From the category archives:

Water & Water Conservation

I received an email the other day from an interesting company, Organica, that creates biological processes for treating wastewater.  I like the idea of rethinking our assumptions to things like wastewater treatment –  recycling need not be limited to paper and cans, but can capture multiple consumables that we use in housing…sustainableschmidt

Organica’s Approach

by sustainableemily, Organica

Humans waste large amounts of water, and current projections of population and economic growth imply that in 2030 global water requirements will be 40% greater than current supply.  Our population is growing by 50 million people per year, and it continues to migrate into cities. Freshwater consumption has more than doubled since World War II. All of this means our lifestyle, which is completely dependent on freshwater consumption, is not sustainable.

But, there is good news: Water can be recycled and reused. Organica Technologies has a solution for recycling and reusing wastewater on a scale that is efficient, sustainable and cost effective.

Organica wastewater treatment plants combine the latest developments in ecological engineering with traditional wastewater treatment technology, offering communities and corporations around the world a low-cost and efficient method to treat wastewater to reuse quality.

Organica treatment plants purify water by harnessing the metabolic processes of living organisms that digest organic pollutants. In addition to the bacteria found in traditional activated sludge systems, Organica treatment plants are populated by 2,000 to 3,000 species of plants, animals, and microbes. The organisms work together to maximize biological degradation of contaminants. The ecosystems provide a high degree of biodiversity, thus resulting in a very stable and resilient system. The treatment plants use of natural organisms, applied human intelligence, innovative bio-nano, and information technologies helps nature accelerate the purification of waste water, freeing it for reuse in non-potable applications; irrigation, cooling tower makeup and flushing.


Additionally, this compact and odorless design fits in tight spaces within urban environments. This decreases the need for expensive pipes bringing the water back and forth. More importantly, it allows for the water to be reused directly on site for irrigation, toilet water, cooling towers, and all other needs depending on specifications. It also saves costs, in addition to all the above benefits. Fitting in small areas of land reduces capital costs, and the operational expenses are much lower than all other options.

Wastewater management has remained relatively stagnant for the past 80 years. Now, Organica’s approach is changing the game. In order to create a sustainable world, we must secure and allocate water supplies with a growing population and decreased water levels. Organica provides the solution.

Organica helps nature do its job, just better and faster.

Connect with Organica:
On Twitter
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What we in the west take for granted every day, people in the developing world have to struggle with.  What are the long term effects so many thousands of millions of people living with out toilets?

In an exclusive sneak peek from this coming season of Vanguard, correspondent Adam Yamaguchi investigates one of the world’s biggest public health crises: the 2.6 billion people living without toilets. The episode premieres on Current TV on June 9.





As a lot of you know one of my pet issues is the effect of our collective style of living on the ocean, specifically the pacific gyre, also know as the great pacific garbage patch.  The New York Times had a great article on it yesterday, and though I have written about it before its worth talking about again.  What I did not know is that the Pacific Gyre is one of as many as 5 similar zones in the world, where the debris from our daily lives accumulates.  Thousands of square miles of plastic floating about in the waves, slowly choking the life out of the sea.  I was thinking about the gyre just this past weekend, as it was sunny and beautiful and our new house is only a short walk from Ocean Beach.  The girls and I decided to walk down and have a picnic with Jamey’s dad, who was visiting from the Midwest.  Sitting there looking out at the waves I decided to do an informal beach combing type survey.  I walked up and down a short way from where we set up our camping chairs and towels, and this is what I came up with:

10 Minute walk on the beach - 2009

Not that it is anything shocking to find trash on the beach, in fact I guess it would be shocking NOT to find trash on a beach. And let me tell you, Ocean Beach is a relatively clean beach. There are trash cans, volunteers come down frequently, folks pack out their recyclables and other sundries, but still, a short 15 minute walk on a clean beach and I came up with 28 pieces of plastic wrappings, various sizes,a granola bar wrapper, 3 straws, 10 bottle caps, 18 small pieces of hard plastics, & a small plastic tube.

Its not that we’re all a bunch of pigs, it is more I think that the way we have set up our lives it is next to impossible not to come into contact with plastic. And plastic is the number one type of trash finding its way into our oceans. It doesn’t break down, it doesn’t go “away”, it floats and floats, and in its own small way wreaks tremendous devastation; whether it is sea turtles that mistake the plastic bags for jellyfish and starve, their bellies bursting with clear bags; or albatross chicks whose parents skim bits of plastic off the surface of the sea, mistaking them for fish, and feeding their chicks until the starve; or the smaller plankton eating fish, who start the food cycle, who eat and are eaten until all that plastic, all those chemicals with their unpronounceable ingredients of pheno-bi-ethanol-petro-whatever end up in…us.

I try and use less plastic, but it is so very hard. The manufacturers of the world have decried that “plastic is the future”, and even if I bring my own shopping bags, wrap up sandwiches in wax paper, use re-usable (Plastic) containers for the kids lunches, I really feel I am battling against the tides. Guess it’s time to change the tides.


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Adventures in Landscaping

by schmidt on September 15, 2009 · 0 comments

in Water & Water Conservation

When I was remodeling my home I was confronted with something I knew very little about – landscaping.  I knew what I did not want, which is as good a place as any to start.  No grass monoculture.  I am not against lawns mind you.  There is just too much of a downside to all that green.  It takes a bit more than a half gallon of water to cover each square foot with an inch of water; and an inch of water per week is the generally accepted standard for lawn irrigation.  Not to bad – til you do the math.  I had a tiny postage stamp in front of my old house, two 6 X 12 foot sections of grass – and they needed more than 70 gallons a week to stay green, more than 3,600 gallons a year.  I switched to ornamental grass and Mexican beach stones in my new home, and I haven’t watered them for 3 months.  Even a modest sized lawn of your typical suburban home can hit over 1,000 square feet, and that adds up to 500+ gallons a week.

The backyard was a more complicated challenge.  I went so far as to call a few landscape “Architects” to come and give a bid.  I thought they were like regular contractors, they would look at the project, let me know what they could do and tell me how much.  Silly me.  First think I learned about landscape “Architects” was that they charge $100.00 bucks just to show up.  Now I am not a complete moron, I did chuckle at the first guy who told me that.  But after calling 4 or 5 more, I realized they all wanted 100 bucks to show up.  I figured the joke must be on me, so I got the checkbook out and made 2 appointments with 2 landscape “Architects”.  After shelling out $200.00 and getting price quoted twice  I realized I was right, the joke was on me.  The landscape “Architects” both agreed that $75,000 or so would be needed to change this:

9-8-09 Landscpae Blog Post 1

into something more interesting.  Unless they planned on making it into a pot plantation, 75k was just not going to happen.


So what to do.

It’s not that I am lazy, I am just, well, lazy.  And I do not know much about landscaping – I may have said that somewhere.  So clearly I need help, professional help.  At least that’s what my wife says.  So I think, on her recommendation, I am going to start taking 500 milligrams of Welbutrin twice daily.  And use MyFarm to make something useful as well as practical.

MyFarm are basically folks who set up gardens in your backyard.  I have always wanted to garden, and the idea of calling it an Urban Farm sounds far to chic and forward thinking to pass up.  I hope to make this an ongoing feature on the blog here, document the weed pulling, dirt sifting, and bug shooing that I figure is involved in making some food out back.  Another thing to figure out will be how much of a carbon offset this whole thing will be – carbon reduction is well and good, but increasing carbon absorption and O2 output with a more robust backyard has got to count for something.