More On Composting and Sustainable Living

I was thinking of “actual” ways to really practice sustainable living at home. From an organic gardeners perspective, composting is one of the best ways to practice sustainable living.

Cymbidium Orchids - May 2, 2010

Repeat This Mantra

Sustainable living is a lifestyle that attempts to reduce an individual’s or society’s use of the Earth’s natural resource and his/her own resources. Practitioners of sustainable living often attempt to reduce their carbon footprint by altering methods of transportation, energy consumption and diet. —from


Everything you put into the garbage (that ends up in the landfill) stays in the landfill and doesn’t get recycled.

It’s just amazing how kitchen scraps and discarded vegetable and fruit matter can be recycled in a compost heap and it becomes rich material that goes back into the soil and makes things grow.

I can’t remember the first time I started composting. Perhaps it was five years ago when I seriously started a compost heap.

I do remember accidentally starting one though. I remember just raking piles of leaves and lawn cuttings into one area and after several months and after a few days of rainfall, the stuff turned into this rich dark matter that could be mixed back into the soil.

Anyway, I throw a lot of stuff into the compost heap these days, and the compost is “seeded” with microorganisms that quickly break down the organic material. It seems the process in an established compost heap seems to break down the organic material in a couple of weeks time.

Sustainable living is fundamentally the application of sustainability to lifestyle choice and decisions. Sustainability itself is expressed as meeting present ecological, societal, and economical needs without compromising these factors for future generations… —from

Water Conservation

In San Diego, water conservation is a serious issue. And depending on you street address (odd or even numbered), we are to water our lawns only 3 times per week: 1) Monday, Wednesday, Saturday, or 2) Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday.

The San Diego region is experiencing an unprecedented water supply crisis. There are environmental stresses, including the ongoing drought in the Colorado River basin and reduced snow pack and runoff in Northern California. In addition to these environmental stresses, court-ordered pumping restrictions on the State Water Project have continued to reduce the amount of water that can be delivered to our region. San Diego’s water wholesalers have already announced that they will reduce their water deliveries to the area. Since San Diego imports 85-90 percent of its water, these conditions put considerable stress on the City’s water system.

Level 2 – Drought Alert

The City of San Diego had issued an ordinance on water usage regarding landscaping and lawns, beginning November 1, 2009:

Limit all landscape irrigation to no more than three assigned Days per week on a schedule established and posted by the City Manager. This provision does not apply to commercial growers or nurseries, nor to the irrigation of golf course greens and tees.

Limit lawn watering and landscape irrigation using sprinklers to no more than ten minutes maximum per watering station per assigned Day during the months of June through October and no more than seven minutes maximum per watering station per assigned Day during the months of November through May. This provision does not apply to landscape irrigation systems using water efficient devices, including drip/micro-irrigation systems and stream rotor

Potted plants, non-commercial vegetable gardens and fruit trees may be irrigated on any day, but must be irrigated only before 10:00 a.m. or after 6:00 p.m. during the months of June through October and only before 10:00 a.m. and after 4:00 p.m. during the months of November through May.

Now, I was just on the City of San Diego website and now they are saying we are to water lawns no more than 7 minutes duration at each watering time.

Watering potted plants can be done on a daily basis.

But each watering time should be done before 10:00 am or after 4:00 pm from November through May, and before 10:00 am or after 6:00 pm from June through October.

As you can see, water conservation is a serious issue in the San Diego region, and makes it all the more challenging for the organic gardener. But, part of being an organic gardener is respecting the availibility of resources and not abusing the environment in any way.

A Few Sustainable Living Habits

Here are a few habits I’ve been adopting in my home to practice sustainable living:

  • When I wash dishes by hand, I save water in a plastic bucket to be re-used in the garden somewhere. I know there is the issue of dishwater being soapy, but because of the above water conditions in San Diego I’m doing this to water landscaping plants.
  • My problem is I’m using paper towels and have been doing so for many years. But I do place them in a box to be re-used for cleaning, and when I’m completely done with them I put them in the recycling bin.
  • Also, I’d been using paper plates for many years because I thought I could save water when washing the dishes. This is sort of a catch 22 in San Diego. But, whatever paper plates I’m done with simply go into the recycling bin as well.
  • I haven’t done this one yet, but this would be a viable solution to water conservation… Only take baths and not showers, and saving the used bath water for somehow water the plants! But, the hassle would be dragging buckets of water down the stairs and into the backyard. Perhaps there could be a way to drain the water into the backyard with a new pipeline, or a syphoning system?
  • Of course, saving on electricity by turning off all lights when not needed, and computers when not being used. Switching to energy-saving light bulbs.

For more thoughts and ideas on sustainable living you might want to read: 10 Ways To Be More Frugal



Carlos Rull

Carlos Rull is a musician living in the San Diego area. His interests include Yoga, Eastern Philosophy, Zen Buddhism, and Gardening. He plays drums, piano, and composes New Age & Ambient music, and his albums are available on iTunes and

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