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Living Lightly

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A Column Promoting a More Earth-Friendly Lifestyle

By John L. Turner

John Turner

The collective impacts to the environment to grow the food that sustains us is astronomical. Using more of the food you purchase is a worthwhile way to reduce your impact on the planet.  

A recent article in Living Well (a Newsday supplement) points out that when it comes to produce it’s not just the typical vegetable target that you bought that’s edible, but often the entire plant. And the bonus is no food waste and your dollar is stretched a tiny bit further. 

For example, you can eat all of a beet plant, not just the delicious roots. The stems and leaves are delicious when sautéed and the same whole plant approach can be taken with carrots and leeks. If you like collard greens or kale don’t throw away the “ribs” but sauté or roast them.  

Another delicious use of the whole plant involves broccoli and cauliflower. The ribs and stems of both can be spiralized or disked and cooked. They taste as good as the heads themselves. No need to have any of these plant parts in your compost bin or worse yet in the garbage!

A resident of Setauket, author John L. Turner is conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, author of “Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Nature Guide to Long Island” and president of Alula Birding & Natural History Tours.

 

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A Column Promoting a More Earth-Friendly Lifestyle

By John L. Turner

John Turner

Buying in bulk can not only save you money but often generates less waste. For example, a 64-ounce container of detergent contains less plastic than two 32-ounce containers and much less than four 16-ounce containers. Plus, these smaller containers are sometimes bundled in plastic wrap while the largest container never is.

The same is true for dishwashing fluid and general house cleaners. Similarly, items that are wrapped like paper towels use much more wrapping for three individual rolls than one 3-pack; the same is true for toilet paper.

The same principle of “more is less” holds true with many food items too. If you start paying attention to bulk purchases you’ll quickly realize that such a strategy is good for both the planet and your wallet. Indeed, when it comes to bulk purchases “more is less.”

A resident of Setauket, author John L. Turner is conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, author of “Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Nature Guide to Long Island” and president of Alula Birding & Natural History Tours.

 

Pixabay photo
A Column Promoting a More Earth-Friendly Lifestyle

By John L. Turner

John Turner

While progress is being made in reducing the amount of food that’s wasted in the United States, for example in 2022 New York State passed important legislation — the NYS Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law, we have a long way to go. 

Two informative websites where you can learn more about how to reduce wasted food are: “Save the Food” and “Love Food, Hate Waste.” These sites offer tips on better ways to store food to prevent spoilage and how to better plan the exact amount of food that’s needed for your family and for hosting guests at dinner parties, picnics, and other gatherings. They also offer many tasty recipes on using leftovers or food that you might typically throw out, like the stale ends of a bread loaf, tops of beets, extra ripe bananas, or bruised pears. Anyone for some killer banana bread or how about some “Bruised Pear Pandowdy”?   

The sky’s the limit on ways to use all the food in your pantry and refrigerator.

A resident of Setauket, author John L. Turner is conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, author of “Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Nature Guide to Long Island” and president of Alula Birding & Natural History Tours.

 

A Column Promoting a More Earth-Friendly Lifestyle

By John L. Turner

John Turner

Are you in the market for a new cooking stove? If so, take a look at purchasing an induction stove rather than one with a regular electric coil or gas burner top. According to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA; www.nyserda.ny.gov), induction stoves are 15% more efficient than regular electric stoves and 3x more efficient than gas stoves! They use an electromagnet to heat the cooking pan itself rather than heating a coil or burner on the stove top so it is safer and spills are cleaned up more easily since they don’t bake onto a hot stove top (I know the annoyance of cleaning up baked-on stove top spills while recently making some soup that spilled over!). 

That’s a triple win — money saved from less energy used, less chance of burns, and easier kitchen clean-ups!

A resident of Setauket, author John Turner is conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, author of “Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Nature Guide to Long Island” and president of Alula Birding & Natural History Tours.

 

Disposable plastic utensils can take hundreds of years to decompose.
A Column Promoting a More Earth-Friendly Lifestyle

By John L. Turner

John Turner

Earlier this year New York City passed an ordinance aimed at banning utensils in take-out orders from restaurants unless specifically requested by the customer. This common sense waste reduction measure, called “Skipping the Stuff,” will keep millions of plastic utensils out of the waste stream where they’re either burned or buried. Similar legislation is likely both in Suffolk County and New York State.   

There’s no reason, however, to wait until additional laws are passed to reduce your use and disposal of unneeded plastic utensils by simply remembering when you next order take-out food to tell the restaurant to “skip the stuff.”  After all, the extra plastic spoons, knives, and forks, probably individually wrapped in plastic film, aren’t needed in most situations, are not recycable and take hundred of years to break down. A benefit to the law, in addition to it being better for the environment, is it saves local businesses money; not a bad thing! 

The “Skip the Stuff” effort and city law is an excellent illustration of waste reduction, the highest priority in waste management — reducing the amount of garbage produced in the first place. Its value is captured in the phrase: “There’s no environmental impact from garbage that’s not created.” So, since those plastic utensils are unneeded by you and yet another burden on the environment, let’s make an effort to “Skip the Stuff”!

A resident of Setauket, author John Turner is conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, author of “Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Nature Guide to Long Island” and president of Alula Birding & Natural History Tours.

 

Above, recycled wrapping paper from Wrappily.

A Column Promoting a More Earth-Friendly Lifestyle

By John L. Turner

John Turner

According to several Internet sources Americans throw away 2.3 million pounds (1,150 tons) of wrapping paper each year, much during the holiday season. This is enough paper to circle our fragile planet 9 times! So, this holiday season, why not give a gift to the Earth by wrapping your presents with wrapping paper made from recycled paper. Better yet, use existing paper such as easily recycled newspaper or place the present in a reusable bag or wrapped in a reusable cloth.   

Above, recycled wrapping paper from Wrappily.

There are a few companies that offer wrapping paper made from recycled materials. Wrappily is one company that offers recycled wrapping paper; it’s made from newspaper. For those of the Jewish faith, Uncommon Goods also offers wrapping paper made from recycled materials; their products contain various Hanukkah designs.

There are a number of options if wrapping cloths, which can be used over and over again, interests you. These cloths, known as furoshiki, are popular in Japan as a means to conceal presents and are growing in popularity here.  Many companies offer these products on-line. When thinking about those you love this holiday season, don’t forget Mother Earth!

A resident of Setauket, author John Turner is conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, author of “Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Nature Guide to Long Island” and president of Alula Birding & Natural History Tours.

 

SCWA offers customer account credits of up to $150 for the purchase of water-saving devices.
A Column Promoting a More Earth-Friendly Lifestyle

By John L. Turner

John Turner

In your travels you’ve probably seen in-ground lawn sprinklers watering someone’s yard or a corporate lawn in the midst of a downpour. Such a scene indicates a system lacking a rain sensor, a device that prevents an irrigation system from operating when it’s raining or shortly after it’s rained. 

If you have an irrigation system but lack a rain sensor this piece of equipment can save you money in the long run and help conserve water. Misuse of water can result in lowering the water table elevations in our vulnerable aquifer system  resulting in the drying up of wetlands adversely affecting wetland dependent wildlife species such as turtles, fish, and frogs. It can also result in salt water intrusion in coastal areas which can be detrimental to public water supply wells. 

We each have a role to play in safeguarding our drinking water supply, so if you have an in-ground irrigation system but lack a rain sensor why not purchase one and install it. As an incentive the Suffolk County Water Authority is offering a $75 “water wise” credit for rain sensors and a $150 “water wise” credit for smart irrigation controller/timers. Information is available at www.scwa.com/waterwise. Not only will these devices ensure you don’t waste water but over the long term will put a few extra dollars in your pocket.

A resident of Setauket, author John Turner is conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, author of “Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Nature Guide to Long Island” and president of Alula Birding & Natural History Tours.

 

Photo from Long Island Repair Cafe Facebook
A Column Promoting a More Earth-Friendly Lifestyle

By John L. Turner

John Turner

Visit a Repair Café! 

All too often in our throwaway society an appliance that no longer functions is thrown away and a new one purchased. Setting aside the fact there really is no “away” on our planet, many items can be readily fixed or repaired, preventing the item from taking up space at the local landfill. Enter the Repair Café which has a neat mission: “To transform our throwaway society one item at a time.” 

As their website indicates, Repair Cafés are meeting places where you can bring an item that needs repair to local volunteers who have the expertise to fix them. There is a cost for a replacement part, but the labor is provided for free. There are 191 Repair Cafés in the United States and nearly 2,500 cafés worldwide, most of which are in Europe. 

What types of items can be fixed? A partial list includes jewelry, clothing, various tools (including those which need sharpening), lamps, many types of small appliances, some furniture such as chairs, vacuum cleaners, bicycles, and toys.   

While the main office for Long Island Repair Café (they have a Facebook page) is at 1424 Straight Path in Wyandanch, run by Starflower Experiences, an environmental educational organization, volunteers host repair cafés throughout Long Island. The main office can be reached at (516) 938-6152. 

If you don’t want to visit a local Repair Café, the website: repaircafe.org/en/community/repair-guides/ has more than 60,000 video guides illustrating how to repair a particular item. With the convenient availability of actual and virtual repair capabilities at your beckon call, it’s easier to follow their motto: “Toss It? No way — Repair Cafe.”

A resident of Setauket, author John Turner is conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, author of “Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Nature Guide to Long Island” and president of Alula Birding & Natural History Tours.

 

METRO photo
A Column Promoting a More Earth-Friendly Lifestyle

By John L. Turner

John Turner

Make your next pet kitten an indoor one…

According to the American Bird Conservancy and other researchers, the number one cause for wild bird mortality  is by free ranging outdoor cats each year. Experts estimate that upwards of 2.5 billion (yes billion with a “b”!) wild birds are killed annually by cats including many species that frequent bird feeders such as cardinals, chickadees, and woodpeckers. Additionally, several billion small mammals— such as voles and mice— which form the base of natural food chains and webs, are also killed, reducing the availability of these animals for predators such as hawks and owls which depend upon them.  

While it can be very difficult to turn a current outdoor pet cat into an indoor pet cat, this is not the case with a new pet that has no expectation or habit to go outside. Being an indoor cat has other obvious benefits to both the cat and cat owner — no worry about being hit by a car, getting into a fight with another cat or animal, or picking up a disease. 

A significant majority of dog owners don’t let their dogs run free because of the havoc they can cause. If cat owners embrace the same belief and responsibility not only will their pet benefit but many types of wildlife will be much better protected, allowed to live out their wild lives free from the risk of pet cat predation.  

A resident of Setauket, author John Turner is conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, author of “Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Nature Guide to Long Island” and president of Alula Birding & Natural History Tours.

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A Column Promoting a More Earth-Friendly Lifestyle

By John L. Turner

John Turner

If you’re one of the many thousands of Long Islanders who bring clothes to your local dry cleaning establishment, you know you get back those freshly-pressed and cleaned clothes on a wire hanger. 

That’s good news in that there’s no need to throw away or attempt to recycle by tossing the hangers in your curbside recycling bin. Just bring them back to your dry cleaners to be used again…..and again…and again!    

But many people don’t as approximately (and mind bogglingly) 3.5 billion wire hangers  are thrown away every year in the United States! That amounts to 312,000 pounds of wire hangers or 156 tons.  

Wire hangers can be used many times before they become sufficiently twisted or bent and can no longer be used and the dry cleaning establishment appreciates you returning them for reuse since you’ll be helping out their financial bottom line as they have to purchase fewer new hangers.

A resident of Setauket, author John Turner is conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, author of “Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Nature Guide to Long Island” and president of Alula Birding & Natural History Tours.