Posts filed under ‘Composting’

How to Reverse Climate Change by Greening the Worlds deserts


In this March 3, 2013 TED talk, Allan Savory proposes that most global climate change is due, much more than from use of fossil fuels, to grasslands becoming deserts in over half of the land mass of the world. But, he also shows how, contrary to our preconceptioins, grazing animals can, and are actually restore the deserts back to grasslands.

March 21, 2013 at 11:54 pm Leave a comment

New University of Hawai’i Maui Campus Garden



SLIM (The Sustainable Living Institute of Maui at UHMC) is partnering with a number of local community organizations to design a educational, culinary and community garden on the Maui campus.

The garden will feature:

  • Movies in the Garden
  • A learning center showcasing innovative gardening techniques
  • Culinary, educational and community plots
  • On-site composting
  • Student-run farm stand
  • Green building structures

You can get involved by contacting SLIM or donating gardening or building materials or monetary donations.

April 2, 2011 at 7:10 pm Leave a comment

Habit of the Month: Composting

This month, our habit of the month is Composting. Composting is easy for almost everyone but if you don’t have a garden (or a friend with a garden) you won’t realize the return. Compost is gold for any garden (even containers) and you don’t have to do much at all to create great compost. Composting prevents tons of material from going to the landfill that is specially designed to NOT decompose.

The first thing you need is a covered container to keep your food scraps in before you take them out to the bin. The size depends on how much food scraps you create and how often you want to take them out. Don’t use any meat, oil or dairy products to avoid getting pests. Dead and dying remains of fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds, egg shells any paper products that are biodegradable can be added.

The second thing you need is a compost bin, pile or vermiculture setup. Bins can be purchased at almost all garden stores or made with just simple material. See the Garden Tips section for information on building a outdoor bin like we built at the school garden. There are literally hundreds of websites and videos on composting. Some make it sound like rocket science but don’t worry … compost happens! Getting better at it just means you can create compost faster. Essential ingredients are green stuff (food stuff from your covered container, grass clippings, green leaves), brown stuff (dried leaves, small stems, cardboard), air, water and compost or soil starter. As you build your bin, layer these. There are tons of different “compost recipes” but unless you are measuring dry weight (I’m not drying out my garbage!) most are overwhelming. Keep a relative mix and check out how things are going by turning. If you turn your bin every week or so, that introduces more air and the process goes faster. Add a little water if it seems dry. Just remember that anything you do will speed up the processing … if you don’t do anything, compost still happens!

This column highlights little changes toward a more sustainable life. Each month we feature one small thing that you can do each day in just minutes. You may already be doing it so find ways to adapt and improve. Studies show that it takes about 20 days to establish a habit. By having a habit of the month, we are constantly establishing more sustainable lives.

July 7, 2010 at 9:13 pm 1 comment

Hot or Cold Composting

We’re all about composting this month. In this article we’ll discuss the different types of composting (hot, cold, vermi-composting) and how to build your own compost bin(s) for very little money. We spent about $35 to create 3 bins.

At our last work and learn day, we had several people asking about whether their compost is “hot” or “cold”. Well that depends on how well you treat it. Ideally, we would all have “hot” bins. The material in a hot bin gets hot enough to destroy weed seeds, insects and most pathogens. It can also get “hot” enough to spontaneously combust if you have too much dry browns so be careful! In a hot bin, the temperature can exceed 160 degrees Fahrenheit but above that, you’ll start killing the great organisms. If you find your bin getting super hot, just turn it more often. To have a true hot bin, you need to have a large cubic foot area at least 3′ x 3′ x 3′. A hot bin will create compost in just weeks.

Most home compost piles are built gradually where you add things from the garden and garbage. You fill it up and then it starts breaking down. The center will always be hotter than the outside so it is important to keep turning. Either put weeds in the center where they’ll get hot or toss them in the garbage. If you are a lazy gardener and rarely turn your pile, the outsides will continue to be unbroken down and filled with bugs. If your bin is smaller or never really fills it will tend to be cooler. A “cold” or “warm” bin still brings much biological activity that builds great compost but may need more filtering. You don’t want to put any weeds or pest infected debris in a cold pile because you’ll just be creating more problems.

Vermicomposting is usually smaller scale and uses worms to create wonderful compost. You could keep your worms inside or in a cool shady spot outdoors. This could be a whole article on it’s own!

To make the great and super easy compost bins like we did, just buy a roll of galvanized 36″ sturdy wire. Buy sturdy landscaping fabric that is at least 36″ long. Cut both the wire and the fabric into at least 10′ lengths to make a 3′ diameter bin. Make sure that there are no sharp or pointed wires sticking out. You can either use wire, twine or zip-ties to fasten the ends together. Just remember that you want it secure but easy to cut when you are ready to process your compost; just cut the ties and unwrap the pile.

For those who like to build, try building a square top for the compost bin that doubles as a compost sieve using 2x4s and 1″ wire mesh. Share your composting tips below!

Happy Gardening

July 7, 2010 at 9:08 pm Leave a comment

EPA Video Contests

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has held contests for educational videos that inspire people to protect the environment.

One contest aimed at helping protect streams, lakes, wetlands, and coasts. The two winners each received $2,500 and have their videos featured on EPA’s Web site. The goal of the video contest is to educate the public on different water pollution issues and illustrate ways that homeowners, gardeners, farmers, pet owners, communities and others can improve water quality by changing simple behaviors.The video submissions are in two categories:
* a 30 or 60 second video that is usable as a TV public service announcement
* a 1-3 minute instructional video

Many of the videos are on YouTube and you can also see the EPA Water Quality Video Contest – Winners and Honorable Mentions.

EPA sponsored another video competition, Our Planet, Our Stuff, Our Choice, to raise awareness of the connection between the environment and the “stuff” people use, consume, recycle, and throw away. They looked for videos that will inspire community involvement, spread information and lead to action. The contest ended on February 15. Thanks to the South Maui family who entered the contest with this video.

March 5, 2010 at 5:26 pm 1 comment

Ecology Action

Ecology Action
is a Santa Cruz, CA nonprofit environmental consultancy delivering cutting edge education services, technical assistance, and program implementation for initiatives that assist individuals, business and government to maximize environmental quality and community well being.

Since 1970 Ecology Action has combined municipal, foundation, and private funding to establish cutting-edge conservation programs, prove their effectiveness financially and operationally, and establish each program as a permanent community resource.

They seek innovative ways to instill environmental awareness, promote pragmatic change, and create opportunities for individuals, businesses, and community agencies to save money, create jobs, and contribute to a sustainable local economy.

Browse some of their current programs:

Bike Smart!
Promotes safe bicycling through fun, hands-on education programs at Santa Cruz County schools.

Bike to Work
Provides incentives, free breakfast, and support to get you hooked on bicycling as transportation.

Business Waste Assessment
Waste assessment software to help government and businesses reduce waste, save money, and promote resource conservation.

Clean Beaches Coalition
Ongoing beach cleanups including the Annual Coastal Cleanup

Climate Solutions Program
A leadership initiative to mobilize the entire Monterey Bay Area to radically reduce our carbon footprint.

Electric Bike Information
Providing reduced prices, safety and skill training, and increased service for Santa Cruz County residents.

Folding Bikes in Buses
Providing reduced prices on folding bikes and bus passes to promote bike with bus transportation for Santa Cruz County residents.

Cabrillo College Go Green
Choose an alternative to driving alone and you can make a difference in reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gases. For Cabrillo College students, staff and faculty members.

Green Building
Information about the design and construction of healthy, sustainable places to live and work.

Green Business Program
Offers free technical and promotional assistance to help you become a certified green business.

Green Gardener Program
Provides professional training and certification in ecological landscaping and helps customers find certified Green Gardeners.

Home Composting Program
Offers a wealth of home composting resources and opportunities for the residents of Santa Cruz County.

Household Hazardous Waste
Provides information about local and regional drop-off facilities and alternatives to traditionally used chemicals.

Integrated Pest Managment
Provides information and technical assistance about less-toxic alternatives to traditional pest management.

Livestock and Land
Provides technical assistance and cost share dollars for manure and land management approaches that protect water quality.

LodgingSavers Program
Delivers a comprehensive suite of rebated energy efficiency retrofits to Lodging Properties in PG&E service territory.

Model Schools Program
Reduces pest problems, flooding and erosion, and the use of toxic chemicals in schools.

Multifamily Recycling
A partnership with twelve local agencies and haulers, implementing comprehensive recycling and waste reduction programs at low income multifamily housing complexes.

Oil Recycling
Provides information about local and regional used oil and filter drop-off facilities for cars, boats, and farm equipment.

Our Water Our World
Raises public awareness about alternatives to using hazardous pesticide and fertilizer products in and around the home.

Santa Cruz County Recycles
Provides information that enables people and businesses to reuse, recycle, and buy recycled in Santa Cruz County.

Special Event Recycling
Offers recycling and waste reduction programs at events through technical assistance, outreach and education.

RightLights Program
Provides subsidized lighting upgrades and free professional assistance to help businesses lower energy bills and boost cash flow.

Tourism Recycling
Offers recycling and waste reduction programs at events through technical assistance, outreach and education.

Transportation Membership Services
Encourages member employees to use other ways than driving alone to commute to and from work.

Waste Free Schools Program
Assists Santa Cruz County schools in institutionalizing campus recycling, composting and reduce / reuse programs.

May 16, 2009 at 7:11 pm Leave a comment

South Maui Tour de Trash big success

recyclesymbol50px Saturday May 9, 2009.

Wonder what happens to your recycled items? The Tour de Trash, is an inspiring and educational voyage by bus to major recycling facilities across Maui. The tour includes some walking and even some smelly places.

At the request of South Maui Sustainability, the County of Maui Solid Waste Division created a Tour de Trash starting in South Maui and including new locations not on the Central Maui based Tour. Included were Central Maui Landfill, Pacific Biodiesel, Maui Earth Compost and SOS Metals Recycling, among others.

A group of us spent a most enjoyable day learning a lot about what happens with the things in our waste stream. We ended up being shown around the Fairmont Kea Lani by the head of their Green Team and being impressed by some of the things they are doing. Find out more about their program here.

All in all, it was a very inspiring day and a lot of good ideas leading to new projects for South Maui Sustainability should come out of the experience.

See photos of the tour.

May 9, 2009 at 1:35 am 1 comment

Sierra Club Green Tip Videos





April 22, 2009 at 2:42 pm Leave a comment

No-dig Gardening

 A productive vegetable garden that only needs watering every 10 days!

The technique has been used since the 1977 paperback, “Esther Deans’ Gardening Book: Growing Without Digging,” promoted it as a solution to poor soil, rampant weeds, water shortages and costly food

No-dig is more efficient, water wise, because once a plant has a 10- to 12-inch root system, the layers of compost and straw keep moisture around the roots. And you can keep layering it over and over again as the organic matter breaks down.

Click here to read the Los Angeles Times article, How Do His Veggies Grow? The No-dig Way.

Click here to see photos of the no-dig gardening process.

Here’s an interesting blog post on no-dig gardening.

January 23, 2009 at 5:52 pm 1 comment

Maui Earth Compost article

timgunter The Haleakala Times featured one of our January 8 panelists, Tim Gunter, and his Maui Earth Compost.

January 9, 2009 at 4:53 am Leave a comment

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