Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Day 142 of our Green Year: Finding Uses for Orange Peels

Oranges are big sources of vitamin C, which is very important to our health. As a result, in the Baird household we love to have an organic and locally grown orange during our lunch or breakfast. However, as we eat oranges, we begin to wonder what to do with the peels, beyond just composting. Why find uses for it? The main reason is to help do more with what we already have, before we recycle or compost something. Our adage for Our Green Year is reuse, then recycle, and orange peels factor into that.

Here are some of the things you can use orange peels for beyond composting, a few of which we will also be trying.

  1. You can use orange peels as a firestarter or kindling when you are having a party at the fire pit. The reason for this is that there is a high content of flammable natural oil in orange peels. Make sure to let the orange peel dry before you try to use it as a firestarter.
  2. If you have cats (as we do) and plants (as we do), you can keep the cats from digging into the soil of the plants by placing orange peels around the plant. cats hate how orange peels smell, so it is highly effective.
  3. If you want some extra zest in your soups, sauces and salads, you can cut off the top layer of an orange peel and grind it into smaller pieces. You can dry the orange peel grinds overnight and then store them in airtight bottles for future use.
  4. If you have musty odors in your closet, put a dried orange peel in there to reduce the odors.
  5. If you want to have a picnic without the insects, then you can use small piles of the grind of an orange peel. Insects hate limonene, which is the oil int he peel, and this is a great alternative to using commercial insecticides.
One thing we have found in Our Green Year is that there are plenty of things you can do with items you have already. Before last week, I had no idea the uses of an orange peel, but after researching it, it is quite surprising.

A few cool notes. First, Google Earth has come out with some software in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States, that allows you to see the content of pollutants in the air around your home. It is a great way to find out just how clean the air is where you live, and you may be surprised (or frightened). The website can be visited here.

A few weeks ago, Layla and I went green by eating less meat, and restricting the meat we do eat to buffalo. Today, I read a story on, which validated nearly everything we had said about why it is important to go green by eating less meat. A few of the key points featured in the article include:
  • Worldwide, livestock farming creates 18 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions on the planet. That is more than what all the cars, trains, planes and boats generate combined (13 percent).
  • Much of that contribution to greenhouse gases comes from cutting down of forests to put in pastures for livestock. In Latin America, 70 percent of former forest cover has been removed for animal grazing. This causes the planet to heat up because trees absorb CO2 when they are alive.
  • Livestock manure generates nitrous oxide, which has a 296 times the warming effect of CO2. On top of that, cows fart on a regular basis, generating 200 liters of methane (23 times the warming impact of CO2) a day. Multiply that by the 100 million cattle in the United States, and that creates a lot of global warming.
Hence, many people say that one of the greatest things you can do to go green is to eat less meat.

Be sure to check out our companion blog, Our Green Year Journal, which details what we do each day to be green, from what we buy to how far we walk.