How to Compost If Your City Doesn’t Offer Municipal Pickup

Posted by Ecogardens

 

Wondering what to do if your city doesn’t offer municipal curbside compost pickup? Never fear; there are plenty of ways to keep food scraps out of landfill.

If you’re anything like us, it kills you to toss a banana peel in the garbage. Watching those carrot shavings languish in the trash can is tantamount to murder. You’re tempted to secretly bury apple cores in the nearby park in the dead of night.

Because trashing food – even if it’s only scraps we’re talking about – just feels so wrong.

And, well, it is wrong. Compost has amazing benefits for the world, and has been a valuable aspect of human stewardship for many millennia. But today, it seems we’ve forgotten its importance.

The result is that more than 15 percent of municipal solid waste ends up being food scraps, with 22 percent of landfills represented by food waste (as of 2015 numbers, the latest available). That’s 39.7 million tons and 30.3 million tons respectively, the difference accounted for by combustion for energy recovery.

Of that original 39.7, only 7.4 percent is combusted and only 5.3 percent is composted. Not good enough, we say.

But assuming your city doesn’t offer municipal compost pickup, and most still don’t, what are you supposed to do? Without that bin, what composting alternatives do you really have?

Well, it turns out, quite a few. If you're wondering how to compost outside your home, here's what you need to know.

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Topics: Stewardship

How to Support Land Conservation Efforts

Posted by Ecogardens

 

Land conservation is an increasingly acute concern, but most people don’t know what they personally can do. Here’s a rundown of how to play your part.

Land conservation sounds like a Big Thing.

An overwhelming thing. An undoable thing, even.

But it doesn’t have to be. We’re trying to expand our understanding of what exactly this concept means and what we can do to support it. If you’re with us, then here are several ways to understand and support land conservation efforts.

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Topics: Stewardship

SPOTLIGHT: What Is Biophilia and Why Does It Matter?

Posted by Ecogardens

 

Do you love nature? You’re not alone; it’s in our blood.

If you’ve ever felt that automatic intake of breath upon looking out over a grand vista …

If you’ve ever felt a tear come to your eyes when the woods rain leaves down in fall …

If you’ve ever held a friend’s puppy and had the fleeting urge to kidnap it and move somewhere no one could ever find you

… then you might have a strong case of biophilia. (Or you might just be a sociopath, but that’s a different blog post.)

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Topics: Stewardship

How to Make Outdoor Holiday Decorations More Sustainable

Posted by Ecogardens

 

Sadly, the most wonderful time of the year is not always so wonderful for the environment. There are, however, steps we can take to minimize the impact of holiday decorations.

We hate to Scrooge things up, but holiday decorations are a serious bugbear when it comes to urban ecology and environmental stewardship as a whole.

Sure, that giant glowing Santa in your neighbor’s front yard may look cute (when it’s not keeping you up at night), but it’s definitely not an environmental win.

Actually, we just realized that giant glowing Santas don’t have any redeeming value.

But what about evergreen bunting? Wreaths? Twinkle lights? After all, what are the winter months without these charming touches of holiday cheer?

We feel you. Truly, we love a good winter wonderland just as much as anyone else, which is why we’re tackling this problem head-on.

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Topics: Stewardship

Transforming the Landscape Ethic: An Interview with the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association

Posted by Ecogardens

 

The landscape industry is rife with environmental problems, but several big organizations are stepping up to change that. Prime among them is the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association (ILCA), a leading voice since 1959.

Download a free PDF version of this report to share with your colleagues and friends!

It’s no secret that the landscaping industry is one of the most problematic for the ecosphere, though it is sadly less talked-about than it should be. Even green roofing, ostensibly a purely environmental effort, adds to the issue.

Among the leading troubles, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are higher pesticide concentrations in urban and suburban areas than agricultural ones. (If you’re gobsmacked by this, you’re not alone.)

Pesticide exposure – affecting non-target plants and humans alike – is also a major concern. As the EPA says, “more than 31,000 pesticide exposure incidents related to the use of pesticides on lawns were reported from 1995 to 2002.” And because people don’t know enough about these issues, they don’t know what to do instead.

For decades, the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association has striven to be a voice of change, fighting for the rights of the environment. Today, that message is more important than ever.

Recently, we were lucky enough to catch up with several members of the ILCA Sustainability and Ecological Landscape Committee to talk more about it.

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Topics: Stewardship

SPOTLIGHT on Antifragility, a Concept with Sweeping Environmental Implications

Posted by Ecogardens

 

Never heard the word “antifragility” before? You’re not alone, but if you’re in the green space, it’s time you change that.

Antifragility (or anti-fragility) is a relatively new concept. Thus far, thought leaders have applied it to both business and personal development settings.

But it is our humble (read: expert) opinion that we need to put this idea to work stewarding the planet stat.

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Topics: Stewardship

What Are the Biggest Benefits of Composting?

Posted by Ecogardens

 

Composting is more than a sixth grade science project; it’s one of the most valuable ways that the Everyperson can help the Earth.

Look, we don’t know much about you. But we do know one thing: You’re an Everyperson, and that means you should compost.

... Is that offensive?

Okay, let’s try again. Um, if you have a pulse and four square feet of space anywhere in your house or yard, you should compost. You don’t even have to do the composting yourself. We will offer alternative solutions in a later post, and will briefly cover them here, so don’t worry about that yet.

Instead, today, let’s focus on why it matters in the first place, and how composting can help you make the world a healthier place.

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Topics: Stewardship

Imagine a Day Without Water: Shining a Spotlight on Earth’s Most Precious Resource

Posted by Ecogardens

 

Imagine a Day Without Water has rolled round once again. While to many of us envisioning a day without water is as mind-boggling as contemplating the grandeur of the cosmos, it is for billions of people an all-too-present reality.

The problem is manifold, although there are two basic prongs to this century’s coming “water wars”:

  1. Water scarcity: Some populations simply don’t have enough water to drink, bathe, hydrate their animals and irrigate their crops.
  2. Water quality: Some regions do have enough (or at least some), but it is filthy and fouled from human and animal waste, trash and pollutants.

Neither situation, needless to say, is desirable. It’s time we did something about it and became better stewards of the Earth today.

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Topics: Stewardship

SPOTLIGHT: The Soil Carbon Cowboys Are Changing Ranching and the World

Posted by Ecogardens

 

There’s a different way to ranch, but you’re probably not familiar with it.

Carbon ain’t where it’s supposed to be anymore. For hundreds of millions of years, plants and other life forms fixed carbon and trapped it in the ground. This environmental balance was once the norm worldwide.

But now we rely heavily on agricultural and industrial practices that release carbon into the air, adding to the greenhouse effect and climate change as a whole. This is true on a global scale.

Among the problems are heavy till operations and ranching, where large herds of beef cattle stomp carbon-fixing plants into the ground, killing them and creating dense and compacted soils that lead to depletion and desiccation.

For that reason, raising cattle has a less-than-pristine reputation these days. The erosion, the deforestation, the methane ... it’s not a pretty picture.

Or is it?

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Topics: Stewardship

SPOTLIGHT on the Great Lakes: 20 Percent of the World’s Water Supply

Posted by Ecogardens

 

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Topics: Stewardship