I N · T H I S · I S S U E
Bio-Cycling at Home
At a seminar last weekend, Tom Brady, the City of Glendale’s recycling expert, rattled off some of the basics of composting and then vermiculture, the use of worms to create high-quality compost, the castings that experts call “black gold.” Brady was not particularly motivational, and there were only three of us in the audience, but the logic of his message is compelling: Bio-cycling is a step beyond recycling, a means of keeping valuable organic materials on site, tightening an ecological loop.
Imagine a tree in the forest that sheds its leaves in the fall. These mix with green grasses on the forest floor. This mix – laden with carbon and nitrogen -- experiences the elements – water and air – and is digested by naturally occurring microbes in the soil. It then becomes rich humus ready to retain moisture and to provide essential nutrients to the trees and the forest, the lungs of the universe.
Now take that same system in modern suburbia: The leaves are raked and removed from the site, the grasses are manicured and their clippings removed. The soil is replenished by fertilizers that are trucked in, produced in energy intensive ways -- an ecological loop that extends far from the property boundary.
Brady gave each of us a composter and a pitch fork compliments of the City since bio-cycling reduces wastes and the City’s ecological footprint. With little instruction, some humor about composting “recipes,” my fellow students and I were eager to get started. Within a week we too could have compost piles approaching 140 degrees!
I must admit, having composted for many years of my life, I had succumbed to the convenience of trashing my kitchen wastes and putting green wastes in the appropriate bin. But now I return to my belief system – and to eco-logic - and composting. And I encourage you to do the same, to be part of the basic wonder of bio-cycling, keeping valuable nutrients on site, lessening the manufacture and transportation of fertilizers, and letting nature coupled with a little effort do nature’s productive work for the next season.
Check with your city or local recycling center. What support can you get for bio-cycling?
Here’s what Glendale, California offers:
• Free workshops on composting and vermiculture
• Lots of literature including “The Composting Cookbook”
• Choice of composting bins. I took the Smith & Hawken “Bio Stack” (value $100)
• Free pitch fork! (value $20)
• $100 rebates for green waste shredders ($200-500 cost) to accelerate composting
• Discounted vermiculture systems, “worm hotels” ($25 net cost; $75 incentive)
Finally I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the City offers discounted trash collection rates for those who have done so much recycling that they can now use smaller garbage bins. I’m going to sign up, get a new smaller bin, and save money while saving the Earth!
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Corona Department of Water and Power
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Cindy Lee, Intern
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