Viridorari is an environmentally focused blog. The mission of Viridorari is to help you incorporate healthier, "greener" habits into your life, to benefit you, the people around you, and the environment.

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Weekly Green Challenge: Featuring Alexandra

First, I want to say that I’ve immensely enjoyed my first week of maintaining Viridorari and providing information to the masses about the importance of the environment and being greener. Already I have been getting positive feedback from people, and I’m excited to start a second week of posting.  

This week’s Green Challenge is something my mom and I have been talking about doing for a while. My challenge to you is to start a compost pile, if you haven’t already. If you do have a compost pile, then sometime this week I want you to A) have a discussion with someone who doesn’t compost about the benefits of composting, or B) direct someone who doesn’t compost to this post on Viridorari.

Composting is an easy and efficient way to reduce your negative impact on the planet, and just for the sake of convincing you how awesome and simple it is, today I will feature Viridorari’s second weekly Guest Writer. Please welcome Alexandra to Viridorari! 

I had the pleasure of meeting Alexandra at a college during an accepted student’s sleepover. We quickly found we had a lot in common, including our concern for the state of the environment. After we returned home I found out that Alexandra composts, and that, paired with her passion for writing, led me to invite her to be a Guest Writer. Originally, I hoped my uncle would write on the topic, but his busy work schedule along with his newfound fatherhood kept him from accepting my request. I was ecstatic to find someone who could write about composting, and Alexandra has been a wonderful person to work with.

Now, for some fun information that Alexandra provided about herself:

“I love to write. I’ve been writing stories since I was five years old, and I hope to one day be an author! I love this planet and I’m what you would call a tree hugger (yes I’ve hugged a tree today). I enjoy reading, you can typically find me with my nose in a book, but I also love to listen to music and hang out with my friends. I’m in the process of starting a blog myself, so if any of you like what I wrote here, feel free to check out my blog when it’s up. Viridorari will keep you posted about my up-coming blog. Please feel free to email me at with any comments or questions or requests for blog articles. I’m very open to new ideas!”

As she said, Viridorari will keep readers posted about Alexandra’s new blog. I’m looking forward to reading it myself! Now, I will let my new friend tell you all about composting, a subject she is passionate about. I hope the information and encouragement she provides in today’s post will convince you to tackle this Green Challenge and take another step toward living a greener, healthier life. 
What is Composting? 

I’m sure at one point or another you have all thought about recycling or composting or doing something to help the environment. Well obviously, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading Viridorari! Your next thought was probably the thought that stopped you from doing that good deed. Maybe you thought it would be too expensive, or too smelly, or take up too much of your time; and so you figured you’d let someone else worry about it. I’ve been there myself, but then I learned about composting and figured out how easy it really is! In fact it’s so easy I’m not sure why most people don’t compost.

            This problem really got me thinking… why don’t more people compost? And then it hit me: people probably don’t know how easy it is. Or maybe they don’t even know what composting is… I’m here to set the record STRAIGHT. 

            A compost pile is “a mixture of decaying organic matter, such as leaves and manure, used to improve soil structure and provide nutrients” while composting is the action of converting the organic matter into nutrients through decay.
            I bet you’re wondering why you should compost. Well, I’ll answer that with a question: Why not?
            Composting is one of the easiest, cheapest, and least time consuming actions you can take to help the environment. All you need is a compost bin, a designated area in your yard to compost, or a window planter box if you live in an apartment. It’s that simple! Two cheap compost bins I found are the Geobin Compost Bin on for $27.99 and Fiskars 75 gallon EcoBin Composter from Home Depot for $39.98. You don’t even have to spend any money on bins if you don’t want to; you can just put your compost in a sectioned off area of your yard.  Composting can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. It all depends on how much you want to spend. Personally, for me, and probably for you too, the less is better.
            My family has been composting since my freshman year in high school, after I convinced them how cheap and easy it was. We actually put our compost pile right next to the driveway, which is maybe twenty feet from our house. This brings me to my second point. Composting does NOT smell.... provided you do it correctly and do not place things like meat, or animal excrement in the compost pile. Those attract pests such as rodents and create very nasty odors. Here’s a quick list of things that should and should not be composted.

DO compost:  

  • Cardboard rolls, cereal boxes, brown paper bags  
  • Clean paper
  • Paper towels 
  •   Coffee grounds and filters
  •  Cotton and wool rags 
  • Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint  
  • Crushed eggshells (but not eggs) 
  • Fireplace ashes 
  • Fruits and vegetables (such as orange peels, apple or any fruit cores/seeds, etc..) 
  • Grass clippings, yard trimmings 
  • Hair and fur  
  • Hay and straw 
  • Houseplants  
  • Leaves  
  • Nut shells  
  • Seaweed (rinse off saltwater) 
  • Shredded newspaper 
  •  Tea and tea bags  
  • Wood chips, sawdust, toothpicks, burnt matches

    DO NOT compost: with the reasons why...
  • Dairy products (odor problems and pests)
  • Meat, fish, egg or poultry scraps (odor problems and pests) 
  • Fats, grease, lard or oils (odor problems and pests) 
  • Coal or charcoal ash (contains substances harmful to plants)  
  • Diseased or insect-ridden plants (diseases or insects might spread) 
  •  Pet wastes (i.e. dog or cat feces, cat litter) (might contain parasites or germs)  
  • Yard trimmings treated with pesticides (might kill composting organisms) 
  • Black walnut tree leaves or twigs (substances harmful to plants) 

    Now, here’s a warning..... While compost doesn’t smell horribly disgusting, it does have a very earthy smell, like soil. Don’t expect the aroma of roses and daisies! But do not be fooled by misconceptions that composting has an unbearable stench, because honestly it smells no worse than mulch, slightly unpleasant, but not cringe worthy.

    You can put your composting pile anywhere you want. You can put it by your driveway (which is close to your front door for easy access), by your garden, in window planter boxes if you live in an apartment or condo, in your yard, or in composting bins, which enclose the composting pile (taking away ALL odor and mess) and break down the organic matter inside However I strongly recommend that you do not under any circumstances put it in your house because it will smell and cause a mess that no one wants. However, Faith’s uncle does keep his compost pile in his basement.

    Now that we’ve covered common misconceptions it is important to know why composting is valuable! Composting, in my opinion, is infinitely better than recycling because it’s taking natural resources and returning them to the earth in a 100% natural, organic, and chemical free way. Recycling uses chemicals to break down metals and plastics, degrading the quality of the material, while encouraging the use of these man-made objects (i.e. plastic bottles, bags, etc.)... but I digress. Composting helps the environment because it reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. If organic materials decay in landfills, they break down anaerobically, which means without oxygen, and as a result produces methane (a greenhouse gas contributing to global warming). The end product of composts create nutrient rich fertilizer that supports healthier plant growth and soil structure for gardens, less soil erosion, less soil compaction, less nutrient runoff, and less contaminations of water sources such as lakes and rivers.

    Are you convinced now that you should start a compost pile in your yard or community park? You should be; there’s nothing to lose! If you’re looking for ideas on how to start one, talk to family, and let them know that you don’t necessarily have to spend any money to start it, other than buying the fruits and vegetables you’d be buying anyways! Everyone composts a little differently. Some people use worms for faster break-down, but my family doesn’t use them, and you don’t have to either. Your compost will still decay and break down without them. But if you want to spend the extra money for a bag of worms (typically they’re 25-36$/lb depending on where you live), go for it!

    Here’s some advice on starting your very own compost pile....
    1. Place it at least 10-15 feet away from your house (if you have the space).
    2. It’s recommended that you go to a plant nursery and buy a bag of nutrient rich soil.
    3. Block off an area of your yard where you want to put the compost pile and aerate the ground with a pitchfork. This loosens the soil and gets it ready for the nutrient rich soil you bought at the nursery.
    4. Add 12 inches of the newer, nutrient rich, bagged soil to the ground and mix it very well with a shovel, so you have old dirt mixed with new dirt and good nutrients mixed throughout.
    5. Add compost starter soil and then begin adding the organic materials you want to compost. The compost starter soil is going to act as the catalyst or starting agent for decomposition. I’d recommend Dr. Earth Compost Starter (it’s 3 lbs) and only $5.71 from Sears.
    6. Note** for the first two months you should churn the compost twice a week to mix all the decaying matter and mix up the nutrients so it doesn’t settle. But after 2 months you can churn the compost once a week or every other week. Churning the compost takes about 5 minutes if you work slowly, and about 2 minutes if you work with someone else. To churn the soil, use a shovel.
    7. It only takes a few minutes each day to throw in all your organic material from the list I gave you (that’s about all the time and effort it’ll take to maintain it). And it costs next to nothing to maintain if you don’t want to spend money on composting bins or worms.
    8. It’s best to start your compost pile in early spring because the warm weather helps the material break down faster, however you can keep your compost running all year long like my family does.
    9. Don’t start using the soil on plants and such until at least 6 months to a year of decomposition. You need to give it time to fully decompose so the soil can absorb the nutrients.
    10. There are many different ways of composting beyond the method I have described to you. Here are some links that will help you decide which is best for you:

    When there is little to no cost and almost no maintenance required, why not compost? It’ll help save our planet and landfills. Everyone has to take the time to think about how important the earth is to them in order to change their daily habits for the sake of the planet. I think we all have to do our part, even if it only requires us to make small, simple changes in our daily lives. I’m willing to make sacrifices to help the environment, and I hope you are too. If you could do something as easy as composting, why not? I’ve given you lots of reasons to start!  Good luck, and if you have any questions about composting and how to do it, contact me at

    -John and Nancy (my supportive parents)

    Viridorari would love to hear about your Green Challenge successes! If you tried a Green Challenge, leave a comment on Viridorari about your experience, or email me (Faith) at
    If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about composting, please contact Alexandra at the email she provided: 

     Animal of the Month Update

    Picture courtesy of: 

    Before their population began to decrease, it was common for Golden Capped Fruit Bats to make colonies with their cousins, the Malayan Flying Foxes. These colonies served them keep warm and avoid predators such as the Philippine Eagle. However, living in colonies makes it much easier for humans to hunt the bats. Poaching for meat and pelts is one of the main reasons why Golden Capped Fruit Bats are endangered. 
    Three hundred plant species rely on fruit bats like the Golden Capped Fruit Bat to pollinate them. Fruits that need bats for pollination include bananas, mangoes, avocados, and cashews, and in the case of the Golden Capped Fruit Bat, figs. Guano, or bat feces, is one of the best fertilizers known to man. Due to their important role in the Philippine ecosystem, it is crucial that efforts are made to conserve Golden Capped Fruit Bats. To learn more about bat conservation, go to March 22nd’s “Activism Spotlight” post, or  



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