Rain gardens, Eco Fridays and more

  • Community   Thursday, June 9, 2022   

It’s been a great year for the Eco Club! One of our main initiatives this year was a naturalization project. We planted many native trees and shrubs in the schoolyard, and aided with tree planting at a local park in collaboration with the Local Community Food Centre, and we are currently working with the Avon Maitland District School Board to create an Indigenous medicine garden. An ongoing venture into educating people about the environment is our weekly Eco Fridays, in which we share an environmental fact on our Instagram (@sdss.ecoclub) every Friday. Another project started to spread awareness is this column! By publishing our articles in the newspaper, we are able to reach a larger audience than we would with Eco Fridays. We have also collaborated with our school’s Art Club to create a diorama of the Great Lakes using recycled plastic in our school lobby to raise awareness of pollution in the Great Lakes. We also encouraged sustainable lifestyles through initiatives such as our plastic bag project, where we collected used plastic bags to turn into sleeping mats; and the student swap, a school-wide thrifting event in which students exchanged items such as clothing and books. An innovative recycling initiative we’ve started is the baking and selling of cookies using spent grain left over from the beer-brewing process. Brewing beer requires processing grains, and not all of the grain gets used, leaving behind spent grain. We take the spent grain and use it to bake cookies, which are sold at the Screaming Avocado, our in-school lunch counter run by the culinary club.

Another successful event this year was the plant sale hosted by SDSS’s Green Industries class and Eco Club. This annual event had many people up bright and early on a Saturday morning to grow their gardens. The Green Industries class spends every year working on a multitude of environmentally oriented projects, including the growing of all plants sold at the plant sale. A variety of flora were featured, from garden greens to beautiful flowers. Our students worked hard to have everything planted and potted for their big day. The Stratford community was quick to support us, and our volunteers were busy from opening time until the end. All the money raised at the plant sale has gone back to the Green Industries class to support future activities and encourage an encore of the very successful sale. Next spring, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for any news of these projects so you, too, can bring a little more greenery to your backyard. More information can be found on the Eco Club’s Instagram, so be sure to follow us!

If you are looking for an easy way to help decrease water pollution in your community, we have the solution for you! Rain gardens are much like regular decorative gardens, but they are specifically designed to absorb and filter rainwater runoff, which removes pollutants that are commonly swept into our waterways. A rain garden should be installed on the downside of a gentle slope, in a low-lying area where water naturally flows, like a drainage ditch. Make sure to keep the garden a few metres away from any building foundations, septic beds, steep slopes, and underground utilities. Any plants you choose must be able to tolerate both wet and dry conditions. After planting, water the garden regularly for about 4 weeks. After that, the plants will not need to be watered, except during times of drought. To build the rain garden, begin by digging an 85 cm deep hole, though if the garden is going to be small, it should be a bit deeper. This hole should then be refilled with 60 cm of a compost/sand soil mix to improve water absorption and filtration, though this may not be necessary if you already have good drainage. Then place some small rocks around where water enters your garden, and on the garden’s downhill side to slow heavy water flow and prevent soil erosion. Create your own rain garden today to help stop water pollution!

Water pollution occurs when chemicals contaminate water sources, rendering the water unfit for drinking, cooking, cleaning, swimming, and other activities. Chemicals, waste, bacteria, and parasites are examples of pollutants. All types of pollutants eventually end up in the water, where they may form algae blooms, which are excessive algae growth in water. This is a problem because the algae on the surface of a body of water blocks sunlight from reaching it, causing aquatic species in the water to die. In addition, toxins may be released, contaminating drinking water and causing disease in animals and humans. To prevent the spread of algae blooms, the deaths of animals, and the pollution of wide areas of our watersheds, we can slow the rate of algae bloom growth by restricting the amount of nutrient-rich substances that enter the water. Excellent ways to do this are by stopping run-off from surrounding fields, or seeking to reduce liquid waste products such as sewage entering the water from nearby factories.

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