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AGRIscapes - Promoting agricultural literacy

AGRIscapes - Promoting environmental landscaping

AGRIscapes - Promoting Environmentally Friendly Waste Management

 

AGRIscapes - Promoting Agricultural Literacy
AGRIscapes - Promoting Agricultural Literacy

Today, significant questions are being raised about the long-term viability of modern commercial agriculture, and urban landscaping practices have evoked a similar set of environmental concerns. Modern mechanized and input intensive farming and landscaping have spawned serious concerns about environmental problems such as soil erosion, water consumption, chemical usage, and waste production. Agriculture and urban landscape practices that combine the objectives of production and economic viability as well as aesthetics and conservation, seem intuitively sound. However development of truly sustainable systems will meet distinctive problems and require new research, organization, and communication.

Less than 2% of the state’s population is directly involved in producing the food we eat, yet agriculture remains a significant employment sector for the state, channeling over $19 billion into California’s economy in 1995 alone. Besides production activities, related jobs include sales, marketing, distribution, and manufacturing/producing value added agricultural commodities. The viability, vitality, and sustainability of California agriculture is extremely important to our state, but much of our population and many of our policy makers live in urban areas and have never experienced agriculture in a meaningful way. These same individuals are creating and/or voting for statutes and laws regarding pesticides, water use, waste disposal, fertilizers, air pollutants, and soil conservation that have critical impacts on this industry. A primary objective of AGRIscapes is to improve the agricultural literacy of the urban community surrounding the site.

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AGRIscapes - Promoting Environmental Landscaping

AGRIscapes - Promoting Environmental Landscaping

 

 

 

 

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AGRIscapes - Promoting Environmentally Friendly Waste Management

 

 

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AGRIscapes - Promoting Environmentally Friendly Waste Management

"Integrated" Waste Management is made up of five strategies, because different approaches are best for different kinds of waste and, like a carpenter's toolkit, you need more than one kind of tool to do the job right. In waste management, the most important tool is Source Reduction - or preventing waste to begin with. It's the favorite strategy for anyone who really cares about the environment. And it's usually the least expensive choice, too. At the bottom of the list is Landfilling, because everything else higher up on the list provides some benefits greater than just throwing things away. But for some materials, landfilling is still the best alternative, at least while we're learning to get better at things like source reduction and recycling. Roughly in order of preference, the five strategies are:

1. Source Reduction
2. Composting
3. Recycling
4. Incineration
5. Landfilling

1. Source Reduction
How do you keep from making waste? First, Don't buy what you don't need. Second, Buy recycled products. Third, Re-use things or find a new home for them, instead of throwing them away.

Bring a canvas bag for shopping. Repair stuff instead of throwing it away, and take care of it so it doesn't break in the first place. Use rechargeable batteries - that's especially helpful, because "source reduction also means reducing the toxic dangers of material we throw away," and most batteries are quite toxic.  

Another very important way of preventing waste: "Buy things that are recycled". When you buy paper, ask your stationary store for recycled paper. Buy used furniture and fix it up instead of paying a lot more for new things. That way, you're not just getting some thing, you're gaining a skill in fixing things. 

And sometimes - not all the time, but very often, source reduction can be personally satisfying. Sometime, when you're at the mall, try NOT buying anything at all. Think twice: perhaps you don't REEEALLY need all that new stuff in the first place

2. Composting
Composting turns organic things - like grass clippings, food waste, twigs and brush - into rich organic soil. Nature does this all the time - it's nature's way of recycling things, through natural decay. With the right kind of waste "organic materials", and the right amount of "water", and making sure the compost pile gets plenty of "air", you can make good compost in a couple of months, right in your back yard. Some cities and businesses compost their own waste, on a very large scale.

3. Recycling
We all know about recycling that happens in our homes and workplaces and schools. But when we put recycling material in a box for someone to take away, it doesn't end there. It has to be collected, sorted, cleaned up, and reprocessed back into new products. Most important of all is the really key part that YOU play in the whole process - someone needs to BUY the newly recycled products that have been made from the stuff you put in the recycling box. That's called "closing the loop." So remember: "You're not really recycling unless you're BUYING recycled"

4. Incineration
Today, the amount of waste being burned incinerated (or burned) is less than in years past. But many think it will go up again in years ahead, for two reasons. First, incineration back in the 1950s used to be pretty smoky and polluting, so it was banned in most cities. People just threw garbage in a container in their backyards and lit it on fire. Today, incineration is only done in centralized plants using advanced technology. The burning chamber is completely sealed, the burning temperature is high, so everything burns well, and there are many filters and controls, so there is no smoke. The left-over ashes are about one-tenth the amount of the original waste, so much less goes to a landfill.  

The second reason why people might use incinerators more in the future. The heat can produce energy, by creating steam that turns a generator to make electricity. With current incinerator technology, you can produce energy from trash with less pollution than producing the same amount of energy from traditional fuels like coal

5. Landfilling
A landfill is where things go that can't be recycled or composted or incinerated. It has an important use. It may be the last choice, but it's a necessary one, and today's landfills are very, very different from dumps of the past. Today they have very thick liners; any liquid seepage is collected; and often the gas is used to make electricity, or even to run clean-running natural-gas trucks. And there's a lot more that makes them different from the past, including inspections to screen out any toxic wastes, and good landscaping, so a landfill doesn't have to look any different from a natural hill in the landscape. 

The Puente Hills Landfill just a few miles from Cal Poly Pomona, happens to be one the biggest working sanitary landfill in the whole United States. Most people drive right by it, at the intersection of the Pomona Freeway (60) and the 605 freeway, and they don't even know it's a landfill.

A number of other landfills in the Los Angeles area are also now operating but will reach their capacity in coming years, and will have to be closed.

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