composting

Give Back over the Spring Season!

spring giving

Spring is coming. (Not as fast as I hoped it would.) Dirty gray snow please melt away…

10 Easy Ways to Give Back over the Spring Season! 

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1. My Family’s Favorite Spring Treat: Bird’s Nests, make them together and double the batch to share. Here is the recipe:

  • One 7 oz. jar of marshmallow creme  
  • 1/4 cup of creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1 can of chow mein noodles (3 cups)
  • 1 cup of chopped M&M’s Plain
  • Peanut M&M’s or other candy to fill the nest.

Combine the marshmallow creme, peanut butter and butter. Mix well. Add noodles and plain M&M’s. Fill the nests!

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2. Spring Craft: Purchase some small, plain terra cotta flower pots. Get out paints and help your kids hand decorate the pots. Deliver them with a packet of seeds as gifts to others.

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3. Try Composting: Read this guest article by my sister-in-law Jen for ideas of how to get started.

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4. Family Recycling Activity:  Explore Recycle City with the whole family. Make a list of ideas you can implement into your home.

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Image courtesy of [Just2Happy], freedigitalphoto.net 

5. Plant: Take time to plant something new this spring a tree, bush, strawberry plant, seeds, a small flower.

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6. Garden Donations: If you garden and have excess consider donating some of your crops. Sometimes churches allow members to offer their excess to other members. When you visit the farmer’s market this summer, consider dropping a gift off to someone who might need a little extra.

IMG_22727. Family Time is Important: Get outdoors together as a family: take a bike ride, a hike, a nature scavenger hunt, play in the beach sand, visit a new playground. Whatever you choose, do it together!

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8. Did you know you could recycle this stuff? Spring clean with purpose. 

  • Paint. Habitat for Humanity Restores take latex paint to remix and resell. Find a location near you. 
  • Crayons. They can be recycled into new crayons. Learn more here.
  • Batteries. Visit Call2Recycle for a location near you.
  • Visit Earth911.com and type in any search for an object and see if there is a place to recycle near you.

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9. Family Raking: Head out on a Saturday morning and clean up your yard as a family. While you have your work clothes on, help a neighbor or someone who needs assistance do spring clean up.

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10. Deliver: Drop off a bouquet of spring flowers to a shut-in or someone who is ill. Set aside time to visit too.

How do you give back during the season of spring? 

Involving Family: Composting

A Guest Post by Pastor Jen Petersen

Under our kitchen sink are two containers.  Like any good Dutch home, the garbage can be found behind the left cabinet.  Behind the right, you’ll find a small bucket that used to be white.  Every once in a while, when my mom is over babysitting, she’ll scrub it back to its original shiny white plastic – I have no idea how she does it.

The bucket is now black on the inside.  For several years, we have used it as our compost bucket.  We fill it with coffee grounds, tea bags, fruit and veggie scraps from the kitchen, eggshells and the like.  And a couple of times a week, the bucket gets dumped in the large bins behind the garage.

We’ve been composting for about 5 years, shortly after we moved into our home.  My husband asked his parents if they might be able to get some old apple crates from his hometown.  They rented a trailer and hauled two wooden crates stamped with “Aebig Apples,” the old family apple farm, now sold off to other families.  (I’ve heard that old pallets work really well, too.)

Out of the two crates, we’ve created three separate sections – one that’s compost ready to use, one that’s resting and turning to be next years usable compost, and one in which we are currently collecting our kitchen scraps and yard waste.  Jeff and our two boys turn the compost with a pitchfork throughout the year and each year we harvest enough compost to feed our small back yard garden.  This winter they even built a snow compost man in front of the bins!

Our boys (5 and 3) are wholehearted partners in this composting endeavor.  In the kitchen, they know which items go in the compost bucket, which items go to recycling and which items go in the garbage.  They have, on embarrassing occasions, scolded grandparents (and once or twice even friends we were visiting) for not composting.

And, while we don’t encourage our children to shame our loved ones, I have to say that I’m kind of proud of them for wanting to teach others how to compost.  I’ll say it – I’m a little proud of the fact that, with our family of four, we rarely fill our large City of Grand Rapids garbage bay in a week.

And I also recognize that we have a lot of room to improve.  Eli is in Kindergarten at C.A. Frost Environmental Academy in Grand Rapids.  I’m grateful for a school that will teach my children care for the earth.  I know there will be plenty of times that my children will scold me for my less than stellar practices toward the earth.

Composting allows our kids to learn that all trash is not useless.  They already have a sense that some waste can be reused and some waste just takes up space.  They are learning that, if we want our earth to give us good food, we have to feed it and care for it.

And it’s really not too hard to get started.  All you need is a container with some room for air to flow through and a way to turn the compost.   You need a balance of green (kitchen scraps, grass clippings, etc) and brown matter (dried leaves and other similar yard waste, soil, etc.) and you need to keep in moist.  Done properly, compost doesn’t stink or attract animals.  The piles develop a rich earthy smell of dirt, but they shouldn’t smell rotten.

I’m certainly not an expert on composting.  I encourage you to check out your local garden center or recourses on-line for more complete instructions on composting.  This site has lots of good information: http://vegweb.com/composting/