Always Remember The Three R’s :
Recognising recycling is the last resort before sending the waste to the landfill, we include here the updated Recycling Grid for your information:
View the list of Recycling Agents in Barbados Here
View our suggested Reuse List Here
Recycling in Barbados is happening, it may take a little effort, but you CAN do it!
Why use the 3’R’S?
The aim of the ‘3 R’s’ is to ‘reduce our ecological footprint’ and to come as close as possible to being fully sustainable. The ‘3 R’s’ help to do this by decreasing our garbage load and hence lessening the problems associated with waste. It must be emphasized a major issue associated with garbage that is particular to our country is due to its geology.
Barbados is mainly made up of limestone, which is a ‘soft’ porous rock. Hence we do not have major rivers or ponds. This limestone naturally filters rainwater to give us one of the cleanest water supplies in the world. However if the soil surface is contaminated with waste as rain water passes through this, it carries a literal chemical soup which damages and destroys the limestone. This reduces the limestone filtration power and increases the chance of our major water source becoming contaminated. Over a period of time it also weakens the limestone itself which can lead to less supporting power of structures above. So thus this is a very serious consideration for Barbados and any other country that has limestone as part of their geological rock structure.
The ‘3 R’s’ also help to reduce our energy expenditure, a major consideration during this time of ever increasing oil prices in the face of falling oil supply.
Are there any other related terms with the 3’R’S?
Actually they are, the two most important are REFUSE and PRECYCLE. Your most powerful way to vote is not where you put your ‘x’ but how you spend your money. By not buying or supporting anything that is not environmentally friendly and sustainable is a strong refusal message to store owners, producers, politicians etc.
Precycling is the process of buying habits that produces very little or no garbage at all. Good examples are bulk shopping or buying produce from farmers directly.
Can you now add these two terms to the ‘3 R’s’ and then put them in order of importance?
Please remember the greatest way to get your kids to start developing a sustainable mindset is to be a constant example for them and encourage, not force, them to be involved. As the popular old folk sayings go ‘Waste not, want not’ and ‘Train them young as old habits hard to break’.
Please also visit our Resource Centre for more information!
EARTH CONSERVATION AT HOME
The highest percentage of garbage in most places is organic material.
One of the highest producers of carbon dioxide outside of fossil fuel and coal burning, is the uncontrolled decomposition of organic material from landfills. Landfill sites produce Methane Gas – one of the notorious Green House Gases adding to our Global Warming phenomenon. Any landfill over porous rock runs the possible risk of damage to the rock as well as contamination of any underground water. Any landfills near agricultural land and or rivers run the risk of possible contamination in a number of ways.
Our aim here is to show you how to reduce your organic waste to the environment as well as help you save money.
Nobody needs to be reminded of how food prices keep going up, a reflection of the oil dependency problem and that a very large percentage of our food is imported. So simply put, the more you grow at home the more you save.
Here is a great example of a backyard tyre garden. Thanks to Oscar and Winnie Merritt. Oscar and Winnie allowed us to take this photo in 2006 and to date it is THE best example of a tyre garden we have seen. Herbs and Vegetables can be seen with many being simple to grow. Herbs such as basil, dill, parsley, chives etc and some vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplants, sweet or hot peppers etc are easy to grow. If you have a fence or area for vines to run easy climbers are spinach, bonavis, cucumber, cerasse, pumpkin etc. Fruits which grow easily and start bearing in only a few years are most citrus, cherries, sour sops etc. Those of you without backyards can grow many things in suitable containers such as Oscar and Winnie’s Tyre Garden.
Bulk shopping reduces garbage load because it generates less packaging. It also works out cheaper for you. As an example, buying a 20lb bag of rice is cheaper than buying four 5lb bags and produces less packaging.
This can even be applied to suitable perishables if you have a freezer. As long as they can be frozen, they can be in a freezer for several days even weeks past their shelf life. So you can take advantage of low prices when they are in season e.g.limes. You can freeze them whole or juice them. This can also be applied to juice and milk which last several days past their shelf life in the freezer.
Composting is another method of dealing with organic Waste. Check here for more information in the future.
AIR CONSERVATION AT HOME
We look at how we can use air around us for conservation purposes.
One has to remember that ventilation is a matter of air flow. If you only have windows one side f the house open and not the other then there is nowhere for the air to go. So before you switch on the fan or AC, try opening other windows in the house and just wait a few minutes. Chances are there will be an air flow and the house will cool and there will be air quality improvement.
It has been suggested numerous times with several different types of vehicles that they have better fuel efficiency when the AC of the car is off and the windows are down. So with ever increasing gas prices, think of letting the flow of air through your vehicle keep you cool when driving rather than your AC.
Burning of waste is not only unhealthy for you, but for your neighbours, the environment and could raise legal issues. Besides the obvious pollution of the air with several types of chemicals, there is of course the question of danger to any asthmatics or those with breathing difficulties within the range of smoke and the possibility of causing a serious fire hazard. Burning of waste is a health hazard. Don’t think that because the wind is blowing down wind that it does not affect you. This is a selfish practice and one that needs to stop. Think of your fellow man. How do you feel when you have plastic infused smoke coming through your window? What about your child who suffers from asthma? How do they feel? Please refrain from the burning of waste. Most of it is probably organic and could be composted.
To date, home wind power set ups are not available locally. However there are several people who have brought in systems and have installed them at home. So if you are interested in such, please contact us and we can give you information as well as put you onto those are willingly to share their experience and expertise.
FIRE CONSERVATION AT HOME
The element of fire we will relate to electricity and fuel.
ELECTRICITY AND CONSERVATION
The Phantom Electricity Users
If you were to turn off all of your appliances and anything else using electricity then check your meter, it will still be running. This well known phenomenon is called ‘phantom electricity/load’. What it basically tells you is that although you may have turned off your appliance there is still electricity running, not as much as if its on, obviously, but still pulling a current. Some culprits are evident like those with little LED lights, internal memory systems or clocks. However even appliances without these things are known to still pull current. If you put your ear next to a radio that is off and hear a slight hum or feel a slight vibration that’s a sign of current running. If you touch any of a myriad of chargers even though there is nothing charging, it is hot. The whole message in this is after you turn off an appliance, pull out the plug. You will save a fair bit of money keeping up this practice. Bear in mind the fuel charge on your electric bill is multiplicative and is always under constant resetting especially in these times of ever rising oil prices. The more electricity you save the more money you save. There are special multi-plug power outlets or surge protectors than can used. When these are turned off, no current passes through them. Electricians, the electric company or hardware stores are the best ones to ask about these. You also have to bear in mind that if appliances still carry current when off, they are vulnerable to power surges if not with proper surge protection, something many a computer owner found out the hard way. So pulling out the plug not only saves you money, it also protects your appliances.
Light bulbs over the last decade have gone through a myriad of technological updates to make them more efficient, last longer and use less current. Most hardware stores, lighting shops and the BL & PC are good sources of information on types of light bulbs and where best they are suited for. Here is some general information.
Your standard incandescent bulbs are the most wasteful and least efficient. Most of the energy goes into heat rather than light, they use a lot more current than modern bulbs and don’t last as long. For conservation purposes stay away from these old style bulbs. Fluorescent lights are far more efficient and last longer. Nowadays you can find them in screw bulb form and are thus good replacements for your standard bulbs.
Outdoor security lighting can be an expensive thing. Many of the high luminous lights use quite a bit of current as many have found out on the first light bill after installing them. You can reduce this by installing motion sensors so they only come on with movement instead of being on the whole night. You can also try finding more efficient security light bulbs such as LED. The light industry is turning out more and more efficient bulbs with high lighting and less expensive. Of course there are solar charged bulbs. Even here technology has improved. The problem of solar lights not being very bright is a thing of the past. Now there are solar lights that are quite bright and not very expensive with the obvious benefit of having not to use grid current for them to work. We know of cases of people who tried some of the above with their lighting and saved anywhere from $20-$40 on their next light bill.
Other Energy Conservation Techniques
Other practices include basics such as turning off lights when you leave a room; use lights appropriate to the situation; wash or dishwash full loads only; use the dryer only when necessary and with full loads; full fridges and freezers run more efficiently; don’t open these appliance doors for long periods as it takes quite a bit of energy to get back to the set temperature.
The BL&PC has several leaflets on energy conservation in the home. They also have a website where you can get a lot of information. Site is Barbados Light & Power
FUEL/GAS AND CONSERVATION
FUEL AT HOME
With gas stoves that have pilots, do not leave the pilot lit twenty four hours. Besides the obvious waste of gas and production of greenhouse gases, You are wasting your own money. Just by keeping your pilot off when not cooking will save you a lot of gas and you may even be able to buy a bottle or two less per year depending on the size one you use. Also bear in mind leaving on the pilot could be a fire hazard. If the wind blows out the pilot, the gas still flows and could build up with the potential of literally an explosive situation via lighting a match or a spark from any electrical appliance within the area.
Try to cook one pot meals often or do several things in an oven at once. Steam cooks faster than boiling not, to mention keeps more nutrients in the food, especially vegetables and ground provisions.
How you drive is how your fuel efficiency goes. The worst fuel efficiency of any vehicle is when it is first started after a few hours of inactivity. So this is when you should be driving easy or you will use a lot of gas. Simply put, hard fast driving leads to lousy gas mileage. Keep your car in tune, that is when the car performs near or at peak fuel efficiency. After a few short minutes, it is more fuel efficient to turn off your engine and start it back when ready than to leave it running idle.
WATER CONSERVATION AT HOME
The type of water that comes from our tap is called ‘potable’ water. Basically, water quality to a government specified level safe for human consumption. However this quality level of water quality is not needed for a number of regular things we use water for e.g. watering plants, washing cars, pets or yards, flushing toilets etc.
One of the major ways we can save water is to collect rain water or rain water harvesting. This can range from a simple bucket to large tanks being filled via guttering along roofs to collect the rainwater. (Just remember to cover any open ended containers from mosquitoes or poor a little oil in it to prevent them from breeding).
The less water you use from the Water Authority is the more water you save as well as lowering your water bill. Remember it takes electricity to pump the water to you as well as to treat it to get to the ‘potable’ level. The more oil prices go up the higher your water bill will get.
Another way to reduce water usage is to put a container inside the tank of your toilet. Just make sure container does not affect flushing mechanism. Every time you flush the toilet the amount the container can hold or displace is water saved. Over the long run you will be saving money on your water bill. One estimate done by a local company says savings can be as much as $100-$150 a year for a typical family.
Things like turning off water during soaping in the shower or when brushing teeth are good ways to start encourage children in water conservation.
There are things like water saving devices which can be put in shower heads, pipes etc. Showering/bathtub bathing use the most water so such devices help save water and money. Information on these can usually be found at the Water Authority, plumbers or hardware stores. Please also note the Water Authority has a lot of info on saving water in leaflets or you can contact them at BWA(BARBADOS WATER AUTHORITY)
As a local practical example, many local farmers and those in horticultural fields get a significant amount of water needed from rainwater harvesting. All sides of any building have guttering which feed water into large tanks of several hundred gallon capacity. Some use gravity if water pressure is not needed to get water from tanks whilst others have pumps on the tanks. Compared to getting 100% water from the Water Authority, they save money on their water bills and in many areas of the island during the dry season, have a more reliable supply of water as well. The investment in tanks, guttering etc is paid for in the savings and the assurance of water to maintain minimum levels of productivity during the dry season.
These are just a few ways to reduce your ecological footprint. Have any other ideas? Email us so we can add them on.