Give butterfly gardening a try

Give butterfly gardening a try

Have you noticed the beautiful butterflies lately as we near the end of summer?  My husband and I intentionally planted a butterfly garden in 1996 and have continued to monitor the butterfly count over the years. There are 160 species of butterflies in Georgia, of which we have recorded 50 species in our Morningside neighborhood. Unfortunately, numbers are down due to habitat loss and pesticides.

To attract butterflies to your yard, you need the host plant and a nectar source. Perhaps you have seen the beautiful black and yellow butterfly (Eastern Tiger Swallowtail) fluttering about. It is Georgia’s state butterfly. One of the host plants for it in the garden is the Tulip Poplar tree, where it lays its eggs. This butterfly likes to nectar on our flowering Lantana. What most people don’t know about this beautiful butterfly is that there are two female forms in the Southeast. One is yellow, and the other female form is black. In the Northeast, there is only the yellow female form.

This is the first time in two years we have seen the Black Swallowtail lay eggs on our parsley. The host plant for this butterfly is anything in the carrot family, such as fennel, parsley, and cumin. We were able to photograph the beautiful caterpillar on the parsley.

The other colorful butterfly in my garden is the gulf fritillary. Julie Simon gave me a small start of her passion flower vine this past spring. It is their host plant. It grew profusely, and I now have three orange caterpillars on it. This is the bright orange butterfly we are seeing right now. It likes to nectar on my purple ageratum.

I hope to see monarch butterflies collect nectar on my Ryan’s daisies in a few weeks as they migrate south. I have planted some swamp milkweed for their host plant next spring.

Gardening for butterflies is rewarding and helps increase the butterfly population. Give it a try!

Find out here which ecoregion you live in and get a free guide to the best pollinators to plant. Use this guide to butterfly gardening to get started.

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JOURNEY WITH US: The Climate Action Team is for you. Yes, you. Because you want to act on your love for the planet and because you need caring companions as you navigate these changing times. Learn all about the group here, and check out our lending library and Carbon Offset Fund. You can also request to join the Climate Action Team on Realm. Contact Jon Reese to connect to the CAT and join us for our next meeting in person on Saturday, Sept. 23, at 1:30 PM in the church sanctuary.

Earth Mamas offer Environmental Action Plan

Earth Mamas offer Environmental Action Plan

We are the Earth Mamas, a small group of women who came together out of shared concerns for our world and our families. Each day brings more news of the devastation to our planet and people, caused by all of us, especially in our consumerist country. The problems are now so great that it is overwhelming to think about how to reverse the trajectory we are on.

For the past few months, we have worked on an Environmental Action Plan, a simple list of steps that anyone can adapt in their daily routines. Choose one item from our list and implement it in your household. Include everyone; assign responsibilities, keep a scorecard on the refrigerator, whatever it takes to motivate and make it a fun project. Keep adding new items to your daily routines.

When we began our research, one mama took on composting and in the process learned a great deal. The best part came when she drove to the Wylde Center at 435 Oakview Road in Decatur and made her contribution to their composting bins. The bonus was when she discovered she had one less garbage bag of trash each week to be added to the landfill. It was a win-win! (You can find a list of what you can compost on the Wylde Center website under services.)

Let’s work together, act in the face of our fears, and make a difference, small as it may be. If we can’t change the trajectory, at least we can choose not to add to the problem.

Please read our Environmental Action Plan, share this with your family, friends, and neighbors and maybe make it a joint project. Our shared future depends on it.

– Earth Mamas

Ann Akroyd, Gretchen Ezell, Kathy Judy, Gail Livingston, Jeanne McCarthy, Patricia Russell, Aimee Wise

Be choosy about your packaging

Be choosy about your packaging

You’re going to need to buy things, but you have a choice as to how many of those things are packaged. Sustainable packaging includes packaging that can either be reused, composted, or recycled. The first on the list of Rs now is Reduce, Rethink (Do I need this product?), Reuse, and then Recycle. Flexible packaging is plastic packaging which is only beginning to become more sustainable.

It was encouraging to me when going into deeper research on the subject of packaging how much is going on behind the scenes to make changes. I discovered a lot of committed people who work for sustainable and flexible packaging companies and are trying to make improvements.

At this time, the most sustainable packaging choice is to choose cardboard or paper, such as buying your meat and cheese at butchers and delis where it is wrapped in paper. With e-commerce shopping, cardboard consumption has increased dramatically, so there is a demand for it in the recycling business. Pizza boxes – if devoid of food particles – are acceptable in many recycling bins, even with oil spots. The U.S. creates three billion pizza boxes annually.

Sustainable packaging companies have pressured Amazon to reduce the size of its delivery packaging, which means using less and creating savings for the company. There is pressure to stop using styrofoam peanuts for filling voids in boxes and instead use corrugated cardboard. Check your next Amazon order to evaluate changes. I have noticed they are sending boxes closer to the size of my orders.

Flexible packaging (plastic) as I said above is in the beginnings of big changes. The U.S. is the largest contributor of plastic waste in the world. We generate 46.5 million tons each year. Some recent good news is that the U.N. is taking on plastic pollution. “Heads of State, environment ministers, and other representatives from 175 nations endorsed a historic resolution at the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi on Wednesday, March 2, to end plastic pollution and forge an international legally binding agreement by the end of 2024,” according to UN News.

In listening to Waste 360’s “Nothing Wasted” podcast, I learned that all plastic packaging isn’t bad, as its biggest plus is how it has prevented food waste by keeping our food fresher for longer. The producers explained that we cannot just suddenly stop using plastic for everything, but instead we must keep a circular economy going so all jobs aren’t lost. I recommend listening to the podcast “Delivering Hope Through Sustainable Packaging” HERE. One of the presenters was Cory Connors, a sustainable packaging consultant at Landsberg. The other presenter was Jonathan Quinn from the packaging company Pregis. It was an interesting discussion. 

A company called Amcor, mentioned in Packaging Digest, is developing better packaging by producing a life span performance paper in Europe for food packaging. It is 80% paper fiber, so it is recyclable. They are starting now with packaging for snacks and confections and eventually for coffee, spices, and dried soups. They have also designed paper collars to hold canned six-packs instead of using plastic rings.

How can you choose today to reduce your use of plastic and select more sustainable packaging?

  1. use canvas or cloth bags for groceries – if you forget them, choose paper bags over plastic
  2. use a reusable water bottle to eliminate single use plastic
  3. choose bamboo or metal straws – or no straw
  4. use glass Snapware storage containers, Corningware, or beeswax instead of plastic
  5. use natural fabrics such as cotton and bamboo
  6. go back to bar soaps instead of soap in plastic containers (My family gave me bar soap shampoo for my birthday, and it works great!)
  7. buy meat and cheeses wrapped in paper – paper is better than plastic
  8. use reusable mesh cotton bags for your produce
  9. shop at your local farmer’s markets when possible

Learn more about the choices you can make at Break Free From Plastic.

We would love to hear about some of the changes you’ve made to reduce your plastic waste! Please share in the comments how you and your household are becoming more sustainable.