Amy’s Zero Waste Quest: Backyard Composting

Posted by on Oct 16, 2020 in Learning Center

Food waste and yard waste together make up about 25% of what we throw away.  That means almost ¼ of what we throw away can be composted!  We can recycle nutrient-rich “stuff” like leaves, twigs, grass clippings, weed and shrub cuttings, garden waste, and food waste back into the soil by letting nature do her thing. Composting reduces the need to water because of organic matter’s great water-holding capacity.  This can be a great way to save money if you are on city water.  Compost can also replace the need for chemical fertilizers, improves soil structure (which cuts down on erosion), improves yields of fruit and vegetable gardens, and it can be fun! Try composting! No matter what you cannot mess it up.  Compost happens.  There are many different styles of composting, but they will all result in rich organic material that can be a great soil amendment. Soil Incorporation – add food scraps other than meats into a hole about 1 foot deep, then cover with at least 8” of soil, so animals won’t dig it up. Bin or Pile-Deciding which one to use will depend on how fancy or neat you want your compost to be. If you live in a residential area, it might be a good idea to keep it contained somehow to avoid neighbor complaints about how it looks.  A bin can also help to keep the pile from spreading as they will tend to do over time.  Bins can be pallets lined up to make a box, plastic bins, chicken wire, or a trash can with no bottom and air holes in the sides.  A pile should be at least 3’x3’ and preferably more like 6’x6’. Where to place it – A pile or bin should be kept in a somewhat shaded area so that it won’t dry out so quickly. It is also important to keep it close the where you will eventually use the compost. Some people choose to put the pile where they plan to plant next year’s crops so that they can just spread it right where it is.  If you can, you may want to have your bin close to the kitchen if you plan to put kitchen scraps in it. Tools – Basically all you need is a long-handled pitchfork for turning and aerating the compost. A compost thermometer is sometimes helpful, as well. Recipe-Start with bare soil. Exposed soil allows the flora and fauna living in the soil to travel into your compost and aid in the decomposition of your waste.  In general, a compost pile is made in layers of brown and green materials.  The exposed soil serves as the first layer of brown material.  Add a layer of “green” which could include young weeds, grass clippings, or food waste.  Add some “browns” like twigs, branches, shrubbery clippings, dry leaves or straw.  Add some moisture...

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Amy’s Zero Waste Quest: Feeling the Weigh of Bulk Buying Options

Posted by on Sep 14, 2020 in Learning Center

As part of any “zero waste” endeavor, bulk buying comes into play.  It is important to know the how and why, but also the where.  So, I took off on a mission to find bulk buying options in Hendricks County.  The good news…we have a few.  The bad news…we have a FEW. Bulk shopping is something we know we can do online.  But, in an effort to support local businesses and reduce our carbon footprint at the same time, we should be looking for local options for bulk purchases. Here are some local finds: Wild Refillery – Check them out for zero waste soaps, shampoos, laundry detergent, and other household items.  You can sign up for a Danville pick-up location. Our SpecialTEA – located in the upstairs of Courthouse Grounds in Danville and sold in other local shops.  Many yummy loose-leaf teas.  My current favorite is the Carmel Apple flavor. The Real Food Shoppe in Plainfield – Tabatha will be happy to fill your reusable container for you from her varied supply of spices and baking supplies.  She is also happy to take orders for bulk quantities of grains.  Did I mention she also has a wealth of knowledge?  Check her out on Facebook where you can find hours, videos about products, and information about new and seasonal offerings. Fresh Thyme Market – You can find a lot of bulk bins from which to fill, but it looks like you need to be prepared to use one of their plastic bags for filling.  Always ask a manager before you shop at any store if you can use your own containers. It is work noting that the original bulk buying option is right from the farm.  Look for a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) option for your fruits and veggies or shop the local farmer’s market for larger amounts of produce that you can preserve on your own.  And don’t forget Beasley’s Orchard where you can find locally-grown and handmade foods all with zero to almost zero waste all year long. The best part of bulk buying in Hendricks County is getting to know and being able to support our neighbors.  The bonus?  It’s good for the...

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Amy’s Zero Waste Quest: Managing Waste While Moving

Posted by on Jul 17, 2020 in Learning Center

Zero waste moving (closer to Near-o waste) is top of mind for us at the District as we just moved our office from Brownsburg to Danville moving tons of “stuff” (educational manipulatives, displays, furniture, etc). Here are some tips we can share with those of you who are on the move and don’t want to make a lot of trash. Sort everything as you begin packing into three categories, “keep”, “donate”, and “toss” (yes, some things still have to be thrown away). Make a plan for the items you will donate. Goodwill is a good place for most things.   And, you might be able to share your abundance with others in need, too.  Here are our favorite donation sites: Habitat for Humanity ReStore  – for furniture, lamps, fixtures Half Price Books – books, games, audiobooks, DVDs Consignment shops – clothing Check your “toss” items to make sure they are not Household Hazardous Waste. Look for a “Caution”, “Warning”, “Danger”, or “Poison” label.  If you see these labels, you need to bring those items to our next Tox-Away Day.  Check our website for details. Pack items in reused boxes (ask local retailers) or storage totes (can be used again after the move). In our case, we were able to use lots of recycling bins and worm bins.  There is also this nifty service Instead of using packing peanuts for breakables, consider using towels, blankets, and even stuffed animals to cushion your fragile things. Recycle, recycle, recycle!  Make sure that when you set up your trash service, you also set up curbside recycling service.  Break down boxes, smooth out newspapers, and make sure that one of the first things out of the truck at your new home is a recycle bin.  Place it right next to the trash can so that it is very clear what goes where as you...

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Reread, Relisten, & Rewatch

Posted by on Jun 8, 2020 in Learning Center

Reread, Relisten, and Rewatch should be added to the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle list.  The written or spoken word, music, and movies do not wear out and some get better with time.  Lucky for us there are people willing to share used media for others to enjoy. If you are an avid reader who enjoys the aesthetics of a book, you may find yourself with mountainous piles and shelves full of books that you have already read.  Or maybe you are a movie buff or music lover who can’t resist a sale.  Piles of stuff that you no longer want or need can add stress to your life and can add trash to the landfill. Perhaps it’s time to share your media treasures! Shop or sell/donate to your local Goodwill or Half-Price Books.  It’s easy! Half Price Books – You can either sell your used books, buy used books at a discounted price or BOTH! Accepted: Children’s books, hardback books, paperback books, DVDs, audiobooks, CDs, LPs, Magazines, Audiobooks, Video Games, Video Game Consoles, and E-readers. Tips: Make sure that you bring good quality, nondamaged materials.  Books should have little to no highlighter marks or underlining and though they can be in less than perfect condition, they should not “smell funny”. CDs and DVDs should have little to no scratches and should be in their original cases. Books and magazines that are new and trending tend to bring more money than last year’s hottest reads. Half-Price Books donates or recycles what they cannot resell. Goodwill – If you don’t want to bother with selling your books, movies, or music, or if you are only looking to buy this might be the option for you.  Plus, as an added bonus you can write off the donation on your taxes. Accepted: Gently used books, movies and music, video games, game consoles, E-readers, and Audiobooks. Tips: Flip through your books to make sure you haven’t left any personal items between the pages. Make sure that CDs and DVDs are in their correct...

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Amy’s Zero Waste Quest: Farmers’ Markets

Posted by on May 21, 2020 in Learning Center

As part of my quest to zero waste I plan to make an effort to eat locally this year. If you are working on being a locavore, it helps to have a plan. Eating locally supports local agriculture, requires the use of less energy to transport food, fosters a sense of community, makes less waste, and is better for you. Whether you are a Farmers’ Market Newbie or a well-seasoned veteran, we have got the low-down on what you can expect to find in-season and when in Indiana. Before you visit the Farmers’ Market it helps to know which fruits and vegetables will be at the peak of the season and when you can expect that to happen. This guide will allow you to know when you can find your favorites and also when the season will wane (this is when you can get the best deal on bulk purchases).  We will focus on the local favorites: Strawberries and Blackberries – Don’t wait!  These delicious little beauties are ready in June. Look for shiny, brightly colored fruits that are fragrant. Lettuce and other greens – High in antioxidants and easy to prepare, greens are ready in June. Be sure to eat them as soon as you purchase them for the best flavor. Peas – Peas that are homegrown are sweet and lovely. Eat them raw, cook them right away or freeze them for later. Peas are available throughout June and into July. Potatoes, Brocolli, Carrots and Beets – Farmer’s Markets have all kinds of varieties to choose from. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new. You will find all of these available beginning in mid-late June and into July. Beans, Cucumbers, Melons, Sweet Corn, Squash and Tomatoes – Jackpot! All of these wonderful local favorites are ripe at about the same time. Mid-July through August you will be able to feast on this bounty. Now that you know when to find your favorites, you might be looking for some recipes. Check out the following books:  Fresh From the Farmers’ Market by Janet Fletcher and The Feast Nearby by Robin Mather.  These are great reads with some recipes for all of those local finds. Also, don’t be afraid to ask the farmers you purchased your produce from. Very often, they can provide you with recipes and tips for preparing and preserving their harvest. Hendricks County’s farmers’ markets are beginning to open. Danville is now open on Saturdays from 8 am-noon until September. Plainfield will be open Wednesdays beginning in June, Avon on Tuesdays beginning in June, and Pittsboro will open on Wednesdays beginning July 1st. Brownsburg farmers’ market will likely open in...

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