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Get the Whole Neighborhood Involved: Start an Eco-Club

Most of us have at least started to look into the benefits of going green. Some states now mandate recycling, which is a great first step. For those that don’t, some concerned citizens collect and deposit cans, bottles, and other items at their local recycling center (often for cash back). There are people who plant trees, engage in highway trash pickup operations, and even find ways to cut back on energy and water consumption within the home. And while it’s great that individuals are trying to make a difference in their own lives, think how much communities could do if they banded together to make a group effort on behalf of the Earth? If you’re interested in doing more for the environment, then maybe you’ll want to talk to your neighbors and get them on board with an eco-club. Here are just a few things you might try together.

1. Community garden. You likely know of an empty lot somewhere in your area, so get your neighbors together and approach the city council about donating the lot for a community garden (you may even secure other donations from local businesses for seeds, tools, and so on). This will not only cut back on the amount you have to buy from the grocery store (saving money); it will also help kids to learn a valuable life skill and provide every family with fresh, organic produce.
2. Set up an order with a local farm. If nobody has the time or expertise to get a community garden off the ground, then perhaps you can approach a local farm or co-op as a group to set up weekly deliveries to your neighborhood. Some farms offer this service for individual houses, but if they don’t, they might be more likely to accede if a lot of people were buying together. Or you could find someone in the neighborhood with a truck and pitch in to cover gas for weekly trips to the farm.
3. School recycling program. There’s no better way to ensure a cleaner planet now and in the future than by teaching the youth to respect the Earth and cut back on pollution and waste. So get together with other parents in your neighborhood to brainstorm ways to install recycling bins in every area school as well as start after-school programs that will help kids to help the environment.
4. Carpool or walking club. Everyone has their own car, but that doesn’t mean you and your neighbors can’t find ways to cut down on carbon emissions. Get the whole neighborhood together to see if you can arrange a couple of carpools. And think about starting a walking club to take all the kids to the bus stop or deliver them directly to school. As a bonus, you’ll work in a little daily exercise with the latter!
5. Create a community Craigslist. There’s no doubt that we live in an era that thrives on disposable products, but you’ve probably heard the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Instead of sending items like furniture and housewares to the dump when you’re done with them, create a neighborhood blog to advertise freebies. Your neighbor might be keen to reupholster your old couch rather than buying a new one or you may have a use for the antique chandelier that your neighbor replaced.

About the Author

Sarah Danielson writes for The Guestlist Club where you can find info on Chinawhites, the hottest club in London.

The cool temperatures, particularly the milder late fall, winter and early spring temperatures in the American south, pave the way to perfect conditions for active composting systems. Calcium deposits from Red wiggler worms contribute to the rich soil produced through vermicomposting and are deposited at optimum pace during the cooler months. The cooler temperatures result in increased rates of reproduction; therefore, food is broken down more quickly and efficiently with additional worms who are responsible for eating the microorganisms that break down the food. Food waste is a major component in landfills and releases detrimental methane, a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The EPA reports that Americans throw away 98 billion pounds of food waste each year which equals more than 25% of the food we prepare! For example, a family of four generates on average one pound of kitchen scraps each day.

An excellent example of a fertile, organic garden is found on Little St. Simons Island’s, a 10,000-acre barrier island on Georgia’s southeastern Atlantic coast. Amy Shuster, Little St. Simons Island’s gardener, and the island’s team of naturalists share their expertise on how easy it truly is to incorporate composting into the everyday home.

These simple steps to create an at-home vermicomposting system will turn kitchen scraps into rich “black gold,” not only giving the disposal a break, but also reducing greenhouse gases all while creating fertile soil, the foundation for a successful garden!

Vermicomposting 1-2-3

1. Select a worm bin. A popular plastic vermicomposting unit is Can O’Worms which can be found at several online retailers. Benefits of this system include the enclosed tiered system (which greatly helps to reduce odors) and a tray at the bottom of the unit designed to trap the highly sought after “vermicompost tea.” This unit features three trays in which the worms work through the trays processing waste and depositing their castings on the lower level. If you’d like to make a system at home with materials in hand, a ventilated plastic bin (such as a recycling bin) works well. Guard ventilation holes with netting to prevent worms from escaping.

2. Purchase red wigglers or red worms which are packed in peat and can be ordered from various online sites.

3. Gather your bedding materials. Cardboard, torn into small pieces, and shredded newspaper are ideal materials. Avoid glossy paper from newspaper inserts, magazines, coated cardboard and shredded office paper as these may contain toxins harmful to the worms.

4. Moisten bedding materials with dechlorinated water (to dechlorinate: allow jugs of water from the faucet to sit out in the open for 1-2 days). Slowly add water to bedding materials until materials become damp, simulating the feel of a wrung-out sponge. If possible, add garden soil to your bedding materials at this stage. The worms will benefit from the gritty texture and the microorganisms introduced by the soil will expedite the breaking down of scraps.

5. Place bedding in bin and add worms. Allow bin to be exposed to light during the first hour to encourage worms to burrow into soil as they escape the light. Cover bin and set aside for 2-3 days before adding scraps, allowing the worms to nestle into their new home. When kept happy, worms can turn kitchen waste to rich compost in 1-2 months.

6. Store bin in a cool and convenient location, ideally between 55-80 degrees F.

7. Spread scraps around bottom tray, cover with bedding materials and allow the worms to work! Ideal scraps include raw vegetables, coffee grounds, egg shells, fruit, and cereal.

About Little St. Simons Island

Virtually untouched for centuries, Little St. Simons Island is a barrier island off Georgia’s coast that features seven miles of pristine beaches, cottages for just 32 overnight guests, ancient maritime forests, tidal creeks and shimmering marshes. The island offers a rare combination of complete privacy in an unspoiled wilderness with the genuine Southern hospitality of the island’s attentive and knowledgeable staff. Accessible only by boat, Little St. Simons Island retains that charm and unhurried pace of coastal living where time is measured only by the rise and fall of the tides.

*Article and tips provided by The Butin Group, on behalf on Little St. Simons Island.*