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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Bolingbrook, Illinois, USA


Bolingbrook, Illinois, USA
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Registered: October 2021
City/Town/Province: Bolingbrook
Posts: 1
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Over the last 18 months I have been interested in environmentalism and seeing what I could do in my own backyard, with what I have. I picked up doing woodworking and gardening at the start of the pandemic, and started slowly, just being bored and killing time, but gradually it turned into a hobby. I had a small garden bed by July 2020 that had tomatoes and cucumbers, and in that same year I built a rudimentary greenhouse with some windows picked up from Craigslist and six-by-sixes from a neighbor. It was literally held together by duct tape in places. The next summer (this year), I was continuing to build & experiment and got a job at Home Depot that allowed me to continue learning about woodworking. One thing I found really interesting was that they would stack up what were basically two-by-fours used for stacking that customers could take. I definitely wanted to improve on the previous greenhouse Iíd built with what I learned, and incorporate the engineering stuff Iíve been working on. Through the year, Iíd also found some windows being thrown out. So, with the stuff I had, I decided to build a bigger model.

Another thing I wanted to put into the project was using compost to heat the greenhouse. I tried doing it a year ago to get good soil & cut down on food waste put into landfills, and was amazed at the results - a pile not even three feet tall was so hot you couldnít put your hand in it. Iíd heard about the Jean Pain method and wanted to adapt it to work with garden hoses and heat the greenhouse through distributing the heat absorbed from the compost. So I started collecting whatever was on the curb in my neighborhood - it was summer when I started and I got grass clippings, then progressively it turned to leaves.

This project took about a month of going back and forth with diagrams and building. Planning began in mid-September and finished mid-October. I wanted to put it in an existing raised bed, which took a lot of measurements and adaptations. A frame that took a week to build didnít fit no matter how much I tried, one of the windows broke halfway through when it fell over one night, and I found out the hose I wanted to use had a bad leak. And it was a challenge making a water-proof seal for the water container, and a formidable challenge in plumbing. But I had a structure completed by mid-October and was excited to use it.

The greenhouse benefited the environment because I got to recycle a lot of wood and windows that would have ended up in a landfill. I know I might want to reuse this material, such as the pallets and as such kept the damage to a minimum, and even used bolts (reversible) wherever possible, which was a new experience. The compost is a similar story: it came from neighborhoods around me. Will County has a program that puts yard waste into a specific, more environmentally friendly facility, so it wouldnít quite have ended up in a landfill. But it was still very beneficial giving back to the area where it came from, and it was a holistic experience knowing where it came from. It wasnít biomass taken from thousands of miles away; I could name where it came from. Another benefit of the idea I have is that the compost will give back healthy soil when itís done. I plan on using it myself and if it turns out very well, giving it to neighbors who could use it. But I want this soil to look better when I leave it than when I found it. Itís a cool feeling knowing that you did this stuff yourself with your own two hands. I canít imagine it wouldíve been the same if I just went to Loweís and bought potted plant mix from some lot halfway across the country. It was coffee grounds from Starbucks, leftover food from my house, grass clippings from across the street. And Iím hopefully able to grow tomatoes and beans into the winner and surprise everyone.

Building this was also a good lesson in experience for what I want to do after college. I want to tackle the problems in my community and in the world, and see what I can do to alleviate them. I think that there are presently some issues with the U.S. food supply chain - excessive fertilizer, wasteful irrigation, excession of crops, among other things. I think this goes hand in hand with helping the environment - we cannot keep cutting down forests for land. We cannot keep putting everything in landfills. I donít support the Green New Deal as itís being laid out right now, but we do need change. I canít go out by myself and yell at everybody to fix the world and stop cutting down trees because it wouldnít do anything, and I donít want to use leaves as toilet paper and I canít bike everywhere. But I can do what I can in my area to be an advocate for the environment. Doing what you can matters. I understand that it starts with me.

Honestly, I think this project is more genuine and better for the environment than if I had gone out and picked up litter in a park. Iím not saying that picking up litter is bad, but itís sort of ďone and doneĒ- you do it and then forget about it. It doesnít really have a connection, and it passes. I feel that this is more consistent and that I can actually see results over time- I donít really mind if squirrels and rabbits eat stuff occasionally. Itís helping reduce the carbon footprint. And it inspires conversations. Iíve talked to so many people who are amazed at what a little elbow grease and creativity can do.
Date: October 28, 2021 ∑ Views: 221 ∑ File size: 18.3kb, 7144.8kb: 3265 x 4898 ∑
Hours Volunteered: 60
Volunteers: 1
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 18
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