Written by Robert Dunn
One of the more important environmental actions we take in our household is to compost as much of our food waste as possible and nearly all of the leaves that fall in our yard each year. Almost seven years ago we started a compost pile in our backyard with some very basic plastic fencing we bought on clearance at a local hardware store (we did upgrade to metal two years ago). For our family, food items being added to the pile typically include banana, apple, and orange peels, vegetable scraps, and egg shells. My grandma has also started giving us her compostables every week or two and each fall I add as many leaves as possible to the pile. When we first started composting, it felt like a bit of extra work but now it is just part of our regular routine and it gives me a reason to walk through the back yard every few days. It has definitely reduced the amount of trash we put out each week and has also been a nice opportunity to teach our 7-year-old and 4-year-old sons about an important natural cycle.
The other thing that we have done over the past 12 years we have owned our home is to plant several trees (11 in total) – including three eastern white pines, three serviceberries, three thundercloud plums, a maple, and a river birch. It has also been a learning process. For the first Christmas with our oldest son we bought a tree with a root ball that we wanted to use as the tree in our house and then plant outside the following spring. Luckily, we did a bit of investigating before we got the tree inside and realized it likely wouldn’t survive after being inside a warm house for several weeks, so we ended up planting a pine tree in our backyard in December! The good news is it has thrived and has often housed a bird’s nest in the spring. These actions have helped us feel that we can have a positive impact on the environment through things we do right here in Washington in our backyard.