Sustainable Living Fair teaches techniques for clean living

Saturday, September 14, 2013 | 9:35 p.m. CDT; updated 11:56 a.m. CDT, Monday, September 30, 2013

*CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed a quotation to Tao Weilundemo.

**CORRECTION: Tao Weilundemo suggested that thermophilic composting toilets are an optimal method for composting human feces. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the method he suggested.

COLUMBIA — Going green can be fun. Especially when there are tempeh burgers.

The Peaceworks Center for Sustainable Living organized a one-day fair, inviting the community to attend workshops on clean, sustainable living. The fair also had booths from various organizations working to promote the cause of green and clean living.

"We are trying to educate people on sustainable living and encourage them to move towards a greener lifestyle," said Mark Haim, founder of Peaceworks. "People have found that it makes them healthier and improves their financial situation" by lowering their utility bills.


Margot McMillen,who serves on the board of directors for the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, spoke about genetically modified organisms.

"Many of these special seeds are patented, and farmers pay up to $200 for them, which is unfair," she said. "Furthermore, we use other lands to harvest the crops that are eventually exported to us."

By 2007, food imported in the United States had traveled 25 percent farther from growing fields to stores than in 1980. She said it is unsustainable to import food that could be grown in the U.S., such as bananas, which are rarely grown here. 

Gardening and animals

In "Gardening for a Four-Season Harvest," Trish Woolbright, a staff coordinator at  the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture, explained how to grow a garden in a small space and keep it sustainable.

Woolbright said that in urban spaces, gardeners have limited options. She suggested maximizing garden space by using four boxes, one for each season and rotating them annually to keep nutrient levels at their best.

Barbara Ross and her team were passionate during their session, "Goodbye CAFO: The Impacts of and Alternatives to Industrial Animal Factories."

"We have to realize that corporations taking over rural land is the one of the main reasons for poverty," Ross said. "There has to be an equitable share for all of Earth's bounties."

Healthy eating

Shelley La Fata, a nutritionist and advocate of all-natural food, talked about how people can make healthy choices in their diets and change the way they look at vegetarian food.

"One of the reasons children started developing allergies was when we started refining foods," she said. "Once we scrubbed the grain of the husk and the cover, there was nothing to keep our insides clean, encouraging autoimmune disorders and allergies."

Soy-based diets that rely on tempeh rather than traditional proteins can make for an alternative to tofu, La Fata said. She also suggested soups as a way of getting a lot of different nutrients from a single meal. She catered a vegan meal for attendees, including a carrot cake bar — all organic.

'Composting Toilets: Closing the Nutrient Cycle'*

Workshop leader Tao Weilundemo talked about what's often considered a "taboo subject" — feces.

His presentation focused on how to build toilets that can collect excrement and reuse it for growing plants.

"We only digest about 10 percent of the food we eat. The rest is excreted," he said. "That's the very thing that plants need to grow."

He explained how the toilet was made with a model of one he had built himself. The top was like a regular toilet, with a box underneath that collected the excrement and could be used for compost.

Weilundemo discussed different methods of composting human waste, including dehydrating the feces and then using it.** This method, he said, isn't desirable because it fails to sterilize the excrement. The best method is a thermophilic composting toilet, which uses heat to eliminate any pathogens.

Supervising editor is Zachary Matson.

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