"The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it." Psalm 24: 1
RCLPC is an
Earth Care Congregation
Earth Care Team Announcements:
Earth Care Classes Summary: (see full article here.)
The U.S. Recycling Crisis and What We Can Do About It
... in 2017, U.S. and European dirty recyclables were banned and started piling up at ports and warehouses. This ban created chaos in U.S. communities.
Actually, it was a crisis of our own making. We weren't investing in infrastructure to do a better job of sorting recyclables. We were just sending the poorly sorted recyclables to China. The cost of recycling here soared. Some communities started sending recyclables to landfills, and others sent them to be incinerated at waste-to-energy plants. Some started to limit the types of recyclables they would pick up, and others ended curbside programs all together.
There is a "Silver Lining". Five paper mills are retooling for recycling paper in south-central U.S. The paper recycling industry is coming back, but it will be several years before it is stable. The recycled plastics industry is working to reduce contamination. Some facilities are using optic scanners that help to separate plastics. The recycling operations that are doing well are those that catered all along to domestic markets that wanted clean, high-quality plastics and paper.
So how can we help with this recycling crisis?
... see summary article.
The Presbyterian Eco-Justice Journey blog has posted an update. Learn about opportunities and information for "faith-based environmental and sustainable living" education, advocacy and action to accompany you on your own justice journey.
Gardening Tips from the Earth Care Team
Psalm 50:10-11 "For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine."
It's that time of year when it feels good to clean up big time, but below are some reasons to rethink that big fall job in the yard. Instead of work, enjoy the natural habitat and nature will thank you!
Six Reasons NOT to clean up the Garden this Fall
by Jessica Walliser of Savvy Gardening
Twenty-some years ago, fresh out of college with a horticulture degree in-hand, I started teaching adult education classes at a local botanic garden. For many years, I taught a class called Preparing Your Garden for the Winter. It was all about how to clean up the garden every fall. I would show slides (remember those?) of how well-kept gardens should look in January. In the images, every plant was cut to the nub, except for the ornamental grasses and butterfly bushes, and the whole garden was snug under a thick layer of mushroom soil mulch. The roses were neatly trimmed to two feet and wrapped in a blanket of burlap, folded and stapled closed to keep them protected from freezing winds. There was nary a fallen leaf in sight; everything was raked up and hauled off.
You see, that's how we gardeners used to roll in the early '90s, before we knew better. Before we knew all the reasons NOT to clean up the garden. We'd cut everything down and perform a big, end-of-the-season gardening clean up until there was no shred of nature left behind. We'd turn the place into a tidied, controlled, and only slightly dirtier version of our living room. Everything was tucked and trimmed and in its place. Most of us weren't interested in supporting wildlife much beyond hanging up a bird feeder, and the phrase "wildlife habitat" was only used in places like zoos and national parks.
Unfortunately, many gardeners still think of this kind of hack-it-all-down and rake-it-all-up gardening clean up as good gardening, but in case you haven't already noticed, I'm here to tell you times have changed. Preparing Your Garden for the Winter is a completely different class these days. We now understand how our yards can become havens for creatures, large and small, depending on what we plant in them and how we tend to our cultivated spaces. Thanks to books like Doug Tallamy's Bringing Nature Home, we now know how important native plants are for insects, birds, amphibians, and even people. Our gardens play an important role in supporting wildlife and what we do in them every autumn can either enhance or inhibit that role.
To that end, here are six important reasons NOT to clean up the garden in the fall.
Delaying your garden's clean up until the spring is a boon for all the creatures living there.
- The Native Bees: Many of North America's 3500-plus species of native bees need a place to spend the winter that's protected from cold and predators. They may hunker down under a piece of peeling tree bark, or they may stay tucked away in the hollow stem of a bee balm plant or an ornamental grass. Some spend the winter as an egg or larvae in a burrow in the ground. All native bees are important pollinators, and when we remove every last overwintering site by cutting everything down and completely cleaning up the garden, we're doing ourselves no favor. We need these bees, and our gardens can provide them with much-needed winter habitat.
- The Butterflies: While the monarch flies south to overwinter in Mexico, most other butterflies stay put and take shelter somewhere dry and safe until spring. Some butterflies, like the mourning cloak, comma, question mark, and Milbert's tortoise shell, overwinter as adults. They nestle into rock fissures, under tree bark, or in leaf litter until the days grow longer again and spring arrives. Butterflies that overwinter in a chrysalis include the swallowtail family, the cabbage whites and the sulphurs. Many of these chrysalises can be found either hanging from dead plant stems or tucked into the soil or leaf litter. You can guess what a fall gardening clean up does to them. And still other butterfly species, such as the red-spotted purple, the viceroy, and the meadow fritillary, spend the winter as a caterpillar rolled into a fallen leaf or inside the seed pod of a host plant. If we cut down and clean up the garden, we are quite possibly eliminating overwintering sites for many of these beautiful pollinators (and perhaps even eliminating the insects themselves!). Another excellent way you can help butterflies is to build a caterpillar garden for them; here's how. Declining butterfly populations are one of the best reasons not to clean up the garden.
- The Ladybugs: North America is home to over 400 different ladybug species, many of which are not red with black polka-dots. While the introduced Asian multicolored ladybug comes into our homes for the winter and becomes quite a nuisance, none of our native ladybug species have any interest in spending the winter inside of your house. Most of them enter the insect world's version of hibernation soon after the temperatures drop and spend the colder months tucked under a pile of leaves, nestled at the base of a plant, or hidden under a rock. Most overwinter in groups of anywhere from a few individuals to thousands of adults. Ladybugs are notorious pest eaters, each one consuming dozens of soft-bodied pest insects and insect eggs every day. Leaving the garden intact for the winter means you'll get a jump start on controlling pests in the spring. Skipping a fall gardening cleanup is one important way to help these beneficial insects.
- The Birds: Insect-eating birds, like chickadees, wrens, titmice, nuthatches, pheobes, and bluebirds, are very welcome in the garden because they consume thousands of caterpillars and other pest insects as they raise their young every gardening season. Not cleaning up the garden means there will be more protein-rich insects available to them during the coldest part of the year. These birds are quite good at gleaning "hibernating" insects off of dead plant stems and branches, and out of leaf litter. The more insect-nurturing habitat you have, the greater the bird population will be. Your feathered friends will also appreciate feasting on the seeds and berries they can collect from intact perennial, annual, and shrub stems. Song birds are one of the best reasons skip the garden clean up!
- The Predatory Insects: Ladybugs aren't the only predatory insects who spend the winter in an intact garden. Assassin bugs, lacewings, big-eyed bugs, minute pirate bugs, damsel bugs, ground beetles, and scores of other pest-munching predatory insects spend the winter "sleeping" in your garden as either adults, eggs, or pupae. They're one of the best reasons not to clean up the garden in the fall because they help you control pests. To have a balanced population of these predatory insects, you have to have winter habitat; when spring arrives, they'll be better able to keep early-emerging pests in check if they've spent the winter on-site, instead of over in the neighbor's yard.
- The People: If the previous five reasons aren't enough to inspire you to hold off on cleaning up the garden, I'll add one final reason to the list: You. There is so much beauty to be found in a winter garden. Snow resting on dried seed pods, berries clinging to bare branches, goldfinches flitting around spent sunflowers, juncos hopping beneath old goldenrod fronds, frost kissing the autumn leaves collected at the base of a plant, and ice collected on blades of ornamental grasses. At first, you might not consider yourself to be one of the reasons not to clean up the garden, but winter is a lovely time out there, if you let it be so.
Instead of heading out to the garden with a pair of pruning shears and a rake this fall, wait until next April. By then, all the critters living there will be emerging from their long winter nap. And even if they haven't managed to get out of bed by the time you head out to the garden, most of them will still manage to find their way out of a loosely layered compost pile before it begins to decompose. Do Mother Nature a big favor and save your garden clean up until the spring. And, when spring does arrive, please use these pollinator-friendly tips for cleaning up the garden the right way.
Earth Care Team is sharing with you with the permission of our friend and well-known recycler, Kay McKeen, slides she recently shared at McHenry County's monthly Green Drinks meeting. Kay offers many good suggestions for using less (Reducing), using what you have (Reusing), and saving money (Recycling). The slides are organized monthly to help you in Planning a Zero-Waste Year!
RECYCLE COOKING OIL
Consider recycling your cooking oil (especially that turkey fryer oil!) with a locally owned company Hopkins Grease Company where it is processed and recycled into yellow grease which is used in valuable products such as plastics, soaps, livestock feed, and alternative fuel. Call for drop off times, (847) 458-1010.
SAY NO TO PLASTIC STRAWS
Each day we use 500 million straws - enough disposable straws to fill over 46,400 large school buses per year? Just say no thank you to straws.
CAPS ON OR OFF?
Recycling industry officials say to leave the caps on bottles or containers to make sure they get through the recycling plant processes.
DID YOU KNOW?
Any cardboard or paper boxes that has food stuck to it (or grease stains) CANNOT be recycled anywhere.
Green Guide Upcoming Activities
Make a Difference Day
locations vary, fourth Saturday annually, 9am - Noon.
Environmental Defenders sponsored. www.mcdef.org
Green Living Tips
This tip brought to you by Global Stewards Sustainable Living Tips.
Find them at http://www.globalstewards.org
I came across a blog article recently on Global Stewards Blog which taken in all at once is a HUGE amount of information. So I've decided to share the blog post with you in 3 separate installments centered around the theme of Reduce, Recycle, and Re-use. Part 1 of the blog article focuses on REDUCING our consumption in order to live a lighter, green lifestyle. If you'd like to read the blog article in its entirety, click here (http://www.globalstewards.org/ecotips.htm)
REDUCE: The critical first step of waste prevention is often overshadowed by a focus on recycling. To help gain a greater awareness of the importance of the "Reduce" part of the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle mantra, and for a great overview of how raw materials and products move around the world, see the video The Story of Stuff (approx 21 mins): (https://youtu.be/9GorqroigqM) If you're looking for ways to reduce the amount of stuff you consume, here are some great ways you can get started:
- Go Zero Waste: The ultimate goal - learn how at https://zerowastehome.com/
- Simplify: Simplify your life as much as possible. Only keep belongings that you use/enjoy on a regular basis. By making the effort to reduce what you own, you will naturally purchase less/create less waste in the future.
- Reduce Purchases: In general, think before you buy any product - do you really need it? How did the production of this product impact the environment and what further impacts will there be with the disposal of the product (and associated packaging materials)? When you are thinking about buying something, try the 30-Day Rule -- wait 30 days after the first time you decide you want a product to really make your decision. This will eliminate impulse buying.
- Replace Disposables: Wherever possible, replace disposable products with reusable ones (i.e., razor, food storage, batteries, ink cartridges (buy refill ink), coffee filters, furnace or air conditioner filters, etc.).
- Buy Used: Buy used products whenever possible.
- Make Your Own: Whenever possible, make your own products to cut down on waste and control the materials used.
- Avoid Creating Trash: Avoid creating trash wherever possible: when ordering food, avoid receiving any unnecessary plastic utensils, straws, etc. (ask in advance), buy ice cream in a cone instead of a cup, don't accept "free" promotional products, buy products with the least amount of packaging, etc. Every little bit of trash avoided does make a difference!
- Shopping Bags: While shopping, if you only buy a few products skip the shopping bag. For larger purchases, bring your own. For a great movie on what happens to all those plastic bags, watch the Bag It! trailer (3 mins) here: (https://vimeo.com/5645718)
- Mug-to-Go: Carry a mug with you wherever you go for takeout beverages.
McHenry County Green Drinks Networking
In McHenry County, the first Wednesday of each month is Green Wednesday! Time to gather to discuss environmental topics, plus reconnect with eco-friends and make new ones. Join us at Duke's Alehouse & Kitchen, 110 N Main Street in Crystal Lake. The event is upstairs at Duke's from 5-7pm. Head upstairs for info and inspiration, business and pleasure.
Come talk about "greening" the future with others. Additional parking is available at the train station.
Upcoming Green Drinks Topics:
Check the weblink at greendrinks.org/ for additional information about upcoming green topics.
The McHenry County Green Drinks is apart of an international network of over 600 Green Drinks groups throughout the world.These events are very simple and unstructured, but many people have found employment, made friends, developed new ideas, and had moments of serendipity.
Prayer for the Earth
Creator God, you make all things and weave them together in an intricate tapestry of life.
Teach us to respect the fragile balance of life and to care for all the gifts of your creation.
Guide by your wisdom those who have power and authority, that, by the decisions they make, life may be cherished and a good and fruitful Earth may continue to show your glory and sing your praises. Almighty God, you have called us to tend and keep the garden of your creation.
Give us wisdom and reverence for all your plants and animals who share this planet with us and whose lives make possible our own. Help us to remember that they too love the sweetness of life and join with us in giving you praise.
--From the National Council of Churches Earth Day Sunday 2001