Green Neighbors Program

The Clark County Green Neighbors Program was developed and is maintained by Clark County Solid Waste and Environmental Outreach to assist citizens with developing more sustainable lifestyles and building a strong environmental community in Clark County. Solid waste regional planning and programs are a cooperative effort of Battle Ground, Camas, Clark County, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal, and Yacolt. Funding for this project provided by a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Clark County makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information provided on this web site. However, due to the possibility of transmission errors, HTML browser capabilities, changes made since the last update to the site, etc., neither Clark County, nor any agency, officer, or employee of Clark County warrants the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any information published by this system, nor endorses any content, viewpoints, products, or services linked from this system, and shall not be held liable for any losses caused by reliance on the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of such information. Portions of such information may be incorrect or not current. Any person or entity that relies on any information obtained from this system does so at his or her own risk.

In offering information on the Web, Clark County seeks to balance our requirement for public access with the privacy needs of individual citizens. Information that appears on the Clark County Web site is part of the public record. By law, it is available for public access, whether by telephone request, visiting county offices, or through other means.

This site contains links to other websites. Clark County is not responsible for the privacy practices or the content, accuracy or opinions expressed on such websites, and such websites are not investigated, monitored or checked by us for accuracy or completeness. Inclusion of any linked website on our site does not imply approval or endorsement of the linked website by us.

cc logo

Contact Details

Call us
(360) 397-2121 x4352

Compost

  • Kitchen

     

    Fridge

    Week after week, we buy many food items that we never eat. So they sit in the fridge, grow a bit of mold, get stale or outdated, and we throw them out. Know your eating habits so that you only buy what you need and eat what you buy.

    As for that fridge, we can’t stress Energy Star enough. They’re required to use 20% less energy than unlabeled models. Fridges are among the biggest energy users within your home, so investing in an efficient machine will save energy and money for years to come.

    Food Scraps and Vermicomposting

    In Clark County, we bury around 45,000 tons of food waste each year—that accounts for 16.3% of our total waste! We can reduce that amount easily by setting out that food to compost. Or, if you’re looking for something you can do indoors, you can always use worms.

    Vermicomposting is fantastic if you don’t have a yard to build a regular compost pile with. Home vermicomposting systems generally use one earthworm species, the “redworm,” Eisenia fetida. You can use any opaque, nontoxic materials to house the worms. Makes sure the bin is not more than 18 to 24 inches deep, and a good rule of thumb is that you’ll need one square foot of bin for every pound food waste per week. You’ll have to do some initial tweaking with worms and material, but soon enough you’ll have a self-sustaining colony of gardening friends!

    With composting, it’s a try-and-try-again process, but you can learn more about composting and the Master Composter/Recycler program.

    Jars in Cupboard

    Having a set of jars around the house is a blessing to waste reduction. Take your jars to the store or farmers’ market and fill them up with goods. This way, you can cut out the unnecessary packaging that goes along with many of our groceries.

    You may be denied a jar-filling at the store—when shopping at the deli counter, for instance—because it’s against “health and safety regulations.” However, most managers will agree that there are no health and safety violations in wanting to jar your food. So if at first you don’t succeed, ask for the manager and try, try again!

    (It also helps if, when you are handing jars to the employees, to act as if you had done this a thousand times before. Since that makes jars feel like a common practice in the grocery store, the employee will have less doubt about this “abnormal” practice. It takes a little bit of courage at first, but you’ll get used pretty quickly to living sustainably!)

    Reusable Water Bottle and Coffee Mug

    Getting rid of that unnecessary kitchen waste—it’s easier than you might think. Think of how many bottles and cans you use each week, and imagine how many of those containers you can replace with washable, reusable items.

    Kitchen sink

    Attach a water efficient aerator to your faucet to save water, increase spray velocity, and reduce wasteful splash.

    Be concerned also with what you pour down the drain. Do not pour grease of any sort down your drain—it will eventually clog your pipe and leave you with an annoying problem. Avoid putting down any food scraps, medications, and paper products, too, as basically anything beside water and soap is undesirable in the water system.

    Dishwasher

    Fill your dishwasher to the brim each time you run it. Most of the energy used in your dishwasher comes from heating water; as such, not all loads are created equal. Running one full load will still save more energy than two half loads. And remember, always go with an Energy Star approved appliance. It’ll save you BIG on resources—41% on energy, 30% on water—and your bills.

    And a word on your soaps: use non-toxic, biodegradable soaps that do not contain chlorine or phosphates. What goes down your drain doesn’t simply go away. By making a conscious choice to use non-lasting chemicals, we can save our waters a heap of trouble.

    Handtowel

    Be sure to look for cloth towels instead of your paper towels. They’re washable and perfectly reusable—you can even make them with old clothing and cloth.

    For the optimal reusable cleaning cloth, though, look for microfiber cloths. Due to its ability to hold more than eight times its weight in water, absorb oils, reduce bacteria by 99%, and leave no residue, it is considered a much better cleaner than conventional cloths. Add on its long life and its effortless cleaning ability, it becomes a no-brainer for many homes.

    Produce

    Globalized food production has been a boon to many, but its cost on the environment, society, and cultures remains too high. Buy local to support farmers near your home, to reduce the energy use in shipping your food, and to get the freshest food available. Buy organics to fight against harmful pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics in agriculture. Buy fair trade to promote good pay for the people who harvest your food. Buy the produce itself, without any packaging, to reduce your consumption of resources.

    Even better, though, is not buying your produce! Grow your food from your own backyard. Look to your garden for fresh veggies and fruit, to starting up a beehive for honey, or to raising chickens.

    If eating sustainably had to be summed up, it would be: Know where your food came from and where it is going. All with you, waste can begin and end.

    Reusable Bag

    There’s a reason why other countries impose taxes on plastic bags: they only end up in the garbage. They can’t be recycled (and they shouldn’t be—they clog up the recycling center’s sorting machines), and they can only be reused so many times before they go kaput.

    Life can be made so much simpler when you get a reusable bag! No more plastic bags or even paper bags! You can use the cloth bag for all your carrying needs: the library, work, small children…the possibilities are endless, and you only need to wash it now and then to make it last.

    Tiles on Kitchen Floor

    Makes sure what you’re walking on is made to last. Your flooring—in how it’s made, how long it lasts—can make a big difference beyond your kitchen or living room.

    Bamboo floors are a good idea—fast-growing bamboo, like wood, is anti-bacterial, long-lasting, and easy to install. Linoleum and cork are other good, sustainable floorings, and there are many other options to explore. Do your research before and know what will work for your home and help out the world.

    • Fridge

      Week after week, we buy many food items that we never eat. So they sit in the fridge, grow a bit of mold, get stale or outdated, and we throw them out. Know your eating habits so that you only buy what you need and eat what you buy.

      As for that fridge, we can’t stress Energy Star enough. They’re required to use 20% less energy than unlabeled models. Fridges are among the biggest energy users within your home, so investing in an efficient machine will save energy and money for years to come.

    • Food Scraps and Vermicomposting

      In Clark County, we bury around 45,000 tons of food waste each year—that accounts for 16.3% of our total waste! We can reduce that amount easily by setting out that food to compost. Or, if you’re looking for something you can do indoors, you can always use worms.

      Vermicomposting is fantastic if you don’t have a yard to build a regular compost pile with. Home vermicomposting systems generally use one earthworm species, the “redworm,” Eisenia fetida. You can use any opaque, nontoxic materials to house the worms. Makes sure the bin is not more than 18 to 24 inches deep, and a good rule of thumb is that you’ll need one square foot of bin for every pound food waste per week. You’ll have to do some initial tweaking with worms and material, but soon enough you’ll have a self-sustaining colony of gardening friends!

      With composting, it’s a try-and-try-again process, but you can learn more about composting and the Master Composter/Recycler program.

    • Jars in Cupboard

      Having a set of jars around the house is a blessing to waste reduction. Take your jars to the store or farmers’ market and fill them up with goods. This way, you can cut out the unnecessary packaging that goes along with many of our groceries.

      You may be denied a jar-filling at the store—when shopping at the deli counter, for instance—because it’s against “health and safety regulations.” However, most managers will agree that there are no health and safety violations in wanting to jar your food. So if at first you don’t succeed, ask for the manager and try, try again!

      (It also helps if, when you are handing jars to the employees, to act as if you had done this a thousand times before. Since that makes jars feel like a common practice in the grocery store, the employee will have less doubt about this “abnormal” practice. It takes a little bit of courage at first, but you’ll get used pretty quickly to living sustainably!)

    • Reusable Water Bottle and Coffee Mug

      Getting rid of that unnecessary kitchen waste—it’s easier than you might think. Think of how many bottles and cans you use each week, and imagine how many of those containers you can replace with washable, reusable items.

    • Kitchen sink

      Attach a water efficient aerator to your faucet to save water, increase spray velocity, and reduce wasteful splash.

      Be concerned also with what you pour down the drain. Do not pour grease of any sort down your drain—it will eventually clog your pipe and leave you with an annoying problem. Avoid putting down any food scraps, medications, and paper products, too, as basically anything beside water and soap is undesirable in the water system.

    • Dishwasher

      Fill your dishwasher to the brim each time you run it. Most of the energy used in your dishwasher comes from heating water; as such, not all loads are created equal. Running one full load will still save more energy than two half loads. And remember, always go with an Energy Star approved appliance. It’ll save you BIG on resources—41% on energy, 30% on water—and your bills.

      And a word on your soaps: use non-toxic, biodegradable soaps that do not contain chlorine or phosphates. What goes down your drain doesn’t simply go away. By making a conscious choice to use non-lasting chemicals, we can save our waters a heap of trouble.

    • Handtowel

      Be sure to look for cloth towels instead of your paper towels. They’re washable and perfectly reusable—you can even make them with old clothing and cloth.

      For the optimal reusable cleaning cloth, though, look for microfiber cloths. Due to its ability to hold more than eight times its weight in water, absorb oils, reduce bacteria by 99%, and leave no residue, it is considered a much better cleaner than conventional cloths. Add on its long life and its effortless cleaning ability, it becomes a no-brainer for many homes.

    • Produce

      Globalized food production has been a boon to many, but its cost on the environment, society, and cultures remains too high. Buy local to support farmers near your home, to reduce the energy use in shipping your food, and to get the freshest food available. Buy organics to fight against harmful pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics in agriculture. Buy fair trade to promote good pay for the people who harvest your food. Buy the produce itself, without any packaging, to reduce your consumption of resources.

      Even better, though, is not buying your produce! Grow your food from your own backyard. Look to your garden for fresh veggies and fruit, to starting up a beehive for honey, or to raising chickens.

      If eating sustainably had to be summed up, it would be: Know where your food came from and where it is going. All with you, waste can begin and end.

    • Reusable Bag

      There’s a reason why other countries impose taxes on plastic bags: they only end up in the garbage. They can’t be recycled (and they shouldn’t be—they clog up the recycling center’s sorting machines), and they can only be reused so many times before they go kaput.

      Life can be made so much simpler when you get a reusable bag! No more plastic bags or even paper bags! You can use the cloth bag for all your carrying needs: the library, work, small children…the possibilities are endless, and you only need to wash it now and then to make it last.

    • Tiles on Kitchen Floor

      Makes sure what you’re walking on is made to last. Your flooring—in how it’s made, how long it lasts—can make a big difference beyond your kitchen or living room.

      Bamboo floors are a good idea—fast-growing bamboo, like wood, is anti-bacterial, long-lasting, and easy to install. Linoleum and cork are other good, sustainable floorings, and there are many other options to explore. Do your research before and know what will work for your home and help out the world.

    • Backyard

       

      Bat House

      Bats eat thousands of insects every night—including pesky mosquitoes. Encourage these natural insect controllers to work around your house by placing a bat box in your yard.

      Birdfeeder

      Wildlife in your own backyard? Get out of town! The city isn’t that far away from nature. Birds, mammals, bugs, and all sorts of critters all come to our backyards every day. Have you ever thought of starting a backyard beehive? What about growing bird and bug friendly plants? Make your home one for the critters, too.

      Bee Hive/Pollinators

      We all need pollinators to survive. One out of every three bites of food that you eat is compliments of a pollinator. Look into having Mason Bees in your yard. Plant a pollinator garden. If you are really ambitious, get a hive of honey bees. Nothing tastes better than honey from your own yard.

      Clothesline

      Here’s an energy efficient idea that goes back generations. Hang those clothes to dry and skip the clothes dryer completely.

      Lawnmower

      It’s a lawn and winding road when it comes to mowing. All the gas mowers in the United States may contritube up to five percent of the nation’s air pollution, while spilling countless gallons of gasoline. Consider, if you’re willing, an energy-efficient or electric lawn mower, or even a push mower.

      As for that darned lawn: there are some easy ways to mow it green.

      • Never cut more than 1/3 of the grass leaf’s surface when you mow — the longer grass promotes deeper roots and inhibits weeds, as there is more leaf surface to take in sunlight and shade the soil.
      • Leave your grass clippings on your lawn to “grasscycle,” which is a free, natural supply of fertilizer.
      • Also make sure that your mower’s blades are sharp and balanced. Good blades will reduce mower vibrations, lengthen mower life, and reduce fueld consumption by as much as 20 percent. The grass benefits, too, when it is cleanly cut. The torn leaf ends leftover from dull blades are easy gateways for disease.

      Check out our Grasscycling Workshop for more information!

      Compost

      Composting is a great way to fight our ever-growing landfills, while remaking our organic waste into nutrient-rich lawn and garden food. It starts with an equal mix of green materials (like grass or other plants) and brown materials (like autumn leaves or wood chips). Make sure your materials aren’t too big—use bite-sized pieces, which are more easily compostable. When your materials are all gathered, your pile (for optimal conditions) should add up to about one cubic yard, or 3 by 3 by 3 feet. Your pile should be moist, but not dripping wet throughout the compost journey—think of a wrung-out sponge as you go along. Turn your pile every three days and watch the rot! Eventually, with a careful eye, you’ll have a wonderful, earthy-smelling, nutrient loaded compost!

      Dog Poop

      Number one: it’s stinky. Number two: you don’t want to step in it. Number three: rain water carries the poop into the local waterways, infecting them with dangerous pathogens and filling them with unnecessary nutrients. Around 20% of all fecal coliform bacteria in waterways comes directly from dog poop. So what can you do? Scoop the poop, bag it, and put it in the garbage! Here are some more tips for dealing with dog waste.

      Weeds

      Did a lone weed sprout up in your yard? Don’t hassle with getting out the spray—get a little exercise by bending over and pulling that weed right out. It’s very satisfying.

      Pets

      Take good care of your pets. Don’t use chemicals on the yard that they can get into and become sick.

      Garden

      A garden can provide so much to your home! By planting edibles, you have (mostly) instant food at your door. By planting native plants, you have beautiful and natural additions to your yard. You can attract bugs and bees, birds and mammals, all by having a garden! Nature doesn’t have to be so far away anymore.

      Sprinkler

      One of the biggest problems with many lawns is overwatering. By watering too heavily or too frequently, you leach nutrients from the soil and train the roots to keep near the surface, making the lawn less able to sustain itself through drought.

      Water 1 to 1½ inches every week (you can check this by placing tuna cans under the sprinklers arc). Be sure to water out of the sun—during morning or evening—to avoid water evaporation. If you see water runoff, stop! You’re wasting water! Think about a core aeration and topdressing to cure your runoff woes; and in the meantime, water slowly and carefully, stopping when the runoff begins, and then starting once all the water has infiltrated.

      Fertilizer and Pesticide

      Weed and feed-type products apply unnecessary amounts of fertilizer and pesticide to your entire lawn. In reality, only parts of your lawn may need fertilizer and there is no need to broadcast chemicals over your entire lawn to kill a handful of weeds. Consider spot-applying your pesticides or, better yet, hand pull weeds when the number is reasonable. Be sure to read the label and follow all instructions carefully.

      Choose organic fertilizers and be careful to not apply before heavy irrigation or a rainstorm, as the fertilizer will wash away into the storm drains, which then enter our local waterways. And why pay good money for fertilizer that is washing down the street?

      The bottom line is that weeds and unsatisfactory grass are better handled through renovation than fertilizers and pesticides. Once a year, do a core aeration on your lawn—this will improve water infiltration, drainage, and the oxygen content of the soil. Afterward, topdress with a layer of compost. Finally, overseed with grass seed and watch your lawn go!

      Your lawn is an ecosystem, too. By working with nature instead of against it, you can have a healthy, beautiful lawn from the soil up.

      • Bat House

        Bats eat thousands of insects every night—including pesky mosquitoes. Encourage these natural insect controllers to work around your house by placing a bat box in your yard.

      • Birdfeeder

        Wildlife in your own backyard? Get out of town! The city isn’t that far away from nature. Birds, mammals, bugs, and all sorts of critters all come to our backyards every day. Have you ever thought of starting a backyard beehive? What about growing bird and bug friendly plants? Make your home one for the critters, too.

      • Bee Hive/Pollinators

        We all need pollinators to survive. One out of every three bites of food that you eat is compliments of a pollinator. Look into having Mason Bees in your yard. Plant a pollinator garden. If you are really ambitious, get a hive of honey bees. Nothing tastes better than honey from your own yard.

      • Clothesline

        Here’s an energy efficient idea that goes back generations. Hang those clothes to dry and skip the clothes dryer completely.

      • Lawnmower

        It’s a lawn and winding road when it comes to mowing. All the gas mowers in the United States may contritube up to five percent of the nation’s air pollution, while spilling countless gallons of gasoline. Consider, if you’re willing, an energy-efficient or electric lawn mower, or even a push mower.

        As for that darned lawn: there are some easy ways to mow it green.

        • Never cut more than 1/3 of the grass leaf’s surface when you mow — the longer grass promotes deeper roots and inhibits weeds, as there is more leaf surface to take in sunlight and shade the soil.
        • Leave your grass clippings on your lawn to “grasscycle,” which is a free, natural supply of fertilizer.
        • Also make sure that your mower’s blades are sharp and balanced. Good blades will reduce mower vibrations, lengthen mower life, and reduce fueld consumption by as much as 20 percent. The grass benefits, too, when it is cleanly cut. The torn leaf ends leftover from dull blades are easy gateways for disease.

        Check out our Grasscycling Workshop for more information!

      • Compost

        Composting is a great way to fight our ever-growing landfills, while remaking our organic waste into nutrient-rich lawn and garden food. It starts with an equal mix of green materials (like grass or other plants) and brown materials (like autumn leaves or wood chips). Make sure your materials aren’t too big—use bite-sized pieces, which are more easily compostable. When your materials are all gathered, your pile (for optimal conditions) should add up to about one cubic yard, or 3 by 3 by 3 feet. Your pile should be moist, but not dripping wet throughout the compost journey—think of a wrung-out sponge as you go along. Turn your pile every three days and watch the rot! Eventually, with a careful eye, you’ll have a wonderful, earthy-smelling, nutrient loaded compost!

      • Dog Poop

        Number one: it’s stinky. Number two: you don’t want to step in it. Number three: rain water carries the poop into the local waterways, infecting them with dangerous pathogens and filling them with unnecessary nutrients. Around 20% of all fecal coliform bacteria in waterways comes directly from dog poop. So what can you do? Scoop the poop, bag it, and put it in the garbage! Here are some more tips for dealing with dog waste.

      • Weeds

        Did a lone weed sprout up in your yard? Don’t hassle with getting out the spray—get a little exercise by bending over and pulling that weed right out. It’s very satisfying.

      • Pets

        Take good care of your pets. Don’t use chemicals on the yard that they can get into and become sick.

      • Garden

        A garden can provide so much to your home! By planting edibles, you have (mostly) instant food at your door. By planting native plants, you have beautiful and natural additions to your yard. You can attract bugs and bees, birds and mammals, all by having a garden! Nature doesn’t have to be so far away anymore.

      • Sprinkler

        One of the biggest problems with many lawns is overwatering. By watering too heavily or too frequently, you leach nutrients from the soil and train the roots to keep near the surface, making the lawn less able to sustain itself through drought.

        Water 1 to 1½ inches every week (you can check this by placing tuna cans under the sprinklers arc). Be sure to water out of the sun—during morning or evening—to avoid water evaporation. If you see water runoff, stop! You’re wasting water! Think about a core aeration and topdressing to cure your runoff woes; and in the meantime, water slowly and carefully, stopping when the runoff begins, and then starting once all the water has infiltrated.

      • Fertilizer and Pesticide

        Weed and feed-type products apply unnecessary amounts of fertilizer and pesticide to your entire lawn. In reality, only parts of your lawn may need fertilizer and there is no need to broadcast chemicals over your entire lawn to kill a handful of weeds. Consider spot-applying your pesticides or, better yet, hand pull weeds when the number is reasonable. Be sure to read the label and follow all instructions carefully.

        Choose organic fertilizers and be careful to not apply before heavy irrigation or a rainstorm, as the fertilizer will wash away into the storm drains, which then enter our local waterways. And why pay good money for fertilizer that is washing down the street?

        The bottom line is that weeds and unsatisfactory grass are better handled through renovation than fertilizers and pesticides. Once a year, do a core aeration on your lawn—this will improve water infiltration, drainage, and the oxygen content of the soil. Afterward, topdress with a layer of compost. Finally, overseed with grass seed and watch your lawn go!

        Your lawn is an ecosystem, too. By working with nature instead of against it, you can have a healthy, beautiful lawn from the soil up.

      • Holiday Waste Reduction

        It’s easy to be green no matter what holiday it is —
        Here are some tips you can use all year long

        Read more

         

        Related articles: Waste Reduction Home Assessment | Thoughtful Consumption

        holiday waste reduction article

      • Compost Consultations

        Are you interested in setting up a better composting system at your community garden?

        The Master Composter Recycler Program offers FREE Composting Consultations for community gardens in Clark County, WA. A Master Composter Recycler Ambassador will come to your garden with resources, tips and tricks to guide you to composting success.

        Read more

         

        mcr compost consults article

        How does this program work?

        Is my garden eligible?

        Any school, church, or community garden can participate in the program. The application will help provide us the details we need to know how to help you best.

        What can I expect from my compost consultation site visit?

        A Master Composter Recycler ambassador will come out to your garden to provide you resources and advice (where to site a bin, what style of bin will work best, what to compost and not compost, how to manage your compost pile, etc.) to help you set up a successful composting system. The visit will take 30 – 60 minutes. At the end of the visit, we’ll leave you with a packet of resources to guide you and fellow gardeners on your own. You are always welcome to reach out to us with additional questions.

        What happens after my site visit?

        You will be responsible for obtaining any necessary supplies to construct your composting system and manage your pile(s). However, your ambassador will be available for additional visits to help you set up your system, check up on your progress, ensure things are working properly, and troubleshoot problems.

        So how do I get started?

        If you are interested in a Master Composter Recycler ambassador coming to your garden for a consult, please call (360) 397-2121 ext. 4352 or email us at mcr@clark.wa.gov and ask to set up a visit. All we need is some basic contact information and few details on your current composting set up, or lack thereof. This will help us determine what resources we can provide to best meet your needs.

        Please spread the word! This is a new service that we are proud to offer the community for free. If you know someone who works in a community garden space, ask if they have heard of this opportunity.

      • How to compost

        Composting is a way to turn your yard and kitchen wastes into part of nature’s natural cycle of decomposition. Composting is a great way to reduce our contribution to landfills and climate changing gasses while producing a wonderful soil amendment for yards and gardens.

        We offer workshops and demonstrations on how to feed the earth rather than the landfill.

        Read more

        mcr how to compost article

        Backyard Composting

        There are many systems for composting yard and kitchen waste in your backyard. You can visit one of our composting demonstration sites to see various bins and systems in use. If you want to virtually explore some options for backyard composting systems this website is a helpful resource.

        The two basic backyard composting methods are fast— batch or hot composting, and slow— add as you go or cold composting. Mother nature doesn’t care which one you use. But you might! With the faster hot composting method, the end product can be higher quality— but the amount of work needed to turn and monitor your pile is more. With cold composting, not as much work is needed, but it can take several months to a year to get usable compost.

        SMART is an acronym for the compost factors you should pay attention to for best results:

        S:
        Size

        The size of your pile and the pieces you put in it. Your pile should be at least 3 x 3 x 3 feet in volume (for a hot pile). Your woody pieces of material should be chopped up to less than 2″ in diameter.

        M:
        Moisture

        Keep the pile moist as a wrung out sponge. You can mist it with a hose as you add new material.

        A:
        Aeration

        Turn your compost occasionally. You want oxygen to get into the pile, and to get the materials mixed. Serious composters try to get the pile hot — and turn it once the temperature drops.

        R:
        Ratio

        The ratio of “browns” to “greens” should be an average of Carbon/Nitrogen 30:1. An easy way to measure this is to go by volume — and use 1:1. One unit of brown to one of green. An easy way to remember this is “equal parts of green and brown help to break the compost down.”

        T:
        Turn

        Turn your “garbage” into black gold!

        Here are some other great resources

        Composting Using Redworms

        There is great information on the web about composting with worms. Here are some links to resources we find helpful:

        Red wigglers (Eisenia fetida) are the worm of choice for home vermicomposting. There are a number of local resources in the Clark County area to purchase redworms. It’s always a good idea to call ahead for availability and pricing. One pound is typically a good amount to start a worm bin with.

        If you want to purchase redworms elsewhere, we recommend you enter “buy redworms” in your search engine to find the best source and price for you.

        Happy Composting!

      • Good soil

        The most important thing we can do for our yards and gardens is to provide healthy soil. Healthy soil produces healthy plants. No matter what type of soil is in place when you acquire your yard, it can be made better with the addition of compost and/or mulch. If your funds are limited, good quality mulch is the best investment you can make in your backyard.

        Soil contains billions of micro-organisms that eat rotting organic matter and transform it into nutrients available for plants. Compost and mulch figure heavily into feeding the soil biota. Compost may be incorporated into the soil to immediately start feeding the soil life. Mulch should be used on top of the soil and/or compost. Over time, mulch turns into compost on its own.

        Read more

        nbb healthy soil article

        How to build good soil:

        Understand Soil Types

        Soil has many components, and it is generally broken down into three types: Clay, silt, and sand. Clay has the smallest size, Because of this, it packs together densely which limits how much air is contained within the soil. Sand has the largest particle size. Because of this, it has very large spaces. This is great for air flow, but it also means that water flows out of it very easily. Silt sits somewhere between the extremes of clay and sand.

        Generally, a blend of the three soil components is deemed the best for most gardening needs. This pleasant blend is called loam, and in Clark County, it is very difficult to find. We have more than our fair share of hard, dense clay soils. You don't need to try to make loam out of raw ingredients.  If you have mostly clay or sand soil, add compost to your soil.

        Use Compost

        You can make your own compost from the yard debris created in your own backyard. The Clark County Master Composter/Recycler Program is an excellent source of information. Through their workshops you can get started on your own compost pile. The Master Composters can also recommend composting demonstration sites so you can see firsthand how the compost cycle works.

        We understand that not everyone has the space for (or their neighborhood association may not allow) composting. What to do? You may be able to get compost from or a friend, but you can also buy compost.

        Even if you don’t have a garden in need of it, composting is a good way to keep kitchen waste and other organic materials out of the landfill. Here are some things you can do with unwanted/unneeded compost. We encourage everyone to compost. 

        Use Mulch

        Mulch is an under-used and under-rated commodity in the garden environment. In ornamental gardens in our region, mulch should always cover both bare soil and compost. Mulch helps the soil in ornamental gardens by: moderating temperature, retaining moisture, providing nutrients as it slowly composts in place, and preventing weeds.

        Mulch can be a variety of materials, but we recommend high-carbon, un-composted, woody material. In our area, tree bark is most commonly used. But the Naturally Beautiful Backyards program advocates using fall leaves as mulch. And why not? They fall from trees into the garden requiring minimal-to-no cost or work in accomplishing the task of mulching. Leaves and other woody debris are the same materials a natural forest uses for mulch, and that system has worked well for millennia.

        An added benefit of mulch is that it eventually turns into compost all on its own, thus providing food for the soil biota.

        Recently we have seen arborist wood chips used as mulch. This is a great way to recycle arborist leftovers. Learn more about wood chips, where to get them, and how to use them in the Information Archive.

        The benefits of mulch far outweigh their simplicity in the garden. The addition of three inches of mulch in the spring around early vegetables provides shelter from freezing temperatures. Mulch in perennial and garden beds deters weeds, increases moisture retention, and stabilizes soil temperatures during extreme hot or cold spells. Mulching garden beds before the winter rains provides protection of garden soil from compaction and provides an available nutrient source to turn into the bed in spring. Three inches of mulch applied in the spring before weed seeds have matured will save hours of weeding in the summer months.

        Some guidelines for using mulch:

        • Mulch depth can vary between 3"–6" for most ornamental garden needs. Finely textured mulch can be toward the lower end of that range. Coarse, arborist chip mulch can be toward the higher end. Less than 3" depth doesn't supply adequate weed suppression.
        • Apply mulch any time of the year when soil or compost can be seen through the mulch, or any time the mulch depth is less than listed above.
        • Before applying mulch, either new or refreshing old, make sure the soil below is well-watered. Mulch is an insulator, and if the soil below it is dry, the mulch will keep it dry until a very large quantity and duration of rain occurs.
        • Keep mulch away from woody-plant root crowns to avoid damage from pests and disease.
        • Gravel and other inorganic materials are not good mulches for gardens/landscapes. These things ARE good for creating walkways, patios and other hardscape features. In most cases, use a weed barrier between the inorganic material and the soil.
        • Organic mulches decompose and need to be replaced. Replacement is based on the type of mulch used: fall leaves last about a year; 3–4" of bark typically last two to three years; 5–6" of arborist chips may last three to four years.

        Learn About the Soil Food Web

        The soil food web is a complex collection of living organisms in the soil that work together to create healthy soil. It is a lot more complex than that, and you can learn more by reading Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis.

        Nutrient cycling is the process organic matter cycled from living to non-living and back to new living matter through an ecosystem and is regulated by the soil food web.

        Learn more

        Explore the entire Information Archive

      • MCR Clubhouse

        Welcome to the new Master Composter Recycler “secret” portal. Here you will be able to view upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, log your volunteer hours, and receive program updates. This site will support, but not replace, program communication. It will serve as a central venue to get up-to-date MCR info. Please take a look around and let us know if you have questions or suggestions. Drop us a line at MCR@clark.wa.gov or give a call at 360.397.2121 ext. 4961.

        See what’s new  Volunteer opportunities  Log your hours

        Class Graduation 2
         

        Updates:

        • Congratulations to the 2017 MCR grads! We're so happy to have you join our community, and look forward to seeing you at upcoming opportunities.
        • Did you miss the MC Composta video? Take a look!
        • MCR material is stored at the 78th St Heritage Farm with a convenient combination for easy pick up and drop off. Enter through the gate at the end of the parking lot, turn left immediately and left again for access to the first bay of the garage. The code for the pedestrian gate and the garage lock combination are both 4-7-1-1.
        • Visit the new compost demonstration site at the Heritage Farm! A natural fit for the farm, the demo site is located to the west of the community gardens and to the north of the orchard.
        • New interpretative signs at the CASEE and Heritage Farm compost demonstration sites.
      • Community Gardens

        Clark County manages the community gardens at Pacific Park in East Vancouver. All of the plots are rented out annually and gardeners are required to use natural gardening practices (no herbicide, pesticide, etc.).

        All plots are full for the 2017 garden season. Please check back to this site in late 2017 for information about 2018 rentals. For more information please email us at communitygarden@clark.wa.gov.

        Natural Gardens at Pacific Community Park

        NE 18th St & NE 172nd Ave

        Vancouver, WA 98684

         

        Related articles: Natural Garden Tours | Composting

        community gardens pacific park article
      • Naturally Beautiful Backyards

        Naturally Beautiful Backyards (NBB) is a program that can help you be as green in your yard as you are in your house. There are things you do in your indoor life to be green, likewise, there are things you can do in your yard to be green as well. And not just in your backyard!

        The NBB program encourages:

        Make It Naturally Beautiful

        Learning about how to work with nature will make you a better and more confident gardener. Encouraging birds, bees, and wildlife into your yard by using native plants, tolerating insects and a little damage, building great soil, recycling and composting waste materials, and using fewer chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides) will enable your yard to contribute positively to a healthier environment.

        Browse our pages and learn how to make your yard naturally beautiful.

         

        Related articles: Natural Garden Tours | Composting