Alabama Sawyer’s Not So Secret Diary
What is carbon sequestration?
"the long-term storage of carbon in plants, soils, geologic formations, and the ocean. Carbon sequestration occurs both naturally and as a result of anthropogenic activities and typically refers to the storage of carbon that has the immediate potential to become carbon dioxide gas. In response to growing concerns about climate change resulting from increased carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, considerable interest has been drawn to the possibility of increasing the rate of carbon sequestration through changes in land use and forestry and also through geoengineering techniques such as carbon capture and storage." (Source: Carbon Sequestration | Encyclopedia Britannica)
Solid wood furniture, and trees in general tend to store carbon very well in. In fact, "An important function of trees and forests both within and outside of urban areas is carbon sequestration. Nowak and Crane (2002) have estimated that urban trees in the U.S. hold about 774 million tons of carbon ... the importance of tree biomass carbon in urban areas is expected to increase over the coming decades, because the urbanized area is expected to increase notably in the U.S. (Nowak and Walton 2005)." (Source: Carbon Sequestration In Solid Wood Products From Urban Forests | Dovetail Partners Inc.)
As you may very well know, Alabama Sawyer gets a large percent of wood from the urban forests of Alabama. The exciting part of this is that use of urban wood helps diminish the harmful effect of the buildup of greenhouse gases through long term carbon sequestration.
But why is using urban wood so important in all of this? Well, when urban trees come down, they typically become a waste removal problem. In the forest, a tree coming down isn't much a problem since released carbon just goes back into the carbon cycle. In an urban setting, however, released carbon from a downed tree doesn't really go back into the carbon cycle in the same way. This is especially true if the tree goes to rot in a landfill. Thus, making solid wood furniture from urban wood is a great way to ensure that the wood continues to store that carbon in the long term.
Selin, Noelle Eckley. “Carbon Sequestration.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 16 Jan. 2019, www.britannica.com/technology/carbon-sequestration.
Bratkovich, Steve, and Sam Sherrill. “Carbon Sequestration in Wood Products, Urban Forests.” Dovetail Report: Carbon Sequestration in Wood Products, Urban Forests, Dovetail Partners Inc., 19 July 2011, www.dovetailinc.org/reports/Carbon+Sequestration+in+Wood+Products%2C+Urban+Forests_n258?prefix=%2Freports.
“The Carbon Cycle.” The Carbon Cycle | UCAR Center for Science Education, 2007, scied.ucar.edu/carbon-cycle.
Hardin, LeJean, and Jaime Payne. “Schematic Showing Both Terrestrial and Geological Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide Emissions from a Biomass or Fossil Fuel Power Station.” Wikipedia Commons, 10 July 2009, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carbon_sequestration-2009-10-07.svg.
Why is it so difficult to find places in Alabama that will recycle glass? I’m definitely not the first person to ask. On the r/Birmingham subreddit, one user asks, “Every recycling plant in Birmingham that I've heard of doesn't seem to accept glass for some reason. I think it's simply because they don't have enough room for it?” A few comments pointed out the high expense associated with glass recycling, all for a non existent market. Similarly, The Alabama Environmental Council writes, “Glass is very difficult to recycle in Alabama due to a lack of end-users and processors.“
That raises the question, where can I recycle glass in Alabama? Thankfully, The Alabama Environmental Council has the answers you need. Well, maybe not all the answers. None of this really addresses why Alabama lacks a good glass recycling program, and why some cities like Santa Monica have excellent glass recycling programs. Speaking of Santa Monica’s glass recycling program, it’s awesome. Seriously. Read more about SM’s recycling collection program, and consider how you could start your own glass recycling business.
Usually the big misconception about going eco friendly is it requires gratuitous time and money to accomplish. Let’s put that misconception to rest, and talk about all of the easy ways to make your existence on this planet more cost effective and eco friendly.
Carpool: This is a good way to cut down on gas expenses and reduce your carbon footprint. Better yet, start biking everywhere. It’s obviously not an optimal solution for everyone - some places just don’t have the infrastructure to implement or maintain safe + usable bike paths.
No Disposable Kitchenware: Consider purchasing cloth napkins, reusable dishes + silverware, metal straws, ect… All of the disposable products that you have to keep buying week after week add up to a lot AND will eventually go to a landfill.
Cook For You: No dining out or buying those premade meals. Making the food yourself is a great way to save money without supporting restaurants whose practices are less than ideal for the environment. And what better way to cook for you than by maintaining your own garden? I understand that not everyone has the time to care for a garden, but it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, even growing your own basil can cut down on shopping expenses.
Compost: Why not? Especially if you’re caring for a garden. Composting is a great way to reduce your production of food waste while simultaneously reducing your need to purchase fertilizer. While you’re at it, take a look at our beautiful Noaway Counter Top Compost Bin.
Go Vegetarian: Going vegetarian pairs nicely with the gardening and composting tips mentioned above. You probably already know this, but the meat industry produces huge amounts of pollution. Moreover, by cutting meat out of your diet, you can greatly reduce the amount of money spent on food.
Sources & Further Reading
My boss recently visited the The Red Cat Coffee House, and was so impressed by their clever use of uncooked spaghetti coffee stirrers, she requested I write a blog post pertaining to different eco-friendly hints for coffee shops. Here are some of the tips I came across:
Uncooked spaghetti coffee stirrers: Well, what were you expecting? Of course I'm going to include the example that prompted this blog post to be written. And c'mon. If you haven't been to The Red Cat, go ahead. Treat yourself. Another option if you don't want to use uncooked spaghetti is reusable metal spoons.
Go Green: This might seem obvious, but you can boost sales by "going green" since there is a large consumer base that loves that type of thing. Ensure your coffee is organic, fair trade, and shade grown. What does shade grown have to do with it? Shade grown coffee just means that the coffee was grown in the shade of nearby plants and trees. This method of raising coffee promotes a healthy ecosystem.
Offer discounts: Give customers that bring in their own mugs a discount so you don't use as many disposable cups that will eventually be sent to a landfill. Or don't use disposable cups at all, just have reusable cups and mugs.
There are plenty of other eco- friendly tips and tricks you can use to make your coffee shop sustainable. Read about them here.
April is 'Keep America Beautiful' month! One excellent way to celebrate would be to participate in the trash tag challenge (which seems to be declining in popularity and relevance unfortunately.) What's the trash tag challenge you ask? On Reddit and Twitter, users have been taking 'before' pictures of areas filled with litter; and 'after' pictures of all the litter collected into trash bags. I love the trash tag challenge because it's a viral trend that benefits the environment.
Another way to participate would be to get your workplace involved in 'Recycling at Work'. This voluntary national effort is dedicated to increasing recycling in the workplace. That's a pretty noble cause, isn't it?
Of course the trash tag challenge and the 'Recycling at Work' effort aren't the only ways to participate in 'Keep America Beautiful' month. Planting and maintaining a garden is another great way to celebrate.
A woman enjoying gardening outdoors - Free Stock Photo
Since we're on the topic of gardening, composting for your garden is incredibly resourceful and will greatly help in your gardening adventures. If you need tips getting started, read our blog post on building a pallet backyard compost bin. What's more, this FineGardening article will give you all the information you need to start composting. Keep in mind that you'll need to store the compost somewhere before moving it to your backyard pile, so feel free to check out our beautiful Noaway Counter Top Compost Bin. These expertly crafted bins come in magnolia, walnut, and sapwood made using timber sourced almost entirely from the urban forests of Alabama.
Sources & Further Reading
Olive, Jim. “STUDENTS PICK UP TRASH ALONG ROADSIDE.” Wikipedia Commons, Source U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, 9 Oct. 2011, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:STUDENTS_PICK_UP_TRASH_ALONG_ROADSIDE_-_NARA_-_543927.jpg.
Asarch, Steven. “Viral #TrashTag Movement Wants to Make the World a Cleaner Place.” Newsweek, 11 Mar. 2019, www.newsweek.com/trashtag-trash-tag-challenge-twitter-reddit-1359221.
“Keep America Beautiful.” Keep America Beautiful, 6 Feb. 2019, www.kab.org/?gclid=CjwKCAjwm-fkBRBBEiwA966fZBtWrzdMQqR5QoLIeuoiKKZsJAIaZEVuJxcy9PgYPZgVFWqIDLBUshoCiLYQAvD_BwE.
“Get Started in Composting.” FineGardening, 25 Apr. 2014, www.finegardening.com/article/get-started-in-composting.
“Take the Pledge Andearn Recognition For.” RecyclingWork RSS, recyclingatwork.org/.
“A Woman Enjoying Gardening Outdoors.” Freestockphotos.biz, www.freestockphotos.biz/stockphoto/16337.
Most people reading this will know about and love Earth Day, so you’re probably aware that it’s celebrated around the globe every April 22nd. What you might not know is that peace activist John McConnell created Earth Day and its unofficial flag (see the featured image above.)
But Earth Day isn’t the only environmentally oriented holiday, meaning April 22nd isn’t the only time to celebrate our planet. In fact, ‘celebrate’ might not even be the best word here since you can celebrate the Earth all you want, but at the end of the day the Earth should benefit from those celebrations. Instead, I think that ‘honor’ is better suited for our purposes. Read on to learn about 5 non Earth Day environmental holidays to honor our planet:
Fossil Fools Day: This holiday gets extra points for cleverly referencing April Fools Day by taking place on April 1st while the name is a play on the words ‘fossil fuels’ + ‘April Fools Day’.
Clever name aside, Fossil Fools Day (FFD) began in 2004 across the US and Canada as an environmental demonstration day. Now FFD is celebrated in many different cities all over the world with events intended to promote education regarding alternative energy sources, environmental justice, effective legislation, and corporate responsibility to the environment (Source: Wikipedia).
Earth Overshoot Day: You better get your passport ready, ‘cause you’re about to go on a guilt trip with this one. Nah, just kidding. Earth Overshoot Day (EOD) will, however, stir your inner eco-activist when you learn what it’s about. The EOD’s website put it best, “Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when we (all of humanity) have used more from nature than our planet can renew in the entire year. In 2018, it fell on August 1. We are using 1.7 Earths. We use more ecological resources and services than nature can regenerate through overfishing, overharvesting forests, and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than ecosystems can absorb” (Source: Overshootday.org).
That’s upsetting. So what does Earth Overshoot Day do to ameliorate that? More importantly, how can I help? The website then goes on to explain (with some excellent resources), that it is possible to improve sustainability in the areas of, “food, cities, population, and energy to #MoveTheDate” (Source: Overshootday.org). There it is, the ultimate goal of EOD is to #MoveTheDate, and the website gives a number of ways to achieve that.
International Day For Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict: In 2001, the UN declared that November 6th would be the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, which I'm going to be referring to using the acronym IDPEEWAC.
The UN created IDPEEWAC to acknowledge the great damage that tends to come to the environment during wartime, and seeks to minimize it by implementing its own list of Sustainable Development Goals, which you can read more about by following the link to the UN's web page about the holiday (Source: UN.org).
National Recycling Day: You can probably guess just from its name what this holiday revolves around. National Recycling Day (NRD) falls on November 15th, and aims to persuade people into buying recycled goods and encourages people to recycle as much as possible.
However, it's not just about buying recycled products or using your recycling bin (although both of those things are important.) If you want to really dig your heels into it, then consider participating at a local event aimed at promoting the NRD and its goals (Source: NationalToday.com)
National Endangered Species Day: The holiday is held on the third day in May every year. I know what you're thinking, "Well, I'm not actively setting polar bears on fire OR stomping bees. How could I even help?" One way would be to donate money or participate in events for the National Wildlife Federation.
You also have the option to discuss the National Endangered Species day on social media with the '#ESDay', or even sign a petition. Oh, and if you come across an endangered specie? Try not to wreck its habitat (Source: NWF.org).
African Wild Dog (Source: Pixabay.com).
SOURCES:UN.org: "International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of
Did you know that spending time around wooden furniture can benefit your health? Here are some of the ways:
- It improves your emotional state
- It increases your cognitive ability
- It reduces your stress levels
- It improves air quality through humidity moderation
- It stores carbon long term - thus fighting climate change
You might be wondering how wooden furniture can benefit a person’s health. Research does tell us that being around wood furniture produces similar health effects to spending time in nature. Moreover wood tends to elicit feelings of warmth, comfort, and relaxation. Regardless of its effects, wood has a pleasing look that helps you feel more connected to nature, and at the end of the day, who doesn't love that?
At Alabama Sawyer, we want you to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Here are some tips on how to be more eco friendly in the kitchen and around the house:
Featured image of the woman in the green jumpsuit taken from the Internet Archive: https://archive.org/
Link to BD Food Safety Infographic: https://www.slideshare.net/bdsafety18/kitchen-cleaning-tips%20
If you’re at all interested in gardening and composting, then check out our Noaway Counter Top Compost Bin, and read on to learn about composting materials you might not have known about:
- Tea bags + Tea Leaves
- Coffee Grounds + Coffee Filters
- Egg Shells
- Banana Peels
- Veggie Scraps
- Stale Cereal
- Damp Paper Towels
- Burnt Toast
- Wine Corks
- Old Tofu
- Nail Clippings
No, you didn’t misread that last one. I know confronting your mortality isn’t exactly fun, but if environmentalism is important to you then consider a green burial. According to Wikipedia a green or natural burial is, “interment of the body of a dead person in the soil in a manner that does not inhibit decomposition but allows the body to recycle naturally. It is an alternative to other contemporary Western burial methods and funerary customs.”
There are several reasons one might consider a green burial over a traditional Western one, one is lowered cost, and another is environmental friendliness due to the absence of embalming fluids. That said, only you can decide what to do with your body after you’re gone.
Featured image Man playing chess with grim reaper taken from the Library of Congress.
First thing's first. Let's talk about the psychology of color, specifically the colors that tend to facilitate focus & concentration. Green tends to promote concentration and focus while also playing into aspects of biophilic design. Blue is incredibly calming, which means using it in your office or home would promote calm and aid concentration.
Read more about color psychology here. Now, on to actual design elements. One important consideration is space. Do you want the area to be more open to encourage collaborative discussion, or closed off to ensure individual work gets done?
According to InteriorArchitects.com - in open office spaces "employees experience more uncontrolled interactions, higher levels of stress, and lower levels of concentration and motivation." Clearly there is a need for balance between collaboration and individual work that promotes concentration and productivity. Consider creating "focus areas" - places where people can work independently, and make the rest of the space more open to encourage collaboration and effective group work.
Another possibility is to set up the space similar to a library layout, that is, long conference tables (see image below) that serve as collaborative meeting spaces, (but don't have to if an employee would prefer to work individually.)
There are a ton of different ways to approach the maximization of concentration and focus in interior design elements, and these are just a few, so be sure to check out our sources and further reading section!
Sources & Further Reading
Consider yourself an outdoorsy nature lover? You’re in luck, because I have some movies that will make you feel right at home. Here are some of the best movies to entertain nature lovers:
Have you ever felt the urge to check out and go camping for a while? Then Wild will probably speak to you in a really personal way. Reese Witherspoon stars in this drama about a woman who hikes the Pacific Crest Trail following a string of personal tragedies.
Hate the way certain companies harm the environment in the name of making money? Then you’ll like Erin Brockovich. Julia Robert stars in this drama about a woman who stands up to a gas company whose unhealthy practices lead to increased rates of lymphoma among the locals.
Into the Wild
The 2007 drama Into the Wild speaks to the desire to leave our cozy lives in favor of roughing it out in nature. We follow the story of Christopher McCandless as he hitchhikes through the Alaskan wilderness.
Wall-E urges us to consider the ramifications of human harm on the environment. What type of world might we find ourselves in if we continue to destroy its delicate ecology? Will it even be inhabitable?
Microcosmos is a documentary that captures the tiny world of several different species of insects and how they interact. It allows us a glimpse at something we don’t normally get to see up close and personal.
BBC’s nature documentary Planet Earth is an impressive feat of cinematography with an extremely wide scope. Each of the seven episodes explores a different biome.
Studio Ghibil’s Princess Mononoke is a nuanced environmentalist tale that explores the ways in which corporate greed can contribute to ecological destruction.
One good way to enjoy these movies is surrounded by expertly crafted wood furniture, especially since our timber comes directly from the urban forests of Alabama.
“The biophilia hypothesis ... suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature"
That’s all well and good, but how does biophilia relate to interior design? After all, the title of this blog suggests there’s a type of design related to biophilia. There is, and it’s called biophilic design. The idea is to reconnect people with nature through various design elements:
"Biophilic design is a concept used within the building industry to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions. Used at both the building and city-scale, it is argued that this idea has health, environmental, and economic benefits for building occupants and urban environments, with little drawbacks."
Let's break that definition down a little, and discuss what is meant by direct and indirect nature.
Direct nature- Simply put, direct nature refers to potential physical contact with some sort of natural feature. This can mean taking advantage of natural lighting with skylights, or having a small fountain where people can sit and listen to the calming sounds of moving water.
The stream, plant life, and natural lighting are all examples of direct nature here
Although it may sound odd at first, finding a way to use animals to evoke nature can be achieved through aquariums and gardens. Obviously there are a ton of other ways in which nature can be directly evoked in biophilic design, read about those ways here.
Indirect nature- The use of indirect nature is much less involved than direct nature. To have an indirect experience of nature, there need only by contact with images/ depictions of nature. A beach painting over the fireplace, wood furniture, use of earth tones are all examples of indirect nature. Read more about indirect nature here.
Both the plant & the wooden table base would be considered use of indirect nature
To elaborate, indirect nature can involve the use of wooden furniture. Another reason to use wood furniture is the health benefits. That's right, different materials can actually be more harmful than others, especially in furniture where the user is constantly making contact with its surface.
Wood, however, tends to have less toxins than other materials, so you really don't have to worry about that. A piece of wood furniture that would really tie a biophilia inspired room together would be one of our Alabama Sawyer Lanett Credenza's (see image below.)
Basically, if you're interested in biophilic design, wood furniture is one of the easiest ways to incorporate it into the room. So go ahead, take a look at some of our other pieces as well - and consider this: all our wood comes from the urban forests of Alabama.
Composting is a simple and easy way to be more eco- conscious, but did you know there are different ways to get involved? One is to participate in a city composting program. Read on to learn about just a few of the cities that offer various compost services and programs. Please note that the information below comes from this Modern Farmer article titled "7 Cities with Awesome Independent Composting Programs".
Milwaukee (Wisconsin), The company Compost Crusader will help you plan an event that produces little to no waste. What makes the company truly great is that, "the company provides supplies and removes food scraps, which it incorporates into the compost it makes from residential and commercial pickups." What I'm trying to get at is that Compost Crusader will pick up compost from your home or place of work.
Boston (Massachusetts), Bootstrap Compost will haul your food waste (if you are subscribed to their services) to several local farms where they are used to grow crops. However, its subscribers do get an allotment of compost for their own personal use, which I think is an excellent way to encourage participation in the program itself.
Aberdeen (Maryland), The wonderful Veteran Compost company "employs former military servicemen to bring food waste from residences, businesses, and schools in the D.C.-metro area to the firm’s wind-powered farm, where the refuse gets turned into organic compost available for purchase online." We love their practice of hiring veterans, especially when they are hired to do such important work.
Montpelier (Vermont), Vermont Compost will take your leftover food waste materials but you must drop them off in a bin at the end of the company's driveway. Basically, it's a little easier if you're always forgetting to put out your compost bin since you get to decide when to dispose of your food waste.
South Jordan (Utah), EcoScraps is a company that "recycles organic matter from stores and restaurants, converting it into compost, fertilizer, and potting soil, all sold nationally." If you run a store or restaurant in the South Jordan area of Utah, then I would encourage you to consider using the services provided by EcoScraps.
Sources & Further Reading
"7 Cities with Awesome Independent Composting Programs" article (please note that all of the information presented in this blog post came from the above article)
We’ve had several customers ask what the difference is between our cutting board oil and our wood polish. In terms of price the board oil is $18 and the wood polish is $6. However, price isn’t the only difference between these two products.
Speaking broadly, there are different reasons for using oil or polish on your wooden furniture. Use oil on furniture that has an oil finish and polish on raw wood. That said, our board oil is really only suited for cutting boards, whereas our wood polish can be used for many types of wood furniture. Click to learn when it’s appropriate to use oil VS wood polish.
There are plenty of reasons not to use commercial weed killer. Maybe you have children and don’t want them to ingest any weed killer while playing in the garden. Perhaps you don’t like the idea of harsh chemicals leaching into a nearby water source. Maybe commercial weed killer is too expensive. Whatever the case may be, here are four eco friendly ways to get rid of weeds:
1) Pour boiling water on the weeds. This could take a few tries, but is probably the easiest method on here and doesn’t damage the surrounding soil.
2) Mix vodka and water to create a herbicide that dries the weeds out. Spray/ pour directly over the roots. Can be very damaging to any surrounding plants, so be careful with this one.
3) Cover smaller weeds in at least four layers of old newspapers to cut off their access to sunlight.
4) Lemon juice works great as a weed killer - and gets bonus points for not attracting ants. Simply pour some lemon juice in a spray bottle or a jar and you’re ready to go.