Sept 14 - Compost Helps State Capitol Fight Drought, Store Carbon

The once-green park grounds at California’s State Capitol in Sacramento have turned golden-brown during the drought – providing great conditions to show how compost and mulch can save the state’s  landscapes, save water, and reduce greenhouse gases.

Today, a technique known as ‘sheet mulching’ was applied to the 1000+ square foot lawn nearest the east end of the Capitol. This is the first part of multistep project to make the Capitol grounds more drought tolerant. Sheet mulching involves covering a lawn with cardboard, then applying mulch and compost over the cardboard. The combination of mulch and compost creates a sponge that retains water and provides nutrients for new plants to grow. This creates a great foundation for a lush, yet water-efficient, garden, and provides a beautiful alternative to a dead lawn.

Californians Against Waste was pleased to partner on this project with StopWaste and the California Compost Coalition, as well as our colleagues at the California Native Plant Society and UC Davis. While we've traditionally focused on composting as an invaluable part of our waste reduction toolkit, this project reminds us of the role that compost can play in fighting the drought and climate change.

Next year, the amount of available compost will increase dramatically thanks to legislation that Californians Against Waste sponsored to keep food waste out of landfills. AB 1826 will require restaurants, grocery stores and other commercial generators of food waste to contract to have their waste composted.  Not only will this legislation keep food waste from creating methane (a potent greenhouse gas) in an oxygen deprived landfill, research shows that applying compost can help a garden grow and absorb more than a ton of carbon from the atmosphere.

CAW with our partners at StopWaste and the California Compost Coalition.

CAW with our partners at StopWaste and the California Compost Coalition.

The technique can be applied to almost any lawn, and requires no digging or chemicals to remove old turf. For more information on the benefits of sheet mulching and how you can do it in your community, visit: http://www.stopwaste.org/preventing-waste/residents/your-sheet-mulch-toolkit

Today’s event kicked off the state’s new “Fix it for Good” public awareness campaign aimed at encouraging Californians to make permanent changes to save water.  The “Fix it for Good Campaign is a partnership between the Association of California Water Agencies and the California Department of Water Resources.

The campaign builds on other successful state water conservations campaigns that have encouraged residents to stop watering their lawns. The “Fix it for Good” campaign will also feature the promotion of water saving home improvements, including water-saving toilets, and the replacement of leaky water fixtures.