Two events happened this week that may seem unrelated: the passing of Steve Jobs, and it snowed in my town. But they both triggered the same thought: we all need to do what we can to be better stewards of the Earth.
This last June Steve Jobs proposed a new Apple Campus to be built in an area that was predominantly apricot orchards. With underground parking, the design was for a low profile building (only four stories high) that has it’s own “energy center” “with natural gas and other ways that are cleaner and cheaper,” using the grid as a backup. The plans for the complex turns an area that was 20% landscaping to 80% landscaping and increases the 3,700 trees to around 6,000 trees, many of them apricot trees.
In a structure that Jobs himself said, looks “like a spaceship landed,” while increasing campus space 20%, will reduce the building footprint by 30%. Surface parking will decrease 90%. Job referred to it as “a shot at building the best office building in the world.” As impressive as his whole life and accomplishments were, I believe this new Apple Campus will be one of his greatest legacies.
I rode home Thursday to increasingly lowering, heavy clouds until it was clear that they had settled in on the towns in the foothills of the Wasatch in southern Utah County. Snow clouds. The forecasts had indicated that this passing storm would not dip below 37º F. at night. I figured my garden was good for a few more weeks.
By 2 p.m. there was 2 inches of heavy slushy snow on my deck and my tomato plants were shriveling. I harvested one’s pathetic green offerings, and hoped the others would survive until it warmed up again. My peppers are finished for the season and today I’ll remove everything else except the chard that continues to produce crisp leaves for my green drinks.
But after the fruits are harvested, plants remain and leaves are accumulating in my yard. I have begun to learn about composting. This site is very comprehensive. And this excellent article tells about how the world is changing. For example, in Yellowstone, they now use bioplastic forks and cups, made from plant materials such as cornstarch, that “dissolve magically when heated for more than a few minutes.”
The article pointed out a compelling reason to compost: “When apple cores, stale bread and last week’s leftovers go to landfills, they do not return the nutrients they pulled from the soil while growing. What is more, when sealed in landfills without oxygen, organic materials release methane, a potent heat-trapping gas, as they decompose. If composted, however, the food can be broken down and returned to the earth as a nonchemical fertilizer with no methane by-product.”
It quoted Mr. Johnson of the E.P.A., “Technology exists, but a lot of education still needs to be done. . . It will take a lot longer to get average Americans to compost. Reaching down to my household and yours is the greatest challenge.”
I’m trying. A month ago, in a cleared spot in my garden I began a pile of kitchen and garden scraps. I should have started in the spring. I should have started thirty years ago. But I’m learning, and that is a step forward.
Steve Jobs, even in the final months of his life, created plans to improve the world he lived in. One beautiful space ship that sets an example for all of us. What can we do to reduce our footprints? Will our legacies include that we were good stewards of our own little plots of earth?