Rachel Solomon
Ballard's Ingela Wanerstrand feeds Ernest P. Merriweather. Owning goats is one of the many suggestions from July's Sustainable Ballard meeting on creating a carbon-neutral Seattle.

Sustainable Ballard shares ideas on creating a greener Seattle

At Sustainable Ballard's July meeting, attendees shared their ideas for the little things Ballard residents can do to work toward a carbon-neutral Seattle.

Line Drying Laundry

Environmental Impact:
According to the California Energy Commission, the average American household does 400 loads of laundry per year. And according to Wikipedia, the average clothes dryer produces 4.4 pounds of CO2 per load. This means line drying could cut carbon emissions by as much as 1,760 pounds per year.

Tip:
Steam wrinkles out of button-down shirts by throwing them in the dryer for just five minutes then hang them up on the clothesline. This not only saves energy but eliminates the need for ironing once clothes are dry.

Resources:
Crown Hill Hardware sells retractable clotheslines. The Home Depot sells umbrella-shaped indoor/outdoor drying stands that can be moved if it starts to rain.

Composting Food Waste in a Worm Bin

Environmental Impact:
In 2009, Seattle collected 26,000 tons of food waste, which garbage trucks delivered to Cedar Grove in Everett (a distance of approximately 30 miles). According to www.carbonfund.org, an offset provider, truck transportation emits 0.3725 pounds of CO2 per ton-mile. If each household composted its own food waste instead of setting it out for collection, Seattle would be 290,550 pounds closer to carbon neutrality.

Tip:
Worms eat any kind of fruits/vegetables/grains and even coffee grounds and tea bags but not meat and dairy products.

Resources:
Get free instructions from Seattle Tilth for making worm bins using off-the-shelf plastic storage boxes. GoGreen Design on Northwest 17th Street and Dock Place Northwest offers free wood shavings for use as worm bedding.

Keeping a Pair of Backyard Dairy Goats

Environmental Impact:
According to the American Dairy Goat Association, a goat in her prime produces up to 0.75 gallon of milk per day during her 10-month lactation period. A pair of goats will likely shrink the food miles associated with most households' milk consumption down to zero.

Tip
Goats aren't grazers and won't help keep the lawn mowed, but they do love tree clippings. Beware of cherry and plum trees and rhododendron, which are poisonous to goats.

Resources:
In Seattle, miniature goats are categorized as “small animals," along with cats and dogs. Each household is allowed to keep three. Newborn goats are not counted toward this limit until they're 12 weeks old.

Switching to Biodiesel Heating Oil

Environmental Impact:
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the consumption of each gallon of diesel emits 22.2 pounds of CO2. And according to Puget Sound Energy, it takes 740 gallons of oil (or 16,650 pounds of CO2 emissions) to heat a three-bedroom house for a year. Switching to B20 (20/80 mix of biodiesel and regular diesel) eliminates 15 percent of the pollution, and B100 (100 percent biodiesel) cuts down 78 percent.

Resources:
Get biodiesel from Dr. Dan's Alternative Fuelwerks on Northwest 50th Street and Ninth Avenue Northwest.

Converting Your Lawn Mower to Solar Power

Environmental Impact:
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans burn 800 million gallons of gas (and spill another 17 million gallons) to mow their lawns. While the agency has issued standards that require a 35 percent reduction in emissions from lawn equipment by 2012, switching to solar power would make lawn mowing much closer to carbon neutral.

Resources:
There are many online resources that offer step by step conversion instructions (Solar Mower and Solar Charged Lawnmower, for example).

Bring Your Own Dishes and To-Go Containers

Environmental Impact:
According to the Clean Air Council, Americans throw out enough paper cups and plastic utensils to circle the equator 300 times. We also generate 3,000 tons of paper towel waste per day. Bringing along reusable containers, utensils and towels to work, restaurants and potlucks would put a significant dent in the 4.39 pounds per day of trash the average American generates.

Resources:
To-Go Ware sells bamboo utensils and stainless steel food containers. People Towels sells personal hand towels.

Making Your Voice Heard by Policy Makers

Environmental Impact:
The Senate Democratic leadership recently decided to set aside climate legislation that would have capped carbon emissions. Without strong, persistent grassroots support, proposed laws for protecting the environment will continue to fall by the wayside in the face of corporate lobbying.

Resources:
On the national level, Washington state's senators are Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray. Ballard is in the 7th Congressional District, which is represented by James McDermott. Their contact information is here.

On the state level, much of Ballard is in the 36th District. Our senator is Jeanne Kohl-Welles and our representatives are Reuven Carlyle and Mary Lou Dickerson. Their contact information is here.

On the local level, the Seattle City Council has established carbon neutrality as one of the council's 16 priorities. Neighborhood groups have been asked to present recommendations to the council Sept. 14. Join an online discussion at www.seattleneighbors.org.

All ideas, facts and figures come from Sustainable Ballard. Sustainable Ballard's next meeting is Aug. 23 at the Sunset Hill Community Club, located at 3003 N.W. 66th St. The potluck starts at 6:30 p.m. and the program on political advocacy starts at 7 p.m.

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Comments

Biodiesel is not going to save the planet

The 78 percent number quoted above comes from and old study sponsored by the USDA to promote sales of soybeans. According to a study in the peer-reviewed science journal "Nature" agriculture is doing as much or more damage to the planet as fossil fuels:

http://biodiversivist.blogspot.com/2009/10/transgressing-identified-and-...