12/3/16

How To Get Safer And Cleaner Drinking Water For Your Home

Are you concerned about the safety of your drinking water? The Flint water crisis has brought issues of drinking water quality into sharp focus. We all need water to live – so how can you make sure the water you drink is safe and healthy for your body and the environment?

Earth’s Most Precious Resource

Water is the most precious resource on earth. Around 70% of the earth’s surface is covered in water – that’s the same as the amount of water in our bodies. Without water, there would be no life. From growing crops to drinking to bathing, water is an integral part of our lives.

That’s why threats to water are so serious. Contamination of water supplies can damage human health, and have a negative impact on the earth’s creatures, especially amphibians, such as frogs and toads, and fish, for whom water is a key part of their habitat.

water tap

Water Is Good For You

For the human body, water is a fantastic healer. As experienced water engineer James Boyce of Home Water Filter Guide points out, water isn’t just about quenching your thirst. Water can also:

  • Increase energy levels
  • Improve the condition of skin and hair
  • Help stabilize weight
  • Provide a mood boost
  • Relive fatigue
  • Promote fresh breath
  • Flush out toxins

Experts recommend drinking eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated and healthy. But what if you’re concerned with the quality of your water?

What’s In Your Water?

Since 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act has stipulated that all water for public consumption in the USA must be safe to drink. However, even safe water can still contain some pretty nasty things:

  • Heavy metals such as lead
  • Volatile organic compounds such as pesticides
  • Endocrine disrupting chemicals

There are literally hundreds of chemicals that could be in your tap water right now. Although there are regulations as to the quantities that are allowed in tap water, that’s still a lot of chemicals going into your body. Exposure to contaminants in water can lead to a range of health problems from sickness and fatigue to cancer.

Making Water Safe Again

Purer water with less chemicals is a healthy choice for your body. Many people turn to bottled water, but this isn’t really the best option. As well as costing you hundreds of dollars a year, bottled water can be contaminated by compounds from the bottles themselves. Not to mention the environmental impact of throwing away all those plastic bottles afterwards.

If you want to drink safe, it’s best to filter your water. Which method is best? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of some of the most popular methods.

Carbon Filters

Carbon filters are a popular water filter choice. Water passes through activated carbon which acts to filer out all kinds of unwanted compounds. They cost around $40 up front, but work out to be a cost effective option in the long run.

Pros: Removes all kinds of chemicals, heavy metals, fluoride and pesticides. In fact a carbon filter can make most water into safe drinking water including water from ponds, rain or even the sea, so it can certainly make your tap water safe to drink.

Cons: Not as effective against bacteria as other filters. They’re also quite bulky, but if you have plenty of counter space, they are a good option.

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis filters use a membrane that filters out compounds as water passes through it. Reverse osmosis was originally designed to transform saltwater into freshwater, and is very effective at filtering out chemicals and other things.

Pros: Highly effective at filtering. a good reverse osmosis filter can filter out up to 98% of bacteria, chemicals, and heavy metals, and will also remove fluoride.

Cons: Wastes a lot of water, as for every usable gallon produced, three or more gallons are washed down the drain. It also removes minerals from the water.

Distillation

Distillation makes use of heat to purify water. The water is heated until it becomes team, then cooled until it reverts to a liquid state, minus many contaminants.

Pros: Distillation removes many contaminants, including heavy metals, arsenic and fluoride, resulting in very pure water.

Cons: Doesn’t reduce many chemicals. Home distillation filters are expensive (around $100 for a small one) and can be large and bulky. Like reverse osmosis, it removes minerals.

Under Sink Filters

Under sink filters put water through a multi-stage filtering process which removes many chemicals and contaminants.

Pros: Filters out a wide range of contaminants. Once it’s installed it’s very easy to use with no need to refill or wait for the water to be filtered.

Cons: You may need to hire a plumber to install it under the sink, and you do need the under sink space for the unit as it can’t go anywhere else.

As you can see, there are several options for making your water cleaner and safer to drink. Each has its pros and cons, and each will be more suited to some households than others. Depending on your budget and your needs, you should be able to find the right solution for you so you and your family can enjoy healthier, cleaner water.

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(Guest Blogger): My name is Toni Stan and I am a blogger and the owner of www.homewaterfilter.guide. I have a passion in all things related to water conservation and I spend most of my time educating people on how to make water clean and safe for consumption.

05/5/16

7 Garden Maintenance Tips in Autumn

watering garden

As Autumn approaches in Melbourne, many householders are starting to prepare their gardens for the colder months and taking care of the little jobs that may have passed them by. The season plays an important role in how well your plants, trees and foliage will do during the winter time, so with 7 simple preparation tips, you can have a clean, lush and bumper garden before the cold weather kicks in.

1. Have a good clear out of your garden

racking leaves in garden

One of the best ways to prepare your garden for Autumn is to clean your garden of any leaves or tree branches that may have built up over the last few months. Autumn is a great time to start to clear out the main base of your garden, allowing you to see and tend to flowers of shrubs in the winter. If you have lots of items to remove, why not start your garden waste removal with the help of a skip bin hire company to handle the majority of the heavy lifting.

2. Maintain your lawn
mowing the lawn

Lawn and garden maintenance doesn’t have to be difficult, as with the right tools and the right approach you can enjoy a lush and green garden all year round. Instead of waiting until the grass is a little too long, why not get the mower out and keep it at the height you best prefer. That way the grass will be at full health and you will minimise the risk of seeing bald patches as the old grass is left covering the newer turf.

3. Clean up your borders

trimming hedges and bushes

Tidying up your borders is a great way to have your garden looking fresh and in top shape. Clear out any foliage that shouldn’t be there and inspect the soil accordingly. If you have any plants that you feel are poorly placed, autumn is the perfect time to get in there and replant them. If any perennials have faded slightly, cut them back to around 5cm to provide them the best health over the coming months.

4. Start your compost harvest

composting

If you have any deciduous trees that are in or overhang your garden, don’t worry about all of the leaves that have fallen and start a leaf mould to add to your compost. The leaves make amazing quality compost in a year or two, so store away all you can and you will have your very own compost to recycle in your garden.

5. The best time to plant evergreen

planting evergreen

Autumn is the best time to plant evergreen varieties due to the soil being still warm and with ever so slightly cooler weather. This greenery makes up the backbone of any quality garden, providing the green backdrop that many gardeners aim for. Plant your evergreen varieties in a way that brings bulk to your shrub borders and adds colour and depth to your main focal point plants.

6. Lift out timid species before the frost
lift out fragile plants in autumn

Autumn is the time when you will need to lift out your most fragile plants such as Dahlias or Begonias and place them into storage in a cool and dry place. Use sand or compost to keep them healthy and ensure that you replant them when spring arrives the coming year. Ensure they are fully covered with just the crowns visible to keep them healthy and happy.

7. Take care of your gardening tools

take care of gardening tools

Autumn is a great time of the year to ensure your gardening equipment is well maintained and in good working order. If you need to purchase replacement tools, check out your local garden hardware store to see if they have anything new and exciting in stock. Oil and clean any motorised equipment you might have, and get yourself ready for the busier months to come!

If you feel that gardening in Autumn is a little too much to handle all by yourself, why not hire a garden waste removal company that allows you to clear out your garden of foliage, branches, cut grass and soil and create for yourself a fresh and bright new garden. Simply have the skip bin delivered at a time of your choosing, fill it up and call for removal for a weekends work, your garden can get a full makeover.

 

10/7/15

Does Fracking Threaten Drinking Water?

By Tim Evanson [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Tim Evanson [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

There is a lot of debate about fracking in the United States right now. There are valid arguments and scientific studies on both sides of the argument. This can make it hard to figure out who’s ultimately correct. On one hand, environmental activists argue that fracking is responsible for the pollution of drinking water. They point to the large number of chemicals used in the process of fracking, and make the point that some of these chemicals must be leaking into the watershed.

On the other hand, groups in favor of fracking point to the numerous safety precautions taken by drilling companies. These companies are regulated by a series of laws intended to protect the environment and local drinking water. Recently, defenders of fracking have been given another piece of evidence that is giving them a solid platform to backup their stance with.

That piece of evidence is a recent EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) report. In the report the EPA states that fracking does not threaten local drinking water supplies. The report took place over four years and looked at fracking activities across the United States.

The EPA concedes that in a few cases fracking wells have been responsible for contamination. However, they point out that these cases are few and far between. In fact, in cases where contamination has been detected, it almost always happens at wells that are violating one or more federal safety guidelines.

Fracking companies are also quick to point out that the chemicals they shoot into the ground are injected well below the watershed. In most places the watershed rests at about 2,000 to 3,000 feet. The wells that fracking companies drill go well below the watershed, up to depths of 9,000 feet. That means that these chemicals stay down in the ground, as they cannot go against gravity, and transition thousands of feet up to the watershed.

Companies also take extra precautions to preserve the watershed. All wells that are drilled have an additional amount of protection near the surface. Large amounts of concrete are poured around the fracking well closer to the surface, just as an extra precaution against any leaks.

All of these precautions protect drinking water from contamination. By following federal regulations and reinforcing wells near the surface, fracking companies strive to make their wells as secure as possible. These precautions are surely one of the reasons that the EPA concluded that fracking does not contribute to the contamination of drinking water.

However, no industrial process that uses as many chemicals as fracking can be completely clean and contamination free. Every year, rigs inject billions of gallons of fracking solution into the earth. Most of this solution is water and a small percentage is chemicals, lubricants and other compounds. Even though the solution is predominantly water, even just 2% of a billion gallons means 20 million gallons of pure chemicals.

One of the problems with fracking is that a majority of this solution is left behind in the earth. Depending on the well, only 30 to 50% of the solution used in fracking is recovered from beneath the ground. That means that every year a nearly unimaginable amount of polluted water is being left underground.

Problems also arise when that water is above ground. The fracking solution is usually stored in large tanks and ponds. Unfortunately, these storage areas are prone to dangerous spills. When fracking solution spills above ground, two things happen.

First, the solution sinks into the ground. Since thousands of gallons can spill at one time, this can add up to a significant amount of spilled solution. This water can sink down into the watershed. There, it gets mixed with clean water and is eventually used for drinking water.

The other problem associated with fracking solution spills happens when that water leaks into a local stream, river, pond or lake. When this happens the solution is carried off and it becomes mixed with pure, fresh water. This is a big problem because this type of leakage cannot be controlled. Once fracking solution leaks into a river, for instance, little can be done besides warning local residents about the danger.

More than anything else, there is one law associated with fracking that is alarming when it comes to the quality of drinking water. Fracking companies are exempt from the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. That means that their activities aren’t regulated by two acts which are explicitly designed to protect drinking water.

One of the larger problems with the question of fracking is that neither side has enough science to entirely disprove the other’s arguments. People who support fracking point out that spills are rare and many precautions are taken to protect drinking water.

Environmental activists argue that every year, fracking rigs use millions of gallons of potentially hazardous chemicals. Furthermore, they argue that by leaving these chemicals in the ground, fracking companies are risking watershed contamination.

Ultimately, the best way to solve the question is by doing your own local investigation. If you don’t live near a fracking rig then it’s likely you have nothing to worry about. If you do, you can take water samples and have them sent into the EPA for analysis.

It’s as likely as not that these samples will be fine and your drinking water is safe to drink. On the other hand, if there are chemicals present, you’ll be able to research them and discover if they potentially came from a fracking rig. Once you know what’s in your water, you’ll be able to take steps. Buying a water filter or filing an EPA complaint are all valid options.

 

John Davis writes for YourWaterFilterGuide.com, a site dedicated to helping everyone find clean, safe, drinking water.

Sources

http://www.nrdc.org/energy/gasdrilling/

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Fracking_regulations

http://www.wsj.com/articles/fracking-has-had-no-widespread-impact-on-drinking-water-epa-finds-1433433850

http://www.rt.com/usa/study-claims-fracking-safe-324/

http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/hfstudy/recordisplay.cfm?deid=244651

 

05/17/15

Frogs and Toads at Sage Hill Herb Farm

I recently discovered Sage Hill Herb Farm in Petersburg, Tennessee and the owner, Bea Kunz.

About the Farm
Sage Hill Herb Farm consist of three acres under cultivation. A mix of wild flowers and grasses, much of those are native to Tennessee. Many raised beds which are always planted and growing vegetables and herbs along with fruit trees and berries for family and friends.

Their teas, herbs and seasoning blends are all carefully hand tended and organically grown without chemical pesticides or fertilizers.

They recommend that deep red or bright pink fruits and vegetables should be eaten every day. Nutrition research shows that foods in the red groups contain phytochemicals, such as lycopene and anthocyanins. Phytochemicals, substances found only in plants, help your body fight disease and promote good health.

Bogs and Frogs
And then there is the Bog! A beautiful and intriguing spot on the lower section of the back area where natural rock jutes through the ground. A wet weather stream keeps the area wet most of the time… providing a safe and natural habitat for frogs, toads and other little creatures who might come and go.

Below is a gallery shared by Bea of an American Toad, Green Tree Frog and Eastern Spadefoot and their natural habitat.
 

American Toad at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

American Toad at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Bog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Bog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Eastern Spadefoot frog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Eastern Spadefoot frog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Frog parking only, all others will be toad
Frog Habitat at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Frog Habitat at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Green Tree Frog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Green Tree Frog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Green Tree Frog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Green Tree Frog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

american-toad-sage-hill-herb-farm thumbnail
Bog-sage-hill-herb-farm thumbnail
eastern-spadefoot-frog-on-sage-hill-farm thumbnail
frog-parking-all-others-will-be-toad thumbnail
sage-hill-herb-farm-bog thumbnail
green-frog-sage-hill-farm thumbnail
green-tree-frog-sage-hill-farm thumbnail

05/1/15

Green Ways to Keep Your Kitchen Germ-Free

Guest blog by Bryn Huntpalmer

Going green and eliminating germs is easier said than done, and you’re not alone if you feel like the majority of kitchen cleaners on store shelves contain harsh chemicals that are anything but environmentally-friendly. A few years ago, I decided to ditch the bleach and keep my kitchen clean with all-natural cleaners, and I couldn’t be happier. Here’s how to do it:

 

Clean with Natural or Non-toxic Cleaning Materials

Dishes, countertops, appliances, and any place that has seen a piece of raw meat needs cleaning and disinfecting. You can use natural materials to create cleaning products for any situation.

The basic ingredients for almost any type of non-toxic disinfectant are:

  • Vinegar
  • Lemon
  • Baking Soda
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Tea Tree, Orange, and Neem Oils
  • Grapefruit Seed Extract

Clean the refrigerator and countertops with baking soda. About a quart of warm water and a couple tablespoons of baking soda will give you a solution you can use to effectively clean quite a few things. Baking soda is actually a versatile substance. You can also use it to make a paste that can lift stains off cups and pans. Even better, when you’re done with the baking soda, you can pour it down the kitchen drain. It can help to get rid of and keep away bad drain odors.

Let your disposal unit grind down a lemon. Really, you can use any kind of citrus rind or peel to freshen the unit. You can also throw in some vinegar or baking soda (or both). Tossing in a few ice cubes can also help knock some debris off the disposal’s blade.

Add vinegar to the dish soap. You don’t need that fancy, overpriced dish soap. Get the cheapest brand you can find and simply add in a little vinegar (the ratio should be 10:1, with that smallest amount being vinegar). Vinegar cuts grease. And that’s just one of the things it does. Vinegar is really a miracle cleaner for your kitchen. For instance, you can clean your kitchen windows with vinegar. Just mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle.

Clean and freshen food prep areas. In a spray bottle, combine half a cup of white vinegar, 3 cups of water, and 10 drops of tea tree oil. Use this mixture to clean cutting boards, sinks, countertops, and other hard surfaces.

With these basic ingredients, there are almost an unlimited number of cleaning and disinfecting solutions you can make. You can use them in every part of your kitchen and all over the house. Just search for cleaning recipes involving any one of the listed things.

Even the solutions listed here aren’t the only way to accomplish any particular task. By cutting out the use of hazardous, chemical-based cleaners, you will make your kitchen clean, safe, and definitely green.

For more home tips and tricks, head to Modernize.com.