Many of us’ve thought about composting waste, but never made the time for it. While we’re staying at home, it’s the perfect time to start a compost bin and develop the habit of composting. This DIY project can improve air quality, enrich the soil, and alleviate landfill woes. Kitchen and backyard composting is not only FREE and incredibly beneficial, it requires little effort—a definite win, win, win for gardeners.
According to the UGA Extension, “Composting is the natural process of decomposition and recycling of organic material into a soil amendment known as compost.” Compost is a magical soil enhancer. It helps retain moisture, eliminates the need to use commercial fertilizer, and encourages vigorous plant growth. A good garden can be made great by improving the soil with home-made humus.
Statistics show that compostable waste, which creates greenhouse gases as it decomposes, makes up almost 25% of the world’s garbage. The simple act of composting reduces the amount of garbage in landfills and improves air quality by breaking down waste quickly and safely. Let’s look at what goes into the compost bin and how to make an outdoors or indoors compost bin so the magic can happen.
Composting starts with layers of brown matter and green matter
- Brown matter provides the carbon needed for composting
- Brown matter includes dry leaves, wood chips, straw, sawdust, smushed egg shells, coffee filters, corn stalks, shredded brown corrugated cardboard, and shredded newspaper
- According to Planet Natural Research Center’s Composting Paper: How to use cardboard and newspaper in your compost pile, you should only use plain newsprint and plain brown corrugated cardboard—no glossy pages, no colored ink, no bleached white paper
- Green matter provides the nitrogen needed for composting and most of the nutrients that enhance the soil
- Green matter includes food scraps, grass clippings, coffee grounds, tea leaves, manure, and recently pulled weeds
- Never put cooked food, dairy products, meat, fish bones, or fat in your compost bin—these substances produce odors that can lure pests
- Aim for a ratio of about 4 parts browns (carbon) : 1 part greens (nitrogen) for outdoors composting and 3 brown : 1 green indoors
- If your compost is smelly (yuck!), add more browns
- If your compost doesn’t get warm, add more greens
- Read more at Gardening Know How: Understanding The Browns And Greens Mix For Compost
- Be sure and mix in some water to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria/fungi—these helpful agents break everything down and eventually create rich, organic, nutrient-filled humus
Starting an indoors compost bin
There’s a wealth of great online resources for starting an indoors compost bin. Here are some excellent videos and articles to get you going in about 5 minutes.
Starting an outdoors compost bin
Although there are myriad compost-related bins, tools, and equipment available on the Internet, there is no need to purchase anything. I got started when a friend who owns a truck brought me 4 wooden pallets and told me to go buy 8 bungee cords; that’s simple construction, and it worked perfectly.
- Place the bin conveniently near the house on a level, dry, shady spot with access to a hose
- Don’t place the bin on tree roots
- Air and water are critical to the composting process
- Keep the pile moist and turn it with a pitch fork as you add ingredients; this maximizes the rate of decomposition
The thermophilic compost process takes place slowly, and the finished product can take months depending on maintenance and conditions. You will be rewarded for your patience. For detailed information on composting, download publications C816 and B1189 from extension.uga.edu.
Let’s get it started.
Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash
There are so many ways that trees positively affect us, our communities, and our world. Check out the details on the Arbor Day Foundation website: https://www.arborday.org/trees/treefacts/
- Trees help clean our air
- Trees contribute to our health
- Trees provide us with oxygen
- Trees provide much-needed cooling
- Trees help reduce the effects of climate change
- Trees help us save energy
- Trees benefit wildlife
- Trees help reduce crime
- Trees are a good investment of our public dollars
- Trees increase our property values
Arbor Day Is Not Just Any Day
WHAT IS ARBOR DAY?
Arbor Day, much like Earth Day, is a holiday that celebrates nature.
Its purpose is to encourage people to plant trees, and many communities traditionally take the opportunity to organize tree-planting and litter-collecting events on or around the holiday. A popular Arbor Day tradition is to plant a tree in honor or memory of a loved one.
THE HISTORY OF ARBOR DAY
Arbor Day sprouted from the mind of a zealous tree lover named Julius Sterling Morton, who had a passion for planting all kinds of trees.
The first Arbor Day occurred on April 10, 1872, in Nebraska City, Nebraska. It’s estimated that nearly one million trees were planted on this day.
By 1885, Arbor Day became a legal holiday in Nebraska. The date was changed to April 22 to honor Morton’s birthday. On that day, thousands of Nebraska City citizens turned out for one big party, including 1,000 school-children who formed a parade.
Within 20 years of its creation, the holiday was celebrated in every American state except Delaware, which eventually joined in.
Particularly pleasing to Morton was the fact that schools across the country began celebrating Arbor Day by dedicating the trees they planted to special people.
Fun Fact: Arbor Day was almost called Sylvan Day, which means “wooded.” Several members of the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture favored it, but Morton argued that sylvan refers only to forest trees and that the name Arbor Day was most inclusive, covering forest trees and fruit trees.
“Other holidays repose upon the past;
Arbor Day proposes for the future.”
–J. Sterling Morton.
Read More about Julius Sterling Morton and Arbor Day on the Old Farmer’s Almanac website: https://www.almanac.com/content/arbor-day-history-facts-date
Roswell Garden Club encourages you to consider joining the Arbor Day Foundation. Membership starts at $10, and new members choose one of these free gifts: 10 free trees for you, 10 trees planted in a threatened rainforest, or 10 trees planted in our nation’s forests. Check it out here: https://shop.arborday.org/content.aspx?page=memberships
Since October and November are the months to plant a tree in Georgia, be sure and choose FALL PLANTING. There are tutorials available on the internet about how to plant a tree, and extension.uga.edu provides great information and resources specifically for Georgia.
Explore Earth Day 2020’s theme—Climate Action—by taking part in Earth Day Live. EarthDay.org is the place to be, not only to read about challenges we face but also to be inspired to make changes large and small to preserve our precious Earth. So what can you do online for Earth Day?
- Watch Earth Day Live! See live performances, hear live messages and calls to action. The stream starts at 12:01 am ET and runs until 11:59 pm.
- Take part in the Seawalls Stay-At-Home Mural Festival for our Planet. There are several free events to register for and take part in. If you don’t feel like participating in an event, browse 350 ocean-inspired murals from 15 countries around the Earth.
- Tap into NASA’s Earth Day 2020: 50th Anniversary Toolkit. Check out the NASA Visualization Explorer.
- Create some fun Earth Day art of your own with resources from Kathy Barbro’s Art Projects for Kids. You will recognize the featured image for this post if you go to Kathy’s site—it’s the free Earth Day Mini Mural.
- On the Earth Day news page, read the Q&A Interview with Denis Hayes, coordinator of the first Earth Day. Denis speaks about the past, present, and future of Earth Day. On the same page, explore 11 Actions for the Earth During a Pandemic.
- Read Roswell High School students’ thoughts and suggestions regarding the environment. Their thoughts are in response to the Roswell Garden Club Environmental Competition Blog prompt:
- Inspired by 16-year-old Greta Thernberg’s speech to the UN and the National Garden Club, Inc.’s Conservation Pledge – ‘I pledge to protect and conserve the natural resources of the planet earth and promise to promote education so we may become caretakers of our air, water, forest, land, and wildlife.’ Roswell Garden Club invites high school students from public, private, and home schools in Roswell, GA, to write a blog post exploring how we in Roswell can become caretakers of our air, water, forest, land, and wildlife. The topic for the post, ‘Moving from consumers to caretakers of our air, water, forest, land, and wildlife,’ lends itself to a variety of perspectives. Students are encouraged to blog about ways communities, organizations such as schools, families, and individuals can begin to have a positive impact on our world.”
- Read our short History of Earth Day:
In the late 1960s, individuals and politicians embraced environmentalism. Graphic proof of the decline of water and air quality presented ominous images of international abuse of the planet. Activists made it clear that in order to secure a decent quality of life and a sustainable future, laws must be enacted and behaviors must be changed.
In 1970 politicians added Earth Day to the calendar to strengthen the message and unite supporters. Cartoonist Walt Kelly’s iconic poster designed to promote the first celebration depicts Pogo the possum surveying the trash-covered Okefenokee Swamp declaring, “We have met the enemy and he is us”. Message received—millions paid tribute to Mother Earth on April 22, 50 years ago.
Grass roots initiatives and meaningful political action produced unprecedented victories for the environment. Congress passed The National Environmental Policy Act in 1970, and two years later the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts followed. President Nixon proposed the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to maintain and enforce environmental laws, work with industry to develop best practices, and co-ordinate educational outreach. While there is still room for improvement, the outlook for the environment is positive.
Through the years the number of government agencies and non-government organizations has burgeoned. The Internet provides links to millions of informative, eco-centered websites dedicated to raising awareness of the green movement. Widgets that calculate every aspect of our carbon footprint are available. Social media allows people from all over the world to comment and contribute. Bloggers raise awareness of issues and share personal views of timely topics. We no longer have to be our own enemy. Individuals can get involved and share responsibility for protecting the planet.
This year, join Roswell Garden Club and celebrate the earth on April 22 and throughout the year. Whether you attend an online community event, plant vegetables or flowers, pick up trash, or enjoy a walk, take time to focus on being a good steward of the environment. As one blogger put it, “To do something nice for the planet ultimately does something nice for you and all those you care about because, for now, we all live here.”
Note: The featured image for this post is Kathy Barbro’s free Earth Day Mini Mural, available at https://artprojectsforkids.org/free-mini-earth-day-mural/
The Roswell community has no shortage of nature-lovers and tree-huggers. There are endless prestigious organizations that spread environmental education and activism, such as the Roswell Garden Club and the Chattahoochee Nature Center. Oftentimes, the environmentally-conscious choice is not the most convenient, but there are numerous ways to get involved.
Transforming your home into an eco-paradise can be easier than one thinks. At the end of the day, some people do not have the space, financial standing, or freedom to live a 100% eco-friendly lifestyle. Baby steps are the key to modification. If you don’t have room for a compost bin, use eggshells, which are full of calcium and other nutrients, as a plant fertilizer. Reducing red meat intake substantially reduces an ecological footprint. Try to go zero waste with the help of reusable storage bags and water bottles. One of the easiest recommendations is a simple switch to Ecosia, an online search engine. This company plants a tree for about every 45 searches in heavily deforested areas around the world, such as in Indonesia and Amazonia, with the use of ad revenue. While it seems too good to be true, there is no catch: Ecosia is extremely transparent with its financial reports and afforestation projects.
Another way to care for the environment is to garden with plants native to Georgia, such as Stokes’ Asters, salvias, and honeysuckles. Growing plants help pollinators like bees (arguably the world’s most important animals) to pollinate a third of the Earth’s food supply. More so, plants are the basis of all habitats for animals; they are needed to encourage biodiversity in insects and bird species. The garden’s hospitality reaches to all pollinators, including bees, butterflies, beetles, birds, and moths. One cannot emphasize the importance of native plants enough. The most foolproof way for a habitat to remain sustainable is by restoring the area with its native plants. Georgia’s own flora needs the least maintenance, which often means less water and fertilization, and creates a sense of place. Georgia should be as proud of its elderberries as much as its peaches! Gardens do not necessarily have to be outdoors, especially when there is a shortage of space. Keeping houseplants and growing herbs indoors like sage and mint are nonetheless a great option.
Taking an environmental science class and partaking in a school’s environmental group are wonderful ways to spread awareness and to meet others with the same passions and concerns for the Earth. At Roswell High School, the Environmental Club leads the charge to reduce the school’s ecological footprint. For example, the Environmental Club (fondly nicknamed the “Green Hornets”) assists by sponsoring drives. Let it be for old towels, dead batteries, or plastic bags, these drives confront students and staff with the shameful reality of human wastefulness―trash does not disappear after the garbage truck drives away, after all. The Green Hornets expand interactions with other Roswell-founded organizations, such as the Small Dreams Foundation’s Fun Run Toward Sustainability to participate in the community. While on a smaller scale, many mornings are spent picking up litter on the campus.
While it may be easier for the human race to ignore the wreaking of havoc onto the environment, ultimately it will be humans who will suffer in the end. Fortunately, there is a solution: awareness and action, which are both provided by the Roswell community. Change is challenging, but possible as a passion for the Earth’s wellbeing perseveres in the hearts of Roswell citizens. All it takes is one small step in the right direction, even if that step is as minimal as switching a search engine.
Photo caption: Tomato ripening on the vine. For a hot summer in Roswell, this August harvest will not be the last. (photo credits: Emma Guglielmo)
Nowadays, a very recurring issue is the fact that we need to change our actions towards planet Earth urgently. Our planet is collapsing and we are currently living in times of several environmental crises all around the world, as the recently rainforest fires in Brazil.
In July 29, the 2019 Earth Overshoot Day happened, meaning that humans have already used all the planet’s ecological resource budget for the entire year. And the reason this date is so remarkable is because each year we are reaching the Overshoot Day earlier. The world is using up resources so fast and in an uncontrolled way that the planet’s ecosystems cannot regenerate them in time.
The most shocking part of all this is that many people still do not understand the reality in which we are experiencing. Several researches about each country’s consumption habits point out that if everyone on the planet consumed as much as the average United States citizen, it would be needed approximately four Earths to sustain everyone. And still, it does not look like people are worried about it.
As an exchange student from Brazil, it is very clear for me to see all the differences in people’s daily habits towards the planet and the obvious reason why the US would need more than one Earth.
People in Brazil are more used to go to places using public transport or riding a bike and I think this is an essential key to an ecological improvement. There are 276 million vehicles operating on roads and the US has a total of 327.2 million inhabitants, which means that In the US there is practically one car for every adult.
Besides that, the US produces 11 million tons of textile waste per year and over 90% of cotton is genetically modified using large quantities of water and chemicals. The solution to this problem is easy, but people insist on ignoring it. Buying in thrift stores should be encouraged since it is made in a more ecological and humane way and you are not supporting the unbridled production of the fashion industry. There is no creation of new clothes and the prices are more affordable. It should also be also considerate that less than 1% of all material is recycled.
Also, although I am not a vegetarian, I understand that reducing the consumption of meat and animal products is necessary. One third of water is used in the meat and dairy industry, 51% of greenhouse gases come from livestock and their by-products and 45% of the planet’s soil is used for livestock.
The United Nation organization revealed through research that we have only 12 years to reverse climate change problems before they become irreversible. People need to understand that we have no time anymore to be wasting our resources on unnecessary things and our habits need to change. The future of the next generations are in our hands and there are so many simple things in our daily attitudes that can help the world. We do not need to use straws, plastic bags, eat all this amount of meat everyday, ride by car instead of public transportation, etc.
The time to change our habits is now and we need to vote on people that have ecological plans to represent us and make the world a better place.