In May 2013, the American Public Gardens Association launched the YOUtopia initiative, a national program through which public gardens pledge to reduce their gardens’ climate impact and engage visitors in climate solutions. Through the YOUtopia program, Adkins Arboretum has strengthened its commitment to sustainability and to lead by example to teach visitors about good environmental practices.
We began by using fewer plastic containers and replacing them with glass whenever possible. While both plastic and glass are recycled, glass bottles that escape into the ocean eventually become sea glass, and not part of an island of plastic floating in the ocean, large enough to be seen from space.
A new bin on the Visitor’s Center patio reminds both visitors and staff to recycle. Apple cores, banana peels, and coffee grounds are recycled in a kitchen countertop composter. When it is full, the contents are added to the Funshine Garden composter. When the compost has finished “cooking,” the good organic matter is added to the garden. An experiment in vermiculture composting has worked so well that regular programs are now offered. Look for vermiculture program listings in future issues of Native Seed.
Instead of Styrofoam coffee cups, we use reusable, locally made pottery mugs. Raw cane sugar has replaced processed sugar for coffee and tea, and wooden stirrers are used instead of plastic. Regular soap is now stocked in restrooms, rather than antibacterial soap that makes its way into waterways and harms fish and amphibians.
Adopting these practices in your own home is an easy and effective way to lessen your impact on climate change. Follow the Arboretum throughout the year as we continue to implement good environmental practices.
By Robyn Affron
Climate Change Interpreter