Sustainable development. It wouldn’t be polite to tell you what my ranching and lumber mill families and friends thought about this term when I was growing up. Kind of a dirty word out West in some parts – even in some parts of California believe it or not. For my part though I have adopted a bit of a peace with the idea of sustainable development. Mostly because I am kind of cheap. If there is a way I can save money in the long run, I am up for it!
So, it was with a fair amount of interest that I attended the May meeting of the Charleston Area Bee Keeper’s Association featuring Tony Bertauski for a presentation on sustainability in horticulture. A professor at Trident Technical College in the Horticulture department, Bertauski also pens a bi-weekly column in the Post and Courier. Here are four things he discussed that I found the most interesting.
First, non-native species interact minimally with the ecosystem. Think back to some early science class and remember that the bugs eat the plants, the birds eat the bugs and then the birds get eaten – energy transfer. What this means though is that the non-native species do not pass on much in the way of food/energy. Native plants can produce four times more biomass and support about three times more in species. Unfortunately, a lot of the plants that create that look Charleston is famous for are not native.
Second, permeable concrete! Its like saying solid water. Seems impossible right? This type of concrete was put in place at Trident and no retaining pond was necessary.
Third, grey water toilets. All that dirty dish and hand washing water, it can be used to flush your toilet! Now we all know that I have a bit of a fascination with toilets but this is just a cool idea. Plus, less of a water bill each month. That would be so helpful around here in the summer when water usage goes up with yard watering. Especially right now as we seem to be entering a drought.
Four, green walls. I had heard of green roofs before but was not as familiar with green walls. Like roofs, these walls can help with cooling a building – money saver again. However, I really like the idea of creating a green wall out in the yard. These walls can help provide some privacy from neighbors if your houses are closely situated. Or, you can create a particular kind of ambiance depending on what you choose to plant.
If you have an interest in any of this stuff check out Go Green Charleston. I am not very familiar with their website but they have a lot of connections with businesses in the area that can probably hook you up with some of these fun “sustainable development” ideas.