Tag Archives: recycle

5 Easy Steps To Build A Chicken Coop

Keeping chickens is fast becoming one of the best ways to ensure organic, fresh food “delivered” daily to your home. The cost of keeping chickens is relatively low compared to other pets that don’t give back in the form of food and they provide hilarious entertainment for you, your family and your neighbors! My family decided chickens were a must-have to start our small urban farm so we decided to build our own coop. Little did I know how easy it would be…


happy chickens in a safe enclosure

1. When you embark on a journey like this, its important to make sure you can keep chickens in your area. This is going to depend on state, county and city laws as well as, if you rent, landlord permission. Most counties will not let you own roosters, so make sure to check the specifics. There are also usually laws regarding where you place your coop on your property.  Double and triple check!

2. You should draw up some plans. Do you want a mobile chicken coop – called a tractor – or one that is a permanent home? How many chickens do you plan on keeping and how big do you want the coop to be? What do you want to use for building materials? There are a lot of websites that have free plans for you to browse. One of the best is Backyard Chickens. They have a plethora of information about coops and chickens. For our own coop, we found a truck canopy at Goodwill for $30 that we used as the “base” (the roof) and built onto that. You could even search for “unique chicken coop images” and see all the different things others have made coops out of.

3. Next, build! Easy, right? We found some 2 X 4s and plywood and then screwed a wooden frame into the truck canopy so it was over six feet off the ground. Then, using the plywood, we built the actual henhouse under the canopy. The henhouse refers to the place where the chickens sleep at night and lay their eggs. We filled in any cracks with a foam insulate and covered the floor with a piece of linoleum for further draft protection and easy cleaning.

4. With the walls completed, we moved on to the safety of our chickens. The frame we set the canopy on is mostly 4 X 4s, very easy to staple gun chicken wire to. Make sure the chicken wire is taut and secure. Raccoons and other animals are very strong and tricky, and they want your chickens!

chicken coop

coop before decoration? or leave it old school.

5. Finally… decorate! The chickens probably don’t care what it looks like, but you do! Paint, glitter, macaroni art that coop up! Ok, maybe not macaroni… But I definitely want to see pictures of your masterpieces!

If you gather all the materials beforehand, you can kick out a quality chicken coop in one weekend. Don’t forget to have fun!

Free Geek: e-cycling to the Nth power

Take a moment and think about that corner in your office, you know the one I’m talking about. Or maybe it’s in your basement, closet, attic, perhaps some other dark, dusty place in your home. You’ll try to ignore it, but how much more old technology is going to fit there? It’s overflowing, becoming a health hazard. Are you really ever going to use that enormous CRT monitor again? Come on, now.

Recently, I decided to tackle the corner; which is when I discovered Free Geek, a nonprofit organization that “refurbishes technology to provide computers, education and job skills in exchange for community service.”

Free Geek Portland

Photo cred. top row:Joan Stevens, bottom row:Carly Dennis

Here’s the deal with FreeGeek, they’re a multi-pronged operation where you can:

  • declutter. Drop off old electronics—computers and nearly anything that can be plugged into them.
  • volunteer. Spend some time helping out Free Geek, and get sweet stuff in return. Volunteers get free classes on building computers, tech support, and using a computer. Volunteers who have racked up a total of 24 hours or have built five computers get a free refurbished computer loaded with Ubuntu, an open source operating system.
  • donate. Non-profits in need of a technology upgrade can receive hardware grants. So far, the Portland location has granted out more than 2,800 refurbished PCs to schools, religious organizations, community centers, and the like.
  • purchase tech on the cheap. Free Geek runs a thrift shop, with all purchases directly supporting the Free Geek Community Technology Center.
  • recycle ancient tech. Outdated materials are “demanufactured” by volunteers and recycled responsibly.

Going through my corner-of-technological-shame, I came up with a full car trunk of old tech. Everything from a heavy, old-school e-mac to the coffee-pocalypse laptop, and the ever-present overflowing box of miscellaneous wires and plugs. All together, we’re talking 5 square feet of sanity returning to my little abode. Priceless.

Here in Portland, we’re lucky to have the original FreeGeek location, aka “the Mothership.” However, satellite locations are opening in urban areas around the country, and can be found at the Free Geek Intergalactic Page. Other certified e-recyclers can be found through e-stewards.org or your local government’s recycling website.

We’re all green here. We know not to dump old tech with our curbside garbage, or trust shady e-recycling programs. Appease the e-waste guilt. Recycle your electronics responsibly, if not creatively.

Free Recycling!

I’ve been using websites to find great free stuff for a while now, and it surprises me every time I talk with someone who doesn’t know about them. While some go out and spend $200 on a new dining set, I found mine for free – and it’s nicer looking!

Just a few things I’ve snagged:

  • A toddler bed in great condition
  • Clothing for my kids
  • Clothing for me!
  • Two BIG bean bag chairs in new condition
  • Food
  • Plants
  • A really cool kid’s art desk

Generally you have to go pick it up, but sometimes they’ll be nice enough to deliver.  What’s a few cents lost on gas when you get a free TV!

These are the sites I visit most often:


www.craigslist.org (the free section!)

www.freesharing.org (this one has another list of even more free-recycling websites!)

You can even specify what you want by posting “Wanted” ads! Of course, it’s all local to whatever town, county, state, etc. you live in, just specify!

When you’ve satisfied your “gimme gimme” craving, give back and free-recycle your unwanted but still in good condition (or not) stuff!

Happy sharing!

5 Facts: Recycling Plastic Bags

Everyone knows that we should carry reusable bags to the grocery store, but plastic grocery bags seem to pile up nonetheless. Who doesn’t have a kitchen drawer or cupboard exploding with bags? At Cash4Books, we encourage customers to re-use clean plastic bags as a packing material in their book shipments. The bags are then collected and recycled with EnviroFiber, a local recycling company.

This had me wondering what happens to the plastic once it’s picked up? In doing a bit of research, I’ve found some surprises about the recyclability of plastic bags and other thin plastics. Although most home-pickup recyclers do not accept plastic bags (since they can get caught in and ruin machinery) many grocers now have collection containers destined for plastic recycling specialists.

1. Plastic Lumber

Melted plastic bags and sawdust can be combined to make composite lumber. This is actually the most common reuse for plastic bags. This new material is used  to make door frames, outdoor decks, tables and benches. The composite of two recycled materials keeps trees in the ground and plastic out of the trash.

2. Plastic Batteries

Illinois based Chemist Vilas Ganpat Pol recently discovered a process to create carbon nanotubes from waste plastic. In this example of “up-cycling” (recycling waste into a more valuable product), plastic bags can ultimately be made into lithium-ion batteries. Really.

3. On your way to recycle used grocery bags? Include these too!

All clean, dry bags labeled #2 or #4 can be recycled along with plastic grocery bags. This includes: 

♦ Newspaper bags, Dry cleaning bags, produce bags & bread bags
♦ Cereal box liners
♦ Shipping envelopes
♦ Plastic wrap around paper towels, napkins & toilet paper
♦ Clean zip-lock bags (with the hard plastic removed)

4. Room for Improvement

According to the EPA, only 12% of used plastic bags were recycled in 2007.

5. On the Bright Side

A recent survey revealed that 90% of Americans reuse their plastic shopping bags, mostly to replace garbage liners, lunch bags, and pet waste bags. The reuse of each plastic bag prevents a second bag from being purchased for a single purpose.

The bottom line: should we try to keep plastic bags out of the waste stream (not to mention the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”) by carrying reusable totes? Yes. Will we always remember to bring them shopping? Probably not. But we can recycle what accumulates, and the manufacturing industry is coming up with some pretty interesting ways to reuse the single use bag.