Author: Mark Walvoord

Collect Rain and Create Compost

by Mark Walvoord —

The Central Oklahoma Storm Water Alliance (COSWA) is partnering with a company, Upcycle Products, Inc. to offer discounted rates on rain barrels and compost bins for their members cities…including Edmond. First the facts, then the sustainability explanation.

  • Mail-in order forms are due by April 10, 2022 and online orders by April 17, 2022
  • The pickup event is Saturday, April 23, 2022 from 8am-12pm at the City of Edmond Cross Timbers Municipal Complex
  • Rain Barrels are $66.50 or $88 and composters are $73.50 (stationary) or $154.50 (tumbling)
  • You can find more details at https://edmondok.com/1391/Rain-Barrel-Compost-Bin-Distribution-Eve
photo of gray rain barrel on pedestal

The use of barrels to capture some rainwater is a sustainable choice because it helps reduce the runoff of materials and chemical pollutants into our rivers and stormwater systems. Our ground is less permeable due to soil compaction during construction, our landscaping/lawn practices, and the prevalence of roadways & parking lots. Compacted and concrete-covered soils can’t hold very much water, so when it becomes saturated, additional rainfall flows off, taking pollutants with it, into our creeks, streams, rivers, and stormwater systems.

Not only that, but many cities, Edmond included, are concerned about the long-term ability to provide clean water to its growing population. This is why there is a mandatory watering schedule (odd house numbers can only water on odd-number dates) as part of the regional water conservation plan. If you have a rain barrel, you can water on your “off days,” because you’re not using the faucet!

photo of vertical compost tumbler on a lawn

How about the sustainability of composting? By collecting your household organic waste, you are keeping it out of your trashcan. That helps in a few ways:

  1. it means our landfills won’t fill up as quickly (you are diverting that waste away from our municipal landfills);
  2. it means those materials won’t break down anaerobically (in the absence of oxygen while buried under other waste), which produces the very potent greenhouse gas methane;
  3. and it may mean you won’t have to put your garbage bin out on the curb as often, meaning the trash truck won’t have to stop at your house (hopefully reducing the stop-start that the truck makes, releasing less CO2, a less potent, but more abundant, greenhouse gas)

If you’re able to make some rich compost (~3-4 months if you balance your inputs and mix it regularly), that can be added to your lawn as a fertilizer and to reduce week growth; or, it can be mixed into your soil or flowerbeds both as a fertilizer and to increase soil health (or on a larger scale, as part of a regenerative agriculture plan). This increased health includes the soil’s ability to absorb more water. See how I brought that full circle?!

Sustainability Books – for You, for the Kids, for the Holidays

–by Ed Cunliff

I would not have come across these books had it not been for some literature from the Nature Conservancy. Trying hard to be a good grandparent, and the ruling is still out, I thought books would be the perfect gift for the season. You may want to consider these if you are like-minded about books and sustainability.

Be a Tree book cover

Be A Tree! by Maria Gianferrari is a simple reader. It’s nicely illustrated, a simple story, and makes a good case for us tree huggers. It includes straightforward ways for kids to connect with trees and appreciate their benefits for us humans.

Amara and the Bats book cover

Amara and the Bats by Emma Reynolds is another simple reader and had some good activities about bats and building homes for them. My attempts at this, back when my kids were younger, were not successful. If I had this book, I might have done better.

Change Sings book cover

Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem by Amanda Gorman (you may have heard of her!). This is another reader for the same suggested age range as the others, but it does have the advantage of the author being someone the kids may have heard of. As with all the others, it is well illustrated and supportive of changes to protect the planet for the kids who are reading these books today!

Can I Recycle This book cover

Can I Recycle This? A Guide to Better Recycling by Jennin Romer does not go on the simple to comprehend list, and by its nature is indicative of the challenge of recycling. It turns out, it’s not as easy as we thought. The danger here is that folks read the book and throw up their hands in despair, because it is too complex. The author addresses multiple areas of recycling in an easy-to-read format. Yes, recycling is complex and yes, we can do some helpful things on our own – and with our kids or grandkids.

Johnny Appleseed was the only book my babysitter read to me when I was a kid. I’m thankful for that image, accurate or not. Any sources that can help our kids get off to an early start on “green thinking” matters and sticks with them.

What children’s book suggestions do you have?

COSC an official FSSA

The Central Oklahoma Sustainability Collaborative (COSC) applied to be an official UCO Faculty & Staff Association in November 2021. However, we included a special request – to become a Faculty, Staff, & Student Association! COSC seeks the input and perspective of all members of our campus community, which is why our leadership team includes a student representative.

This request was approved on November 9, 2021, so we’re proud to announce that COSC is now one of the campus Faculty, Staff, & Student Associations (aka, affinity groups). See https://www.uco.edu/offices/people-culture/inclusive-community/affinity-groups-at-uco

A big thanks to COSC members Alyssa Provencio for submitting our application and Cristi Moore, for the approval. We look forward to continuing our regular meetings and collaborations with student groups like the Students for Sustainability.


Screenshot of UCO's Faculty and Staff Associations website

MOU – City of Edmond

The Central Oklahoma Sustainability Collaborative at UCO is excited to announce that the University of Central Oklahoma has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Edmond entitled “Toward a Sustainable Future.” It was signed in November 2021 by UCO President, Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar, Edmond Mayor, Darrell A. Davis, and Edmond City Manager, Larry Stevens. Special thanks go out to Dr. John Wood, UCO Professor in Public Administration, for both spearheading this effort and for agreeing to uphold the agreement with quarterly meetings with the City. This MOU replaces one last signed in 2014.

Graphic - Memorandum of Understanding toward a sustainable future, UCO and City of Edmond logos