Transition Salt Spring

TSS Top Tips

February 8 2016 -  "Friend" your local bees (A Top Tip reminder)

"Friend" Your Local Bees, by Linda Gilkeson:

Safe Nests for Orchard Mason Bees (Osmia Spp.) 

   Most gardeners have heard of the benefits of our native mason bees as pollinators for fruit trees and that putting up nests can attract them to your garden. You may also have read (darn that internet!) that all you need to do is drill the right sized holes in a block of wood and put it out. BUT we now know doing that is being the bee equivalent of a slum landlord! If we are to provide nests, they must to be designed so cocoons can be removed and cleaned properly. Otherwise, after a couple of seasons, high numbers of pollen mites and other parasites build up in the colony. A colony can be so badly infested that many bees die in the cocoons and surviving bees have such high loads of mites they can't fly and can only crawl around on the ground. Bees with lighter loads of mites leave mites behind on flowers to infect other bees.

   In the wild, mason bees are naturally solitary. Each female finds her own hollow reeds, woodpecker holes or other sites to make mud cells for her eggs. When she is lured into sharing a multi-unit apartment house, however, there is a high risk of parasites building up in crowded conditions if the nests are not cleaned annually.

   Friend the bees with well designed nests: There are several options for cleanable nests. You can buy split nest blocks of plastic or wood (e.g., see: http://beediverse.com/). These are designed to be disassembled to expose the channels with the cocoons. Another type of block has larger holes meant to hold disposable cardboard or paper tubes that are replaced every season.

   Rather than using blocks, you can also just bundle 20-50 paper or cardboard tubes together (but not plastic straws). Wrap the bundle in something, such as bubble wrap or a thick layer of newspaper, to provide insulation. Slip the finished bundle into an open-faced container secured to a wall (see photo), which can be as simple as a  recycled container or open faced wooden box or as elaborate as a decorative little bee house.

   My own experience is that split blocks are expensive, but long-lasting and easy to use; it is, however, a pain to thoroughly clean out all those little channels. Paper tubes are time consuming to make, but cost nothing. They are easy to open and there is no cleaning chores. Likewise for the cardboard tubes, but they are fairly expensive. In a good year such as this one was, I have ended up pressing all three into service to provide nests for all.

   Put up nests by March 1st where they will be protected from rain. The east wall of a building is ideal, where they can get the first rays of sun in the morning, but won’t bake in the hot afternoon sun. To protect them from attack by parasitic wasps and woodpeckers I move my nests into an unheated garage on July 1st for the rest of the season. Or you could leave the blocks out, but shield the nest holes using a piece of cardboard, wood or wire mesh.

   To clean the cocoons: In late fall or early winter, get the cocoons out of split blocks or remove and open the tubes. Soak the cardboard tubes in a bucket of water for 30 minutes until the cardboard comes unglued. Unroll the paper tubes, which you can make yourself by rolling paper around a 5/16th inch dowel (instructions below).

   Put the cocoons in a bowl of lukewarm water and swish them around gently until the mud and debris have been removed, then scoop them into a strainer. To kill the mites, either dip the strainer with the mites in a bowl of lukewarm water with 1/2 tablespoon of bleach or dish soap to 2 quarts of water. Then rinse well with clean water, and spread the cocoons on paper towel to dry. Large numbers of cocoons can also be cleaned by passing them through tubes of sand or shaking them in a jar of sand (see notes from Gord Hutchings: https://sites.google.com/site/hutchingsbeeservice/home)

   Put the clean cocoons in a closed box or cottage cheese container with a loony-sized hole cut in one side. Store this emergence box in an unheated shed (refrigerators are too dry). Put the container outdoors by the end of February where it will be protected from rain and rodents near, or inside, your clean bee nest box. When bees emerge they will crawl out the exit hole and fly in search of new accommodations.

   If you already put up nests that can't be cleaned: If bees used them this year, all is not lost, but plan to start fresh next February. Find a cardboard box big enough to hold the nest block(s) with enough space for bees to get out of the holes. Put your nests in the box, close it up and cut an exit hole in the side of the box. When the bees emerge they will fly out the exit hole, but won't be tempted to return to the old block because they can't see the nest holes. Put the whole contraption outdoors by March 1st, under cover somewhere so the box won't get wet. At the same time, put out your clean split blocks or bundles of tubes. When all of the bees have left that old block, get rid of it!

   If cleaning cocoons sounds like too much work: There are other valuable ways to encourage native pollinators: plant a mixture of attractive bee flowers to bloom all season, leave undisturbed habitat for their nests (some nest in the ground) and, or course, never use pesticides.

   Confused about their lifecycle? There is just one generation a year. Adult bees emerge from their cocoons in early spring. Each female searches for a suitable hole for a nest; when she finds one, she collects mud and fashions a cell at the back or bottom of the space. She stores enough pollen to supply one larva in the cell, then lays an egg and seals up the cell with more mud, leaving enough space inside for the larva to develop. She makes another cell in front of the first one, continuing until there are several cells in one hole. The deeper the space, the more cells she fits in. When the hole is completely filled with cells she caps the entrance with mud and moves on.

   Each female lays 30-35 eggs and then she dies, usually in late May. Protected inside the cells, the fat white larvae eat the pollen supply and grow over the summer. In September, still inside the cell, each larva spins a cocoon and pupates inside (making the transition from larva to adult). Adult bees stay in their cocoons all winter and emerge in early spring. Cocoons are made of tough waterproof silk and can be handled and cleaned without injuring the bees inside.

How to Make Paper Nest Straws

Materials

  • An 8 mm (5/16 inch) wooden dowel, at least a foot long (longer is better)
  • Large pages of light-weight paper, such as unprinted newsprint (e.g. from an artist's tablet) or wrapping paper. If using printed newsprint, you will also need some sheets of white paper.
  • Tape

Directions

  1. Roll the paper around the dowel until it is 5 or 6 layers thick. If you roll at an angle, you will only need 1 small piece of tape to hold the tube from unrolling. This makes it easy to slit the tape when you want to unroll the paper later to remove cocoons. If using printed newspaper, roll one layer of white paper around the dowel, then roll the newpaper.
  2. Slip the dowel out of the tube and trim the tubes to 15-25 cm long (6-10 inches). It is easier for bees to find their home straws if they are all different lengths.
  3. Bundle 20-50 tubes together with the bottom ends lined up and wrap the whole bundle in insulating material, such as bubble wrap or many layers of newspaper. Slip the bundle into the container with the bottom end of the bundle tight against the back of the container so it is dark inside. 

To learn more:  I highly recommend this little book as it has everything you need to know: Pollination with Mason Bees by Margriet Dogterom. Available from: http://beediverse.com/; Foxglove Farm and Garden Nursery also usually has it in stock too.

  Lots more about mason bees and other native bees Hutchings Bee Service: https://sites.google.com/site/hutchingsbeeservice/home)

TSS EV Group Charges On! More EV Charging Stations in the Works

- by Jim Standen, TSS EV Group coordinator

More EV charging stations in the works for Salt Spring Island will reduce “range anxiety” for islanders and visitors who now know they can recharge in more locations. Visitors can more confidently use EV’s and take car trips to Salt Spring.

Abuzz with their success at the July 2015 TSS Electric Vehicle show, which generated at least ten verified electric-vehicle sales, Transition Salt Spring’s Electric Vehicle Group boasted an expanded fleet to 59 fully electric cars, a 20% increase from before the Vehicle show. That count includes five Tesla cars.
There are many event metrics that are available, but my favorite is that because of this single event, our local fully electric automotive fleet expanded significantly. This has raised the estimated reduction of our annual greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions from 179 to 216 tonnes, providing us with cleaner air for ourselves and our global neighbours.
This has also reduced our dependency on oil, a core mission of Transition Salt Spring. I am so proud of those particular results.
Public EV charger installations to-date include six Level 2 (higher-speed) electric chargers on-island: two at ArtSpring, one at Island Savings, one at Country Grocer, and one at Moby’s which also has a Tesla charging station. Three island Bed & Breakfasts have also added Level 2 chargers for use by their overnight guests.
TSS or other sponsors have been picking up the tab to pay for the electricity provided. New installations are being sought that require a pay-per-charge; but for the time being, users don’t pay. EV owners are encouraged with thanks to donate $20 to TSS each year toward their cost of covering the annual electric costs for the two stations at ArtSpring.
The TSS EV group is helping spread the word about the variety of electric cars and bicycles available as well as purchase rebates and other subsidies. Subsidy and rebate programs are often first-come, first-served. An unexpected pleasure of driving an EV is engine responsiveness, so – if you’re considering an EV now, here is your chance to “step on it” and contact the Transition Salt Spring EV Group.
An EVCS Rebate Program funds local B&B owners up to $250 to purchase and install a “Level 2” high-speed charger. The two charge-stations at ArtSpring are Level 2.  Level 3 charges like those found in Victoria, will fully charge in roughly 30 minutes with typically, a modest fee.

The EV group may hold another EV event next summer. Last July’s EV event brought weekend visitors who collectively spent around $8,000 on accommodation and meals for a boost to our local businesses while hitting the brakes on global carbon emissions and fossil-fuel dependency.

======================================

June 22 2015 - Top Tip

Water Conservation - Time to Brush Up! – by Anne Parkinson

(see also CRD water-conservation recommendations)

SUMMARY OF CRD RECOMMENDATIONS (added January 2016)

-- Run only full loads (washing machine)

-- Shut off tap while brushing teeth, shaving, washing hands/dishes

-- Use low-flush toilets, and flush less often

-- Showers: Keep them short. Use bucket to capture water, re-use in garden

-- Guests: Let them know these tips, ask them to keep consumption down

The Bathroom

1.  Shower bucket. Instead of letting the water pour down the drain, stick a bucket under the faucet while you wait for your shower water to heat up. Or have a few buckets join you while you shower!  Use the water for flushing the toilet or watering your plants.  Cut your showers short. Speeding things up in the shower makes for some serious water savings.

2.  Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth. Don’t let all that water go down the drain while you brush! Turn off the faucet after you wet your brush, and leave it off until it’s time to rinse.

3. Turn off the tap while washing your hands.  Wet your hands until you need to rinse, then turn the tap back on. Or keep a small plastic bowl in the sink, wash and rinse a few times, then toss the water onto your plants or use to flush the toilet.

4. If it's yellow, let it mellow. This tip might not be for everyone, but the toilet is one of the most water-intensive fixtures in the house. Do you need to flush every time? Add a small full water bottle to your tank to reduce the amount of water used for each flush.

Kitchen

5. Save your cooking liquid. Instead of dumping that water down the drain, try draining water into a large pot. Once it cools, you can use it to water your plants.

6. Run on full only. Don’t run the dishwasher or washing machine until they’re full. Those half-loads add up to many liters of wasted water.

House

6. Fix your leaks. Whether you go DIY or hire a plumber, fixing leaky faucets can mean big water savings.

7. Choose efficient fixtures. Aerating your faucets, investing in a low-flow toilet, choosing efficient shower heads, and opting for a water-saving rated dishwasher and washing machine can add up to big water savings.

8. Grey water. Find ways to have water (other than toilet of course) go into the garden rather than the drain. Consult a plumber.

Outside

9. Gardening.  Lose the lawn completely. It may go brown but will re-green when winter rains return. Plant a xeriscaped landscape that incorporates water wise ground cover, succulents, and other plants that thrive in drought conditions. Add drip watering system instead of sprinklers.

13. Install a cistern or at least rain barrels. Rainwater harvesting is a great way to keep your plants hydrated without turning on the hose or sprinkler.


10. Hey Kids!  Use a kiddie pool instead of a sprinkler to help children cool off in the summer.

11. Head to the car wash. If you feel compelled to wash your car, take it to a car wash that recycles the water, rather than washing at home with the hose. Or buy a waterless car wash product.

May 24 2015 - Top Tip

How I Reduced Home-Energy Costs with FREE Upgrades from BCHydro – by Andrea Palframan

   My family’s home, a rented owner-built house divided into four suites, is a “Salt Spring 1970’s special”, built at a time when building codes were more relaxed. On the plus side, we have enjoyed the affordable housing price and can walk into to Ganges – these are BIG 'eco-plusses' for us -- but consider the ‘eco-minuses’ of weaker insulation and other energy inefficiencies of 1970s-era building practices that can result in higher ‘hydro’ bills, and would co$t money to remedy such upgrades to energy-efficient major appliances, more effective insulation, and less energy-hungry lighting.

   When I heard about the BC Hydro and FortisBC Energy Conservation Assistance Program (ECAP) last October, I quickly signed up. Seven months later – May 2015 – we finally got our free home assessment, and more. Let me tell you right now: I am one happy customer! 

   On a sunny Thursday, Dan, the subcontractor from Carillion sent by BCHydro, pulled up to my house with a toolkit for quick & easy instant upgrades plus a checklist for more items to be completed later. As diligently as a Jack Russell Terrier hunting out pesky rabbits from a backyard garden, Dan tracked down our home’s most egregious energy-wasting features. Here's what he found, and what he did right there on the spot:

• installed sixteen 13W Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs
• installed four 9W Globe Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs
• installed ten Water-saving faucet aerators
• installed one Water-saving fixed showerheads
• installed one Water-saving handheld showerhead
• weather-stripped the exterior doors
• wrapped the hot water tank with insulation
• provided four thermometer cards for our refrigerator and our freezer

   But wait, there’s more!   If Dan had found under-roof insulation inadequate he would have ordered up NEW insulation to be blown into the attic/crawl space AND replaced an inefficient older furnace. In our case, the family fridge was not rated EnergyStar so he ordered me a brand new one refrigerator. Wow! I can now boast that our home has had a visitation from a real-life Appliance Fairy!  

   We were also left with list of top home energy saving tips, which I'll share here: 

1 - Turn thermostat(s) down to 17 C (60 F) when not at home or at night
2 - Set the thermostat to 20 C (68 F) during the day 
3 - Set the temperature of the hot water tank to 55 C (130 F)
4 - Take shorter showers (5 min. or less) instead of baths
5 - Turn off lights, TVs, monitors, and other electronics when not in use

   As BCHydro is included in our monthly rental, we are hoping the cost-savings will get reflected in lower future rent increases and a lower monthly bill. If your financial position does not permit you to take care of these kinds of home improvements, then I urge you to contact BC Hydro and apply for the program.

   As Dan the Appliance Fairy put it, "I love coming over to Salt Spring, and the program is always looking for new applicants." Here's how you get in on it:

   Homeowners or tenants with a BCHydro residential account may apply – that’s true whether your home is single-family, townhouse, or mobile home. The program offers a free home energy evaluation, some free energy saving products, such as weatherstripping, along with free installation. Some homes may also qualify for free insulation and/or an ENERGY STAR® refrigerator or furnace.

   Proof of income is required: for example, a single person with an income below $30,800, or a family of 4 with a combined income below $57,200, are eligible.

To learn more and apply, visit bchydro.com/ecap or call the program's approved contractor at 1 877 806-3242 Ext 4 for Vancouver Island.

May 17 2015 Top Tip of the Week (to be re-published early 2016)

"Friend" Your Local Bees, by Linda Gilkeson:

Safe Nests for Orchard Mason Bees (Osmia Spp.) 

   Most gardeners have heard of the benefits of our native mason bees as pollinators for fruit trees and that putting up nests can attract them to your garden. You may also have read (darn that internet!) that all you need to do is drill the right sized holes in a block of wood and put it out. BUT we now know doing that is being the bee equivalent of a slum landlord! If we are to provide nests, they must to be designed so cocoons can be removed and cleaned properly. Otherwise, after a couple of seasons, high numbers of pollen mites and other parasites build up in the colony. A colony can be so badly infested that many bees die in the cocoons and surviving bees have such high loads of mites they can't fly and can only crawl around on the ground. Bees with lighter loads of mites leave mites behind on flowers to infect other bees.

   In the wild, mason bees are naturally solitary. Each female finds her own hollow reeds, woodpecker holes or other sites to make mud cells for her eggs. When she is lured into sharing a multi-unit apartment house, however, there is a high risk of parasites building up in crowded conditions if the nests are not cleaned annually.

   Friend the bees with well designed nests: There are several options for cleanable nests. You can buy split nest blocks of plastic or wood (e.g., see: http://beediverse.com/). These are designed to be disassembled to expose the channels with the cocoons. Another type of block has larger holes meant to hold disposable cardboard or paper tubes that are replaced every season.

   Rather than using blocks, you can also just bundle 20-50 paper or cardboard tubes together (but not plastic straws). Wrap the bundle in something, such as bubble wrap or a thick layer of newspaper, to provide insulation. Slip the finished bundle into an open-faced container secured to a wall (see photo), which can be as simple as a  recycled container or open faced wooden box or as elaborate as a decorative little bee house.

   My own experience is that split blocks are expensive, but long-lasting and easy to use; it is, however, a pain to thoroughly clean out all those little channels. Paper tubes are time consuming to make, but cost nothing. They are easy to open and there is no cleaning chores. Likewise for the cardboard tubes, but they are fairly expensive. In a good year such as this one was, I have ended up pressing all three into service to provide nests for all.

   Put up nests by March 1st where they will be protected from rain. The east wall of a building is ideal, where they can get the first rays of sun in the morning, but won’t bake in the hot afternoon sun. To protect them from attack by parasitic wasps and woodpeckers I move my nests into an unheated garage on July 1st for the rest of the season. Or you could leave the blocks out, but shield the nest holes using a piece of cardboard, wood or wire mesh.

   To clean the cocoons: In late fall or early winter, get the cocoons out of split blocks or remove and open the tubes. Soak the cardboard tubes in a bucket of water for 30 minutes until the cardboard comes unglued. Unroll the paper tubes, which you can make yourself by rolling paper around a 5/16th inch dowel (instructions below).

   Put the cocoons in a bowl of lukewarm water and swish them around gently until the mud and debris have been removed, then scoop them into a strainer. To kill the mites, either dip the strainer with the mites in a bowl of lukewarm water with 1/2 tablespoon of bleach or dish soap to 2 quarts of water. Then rinse well with clean water, and spread the cocoons on paper towel to dry. Large numbers of cocoons can also be cleaned by passing them through tubes of sand or shaking them in a jar of sand (see notes from Gord Hutchings: https://sites.google.com/site/hutchingsbeeservice/home)

   Put the clean cocoons in a closed box or cottage cheese container with a loony-sized hole cut in one side. Store this emergence box in an unheated shed (refrigerators are too dry). Put the container outdoors by the end of February where it will be protected from rain and rodents near, or inside, your clean bee nest box. When bees emerge they will crawl out the exit hole and fly in search of new accommodations.

   If you already put up nests that can't be cleaned: If bees used them this year, all is not lost, but plan to start fresh next February. Find a cardboard box big enough to hold the nest block(s) with enough space for bees to get out of the holes. Put your nests in the box, close it up and cut an exit hole in the side of the box. When the bees emerge they will fly out the exit hole, but won't be tempted to return to the old block because they can't see the nest holes. Put the whole contraption outdoors by March 1st, under cover somewhere so the box won't get wet. At the same time, put out your clean split blocks or bundles of tubes. When all of the bees have left that old block, get rid of it!

   If cleaning cocoons sounds like too much work: There are other valuable ways to encourage native pollinators: plant a mixture of attractive bee flowers to bloom all season, leave undisturbed habitat for their nests (some nest in the ground) and, or course, never use pesticides.

   Confused about their lifecycle? There is just one generation a year. Adult bees emerge from their cocoons in early spring. Each female searches for a suitable hole for a nest; when she finds one, she collects mud and fashions a cell at the back or bottom of the space. She stores enough pollen to supply one larva in the cell, then lays an egg and seals up the cell with more mud, leaving enough space inside for the larva to develop. She makes another cell in front of the first one, continuing until there are several cells in one hole. The deeper the space, the more cells she fits in. When the hole is completely filled with cells she caps the entrance with mud and moves on.

   Each female lays 30-35 eggs and then she dies, usually in late May. Protected inside the cells, the fat white larvae eat the pollen supply and grow over the summer. In September, still inside the cell, each larva spins a cocoon and pupates inside (making the transition from larva to adult). Adult bees stay in their cocoons all winter and emerge in early spring. Cocoons are made of tough waterproof silk and can be handled and cleaned without injuring the bees inside.

How to Make Paper Nest Straws

Materials

  • An 8 mm (5/16 inch) wooden dowel, at least a foot long (longer is better)
  • Large pages of light-weight paper, such as unprinted newsprint (e.g. from an artist's tablet) or wrapping paper. If using printed newsprint, you will also need some sheets of white paper.
  • Tape

Directions

  1. Roll the paper around the dowel until it is 5 or 6 layers thick. If you roll at an angle, you will only need 1 small piece of tape to hold the tube from unrolling. This makes it easy to slit the tape when you want to unroll the paper later to remove cocoons. If using printed newspaper, roll one layer of white paper around the dowel, then roll the newpaper.
  2. Slip the dowel out of the tube and trim the tubes to 15-25 cm long (6-10 inches). It is easier for bees to find their home straws if they are all different lengths.
  3. Bundle 20-50 tubes together with the bottom ends lined up and wrap the whole bundle in insulating material, such as bubble wrap or many layers of newspaper. Slip the bundle into the container with the bottom end of the bundle tight against the back of the container so it is dark inside. 

To learn more:  I highly recommend this little book as it has everything you need to know: Pollination with Mason Bees by Margriet Dogterom. Available from: http://beediverse.com/; Foxglove Farm and Garden Nursery also usually has it in stock too.

  Lots more about mason bees and other native bees Hutchings Bee Service: https://sites.google.com/site/hutchingsbeeservice/home)

 

May 6 2015  Transition SS TOP TIP of the Week:  

PLASTIC MICROBEADS - Read product labels, protect local watersheds - by Dennis Lucarelli

Plastic microbeads -- commonly added to packaged foods, toothpaste, soaps & cosmetics -- pollute local fresh waters and the ocean when they go "down the drain" into watersheds and the ocean, as they cannot be processed by sewage treatment plants. And do you want to be eating them?  READ YOUR TOOTHPASTE LABEL for the ingredients mentioned below.

    The most earth-friendly and healthy choice for soaps, toothpastes, and cosmetics (and yes, even many packaged foods) use natural products such as olive oil for soaps, baking soda for brushing teeth -- and many store-bought packaged products are not so safe and friendly.  You can check the label for the "suspect" ingredients mentioned in The Story of Beads, a two-minute video just released by the Story of Stuff Project. Microbeads, according to the video, including polyethelene, polypropylene, polyethelene teraphthalate, and polymethyl chlorathylate cannot be waste-treated thus pass directly into watersheds and the ocean as toxic waste -- which in turn is being found in the bodies of fish and wildlife.

--  Take two minutes and watch the video.

April 2015 TSS TOP TIP OF THE WEEK:

BURN WISE - Time to Prep Your Firewood for Next Year!

- by Patti Bauer

Sun yesterday, rain today. Lately, lounging in the brief blessing of early spring sun seems to be ideal, but after a too short while, the chillies return and there is a need to get moving! If you use a fireplace, and care about the planet, now is the time to get your wood in for next year ‘cause it’s got to be dry to burn efficiently.

 

In the old days they said “Wood should be split before Easter so it can dry during spring and summer.” Preparing for next year’s wood store gives the wood sufficient time to cure and then burn efficiently.  

 

Why not wet wood? Burning wet wood creates excessive smoke – that’s wasted fuel, and more particulates that are a serious and harmful form of emissions.  

 

If you are buying wood, buy it this spring from a sustainable source on island… you will have dry wood by fall and firewood usually costs less in spring than during the fall “We’re out of firewood!” buying frenzy.

 

Wood fuel for heating is sustainable if and only if is converted efficiently into heat. Old wood stoves, and of course decorative “fireplaces” that send most of the heat right up the chimney, might give a cozy feel but the actual warmth is nothing compared to the super-efficiency of a certified and high-quality wood-burning stove, which can also reduce the use of less earth-friendly heating methods like heating oil, natural gas, propane or electric heaters.  Note that in BC we are net importers of power, and those imports are ‘dirty fuels’ ~ so please don’t be fooled that our utility consumption in BC is all ‘Green’ by any means.

 

Bottom line:  If you heat with wood, do so with an efficient stove, and with well-seasoned firewood.

 

So dear Salt Springers! ……

 

  • Season wood outdoors through the summer for at least 6 months before burning it. Properly seasoned wood is darker, has cracks in the end grain, and sounds hollow when smacked against another piece of wood.

  • Store wood outdoors, stacked neatly off the ground with the top covered.  And here is a cool tip…. if you stack the wood with the bark on the top, it takes longer for the moisture to penetrate the cell walls, with the bark acting as a lid. So stack with the bark side on the bottom for greater efficiency in drying.   

 

  • If you have yet to build a woodshed – consider building it so it is south facing – allowing for the sun to aide in the drying process. 

 

  • And it bears repeating…. when wood is not burned completely or efficiently, the resulting smoke contains a number of chemicals, one of which is carbon monoxide (CO). Take care of yourself and the planet!  

 

TSS advocates for clean air and healthy living.  We do not advocate the use of wood burning, but if you do it, please do so with sense.

 

Why isn’t wood-burning such a clear choice over other options?  Consider that wood oxidizes into carbon whether it decomposes on the forest floor or gets burned in a stove.  After a tree reaches maturity it dies because of rot and insect infestation and falls to the forest floor. There, it decomposes, a process of slow oxidation which emits CO2. In fact, whether a tree is processed into firewood and burned, or whether it dies and decomposes on the forest floor, the same amount of CO2 is emitted – burning the wood emits CO2 over a much shorter period of time.

 

What matters however, is how you burn the wood - if burned moist, or inefficiently, you are contributing to significant particulate matter in the atmosphere. It's not necessarily It’s the smoke that is the problem. Burning wood badly (using wet wood or letting a fire smoulder) can release excess methane, a gas that has a greenhouse impact 20 times greater than that of CO2. What's more, burning wood in an open fireplace releases large amounts of ash in the smoke. The particulate matter in smoke is not healthy and can cause illnesses like bronchitis and aggravate chronic heart and lung diseases. Wood smoke becomes air pollution once it goes up the chimney. 

 

So a warm, healthy snuggle by the fire next winter?  Why not?  You have done it with care and reduced the winter chub around the belly this year cause you got out early spring chopping and stacking your wood stores!  Here’s to a sustainable year!

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