Composting Toilets

Yesterday I learned about the composting toilet. The composting toilet, in particular the Clivus Multrum, is a self-contained, waterless and odorless toilet treatment system. And guess what? It uses NO chemicals, NO water, and releases NO polluting discharge.

Now, most people probably think this idea, although good for the environment, is a little crazy, or at least a little gross. A lot of people do not want to deal with their own waste, and in fact don’t, by flushing it away to magically go somewhere else. However, there are many consequences and a general unawareness to what happens when we turn a handle and instantly make our waste go away through the sewer system.

The sewer system can be detrimental to the environment. According to Laura Orlando, Executive Director of the Resource Institute for Low Entropy Systems (RILES), sewage treatment is designed to address only a handful of parameters: biodegradable organics like proteins, carbohydrates and fats from food and excreta; and suspended solids. It does not address the 42 billion pounds of chemical substances produced or imported in the U.S. for chemical and industrial use. These chemicals end up in the byproduct of sewer systems, known as “sludge”. There is no way to treat the toxic byproduct and it ends up being dumped on acres and acres of land, contaminating the soil for live stock and plants.

Composting toilets provide an alternative to sewer systems. It is a more holistic approach that turns human waste into a nutrient dense compost that can be returned to the earth.

However, implementing these systems require political maneuvering, as big business and major political players control the sewer systems and waste regulations, making it hard for  composting toilets to compete.

There is also the issue of lifestyle. The idea of using a composting toilet and dealing with your own waste is foreign and unheard of for most. But, with a little bit of awareness and understanding of the process, people can learn the benefits of composting toilets.

I had the opportunity to meet Laura Orlando at Abby Rockefeller’s house to learn more about composting toilets. Abby Rockefeller installed composting toilets in her house in the 1970’s and continues to advocate for their benefits to the environment and public health.

This experience reminds me of the importance, yet again, of what awareness can do. Society does not always get it right – the norm may not always be what is right. If we look past these habits and tendencies, and base our decisions on facts and research, we can move toward a healthy planet and environment.

Composting Toilet

The end product! Odor-free, nutrient-rich compost!

Farmers to YOU

You would think living in a city, it is pretty easy to find whatever you are looking for, right? I mean there are hundreds of specialty and department stores, local stores and chains.

But, I do still find it hard to find local foods. Farmers markets are great – from vegetables, to honey and maple syrup, herbs, baked goods, jams, and preserves. But what about grains, flour, and beans?  Not much of a market here in Boston.

Until…FARMERS TO YOU! This amazing network partners Vermont farmers with Boston residents to deliver fresh, local foods once a week. They have supply anything you could need (of course within reason, and of course local…so no bananas…) – beans,vegetables, eggs, meat, cheese, flour, baked goods, jams, and preserved goods.

It sounds like a great supplement to the farmers markets, especially in the winter when markets are limited. I can’t wait to try it out.

 

Early autumn morning inspiration from Emerson

Morning folks. I couldn’t ask for a more beautiful and perfect autumn morning, curling up with a hot cup of coffee and reading “The Method of Nature” by Ralph Waldo Emerson on my porch. Here, I share with you his ever true and resonating words on the connecting systems of nature and importance of the whole:

But Nature seems further to reply, ‘I have ventured so great a stake as my success, in no single creature. I have not yet arrived at any end. The gardener aims to produce a fine peach or pear, but my aim is the health of the whole tree, — root, stem, leaf, flower, and seed, — and by no means the pampering of a monstrous pericarp at the expense of all other functions.’

In short, the spirit and peculiarity of that impression natures makes on us in this, that it does not exist to any one or to any number of particular ends, but to numberless and endless benefit; that there is in it no private will, no rebel leaf or limb, but the whole is oppressed by one superincumbent tendency, obeys that redundancy or excess of life which in conscious beings we call ecstasy.

EnerChi Bites!

A fellow Karma yoga teacher and new friend shared with me her new business venture – EnerChi Bites

EnerChi Bites are a bite-sized, nutrient dense snack made of 100% vegan and raw ingredients, designed to nourish, energize and balance your active lifestyle. Each variety contains chia seeds an ancient super food, high in calcium, Omega 3s, magnesium, zinc and antioxidants.

Right now they are sold in New York at  A Matter of Health (corner of 77th and 1st Avenue), and Food Liberation Health Market (Lexington Avenue btw. 89th and 90th Streets). They are currently working on the Boston market, and I know I eagerly wait their arrival!

In the meantime, show your support and like them on Facebook!

Recent Musings, Concerts by the River, and Boston GreenFest

Recycled art exhibit at the Boston Green Fest

 

Hello Friends! I wanted to share some articles I’ve come across over the past couple of weeks I found interesting, of course all somehow related to the environment. I’ve also included photos from Boston’s Green Fest and a Barbecue Concert along the Charles River.

 

  • The Geography of Craft Beer

    Showing some cow love at Boston Green Fest

  • The low-down on Sustainable and Socially Responsible Business here
  • Economic and health benefits of using natural plant medicines, here
  • Missing the outdoors? Watch this
  • How can finance be used to promote environmental and social welfare – Impact Investing & Social Impact Bonds – here and here
  • Warming cities and the impact of air conditioners – here
  • 20-Year low in carbon emissions, but there are still environmental concerns in energy sourcing
  • Eat More KALE
  • Principles of Responsible Investing – this article identifies the human element in investing
  • A look into subsistence hunting 
  • The importance of honey bees and problems their facing in urban environments – here
  • An iphone app that reduces food waste – here
  • An interesting perspective on the black out in India from NPR

Brown Bird playing at the Harry Parker Boat House

Listening to music, enjoying the sunshine

The Space Between the Head and the Heart

This past week I’ve been listening to a lot of The Head and the Heart, especially after their incredible performance at the Newport Folk Festival last weekend. You can watch part of their performance here (although I warn you, the video cuts of before one of their best songs, Down in the Valley).

While looking at their website I came across their bio and they comment on where their band name comes from:

“So many decisions in life and in the music we love can come down to a critical tug between the logic in our heads and the hot red blood beating through our hearts. Seattle’s The Head and the Heart live authentically in that crux, finding joy and beauty wedged there.”

I thought this was a great quote and so true in life –  finding the balance between head and heart, or mind, body and spirit and being present in this space, living in the ups and downs of life, the good and the bad and making sense of it all.

The Head and the Heart at the Newport Folk Festival

 

Newport Folk Festival

Hello! I just got back from Rhode Island after spending the weekend at the Newport Folk Festival. It was my first festival and was absolutely incredible. The festival was a mix of new and old bands, generations of music-lovers, and folks have a good time. The amount of energy, passion, and talent from the artists was exhilarating.

In my opinion, the weather could not have been more perfect.  Rain threatened the sky for the two days allowing the sun to occasionally peak through offering both sun and shade. During the last sets, the sky finally erupted in a refreshing downpour and hundreds of devoted attendees dancing in the rain. As Jackson Browne finished, the rain subsided and the sun came up behind the harbor. The perfect ending to a perfect weekend.

Be sure to check out the NPR recordings of the festival and New York Times article!

Matt with Bob Boilen from NPR

Graverobbers playing at the new Museum State

Of course there is composting at a folk festival

Brown Bird opening at the Fort Stage

Enjoying the music with roomies!

The Head and the Heart at the Fort Stage – one of my favorite bands of the weekend!

Deep Dark Woods opening on Sunday at the Harbor Stage

Trying to listen to Honey Honey through the window of the Museum Stage

Head-banging Swedes, First Aid Kit at the Harbor Stage

Best means of transportation

Jackson Browne ‘Taking it Easy’ in the rain

After dancing in the rain, the sun comes up over the harbor