Monday, October 15, 2007

My October "Green" Report - EcoFriendly Fiberfill, Solar Update, etc.

Revised in honor of Blog Action Day:

This month, I actually have a sewing and crafting twist to my "green" report. 

Recently I ran out of the silky soft polyester fiberfill I usually use for stuffing minkee pals and hankie blankie pets and earlier this month I ended up using a less than perfect substitute for stuffing the Scared Crow standing figure. Since I needed to take my sewing machine to the Viking Sewing Gallery for repairs, I decided to look for more of the silky soft at JoAnn ETC . . . I didn't find it. What I did find was this:

I purchased one package of this EcoCraft Fiberfill which claims to be:

"Eco-friendly, performs better than polyester fiberfill, safe for the planet and your family, superior softness, natural resilience, hypoallergenic. 100% PLA fiber by Ingeo Made from the renewable resource Corn."

I didn't know what PLA fiber was but the implication is that it is a natural product made from corn. The Mountain Mist website further explains:

"To create Ingeo™ fiber, also known as PLA, a polymer is made from lactic acid, which is a natural product. Lactic acid is made from fermentable sugars, sugars that are found in plants and more specifically corn. This process is both revolutionary to the textile and fiber industry and patented by our partner, Nature Works LLC."

I couldn't wait to get my hands on this stuff and see how it handles. When I squeeze the bag of fiber, it feels soft and smooth with no lumps. I pulled out a clump to play with. The actual fiber feels quite soft, but different than polyester fill. The best description I can come up with is that it feels more dense. When pulling the fibers apart there is more resistance than with polyfil. I'll have to try stuffing something to see how it really performs, but it appears to be a reasonable substitute for the silky soft.

I paid $4.99 plus tax for a 12 oz package. I also like the fact that the product is made in the USA. If only it wasn't packaged in a plastic bag . . . but maybe it's a compostable plastic? Hmm, let's check . . . no, but it is recyclable, unlike the packaging from the silky soft. I wonder if anyone else has tried this fiber yet?

This reminds me that on some news program I was watching recently, there was a report on "spudware" -- compostable serveware such as plates, knives, forks, cups, serving and storage containers which could be used in place of non-degrading plastic cutlery and plates. The goofball who was doing the reporting was actually biting off bits of a "plastic" knife and munching on it. I'm sure that's *not* one of the recommended uses!

Anyway, these products are also made of PLA (or polylactide) which apparently is a clear plastic type material, but eventually will decompose because it essentially is made of starch from corn or potatoes. Cool. I'll have to keep that in mind the next time I host a party.

Try a google search for spudware -- the results are interesting.

I also tried a google search for polylactide and found lots of information. Like it was first discovered in the 1890's -- over 100 years ago! And, it's currently used for biomedical purposes (sutures, stents). Maybe someday they'll make diapers from this stuff!

Now that I think about, I'll bet the bags I use to line my kitchen scrap compost bin are made of this "plastic". And they really do break down in the compost pile!

My solar energy updates for October:

Solar Electric:

We used 713 KWH for 30 days ended 9/28/07; YTD use is up to 6143 which is a little more than 2006's usage but is only about 52% of 2005's usage (or a 48% reduction in KWH pre-solar). It was a bit warmer this September (and the first week of October) and we've used the air conditioner more this year.

Solar Water Heater:

Since it was warmer this year compared to last year, we haven't used the heat yet. Our gas consumption should have been primarily for hot water and cooking. For the 30 days ended 9/29/07 we used 16 CCF compared to 35 for 2006 (and 14 last month). That's less than half of last year's usage for the month.

The temp at the top of the solar heated water tank was only at about 90 degrees on a few cloudy days during the month, but on a bright sunny day this week, it was back up to 120+ in the late afternoon. It should start to get cooler later this month, so I'll have to keep checking regularly to see how the seasonal change will impact the water temperature.

GreenDimes Update: In July we signed up with GreenDimes to try to help reduce our junk mail (see my August Green Report). I'm still receiving less junk mail on a regular basis. Most of the "junk" is coming from charities and other entities I've previously had business with. I wish Bank of America would accept that I only need one VISA from them; I guess I'll have to contact them directly to have them take me off their list. Since we signed up over the summer, I'm hoping we'll avoid the pounds and pounds of holiday catalogs that usually start arriving around this time each year.

Check out the GreenDimes blog i give a dime for information on how to stop unwanted junk mail. In one of their articles they have have linked to a video diary of one guy's efforts to get himself taken off mailing lists; the videos are quite amusing. Check them out by watching the trailer: Off the List: A Web Series. He's up to Episode 2 . . .

2 comments:

  1. Greetings from GreenDimes,

    Hey, thanks for the mention. We strongly appreciate it. Kudos for the blog mention, since, well, Kendra & I write in it.

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  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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