Trash is a problem. Compost is a life-saver!

I know. You care about the environment. Everybody does to some extent. Our symbiotic relationship with nature is something that we can only deny at our own peril. Every cell in your body is constructed from things that were provided to you by our planet earth. Our environment is below our feet, above our heads, and it surrounds our entire bodies as it fills our lungs and digestive systems endlessly.

You are simply a product of your environment!

I could go on, and on, and on, about how humans (especially Western humans) have lost touch with, and chosen to systematically destroy nature, but I’ll try not to go down that road.. For now, I want to focus on one thing that we can ALL do to help the situation. It’s extremely easy, inexpensive, interesting and dare I say…. Fun!

Here’s the deal: Acouple of years back, I was at the grocery store one day going through the list of things that I needed for the week. Somewhere near the bottom of the list was a thing that I dreaded. 13 gallon trash bags for my standard American, oversized Kitchen trash receptacle. As I stood there in the aisle of ridiculous, unsustainable, “disposable”, and toxic “home-care” products, I had a slight revelation:

Why would I pay money for something that I ONLY intend to throw away????”

At that moment, I decided that I was going to find a better way to manage my household waste. The first step was to think about: 1- What am I actually sending to the landfill? and 2-Why do I need to put a plastic liner in my plastic trash can?

Question one broke down into two major categories which influenced my extreme trash makeover:

  1. paper and plastic packaging items that are not recyclable in my area. (milk cartons, zipper bags, other food packaging I can’t avoid buying)
  2. Organic, plant-based vegetable and fruit waste! (apple cores, pineapple tops, avocado skins, pits, nut shells, egg shells, potato skins, and on and on)

What I realized, is that the ONLY reason I would  EVER need a liner in my trash can would be to contain the decaying matter from the waste in category 2!

EUREKAAAA!

this meant that all I would have to do would be to find an easy way to separate the organic, category 2 matter from the dry, and non-decomposing category 1 matter! SO easy!!

Here is a synopsis of my process for dealing with household waste. It has saved me from wasting money on trash, and I literally only have to take out the (actual) trash 1 time every SIX WEEKS!

Let me introduce you to my super-efficient, industry-leading, state-of-the-art trash can:

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Not impressed? I understand. The real technology lies within..

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I know, I know.. Thank you. Beautiful right?  : ]  Call me crazy, but I do find a bit of beauty in something so simple, elegant, and downright convenient! I’ve used a large plastic pretzel container (which happens to fit nicely in my existing trash can) to contain all of the banana peels, orange peels, broccoli stumps and other things that would otherwise give the old trash can it’s signature stink. The container also manages any liquid waste prduced by decaying organic material, eliminating the need for a big, wasteful plastic bag.  As SOON as the Cat-2 container gets full, or shows any sign of mold or bad smell, I move it to step 2. Each time I empty it, I put a couple of inches of fresh soil in the bottom which acts like nature’s kitty litter, absorbing fluid and most of the smells associated with a typical trash can.

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Ok, this is where the real magic happens! Outside on my patio (or: Lanai as we call them in Hawaii) I have two 61L plastic tubs. This is the first one. All matter from my big pretzel container gets emptied into here about 2-3 times per week. It is also a convenient place to put all of the leaves and dust that I sweep up on my lanai, as well as trimmings from my living plants. I live in a 1 bedroom apartment, and this saves me SO MUCH hassle! Otherwise I’d be dragging my stinky, half-full, store-bought, scented trash bags down 6 flights of stairs at least once a week!!! Now, I know what you are thinking, because I thought the same thing:

“But doesn’t it……..STINK?”

NO! With the lid on the container, it creates a perfect anaerobic environment for the decomposition to take place, and you won’t smell a thing until you open it! In fact, my bed is only about 9 feet away, the window is always open, and I never smell a thing!!

Here is the stage two container:

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I’d open it up, but the contents are not very photogenic. Just imagine a dark-colored, gelatinous, homogenous sludge. At this point, the decomposition process continues, uninterrupted, until the tub from stage one starts to get full. (you can see also how much physical decomposition takes place, as this tub was full when I put it here) I’ll add dry soil to the stage two container, and mix it all up in an attempt to absorb any excess moisture. Once both tubs are full, and tub #2 is reasonably dry and manageable, I will begin to mix the contents of tub 2 with the bed of soil. Seen here:

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At this point, tub #2 is now empty, and ready to be tub #1 again. My soil supply is re-charged with all of the broken down matter from the composting process. This leaves me with a constant supply of very fertile soil for all of my potted plants! As a bonus, it’s not uncommon to have food-bearing plants randomly begin growing from the soil bed. This cherry tomato plant (far left in the bucket) came out of nowhere, and has been making bunches of tomatoes for months!

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As an extra bonus, the compost tubs provide more than enough food for the little black ants that would otherwise be finding their way into my kitchen! Furthermore, the ants provide food for the green geckos who live on my lanai! Yay Nature!Image

So, there you have it! This idea came about simply by asking the question:

Why the heck do I need to buy trash bags?”

And Now, I’ve saved time and money in the form of trips to the dumpster and fancy, dreadful scented drawstring trash bags. I’ve created a small ecosystem of my own right in the comfort of my own space. I’ve saved hundreds of pounds of waste from being needlessly trucked across our beautiful island by big, thirsty trucks only to be dumped somewhere out-of-sight. And most importantly, I’ve learned that we can make big improvements on our environments, gardens, and quality of life just by asking ourselves why we do some of the silly things we do as ‘westerners’.

Here is a quick Re-Cap of the things needed to put this into action:

  1. A plastic container that fits inside your existing trash can
  2. 2 or more plastic tubs with lids. Size depends on space and # of people in household
  3. A garden, or large container of loose, well-ventilated soil for mixing.

Things to avoid composting

  1. Meat, fish, or any animal products. This could feed certain bacteria that you don’t want around your vegetables.
  2. paper products, even ‘biodegradable’ ones still contain toxic chemicals that you may not want in your growing soil.
  3. Large items such as big broccoli stumps, whole pineapple tops, sticks, wood etc. These items can be composted, but do yourself a favor by cutting them the best you can up first!

Tips for success:

  1. If you have room in your freezer, keep a container for any animal waste that you may produce (food packaging with residue, fluids, etc) as these items may become quite stinky in the trash. Keep it frozen until it’s time to take out the trash.
  2. RECYCLE anything and everything that you can!  I keep a net in the cabinet under the sink where recyclable containers are kept separately.
  3. Buy food with minimal packaging! Most times the foods that are the most heavily packaged, are also the most heavily processed, and therefore the least healthy.
  4. If you don’t have anything to compost, then chances are you are not eating enough fresh produce! Go straight to the produce section when you shop, and get the good organic NON-GMO produce. Your body will thank you!

ps. I realize that Hawaii is an ideal place to do this, with the lack of freezing temperatures and such. You CAN DO IT though.. I’m convinced! Get creative! Let me know what you come up with!

Much love..  Np

How much do you sit? and – Why it’s killing you.

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Ha! How’s that for a typical, scare-you-into-reading-more headline? We sure see a lot of those nowadays don’t we? The truth is: if sitting too much doesn’t directly put you in an early grave, then it will only crush your quality of life with the musculo-skeletal dysfunction that it breeds. This is an Ohh-sooo complex and interesting topic which will be covered in further detail through future posts.

A few BIG reasons why sitting is a drain on your soul:

Your butt. Is not. Designed. FOR SITTING ON!

Instead, its home to some of the largest, most powerful muscles in your body! Designed to Lift – JUMP – run – stand – cycle – ski – skate – SPRINT – step – stand – and LOOK BEAUTIFUL! When these muscles get sat on, they become inhibited*, starved of fresh blood, and stuffed up with all the bad stuff (lymph and deoxygenated blood)

Your PELVIS  is your core.

Forget all that nonsense about 6-pack abs, -ripped this-   -flat that-  ..forget it.  If  you can’t exercise proper stability and control position through your pelvis and spine*, then you might as well be trying building a pyramid upside-down! The position of this structure, has a direct influence on the structures above, and below it, as well as the ability of those structures to create efficient and powerful movement!
Movement is required for HEALTH.
If sitting for long periods involves no functional movement, and it actually deteriorates your ability to move once you finally stand up, then well, you get it.. The saddest part about this is that we REALLY WANT TO MOVE! Many of us obligatory desk-jockeys are also athletes, adventurers, explorers, and all-kind of weekend warriors! We know it’s good for us to move. We know that. But sometimes that weekend 5k leaves you wondering “What the -bleep- is wrong with my knee?” -or- “-bleep- my shoulders are tight..” after your leisurely surf session. Could it be that this has something to do with the way you spend 40 -80 hours per work week sitting in a horrible position?
Ok.. Enough ranting and preaching the horrors of 90-degrees-of-hip-flexion-and-crushing-your-prime-movers. You guys get it. You’re smart. That’s why you are reading this. You understand this is a problem.. The good news is that there IS a sloution, and in my particular case, it happened to be a ridiculuosly easy (and cheap) one:
Here’s the deal:
   My “desk” (if you can even call it that) consisted of a portable table with the folding legs, like one you’d see loaded with crap at a garage sale. The thing was way too high, and my chair was way too low. Also, the table had no slope at all, which makes NO sense to me. (in my perfect world, every desk would slope at least a couple of degrees toward the poor soul trapped at it’s mercy) So my first step was to cut a few inches off the front legs of the Table-desk to achieve the desired slope. This helped with the height, but when standing it put my wrists in an over-extended position.
..but there was a problem…
                                                            I was still sitting down!!!
The pioneering of stand-sit-stand technology continued to morph and evolve until one day I said:  “Hey I think I’m gonna grab that empty paper box, flip it upside-down, and stand at this -bleep-n desk.”  EUREKA!!
Now I’m able to alternate standing and sitting positions when I’m stuck doing desk work! Ideally with just socks, bare feet, or flat, minimalist style shoes. The benefits or this include, but are not limited to:
  • Better strength and function from my glutes and hamstrings
  • More awareness of my body overall
  • Increased calorie consumption (for fat loss or weight loss goals)
  • Better foot and lower leg mechanics (with proper standing position)
  • Increased range of motion in hip flexors (Super-crucial for any load bearing activity, especially running, double-especially running marathons)
  • Better neck and head position (less discomfort, jaw-clenching, headaches)
  • Better breathing mechanics (more diaphragm, less chest-breathing)
  • Better shoulder position (scapulae lower and more retracted)
  • Less LOW BACK PAIN! (increased proprioception* and better activation of lumbar spine stabilizers, as well as less tightness in the ilipsoas* pulling on your L-spine)
  • Better pelvic-floor function and decreased pressure on sex organs, erectile tissue in men, and less urinary or end-digestive issues.
  • Decreased level of perceived stress.

Of course, there is more to this concept than I can possibly go over in one blog post. The specifics of proper postural alignment will dictate the sustainability of this new work position, and those same specifics are best taught individually by a coach such as myself, after proper assessment and evaluation. That being said, here are some general guidlines to help you stand up-RIGHT!

  • Big toes touch together, heels 1-3″ apart
  • Weight distributed evenly across forefoots and heels – both front-to-back and side-side.
  • Knees not locked, knee-caps point straight ahead
  • Squeeze glutes only enough to keep hips forward-neutral. Don’t rotate your thigh-bones externally too much.
  • Belly-button draws in slightly toward spine, but no need to make it a flex-fest.
  • Shoulder-blades pull back and down (likely will require some stretching of shoulders, chest and neck if this will remain sustainable.)
  • Chin pulls in toward the neck, head retracts slightly
  • Tongue rests on the roof of your mouth, and jaw remains relaxed with 2-3mm of space between top teeth, and bottom teeth.
  • Head remains fairly level, or tilted forward slightly.

So, that is a lot to take in! It’s also a lot more challenging than it sounds. This will take some serious practice, but it’s well-worth it. Work on one thing at a time, and use this technique as a self-assessment to see what areas of your body are struggling against gravity.

Take control of your posture, and throw your chair out the window!

Thanks, and let me know how it works!

PS. since making this video, i’ve modified my standing box-desk so it actually slopes away from me a few degrees, which puts my wrists in a wonderfully-neutral and healthy position.
And I’ve adopted a similar setup for my home office (which consists of another modified box on a crappy piece of furniture with no chair) and I’m loving it!   :]