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Sustainable Living with Backyard Chickens

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Ecological sustainability is nature’s way of ensuring that many organisms’ needs are met through a diverse and productive environment. In the same way when we practice a sustainable lifestyle we want to produce a healthy productive environment in our own personal lives. The sustainable mantra “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” can be applied in many areas of our lives. Keeping backyard chickens is one way we can work towards sustainability.

There are a variety of places you can purchase chicks. Purchasing chicks from a small family owned hatchery or a local breeder is best. Large hatcheries often buy their eggs from commercial chicken farms where the hens are raised in small cages with no room to move around. You can also purchase chicks locally in the springtime from many feed stores.

Before bringing home your first chicks you will want to make sure it is legal to have livestock in your community. Zoning laws vary from place to place but many municipalities are allowing backyard chickens. Some communities only allow hens and no roosters because of early morning crowing. Hens do not need roosters to lay eggs. So if you order chicks make sure to request pullets (young females). The number of chickens you may have may also be limited. Four to five chickens make a good size backyard flock.


Sustainability is about providing for ourselves in a productive environment. Raising chickens helps us meet that sustainability. Producing our own food not only assures us of a healthy fresh food but it is an alternative to supporting commercial factory farms. The Poultry industry has been “outed” of late by documentaries such as Food Inc. and American Meat which discuss the inhumane methods that the poultry industry uses and the benefits of a pasture raised system. Eggs and meat produced from your own chickens are healthy, fresh and raised in a humane manner. Something you can feel good about!

One way we attain sustainability with chickens is through the natural recycling and composting processes that occurs. Chickens love to eat green things. This can be grass clippings from mowing the yard or it may be all the scraps from when you cut up vegetables for last night’s salad. Feeding vegetable scraps to chicks allows their body to compost those scraps and turn them into high nitrogen fertilizer. And because your chickens are eating a healthy diet they are healthier and less prone to diseases such as avian flu that plague the poultry industry. And a healthy chicken lays an egg that is also packed full of nutrients. Fresh, pasture raised eggs are higher in Vitamin E and Omega 3’s. It is important to remember that along with green things and bugs a chicken also needs a good layer feed. Several organic layer feeds are available that support sustainable agriculture.

That high nitrogen fertilizer that your chicken expels as waste is great for flower or vegetable beds or just use it to mulch around trees. A compost pile is easy to tuck into a corner of your yard. You can build one yourself or buy a premade one. Several models are attractive and will look nice in a suburban yard, next to your backyard chicken coop! The bedding in the chickens housing should be considered if you will be using it on your gardens. Straw is very efficient in decomposing in the compost pile. The hollow stems allow air flow which provides oxygen to the bacteria doing the work. The straw provides a neutral Ph to the compost pile. Pine shavings on the other hand take longer to decompose and are more acid. This compost will lower the ph of the soil. This is good for certain

plants such as blueberries and azaleas but many vegetables prefer a higher ph level. You can take a soil test to help determine what is needed in your gardens.


Raising chickens sustainably helps to slow climate change by reducing organic waste going to landfills and turning into methane (CH4) gases. The poultry industry accounts for .06% of methane in greenhouse gases. (EPA 2013) Emissions are produced on poultry industry by equipment that is dependent on fossil fuels to operate. Chicken manure emits nitrous oxide and methane into the atmosphere. This is especially true in industrial farming where large open piles are kept. In your backyard composting bin you make more efficient use of the manure. So keeping chickens will help you to lower your carbon footprint.

 

Environment

Want to Connect With Nature? Start by Disconnecting From Busyness

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Connect With Nature

Have you ever found yourself staring at one of your (many) devices and feeling slightly disgusted with how much time you waste on technology? If so, you aren’t alone. We all have moments like these and it’s important that we use them as motivation to change – especially if we want to be more connected with nature.

How Busyness Impacts Your Connection With Nature

Whether you realize it or not, you live an ultra connected life. Between smart phones, tablets, computers, and wearable devices, you’re never very far from some sort of technology that can connect you to the internet or put you in touch with other people. That’s just the world we live in.


While it could be argued that this sort of omnipresent connectivity is a positive thing, it’s also pretty clear that being permanently tethered to technology impacts our ability to strip away distractions and connect with nature.

When you’re always within arm’s reach of a device, you feel a sense of busyness.  Whether it’s browsing your social media feed, uploading a picture, reading the news, or responding to an email, there’s always something to do. As someone who wants to spend more time in nature, this is problematic.

4 Practical Ways to Disconnect

If you want to truly connect with nature and live a greener lifestyle, you have to be proactive about finding ways to disconnect. Here are a few practical suggestions:

1. Switch to a New Phone Plan

It’s not always practical to totally unplug from the world. Family and work responsibilities mean you can’t go off the grid and continue to fulfill your responsibilities. Having said that, there are some ways to scale back.


One suggestion is to switch to a prepaid phone plan. When you have a prepaid phone plan, you’re far less likely to spend hours and hours of your time making phone calls, sending texts, and surfing the web. It forces you to be more conscious of what you’re doing.

2. Get Rid of Social Media

Social media is one of the biggest time wasters for most people. Whether you realize it or not, it’s also a huge stressor. You’re constantly being exposed to the best snapshots of everyone else’s lives, which makes you feel like you’re missing out on something (even when you aren’t).

If you want to feel a sense of relief and free yourself up to spend more time in nature, get rid of social media. Don’t just delete the apps off your phone – actually disable your accounts. It’s a bold, yet necessary step.

3. Create Quiet Hours

If you aren’t able to get rid of social media and disable various online accounts, the next best thing you can do is establish quiet hours each day where you totally detach from technology. You should do this for a minimum of three hours per day for best results.

4. Build Community

Do you know why we’re drawn to social media and our devices? Whether consciously or subconsciously, it’s because we all want to be connected to other people. But do you know what’s better than connecting with people online? Connecting with them in person.

As you build real life, person-to-person relationships, you’ll feel less of a need to constantly have your eyes glued to a screen. Connect with other people who have an appreciation for nature and bond over your mutual interests.

Untether Your Life

If you find yourself constantly connected to a device, then this is probably a clear indicator that you aren’t living your best life. You certainly aren’t enjoying any sort of meaningful connection with nature. Now’s as good a time as any to untether your life and explore what a world free from cords, screens, and batteries is really like.

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Environment

6 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Move

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Moving can be a stressful and challenging time. No matter how many times you’ve done it in the past, the process of packing up, transporting, and unpacking isn’t very fun. It’s also not very eco-friendly. As you prepare for your next move, there are things you can do to ensure you leave less of a footprint behind.

6 Tips for a Greener Move

Because of the stress and pressure felt when moving, it’s pretty common for people to rush through the process and focus on getting it done. In fact, a lot of people take an “at all costs” approach; they’ll do whatever it takes to make the process as cheap and fast as possible. Don’t be one of those people. It doesn’t take much effort to turn a standard move into an eco-friendly move.


1. Maximize Each Trip

When moving across town, it’s imperative that you make as few trips as possible. Each trip requires more gas, more emissions, and more waste, and more time.

If you’re taking your personal vehicle, consider pulling a trailer behind it. You’d be surprised how much stuff you can fit into a small trailer. Not only will it make your move greener, but it’ll also save you a lot of time.

2. Donate Things You Don’t Want to Keep

The longer you live somewhere, the more junk you accumulate. This isn’t always obvious until you start packing for a big move. Instead of bringing all of these things with you to your next home, get rid of the stuff you don’t need! If the items are useful, donate them. If the items don’t have much value, toss them.

3. Reuse Moving Boxes

Not only are moving boxes expensive, but they’re also wasteful. If you need a bunch of cardboard boxes, consider looking around on Craigslist, asking friends, or checking the dumpsters behind stores. You can usually find a bunch of recycled boxes of all different shapes and sizes. Here are 12 places you can get them for free.


4. Get Creative With Packing

Who says you need moving boxes? You may find that it’s possible to do most of your move without all that cardboard. Things like storage containers, trashcans, filing cabinets, buckets, and dressers can all store items. Blankets and sheets can be used in lieu of bubble wrap to prevent your items from getting damaged.

5. Use Green Cleaning Supplies

Once you arrive at your new place, resist the urge to pull out a bunch of harsh chemicals to clean the place. You can do yourself (and the planet) a favor by using green cleaning supplies instead. Ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and ammonia are great to start with.

6. Forward Your Mail ASAP

Don’t delay in forwarding your mail from your previous address to your new one. Not only is it wasteful for the Postal Service to route your mail to a place where you don’t live, but the next owner is probably just going to toss your letters in the trash.

Moving Doesn’t Have to be Wasteful

Most people only move once every few years. Some people will go a decade or more without a move. As a result, the process of moving often feels strange and new. The less experience you have with it, the less likely it is that you’ll be as efficient as you should. But instead of just diving into the process blind, take some time to learn about what an eco-friendly move looks like. That way, you can leave behind the smallest footprint possible.

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