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It’s The Little Things

By Staff | Apr 24, 2012

It’s the little things that we do that make a difference.

Take recycling for example. If each of us does a small thing like separating our garbage from the recyclable items, less trash will enter our landfills. It makes good sense to be good stewards to this land that is in our care.

It is no secret that I have been recycling for years. I started decades ago as a teenager when my hometown of Cylinder began participating in a recycling program. It’s a good habit I’ve continued through the years. I am notorious for admonishing my family members when I see them not recycling, and I’m even guilty of taking my plastic and glass food and drink containers home from work to toss in our recycling bin.

And in the past couple years my family has started composting our food scraps. We haven’t had anything too elaborate-just a spot in the back corner of our yard where we throw leaves, vegetable and fruit peelings, egg shells, and coffee grounds. And for those times it’s just too cold or too inconvenient to run outside to throw scraps on the compost pile, I have a big plastic zipper bag in the freezer until I can make the trip. I have to admit I get kind of excited when I turn the compost pile with a shovel and see the good dark fertilizer beneath. Like I said, it’s the little things.

In that vein, this past weekend we picked up our composter and rain barrel that we purchased from the Northern Plains Regional Landfill, the City of Spencer, and the Clay, Emmet, Palo Alto, and Pocahontas County Conservation Boards. I’m excited to begin using these new tools.

Did you know that the U.S. generates more than 34 million tons of food waste each year? And, according to Palo Alto County Naturalist Miriam Patton, less than three-percent of the 34 million tons of food waste generated in 2009 was recovered and recycled. The rest-33 million tons-was thrown away.

If more people compost their food scraps, less trash will be filling our landfills and the longer we can use these landfills. Plus, composting creates wonderful fertilizer for our gardens and lawns!

We’re also looking forward to putting the rain barrel to good use. On a smaller scale I have been emptying the water collected in our basement dehumidifier on my flowers in the summer. But this big rain barrel will collect gallons and gallons of water.

Did you realize that scientists have calculated that one inch of rainfall on a 1,000 square foot roof produces some 600 gallons of storm water runoff? Rain barrels can catch the rainwater and keep runoff out of storm water systems and natural waterways, lowering the risk of flooding because of system overcapacity and decreasing water pollution from runoff. An extra plus: you save money on your water bill because you can tap into your rainwater collection instead of turning on your outdoor spigot to water your garden and lawn.

Little acts can lead to big results.