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Staff photo by Troy Stolt / NewTerra Compost co-owner Michael Ryan spreads food waste and other compostable materials around on NewTerra's compost pile in Wildwood, Georgia, before covering with wood chips. Once covered, the pile is heated to between 140 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit by piped on the ground underneath in order to activate bacteria and other microorganisms that will break the waste down, creating nutrient rich soil over time.

Many of us want to help the environment and reduce our carbon footprint, but the idea of taking the steps to do that can seem daunting with everything else we have going on in our lives.

Lucky for Chattanoogans, there are a number of locally owned businesses that help us do our part. Here are three services that make going green easier than ever.

 

Composting

The food you throw away doesn't disintegrate once it's in a landfill. It's wrapped in plastic and left to rot and emit methane gas that contributes to global warming. But not everyone has the space or the desire to start and maintain a compost pile in their backyard, and some homeowners' associations don't allow it. That's where composting services come in.

NewTerra Compost provides residential customers with a five-gallon compost bucket, which in certain areas can be picked up weekly on your doorstep. Customers outside of the pickup area can drop off their compost at one of the company's nine composting facilities in Chattanooga, Signal Mountain, Red Bank, Ooltewah and North Georgia. Every spring and fall customers receive 10 gallons of compost soil to use in their yard or garden, or they can donate it to a local community garden partnered with NewTerra.

The cost is $15 per month or $145 per year for drop-off customers and $30 per month for weekly curbside pickup. Curbside customers who skip a week of pickup get a $4 credit. For more information visit newterracompost.com or call 423-250-1444.

 

Recycling

We all know recycling is the right thing to do, but there are also myriad reasons that some of us have difficulty doing so. If you live in an area without curbside recycling, it's hard to sort and load up all your recyclable materials and get to a recycling center during often-limited hours of operation. Maybe you live in a building where you have a neighbor who constantly throws non-recyclable items in your shared bin, which will lead to all your properly sorted items going straight to the landfill. And if you live in a small space, recycling can pile up quickly if you're not staying on top of it.

Scenic City Recycling offers bi-weekly curbside recycling in Chattanooga and surrounding areas. The company collects common recyclables such as aluminum, flattened cardboard, plastic (No. 1-7), paper, cartons, tin cans, magazines and books with no sorting required. They'll also haul away old cellphones, small electronics (no computers), clothing, shoes, batteries, and ink and toner cartridges, though you'll need to separate those items.

Customers are charged based on the size of bin chosen. Bins are available in three sizes: 18 gallons ($10 bin deposit, $18.95 per month), 50 gallons ($60 bin deposit, $28.50 per month) and 95 gallons ($60 bin deposit, $50 per month). Or, pay by the year and get one month free. For more information call 423-933-4261 or visit sceniccityrecycling.com.

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Staff photo by Troy Stolt / NewTerra Compost co-owner Normand Lavoie holds a bucket of composting food waste at NewTerra's composting site in Wildwood, Georgia.

 

Natural landscaping

There are tons of reasons to switch from traditional to native, sustainable landscaping. Not only is it better for the environment and wildlife, but it also requires less maintenance. Replacing foreign turf grass with prairie grass and native plants will keep you from having to spend your precious free time mowing the lawn or constantly paying someone to do it for you. It will also keep pesticides from polluting your soil and nearby streams and look great in the process.

While you may want to retain at least part of your lawn for purposes such as a children's play area, you don't have to pump it full of pesticides. Hire a natural lawn care service that will maintain your lawn with organic sprays and treatments, making it safer for children and pets and a more welcoming place for pollinators and other wildlife.

Local company Wild Violet Permaculture covers all your native landscaping needs, including invasive plant removal, flower gardens providing pollinator support, water features and mitigation, rainwater collection, compost systems and landscape design. They can also get you set up to grow annual vegetables, perennial fruits and nuts, and culinary herbs on your property, and to grow plants to create your own natural remedies. Wild Violet will even help you set up animal systems for chickens, goats and rabbits.

The minimum cost for landscape design is $500, though the cost of each project varies based on the scope. Get more information at wildvioletpermaculture.com or email nathaniel@wildvioletpermaculture.com.

Dream Gardens USA is a locally owned business offering native landscape design and installation, as well as landscape maintenance on a quarterly or monthly basis for existing clients using organic fertilizers and pesticide methods. Visit dreamgardensusa.com for more information and to view examples of local clients with native landscaping whose properties have been recognized as Certified Wildlife Habitats by the National Wildlife Federation.

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