For example, i will try to grow corn and replant some of the seeds i gathered from dill and spinach. Let’s see how that goes.

I do have to admit though that it was lots of work, it took lots of hours to revive the strawberry fields and lots of care for the vegetables. For example, i used chicken feces as well as minerals dissolved in water to facilitate the growth and nutrients in the food as well as watering them on a daily basis if it was not raining. Who said growing your own food was easy?

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Today is Earth Day and i’ve been thinking for a while what do i do to be green, to minimize my impact on the environment, to not do so much damage. Generally, i’m very aware that the environment nowdays it’s not in its happiest state and sometimes i feel bad that i don’t do even more than i already do now. I like though to believe that i’m still helping. Although i think it’s just a drop in the ocean. Most of the self awareness it’s also coming from my education and the culture i grew up in. I was born in a poor family and although we were never hungry or homeless, we managed to live with basics and make lots of sacrifices.

I particularly remember a conversation i had two years ago with one good Japanese friend of mine. She also grew up in a modest family and she told me that sometimes she feels she’s become too greedy since living in a developed country and affording a better lifestyle than she used to have. I told her i have exactly the same feelings. And sometimes i am ashamed of myself by having so much. Well…if I am to compare this “too much” that i have with the normal lifestyle people have here – i would say i’m poor. Although i’m trying to minimize my consumerist footprint and not to buy stuff i don’t need.

I would like to start a post series where i can track my good deeds for the environment.

Second hand shops. I love them and they are the first place i go to when i need clothing items. I always find something there. And even if i don’t have in my mind a certain item, i sometimes go to check out what stuff they have. Almost all my clothing items are bought from thrift shops. I rarely buy something from clothes shops nowadays because they are either too expensive or i don’t like them. And yes, even sales are too expensive sometimes and besides i don’t like crowds of people roaming around and clothes thrown on the floor. Not that thrift shops are empty though. And that’s a good thing because this means recycling. You don’t need clothes or other items – off to the thrift shop with them.

I never sent anything or sold anything at the thrift shops because i usually wear my stuff until it breaks and then i use them as dusting cloth. Sometimes when it happened that pants or shoes don’t fit me anymore i put them on sale online. Same with books i don’t need. There are some good sites i use for that. If nobody buys them then i send them to charity thrift stores or ask friends if they need something.

I do look though for quality even if i buy from thrift stores. That means not too used items (broken, holes, serious stains etc.). For example, today i visited a local thrift store situated near the university and i found a very nice pair of summer pants. They were about 4€ but very used at the end of the legs (ripped basically). In this case, i had to put them back.

Other items i usually look for in thrift stores are kitchen items, books, dvds, cds, games, furniture, sports gear, candles and everything that i might need for personal use. Although i always have to remind myself not to overdo it. It’s very easy to spend a lot on things that you don’t actually need even in thrift stores.

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