Tag: soil

Composting | A Major Climate Solution

Washington (GGM) Analysis | January 24, 2020 by Catherine Zacuto, M. Ed.

Perspective is everything. Composting can seem like a daunting task or a simple way to make our soil healthy. The benefits of composting for the climate and the environment may persuade you to get on board, to learn something new, and to contribute to a growing movement to give back.

What’s the heart of the matter? The wisdom of composting goes back to the days of Ancient Greece and Rome, and soil cultivation has been in practice ever since. The Founding Fathers realized the importance of renewing the soil of their farms and gardens. Washington, Jefferson, and Adams (among others) treasured the land for its abundance and permanence; fields were not something to be used and abandoned. Because tobacco had depleted the soil of many estates by the late 1700s, Washington began planting crops that could anchor the American agricultural economy. To replenish the soil for wheat fields and orchards, he experimented with manure, Potomac mud, and fish remains. In the end, Washington operated five farms in Virginia and was one of the most successful farmers of his time. 

How does this impact you personally? Composting is a practical way to improve the health of the soil and reduce our carbon footprint. Over the centuries, the basic principles of composting have remained consistent and have yielded the same predictable outcomes for sustaining our planet. The knowledge and tools are at our fingertips. Using the wisdom garnered over the ages, we have the chance, without too much difficulty, to create a thriving environment and help planet Earth.

Composting:

  • adds microbes to dirt and soil, enabling it to store loads of carbon that thwarts climate change.
  • reduces methane-producing waste in landfills
  • creates vibrant soil that supports the ecosystem
  • retains water in the soil, reducing the need to irrigate
  • promotes disease-free plant growth

What can you do about this? Whether you live in a noisy urban neighborhood or on a quiet rural road, composting is possible. To keep it simple, deliver your food scraps to your community compost collection site. (See the list of Virginia composting facilities at the end of this article.) Or, find a compost company that picks up your food scraps. Check to see how the company uses the compost, and find out if they return compost to you. Make your own compost by following simple daily guidelines. (Click here to see a short how-to video.) You can make a difference for your family, your community, and the planet. Remember the Founding Fathers: The success of the new nation hinged on its fruitful harvests. Did they ever imagine how critical their organic practices would be for the health of the planet?

Next steps:

  • Begin saving food scraps in a compost bag in your refrigerator, a cool garage or in a clamped container.
  • Gather both green materials (fruits, vegetables, tea, egg shells, coffee grounds) and brown (newspapers, egg cartons, twigs, and dried grass). 
  • Avoid oils, dairy, meat, and bread.
  • Decide if you will create the compost yourself or donate your scraps to your community, or
  • Find the most eco-friendly company to pick up your scraps and use them to benefit soil health.

Virginia Composting Facilities by Area

References:

“Benefits of Compost.” U.S. Composting Council, http://www.compostingcouncil.org/. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

Simon, Julia. “How to Start Composting.” NPR, 2021, http://www.npr.org/2020/04/07/828918397/how-to-compost-at-home.


© Copyright 2018 – 2021. ALL Rights Reserved.

Build Back Better | Our Personal Lives

Washington (GGM) Analysis | January 22, 2021 by Noreen Wise

It’s a brand new day, filled with so much hope. We have a new administration, expressing a multitude of positive and inspirational words of wisdom and transformative goals, as well as outlining the steps forward that will lead us toward the achievement of these goals. It all begins with each of us participating. 

The importance of participation in our democratic form of government—of the people, by the people, for the people — cannot be overemphasized. It should be one of the main takeaways of the very dark, oppressive and traumatic last four years that we’ve just survived. Majority participation is what led to a successful outcome. Let’s absorb and wrap our minds around this reality. We must promise to never forget that participation is everything in a democracy as we enter these green fields of hope.

Build back better. We’ve heard this message repeatedly for the last nine months. But, how about if we do more than just build our economy back better. How about if we build our lives back better too. This means trying to regain our physical and mental footing, which will result in us being that much healthier, happier and stronger.

Gallant Gold Media’s Hill Report is very excited to announce the Sustainable Living Build Back Better Guide, a weekly article featuring tips provided by sustainable living guru, Stephen Santangelo. Stephen will share the how to’s of lowering our carbon footprints and improving our own health and happiness. It’s highly probable that Stephen’s insightful knowledge will also provide us with that many more economic opportunities. Sustainable living saves participants a lot of money.

Stephen and his wife Lori, launched into the all-in sustainable lifestyle scene by making the bold decision to relocate from Southern California to Kentucky. Stephen explained that the price of land in Kentucky for farming was that much less expensive than Southern California. In fact, the California price for the same amount of land was prohibitive. 

Gallant Gold Media is planting a forest in North Dakota to remember all those we lost to Covid. Ponderosa Pines Ranch forest. All thanks to ranch owner Byron Richard!

What is sustainable living? Sustainable living is a circular economy lifestyle with a goal of zero waste that includes all the common buzzwords that flood Instagram, and other social media platforms daily. A series of small, seemingly insignificant daily choices and habits, that collectively, if we all participate, will lower carbon emissions dramatically. Additionally, these same small, daily choices will restore our environment, reduce global warming, and reverse climate change. This includes everyday decisions such as:

  • Reusable shopping bags 
  • Reusable drink containers, especially when stopping at Starbucks
  • Reduce-reuse-upcycle-recycle
  • Composting kitchen scraps 
  • Applying the compost to our soil
  • Growing our own food as much as possible, ie herbs, fruits and vegetables
  • LED bulbs
  • Shorter showers
  • Run full loads of laundry
  • Air dry laundry
  • Renewable energy
  • Regifting
  • Bamboo paper towels that can be washed and dried quickly, one roll can last an entire year
  • And so much more

Stephen and Lori are overachievers on many of these levels, particularly food sustainability. Stephen explains that they’ve always been health conscience and raised their children that way. They’re now 97-98 percent food sustainable, and never eat out. This is mind boggling. The photos of their gardens are an amazing example of what appears to be relatively achievable for all of us. Such an inspiration. Stephen assured me that healthy soil is a big deal and he’ll provide tips in the upcoming weeks. His farming schedule is as follows, in his own words:

  • From April – October, 4-12 hours per day.
  • From November – March, virtually none…
  • …the soil has been prepared and fed in late October, and the microbes do the rest. 

How does this benefit you personally? Not only does sustainable living restore the environment, improve our quality of life, and lower our carbon footprints — which again, if we all participate, will dramatically reduce carbon emissions, and thus reverse climate change — Stephen enthusiastically explains that there are numerous additional personal benefits. These benefits have significantly improved Stephen and Lori’s well-being, most notably health and fitness. After suffering through a year of Covid, isn’t that what we all want? To be healthier. Thankfully, Stephen has agreed to share his wonderful health and fitness tips in the upcoming articles. 

Stephen and Lori have become so connected to the earth through farming, that Stephen digs extensively into the scientific research side of things. In fact, Stephen emphasized at the very beginning, that he’s all about science, and that all of his habits and routines have been acquired through intense investigating. His scientific research list is 32 sources long. Stephen’s knowledge is so deep and broad that writing this brief pilot article was daunting. 

The next steps:

  • Stephen advises that the very first thing we need to do is admit that we have to make lifestyle changes.
  • Additionally, Stephen points out that there’s science behind sustainable living lifestyle choices, especially as they pertain to farming, nature, health and exercise and it’s important that we take the time to read up and do the necessary research. Science based podcasts can be very informative as well.
  • Print the above sustainable living list and check off each item daily until each becomes habit.

Be sure to check back next Thursday for the next Sustainable Living Build Back Better Guide with Stephen Santangelo.

© Copyright 2018 – 2021. ALL Rights Reserved.

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A Nation That Destroys Its Soil Destroys Itself — FDR

Washington (GGM) Analysis | January 17, 2021 by Noreen Wise

Soil and dirt are not the same thing, according to geologist and author David R. Montgomery. Dark brown soil is life, teaming with microbes that are the engineers of all the nature that flourishes above ground. Microbe rich soil contains major amounts of carbon and moisture. Soil is the very thing that sustains our existence on the planet. 

Much paler dirt on the other hand is lifeless, containing little or no microbes, carbon or moisture, making it very difficult for plants to grow on their own. There is nothing that holds the dirt together, which often results in the wind sweeping the dirt away, creating heaps along fence lines and structure walls. 

David Montgomery warns readers in his book, Growing a Revolution, Bringing Our Soil Back to Life, that soil degradation is what destroys civilizations. The Great Dustbowl of the 1930’s was a result of a decade of soil degradation brought on by plowing during the 1920’s which removed the nutrient rich topsoil, released all the stored carbon into the air, and left behind nothing but dirt in its wake.

What’s the heart of the matter? Soil, rich in microbes, can store major amounts of carbon. Nearly 70 percent of the carbon sequestered in a forest is stashed in the soil. Plants push the carbon they absorb down to the roots where it is released into the soil and safely trapped, reducing the atmospheric carbon level. The higher our atmospheric carbon level, the more the globe heats up. 

How does this impact you personally? Global warming impacts all of us negatively. The warmer weather often results in droughts which impacts agriculture, decreasing our food supply. This is occurring at the same time the global population is rising, creating a greater demand for food. Global warming causes the climate around the globe to change. It has melted glaciers, which in turn has increased the water levels of our oceans, lakes and rivers. Property values along shorelines have plummeted in many areas. Additionally, coastal homeowners are now finding it very difficult to get insurance for their homes and property. The wildfires out West have destroyed millions of acres of forests and billions of mature trees which has exasperated the climate crisis creating catastrophic climate blowback. According to David R. Montgomery, the United States has already lost 50% of its soil, leaving behind dirt in its place.

Gallant Gold Media is planting a forest in North Dakota to remember all those we lost to Covid. Ponderosa Pines Ranch forest. All thanks to ranch owner Byron Richard!

How can you fix this? Every household in the United States must compost. Composting kitchen scraps is an imperative for restoring our soil. Compost is filled with the vital microbes that are essential for soil health. Local grocery stores now have biodegradable compost bags. These kitchen scrap compost bags can be safely stored in your refrigerator if you don’t have an outdoor compost bin with a snap clip lid that will keep wildlife out of your compost. The majority of developed countries in the world have mandatory composting with curbside pickup once a week, but not the U.S. unfortunately. Private compost pick-up companies are popping up in the majority of US cities. Additionally, many U.S. towns now have compost drop-off sites. 

The next steps:

  • place kitchen scraps into a small kitchen bag instead of the sink or garbage
  • store in refrigerator if you don’t have an outside bin with snap lid
  • drop off at town compost site once a week or call to have a private company pickup your compost
  • Voila! So easy. You’ve just helped save our existence on earth.

We can do this!

© Copyright 2018 – 2021. ALL Rights Reserved.

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Compost & Carbon Sink| Climate Action

Washington (GGM) Analysis | December 10, 2020 by Noreen Wise

Compost is a big deal in the calculus for increasing carbon sink in our soil. It provides one of the most effective methods for the US public to assist with cutting carbon as deeply and swiftly as possible.

Peat is a compost. It looks very much like soil, but is simply partially decade vegetation rich in nutrients. These nutrients are what enable the increased absorption of carbon. Peatlands are only 3% of our global lands, yet they store approximately “30% of the earths soil organic carbon.” In light of our extreme #ClimateCrisis, peat should never be removed from its environment to be sold to consumers for profit.

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The ever increasing carbon levels as the global population continues to grow, demands that we each do our own part in every way possible to curb carbon, especially in light of the fact of how simple and easy this actually is.

As we hurry to build infrastructure to support solar energy and EV autos, it makes sense to simultaneously rush to improve our natural carbon storing assets, which will further the lowering of CO2 in our atmosphere.

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Creating compost bins wherever possible can provide the much needed extra compost for forests, home gardens, public gardens and parks. It was exciting to see a “Compost” bin at the restaurant where I ate today. It was lined up with the other options at the recycling and garbage hub. I always feel so hopeful when a business “gets it” and does it’s little part. The care and maintenance of a compost bin in a restaurant is minor, but the benefit to society is huge. It pretty much follows the same ratio mentioned at the top of the page: 3% / 30% .

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We can do this!

© Copyright 2018 – 2020. ALL Rights Reserved.

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Is San Francisco First US Waste-Free City?

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 24, 2020 by Noreen Wise

San Francisco has been aggressively steering towards becoming the first waste-free US city by 2020 since all the way back to 2002. Just imagine being a completely waste-free city. It sounds so blissful. A modern day Utopia of sorts.

With only six months remaining in 2020 though, I’m sure cities across the US are eagerly pulling for this eco-trailblazer as it closes in on the final stretch. It’s amazing to scroll through Twitter and view the steps San Francisco as taken to accomplish this remarkable feat.

We all must now follow the same road map in a fraction of the time, 18 months according to some scientists. It’s agonizing to see how long it takes to move a mountain. Although there are already millions of us across the country who have been attempting waste-free living for months, perhaps even years, and have gotten into the groove and are reaping the benefits, we have to help motivate others. Our own towns, cities and organizations. Everyone simply MUST follow San Francisco’s lead. Our children’s lives depend on it.

Let’s GO! ♻️

© Copyright 2018 – 2020. ALL Rights Reserved.

The Soil Solution | Climate Change

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 21, 2020

The many climate change solutions for lowering atmospheric carbon levels and keeping our children’s futures and lives safe, are all mapped out and well documented. The climate crisis is therefore more about the vast majority’s failure to implement, especially in America, rather than not knowing what to do to correct.

The most frustrating part about the startling failure to act, is how simple and easy the solutions are. Why so much resistance? Or is it more about apathy and procrastination?!

Let’s focus on the soil solution for a second. Soil stores 2x the amount of carbon than air and plants combined, British fungal network expert and author Merlin Shedrake outlines in his new book The Entangled Life, How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures. Shedrake passionately opens reader’s eyes to the hidden fungal mycelium network below our feet, pointing out that fungi are the “guts of the earth.”

Toxic fertilizers and pesticides destroy these vital, ecosystem-saving mycelium networks. While home and community composting preserves, strengthens and grows these networks enabling that much more carbon to be stored in our soil, as well as simultaneously supporting the good health of nature above ground.

Increasing the amount of nature grown above ground, increases the number of mycelium networks below the surface. The strategy is thus very clear and straightforward.

  • Home and community composting is imperative in maintaining healthy soil, begin today if you haven’t already started
  • Grow far more nature above ground; trees as well as shrubs, flowers, ground cover and window boxes
  • Don’t use toxic fertilizers or pesticides, instead choose one of the many organic alternatives

That’s it! These easy life-saving and game-changing steps in soil health are this simple. Let’s all begin TODAY! No procrastinating. 🌱

© Copyright 2018 – 2020. ALL Rights Reserved.

Is Philadelphia an Eco-Action Model?

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 19, 2020

The importance of nature as one of the vital solutions in lowering the global atmospheric carbon level has been documented. It’s now up to us to implement this strategy as quickly as possible. Yes, we must start sprinting so that we can not only save our children’s futures, but save their lives.

Eco-action, with multi-layer landscaping, green exterior walls and green roofs, has numerous benefits:

  • substantially increases carbon absorption if applied everywhere
  • lowers air pollution
  • improves mental health
  • beautifies city streets, public spaces, and neighborhoods
  • increases property values
  • is easy and inexpensive to execute
  • strengthens community ties

In search of an American city to serve as a model for other US cities, it was exhilarating to find major success in Philadelphia, PA, our nation’s birthplace. A very positive omen. A city we’re all closely connected with and that unites each of us through the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, that now shines like a beacon of hope and inspiration during this monumentally important climate action era.

It appears that the genius behind the landscaping of Independence National Historical Park is very aware of nature’s role in solving the global climate crisis. Green walls, green roofs and layers of nature are budding everywhere. Not only in Independence Mall, but across the historic district, ivy on brick is a consistent theme.

Do you see the liberty bell in the left window?

Nature’s role in solving the global climate crisis is tied to the fungal networks below the surface, threading through the soil, connecting all plants through their roots. The more nature, the more fungal networks. The more fungal networks, the richer the soil. The richer the soil the more carbon storage. Oh, and soil stores twice as much carbon as nature.

It’s very clear that we have what it takes to overcome the looming climate crisis challenge. All solutions are readily available and easy to implement. Our greatest nemesis is procrastination. We all need to commit to acting on these solutions immediately.

Let’s GO! TGIF. Let’s start this weekend, which begins in just a few hours. Happy planting. 🌳

© Copyright 2018 – 2020. ALL Rights Reserved.

Powerful Impact of Meadows on Carbon Sink

Washington (GGM) Analysis | February 24, 2020 by Noreen Wise

Thousands of innovators across the globe are aggressively working to manufacture machines that will pull carbon out of the air and store it, or transform it into something useful. Recent news about Amazon committing $10B to combat climate change has created hope that some of these funds will be used to create innovative solutions such as carbon sequestration machines.

But we’re not there yet, so we have to maximize what’s currently at our disposal — nature.

Planting trees is our number one priority.  But, equally as important are meadows. Expansive landscapes of open fields that contain a variety of plants enable the funneling of carbon into their roots and trapping it in the soil where it will be safely stashed even when the roots die.

According to the Scientific American on sustainability, “Carbon Off-Set Cowboys Let Their Grass Grow”:

“The best way to maximize the amount of carbon that gets trapped underground is to maximize grass growth.”

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The fact that so many different types of botanic species grow in a meadow, and their roots all intertwine underground, appears to be why meadows store more carbon than tall and bushy shrubs, although they take up a lot more land. Once carbon is trapped underground, fungi feed off it, and according to the Scientific American, fungi are often consumed by microbes and worms which stabilizes the carbon.

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The western half of the country, with it’s massive open terrain, has a huge opportunity to maximize this option and help the United States take giant steps forward in cutting carbon. Apparently, a cap & trade program that reward ranchers and land owners is already underway. According to Civil Eats, Indigo Ag, a Boston-based agtech company, has raised $600 million from investors to help farmers sink one trillion tons of carbon on their property. Farmers are paid $15 per metric ton of stored carbon.

It’s exciting to see that the economy that led to our stratospheric carbon emissions rate, can be used to turn the catastrophe around and inspire land owners to reach for an opportunity to reduce carbon just as quickly and significantly.🌱

© Copyright 2018 – 2021. ALL Rights Reserved.