Autumn is a time to connect by Julie Peller Ph.D.

The autumn season is an excellent time of the year for people to connect with nature and realize their full dependency on creation. An understanding of humanity’s reliance on the natural world was necessary for survival in the pre-industrial ages, unlike the present time. Similarly, indigenous people have always been united with nature, knowing they must care for the earth for their sustenance and future generations. This is in great contrast to how most humans view the natural world now. For much of today’s population, to meet the needs of food and shelter, there is no need to bond with the natural world. People today acquire what they need and want from a store that sells food and other goods. Therefore, most do not realize nature’s role in all our interests and the ecosystem services provided to all people. This has likely led to human behavior lacking in care for the natural world; hence, the many serious environmental problems we face today.
There are many ways to interact and bond with nature, with a good possibility the experience will feed the soul and create awareness of the human impact on the natural world. Take walks, take note of nature; collect leaves, and take pictures of flowers, insects, and other creatures. Dig in the dirt, plant something, view soil, bugs, or plants with a magnifying glass. Catch as many sunrises and sunsets as possible; gaze at the night sky. Turn walks into service to the earth by removing the garbage that is polluting the natural world. Useless, and create less trash. One way to ensure you send less garbage to landfills is to compost plant-based kitchen/household waste.
Composting is the simple, natural process where microorganisms and other decomposers change organic waste to essential nutrients. It reduces garbage, improves soil texture, and conserves water; compost is natural (organic) fertilizer for outdoor plants and gardens. The importance of enriching soils using compost dates back as far as agricultural practices and the process of returning nutrients to the earth is again becoming more commonplace. In California, an estimated 7.5 million tons of bulk compost is applied annually on irrigated cropland, according to the California Compost Coalition. In some places, plant-based waste is not accepted in garbage collections to reduce garbage volume. Composting is a simple way to live more in harmony with nature. It is fun to see your plant-based scraps (and eggshells!) return to a mineralized form after several months (weather-dependent) of biodegradation. The compost can be applied to your plants, placed in natural areas, or donated. Many websites will guide your composting efforts, from the simplest forms of composting to more complete ones. Composting is one way to watch the natural world’s incredible processes – to make a valuable connection with nature.

Julie Peller Ph.D. is an environmental chemist (Professor of Chemistry at Valparaiso University ) and she leads the Environmental Ministry at Nativity of Our Savior in Portage IN. Julie has been writing a weekly column for church bulletins for the past ~5 years called the Green Junction and is helping to move the call of Laudato Si to action forward. Her Research Interests are in Advanced oxidation for aqueous solutions, water quality analyses, emerging contaminants, air quality analyses, Lake Michigan shoreline challenges (Cladophora, water, and sediment contaminants), student and citizen participation in environmental work

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