Finally! We’ve found the Greenest way to dispose of pet waste!

Bokashicycle!petcyclette

We are very excited to introduce you to this product. The disposal of pet waste is one of the most difficult issues surrounding pet ownership, in an environmental sense. Up until now, there has been no good way.  Leaving waste on the ground of course isn’t acceptable – not only is it rude and gross, it rinses away with our plentiful rains straight into the street drains which empty ultimately into our rivers and streams.Poop in a landfill releases methane, and “biodegradable” plastic bags release their own methane when they break down anaerobically in the landfill, only adding to the problem. Compostable bags may not release methane, but the poop remains a methane producer.  We thought flushing the poop was a good idea for a while, but we realized that some pathogens, like toxplasmosis, are not killed by the treatment process and can remain in our water supply. (This has been an even bigger problem in California, where sea otters have been having a recent problem with toxoplasmosis, and they suspect the link lies in flushed cat poop). Finally, some have invested in an in-ground waste disposal device that claims to compost the poop, but this method doesn’t hold up on closer inspection – it is very debatable whether the enzymes have a chance to break down the poop quickly enough for it to be free of pathogens by the time it soaks into the soil. The system recommends a large amount of water which flushes the waste into the soil before the enzymes have a chance to work, and the location of the device never changes, guaranteeing that the natural microorganisms in the soil in that location are depleted of their power to help in this process. Pathogens such as salmonella, E. coli and toxoplasmosis can easily contaminate our water in this way.

Enter Bokashicycle! This is a system that uses closed containers and natural enzymes to ferment the waste, killing all pathogens and making it perfectly safe to bury in the soil, making your garden lush! No smell, no flies, and very easy. They also make a kitchen scrap Bokashicycler (we’re using one in the Green Dog kitchen now), and if you’d like it, just let us know and we’ll get it for you. We can also drop ship either of these to anywhere in the country – what a great Christmas present!

Exciting New Green Technologies Are Afoot

I know this isn’t pet related exactly, but it’s so exciting to see that brilliant ideas like this are being generated. Imagine if we could start building these sorts of roads right away! I know these sorts of things might be a ways off, but consider how much of an impact this plan could have. Real life Jetsons stuff!

Gather Your Pet’s Hair to Help With the Oil Spill!


Here’s a super easy thing to do to help clean up the oil spill – there is a great nonprofit organization called Matter of Trust that collects human and pet hair and old nylon stockings to make “hair booms” and hair mats that do a remarkable job of soaking up oil (right at the end of this video is a great demonstration of this). This is turning into a large-scale fiber recycling movement nationwide, and here are three easy ways for you to help.

First, contact your local human and pet salons and let them know how easy it is for them to make a difference – they just collect hair in a plastic bag lined boxes and ship it off to Matter of Trust to be made into booms.  Did you know 300,000 pounds of hair are cut every day in the US? Combine that with the amount of pet hair that is cut and you have an amazing resource.

Second, you can collect your own pet’s hair and bring it to a salon that’s participating (their website has information on how to find salons in your area). In the Portland area, you can bring your hair to Pawsitively Clean on Hawthorne – they’ve been collecting hair for Matter of Trust since 2001!

Third, donate to Matter of Trust – $61 buys a 150 foot roll of the plastic netting that goes on the outside of the nylon booms that will be used to soak up oil.

Ideas for Keeping Cats Out of Flower Beds

catinflowers

It’s not uncommon for people to come into the store looking for ways to keep cats out of their flower beds. I myself have had a nasty experience or two in my own gardens, digging away, enjoying the feel of dirt between my fingers, and then coming up with something soft and smelly. Cat feces can also carry toxoplasmosis, to add to the fun of the experience. Not only that, but people complain when the sun hits the flowerbed under their open window, that the stench rises up and makes them miserable. I cringe when customers say their indoor outdoor cat doesn’t use a litter box – “they just go outside”.  Meanwhile, their neighbors are cursing them and coming to our store looking for a magical spray that might repel cats from their nice garden filled with plants they might like to eat some day.
Trouble is, I’ve never really found a spray or powder that is all that effective at repelling cats, (or dogs that might want to dig in all that freshly turned soil). The worst part about those sprays (in the Northwest anyway) is that you have to reapply them after it rains – not too practical.  I’ve always thought that you would have to ruin the experience of the digging somehow to keep them out. I’ve always shared what ideas I could, but none of them seemed perfect. Mulching with pointy stones would work, but that could be a lot of rock for a big garden, and raking it out of the way when you want to plant something new might not be easy. Garden catalogs sell sections of plastic spikes that wouldn’t hurt them but would be uncomfortable to walk on – too expensive though, to buy all the sections you’d need, you have to put soil on them to make them stay, and you would have to take them out of the dirt any time you’d like to kneel somewhere to pull weeds, etc. Those spikes would be better for a flower pot. Lastly, I’ve heard about people burying hardware cloth or chicken wire a few inches down to create a barrier to digging, but I wouldn’t want to go to all that trouble myself, and you’d have to punch a hole in it to plant anything new.
Other ideas I’ve found as I’ve trolled the internet:
– citrus peels apparently are repellent to cats – I wonder if you could find them in larger quantities, or maybe dried shredded peels originally intended for potpourri?
– one person suggested burying plastic forks, tines up. Another said bamboo skewers inserted randomly around the garden keeps them out. At first I felt bad about that one, but cats have such fast reactions that as they started to step down on them they’d instantly hop back before they hurt themselves. I wouldn’t use this method in areas you don’t want your dog to dig in though – they might tromp right on one and hurt themselves.
– Holly leaves, bramble cuttings, pinecones, rose bush clippings,
– check out this clever device called the scarecrow – you hook it up to your hose and interlopers get a quick spray due to the electric eye. This might really work as well, if you only had one trouble spot. You’d just have to make sure it also wouldn’t get the mailman!
Do not use:
– mothballs – very toxic to you, the cats,  and the environment.
– cocoa mulch – can be toxic to dogs (they say they remove what’s toxic to dogs, but I’ve heard of anecdotal stories about dog sickness as a result of this mulch).
– cayenne or other powders, as it would be horrible if cats stepped in them and then rubbed it on their faces as they tried to clean it off.
Have any of you found ideas that you think work???

Opt out of Unsolicited Yellow Pages

I’ve often been frustrated when yet another phone directory is plonked onto my front porch. I don’t really use them any more – this computer here does a good job of finding things. Not only that, but there are multiple companies putting out yellow page type books, so volume after volume gets delivered, making me feel such sadness at the waste. This nonprofit org is working on changing all of this – even though there is no current mandatory opt out list available (like the National Do not Call list), they are advocating for making Yellow Page delivery optional: ‘I’ll order one if I want it’. This would be a huge step towards cutting the enormous waste in resources from making, shipping, and delivering these huge books that people might just be throwing away.
Here’s a link that helps you to opt out of Yellow page delivery if you so desire:

http://www.yellowpagesgoesgreen.org/ 

Make your own pet bed

suitcasebed.jpg

Times are tough and beds can be expensive. I found a couple of cute links for making pet beds out of things you might have lying around the house. Save money and recycle household items that might otherwise be landfilled.
Check out this link for how to make a cat bed out of an old sweater.
This is a very simple bed to make. It would be a perfect cover for an old bed pillow of your own that you’ve retired.

This link is for making a chew resistant dog bed out of old jeans

Check out this collection of links with other clever ideas such as using old suitcases and even an office chair turned into cat furniture.

Here’s a nifty You Tube video about how to make a simple pillow out of jeans legs

Here’s a dog bed with a bolster back

Cutting out the plastic bags

bags.jpgThis is a great link to a site that illustrates the importance of cutting back the use of plastic bags globally. Great photos and quick facts – worth sharing this link with others! Portland is currently considering a measure banning or requiring a charge for plastic bags. If people are so intent on cutting our dependence on oil, they should support the ban on plastic shopping bags – according to this piece, China will save 37 million barrels of oil this year due to their ban of free plastic bags. When you visit the link, the scroll bar is alongside the pictures. Pass it along!

Perhaps a Little Activism on Earth Day??

aluminumcans.jpgI just took a flight out to the east coast to visit friends and my folks. I was fairly shocked to realize that none of the 3 airlines I was on recycled their aluminum cans. It may seem like a little thing to worry about, but according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, about 780 million people took a flight in 2007. In looking around the plane, it seemed that about 75% of passengers used an aluminum can. When they come around to collect trash, it would be super easy to have two bags instead of one. The end result would be the same volume of refuse, but the can bags could be easily sent to recycling. The key to this equation, I believe, is that the airlines could be making money from this practice. I know that there are plenty of recycling companies that buy aluminum in large quantities, and will even pick them up. In these days of collapsing airlines due to financial constraints, wouldn’t it just make sense to be looking for ways to stretch their dollar? Couldn’t they also be using this practice as a PR move, showing us they’re getting in on the Green movement?

So, during this Earth Day week, perhaps we can get involved in a little green activism by writing to a few of the airlines and telling them they should come out of the dark ages and get with the program. Recycling aluminum cans seems basic, easy and money-making. Let them know!!

E-mail Delta

E-mail United

Write to Southwest
Southwest Airlines
P.O. Box 36647 – 1CR
Dallas, Texas 75235-1647

e-mail US Air

Fun Aluminum Facts:

Aluminum can be recycled an infinite number of times

The energy you save by recycling one aluminum can could power your TV for 3 hours.

40 aluminum cans equals the amount of energy of 1 gallon of gas.

The energy saved by recycling one ton of aluminum is equal to about the amount of electricity your house uses in 10 years.

If each consumer recycled on more aluminum can per week this would equal about 15 billion cans.

Now’s your chance to fight fleas through the whole season without chemicals!

flea-1.jpgIf you have pets that come in contact with your lawn, Beneficial Nematodes are an excellent weapon to use against fleas and their larvae. These Nematodes are microscopic and live below the soil surface. They like a moist environment, so our warm wet springs are a perfect time to apply them. As flea larvae emerge, they are eaten by hungry nematodes. Nematodes do not harm worms, birds, plants or the environment, in fact they are part of the environment and are found the world over.
Beneficial Nematodes are sold live on sponges that can be stored under refrigeration for a week or two before use. A few gallons of water is used as a carrying agent. This concentrate can be applied through a pump sprayer or with the use of a watering can.
Nematodes are available at local nurseries – I spoke to the nice folks at Portland Nursery for tips about applying in our region. The best time to apply them to fight fleas here in the Northwest is when the soil temp is over 50 degrees. Applying in late April or early May would be the perfect time to expose the emerging flea larvae to their nematode predators. Nematodes need moisture to establish themselves, so watering the lawn well before application is useful, as well as watering them in after applying. One sponge has about 11 million beneficial nematodes, which will cover about 1000 sq ft., and costs about $14- $16 dollars. Soak the sponge in a bucket of water to activate the nematodes, then put a cup or so in a watering can and fill up the can with water. there’s no real formula – you want to make your bucket of nematodes spread evenly around the yard one watering can at a time. You can use a clean pump sprayer for this as well, but if any chemicals have been in the sprayer, they will affect the nematodes. They will thrive as long as there are larvae to eat, but when there is no more prey, they die out. Some people reapply a few times during flea season to make sure they’re covering their bases.

This week is World Water Week! Check out the Tap Project

india_2.jpgWhoops! I’m coming in a bit late on this one, but there’s still time! From March 16th through Saturday March 22nd, The Tap Project (a UNICEF-founded project that started in NYC and now has spread to other cities across the nation) invites people to dine out at participating restaurants and donate as little as $1 for their glass of water. Money raised goes to providing safe drinking water to children in developing nations. Check out the website for the Tap Project and click on “restaurants” to see the cities and their participating restaurants. You can also donate on that website. One great thing to do even if you don’t plan on dining out: get this website into the hands of your favorite restaurant, and encourage them to participate next year.

For every dollar raised a child will have 40 days of safe drinking water. Having just done a posting on our country’s bottled water habit, I feel like this could be a bit of a way to make up for our wasteful ways. Being conscious of wastefulness when other people don’t have the luxury of being wasteful with their resources is a big step in the right direction for creating a sustainable lifestyle, don’t you agree?