Zero Waste will the topic of as special program at Crossroads on Wednesday, September 25, at 6:30–8:00. Hosted by N.E.W. Zero Waste Coalition and sponsored by Door Property Owners Association and the Clean Water Action Council of NE Wisconsin, this program will feature the internationally known speaker, Dr. Paul Connett, who is a graduate of Cambridge University and holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from Dartmouth College.
Though you wouldn’t know it by looking at our garbage bins, Crossroads has had a efficient Zero Waste effort for many years. We call it: the forest. A forest has an enomous solid waste problem. Trees die, branches break, leaves fall every autum. We are talking significant biomass here. And it would all pile up into an impentrable jumble deep enough to smother all future growth, except that, thank goodness, fungus also lives in the forest.
Fungi are not animals, but they are not plants either. They have no cholophyll; they can’t make food. Fungi digest or break down organic materials.
When a tree grows, it takes simple chemicals from the ground and using the energy of the Sun, combines these chemicals into the compounds which make up wood. After a tree dies (and sometimes when a tree is still alive) , fungi take apart the chemical compounds and turns the wood back into simple chemicals. In other words, fungi turn wood back into soil. In the future, new trees will be able to re-use the chemicals when they grow. Fungi (and other unappreciated decomposers) are the original recyclers. Zero Waste?
Zero waste is defined as ” a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused.” That’s just what happens in the forest. Countless species of fungi decompose every dead tree. Some species specialize on digesting cellulose; others feed on lignin. There is even a succession of fungi on a decaying log, so as each species depletes the its nutrient requirements, another species replaces it until finally, the wood is reduced to simple chemicals and become part of the soil to be reused by other plants.
We are taking advantage of the fall weather to celebrate the fall colors. On Wednesday, September 25, Joan Wilkie will lead a hike to enjoy the beatiful fall flowers. On Saturday, Friends of Crossroads invite interested volunteers to join them in caging the tender young trees in our “forest-to-be.” The wire cages (which were assembled by students from Sevastopol School) will, we hope, prevent deer, rabbits, and voles from dining on our trees this winter. Meet at the Collins Learning Center at 9:00.