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Columbia Missourian

FROM READERS: How to care for the environment

By CHASE DARR/MISSOURIAN READER
January 6, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CST

This article is an installment of the Missourian's new How-To Guide, where members of the community share their skills. Have something you're good at or a skill you wish someone else would share? Visit our How-To page to find out how you can get involved.

Chase Darr is a graduate student in the MU Biological Engineering Program. He is also a member of the Columbia Audubon Society

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1. Do your part. You're not going to save the world on your own, but by setting an example, you can prove to others that it's no huge sacrifice to help save the environment.

2. Limit pesticide/herbicide use on your lawn. Missouri is a place of massive biodiversity in terms of both flora and fauna (plants and animals). That diversity is threatened daily by both commercial and residential pesticide and herbicide use. For instance, Monarch butterfly populations are at their lowest point in 20 years. Part of this loss was due to logging in Mexico's wintering grounds, which has been stopped by the Mexican government. The other part is due to habitat loss in the United States. The Monarch caterpillar stage only feeds on milkweed, which has been decimated by herbicide use. Bees are also suffering as we take out the weeds and wildflowers they use to produce their honey.

3. Recycle/Reduce/Reuse. It's an "age-old adage" but bears repeating. Recycling ultimately allows the reuse of things we were going to throw away anyway. Economic feasibility is a factor but so is environmental consciousness and stewardship.

4. Compost. A lot of our daily waste is in the form of biodegradable material: paper, bread, spoiled fruits and vegetables, and bags of grass clippings or leaves/sticks. These are often put down the food disposal or tossed in the trash and end up dispersed in landfills along with plastics and other nondegradable items. However, these items represent wonderful sources of carbon, nitrogen and other minerals that can act as a natural fertilizer for your lawn. Compost bins are available at most hardware stores or can be manufactured at little cost (wood pallets or chicken wire make great floors/walls for a compost bin). In the meantime, you kill two birds with one stone: limit artificial fertilizers that often contain pesticides/herbicides and put to use all those "wasted" food items that represent lost dollars in terms of consumption.

This section is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.