Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Upcoming Recycling Events / Erase your E-waste

Upcoming Recycling Events in Helena:

September 7-14: S.A.V.E. Plastics Recycling Drive near the Y.M.C.A.
- collection for Type 1, Type 2 plastics, please click here for details

September 29: Trash for Trees with S.A.V.E. & Growing Friends
- recycling drive for all standard recyclable (glass, plastic, cans, tin cans, newspaper, magazine, office paper,..) Click here for more details.

October 12 & 13: Erase your E-waste electronics recycling
- Collection of electronic waste will be on Friday (Oct 12) from 3pm to 7pm and (Oct 13) from 8am to 1pm. Collection includes old computers, television, microwaves, laptops, stereos, power supplies and more. Many items cost money to recycle (labor cost of separation). Price list will be posted soon. Click here to visit our e-waste page.

Other upcoming green events in Helena:

Sept 11-14: Big Sky Greening Conference (Full recycling and compost by SAVE)
Oct 26: Eco-fest by Peak 10:30-1pm (SAVE Table)
Nov. 15: S.A.V.E. America Recycles Day Celebration/Fund Raiser, Exploration Works Building


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Friday, August 10, 2007

Daily Habits: Summer 2007!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Daily Habits: Photo Highlights by David Lee / Pedi-cabs in Helena!

Daily Habits: Photo Highlights by David Lee / Pedi-cabs in Helena!

Shane and Trever take fairs for S.A.V.E. at Alive @ 5 in Helena, Wednesday, August 9, 2007.
Photos by and credit to David Lee, rights reserved

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Gray Water Ready for Reuse in Montana

Gray Water Now Legal in Montana

By Greg Lambert

The personal and societal commitment to recycling and reuse of our
natural resources are important actions that help to reduce our
footprint upon the Earth. One extremely important resource not
typically mentioned when it comes to recycling and reuse, is water.
The average American uses approximately 80 -100 gallons a day of water
in a variety of residential uses. This is an enormous amount of water,
especially as water becomes ever more precious in arid and semi-arid
regions, such as Montana. In recent years, drought has become a
commonplace occurrence, rivers and reservoirs are at historically low
levels and evermore restrictions are placed on water use. As the
population of Montana grows, it is imperative that we find ways to use
our water resources in a more efficient and thoughtful manner.

During the recent Montana legislative session The S.A.V.E. Foundation
was instrumental in the conception, drafting, and passage of an
important law that will help to conserve precious drinking water in
the state. House Bill 259 passed the legislature with strong
bipartisan support in both houses. This bill made legal the use of
gray water in landscape irrigation and will allow for the use of gray
water in toilets. With the passage of this bill Montana joins twelve
other states in permitting the use of gray water systems.

What exactly then is gray water? Household wastewater has two
components: gray water and black water. Generally, gray water makes up
roughly 50 – 70% of a household's wastewater. Gray water, as it
pertains to Montana law, is generated from a home's showers, bathtubs,
washing machines, dishwashers and bathroom sinks. Black water on the
other hand, is wastewater from toilets, kitchen sinks and washing
machine water that was used to clean soiled diapers. Kitchen sink
water is classified as black water because of the potential for
disease and contamination from the large amount of food waste present
in the water.

In the typical home, these two sources of untreated water are combined
and sent to a wastewater treatment facility. It is not necessary
though from a public health and environmental standpoint, to send all
wastewater to the same centralized treatment facility. Gray water,
when filtered, contains far less potential for causing disease than
does black water, mainly because of minimal amounts of fecal matter.
Moreover, many of the 'pollutants' in gray water, such as potassium
and phosphorous, are actually beneficial to a home's landscaping.

Gray water reuse is already a fairly common practice. Over the past
few decades, many homeowners in drought stricken areas such as
California, Arizona and even Montana constructed simple homemade gray
water systems to keep their landscaping alive in times of water
restrictions. But due to public health concerns many of these systems
were in violation of state and federal laws. However, these laws were
rarely enforced, and the use of these homemade systems continued.

Properly installed gray water systems, when used thoughtfully,
eliminate the health concerns that have been a major roadblock to
widespread approval of such systems throughout the country and they
meet established plumbing code. The law passed in Montana includes two
safeguards for public health. First, gray water is not to be used to
water plants destined for human consumption. Secondly, gray water
systems are not permitted in homes that are located in flood plains.
Also over the next few months the gray water law will go through the
official rule making process. This process will allow for more public
input as the state Department of Environmental Quality defines the
rules for gray water.

A properly installed gray water system consists of three distinct
elements. A proper system needs to be installed and/or approved by a
certified plumber. First, separate drain line needs to dedicated for
all gray water sources to separate it from the black water. Next all
gray water needs to collect in a common line that feeds into a
filtration device. After treatment and filtration the water is pumped
into an irrigation system. This system then will ideally apply the
gray water directly to the soil.

A homeowner looking to install a gray water system needs to consider
many aspects when deciding if the installation of a gray water system
is right for them. It is vitally important to consider the condition
of the home. Retrofitting an existing home for gray water can be quite
expensive. Older houses, especially those with slab foundations,
present a difficult challenge to the installation of a gray water system.

The size of area to be irrigated and the types of plants on the
property should be analyzed. Ideally gray water would be an excellent
green choice for watering trees that shade a home that improve the
home's energy efficiency. Additionally, different plants respond
better to gray water than others. Well-established plants hold up
better in gray water as well as plants that thrive in an acidic soil.
Also, gray water should not be stored and should be used within
twenty-four hours of entering a holding tank. Additionally, laundry
detergents and soaps used in washing machines and showers have the
potential to contaminate soil over the long term. A switch to natural
detergents containing little or no chemicals would be a wise choice.

Gray water reuse is one the many tools we can use to cut down on our
societal thirst for water. It is important to note, that gray water
should not be seen as a replacement for other water conservation
efforts. Actions such as installing low flow faucets and toilets,
purchasing water efficient appliances and planting drought tolerant
plants are all as important as reusing gray water. All in all, the
passage of the gray water law highlights the importance of encouraging
our lawmakers to pass good common sense water conservation laws in

Remember to enter S.A.V.E.'s free raffle with a chance to win a gray
water system
(MT households) that will be given away on Earth Day 2008. To enter the
raffle visit For more information on the gray water
system to be raffled visit

Greg Lambert is a long time volunteer for the S.A.V.E. Foundation and was a founding board member. Greg has a BA in History and a passion for protecting the environment.


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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Daily Habits: Deep Energy Reductions Needed by John Krigger

Daily Habits, Summer 2007, Guest Article

Deep Energy Reductions Needed

by John Krigger

John Krigger
John Krigger is a Helenan and a national recognized expert in the field of energy conservation technology. He is part of Saturn Resouce Management Inc.

It was 30 years ago in April that Jimmy Carter urgently asked Americans to reduce their energy use in order to achieve energy security, mitigate environmental destruction, conserve natural resources, and avoid future conflicts over energy. Carter was frustrated by the lack of interest in conservation. He said, “our energy problem is worse today….because more waste has occurred, and more time has passed by without our planning for the future. And it will get worse every day until we act.” American demand for energy has increased in the 30 years since President Carter issued this call for conservation, and each passing year without resolute action further jeopardizes our ability to meet our energy needs while preserving our quality of life.

We have little choice but to eventually reduce our energy consumption. A combination of technical improvements and behavioral changes supported by a shift in policy could save us from the embarrassing realization that we can no longer afford our energy costs. Progressive conservationists face skepticism over our focus on deep reductions of 70 to 90 percent. Although conservation on this level requires some sacrifice, it is possible, as illustrated by the successes with green home construction and the passive housing movement.

Decades ago, Amory and Hunter Lovins showed that there is a tipping point where the extra effort and investment in conservation suddenly becomes convincingly superior to a conventional approach. The Passive House or zero-energy-home approach demonstrates this economic tipping point through the goal of a 90 percent reduction in energy use.

My first American experience with the deep-reduction approach was working at the National Center for Appropriate Technology in Butte starting in 1979. NCAT architect Bob Corbett partnered with local entrepreneur Brian Curran to design factory-built super-insulated houses at a business called Buffalo Homes. NCAT produced this popular booklet back in 1980, and we all thought we were on the cusp of a new movement in energy-efficient housing. We learned the hard way that social acceptance doesn’t necessarily follow technical innovation when Buffalo Homes failed in 1983. Nevertheless, over the years, super-insulated homes and super-insulated retrofits have continued in North America, although not many and not within an organized framework. Super-insulated homes are currently being built in North America under the banner of zero-energy homes and there is also a small American passive-house movement emerging.

In contrast, the typical American McMansion squanders money on blind adherence to a fashion that makes new homes look like they have already been badly remodeled. Let no one tell us that insulation, shading, air sealing, and other conservation measures are too expensive. Too expensive compared to what? Compared to what we spend on fireplaces, spas, and unnecessary light fixtures for our homes? Compared to the cost of securing our supplies of middle-east oil? We already spend $40 billion on building renovation every year. Adding another 20 percent to our major renovation budget is probably all we need to start securing deep reductions in energy use.

Rethinking our expectations is important because if somehow we can reduce expectations, it makes our deep reductions much easier to achieve. I learned how to reduce expectations while living in the Czech Republic between 2003 and 2006. My wife and I discovered that our clothes didn’t need washing as often as we had previously thought. This resulted from less clothes-washing convenience compared to at home. Washing machines are small and everyone dries their clothes on clotheslines and drying racks in the Czech Republic.

One of my first Czech friends Jaroslav Shultz, a mechanical engineer and graduate of Michigan State University asked me why Americans use electric lights during the day in buildings with windows. Czechs evidently believe that offices with windows need no artificial light during the day. I see this ethic at work in many German and Austrian buildings too.

6 points for deep reductions and carbon neutrality

York Ostermeyer, a German passive house specialist, was told while visiting Japan that Japanese homes are hot in the summer and cold in the winter, but he had a difficult time getting an opinion about whether or not comfort was acceptable. The Japanese are rather reserved in their opinions. After a lot of polite questioning, someone finally explained that indoor temperature variation was the natural order of things and necessary for people to adapt to the changing outdoor environment. Later he learned about a government standard that said that indoor temperatures between 60 and 90 degrees F were normal.

These anecdotes are important to understanding how people’s expectations determine what constitutes an acceptable indoor environment. Do you see how widely these expectations vary and how they might dramatically affect energy consumption? We North Americans currently have some unsustainable expectations, which we will eventually have to revise. I hope we can do so voluntarily.

Our current incremental-savings approach generates unexpected complexities, stumbles into problems, attempts halfway solutions, and produces unsatisfactory results. Our current energy-program goals and standards are too complex, too vague, and too low to produce the deep energy reductions that we’re going to need to extend our prosperity to our children and grandchildren. We do face skepticism over this goal of deep reductions. The social, political, technical, bureaucratic, and behavioral challenges loom large indeed. We absolutely must make deep reductions in the next 20 years to preserve our environment and quality of life, and to ensure our energy sustainability for the future.

[click here to view the accompanying slide show]

Editing for this piece provided by Adam Wright, guest editor for this issue of Daily Habits by The S.A.V.E. Foundation

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