If you have been despairing about Life on Earth, the state of humanity, a future for your children, then check out “Drawdown – The most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming”.  It will help to reestablish your faith in our capacity and potential to jump up a rung or two on the evolutionary ladder.  By this I mean create a world in which the vast majority of humans and our planetary kin can live in dignity, respect and a state of wellbeing, ironically through the process of reversing global warming.  

 Starting in 2013 Paul Hawken brought together a coalition of 70 (by the time the book was published) researchers and scientists from 22 countries to reap the collective wisdom of humanity in regard to reversing global warming.  As Hawken writes, “Engaged citizens the world over are doing something extraordinary”.

"Drawdown” is a kind of map or plan with over 100 solutions for carbon sequestration under the broader headings of Energy, Food, Women and Girls, Buildings and Cities, Land Use, Transport, Materials and Coming Attractions. 

They are solutions already in use on a small or large scale somewhere in the world or in a research and development phase.   Some of the solutions require us to implement specific technologies but much of it asks us to look at and reinvent our habits and lifestyles.  As Tom Seyer, founder and president of Next Gen Climate writes in the forward, “Now we must organize our coalition and govern our most selfish instincts.”

It wouldn’t be possible to touch on all the solutions in a short blog but what stands out to me is how often the changes required are transformative at personal, local and global levels and also move us towards a more equitable and compassionate world.

Food plays an important part of these solutions by being the sector that will contribute the most in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions if these are implemented.  For example,

In 2015, an estimated 38% of food waste was composted in the United Sates; 57% was composted in the European Union.  If all lower-income countries reached the U.S. rate and all higher-income countries achieved the E.U. rate, composting could avoid methane emissions from landfills equivalent to 2.3 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050. 
— Drawdown, Food Composting Chapter

 And that is excluding all additional gains from applying compost to the soil!!

If you add to livestock all other food-related emissions – from farming to deforestation to food waste – what we eat turns out to be the number one cause of global warming.
— Drawdown, Page 37

 In the excerpt of his article “Why Bother?”, Michael Pollan with great insight describes how powerful an act, growing at least some of your own food, with your own compost, made from your own food waste, is.  It not only reduces your carbon footprint but it changes your relationship to our food cycle in many ways.  We begin to change our “cheap energy mind”.  That is the mind totally hooked into the infrastructure where “the typical calorie of food energy in your diet now requires about 10 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce”.  The more we take responsibility for where our food comes from and where its waste goes the more connected, empowered and satisfied we feel. 

The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.
— Michael Pollan

At ZEA helping to encourage a greater understanding of our food cycle and its impacts is our particular passion. By funding composting systems to schools and communities we work to transform food waste into soil but also hope to support the educative process that will make a healthy food cycle a standard way of life.


The Dirt on Composting

By Christine Coxhill, Deakin Community Garden

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Last Thursday, 21st March, Rodrigo from ZEA Hungry Goods came to our beautiful Deakin Community Garden (DCG) to talk about composting, soil, worms and food scraps. With his enthusiasm and passion he began talking about how similar soil and stars are. They both contain five elements, in different quantities of course, helium, hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen. It was beautiful to think that the same elements we see up in the sky are right below our feet.

And It is magical to see the endless possibilities we can make within our garden, we can even touch micro cosmos’ every day, we just need to go to our garden.

Throughout our workshop Rodrigo’s passion exuded whilst he talked about the importance in creating these micro cosmos’ within soil and compost because it will help fight climate change. I had never thought about the benefits exceeding its ability to give plants nutrition, water and a place to root. Like most of the population, I thought compost and soil helps plants grow, I didn’t take into account what it does for whole world. It helps to stop climate change! The simple act of blending together green and brown materials, adding some water and air. This is the coolest thing and there are so many ways I could do this.

Rodrigo was eager to discuss the many ways we could create a soil nursery, whether it is a compost pile, compost bin, worm farm, or bokashi bin. He explained the benefits and negatives about each method and asked the attendees what they used and how much space they had. Unfortunately a lot of Deakin students are living in small apartments which means they don’t have the space to cultivate their own compost or soil. This didn’t stop him though, he wanted everyone to walk out of the workshop knowing that they could make it happen. That is exactly what he did. Some of us were ready to build compost piles whist the others debated getting a worm farm to recycle their food scraps. Once we all knew what method we should use our next question came to mind,

“Where do we put our compost once we have created it?”

It is simple if you have your own garden but many students don’t, so where do we put it?

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Find somewhere, it could be a park, a friends backyard, at school or you could start potting it up for indoor plants. Just look around and see where the Earth needs it. We all laughed at the thought of walking to a park with a bucket of compost and being stopped by the police, just imagine what  they would think. Lastly Rodrigo encouraged us all to see the beauty and importance of soil and compost and he reminded us that in our worm farms we should have at least 1,000 worms for each person in your house.

It is now incredible to know we have the power to cultivate a living organism and ecosystem with our food scraps and some dead leaves. We can be the people that make the amazing soil our grandchildren’s children grow plants in. I am looking forward to the endless ecosystems I can create!

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