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Remember to think of the environment this summer

Summer is a time of adding new things to the family calendar and also for ideas on how to better our community.

Fire pits

Many of us remember cooking or setting ablaze marshmallows over an open fire to make s’mores. Creating that atmosphere in your own backyard is a great idea. However, please make sure that if you are installing a fire pit that it is a safe installation for you and your family.

Fire pits are ideally 3 to 4 feet in width with a height of 18 inches.

A height of 18 inches provides warmth to the people sitting around the fire.

Consider environmental factors such as areas in your yard that are subject to wind, trees that may be affected, closeness to neighbors, and also to your own home – 10 foot minimum.

Ensure that there is a hose that will provide an extinguishment of the fire if need be. Fire extinguishers that are A-rated are great as they are designed for wood fires.

The pit should be lined with noncombustible stone such as fire brick or fire clay mortar. You can buy a fire pit ready for installation or follow your own design by researching the best design for your needs. Include a screened lid for the fire pit to prevent sparks. Never leave the fire pit unattended while in use.

Push for pollinators

As we find that the bee population has plummeted, there is a need to provide good garden variety to feed and keep the bees and other pollinators.

Pollinators besides bees are ants, bats, beetles, butterflies, flies, hummingbirds and moths.

Include in the garden a variety of times that plants may bloom to provide a consistent and full season for these helpers.

Use native local plants and grow a host of plants that are known to attract these pollinators.

For example, butterflies like red, orange, yellow, pink and blue flowers that are more flat for them to land onto such as zinnias and milkweed. Bees prefer yellow, blue and purple flowers.

Nesting areas for the insects are important at season’s end for the next year’s brood. Leave in the garden cut plant stems that will allow for eggs to be deposited in the hollow portion. Provide for water areas or mudded areas for nesting materials and sustenance.

Avoid using pesticides and herbicides. If there are areas where growing a lush green lawn is more difficult, consider renovating that area by planting a variety of native plants to provide for our planet’s pollinators.

Waste not, want not

Although this was my favorite expression of my grandmother, it is very true for all generations and especially today.

The food cycle that we have continues to be one of waste. Although there are a lot of people who take vegetable and fruit scrapes and create lush compost from their composters, there are other food wastes that affect other resources such as water and natural energy sources.

Americans today are wasting more than 25 percent of our food from
2007 to 2014, according to PLOS One.

This waste stream included
23 percent of bacon, 26 percent of grain-based desserts and 33 percent of fruit and vegetables.

While 4.2 trillion gallons of water are used to produce this food that was wasted, it also includes the amount of energy in man power and equipment to harvest and ship.

Events this summer

Tire Recycling Event – From 9 a.m. to noon July 12 to 14, at Olson’s Recycling Center at 354 W. Jackson in Seneca, IL. Bring passenger truck and car tires off rims.

Bernie’s Children’s Book Collection – Until July 15, bring gently used children’s books to the Administration Building at 1320 Union St., Morris, IL 60450

Shredding Event: Sept. 21 – 10 a.m. to noon, Administration Building
at 1320 Union St. Morris, IL 60450

Electronics Waste Recycling: Sept. 22 – 8 to noon, Animal Control Facility at 310 E. DuPont, Morris, IL 60450

Please feel free to call me with any questions that you may have on our environmental goals this spring.

We thank you, Grundy County, for all of you do. Enjoy your summer and stay green!

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