Thursday, December 25, 2008

Three Easy SuperForest Actions for 2009

Good Morning SuperForest!

And a happy holiday season to all!

As 2008 winds to a close and we begin to plan our 2009's, we'd like to offer three ways to improve your "SuperForest-ness" this coming year.

While this list is not perfect, much thought has gone into it and we hope that it serves as a starting point for a longer conversation about three simple ways one can improve ones sustainability.

Here they are, in reverse order:

1.) Hack Your Toilet.

As zany as it sounds, the simple act of putting a brick into your toilet tank can have hugely positive repercussions.

Here's how you do it, via an SF post from last year:

Hello and Good Morning!

Just to start things off, I want to say thank you to whoever is reading this.
Thank you for taking the time to read my zany little blog. I hope you enjoy it.

That said, I think a lot about the toilet.

I work in an office in Chelsea, and me and my fellow co-workers all share this one bathroom. Since I try to drink lots of water (hydrate before you dehydrate), I end up using the bathroom several times a day. I'd say, roughly four times during the course of a work day.

Let's do some math:

Four toilet flushes @ 1.6 gallons per flush = 6.4 gallons of clean water, (now mixed with my "contributions") down into the sewer system.

Just to put this number in perspective, the average African gets by on guess how many gallons of water a day?


So, before I've factored in showers and hand washing and assorted other water uses throughout the day, I'm already using more than six times the amount an African would use in a day, (and they'd probably use it for drinking.)

My point is that every little action can promote a positive reaction.

So here are two very simple things you can do to help minimize the amount of clean water you use.

1.) Don't flush pee alone. It makes pee sad to be flushed down by itself. Admittedly, in an office setting, this may prove to be counter to what your co-workers find acceptable. Fair enough, do it at home.

If you pee three times for every flush, (and if you are hydrated enough, your pee shouldn't smell or look that bad.) you've saved 3.2 gallons of water. Nearly an Arrowhead bottle. Good stuff.

And number 2.) (Ha!) Hack your toilet!

Do it like this:

Firstly, you'll need a specially constructed, non-deliquescing, adamantine, water displacement device, (or, n.d.a.w.d.d.)

If you can't find one of those, a brick will work just fine.

Like this:

Give 'ol Mr. Brick a good scrub to remove particulates, and then...

Open your toilet tank. Just take the top off. Simple.

Position your brick above the toilet tank. (Important note! Do not let go! Porcelain is easily chipped.)

Insert brick into toilet tank. Not the bowl! The tank. Don't worry, tank water is clean. (In fact, in case of zombie attack, a nice commercial building with lots of toilets can provide fresh water for a little while. Really, in case of zombie attack, you should leave the cities and heavily populated areas, favoring mountain peaks and glaciers. I digress...)

Now that the brick is in the tank, position it so that it does not interfere with the movement of your float arm. (That's the little rod with the plastic bulb on the end.)
In this photo, the brick is a little too far to the right. I scooted it over to the left so the float wouldn't hit it.

Pop the lid back on. (Just like when you took it off, but in reverse.)

And don't forget to do this!:

You've not really touched anything supernasty, but better safe than stomach bug.

And you're done! The brick will displace volume that would have otherwise been occupied by clean water, so your toilet will use less each time it refills.

Here's the staggering thing:

Doing this simple thing will save you approximately 11,000 gallons of water a year.

That's the size of a pretty good sized swimming pool. You now have 11,000 gallons of clean water that instead of having peed or pooped in, you could use to, say, fill up a swimming pool.

Or, really do the planet a favor and buy a composting toilet.

Love to all,

-Clean Hands McGirk

p.s. I just tried it out, and things are working beautifully!

Remember, if you aren't having fun, you might not be doing it right!

2.) Compost.

If you have a backyard, slap a compost bin in a corner of it. By diverting your kitchen scraps into the bin, you will be significantly reducing how much of your ex-swag gets trapped in a landfill.

Composting is so very simple. It requires very little energy on your part, and you'll be amazed at how, once you cut food scraps out of your out-going trash stream, all you end up throwing out is plastic.

And, once the composting has been accomplished, you'll have on your hands some of the best organic fertilizer you could hope for.

Okay, but what about if you live in an apartment? Or you don't have a backyard?

Ready for this?: Freeze your food scraps.

An answer so magically simple! SuperForester Maia gave us this amazing tip:

If you cannot run your own compost bin, simply keep a plastic bag in your freezer and throw your kitchen scraps into it as needed.

Then, once a week, or whenever you like, you can walk over to your local farmer's or green market and drop it off! So easy. And since the scraps that you will be freezing are fresh food, you will never have to deal with stinky, bugs, anything.

Freezing scraps makes it so easy! Frozen food scraps means that you can drop them off anytime you like, or until you run out of space in your freezer. Unless you lose power, you'll be sitting pretty and contributing significantly to your own personal sustainability.

In short, composting is easy, nearly effortless, and a massive step towards a more sustainable life equation.

Here's the composting wiki and a few more sites that explain composting further:

Compost wiki.

3.) Make Things.

At the heart of these three tips is the underlying idea of taking a step back, and looking with objectivity at how much you consume versus how much you produce.

An easy and fun way to balance out that equation is to make things.
Best yet, if you can find ways to make things out of the materials that you would have thrown out anyways, you've found a huge win/win.

That doesn't mean we should all be giving each other dolls made of old socks and lint as presents this year. But you would be pleasantly surprised at how many wonderful and useful things can be made out of humble materials like cardboard.

Got a bit of tape and some excess cardboard on your hands?

Make someone special a custom laptop case!

Got an old rice sack?

Make a "Little Rice Sack that Could" drawstring bag!

Got a big pile of plastic bags?

Turn 'em into plasti-yarn and get to weaving!
With plasti-yarn weaving, the only limit is your own imagination.

Everyone has to deal with the endless supply of cardboard, plastic, and packaging. Instead of looking at those materials as trash, see them for what they really are: materials!

You may not need a laptop case, or a drawstring bag, or any indestructo-yarn, but we guarantee you that someone you know would love one.

Make 2009 the year that you really look at the abundance all around you. See the massive supply of art materials and making-supplies that we currently mis-label "trash."

Learning how to use your hands to make things for the people around you out of "trash" is the single coolest and most rebellious act you can undertake.


Making more will help you consume less.

The gravest insult anyone can call you is Consumer.
The method for winning back your independence is by becoming a Maker.

Here are two of our favorite Makin' sites:


Massive love and thanks to all the makers, tinkerers, doers, thinkers, and dreamers out in SuperForest.

Thank you for a fantastic 2008, and here's to further growth and fun in 2009.

When we stick together, there's nothing we cannot accomplish.

Love to All,


p.s. As always, if you have questions or comments, simply email us: superforestnyc(at)gmail(dot)com.


1 comment:

CASEY said...

Go for Super Forest!