Becoming more eco-friendly can seem a bit daunting. Many think we have to make major changes in our everyday lives to have an impact and others don’t even know where to begin, but ask Nora Weber Adderson, a staff member in the Marine Biology Research Division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, and she will tell you a different story.
Adderson, who says she’s always been “green” even before it became chic, realized about two years ago that she could be even more environmentally friendly by making some easy changes.
An avid gardener, Adderson was constantly bothered by throwing away items that would just sit in a landfill knowing many of them could be reused for something else. So in April 2009, on the recommendation of a Scripps postdoctoral researcher, she went to the Solana Center to get tips on composting. After taking a master composting class she set into action creating her own composting area at home to reduce the amount of items she throws away and also help her garden flourish without pesticides or fertilizers. What she learned at the master composting class revolutionized the way she lived.
“I went with the Cadillac of composting – worm casting,” says Adderson.
This type of composting utilizes red wigglers, a specialized worm the natural environment of which is similar to a compost pile. The worms slowly eat through the compost materials and the castings they produce fertilize Adderson’s garden. A pound of the red wigglers used in her compost, roughly 1,000 worms, cost Adderson only about $15. An added bonus is that the worms self-populate saving Adderson money by not having to purchase more in the future.
“With composting I’m reducing the waste I throw away and turning it into a nutrient-rich additive for plants in my garden,” said Adderson.
Getting started was easy and learning to save food scraps and pretty much everything else that wasn’t plastic just became habit. Adderson estimates that she and her husband throw out enough trash to be picked up once every two months. In fact, most people wouldn’t believe the items that can be added to a composting area: dryer lint, vacuum bags and contents, leather belts and gloves, nail clippings, and wax paper to name a few.
But the green living doesn’t stop there for Adderson. She also uses solar cookers to prepare many of her meals. Being the green gal that she is, Adderson was also interested in reducing her energy usage as much as the trash she throws away. She began experimenting with making her first solar cooker from an iMac box. Although it could get very warm, it still wasn’t hot enough to fully cook meals. To find out how to make a more efficient solar cooker Adderson went to a solar cooking workshop.
From the workshop Adderson learned about the everyday materials needed such as sturdy plastic boards with ridges and sticky aluminum paper, which can be purchased at the local hardware store. She also found out that small details make a huge difference.
“All the angles are important,” she says.
Adderson uses her homemade solar cooker on the patio in her backyard along with a Global Sun Oven, which she purchased in August 2008, quite frequently since San Diego has so many sunny days. By doing so her electricity use has dropped and she’s seen a noticeably cooler difference in her house during the summer when she’s not using the regular oven.
After implementing these green ways of living Adderson realized how easy it really was to make simple changes that have a meaningful impact.
“It’s a paradigm shift for people to think about what they throw away,” she said.
Adderson knows it can be a challenge for people to change their way of living, but with a little education and support it’s not as difficult as they might assume. “It’s easy to be a good composter and save energy,” she said.
-- Caitlin Denham